[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).
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):
Great-looking bike; looks like a blast to ride.
Looks Great! Looks like it will be a lot of fun to ride. What is the geometry of these bikes? What sizes will be available?
Hey!! Glad you're digging the Mini Velo! I just posted the geometry and sizes for you...
Do you have the weight of the complete bike?
Also, what will it be priced at?
just saw this on your flickr- awesome- wanted to let you know that there is a typo on your geo chart- the 48 is listed as a 58- which got me so hopeful. looks great
Ouch, $1200 for tiagra components & barends :(
Hey!! So I added the weight (23.5 lbs) and fixed the chart..thanks Anonymous!!
PS j.schwartz I like your picture...what are those creatures?
really glad to see these available in the states!
however, since I'm 6'3", even the largest (55cm) might be way too small, right?
Will frameset only be available in the future?
Hey Andrew, yeah, 55cm is too small, sorry! We are working on 57 and 59cm models...
Hey Anonymous, we would like to sell only the frameset in the future, we're just gauging the success of the Mini Velo before we make it available.
Too bad it's not 1" threadless 'cause a quill adaptor would look SWEET on that bike.
I did some research, and mini velo should be compatible with the bike racks on Seattle area buses! 16" is the minimum wheel size accepted. You can't take them ON the bus, though (only folding bikes that will fit under your seat are allowed).
What size would you recommend for someone with a shorter inseam (29")?
Love to see this with traditional crowned forks someday.
I was wondering what size stems these bikes come with?
I'm 5'6" and I'm trying to decide between the 53 and 55. Right now my road bike is a size 52 with a 54.5cm top tube. I like the top tube length of the 55, but don't like the idea of less seat post showing. I guess it's aesthetics. But maybe having 3cm less seat post wont look to bad. Decisions...
It would be great to see this sold as frameset only.
What is the max tire clearance, with and without fenders?
What about kids' sized frames, like for a 9-10 year old? Is that remotely a possibility?
Do you have a photo of it in front of road bike, for comparison?
451 wheels/tires ... Yuck!
Wait a second. I see cantilever brakes. Is this one of the narrow 406 tires that breaks the standard decimal/fraction rule to distinguish 406/451 sizes?
If it takes 406, how much clearance is there?
frame only option?
You should offer a version of this frame with S&S couplers -- I'd bet it'd make a really nice travel bike!
Coupled, yes. Frame-only: absolutely! Please!!!
@yogurt: The stem on the smallest size is 90mm and the larger sizes are 100mm
@stevep33: The clearance is 1 1/8" with fenders and 1 1/4" without..
@Robert: posting a picture of it with the Univega..
@Anonymous: with your 29" inseam I would suggest the smallest size (48cm).
now if this would be a folding bike it would totally rock, as is not so much...:(
Cant wait for the 59cm model!
So when's the version with the S&S couplings coming out?
Do you have on built in the shop?
The rotational inertia of a big wheel matters a lot more than I once thought. I have a high-end folding bike with 451 wheels that has slid out from under me several times -- to the point where I will not ride the bike any more. Small tires work OK for small people or a very low saddle, but beware.
Great idea! It would compliment my Smoothie well. Any plans to make it available in a single speed freewheel version if you're going to stick with the complete bike? I'd be all over it. I have the gears on the Smoothie for my regular commute but would like a smaller single speed for the multi-modal commutes and runs around town (I don't really like the look of the folding bikes).
@Jim We do have the Mini Velo built up in the Soma Shop http://store.somafab.com/somaminivelo.html
@Eric R. Unfortunately we don't have any plans for a singlespeed Mini Velo at the moment :( Sorry!
What is the wheel size, 451 or 406?
Are the component specs listed somewhere?
I am in love with this bike! A few questions first...
I live in New York City - is there a place where I could take one of these for a spin?
What is the standover height for the 48 cm model?
The drop handlebars look a bit large on the frame - are they standard in size, or smaller to fit the proportions of the mini frame?
Do 20" wheels work on San Francisco's Muni bus racks?
What are the advantages of a mini velo over a folding bike with 20" tyres?
They are stiffer and more durable since there are no weak joints to fail over time. Folding frames tend to be extremely flexy.
hi, am thinking of getting one but am torn between 53 or 55 framesize. Im 174cm tall and has an inseam of about 78.5cm. Any help is appreciated. thanks :D
@wh For now we're only offering the 53cm frame, so that should help you decide.
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