Veli bike is a minivelo with a 20" wheel, handmade in Lisbon-Portugal, since 2014. It´s similar to a folding bike without the normal weaknesses.
Minivelo's are extremely popular in Eastern countries, especially in Japan.
Many of the foldable bicycle users simply do not fold it because in most situations, the small size is enough (eg. carry on the train, subway, ferry, or store at home). Each bicycle is designed with the utmost attention and precision and they are always tested before being delivered to the future owners.
Veli is a sturdy bike assembled with good quality components and has 5 years warranty
I've always preferred compact and lighter bikes for my city commute. If you live in an apartment, ride short every time you get on your bike and navigate through the dense traffic of the city, you need a light and small bike and with few or even without gears.
So far you had two solutions, or you built a single speed or fixie with your grandfather's old road bike frame, or bought a foldable. Tried both.
Over time I realized the advantages of each one. But also the disadvantages. Found myself completely undecided and frustrated because
if in one hand I´ve speed and lightness, in the other hand, compactness and easy to handle. The point was to gather both in one.
Browsing through the endless web, using all the terms and combinations that might be related to the theme, discovered in a Japanese site a new type of bike different from everything I had seen so far.
Basically an adult road frame, but with small wheels (16" or 20"). Researching a little more and noticed that it was a very popular bike not only in Japan but in neighboring countries.
Did not rest until I found an reseller of such frames. It was what I wanted. Road frame performance X folding bike size, but without the normal fragilities of this one.
As soon as I got a supplier, started working. We set up a prototype with 6 gears and a race handlebar.
Right on the first ride, didn´t want to believe how explosive was that combo. The speed, the acceleration, the total control, accessible to anyone even the less experienced riders.
Wanted everyone to try that bike. How come there was still none of this in Europe?
In the course of time, I improved the prototype. Took the gears, replaced the handlebar by a bullhorn and replaced the tires by a top of the range puncture proof Schwalbe Marathon.
I was glazed in the machine and had to sell it here. I called my colleague and friend Aurélio, Órbita Portugal ex-CEO and asked him for help to sponsor the project.
"You're building toys again," he said. "It will not sell"...
I was even more motivated. He was always very direct, but even saying "no" to everything I knew he kept thinking about it.
He never made the frames but provided me with all the needed parts at the factory cost and we started with the project, with a micro investment of about 3k euros to buy some frames and parts.
It wasn´t an immediate success, despite the typical curiosity. In fact we only started to sell more minivelo's after 3/4 months by Christmas (2014)
Another curiosity: we launched the product without a name, without a brand. We completely forget about it. I know, it's hard to believe, but it's true. We just wanted to build bikes. Only that. It was known as minivelo because in fact it´s a minivelo and there was nothing like this in Portugal, but this is only the type name of bicycle.
We only baptized the baby at the end of 2015. Already with the combo parts known today. The name was the junction of Velo with Lisbon (Veli), where it was born and where it'ss produced.
This year we also abandoned the sprockets and definitely adopted the internal gear hub, because it´s the perfect solution for commuting. With less maintenance, quiet, easy for fix and aesthetically appealing.
Veli was recognized and reviewed in Bike Magazine, the best bike magazine known and sold in Portugal, with an excellent rate.
2016 was the year of Veli growth and notoriety, we build 30+ and we sold them all, even outside of the country. It doesn´t look like too much for a big company, but it was for us.
Thank you for joining us.
Veli bike team captain