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Folding Bikes Discuss the unique features and issues of folding bikes. Also a great place to learn what folding bike will work best for your needs.

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Old 08-20-08, 08:06 PM   #1
bikinpolitico
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Thoughts on Mini Velos from the folder community

I posted about this in the Commuter forum with not much response. I thought those with folders might be more interested.

Just came across an article at BikeHugger about a style of bike called a Mini Velo that Masi is thinking about offering in the US. They are regular road frames with 20" wheels designed for those with limited space. They are not folding bikes though. Apparently they are very popular in Japan where space is a premium and Gios and Bianchi currently make Mini Velos for that market.


Does anybody have one these things? If you have one, what do you think? Do you think it would be a good commuter bike for those with limited space or multi modal transportation? Does this concept interest you?

I own a Dahon Speed Pro but have been disappointed by how much the frame flexes under load. While a Mini Velo would not fold down as compactly, it might be a good solution for more performance oriented people that are limited on space.

What you think?

Last edited by bikinpolitico; 08-20-08 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 08-20-08, 08:10 PM   #2
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I think you are looking for a Swift. See sig.

Re above bike, yes they take less space but several inches shorter isn't a huge difference. I'm not sure why exactly they are popular in the far east (and I know they are) but I don't see the space argument for this bike as holding much water.
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Old 08-20-08, 08:44 PM   #3
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I just got a Dahon SmoothHound.



It rides very close to a road bike. I put on drop bars and need to get thinner tires for it, then it should be even better.

I don't view mini-velos as anything close to a folder. It's much more like a road bike. In fact, I sold one of my road bikes when the SmoothHound entered the picture.
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Old 08-20-08, 09:43 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bikinpolitico View Post
Do you think it would be a good commuter bike for those with limited space or multi modal transportation? Does this concept interest you?

I own a Dahon Speed Pro but have been disappointed by how much the frame flexes under load. While a Mini Velo would not fold down as compactly, it might be a good solution for more performance oriented people that are limited on space.
I don't have any experience with minivelos, but in my opinion the lack of a diamond frame is probably the single biggest space saver on any folding bike (saving way more space than either wheel size or actual folding). In fact, I find that my 20" folder takes up less space in my closet unfolded than folded and I doubt I'd be able to fit the big diamond frame of a minivelo. So although these minivelos might have less flex than most folders, I wouldn't expect them to save much space either.

Perhaps forum member Raxel will weigh in because he posts a lot here about minivelos.

Quote:
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I think you are looking for a Swift. See sig.

Re above bike, yes they take less space but several inches shorter isn't a huge difference. I'm not sure why exactly they are popular in the far east (and I know they are) but I don't see the space argument for this bike as holding much water.
Interestingly the Swift also has a fairly big frame for a monotube in the sense that it is tall both in the front and the rear. The frames of Dahons, Downtubes, Bike Fridays, R20s, etc all slope down towards the rear, which means that front wheel removal cuts the height of these bikes in half while unfolded (that is, of course, assuming seatpost and handlebar removal, but I don't consider this "folding" because you can find these features on many nonfolding bikes too).
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Old 08-20-08, 11:52 PM   #5
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I suspect these are popular in Japan for the same reason Hello Kitty is; people there like cute things. I also like them, but I don't really buy the space argument.
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Old 08-21-08, 12:12 AM   #6
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They are very popular here too (I live in south Korea, far east country). Non-foldable frame is generally much lighter and rigid than foldable ones. And I can easily carry one indoors, but it is much harder to carry a road bike or MTB. (Especially when you walk up /down stairways) They also fit in rear seat of most middle-sized sedans with both wheels attached.

And many people like the look of them.. they look less 'aggressive' than full bore road bikes or MTBs.
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Old 08-21-08, 06:43 AM   #7
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I am fascinated by them, but do not own one. I think they would be great in some applications. They will fit great in the seat locker of my sailboat. My Helios P8 fits there too if NOT folded and the front wheel is removed. The fold makes it harder to store in such situations where thickness is a limiting factor, so the fold is not an advantage in that particular application.

The difference that is important to me is that I cannot achieve the riding position I want with the Helios and think I could with the Masi mini-velo. The bars do not go low enough or far enough forward. It also is pretty flexy if you stand and pull on the bars. The Masi mini-velo looks like it would address all of these concerns while still being much easier to store than a full sized bike.

The dahon mini-velos do not look like they address my ridng position complaints. I don't get why they put such a long head tube on them bringing the bars up so high.

The Masi mini-velo also has a normal road bike drive train, a big plus.

The mini-velo is much shorter in length than a "normal bike" making it easier to carry through doors and up or down stairs. It also fits in vehicles better than a full sized bike and in the case of some spaces just as well as a folder.

Some of those advantages could be had with a folder, but only in a pretty high priced one. Depending on how you use it the fold may be a big advantage or not.

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Old 08-21-08, 06:53 AM   #8
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I love the idea of minibikes - they're slowly coming into view in the West what with the Dahon Hammerhead/Smoothhound series and the Cannondale Capo. I'm currently building up a 70's vintage non-folding Raleigh Twenty that will have bigger wheels (24") but similar diminutive road-bike manners and performance if it goes to plan.

One day I'll do a frame building course and maybe make one of my own.
You should check out Tony Rentschler's handbuilt minibikes - they're beautiful:
Tony Rentschler's minbike gallery
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Old 08-21-08, 06:59 AM   #9
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Having owned full-sized bikes for 40 years and an Alex Moulton for 25, I can say that yes, the shorter length bike does fit far easier in places in the house, car and light rail.

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Old 08-21-08, 07:08 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
The dahon mini-velos do not look like they address my ridng position complaints. I don't get why they put such a long head tube on them bringing the bars up so high.
I am replying to my own post to ask if someone could clarify if this is true for the Hammerhead or Smooth Hound and a medium sized rider (maybe someone who would ride a 54 cm frame in a full sized bike). Can you get the bars at least 3-4 inches below the saddle and are you adequately stretched out? It looks like maybe for the Hammer Head and probably not for the Smooth Hound based on the pictures, but I wonder if that is true.
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Old 08-21-08, 08:47 AM   #11
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The answer is yes. I'll have to take a picture of my setup with the drop bars and will post it.

The SmoothHound pictured above is the cruiser version, that's why the mustache bars are up so high.

The HammerHead is the racier twin. Same frame, drop bars, lighter components.
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Old 08-21-08, 09:13 AM   #12
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The answer is yes. I'll have to take a picture of my setup with the drop bars and will post it.

The SmoothHound pictured above is the cruiser version, that's why the mustache bars are up so high.

The HammerHead is the racier twin. Same frame, drop bars, lighter components.
Thanks. I would be interested in seeing pictures. When you post the picture please list your height or PBH.
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Old 08-21-08, 09:32 AM   #13
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as they were no Hammerheads imported in 08 and 07 and only LArge 20 inch frame sizes left over from 06 ..... and only few smoothounds carried over from 06 to 07 ( the 08 model never saw the USA ) its most likely that it will be darn difficult to actually find one of the smaller frame sizes ....

time to get with it. google like crazy and find one dealer who actually has one left ( not just listed on the Internet site, but physically in stock )

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Old 08-21-08, 09:53 AM   #14
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Mini Velos would make excellent climbing bikes for professional racing. At climbing speed, the smaller wheel is more efficient, and lighter to boot.
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Old 08-21-08, 04:52 PM   #15
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Thanks. I would be interested in seeing pictures. When you post the picture please list your height or PBH.
Here is a picture of my SmoothHound. I have a 130mm stem on it.



I'm 6'0 and 188 lbs. I'd tell you what my PBH is if I knew what you were talking about .
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Old 08-22-08, 02:46 AM   #16
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Mini bikes are great..too bad there are none here i oz. I particularly like the Progressive japanese model

http://www.progressivebike.co.jp/
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Old 08-22-08, 04:24 AM   #17
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Mini bikes are great..too bad there are none here i oz. I particularly like the Progressive japanese model

http://www.progressivebike.co.jp/
Nice, but what I would really like to see is a Mini Velo Mixte, that would be very retro, & very cool !
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Old 08-22-08, 06:06 AM   #18
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Here is a picture of my SmoothHound. I have a 130mm stem on it.



I'm 6'0 and 188 lbs. I'd tell you what my PBH is if I knew what you were talking about .
Thanks. It looks like I being a bit shorter and liking the bars fairly low would want them lower, but it appears that would easily be accommodated.

Nice looking bike BTW.
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Old 08-23-08, 11:19 AM   #19
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Living in a big city in Japan I get to see some really interesting bicycles, but I must say the mini-velos really standout - very stylish and sporty looking bikes IMO. Performance wise, they are, like most small wheeled folders, quick accelerators - so great for the city. Going only by my experience riding a Curve SL, it seems small wheeled, light weight bikes are good hill climbers, but with a more rigid frame the Mini-velos are probably better, which I suppose is one reason for their popularity here - mountains and hills everywhere.



www.raleigh.jp/catlog08/RSP/top.htm



http://brunobike.jp/
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Old 08-23-08, 11:50 AM   #20
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looks like this strange puma thing but this has disk breaks


http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/PUMA-Folding-B...d=p3286.c0.m14
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Old 08-23-08, 01:50 PM   #21
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I love the idea of minibikes - they're slowly coming into view in the West what with the Dahon Hammerhead/Smoothhound series and the Cannondale Capo. I'm currently building up a 70's vintage non-folding Raleigh Twenty that will have bigger wheels (24") but similar diminutive road-bike manners and performance if it goes to plan.

One day I'll do a frame building course and maybe make one of my own.
You should check out Tony Rentschler's handbuilt minibikes - they're beautiful:
Tony Rentschler's minbike gallery
Tony Rentschler's bikes are amazing. I really enjoyed the link when someone posted it a while back. Thanks to whoever did that (LittlePixel?)

I also like the old school Formula 1 BMX bikes modified by Tom Grinder of grinderbikes.com. This is a Diamondback F1 he turned into a commuter for a friend:



And a Rockfish F1 he got as a frameset and built as a single speed for himself:



I corrosponded with Tom a bit. One of his comments was "I love these small wheeled bikes", but he didn't say why. I can't say either, guess its just because they look unusual.
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Old 08-23-08, 11:59 PM   #22
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If you add a quick release for the handlebar, strap it on the side of the bikes with cables still attached, and folding petals, they fit much easier into a car. A bunch of them like that would fit better in a bike car on a train.
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Old 08-26-08, 09:01 PM   #23
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Nice Masi, with s & s couplers you could really get that thing in a suitcase...
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Old 10-14-08, 10:07 AM   #24
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Why don't they sell them here!?

One question, though. I'm like 6'1" with short legs and a large upper body, so I need a long length in order to not be scrunched up. Would that be a problem with minivelos. I have a Swift folder now, and it works for me.
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Old 10-15-08, 08:24 AM   #25
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This was probably one of the threads that inspired the possibility of a mini-velo conversion for me:

Mini-velo conversion?
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