Ride report - 12 miles with moderate hills:
I am starting to really enjoy the minivelo. Maybe even more than the nova, as feels more like a real bike, but with the quick spin up of 20" tires.
This bike is easy to get in and out of a 2nd floor apartment. Weight is about the same as the nova, or a tiny bit less (nova advertised at 24 pounds).
Feels like more of my pedal power is becoming speed on the mini. I am also getting used to the much more aero position than my nova affords. I have the seat 1-2" under the bars on the nova - because they wont go any lower. On the minivelo seat is 2-3" higher than bars (I like almost full leg extension). Reach is good, but since I have my seat up high already I will lower the handlebar stem angle to stretch out some more.
The hard seat feels better when in a more aero position, and not so bad wearing bike shorts. An upgrade is still in order.
Pedals are annoying as they are a bit spikey and more spikey on one side than the other. But I am wearing "barefoot shoes" so YMMV. In low gear bottom bracket is whining and groaning, esp up hill. Will be taking it apart to relube.
Gearing is good, but like with the downtube nova I would really like a bit wider range for hills than the 14-28.
I would like to see downtube make a hill version of the nova with a 9 speed 11-32. After learning the 7 speed freewheel is tough to upgrade (shimano doesn't make the 7sp 11-32 anymore, and I have heard mixed reports about the freewheels from other makers), I considered buying a new wheel with a casette setup for my nova. Then I blew my bike money on this minivelo instead with the exact same gearing...foolish perhaps, but I can get my legs stronger while I save for upgrade/bike with wider gearing.
Steering is good and responsive. Weight of the bike feels more evenly distributed than the nova (which has most of the weight near the bottom obviously), so it feels different turning.
This is a great bike for an apartment dweller who has $200 for a basic, no frills bike. Most users will probably upgrade the saddle, especially if their primary use is tooling around the city in a more upright position. Riders above 5'6" or so may need a taller stem if they don't want an aero body position.
I kind of wish I had bought the $300 mercier, which with a steel frame and 16 speed cassette gearing would reduce the ride harshness and improve the gearing range. But then I'd find something else to complain about. I think the $200 corsa will be a better ride with a saddle change and big apple tires.
All in all, the minivelo concept is sound. It is light, maneuverable, fast, and a bit different from what everyone else is doing. And the mini is more store-able and portable than a real bike but rides better than a folder.
I know dahon used to make a nicer equipped folding minivelo, but they are discontinued afaik
. I could really enjoy a better specced mini. Maybe dahon (or tern) will read this and bring back the nicer minivelos.