Chapter 9 - The Cost of a Bike

Um... When you say to pick whichever one looks best...
When you're in the 50,000 yen range, there's really not that much difference between bikes.
Is that really true?
At that price range, most bicycle companies have manufacturing companies in Taiwan do the assembly for them.
So... does that mean they're poorer quality?
Not at all, Risa-chan. They're inexpensive, but high quality parts.
That's right. The labor in Taiwan is cheaper, but they're highly skilled, so bike manufacturers have been outsourcing their labor over there for years.
Thanks to the growth in that trade over there, bikes produced in Taiwan probably make up the world's largest share these days.
Even if you see one that says "Made in Italy" on it, the truth is, it was probably only finished in Italy... Or that's what they say, at least.
Similar to how PC components are largely produced in Taiwan, correct?
Miya... How do you know this stuff...?
The point is, if you're spending something like 50,000 yen on a crossbike, no matter which manufacturer you choose, odds are they were all assembled using the same Taiwanese construction.
Naturally, you could buy a more expensive crossbike... But if losing weight is your main goal, then that's really not necessary.
Those bikes on display over there look like they're over 200,000 yen.
In the world of sports cycling, there's a direct correlation between price and performance. If you set your sights high enough, there's really no limit.
But that said, there have also some cases where someone's spent a fortune on a bike, only to actually ride it and find out it's terrible for sports cycling... If you can believe it.
Th- That's not good... (sweat)
At any rate, I recommend looking in the 50,000 yen price range for an entry-level bike. The first thing you want to do is be sure this is something you're going to enjoy.
Th- That's true.
Later, once you've got a more experienced eye, I can offer you advice on various parts based on how they'll affect your performance...
But for the time being, you should just pick one based on whichever color and style of frame you like best. It's important to get one you'll feel an attachment to.
I see... In that case I'll take a look over in this price range and figure out which one suits my fancy.
Risa's fancy... Then perhaps... No, surely not... U- Um, excuse me, Satsuki-san, might I ask you something?
What is it, Miya-kun?
This may be an odd request, but...
(I can't believe Miya's asking Satsuki-san a question on her own... She must be pretty interested in this too, although probably not as much as me.)
You wouldn't happen to have any crossbikes with bears on them, would you?
Waaaaaah~ Miya, knock it off!
But I thought that listless bear with the unmotivated expression would be perfect for you...
Even I wouldn't want that!
We can customize the color of the tires or seat, but we don't have any with bears...
She was just joking, Satsuki-san. Please don't listen to her...
Maybe if you put some stickers on... Oh, I've got it. I know exactly what you want, Risa-kun.
(No, you really don't...)
You want to make something like one of those otaku-mobiles, don't you? I haven't ever done something like that before, but if that's what you really want...
I- It's fine, I'm fine with just a normal bike! It's better even!
Mai, what's an "otaku-mobile"?
You know... I'm not really sure. Risa-chan has some strange hobbies, I guess.
Good grief... Come on Miya, get serious and let's pick out a bike.
...I'm actually relieved to hear you say that.
Geeze... You know I don't like letting other people know about the kind of stuff I'm interested in.
Yes... But think about it, Risa.
A frame your favorite shade of cotton candy pink, to go perfectly with your room.
Y- Yeah...?
With images of that lackadaisical bear plastered all over, and you, straddling it.
It's enough to make even me want to keep my distance.
Hnnnnh... Don't imagine it then!
You look like you're enjoying yourself. Have you found one you like yet?
Based on what I've seen and Satsuki-san's advice, I'm thinking of going with one of these over here.
Yeah, those look nice.
Hmm, these bikes are cheaper than I was expecting.
Wait, really? It seems to me like a pretty big purchase for a student...
Well, the supermarket I go shopping at with Mai has some that are even cheaper than these. Why not get one of those?
Absolutely not.
Yeah, forget it.
G- Geeze, you scared me...
Sorry, I didn't mean to make you jump, Risa-chan. Reo was just saying something she shouldn't have been.
What was that for? You like to buy cheap, don't you Mai? Like at those bargain sales.
Yeah, that's true... But it's a little different when it comes to bikes.
Mai-kun is right. You can find some models for around 1 or 2,000 yen at a big box retailer or home improvement store, but I'd advise against it.
That actually does seem pretty cheap.
The price may be cheaper, and they may look similar at a glance, but in terms of performance, they're far inferior compared to something from a legitimate bicycle maker.
Is that true?
With those kinds of bikes, what you see is not what you get. They may resemble a sports bicycle, but that's where the similarities end.
In order to keep their prices low, the parts and materials they use are no different from an ordinary granny bike.
Most of them are made in China, and they're not guaranteed by the Bicycle Association if they fail.
It would seem to be an issue of quantity over quality.
Not to mention, if you leave one outside, the whole thing will rust in a matter of months. The chain and bolts will turn solid brown.
It's not at all unusual for those kinds of bikes to break down randomly either.
Whoa... That sounds pretty awful...
That's why getting one of those cheap things is absolutely out of the question.
You got that, Reo?
Y- Yeah, I got it. It's not like I was gonna get one of those to begin with, though...
On the flipside, legitimate bicycle makers don't use parts that will rust overnight, and the frames are sturdier too.
There really is a correlation between price and quality, then...
So keeping that in mind, I really would recommend something in the 50,000 yen range.
It seems we're almost out of time. Next time... Oh goodness, that bear actually does end up on Risa's bike...
I told you, I'm not doing that!

"That listless bear" is likely a reference to Rilakkuma, a bear character whose favorite activities include lying around doing nothing.

To be continued... Next time♪

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