JR East have announced a new concept train designed specifically for the transport of bicycles and cyclists for special events and occasions to the Boso region in Chiba Prefecture. Scheduled to begin operation in January 2018, the Boso Bicycle Base (BBB) permit bikes to board as is and do not need to be folded or packed in a rinko bag or bike box.
The train used for the BBB will be a modified version of an older train model with six cars. Cars 1 to 3, 5, and 6 will be designed to allow bicycles to be racked alongside seating for cyclists. The fourth car will be a multi-purpose space meant for small gatherings, such as event briefings. At maximum capacity, the BBB train will hold 99 bicycles and have 99 seats available. Playing on the concept of a base for bicycles, both the exterior and interior of the BBB will feature original illustrations, designs, and a logo that are thematically gray and cycle-centric.
As the number of large-scale sporting events increase throughout Japan year-on-year, JR East has seen a rising demand in the deployment of the "cycle train". For those keen on participating in sports events and activities in the Boso area, the BBB is a positive step by Japan Rail in understanding consumer trends and meeting new demands.
What's so special about the Boso Bicycle Base?
The Boso Bicycle Base (BBB) is a unique concept because this is the first time JR East has modified a train specifically for the sole purpose of transporting bicycles and their owners. This differs from the "cycle trains" utilized thus far, which have been normal commuter trains with seats covered by a protective tarp and creative utilization of hanging straps to rack bicycles.
What is the "cycle train" concept?
Since 2013, a small number of JR East trains have been converted to "cycle trains" for special events and on a seasonal basis. Cycle trains are generally limited to less than 100 bicycles and almost always require prior booking. In the past, JR East cycle trains to the Chiba Boso area have included the Kujukuri Triathlon (99T), Kisarazu Triathlon, and Tateyama Wakashio Triathlon.
Can't I bring my bike on the train anyways?
Yes, in Japan, you're allowed to bring your partially disassembled (at the very least, you must take the front wheel off) and covered (loosely defined) bicycle aboard a train, including the shinkansen. When bringing bikes onboard, cyclists (especially those traveling in small groups), should carefully consider the best time and day for travel, bearing in mind that bicycles, no matter how they are packed or folded, tend to take up space and can be met with unwelcoming glares.
About the Boso Peninsula
Popular year-round for it's mountainous interior and the beaches along its rambling coastline, the Boso Peninsula is a part of Chiba Prefecture and located just east of Tokyo across Tokyo Bay. Well-connected to Tokyo by train, bus, and expressway, many flock to the Boso area to revel in nature and enjoy the region's mild climate. During the summer, open water swim competitions, triathlons, and cycling rides are commonly held in the Boso Peninsula.