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Velo Orange Neutrino mini velo review

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Velo Orange Neutrino mini velo review

Old 09-25-20, 12:34 PM
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Velo Orange Neutrino mini velo review

Ok, so it's not a folding bike. But it's a similar idea and this seems like the best spot. TLDR: it's great fun but it should have rim brakes instead.

There are several different points to cover with the Neutrino so I'll break them into paragraphs. This is my first 20" wheel bike since I was a kid and it's been a fun experiment. Mine went on a plane with me to San Francisco for a week-long work trip in February, right before covid...

Packing for flight: first, the box the Small frame comes in is NOT 62". It was at least 66". I wanted a no-excuses 62" airline box so I cut mine down and modified it until it was 62". Four inches is a lot!! The bike has to be extensively torn down to fit in the box, see pictures. Everything has to come off except the bottom bracket, headset cups, and seatpost clamp. This is not for everyone but I can assemble mine in about 45 minutes in a hotel room with little more than a multi-tool and mini-pump. I also made a wooden perimeter frame for the box. I'm not sure if this was necessary, but it didn't take up any (effective) space, didn't weigh much, and seems to make the box much more rigid.

The ride: as they claim, it rides pretty much like a normal bike. Handling is very quick and it can turn on a dime. Lots of fun in the city. Wheelies are easy even with fixed gear. The ability to fit wide tires, something most of these bikes cannot do, is a major benefit. I blasted around the gravel fire roads all around Marin, rode to the top of Mount Tam, etc. I wouldn't call it a mountain bike but it's surprisingly capable. I actually rode from downtown San Francisco to Mill Valley (12 miles, across the Golden Gate Bridge, etc.) with all my other luggage in my backpack and in the bike's box under my arm. It wasn't easy or fun but it's possible to be “self-sufficient”, transportation wise, with everything you’d bring on a trip. At least for short distances.

Improvements: As you can see, I didn't use the original fork. I cannot stand disc brakes to begin with and they are an extra ridiculous choice on a travel bike. Besides having to remove the rotors so they don't get bent, full-length housing means you'll have a bunch of junk dangling from your handlebars. Hydro? Good luck not kinking or puncturing a line. So I had a custom fork made to use a simple cantilever brake (fork made by Blue Steel Bikes, check them out!) There’s not an easy way to do this on the back so I went fixed gear. I'm currently designing a custom frame to match the new fork that has canti studs, which will also make the big, ugly, heavy rear dropouts unnecessary. Those dropouts stick out really far, making heel clearance and packing more of a challenge.

Other options for travel: there are several other ways to have a bike on your trip: renting, buying, folding bikes, Rinko, S&S couplers, or packing a full-size bike in a case. In my experience, renting and buying are a pain. I haven't come across a folding bike that wasn't both very heavy and flexible in weird directions. Rinko looks interesting but the package is still quite large and getting anywhere near the 62" limit will never happen. Some people claim they don't get charged extra, but you might. S&S couplers seem like a good choice if you fly a lot but the couplers are expensive and so are the special cases. Finally, packing a full-size bike in a case means you get to travel with a 100% Real Bike - YOUR bike - but the obvious downside is that the package is big and heavy.

Conclusion: ultimately, I'm happy this exists and I'm enjoying it a lot. It’s a cool bike that could be setup to do many different things. More than just a penalty-box you’ll grudgingly use on vacation, it’s a legitimately fun bike you can use anytime. I rode mine to work today.








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Old 09-25-20, 03:13 PM
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Interesting review and take on disc brakes. This might motivate me to turn my Xootr Swift into a fixed gear.
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Old 09-26-20, 02:24 AM
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Mini velo are very popular in Asia, some like Tyrell are known outside Asia, some like Moulton come from Europe and sell very well in Asia.

They all create the same fun ride that only small wheels fast bike can provide.
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Old 09-26-20, 04:58 AM
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FastJake Thank you for the review.
Have you considered Alex Moulton bikes? Their frame is separable and they have v-brakes or calipers (depends on the model). Unfortunately they are a bit pricey.
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Old 09-26-20, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by cyclostam View Post
FastJake Thank you for the review.
Have you considered Alex Moulton bikes? Their frame is separable and they have v-brakes or calipers (depends on the model). Unfortunately they are a bit pricey.
I only looked briefly at Moultons. How small do they pack down? I am honestly not that familiar with small-wheel and folding bicycles. The goal for this was to get something as close to a "normal" bike as possible, for a reasonable price, that most importantly fits in a 62" airline-friendly box.

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Old 09-26-20, 10:44 AM
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I am very impressed you fit a non-coupled frame into a 62 inch case. Congratulations.

If I was going to try to make a box like you did, I would lean towards Coroplast instead of cardboard, better on a rainy day, etc. I bought a 4 X 8 foot sheet of Coroplast for about $20 from Home Despot a couple years ago.

Were you close to the 50 pound limit? I always carry a luggage scale when I take my S&S bike on an airplane, but when I am doing that I have my camping gear too so have two nearly over-weight checked bags so I cut it close. My S&S bike and the S&S Backpack case exceed 50 pounds, so a few of my bike parts go in my other checked bag.
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Old 09-26-20, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If I was going to try to make a box like you did, I would lean towards Coroplast instead of cardboard, better on a rainy day, etc. I bought a 4 X 8 foot sheet of Coroplast for about $20 from Home Despot a couple years ago.

Were you close to the 50 pound limit? I always carry a luggage scale when I take my S&S bike on an airplane, but when I am doing that I have my camping gear too so have two nearly over-weight checked bags so I cut it close. My S&S bike and the S&S Backpack case exceed 50 pounds, so a few of my bike parts go in my other checked bag.
A coroplast box sounds smart. I thought I was taking the easy way using the box the frame came in. But by the time I reinforced it and cut it down to 62" it might've been easier to just make a new box from scratch.

I wasn't anywhere near the weight limit. I think the closed box weighed about 35lbs. The bike itself only weighs in the low 20s and there wasn't room for much else. My luggage for the trip was almost all in the backpack I carried on.
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Old 09-26-20, 04:57 PM
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It's very cool looking. I don't have the patience to reassemble and disassemble that much, so I'm happy with my Bike Friday pakiT which requires popping off the front wheel to fit in my suitcase. But I'm guessing the Neutrino cost a lot less, too.
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Old 09-26-20, 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
It's very cool looking. I don't have the patience to reassemble and disassemble that much, so I'm happy with my Bike Friday pakiT which requires popping off the front wheel to fit in my suitcase. But I'm guessing the Neutrino cost a lot less, too.
The Neutrino frameset is $750 but I think I paid less for the pre-order. With components and my custom fork I might be above the price of the pakiT. Though almost everything came from my parts bin besides the wheels, which I had to build. I appreciate that the Neutrino uses "normal" standards.

How does the pakiT ride, and how wide a tire will it take? I have 2.0" tires on and was able to tackle some pretty rough, rocky trails. I don't even like narrow tires on the road anymore. Wide Compass/Rene Herse tires have spoiled me...
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Old 09-26-20, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by FastJake View Post
The Neutrino frameset is $750 but I think I paid less for the pre-order. With components and my custom fork I might be above the price of the pakiT. Though almost everything came from my parts bin besides the wheels, which I had to build. I appreciate that the Neutrino uses "normal" standards.

How does the pakiT ride, and how wide a tire will it take? I have 2.0" tires on and was able to tackle some pretty rough, rocky trails. I don't even like narrow tires on the road anymore. Wide Compass/Rene Herse tires have spoiled me...
Pakits are customizable so mine ended up at $2500. As I'm sure you know, different bikes are intended for different uses. The pakiT is more of a road bike/urban bike (fast fold, light weight <20lbs) not intended for off roading and does not support really wide tires; all my lovely titanium bits make it pretty cushy though. Bf does make bikes that are designed for off road purpose and they ride amazingly well; BF is known for ride quality. Something more equivalent to what you have is the NWT diamond frame which can take wide tires, but a new one is closer to 2 grand depending on the setup. The NWT packs pretty well (not foldable for city use like my pakiT) into its suitcase with minimal disassembly. You should find one to ride and decide what you like better. I think the Neutrino is awesome looking and is a no-brainer for situations where you don't have to take it apart and don't need folding, lol, but I guess you'll get really good at it and faster with practice.
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Old 09-27-20, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
Pakits are customizable so mine ended up at $2500. As I'm sure you know, different bikes are intended for different uses. The pakiT is more of a road bike/urban bike (fast fold, light weight <20lbs) not intended for off roading and does not support really wide tires; all my lovely titanium bits make it pretty cushy though. Bf does make bikes that are designed for off road purpose and they ride amazingly well; BF is known for ride quality. Something more equivalent to what you have is the NWT diamond frame which can take wide tires, but a new one is closer to 2 grand depending on the setup. The NWT packs pretty well (not foldable for city use like my pakiT) into its suitcase with minimal disassembly. You should find one to ride and decide what you like better. I think the Neutrino is awesome looking and is a no-brainer for situations where you don't have to take it apart and don't need folding, lol, but I guess you'll get really good at it and faster with practice.
I know they are specialized items but I wish there was a way to test ride some of these models mentioned. Madison is a "bike place" and we have lots of shops here but most have maybe one cheap, dreadful folding bike I wouldn't want to ride more than a couple miles on. And I couldn't risk buying a $2000 folding bike only to have it show up and immediately realize, "wow, I hate this." There was guessing involved with the Neutrino but I'd say I got what I expected. Overall I'm satisfied. I just put drop bars on and it rides well like that too, but the fit needs some adjustment.

Also, at some price point, I would probably spring for S&S couplers. Maybe added to an existing frame I know that I like.
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Old 09-27-20, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by FastJake View Post
I know they are specialized items but I wish there was a way to test ride some of these models mentioned. Madison is a "bike place" and we have lots of shops here but most have maybe one cheap, dreadful folding bike I wouldn't want to ride more than a couple miles on. And I couldn't risk buying a $2000 folding bike only to have it show up and immediately realize, "wow, I hate this." There was guessing involved with the Neutrino but I'd say I got what I expected. Overall I'm satisfied. I just put drop bars on and it rides well like that too, but the fit needs some adjustment.

Also, at some price point, I would probably spring for S&S couplers. Maybe added to an existing frame I know that I like.
Ahh... well, for next time, it might help you to know that the way BF works is you call them and they find people living near you with the bike you are considering and arrange test rides. That's how I tested out the pakiT before I ordered it. While my "tester" was not configured the way I ordered it, riding any version is usually good enough to tell how it rides - then you simply order your preferred components and setup. It's possible you might live where no one for hours around has one, but that doesn't always stop people - I let someone test ride my bike while they were on a business trip in the area! And BF has a 30 day risk free guarantee anyway. Info for when you are ready for N+1, ha ha.
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Old 09-28-20, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
Ahh... well, for next time, it might help you to know that the way BF works is you call them and they find people living near you with the bike you are considering and arrange test rides. That's how I tested out the pakiT before I ordered it. While my "tester" was not configured the way I ordered it, riding any version is usually good enough to tell how it rides - then you simply order your preferred components and setup. It's possible you might live where no one for hours around has one, but that doesn't always stop people - I let someone test ride my bike while they were on a business trip in the area! And BF has a 30 day risk free guarantee anyway. Info for when you are ready for N+1, ha ha.
After doing some reading on the Bike Friday Diamond Llama and New World Tourist, I would not have chosen either. Both claim to fit 2" tires, which was a requirement for me, but I don't want or need a heavy touring bike that will carry a thousand pounds of gear. Performance is my objective. Wide tires + performance is rare enough in the regular bike world and surely not any more common here. Under 20lbs should be easy with the custom frame I have in mind and using anything better than the random leftovers from my parts bin. Also, per the Bike Friday site, neither will pack into a 62" case. The "special Samsonite case" mentioned is 64".

The Moulton XTB mentioned in another post is very expensive, not particularly light (25lbs without pedals), and does not appear to be pack-able into a 62" case (and I could find no such claims of this.)
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Old 09-28-20, 03:53 PM
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When I look at this picture, I see that the bike is almost completely dismounted: crank, fork, headset, rear dropouts... even the tires must be dismounted from the wheels to reduce the wheels diameter in order to fit into the 62" box.

I am pretty sure that a Moulton with separable frame will fit with less dismounting.
Moulton doesn't claim that because they do not consider to dismount the bike, only separate the frame and maybe remove the wheels.

Note that the New Series are separable into more smaller pieces without dismounting any component:

Without mudguards, if the wheels are removed from the fork and rear frame, it packs very small.

But yes, the price is very high !
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Old 09-28-20, 07:48 PM
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To add an important detail to this thread, I just weighed the bike mostly as pictured: 20.8lbs. But it has drop bars now, better tires (Box Hex Lab Race), 3 bottle cages, Garmin mount, pump, but I took off the saddle bag.
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Old 09-28-20, 08:00 PM
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I guess i can't see the attraction for the neutrino at its price. In your case after you get your new frame it won't be a neutrino any more. In many ways it seems to fit a niche similar t o a Swift, although I can only put 1.75 tires on it. I do prefer steel to Al though. My Swift does have V-brakes and they are simple and work very well. Light, too.
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Old 09-28-20, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by 12boy View Post
I guess i can't see the attraction for the neutrino at its price. In your case after you get your new frame it won't be a neutrino any more. In many ways it seems to fit a niche similar t o a Swift, although I can only put 1.75 tires on it. I do prefer steel to Al though. My Swift does have V-brakes and they are simple and work very well. Light, too.
How small of a box will the Swift fit into? I got the Neutrino specifically for air travel to fit into a no-excuses 62" box. Other requirements were: lightweight, fits wide tires, and rides approximately like a "normal" bike.

But the Neutrino was/is an experiment, a jumping off point for me. I wanted to see if I'd enjoy riding it since I'd never ridden anything like it before. If or when I get the custom frame made, I'll be able to get exactly what I want (in theory) and then sell the Neutrino frameset.

It is possible that a folding bike would fit my needs as well or better than this bike. But I haven't done a lot of research and haven't seen one that checks the right boxes yet.
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Old 09-28-20, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by 12boy View Post
I guess i can't see the attraction for the neutrino at its price. In your case after you get your new frame it won't be a neutrino any more. In many ways it seems to fit a niche similar t o a Swift, although I can only put 1.75 tires on it. I do prefer steel to Al though. My Swift does have V-brakes and they are simple and work very well. Light, too.
I put 2" big apples on mine and makes positive difference.
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Old 09-29-20, 02:28 AM
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For a folder that fits into the 62" box, a Brompton E (no mudguards, no rear rack) with its saddle dismounted (or a telescopic saddle-post with the top extendable part removed) and a removable left pedal (Wellgo QRD ou MKS EZY) will fit.

Now the goal of folding bikes is totally different, its to be as small as possible without any dismounting and folding as quick as possible. Fitting into an airline 62" box as not their main goal.
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Old 12-02-20, 11:16 PM
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Just now, I was glancing at the Velo Orange listing and noticed they actually have an XXL version of this frame, which, to my knowledge, is not available on any other mini-velo bike (excluding folding bikes like Bike Friday here). That sounds highly interesting, although the complete bike seems awfully pricy for what it is.
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Old 12-08-20, 09:45 AM
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Seems like a whole lot of money for not much bike. You could ship a regular bike many times for that price. $400 for a Mercier mini velo from bikesdirect seems like a great buy. I do love my Xootr Swift.

Generic rack does not interfere with fold.
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Old 12-08-20, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by bent4me View Post
Seems like a whole lot of money for not much bike. You could ship a regular bike many times for that price. $400 for a Mercier mini velo from bikesdirect seems like a great buy. I do love my Xootr Swift.
The Mercier Mini Velo will not fit wide tires, nor will it come anywhere close to packing into a 62" box (frame is too big).
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Old 12-16-20, 08:42 PM
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In a very old Brompton thread there was a post by a gent who using acetone and ABS plastic made a box in which he could travel with his Brompton and then mount it to the back to carry his carryon luggage. The acetone melted the ABS and allowed him to "weld" it together. I'm thinking with a neutrino it would be possible to make a box which could be split into 2 boxes which could work as panniers. That could work well for traveling. I haven't done this but I believe that by doing little more than pulling the stem, seat post and wheels a Swift can be fit into a 62 inch Samsonite suitcase. My Swift feels very rigid, BTW.
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Old 12-17-20, 03:39 AM
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I've seen pictures of a Swift packed into a case. That person had to remove the rear end of the bike to get it to work. Just one bolt to do this, though.
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Old 12-22-20, 07:46 AM
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Very good review of the Neutrino. I've stumbled on this in a quest to find something easier than lugging a 50 lb. S&S bag around airports and reaching an assembly point. I also agree that disc brakes are not helpful in packing or weigh management. The S&S system still seems the best for extended travel touring. I'm settled on 26" wheels, a quick mountable OMM front rack, and a 1X10 drivetrain to make packing easier. I also use an cabin overhead case to carry the rack, my saddle, a couple empty Ortlieb panniers and the drive chain. Clothes and tools that may be problematic with the TSA screeners go in the bike bag. If my coupled frame had horiz. dropouts a fixed single-speed setup would be really neat for easy flyaway trips. But I can do a freewheel and tensioner with two brakes.
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