Estonian Startup Stigo Brings Electric Portable Bikes to Japan

Stigo portable bikes are already available for a ride in Fukuoka as well as online orders

Left picture: a woman rolles her Stigo bike in a collapsed mode behind her. Right picture: a woman puts her Stigo bike into the car.
Stigo collapsible and portable electric bike

Estonian startup Stigo has recently introduced its collapsible and portable electric bike in Japan with the help of Startup Fukuoka community. This mean of transportation might become a disruptive force as it solves at least three main issues that different vehicles create: a shortage of storing and parking space, financial investment into maintenance and ecological impact. Let us take a closer look at these bikes, how they have made their way into the Japanese market, and why Stigo is different from other bikes.

Estonia and Japan, the Long-Term Business Partners

During the last decade, Estonia has become one of the leading startup nations. The country welcomes fresh ideas and young businesses and continuously improves the environment in which startups could thrive. For example, Estonia is the one and only country that currently offers an e-residency to “easily start and manage a global business in a trusted EU environment”. It also arguably has the easiest procedure to obtain a startup or a digital nomad (freelancer) visa.

How does all of it relate to Japanese business?

Estonia and Japan have been cooperating for a very long time with the Japanese entrepreneurial and political delegations regularly visiting Tallinn and other cities to foster economic and business cooperation. Moreover, on 30th of August 2018, Japan and Estonia have signed the Tax Convention eliminating double taxation that will come into force on January 1st, 2019. This cooperation has provided a fertile soil for Estonian startups who would like to bring their products and services to Japan as Stigo did.

During their visit to Tallinn in February 2018, the delegation of Fukuoka city was introduced to the Stigo bikes. Interestingly, Stigo was already considering bringing its product to Japan and has carried a research on market entry. Fukuoka became a helping hand a point of entry as this city is perfectly suited for bike commuting due Fukuoka’s compact size.

What is a Stigo Bike?

Stigo is a foldable and portable vehicle with an electric motor that can take as far as 40 km in one ride and takes only 4 hours to charge and 2 seconds to collapse and unfold it. Stigo is allowed on public roads in Japan and you can take it with you to all means of transportation, e.g. Shinkansen or car. However, since it is powered by a Lithium-ion battery this bike is not allowed on the planed due to safety precautions. Otherwise, you can bring your futuristically-looking Stigo pretty much anywhere easily since it weighs only 15.3 kg.

In order to make Stigo compatible with the Japanese laws and regulations, developers had to limit the maximum available speed to 19 km/h as well as add one extra mirror. It is also important to remember that in Japan, all kinds of transportation means require registration (even regular bicycles), and quite often a driver’s license (even ones below 50 cc). Stigo is less than 50 cc and thus categorized as a motorcycle, meaning that the majority of areas in Japan will probably require a driving permit for Stigo. Be sure to consult your local officials once you decide to ride a Stigo.

Stigo’s parameters are 48cm x 38cm x 118cm, which is more or less an equivalent of a standard suitcase.

The Perks of Stigo Bikes

Lightness and portability

The regular bicycles will probably stay with us for a very long time. It is still a good lightweight and compact alternative to cars and other vehicles but they still have their minuses. Bicycle’s dimensions make it somewhat hard to store whether you leave in the parking lot, keep in your garage or balcony, or hand it on the wall. Also, carrying or walking your bike with you is not as easy as it might seem, especially in a constricted space of Japanese roads. Stigo’s parameters are 48cm x 8cm x 118cm, which is more or less an equivalent of a standard suitcase that can be rolled around.


A possibility to take your Stigo with you everywhere means that this bike requires zero parking space. You can collapse it and take it with you and eliminating the need to find a spare parking lot and pay for it forever. Finding parking lots in Japan is a quest for majority vehicles. And while parking fees might not look high on the first glance, when summed up over the year they form a significant expense segment of one’s budget. Moreover, if your bike is always with you what are the chances it might get stolen or vandalized?


Powered by electricity, Stigo produces no fumes and does not consume any kind of fossil fuels. Which once again returns us to the discussion of money saving. What has been previously spent on tank loading can now be used for other purposes without restricting and limiting your mobility.

Do you feel like getting a Stigo? We would love to hear your opinion in the comment section below.

Today’s “otsumami” – a bite size snack:

Restrictions foster creativity: no pollution, no extra space required, no extra investments  – Stigo bikes.

What do you think?

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