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Old 11-16-13, 11:39 AM   #526
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So, I got the Driveline 60t chainring on the bike, and coupled with the 11-25 cog set, I think I can now roll at the speeds I want! I've yet to take it anywhere beyond around the block, so nothing definitive yet, but initial impressions suggest I've got a good working range off the big ring now. The 44t inner is still in place, just in case I meet a mountain.

A word on the Driveline: it's not a performance item. It's a hefty chunk of alu, nicely detailed with the machined/polished cutouts, but it's not pinned or ramped, so shifting is old school style; gotta slow cadence and ease up to get the chain up on and on. The old 54t Origin8 was very sweet shifting, so this is a step backwards in that regard, but the fact is I'm almost always on the big ring, so front shifting quality is not so important to me. Still, it would have been nice to get a quality 60t that looked right and didn't cost more than a third the price of the bike!

Hopefully I'll be able to put it through it's paces this weekend. Here's a pic:


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Old 11-18-13, 08:14 PM   #527
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so, i got the driveline 60t chainring on the bike, and coupled with the 11-25 cog set, i think i can now roll at the speeds i want! I've yet to take it anywhere beyond around the block, so nothing definitive yet, but initial impressions suggest i've got a good working range off the big ring now. The 44t inner is still in place, just in case i meet a mountain.

a word on the driveline: It's not a performance item. It's a hefty chunk of alu, nicely detailed with the machined/polished cutouts, but it's not pinned or ramped, so shifting is old school style; gotta slow cadence and ease up to get the chain up on and on. The old 54t origin8 was very sweet shifting, so this is a step backwards in that regard, but the fact is i'm almost always on the big ring, so front shifting quality is not so important to me. Still, it would have been nice to get a quality 60t that looked right and didn't cost more than a third the price of the bike!

Hopefully i'll be able to put it through it's paces this weekend. Here's a pic:

sweet!!!!
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Old 01-01-14, 10:20 PM   #528
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I'm receiving my Nano tomorrow. I just ordered 11-32 SRAM cassette and 53/39 set of Vuelta chainrings. I already have my rim tape, Brooks B17, and clipless pedals and shoes from another bike I pulled the parts from. My main goal is to fitness ride, grocery getting, and light touring bike. I've been wanting a different fun bike and I think I found it. I also have some Kool Stop pads I bought from Sheldon Browns website a while back that are still in the package. I'm looking forward to this machine. I have my grease and bikestand ready to give the ol' girl the treatment. Gotta revive this thread!

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Old 01-03-14, 07:33 PM   #529
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Built her up and got her tuned. I took the Nano for an hour ride and it's fun. I can't wait to change out my cassette and chain rings as the stock gearing does suck. I'm still dialing it in and I'm almost there. It does handle the road imperfections quit well. But as everyone else said she is a bit of a pig. No worries. I'm no racer so it should be fine.
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Old 01-03-14, 09:26 PM   #530
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P.S. The brake levers really suck. I put the Kool Stop brake pads on but the whole braking setup is junk. Gonna replace the levers for sure. This bike is definitely crying for mods. I'll do mods as money permits.

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Old 01-05-14, 06:38 PM   #531
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Well, the bike is dialed in and it rolls fine indeed. Shifting will take some time to get used to. My neighbor is a bike mechanic. He doesn't do it for a job anymore but he did it for many years. Anyway, he was helping me dial my gears in, and I asked him to help with my rear derailleur, as it was bent during shipping. He told me to hold on a second. When he came back he installed this older derailleur that had never been used, and was top of the line in its day. It did improve my shifting X100. Thanks Randy!
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Old 01-05-14, 08:21 PM   #532
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P.S. The brake levers really suck. I put the Kool Stop brake pads on but the whole braking setup is junk. Gonna replace the levers for sure. This bike is definitely crying for mods. I'll do mods as money permits.
No kidding; most of the stock loadout is junk. Wheels are okay, mechs okay.
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Old 01-06-14, 04:17 AM   #533
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The vintage Dura Ace is a fun touch, Odie! Between that, the shift levers, and the Brooks, someone might be a little perplexed as to the periodof the bike!

As Poguemahone said, all the bits on these rigs are trash, but it's probably more the calipers than the levers causing your brake issues. I did replace both on mine, though.

My next mod is handlebars; I'm going with Soma Hwy One compact bars in black. The shallow drop is appealing, and they'll definitely look better, though I'm a little concerned about losing reach. Civia has a 26.0 clamp compact, the Emerson, but I'm not a fan of the bend on that one. We'll see.

Anyway, enjoy your new bike, Odie.
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Old 01-06-14, 10:17 PM   #534
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I checked out those handlebars. They look kinda cool. I like buck horns myself, but since I haven't ridden road configuration in a better part of a year, I need to accustom myself again. I figure after a few weeks of riding with the drops I will decide if I want to keep that configuration or try something else. Thank you for the encouragement chaadster.
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Old 01-07-14, 03:12 AM   #535
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Oh, good, it came off as encouragement! I didn't want it to seem as harshness towards the bike; I don't know if you read the whole thread, but I'm definitely a Nano enthusiast. As you've discovered, they're simply a blast to ride.

It should be no surprise that improvements make them better bikes. Probably the weakest component spec and only real design flub is the 1" headtube with threaded, JIS headset. The headset is totally unsealed, making it extremely vulnerable to the elements and rapid wearing. That it's 1" JIS spec makes replacement options limited and kinda hard to find. Not that the thing is gonna fall apart; allthough I don't ride my daily or in rain, I'm sure there are guys who do, and probably regular servicing of it in those conditions will be necessary for peak performance and longevity.

Otherwise, once they're lubed and adjusted, it's a completely decent bike and a real attention getter. My build has been geared towards (literally!) performance road riding, but as you may have seen in the thread, there are lots of options as commuting, fixed gear, urban, and even touring setups. Have fun with yours!
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Old 01-07-14, 10:11 AM   #536
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i'm as enthusiastic about modding and upgrading as anyone, but i have to wonder if this particular platform is really worth it.

if the frameset was available for purchase for say, 75usd, i can understand it (and i probably would have already bought one). but, considering this bike costs 300usd and the general consensus is that virtually every part on it is crap, it doesnt seem like a good investment. particularly when, for 500usd you can buy a soma mini that comes stock with good quality components.
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Old 01-07-14, 02:07 PM   #537
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i'm as enthusiastic about modding and upgrading as anyone, but i have to wonder if this particular platform is really worth it.

if the frameset was available for purchase for say, 75usd, i can understand it (and i probably would have already bought one). but, considering this bike costs 300usd and the general consensus is that virtually every part on it is crap, it doesnt seem like a good investment. particularly when, for 500usd you can buy a soma mini that comes stock with good quality components.
It's a good question, but I think the price gap between the Mercier and the Soma -- which I don't think is even available anymore-- was usually greater than the $200 you suggest. Soma offered it mostly at $1k, and on sale at $750. Perhaps they clearanced it at $500, but I never saw that.

Certainly the Soma is a nicer bike all 'round, but speaking for myself, at the time I purchased my Nano, the Soma was $700 more and I wasn't even sure I wanted a minivelo, so the Soma was a non starter for those reasons alone. I also preferred the racing style of the Nano over the touring style of the Soma, but had they been only $200 apart, I might have gone Soma.

In any event, I'm probably still under $800 including all the upgrades on the Nano, and I have a bike that I love and think is more unique than a stock Soma mv, so I'm happy.

Even still, there are precious few options in geared minivelos in the USA, so within the context of what's available, doubling the cost of the Nano via upgrades represents pretty decent value for the category.

Oh, and is there any frameset anywhere available for $75?! That's ridiculous! $300 for a new, rideable, geared, complete bike is incredibly cheap.
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Old 01-07-14, 02:30 PM   #538
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It's a good question, but I think the price gap between the Mercier and the Soma -- which I don't think is even available anymore-- was usually greater than the $200 you suggest. Soma offered it mostly at $1k, and on sale at $750. Perhaps they clearanced it at $500, but I never saw that.

Certainly the Soma is a nicer bike all 'round, but speaking for myself, at the time I purchased my Nano, the Soma was $700 more and I wasn't even sure I wanted a minivelo, so the Soma was a non starter for those reasons alone. I also preferred the racing style of the Nano over the touring style of the Soma, but had they been only $200 apart, I might have gone Soma.

In any event, I'm probably still under $800 including all the upgrades on the Nano, and I have a bike that I love and think is more unique than a stock Soma mv, so I'm happy.

Even still, there are precious few options in geared minivelos in the USA, so within the context of what's available, doubling the cost of the Nano via upgrades represents pretty decent value for the category.

Oh, and is there any frameset anywhere available for $75?! That's ridiculous! $300 for a new, rideable, geared, complete bike is incredibly cheap.
fair point regarding the price points at the time of your purchase, but my observation is based on a current assessment in which the soma can be purchased for around 500.
i don't know how many of them this bikeshop has, but they have been selling them about once every two weeks for more than a year for around 500usd.
so, today, if someone is considering buying a mercier nano, they should definitely consider spending a couple hundred more and buy a much better bike.
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Old 01-07-14, 02:37 PM   #539
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Oh, and is there any frameset anywhere available for $75?! That's ridiculous! $300 for a new, rideable, geared, complete bike is incredibly cheap.
no, there isn't any frameset available for 75usd. that was sort of my point. yes, a 300usd bike is incredibly cheap.. and that's also the problem with it.
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Old 01-07-14, 04:44 PM   #540
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fair point regarding the price points at the time of your purchase, but my observation is based on a current assessment in which the soma can be purchased for around 500.
i don't know how many of them this bikeshop has, but they have been selling them about once every two weeks for more than a year for around 500usd.
I'm pretty sure that's the same bike and it keeps getting relisted. They had a run of sizes last year,but I think that's the last one.

Not really fair to compare the Nano to the Soma. The Soma was a $1K+ bike when it came out;yes the price dropped when they didn't sell,but how may are left out there to buy? For less than the original price of the Soma you could get a Nano and upgrade it,and you'd have a wider selection of tires to choose from. The Soma takes 451's and maxes out at 32's without fenders,the Nano takes 406's and comes with 1.5"s with alot of leeway to go up and down.
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Old 01-07-14, 05:48 PM   #541
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I'm pretty sure that's the same bike and it keeps getting relisted. They had a run of sizes last year,but I think that's the last one.

Not really fair to compare the Nano to the Soma. The Soma was a $1K+ bike when it came out;yes the price dropped when they didn't sell,but how may are left out there to buy? For less than the original price of the Soma you could get a Nano and upgrade it,and you'd have a wider selection of tires to choose from. The Soma takes 451's and maxes out at 32's without fenders,the Nano takes 406's and comes with 1.5"s with alot of leeway to go up and down.
well, firstly, you can see in "completed listings" that they have sold more than one recently. the completed listings view doesnt go back far enough to show others i've seen sell prior to what's shown.

i don't understand your points here.

1. why is it not fair to compare the two bikes?

2. how many need to be left available to make a recommendation to buy a soma instead a nano?

3. how is buying the nano and spending a lot of money and time upgrading it "for less than the original price" of the soma relevant when you can also buy the soma at.. half the original price? that would seem to argue in favor of the soma and not against it.

4. using the old "406 = wider range of tires" argument is tire-some. i like to call it the, "but, muh tahres!" argument. there are "ranges" of tires for every wheel size that i know of. there are plenty of tires to choose from for both 406 and 451. clearly, the soma is designed as a road bike and has the right wheels for that application.

i guess what you are really saying is that although most of the components from headset to derailleur are crap, since the nano has 406 wheels it's a better choice?
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Old 01-07-14, 06:25 PM   #542
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1. why is it not fair to compare the two bikes?
Because one's a $1K+ bike and the other is a $300 bike. Obviously the more expensive bike is going to have nicer components. You need to compare bikes that are closer in cost to make it fair.

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2. how many need to be left available to make a recommendation to buy a soma instead a nano?
Ok,I'm 6'. I won't fit on a 53cm Soma,I should fit the larger size Nano. Can you find me a 55cm Soma for $500? If you can't find a bike that fits,then it doesn't matter how many there are. And there aren't that many left. I can buy a Nano that fits me right now,without having to spend hours scouring the internet,and there's a good chance Nanos will be available in the coming years. The Soma's are limited to a dwindling stock that may never be produced again.

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3. how is buying the nano and spending a lot of money and time upgrading it "for less than the original price" of the soma relevant when you can also buy the soma at.. half the original price? that would seem to argue in favor of the soma and not against it.
Again,find a properly sized Soma. As far as I can tell,there's only a few 53's left. If you fit a 53,great,if not,getting a great deal on a bike that doesn't fit isn't a great deal at all.

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4. using the old "406 = wider range of tires" argument is tire-some. i like to call it the, "but, muh tahres!" argument. there are "ranges" of tires for every wheel size that i know of. there are plenty of tires to choose from for both 406 and 451. clearly, the soma is designed as a road bike and has the right wheels for that application.

i guess what you are really saying is that although most of the components from headset to derailleur are crap, since the nano has 406 wheels it's a better choice?
Reread what I typed. First,as far as the 406 vs 451 thing;406's are more common than 451's. I can walk into several local shops and buy 406's,but I doubt anybody carries 451's. Next,I said the Soma is limited to 32mm tires,you can't go any wider due to the frame. The Nano has clearance for much wider tires,so you can run skinny performance tires or wide comfort ones. You can even run BMX knobbies if you want to play mini velo CX.

The Soma is a nice bike,but they're hard to find,there's only a limited supply of new ones left,and they are limited in how wide of a tire you can run.

edit: also,you said "the soma is designed as a road bike and has the right wheels for that application". From the ad copy I read,the Soma was designed for urban use. YMMV,but I would greatly prefer to run 1.5" tires around the city,with the option of BMX knobbies for winter,than be limited to 32mm.
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Old 01-07-14, 07:07 PM   #543
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Because one's a $1K+ bike and the other is a $300 bike. Obviously the more expensive bike is going to have nicer components. You need to compare bikes that are closer in cost to make it fair.
this makes no sense. yes, the more expensive bike has nicer components and... is available at half the original price. the link i provided has the soma at a starting bid of 399. that's pretty much in the same cost range as the nano. that's why i mentioned it as a better buy in the first place.

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Ok,I'm 6'. I won't fit on a 53cm Soma,I should fit the larger size Nano. Can you find me a 55cm Soma for $500? If you can't find a bike that fits,then it doesn't matter how many there are. And there aren't that many left. I can buy a Nano that fits me right now,without having to spend hours scouring the internet,and there's a good chance Nanos will be available in the coming years. The Soma's are limited to a dwindling stock that may never be produced again.
again, makes no sense. i gave you the link to the bike for sale. what difference does it make if the stock is dwindling? it's not as if it's a dahon folding bike with loads of proprietary parts that require an ongoing supply chain of spares. every part on the soma is standard. in fact, if there are only a few left, that would seem to be a good reason to grab one at the hugely discounted price that's currently being offered.

also, according to specs, the M/L nano is 53cm. so, apparently, the nano will not fit you either.

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Again,find a properly sized Soma. As far as I can tell,there's only a few 53's left. If you fit a 53,great,if not,getting a great deal on a bike that doesn't fit isn't a great deal at all.
i agree. see above.


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Reread what I typed. First,as far as the 406 vs 451 thing;406's are more common than 451's. I can walk into several local shops and buy 406's,but I doubt anybody carries 451's. Next,I said the Soma is limited to 32mm tires,you can't go any wider due to the frame. The Nano has clearance for much wider tires,so you can run skinny performance tires or wide comfort ones. You can even run BMX knobbies if you want to play mini velo CX.

The Soma is a nice bike,but they're hard to find,there's only a limited supply of new ones left,and they are limited in how wide of a tire you can run.

edit: also,you said "the soma is designed as a road bike and has the right wheels for that application". From the ad copy I read,the Soma was designed for urban use. YMMV,but I would greatly prefer to run 1.5" tires around the city,with the option of BMX knobbies for winter,than be limited to 32mm.
so, basically you are confirming that i was correct in my first assessment of your original reply to me. you would chose the nano over the soma based on wheel size. but, evidently, it's a moot point as neither soma nor nano bikes will fit you anyway.
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Old 01-07-14, 08:23 PM   #544
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I bought my Nano knowing that I would be upgrading many components. To me that is the fun of it. I can create my own ride to my specs without starting with an expensive base. $300 is nothing for a decent frame set. I'm gonna mod this little bike until it's probably twice as much as I paid for it. Why you ask? Because it's fun. Period. I can buy a part here, and a part there, and over time it's pretty painless. But the fun is building this bike piece by piece. My neighbor and I are already talking about building a light, strong wheel set. He says he has a tricked out head set that would work too. (He just has to find it). And Chaadster, I don't mind the headset. It's very little effort to overhaul the head set once it needs it (I can't see it needing it too often as this set up worked fine back in the day). I enjoy tinkering so this give me one more thing to tinker with. I do plan on using this machine as a grocery getter, commuter, and light touring. Mostly though it will be ridden for fun. Multiple people have done double takes when they see me go by, and most people wave, which I think is cool. Smallwheeler, be cool man. I'm happy with my ride. Even though you might gasp in shock after learning how much time and money that I dump into this machine. I ride Harley's too and I'm constantly tinkering and spending money on them. But that is fun to me. That's what I work for. I love the idea of such a cheap bike that you can have fun modifying. Just my two cents.

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Old 01-07-14, 08:53 PM   #545
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well, firstly, you can see in "completed listings" that they have sold more than one recently. the completed listings view doesnt go back far enough to show others i've seen sell prior to what's shown.

i don't understand your points here.

1. why is it not fair to compare the two bikes?

2. how many need to be left available to make a recommendation to buy a soma instead a nano?

3. how is buying the nano and spending a lot of money and time upgrading it "for less than the original price" of the soma relevant when you can also buy the soma at.. half the original price? that would seem to argue in favor of the soma and not against it.

4. using the old "406 = wider range of tires" argument is tire-some. i like to call it the, "but, muh tahres!" argument. there are "ranges" of tires for every wheel size that i know of. there are plenty of tires to choose from for both 406 and 451. clearly, the soma is designed as a road bike and has the right wheels for that application.

i guess what you are really saying is that although most of the components from headset to derailleur are crap, since the nano has 406 wheels it's a better choice?
Here's the deal: had the Soma been available for five hundred (525 at your link, unless you're doing local p/u in Chicago) at the time many of us bought the nano, we likely would have purchased the Soma. However, the price difference was substantial-- about 700$ at the time I bought mine, IIRC. If you had some part sources and were a reasonably good mechanic-- which you really needed to be anyway buying a Nano (see my prior posts on this thread) the bike was cheap enough so that most of the parts could be considered throwaways. The wheels and the mechs were decent enough; past that, I think the only other original parts left on my frame is the seatpost clamp.

I upgraded my Nano for under 300$, but I know what I'm doing. I probably would have bought the Soma if the price difference were what it is now, but it wasn't.

It looks like the Soma was pretty much a failure on the sales end, given the substantial price drop. I doubt there will be more, so if I were giving a recommendation to someone now on a mini, I'd tell them to snatch a Soma. If you're contemplating this, do it now, because I think you're seeing the last of the production run now. In a year or so, they'll be harder to find.

I would have upgraded the Soma too, and I don't think anyone is denying it is a nicer set up.

The headset's Roadmaster Mt. Fury quality, Odie-- and it is, confoundingly enough, JIS.
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Old 01-07-14, 08:54 PM   #546
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Smallwheeler, be cool man. I'm happy with my ride. Even though you might gasp in shock after learning how much time and money that I dump into this machine. I ride Harley's too and I'm constantly tinkering and spending money on them. But that is fun to me. That's what I work for. I love the idea of such a cheap bike that you can have fun modifying. Just my two cents.
dude.. i wasn't ripping on you guys. i love to mod bikes too. i was just trying to point to an alternative..
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Old 01-08-14, 01:47 AM   #547
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I bought my Nano knowing that I would be upgrading many components. To me that is the fun of it. I can create my own ride to my specs without starting with an expensive base. $300 is nothing for a decent frame set. I'm gonna mod this little bike until it's probably twice as much as I paid for it. Why you ask? Because it's fun. Period. I can buy a part here, and a part there, and over time it's pretty painless. But the fun is building this bike piece by piece. My neighbor and I are already talking about building a light, strong wheel set. He says he has a tricked out head set that would work too. (He just has to find it). And Chaadster, I don't mind the headset. It's very little effort to overhaul the head set once it needs it (I can't see it needing it too often as this set up worked fine back in the day). I enjoy tinkering so this give me one more thing to tinker with. I do plan on using this machine as a grocery getter, commuter, and light touring. Mostly though it will be ridden for fun. Multiple people have done double takes when they see me go by, and most people wave, which I think is cool. Smallwheeler, be cool man. I'm happy with my ride. Even though you might gasp in shock after learning how much time and money that I dump into this machine. I ride Harley's too and I'm constantly tinkering and spending money on them. But that is fun to me. That's what I work for. I love the idea of such a cheap bike that you can have fun modifying. Just my two cents.
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Old 01-08-14, 05:26 PM   #548
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so, basically you are confirming that i was correct in my first assessment of your original reply to me. you would chose the nano over the soma based on wheel size. but, evidently, it's a moot point as neither soma nor nano bikes will fit you anyway.
No,no,no. Please work on your reading comprehension.

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Reread what I typed. First,as far as the 406 vs 451 thing;406's are more common than 451's. I can walk into several local shops and buy 406's,but I doubt anybody carries 451's. Next,I said the Soma is limited to 32mm tires,you can't go any wider due to the frame. The Nano has clearance for much wider tires,so you can run skinny performance tires or wide comfort ones. You can even run BMX knobbies if you want to play mini velo CX.
If I bought a Soma,I'd want to run at least some 1.35" Kojaks,or preferably my 1.6" Marathon Supremes on it. But even if I swapped the wheels I can't because there's no room. The Soma maxes out at 32mm and if you want fenders it goes down to 28mm. That's too skinny for me for a small-wheeled bike in DC. I'm not a fan of canti's or barcons either,but the tire limitations are a deal killer.
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Old 01-09-14, 07:07 AM   #549
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I love these theoretical arguments about better value or which bike is superior, it is futile. For each person the needs/tastes are different and really the only problem is that in the usa one can't just go and test out a minivelo to see which one fits you better or just appeals to you more for whatever reason. I bought a mercier nano a few years back and I liked it but it didn't really suit me and my riding style and I ended up stumbling onto my origin8 bully at a local bike shop and was able to test it out and it happen to be the answer to my mini velo dreams.

whichever bike you choose you can most likely make it work for you if you are so inclined, for the mercier yes you have to search far and wide for a good headset and if you want any kind of performance you have to replace almost every part on the bike but that can be a long process spreading the expense over time making it a more economic choice in the short term. the soma is a very nice little bike but it is in limited supply and on most of those listing on ebay the $399 is a starting bid not a buy it now, but if one were so inclined to get fat tires for that bike you could put 406 rims on it and with 1.95 tires which would have the same outside diameter of 451 wheels with 1-1/8" tires although I am not sure you could keep your canti brakes.
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Old 01-09-14, 01:18 PM   #550
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Well, given that this is the Bikesdirect Minivelo Upgrade thread, I think that the answer to Smallwheeler's question of whether this platform worth it, was fated to be an enthusiastic YES!

Of the 500+ posts in this thread, I don't believe there has been a single owner who didn't like the bike, and most of us would say we love them and continue to further invest more money in them (i.e. upgrade) beyond purchase price!

it would seem, then, that there is no rational way to conclude anything other than that the Nano is definitely worth it!
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