It was 7 years ago that I brought back a beautiful Christmas present from my trip to Japan - a Bridgestone Jobno Mamachari bicycle! This was full of very innovative and thoughtful features that only the Japanese would think off such as auto steering lock, skirt guard (for the ladies who used this), 5 speed Nexus hub gear, dynamo lighting with auto on/off and more. It would be perfect for family use in Japan to run errands, pick up the groceries, send the kids to school as what a family work-horse should be.
However, it was heavy and not exactly nimble as it was built to withstand daily abuse. It soon found itself rather neglected and gathering dust, in need of a new owner. I am very glad it is now in the good hands of my buddy George Kee. I swapped this in exchange for an air ticket to Chiang Mai!
Prior to buying this, I wanted a Papachari, a Bridgestone Wedge Rock - a male version not a unisex version of the family mule and I saw this in the Bridgestone Catalog but alas, when I checked, production had stopped. Hence, the opportunity to own a Papachari went into cold storage since 2013 until 2 months ago when over lunch, I learn that a Spore famed tourer came out with a most interesting frame - a mixte/step through design and manufactured in conjuction with LKLM, a Chinese bicycle builder.
Being trained in Marketing, I have learned not to pay too much attention to the hype and fluff but to focus on the core strengths of the product. Even then, my bias for a China made bicycle was very strong until I learn that this particular frame - the LKLM 318 Step Thru was designed by one of the best brains of touring bicycles - Mr SK Lah. He is a seasoned world traveller and knows exactly what works and what doesn't and not only is he respected and an expert (in my books), SK is a really nice, helpful and humble gentleman.
A quick visit to him in Oct saw SK explain in detail all the clever and innovative features he incorporated into the unique frame. The traditional bicycle diamond frame, which for decades, remain unchanged, needs to be challenged and improved as its major disadvantage is the top tube. Being a folding bicycle connoisseur and a young Senior, I appreciate bikes that are easy to jump on and get off and many a time, I have seen how the absence of the top tube has saved many cyclists from crashing badly. The challenge then is to come up with a design that is top tube free and yet rigid and strong, even strong enough for full laden touring. Sk reckons he has found the answer!