Soma Minivelo

Somehow I missed Soma’s introduction of a small wheeled minivelo bike last month even though Urban Velo, John Prolly and others mentioned it, but better late than never.

Soma Mini Velo panning shot

I know they look “funny” in a way, I’ve been a fan of Japanese minivelo bikes for a while. These bikes have 20″ wheels like some folding bikes and older BMX bikes, but with a frame style and componentry more like that of a road bicycle.

They’re popular in Japan because they’re a little easier to squeeze into small office and living spaces than full size bicycles. Soma reports another advantage of their minivelo — it’s a little easier than large wheeled bikes to squeeze through thick crowds on the subway.

I haven’t tried this particular bike out, but it seems road worthy. Soma normally sells frame/fork sets, but the minivelo is available only as a complete bike for $1,195.99. For that prize you get a CroMo steel frame; bar end shifters; Sugino 53/39 crankset; Tiagra derailleurs, hubs and 9 speed 111-25 cassette.

Soma Mini Velo

Soma’s Minivelo bicycle uses cantilever brakes, and the bike has brazeons for fenders. Tubes and tires for the 451 wheel size can be purchased from recumbent suppliers. It’s available in any color you’d like, as long as it’s dark red. And because this is a niche design, Soma’s size choices are limited to 48, 53 and 55 cm.


  1. But is it Di2 compatible? I won’t buy it otherwise.

    Curious if this is still bus-rack compatible. I guess the center of the wheels is still more or less in the same place, so I think it would be.

  2. Di2 on a minivelo would be somethin’

    I’ve put small tire folding bikes on the bus bike rack, and I’ve seen BMX bikes on as well.

  3. I have stumbled onto the joys of small wheels via my purchase of a Dahon folding bike. While the benefits of 20″ (406) wheels are obvious when it comes to making the folded package as small as possible, I often find myself enjoying the ability to make really tight turns, and the ability to spin up to cruising speed really quickly, which I attribute to the lower rotational inertia of the wheels. Small wheels make a lot of sense for a city bike that will be doing a lot of stopping and starting.

    That said, I can’t imagine for the life of me why a bike that would be used like this would be set up with low-mounted drop bars. All of the discomfort of a racing bike with none of the cruising efficiency.

    I’ve never tried to source 451s, FWIW. Just wore out the 406s that came stock on the Dahon and have ordered some Schwalbe Marathons to replace them.

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