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Thread: Wheel Base

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    Senior Member Elad63's Avatar
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    Wheel Base

    What is the standard wheelbase length for a folder, and does it make much of a difference when it comes to handling say for touring or commuting. I have done alot of searches looking for folders and they all seem to have different wheelbases. I know some are built to size. I have folder that has a 35 inch wheelbase. Would it be safe to say that this length wheelbase would only be good for short distances, or could it be uses as daily commuter or sometimes light tourer.

  2. #2
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elad63
    What is the standard wheelbase length for a folder, and does it make much of a difference when it comes to handling say for touring or commuting. I have done alot of searches looking for folders and they all seem to have different wheelbases. I know some are built to size. I have folder that has a 35 inch wheelbase. Would it be safe to say that this length wheelbase would only be good for short distances, or could it be uses as daily commuter or sometimes light tourer.
    Entirely depends on you! My Birdy has a nice long wheelbase, but I've gone on long, fast rides with folks on bikes with much shorter wheelbases. Your body will adapt to the bike.

    Of course, long wheelbases are ostensibly better for touring. They also allow you to carry more crap without hitting your feet against it. As for me, I only carry two front panniers no matter how far I'm going. But it's good to know I can carry more if I want to camp.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Elad63's Avatar
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    My son-in-law took pics of me riding and I looked cramped up on the bke, though I didn't feel like I was. I guess it will take time to get used to riding such a short wheelbase bike compared to my road bike. Is this a normal novice thing that eveyone goes through.

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    "good for short distances" If you are on smooth flat terrain I don't think wheel base is an issue. On steep hills the front wheel might pop up. Over rough terrain the front wheel might hit a bump and before it drops the rear hits it causing a bucking effect so prized by children. Do it right an you can get a zero gravity effect for a nano second. 40 miles of bucking would not be fun.
    2000 Montague CX, I do not recommend it, but still ride it.
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    Wieleder CARiBIKE (folding), decent frame.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Elad63's Avatar
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    plan to ride mostly on road, semi hilly, nothing to steep or bumpy

  6. #6
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    Short wheelbases effect the ride in several ways

    - Think of the bike as a double-ended lever with the fulcrum being the hubs. A bump or pothole's effect is more pronounced on a short wheelbase vs long since the lever arm is shorter. This means more shock is transmitted to the wheel and frame for shorter wheelbase bikes. This could mean more flats and frame and fork problems. In the extreme imagine a 10 cm bump on a 100 cm wheelbase vs a 10 cm bump on a 50 cm wheelbase. The short wheelbase lever goes up and down twice as fast and twice as hard. Longer wheelbases smooth out the road. Try a tandem on long wheelbase recumbent for a good comparison! Smaller diameter wheels just makes all this worse.

    - Longer wheelbases mean more frame length to flex and dampen shocks. Not as big issue if you have suspension.

    - Shorter wheelbase means less room for you. This leads to an upright, cramped riding position unless you get longer stems and drop the seat angle to move the seat back. This can lead to the problems below...

    - Shorter wheelbase usually means your butt is much closer to being over the top of the rear axle and your head is closer to being over the front axle. On hills this means wheelies and loss of control. With sharp braking it means you are more likely to have the bike do a front flip or at least have the rear wheel come off the ground as you stop. Steep descents and fast stops are even worse on short wheelbase bikes. The last time I did a front flip on a bike was about 50 years ago, but it made quite an impression on me and I have no desire to ever do that again

    - Shorter wheelbase most likely means shorter chainstays and a that means shorter chain lines and poorer shifting if you have a derailleur bike. Not an issue on internal hub gears or single-speeds.

    - On bikes with 26" or 700c wheels your toe may hit the front wheel as you turn on a short wheelbase bike, not a issue with smaller wheels. Short and long are relative terms. For 700c road bikes wheelbases used to range from about 38.5" to 42". Mountain bikes lengthened that another couple of inches. With folders and small wheels the range is more like 35" to 45" which is a large range.

    - The big plus for small wheelbases is folding size. The Brompton-type fold is a nice fix for keeping the wheelbase long while the fold stays small.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Elad63's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the info, will most likely keep my current bike for short errands, and try to find another for my summer commuting and light touring. No LBS sells folder's in my area, but they can order them. Maybe find something on Craiglist or in local newspaper

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