Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More prototypes

I have eluded to this bike in various places and to different people for a few months now. Today we received the first pre-production sample of this new model. We still have some development to do on this and it IS NOT (currently) intended for the US market; this is a special custom bike produced solely for our Japanese distributor.



Meet the Mini-Velo.

Mini-Velo is a "huge" category in Japan and some other Asian markets. The bikes are smaller, which works with a population of smaller riders. But it is also very popular with commuters because the bikes are much easier to carry on to buses or trains and easier to take into an office or apartment. In Japan especially, space is very limited, so compactness is very important.

Mini-Velo bikes also happen to be a very fun bike to ride. It's almost nutty how much fun they are. See, I was opposed to the concept of Mini-Velo bikes when I was first approached on the idea. But last November I traveled to Tokyo for the Cycle-Mode consumer show (and I will be there again this November- as well as twice in Taiwan) and I saw tons of the bikes everywhere I went. Thing is, it wasn't just "cheap bikes" by low-end brands. My favorite was probably the Gios models, but Bianchi had some good ones too. So after seeing these bikes and seeing the response the consumers/ riders/ owners of these bikes had, my opinion began to shift. We've been working on this project since last November and are getting close to being done.

The funny thing is, I have a feeling that the Mini-Velo bikes would actually have a pretty strong following here in the US. With gas prices so high and space on public transit getting smaller each day, Mini-Velo makes more sense all the time.

So keep your eyes peeled... because you never know what you might see.

Tim

19 comments:

jmgorman said...

Man, I love, love, love minivelos and would love to see a production model available in the US. My buddy leston in Taiwan has the Gios you mentioned (http://www.flickr.com/photos/leston3/2570823214/sizes/m/) and it is super-hot. I'm still not sold on the real, everyday usefulness of a folding bike and think that the minivelo is the best bike for tight urban spaces.

Katsu said...

I would possibly look into adding couplers as a supplemental model in the future using Ritchey or S&S.

Anonymous said...

Gay

Anonymous said...

cirque du soleil?

Joe Marinelli said...

That's an interesting concept/design.....though I don't think that they will become very popular in the US of A.

Joe Marinelli said...

That's an interesting concept/design.....though I don't think that they will become very popular in the US of A.

Anonymous said...

You would get your butt kissed if someone saw you riding around Hillcrest on that bike...

Illinoisfrank said...

You have probably alluded to this bike. If you eluded it, it was because it was chasing you. Maybe that's what you meant? The concept was chasing you...?

Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

Damn I hate it when my language skills come back to bite me in the butt.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Alex Moulton do this already, say 40 years ago?

Illinoisfrank said...

I seem to have that affect on people. I mean effect. Wait, I used to know this...

Mark Ritz said...

Interesting... Reminds me of the old Raleigh Twenty that I used to sell in the early seventies. Everything old is new again???

That said, I thnk it's pretty sweet.

Ed W said...

I like that idea. But get rid of the derailleurs and put an internally geared hub on it, along with a chainguard and maybe fenders. That would make for a light, compact, low maintenance city bike.

Jayu said...

I really hope that Masi's minivelo could have a classic but also a new look.

I believe we could do it better!!!

Jon said...

Tim,

Please bring this bike to the U.S. Mini-velo may or may not ever be a huge market in this country, but fixed gears were virtually unknown in bike shops 5 or 6 years ago.

Basically, it's hard to swallow the logic behind, "We won't bring in a bike previously unavailable due to poor sales in the past."

Surely, it would be worth the gamble to at least make them available by special order...

Jim G said...

GOOD GOD please bring these to the USA! There was a length thread on the Kogswell list about how cool we all thought minivelos are, and how they can't be had in the USA. So sad! Even better, license the Ritchey Breakaway design for this model, and you'll have a take-apart mini velo travel bike! I'd certainly want to buy one!

Mike Myers said...

I would love one of those. I'm 5 foot six and I think it would be ideal for me. No TCO, small footprint, but all the functionality of a full sized bike. LOVE IT.

Bicyclesidewalk said...

I lived in Japan for 9 years and now I am in Taiwan - I think I am going to buy this bike next week. Just went down to look it - at 6'1' the folks in the shop said the 51' frame should suit me - they had a 48 in the shop it was a bit small - I imagine the 51 will be fine. These bikes are very fun to ride.
www.bicycle-sidewalk.com
nathan

SD_wheels said...

I just got back from Japan and saw the Bianchi mini velo and one built by Manhattan? Very fun. I have a Bike friday so I am already a small wheel person but these bikes look so much better in person than they do in photos. I started thinking about how I could buy one in Japan and bring it back home. Being able to fit the bike in a tight storage space is a huge advantage. the maneuverability and cool looks ice the deal.