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Thinking about a mini velo

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Thinking about a mini velo

Old 02-23-12, 12:32 AM
  #1  
illiterateabc
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Thinking about a mini velo

I've gotten my fiancee interested in biking with me (not riding in traffic or anything--just casual weekend jaunts over on the bike trail next to the Bay), and I'm looking at bikes for her.

...

Or actually, I'm thinking of upgrading my ride, as I ride 3-5 times a week to work for a 14 mile round trip on my Dahon Boardwalk S1. I love this bike and the single-speed hasn't discouraged me from biking all the way home (which is a constant 2-3% incline). However, I think I could use something with a bit more speed to keep me from spinning out on the flats, and for maybe tackling some hillier areas on an alternate commute. I've also realized that the fold isn't as essential as I thought, but I'd still like to have a smaller-than-full-size package for the rare vehicular transport I might do.

So that brings me to mini velos. The main reason they're attractive is actually how I'm hearing that the lack of fold results in a more solid-feeling ride than what I've been getting on my Boardwalk. I'm currently comparing the Mercier Nano at bikesdirect for $300 (https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/nano.htm) vs. the Dahon Bullhead (https://www.dahon.com/bikes/2011/bullhead) which are still available online for ~$750.

I've read forum threads and some external reviews for each bike, and it seems like it comes down to whether or not I want to spend time and money tweaking the Nano, or being fairly sure that I'd be content with the Bullhead out of the box. Things like the IGH, fat apple tires, and nice color are all gravy. I'm not sure if that's worth over 2x what I'd pay for the Nano, though, and maybe I'd be okay with stock parts on the Nano to start (my Boardwalk S1 is all stock still after 2 months of commuting; that may not seem like much, but I usually have a short attention span! ).

Does anyone with experience with one or both of these bikes care to share their perspectives, one way or the other? Thanks.
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Old 02-23-12, 01:59 AM
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Did you look at this one? you get a bigger fold but avoid the long stem and seatpost that give most of the flex.https://www.dahon.com/bikes/2009/smooth-hound-60

Edit: https://www.dahon.com/bikes/2011/bullhead

Last edited by badmother; 02-23-12 at 02:03 AM.
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Old 02-23-12, 02:16 AM
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I definitely saw the smooth hound, and while I think it's quite beautiful, it's also a bit out of my desired price range. I also don't understand what you mean by the long stem and seat post; the description on that page specifically states that the bike features a "tall head tube for sitting upright on long hours in the saddle."

EDIT: If I were thinking about paying closer to $1,100, I'd consider the SOMA Mini Velo, actually. She's a beaut, and it's always nice supporting local business.

Last edited by illiterateabc; 02-23-12 at 02:22 AM.
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Old 02-23-12, 02:48 AM
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I owned a Dahon Hammerhead for a couple of years, fore-runner of the Smooch Hund, and using the same frame. It was stiff and light, and ultimately unforgiving - so much so that I rarely rode it. A thing of beauty, though, and speedy.

If I had to do it again, I'd buy the Mercier Nano; it appears forgiving, standard parts, upgrade-able, endlessly fiddle-able, and good looking. It's also a lot cheaper. There's an entire thread on them someplace.

While on the topic it's easy to be seduced by fat tyres and IGH's but they add mass and friction, and that, for some, is apostasy if the rider is going on the crusade of 'fast and light'.

Mercier Nano's not available in the UK, so if anyone wants to bring me one over, do get in touch.

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Old 02-23-12, 10:16 AM
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Another option to consider is the Big Shot mini polo bike. I have no experience with it, but I like the bright colors
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Old 02-23-12, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by illiterateabc View Post

Or actually, I'm thinking of upgrading my ride, as I ride 3-5 times a week to work for a 14 mile round trip on my Dahon Boardwalk S1. I love this bike and the single-speed hasn't discouraged me from biking all the way home (which is a constant 2-3% incline). However, I think I could use something with a bit more speed to keep me from spinning out on the flats, and for maybe tackling some hillier areas on an alternate commute.
You might also consider building a 2 speed rear wheel for your S1.. I like the Automatic 2 speed hubs, but the kickbacks are also nice.. you could gear it so that low is lower than what you have and high will be a little higher than what you have.. I find that I can ride any of my 2 speeds most places in Marin County.. if you are curious, you're welcome to come across the Bay and try out my 2 speed Mu Uno..
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Old 02-23-12, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by snafu21 View Post
While on the topic it's easy to be seduced by fat tyres and IGH's but they add mass and friction, and that, for some, is apostasy if the rider is going on the crusade of 'fast and light'.
I don't know if seduced is the right word; I'm thinking that they are just plain practical. As 95% of my riding will be on potholed and broken streets, I'm thinking that my arse, my tubes, and my derailleurs-that-won't-be would thank me. As much as "fast and light" are appealing, I am more interested in minimal maintenance, and as much as I might think I'd like to tinker with the bike, I most likely will not upgrade whatever I get too heavily (at least not any time soon; I've got a wedding to pay for! ). This issue is the main reason why I'm debating getting something cheaper but fiddly until I upgrade it, or something that will, I assume, work out of the box like the Bullhead.

Originally Posted by Transformer View Post
Another option to consider is the Big Shot mini polo bike. I have no experience with it, but I like the bright colors
I saw those, and they seem, yes, nice and colorful, and the frame has gotten some good reviews. However, it sort of defeats the purpose of me upgrading, without using non-stock components, into something that has more gear inches, as the big shot actually has fewer GIs than my S1 (53.0 vs 57.9). A flip flop hub sounds fun, though I'd probably swap it out for an IGH. I can't tell whether I'd prefer the Nano or the Big Shot though. The handlebars and gearing are the biggest difference, as I imagine the rest of the componentry is equally non-exciting between the two.

Originally Posted by BruceMetras View Post
You might also consider building a 2 speed rear wheel for your S1.. I like the Automatic 2 speed hubs, but the kickbacks are also nice.. you could gear it so that low is lower than what you have and high will be a little higher than what you have.. I find that I can ride any of my 2 speeds most places in Marin County.. if you are curious, you're welcome to come across the Bay and try out my 2 speed Mu Uno..
Thanks for the offer! I haven't thought about that, but I will look into that. Even if I did upgrade my Boardwalk, I still need to get a 2nd bike for either me or the missus. She likes the Boardwalk, even if she feels its ride is slightly flimsy-feeling. The bike needs to be either a folder or a mini as we store our bikes in our tiny apartment. Because she will ride so much less frequently than I, I felt that a folder would suit her more--the bike could be tucked away and out of sight for the period between occasional outings, whereas my bike would not need to be folded as much as I ride almost every day.

Last edited by illiterateabc; 02-23-12 at 12:49 PM. Reason: Adding content
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Old 02-23-12, 01:02 PM
  #8  
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I think if you like to hack, upgrade, and work on bikes, the Nano is prolly the way to go. If you don't, the other options are better. You really need decent mechanic skills to work with a bikesdirect bike. Make sure you buy some grease if you buy a Nano, there is none on the bike. You'll want to overhaul the hubs, grease the threads on the bottom bracket, overhaul the headset, and grease the stem and post at a minimum. And buy rims strips.

I've a Nano, and there is very little left of the stock parts loadout at this point.
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Old 02-23-12, 01:08 PM
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Here's an enticement.. a new Bullhead from Amazon with free shipping at a discount..
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Old 02-23-12, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceMetras View Post
Here's an enticement.. a new Bullhead from Amazon with free shipping at a discount..
Too bad it's not a Large size, which is what I'd want to get. One thing I'm not sure about is whether or not the Bullhead and the rest of the Midtown series of Dahons have wheelbases that are comparable to mini velos, e.g. 10-15" shorter than regular bikes. I can't find a number for this measurement. Can it fit in the back of a normal sedan-sized car without being folded?

Last edited by illiterateabc; 02-23-12 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 02-23-12, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by illiterateabc View Post
I also don't understand what you mean by the long stem and seat post; the description on that page specifically states that the bike features a "tall head tube for sitting upright on long hours in the saddle.
I was trying to say you get a folder (so smaller than a mini velo when you want it to be) without the tall flexing stems of most 20" folders.

I own several folders and a minivelo and the feeling is quite different.
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Old 02-23-12, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by badmother View Post
I was trying to say you get a folder (so smaller than a mini velo when you want it to be) without the tall flexing stems of most 20" folders.

I own several folders and a minivelo and the feeling is quite different.
Ah yes, that's a big reason why I'm interested in experiencing a diamond-frame mini over the monotube folder I've been riding.
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Old 02-23-12, 09:47 PM
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Aren't the Nanos all gone?

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Old 02-23-12, 10:50 PM
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BD still has 48cm Orange nanos.
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Old 02-25-12, 06:18 AM
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It would really depend on how much you think you'd want to upgrade on the Nano. (If you can get one...) By the time you're done futzing around with it, you could easily have as much into it as you'd spend on the Dahon. Thing is, if you got the Dahon, there might be parts you'd want to upgrade on it, too. Coming off an S1, I think you could get away with leaving a Nano stock and enjoying it, so if budget is a consideration, in your situation, I'd opt for the Nano, live with it for a season, and then consider upgrades.
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Old 02-25-12, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by illiterateabc View Post
I've gotten my fiancee interested in biking with me (not riding in traffic or anything--just casual weekend jaunts over on the bike trail next to the Bay), and I'm looking at bikes for her.

...

Or actually, I'm thinking of upgrading my ride, as I ride 3-5 times a week to work for a 14 mile round trip on my Dahon Boardwalk S1. I love this bike and the single-speed hasn't discouraged me from biking all the way home (which is a constant 2-3% incline). However, I think I could use something with a bit more speed to keep me from spinning out on the flats, and for maybe tackling some hillier areas on an alternate commute. I've also realized that the fold isn't as essential as I thought, but I'd still like to have a smaller-than-full-size package for the rare vehicular transport I might do.

So that brings me to mini velos. The main reason they're attractive is actually how I'm hearing that the lack of fold results in a more solid-feeling ride than what I've been getting on my Boardwalk. I'm currently comparing the Mercier Nano at bikesdirect for $300 (https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/nano.htm) vs. the Dahon Bullhead (https://www.dahon.com/bikes/2011/bullhead) which are still available online for ~$750.

I've read forum threads and some external reviews for each bike, and it seems like it comes down to whether or not I want to spend time and money tweaking the Nano, or being fairly sure that I'd be content with the Bullhead out of the box. Things like the IGH, fat apple tires, and nice color are all gravy. I'm not sure if that's worth over 2x what I'd pay for the Nano, though, and maybe I'd be okay with stock parts on the Nano to start (my Boardwalk S1 is all stock still after 2 months of commuting; that may not seem like much, but I usually have a short attention span! ).

Does anyone with experience with one or both of these bikes care to share their perspectives, one way or the other? Thanks.
It's a myth that folding bikes are flexy and that diamond shaped mini bikes are better than monotube versions. As Tern and Bike Friday had demonstrated, you can always build a better monotube folding bike that is stiff, responsive and rides relatively well.

Let me comment on the Boardwalk S1. It is a heavy and flexy bike. The Speed Uno bike is a more superior bike than the Boardwalk. The Speed Uno is still slightly flexy on the handlepost, but it is good. My Mu SL is better. I am not sure why you are looking into the folding mini velo concept as it is passe (our past tense). There is good REASON why Dahon no longer makes it and has been superceeded by the IOS or the Tern Eclipse bikes, both 24" folding wheels.
Sure, 20" wheels are ok on smooth roads, but take it on bike paths like in Arizona or in Oregon on I-205 Multi-Use and they eventually beat you up unless you're running on a pair Big Apples which are fat but FAST tires. While IGH is maintenance free, changing a flat requires a wrench to undo the nuts is not. Unless you ride in pristine clean roads, you'll be changing lots of flats if you ride in Arizona's bike path (they've got nasty tiny thorns strewn on the road) or in industrial sites where nails and staples are common and you will wish you had a QR type rear wheel which does not require a wrench to undo.
I have ridden all 3 Dahons mini bikes, the Smooth Hound, Bullhead and the Silvertip and I am like non-IGH type drivetrain more. And I live in the wettest part of Vancouver and normal drivetrains, if kept well, will last just as long and well as IGH with no drag on the drivetrain like those IGH, unless you are riding the Alpine 11 or Rohloff versions, which I consider to be the best of the best. But they are mucho moola!

Like Bruce said, you can upgrade your Boardwalk to 2 speeds; either using SRAM A2 or the kickback version depending on your riding terrain. I use the Speed Uno for city commutes and it is reliable and it is simple to use. It's relatively stiff and responsive. And then when you have the money, I would strongly recommend that you look into the Terns, especially the Link or the 24" Eclipse version. They ride really nice -- was really impressed with the improvements in folder technology Tern managed to crank out.
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Old 02-25-12, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by rcnute View Post
Aren't the Nanos all gone?

Ryan
More coming in march
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Old 02-25-12, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Jim View Post
More coming in march
Any news on potential changes?
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Old 02-25-12, 02:50 PM
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Nope I was also going to post a "they are all gone comment" but checked the website first and the pull down says "more coming in march" that is all the info i have.
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Old 02-26-12, 03:21 PM
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Here is another budget option. from roadbikeoutlet.com for just $250. I have been tempted to buy one a number of times. There very few user reviews and who knows how exactly it is sized, but its worth a look.

https://www.roadbikeoutlet.com/comfor...e-gazelle.html

My Bikes Direct mini Velo is the favorite bike I own and I like it better than any of the folders I have owned as well. The only stock parts I replaced was the seat post because I had a nicer one laying around and of course the saddle although the one that came on it was too bad for my butt. I am not picky though but everything has performed pretty well for me I'd buy it again and have considered buying another one a number of times. I am holding out for now to see if they offer something different from BD in the mini velo line. They seem to be having no problem moving the Nano so I am hopeful.
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Old 02-26-12, 05:54 PM
  #21  
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I like mine too, but it's a near complete re-hack. However, I'm on the tall side, somewhat mechanically inclined, and picky.



For me, half the fun was using it as a platform to tinker on. I've moved on to a Lightspeed, but I'm think of building some 451 wheels.
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Old 02-26-12, 06:06 PM
  #22  
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Thanks for all the replies--really making me think about what I want to do. Right now, my decision is deferred.

Thanks for the picture of the revamped Nano; it's quite nice looking! I'm fairly average height and inseam (5'8" and 30" inseam), and from what I could find, it seems like the 48C or the 53C Nano could work, but I have no reference to what I would normally ride on a road bike; the only bike I've ridden in my adult life is my Boardwalk and it's what...2 ft standover height.
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Old 02-27-12, 10:54 AM
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Hello....I'm the same size as you and own a 53 Nano. The bike fits perfectly fitted with a longer gooseneck and albatross bars for an upright ride. This has become my favorite bicycle.
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Old 02-27-12, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by gdb415 View Post
Hello....I'm the same size as you and own a 53 Nano. The bike fits perfectly fitted with a longer gooseneck and albatross bars for an upright ride. This has become my favorite bicycle.
Great to know, thanks! At the very least, this makes me comfortable with waiting until March to get the 53.
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Old 02-27-12, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by monsterpile View Post
Here is another budget option. from roadbikeoutlet.com for just $250. I have been tempted to buy one a number of times. There very few user reviews and who knows how exactly it is sized, but its worth a look.

https://www.roadbikeoutlet.com/comfor...e-gazelle.html
This bike does look interesting. Not as pretty as the Nano, those curved tubes look funky, but in a good sort of way. Tempted to check one out. Anyone out there know anything about them?
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