Satoshi Kaga’s first Tweed Run

What does tweed and bicycles have in common? Everything. Since 2009 people have been gathering in the spirit of traditional British cycling garments and classic vintage bicycles. The Tweed Run has become an annual event with major sponsors and in October 2014 it was held in Tokyo. We talked to Satoshi Kaga, who attended the run for the first time.

Satoshi Kaga lives in the Meguro area in Tokyo, a short 30 minute bicycle ride from Shibuya. Ever since he got his first bike, a kid’s version of a BMX, the classic old school 80’s bike, at the age of five he’s been into bicycles. Later he moved on to customizing two vintage Japanese roadsters, a Pashley and a ABICI Uomo Raleigh, his current rides.

The Tweed Run is all about the appreciation of vintage gear. It is a group bicycle ride in which the cyclists are expected to dress in traditional British cycling attire, particularly tweed plus four suits. Any bicycle is acceptable, but classic vintage bicycles are encouraged as an effort to recreate the spirit of a bygone era.

Although previous cycling clubs have hosted vintage-themed rides before, the very first Tweed Run was held in January 2009 and organized via London Fixed Gear and Single Speed, an online cycling forum. Among the inspirations for the Tweed Run was Jack Thurston’s now disbanded Tweed Cycling Club and several vintage attire-themed rides, which were held in the north of England in the 1990s. Since then, the Tweed Run has become an annual event with major sponsors. Participants are limited to 500, and due to high and popular demand a ticket ballot system has been introduced.

• What made you attend The Tweed Run?

I’ve been checking out The Tweed Run London through the internet for a few years. I have always been amazed over how they enjoy riding in their unique way, and the same goes for The Tweed Run Tokyo. I really wanted be a part of it. I applied to the lottery system about a month in advance. Although I attended the run by myself, I was amazed over how easy it was to get along with the other rider with so many shared interests.

• What does The Tweed Run mean to you?

In Tokyo The Tweed Run have had an interesting development. For instance, you might see a guy with mountain bike and a tweed jacket, although more and more participants are going all out with proper vintage bicycles. There are so many mixed styles and various generations, but in the end people are enjoying the same concept.

• Did you attend for the fashion or the cycling?

Definitely both. I dressed up in my tweed suit and brought my red Charleston roadster.

• Takes me through the route? 

It starts from GAIEN MAE, where beautiful Ginkgo trees are standing in line. Then we cycled toward the east, stopping at the imperial palace, and return to the starting point through Roppongi. In total it is a 10 km ride.

The most interesting part of the ride is definitely the people. I met a Japanese girl with a very beautiful English tweed Norfolk jacket and a bustle skirts. I heard that she made them herself specifically for the Tweed Run. It was very impressive. I also chatted with an older gentleman with a 1960’s Raleigh sports bike, with a very old Brooks saddle on. He told me that he had been looking after his bike for more than 25 years. I felt that he gave me the reason to why I should look after things and love them well - that is really important.

• From what we know it is a tradition from the original London Tweed Run to drink tea in the middle of the ride, did you do that?

Not in the middle of the ride. But we all gathered at the beginning and the end of the ride to drink coffee and talk. That’s is one of the difference between the London Tweed Run and The Tokyo Tweed Run.

• Would you encourage people to join The Tweed Run?

Yes. Nice weather, awesome people and of course the beautiful bikes.

• Will you attend the next time?

Differently, yes! The Tweed Run has undoubtedly gained rapid popularity and the event has been adopted worldwide: From the flagship ride in London, to New York, Tuscany - and now also kicking of the Tokyo Fashion Week. So, if you’re into fashion and biking, this is definitely the place to be. Get your tweed on!