What Exactly is a Mini Velo
Tyrell bicycles (many of which fold) with their small wheels, are often thought of as folding bicycles.
In reality, they are actually Mini-Velos, some of which also fold.
Does it matter? Find out here.
Ride it. Love it. Tyrell Sports Mini-Velos.
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Why is the Tyrell FX a Mini-Velo (that folds) and not a Folding Bicycle
Folding bicycle is a term typically used to describe small wheeled bicycles that fold.
But you also find small wheeled bicycles that do not fold. And large wheeled bicycles that fold. So what is going on?
Lets start with the Mini-Velo. Over the past 10 or so years, we have seen the emergence of small wheeled bicycles (mostly 451 format initially and now increasingly using the 406 format).
Originating in the cities of Japan and Korea, these bicycles offer great maneuverability, and are more compact than full sized bicycles, very well suited to the narrow streets and small homes in many of the cities in these countries.
The concept of the Mini-Velo was to replicate the geometry and therefore the feel of a full size bicycle while providing a more compact ride.
The result has created a cult category of bicycles that prove to be very fast accelerating, very maneuverable and super fun to ride.
Tyrell was one of the early adopters of this movement.
Key to the Mini-Velo concept is the frame. The frame is based on the familiar diamond concept. This is possibly the key differentiator with a folding bicycle. The choice of a diamond style frame means that the frame achieves maximum rigidity.
The more rigid a frame is, the less the frame dissipates energy input by the rider through pedaling via vibration, and transmits that energy more completely through the transmission to the rear wheel. Performance is therefore optimised.
The primary goal of a Mini Velo therefore is Performance
The primary goal of a folding bicycle is to create a bicycle that folds easily and into a compact shape.
Most folding bicycles on the roads today use a small wheel format. Urban commuter bicycles tend to use 16” (and the similar sized 18”) wheel format, although the 14” format is becoming increasingly popular. Foldies designed for more general or recreational use, tend to follow the 406 (20” wheel size).
However, for all folding bicycles, in order to achieve the primary goal, their frame typically has a single member, with the folding mechanism a part of the frame, ie the frame itself folds to achieve the smallest possible profile.
For the higher end folding bicycles, the manufacturers put a lot of effort into design and materials, to create a bicycle that also performs well.
Tyrell Mini Velos
Tyrell’s pedigree is as a specialist Mini-Velo designed and manufacturer. Hirose-san’s (the Tyrell Founder) goal is to build the best riding small wheel sports and performance cycles.
He started with pure Mini-Velos, fixed frame speedsters. These all feature his iconic “Slant” frame design which is such a trademark of his bicycles, combining function with beauty. The balance of the dimensions of the frames fulfill important functional purpose yet have great aesthetic charm.
Since those early days, Tyrell have introduced the FX, the FSX and now the IVE. The “F” in the first two stands for “folding”.
Recognising the added utility of a bicycle that folds, Tyrell introduced a range of models that also fold.
The main difference is that a Tyrell, like all Mini Velos that fold, do so around the frame, the frame remains intact, its integrity untouched, and the design finds clever ways to fold the rest of the bicycle around the frame.
The benefit of these bicycles is that while they fold for convenience, when in use, the frame performs as originally intended, a performance folding bicycle.
Ultimately, it is a matter of choice, a matter of what you as a rider need from your small wheeled bicycle.
And ultimately the choice involves a compromise.
For a Folding Bicycle, the main objective is to be quick and easy to fold and to fold down to the most compact size. The compromise is that the frame may tend to have more vibration and the efficiency of the transmission of power to the wheels may not be as efficient.
So speed of folding and compactness when folded are paramount, the compromise is performance and handling.
For the Tyrell Folding Mini-Velos, the main objective is to be fast and fun, stable and secure. Folding will probably take a few seconds longer and the final folded size while compact may not be the most compact.
So speed, performance and maneuverability are paramount in a Mini-Velo, with quickness of fold and compactness and important but secondary consideration.
And of course, Tyrell also produce hard core Mini-Velos, fixed frame beauties.
For example, the PK1 and the PKZ are both Titanium speedsters, fixed frame with 451 format. But the piece de resistance of the Tyrell range continues to be the XF – all titanium, folding beauty featuring a Gokiso hub.
The founder of Tyrell, Hirose-san, pays close personal attention to every single aspect of the bicycles that come out of his factory. From the design concept, through to the choice of the best materials for the job, through to meticulous attention to manufacturing and assembly, to the insistence of the best powder coating company as the paint specialists,
Tyrells are magnificent bicycles, built to perform, built to last.