Monday, August 18, 2008

Japanese Mystery Commercial Solved! Wagering on Bicycle Racing!

Thanks to our internationally savvy D+R readers, the mystery of the bicycle racing commercial has been solved.

D+R reader Pat breaks it down:

Those Japanese cycling commercials are for keirin (I would assume the Japanese olympic team, based on the 5-rings watermark at the beginning), a cycling track sport started in Japan. Main interest points of keirin are that starting points are determined by luck, and the major portion of the race is ridden behind a pacer. It's only in the last bit of the race (starting when the pacer arbitrarily decides to leave the track) that the racers can really let loose and ride at top speed.

NJS is the organization that tightly controls standards, and because there is so much betting on the races, bikes and all components need to meet strict requirements to be allowed in, to keep them all similar enough (same idea as in stock car racing). NJS-stamped components and frames are reputed to be triple the price of a similar quality non-certified equipment, not because they are necessarily the best (remember, all the bikes need to be similar enough that they don't give advantages) but because keirin is that popular.
And D+R reader Mark adds:
I live in Tokyo, and these commercials are for Keirin. It's a form of velodrome racing where betting is involved on short sprint races, like the horse track. All of the riders in the commercial are wondering about their jobs as they ride, the problems the have yet to face that day, and what challenges they need to overcome. It's very poetic, and even better on a high-def TV.
We also have a water-based racing series called Kyotei.
And from Claire:

There's a scene in the Beat Takeshi movie, Kikujiro, that takes place at a cycle racing center.
And a few selections from YouTube:

Many thanks to Pat, Captured Shadow, Ryan, Claire and Tarik!