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Office Chair Racing in Japan

Office Chair Racing in Japan

Office Chair Racing in Japan

Has it ever crossed your mind whilst you are working why your chair is actually on wheels?!


Moving around whilst seated in an office chair is great, we can push off with our feet and arrive at another colleague’s desk in no time at all, providing of course it is safe to do so!

The first person to come up with the idea of putting wheels on a chair was Charles Darwin. The wheels allowed Darwin to move around his study far easier than having to stand up and down on a regular basis. 

Fast forward a hundred years and Darwin may be surprised to see that modern-day human intelligent life forms have reverted to racing around on the chairs that he invented! 

Welcome to the world of Office Chair Racing 

Although office chair racing has been hosted by many countries including Germany and Denmark the origins of this whacky race hail from further afield in Kyoto, Japan. 

The Isu-1 Grand Prix  (“isu” means chair in Japanese) tests not only one’s physical endurance but also mental strength, team coordination, as well as course planning and other race strategies. 

Founded just over 10 years ago and inspired by Formula One and Le Mans endurance racing, the race sees teams of three battle it out on office swivel chairs for two gruelling hours to see who can complete the most laps of the 200-metre course. 

Image Reuters

The Isu-1 Grand Prix was the brainchild of Tsuyoshi Tahara and features 10 different Grand Prix events across Japan each year.  Surprisingly the idea has proved to be very popular.  Over 55 teams enter the event each year with some teams travelling from as far away as Wakayama, 600 kilometres to the south of Kyoto. 

“The origin of this race came to my head when I saw a tricycle endurance race” Tahara explained to Reuters.

“Eventually I created the race which we can hold on the street, three persons per team for two hours of endurance. I wanted to create something no one has made before”.

Some serious contenders have started delving into finding the best chair suitable for the race, according to the organizers. If the office chair breaks you are instantly disqualified and there are no pit stops. 

 Do you have the right chair to be competitive for Office Chair racing?

Let’s be honest, you are now thinking about having a race aren’t you? Maybe even your own office Grand Prix?

Office Chair Racing Office Reality

If you are this might be a good time to think about an office chair upgrade, something more dynamic perhaps, or maybe something sturdier? Or maybe you need to fix that wobbly castor and start gliding around the office like Lewis Hamilton.

To help you choose the perfect race chair we have created a Top Trumps™ of office chairs that could potentially be good contenders for the Isu- 1 Grand Prix:

Mesh Office Chairs

When we enter any competitive race, it pays to think about the aerodynamics of the chair we will be racing on or in. Drag can seriously slow you down, even clothing if baggy, could lose seconds on a run – it’s the main reason athletes and cyclists wear lycra. So, the beauty of mesh is that it is aerodynamic. Air can flow through the back rather than hitting a solid force so the chair can build up speed much more quickly than its fabric counterparts. 

Office Reality recommends the Reactive Ergo Mesh Chair:Reactive Ergo Mesh Chair_

Leather Chairs

Leather chairs tend to weigh more than mesh office chairs, so they offer better stability on the hairpin bends. Leather is also a hard-wearing material, often worn by motorcycle riders to protect themselves from the gravel of the track. Unlike the mesh chair however, the aerodynamics may not be as favourable on the leather chair because the solid back surface will slow you down. 

Office Reality recommends the Galloway Leather Chair:

Galloway Leather Chair_

Executive chairs 

If you were looking to up your office chair race game then look no further than an Executive chair. Executive chairs are designed to last and feature an array of benefits, including enhanced lumbar support, adjustable armrests and have a decent weight rating for the sturdier drivers. If you’re a speed demon and like to ride in comfort then an executive chair could be all you need. The only problem you may encounter is the weight of the chair, especially when cornering and jostling to the finishing line. 

Office Reality recommends the BELIVE 546 Leather Chair:

BELIVE 546 CHAIR_

Kneeling Chairs 

If you prefer to race in something more lightweight and ergonomic then a kneeling chair may offer better performance. Kneeling chairs are beneficial because when seated your weight is evenly distributed which is great for stability around the racetrack. 

However, due to the backward pushing technique used in office chair racing a kneeling chair would be left for dust at the starting grid because the driver’s legs would be restricted. 

Office Reality DO NOT recommend the Steel Kneeling chair for Office Chair Racing

Kneeling Stool_

Operator Chairs

Operator chairs and task chairs seem to be the chair of choice for the Isu-1 Grand Prix. Maybe it's down to affordability or their lightweight properties. The general design and build make for easy steering and the aerodynamics seem to hit a sweet spot. If the course features ramps and obstacles, then slightly smaller operator chairs may be better suited because they will be easier to balance. 

Office Reality recommend The Pricebuster black vinyl chair 

Operator Chair_

We do hope that you have found this article both fun and interesting but, we need to stress that we don’t endorse racing office chairs in the workplace or trying it at home!!

Thanks for reading.

Posted by: Ben Hartley

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