From Japan (Part 3): the Mini Velo


So my group was walking the streets of Tokyo after finding the Tsukumo Cycle Sports bike shop, home of Kalavinka Cycles. Kalavinka bikes are known as top notch keirin bikes.

Anyways, we were walking along when I saw a Bianchi Mini Velo 9. The Japanese have this thing for bikes with really tiny wheels, but there is a subgenre of bikes that look like regular road racing bikes but have 20-inch wheels.

Here’s an example I found. It’s an aluminium frame about 52-54cm size, with downtube shifters. Looks like fun, but I’ve never ridden one.

Though I could have easily ridden this one. Check out how the only thing keeping this bike from being lifted is the feeble lock around THE BRAKE HOUSING. Bike theft isn’t the problem it is in other countries, apparently



Reminds me of [little yellow bike]( from your last trip.

and I’ve never seen head-tube shifters before

if they was on the downtube…you probably couldn’t reach them

Here’s a neat story about bicycle theft in Japan. When I lived there all I used was a little spoke lock.

When we were in Beijing, we really fretted about having our bikes stolen (well I did and I was the only person in the country with a helmet—I’m a boyscout, what can I say) and also noticed the “somewhat” locked style that was just cursory. So we’d “stash” our bikes amidst a big pile of other bikes, to camouflage them. Here, I take my bike everywhere, but in Beijing, they have bike parking lots, so you don’t have a choice, but to leave it behind when going into a shopping center or visiting a tourist site.

You don’t have to go abroad to get this bike, which is also super popular in Korea. You can drop some cash and get this…

I talked to the reps at NAHBs and they decided to do this one on a whim when some like minded customers inspired by their travels abroad came back with a desire for a 20 inch wheeled bike…

Has anyone been to Korea?  Is there anywhere to ride in Seoul other than that river trail (which IS really nice, though)?  It didn’t seem as bicycle friendly as Japan, though way better than say, Miami.

Also, thanks Dapper Lad for posting about NAHBS and mini velos.

Gosh, I feel smugly avant garde among bike nerds.

I enjoyed reading about the Sycip you put together for your trip to Japan. Nice bike. I first ran into Sycip at NAHBs and they had one of the most creative bike innovations at the show.

Here is a link to a photo:

This is a fixed gear bike with a disc break mounted on the non-drive side of the bottom bracket. Ultimately I don’t know how safe it is, (I can imagine making a big hole in my left leg…) but really cool none the less.


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In the Bike Shop: Trek’s Precision Fit Socket Technology was the previous entry in this blog.

From Japan (Part 4): Mini mini in Roppongi is the next one.

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