Isao’s Larkin Cycles 24″ Mini Velo Touring MTB

We had quite the coverage of mini velos last year, beginning with this dude’s personal bike. Isao’s Falconer was one of my personal favorites to hit these pages in 2019 because it really embodied the notion of deep custom and something we don’t address a whole lot here on the Radavist; this idea that when you get a wacky, 100% custom bike, you’re essentially getting a working prototype.

After having his 20″+ wheeled Falconer for a full year, Isao realized he loved it for touring and for riding around the city – he lives just outside of Tokyo – but he didn’t enjoy it as much as a mountain bike and he was hoping the Falconer would be a MTB as well. When I asked him about it, he described the sensation of getting the wheels stuck between roots and rocks. “Got it! Say no more, fam!” Yet, Isao still lives within the confines of a modern Japanese apartment, so he doesn’t have a lot of room for a full-size bicycle. Truth be told, he likes mini velos too! He wanted to get another bike this year, as a supplement to the Falconer.

That’s what sparked this custom Larkin frame. Darren and Isao worked out a mountain bike with 24″ wheels, plus extra stability for touring. It’s the best of both worlds. Pulling from years of inspiration, Darren fabricated a bike that almost looks vintage, yet has all the modern features like disc brakes, a dropper post, tubeless tires, and a comfortable geometry you’d expect from a custom bike built in 2019. He then pinged his friend Kyle from Outershell to make him some custom bags, one of which you see here.

Isao flew into the US a few weeks ago, picked up this bike and already has taken it into the local mountains. I personally took him on my favorite loop in the Verdugo Mountains, which he exclaimed afterward “This is my favorite type of riding…”