My daughter, who's learned to ride the bicycle of the traffic playground. Now she wants one for herself.
My daughter wants a bicycle
My daughter has addicted to bicycles. She's finally learned how to ride it, after training with the traffic playground bicycle. Now she says she wants one of her own.
But a bicycle for children costs about 20k yen. And after 2 or 3 years, it no longer fits them, and for the present it won't be for transportation, but only for playing. So, if she feels like riding, I prefer she goes to the traffic playground.
Nevertheless, she says she wants a yellow bicycle as birthday present. A friend of mine told me that children who like yellow also like their fathers.
OK, I'll make one. A super duper yellow one.
In the past, I made her a Licca-chan doll out of cardboard. Now she has many of them and still enjoy it. Let's do it again.
Can I really make a bicycle?
Previously, I made her Licca-chan dolls with cardboard. I'm quite good at detailed work.
But this time it's a bicycle! There will be a person riding it, so it requires the strength of a furniture, and besides, it runs. I feel lost starting from the chain structure.
Won't a chair with casters do? I'll try to ask her. How about a yellow chair?
Here I am, at Home Center. There are bicycles for sale at the entrance. But I pass it by and go to the DIY corner in the back.
Let's start with the materials, at Home Center
Right, I'm going to make it, but with what? Anyway, I came to Home Center.
What is a bicycle made of, in the first place? A body made of metal and rubber tires. The body is full of straight lines, so I can do something with wood, but the problem is the tires.
I looked for a round-shaped object the size of a tire, but there's only grindstone. Perhaps I could place two of this grindstone side by side and roll it up with rubber from the top... Hey daughter, is grindstone ok for you?
The only big disk-shaped object I could find was grindstone. Hmm grindstone... My daughter riding a grindstone bicycle...
At a large Home Center
Grindstones are cool, but isn't there anything more tire-like?
On the next day, I came to a larger Home Center. Oh, I can see grindstones here too. Well then, now that I've kept the grindstone as a guarantee, let's look for something else. This is the first time I take a grindstone as guarantee. I still got many things to see in life.
Hey daughter, will an abdominal roller do?
The first candidate changes from grindstone to abdominal roller
What I quickly found was an abdominal roller. This is good. Looks more like a tire. And I also found casters. This is good too, but it's small, and I wanted something more tire-like... That's when I found this.
Yes, it's a tire.
There were tires for handcarts for sale. This is it!!
I got tires for handcarts.
The tires were shining bright at the counter. Tires are such extraordinary objects. Unlike a grindstone, you can fill it up with air, and you can rotate it while putting your body weight on (no need for bearings). It's a supreme gem.
There will be less manually-made elements, but this time, let's prioritize the finishing. Let me think about the structure that will ride on these tires.
Let's go with PVC for the frames
Let's give it a try with PVC
The next thing is the body's material. Maybe wood, which is easy to process? But wood will look fragile in the joints. Isn't there anything stronger?
Oh yes, a bicycle frame is made of iron pipe. As a pipe, it's light and strong. So I think about PVC. There's even PVC connections being sold at Home Center, and it's very strong. And it looks easy to process. Ok, this is it.
Hey daughter, your bicycle is gonna be PVC-made. Whenever we need, it'll work as rain gutter too, alright?
At a hamburger joint inside Home Center, I think about the drawing. I was there for a total of 5 hours.
I listened to "Hotaru no Hikari" at Home Center
How can I make it with a handcart tire and PVC? I kept thinking about it at Home Center. I must have arrived here at 3 pm, and listened to "Hotaru no Hikari", which plays before the store closes.
I start to write down the elements that compose a bicycle. No way I can make a chain, and there's no need for brakes. It became a tricycle-like bicycle, that you rotate the tires directly.
What is a bicycle? I try to write down the elements. The chain and brake, between the parenthesis, were quickly abandoned.
I bought it. 6,400 yen. Tires, PVC, wood and metal fittings.
Bicycles are cheap
I bought all the material. 6,400 yen (to be inflated). An ready-made product is robust, safe and fast, an costs 20,000 yen. A ready-made is a bargain.
As I realized that, well, let's change the incentive. Money is not the problem. It's about the feeling, the warmth of a handmade PVC pipe.
The weekend ends here, so the production will start in the next weekend. In the meantime, my daughter's birthday arrived. I told her I'd give her a bicycle.
The production finally begins. The good thing about PVC is that you can easily cut it with a saw.
The production finally begins, but the problems pile up
I finally got to the production. First I revise the drawing. I feel absolutely no scent of success. Rather than going forward, I totally feel like routing at a quagmire.
It may be a drawing, but the size is yet to be defined. So I place a bicycle-like vehicle that my daughter usually rides, called Strider, and measure the sizes roughly.
(...this is good, isn't it? Just repaint the Strider and give it as a present!)
I hear the devil speaking. If I'm put on a witch trial, I'm pretty confident I'll be sentenced to burn to death right away.
"Wait there, screws!" That's how I felt when I saw Tokyu Hands before me.
"You'd better quit it before it breaks"
I came to Tokyu Hands looking for a high nut that fits the handcart tires.
When I asked the clerk, he said it was a special screw that was out of stock at that moment. If I used a normal screw, it would break, he says.
But I have no choice but do it. I have no idea about the structure, and I'm short on time.
Doing it despite having been told to stop made me feel somewhat like a hero trying for a desperate deadly strike. But there's a high possibility that what awaits me from here on is a story that will produce trash.
This is the bicycle body. At first glance, it looks like a bonus stage of Super Mario. And at second glance too.
The part that fixates the tire is self-made, with metal fittings and wood. Anything but reassuring.
With this structure, the tires won't roll... How many times have I facepalmed other than this?
Work and hopelessness
Cut the PVC pipe, insert and connect with bolts and nuts... This size is not good, this structure is not good. I was at my wit's end trying to come up with a solution and very close to throwing the towel,
Even if everything goes well, it will still be a bicycle made of PVC pipe... When I came to my senses, I felt like walking toward a cliff.
I finished the pedals and the tire part. For the time being, I've satisfied the structure of a pedal.
When I brought the handcart tires inside the house, it stunk.
Next morning, my wife starts to make some noise, "It stinks, the room stinks!". She's right, the handcart tires stink.
When I brought the handcart tires inside the house, it smelt like rubber. You don't know about the things until you do it.
Let's go back to the production. Today, my wife and daughter are going to a bicycle store. I told them to buy one there if they liked. I feel weak.
An important part that connects the frame and the tires. Hello there, low precision...
I keep going to Home Center. The production cost has now reached about 9,000 yen.
The completion is near
At Home Center, I bought some metal fittings I was short on, and finally the manufacturing process reaches its final stage. The total production cost is about 9,000 yen.
The commercial bicycles are cheap. It's cheap and very well built. Who's the guy who invented the chain? Who's the guy that made the axle so robust? The granny bike that you ride there, that's wisdom of human kind. A road bike is a modern OOPART.
The tires and the frame are connected. The completion is near.
I also attached a handlebar. It's properly linked to the tires, which now turn.
The front wheel with the handlebar and the rear wheel with pedals are ready.
If I connect this frame upfront and behind, I'll finally finish this, but...
Then my daughter came back. "What's that?!" She found me!
"It's a bicycle!" Yes, this is a bicycle. I couldn't paint it yellow, but it's yours.
"It's exciting, cool / Very much Home Center-like" These two thoughts come alternately.
It's awesome, like Kaneda's bike
It's finally done. My daughter's first comment was, "It's a bicycle!". Made of PVC pipe, but... (well, if she said, "It's PVC pipe!", that would be surprising too, but.)
Anyway, it's a success. I wasn't thinking about the appearance at all, but once it's finished, it's quite good looking. It has an air of Kaneda's bike, which appears in AKIRA. Or maybe Home Center's material storehouse.
It suits you. Like in a catalogue. Oh, wait. Yeah, it's only compassion.
My daughter is ecstatic. Ahh, that makes me happy. It was very hard to build that, you know? But I feel gloomy too. I have experience this feeling before. When I made Licca-chan dolls with cardboard.
It's a feeling of joy for making her happy, along with a feeling of pity for seeing her so happy with something like this. Oh, this ambiguous feeling... What goes through the mind of a father is much more complex than I used to think when I was a child.
As a father, I feel happy and sad
In theory, it's possible to ride it as a bicycle...
If the pedals are stepped on, the rear wheel should move, and with the handlebar the front wheel should change its direction. In theory, this is a splendid bicycle.
Ok then, let's ride it. I didn't have time to paint it yellow, but it looks good in its own way, doesn't it? This is your bicycle.
The first time she tried to ride it. It broke down immediately.
The rear wheel immediately bends in an incredible way
Here is the moment it breaks, in slow motion
A new kind of bicycle, which splits in front and rear parts, so you fix it by beating with your hands.
After that, it continued to break repeatedly, so my daughter starts saying, "This is a toy" (how rude!). And then...
I knew it from the beginning, but this emptiness is hard
It broke down immediately. The PVC pipe itself wasn't the problem. The strength concentrated in the joints, and that was weak.
I was feeling like heading toward a cliff from the beginning, so it does feel like I had anticipated. There is that birdman contest, but I wonder if any pilot starts to fall right away screaming "I knew it!!" If there is, that's how I feel.
But even knowing about that, this empty feeling is hard. I worked pretty hard on this. And I could do nothing as a father.
Well, thankfully my daughter didn't get hurt. Although it's me who made this thing that could hurt her.
I was ready to go home, when my daughter says she wants to use the pedal that fell off as a stand for the bicycle. What's that, no way that could be any fun.
After giving up on pedaling, my daughter has an idea. She wants to pick up the pedal and make it a stand
You did it! You managed to make it stand!
My daughter gets delighted when the bicycle stood. Wait, is that so interesting? Isn't a bicycle something that you enjoy by riding it?
You're too happy. I didn't make that thing for that, you know? Well, I guess it's fine, though.
Lastly, we take a commemorative picture
Bicycles are awesome...
I tried making a bicycle because I didn't want to buy a normal one, but when I finished, I can only think that normal bicycles are awesome. Something so well made like that is available for 20,000 yen. Only the parts alone must cost that much.
The easily available things are awesome. So much so that I get dazzled. But maybe this is the world that my daughter and kids of her age see.
A world full of things that feel you awe. Now that I know most of the things, in order to go back to that world, maybe the only thing I can do is to reinvent a bicycle like a fool.
Since I made Licca-chan dolls with cardboard, two years have passed, and my daughter, who was 3 then, is now 5.
Today, I took her to the nursery school and stood there watching her play with everybody, when she sent us off, saying, "Go! Go (quickly)!" You finally came, self-consciousness.
I'll go, but I won't stop. From here on, I'm sure you'll hate it even more, but I'll make you a bicycle, a set of 24 colored pencils and take a secret peek into the world you see!
She says she's buying this piece of human kind wisdom