From Taiwan: Mini Velo bikes in Asia0
by Mark V on Oct 31, 2008 at 8:05 AM
I’m in Asia on vacation, and one of my amusements is finding interesting mini velo and folding bikes. Here’s my current object of obsession, the Gios Panto. I saw one parked outside a bike shop while in Taiwan.
One night in Taipei, my friend Ken led us to his local bike shop, La Boutique du Velo. La Boutique is a two-story shop with a lot of high-end Trek and LOOK bicycles. They had some of the very latest items as well as some suitably classy glass-case displays. Yet I think that these Taiwanese bike shops are content to sit on high-end merchandise rather than blow it out. As a buyer for a bike shop in the states, I am personally averse to acquiring product that I doubt will sell inside of 12 months. They had a LOOK track frame from the late 1990’s and a bunch of Fizik saddles from when they were still labeled Giro because of their association with the helmet maker.
Another really weird item was the stuffed bird hanging from the ceiling.
There were a number of well-kitted customer bikes waiting to be picked up, but I personally didn’t see anything quite so posh being ridden in central Taipei. However, I was quite taken by one customer’s bike, a Gios Panto mini velo. The bike was locked up outside in what I would guess to be the self-serve pickup rack. There was a note on the stem that the customer had left for the service personnel. The mechanic had written OK next to the bottom bracket and chain inquiries, but hadn’t written a retail price response to the inquiries for HED Jet mini wheels.
The bike, I have to say, was really hot. I had been keen on the Bianchi Mini Velo, but this Gios was just gorgeous. Steel frame and carbon fork on 20’ (451) rims. The Panto is Gios’ premium mini velo, equipped with full Shimano Tiagra except the hubs, but the owner had changed the seatpost to carbon, the stem to ITM, and upgraded the headset to a green Chris King.
I’m not sure if they are even imported to Taiwan, but when I get to Tokyo, I’m gonna look for a Panto in 48cm. Unfortunately, the Japanese yen is murdering the dollar this week.