Unlike some folks around here, I don't have a lot of experience with road bikes. I've mostly used hybrid and folding bikes, specifically a low-end Dahon and a Xootr Swift. I'm in decent shape and ride 125+ miles a week, but am not formally training at this time.
I normally ride solo, and 20" bikes are perfectly fine for that. However, I've noticed that when I do group rides, it seems like the 20" is less than optimal.
On slower and casual rides, the only problem I've noticed is that due to the *ahem* highly responsive handling of the smaller wheels, I have problems making hand signals. Even with practice, I need to concentrate and/or tighten my grip to stabilize the bike, and this slows me down when making a signal.
I did a group ride that was faster than usual, and I used the Swift, which right now is mostly stock -- 65psi Kenda Kwest tires, handlebars about even with the saddle, and flat bars. I've added bar ends and use a racing saddle. I'd be OK on the flats up to 17-18mph, but when the group went over that I was often getting left in the dust. On the occasions that I was in the middle of the group, I found it very difficult to make hand signals, especially if I had my hands on the bar ends.
So my questions are....
• Is anyone using a performance folder on fast group rides, and experiencing these or other issues?
• Is it possible to optimize my Swift to ride faster?
• Or, is the Swift basically as fast as a typical road bike, and it's just a matter of training?
• And for those who know both folders and road bikes: how much rougher is the ride on a 20" folder than on a 700c road bike? (Assuming no suspension and similar saddles on both)