Bicycle business beckons startups in Japan


This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology.

Image credit: “Tex” Pomeroy

Cycle Mode International, held at the Makuhari Messe convention center, presented many startups with a niche market where they could gain business traction. In addition to Growtac (see earlier story about Tokyo International Industry Exhibition 2016), other startups took part at this annual show which attracts those involved in this field, but in particular athletes ranging from health-focused hobbyists and novice cyclists to professional riders and Olympic triathlon athletes.

Cerevo’s booth
Image credit: “Tex” Pomeroy

Cerevo made its first appearance at this show that brought over a thousand other booths by exhibiting its Smart Cycle device. This location tracking sensor pack makes use of WiFi, Global Positioning System (GPS) and ANT+ as a “cycle computer” for managing a “road trip” ride which even professionals can utilize.

The startup had in fact added a former competition cyclist on its staff with an eye to expanding its market for the 9-axis product developed by Tokyo-based “networked consumer electronics” manufacturer.

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As regards use of the radio waves, a trading company named JRS – also based in Tokyo and specializing in scooters, pedal bikes and the like – had at its booth a sports-use communication system developed by a Shizuoka startup, On’s Company.

JRS’s booth
Image credit: “Tex” Pomeroy

The Bluetooth intercom dubbed Bb Talkin’ was originally geared toward the winter as well as water sports aficionados; but recently, it was adopted for use by motorcycle riders and hang-gliders who are now being joined by (casual) cyclists.

An interesting exhibitor which apparently expanded its booth from its initial year of participation in 2015 was the Korean outfit WIAWIS, highlighting the “nano carbon bicycle”… what made it of note is that fact that it is being made by a bow manufacturer, the bow being for use by archers.

Due to the fact that Olympics-use bows are nowadays mostly made using carbon materials, the company a while back decided to enter the bicycle production arena since bicycles are used by several Olympics categories, unlike archery.

On’s Company’s booth
Image credit: “Tex” Pomeroy

Of note this time around was the holding at the adjacent convention hall of the annual meeting of the Japanese Society of Clinical Sports Medicine (JSCSM); this underscored the fact that not only new technology from info-tech to materials are being scrutinized but also sports science/medicine as 2020 looms on the horizon. It is foreseen that more startups will enter this sector through innovative applications of such prowess.

Wiawis’ booth
Image credit: “Tex” Pomeroy