Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Mini Velo has arrived!

[UPDATE 6/2015: The Soma Mini Velo is no longer being made. The sales of our first model didn't justify keeping it going. Interestingly though, this continues to be one of our most visited blog posts. If you have ideas for your perfect mini-velo bike, please share it in the comments or e-mail us (esp. if you are in the U.S). We may choose to give it another shot in the future. Thanks.]
Meet the Mini Velo, Soma’s newest bicycle. It’s a viable solution to living a carless lifestyle in our increasingly dense cities. With a width of less than five feet it can fit where most other bicycles can’t. This style of bicycle is already a huge success in Japanese cities, where space is tight.
Being the one of the graphic designers at Soma, I was responsible for getting some shots of the Mini Velo navigating downtown San Francisco. I rode the Mini Velo for a week and I have to admit, I was skeptical at first. I wasn’t so keen on the idea of trading in my Soma Smoothie for the Mini Velo. How would it handle? Would it be comfortable?
Riding the Mini Velo was a little surreal at first. With its small wheels and compact build, it definitely feels different than any bike I’ve ever ridden. It really won me over; the Mini Velo is very responsive! Last Friday I spent the whole afternoon riding with a friend (who was on a Univega mixte) around San Francisco. There was no point in the ride that I felt uncomfortable or had any trouble keeping up. Also, I made lots of friends; San Franciscans were pretty taken with it (we even had a bike messenger do a wheelie on it).
photo c/o Alissa de Vogel

So yes, the Mini Velo is fun to ride, why else would you want it? COMMUTING IS SO MUCH EASIER! Normally when I take the BART(high-speed train in Bay Area) with my bicycle (every weekday), I’m always really stressed out that I’m going to smack one of my fellow commuters in the face when I carry it up the station stairs. When I’m navigating through station crowds I feel pretty awkward maneuvering. When I had the Mini Velo, I felt so much more at ease in these activities, I felt much more in control of my movements! Also, it takes up a whole lot less space on the train, much to my relief (and the relief of my fellow commuters I’m sure).
photo c/o Alissa de Vogel
The Mini Velo’s compact build was not only an advantage on the train, it was also a huge advantage in my apartment and it when we photographed it in my friend’s cubicle. Normally I can barely get through my front doorway with my Smoothie parked there. Moving around my apartment can be really awkward. The Mini Velo is small enough that it fades into your furnishings; it’s not a prominent feature (which in a studio apartments, bicycles definitely tend to be). And if you’ve got roommates, they will thank you! Also, while I don’t work in a cubicle, I decided to take some pictures of the Mini Velo in my friend’s. As illustrated, the Mini Velo fit very comfortably. Don’t worry about leaving your bike locked up outside all day anymore…
photo c/o Alissa de Vogel
Here’s the meat and potatoes on the Mini Velo:
The Mini Velo is our only frame sold as a complete build.It's available sizes: 48cm, 53cm, 55cm. It weighs a cool 23.5 lbs...
- Tange CrMo steel
- Sugino RD 53-39t crankset
- Micro-Shift bar end shifters
- Shimano Tiagra derailleurs and hubs (32h)
- Shimano Tiagra HG-50 11-25 9-spd cassette
- Kenda Kwest 20 x 1-1/8” tires
- Tange-Seiki RDC 1” threaded headset
- IRD Cafam Cantilever Brakes
- Cardiff Cornwall Saddle
- Kalloy quill stem
- Soma seatpost
- Fender braze-ons
Here's the Mini Velo Geometry(click to enlarge):

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