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.