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Folding Bikes Discuss the unique features and issues of folding bikes. Also a great place to learn what folding bike will work best for your needs.

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Old 02-12-11, 11:22 AM   #1
johncooks
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16" wheels for touring?

Please excuse me for being redundant if these questions have previously been broached. I haven't been able to find the questions I'm looking for.

This is not so much a question of "Bike Friday or Dahon or Brompton?" but, all things equal, which wheels would you choose for longer rides or touring? And maybe the follow-up question: can a bike's specific attributes make wheel size practically irrelevant?
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Old 02-12-11, 11:51 AM   #2
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IMHO small wheels = bumpy ride. I still love them but if you can get suspension on the rear or better still front and rear, then the whole riding experience is so much nicer.

I commute daily 5.25 miles each way on my 16" wheeled Brompton.

PS you may want to check out a Moulton

Regards

Jerry

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Old 02-12-11, 12:22 PM   #3
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Thanks, Jerry. Since I don't currently ride a small-wheeled bike, it's hard for me to differentiate between the two wheel sizes, because they both seem so small!

I'm actually interested primarily in two brands: BF and Brompton. I am reluctant to buy a bike, then discover that although I would like to take it on the road, the bike would not be capable - or enjoyable.

In your opinion, in riding 5.25 miles to work, are there reasons to suspect you might rather be riding a 20" wheel bike? I'm not talking foldability here, but just ride quality. There seem to be so many fervent enthusiasts for each type of bike!
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Old 02-12-11, 12:29 PM   #4
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For touring and longer distances where a really compact / fast fold is not the primary need I would look at a 20 inch wheel and when it comes to touring a bike like the BF NWT is an awesome choice.

I ride on 20 inch high performance wheels and do not find that my ride is unduly harsh and frame design will contribute to comfort and other ride qualities.

Moulton bicycles prove that with the right frame design wheel size does indeed become irrelevant as they ride as nicely as any bicycle and do not fall short in the performance department.
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Old 02-12-11, 12:31 PM   #5
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john - Because you live in the PNW it should be obvious that you should give a hard look at BF since they are made in your back yard... and they really are king when you are looking at a fold-able tour worthy bike.
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Old 02-12-11, 12:49 PM   #6
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A 406 20" wheel, is 2nd most common tire around the world, behind 559 26" mtb.

bike friday has been making knock down travel bikes for quite ,
pack in suitcase =no bike special handling fee, lots of drivetrain options..
its a custom bike.

their Tikit is an entry in Brompton's niche,
using same 349 high pressure rim/tire

fold is bigger, but because seat folds forward rather than telescope in frame,
seat height is fixed.
it has some stiffness issues, flexing the rear end tubing is its only suspension.

Todd, owner of the Clever cycle shop in PDX, rode his modified Brompton
down the Oregon and NorCal 'Lost' coast ..
blogs on it of course.
http://clevercycles.com/2010/11/26/d...t-by-brompton/

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Old 02-12-11, 01:56 PM   #7
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In your opinion, in riding 5.25 miles to work, are there reasons to suspect you might rather be riding a 20" wheel bike? I'm not talking foldability here, but just ride quality. There seem to be so many fervent enthusiasts for each type of bike!
For me its not so much the wheel size as the suspension that seems to make a difference. As well as having a Moulton TSR 20" wheeled bike which is suspended front and rear, I also have a fully suspended forty year old Raliegh Moulton MK3 (not folding or seperable) which has 16" wheels. Both have the same comfortable ride and to be honest there is not a huge difference between them, except the TSR being of a new design is more modern and thus more well refined.

For my commute I would prefer to ride my 20" Moulton but as always its a compromise. The Brompton folds much smaller (the Moulton just splits in half) and thus the Brompton is so much better if you need to carry it places i.e. on buses or trains. I am not sure I would want to tour on a Brompton though, unless of course it meant having to carry it on other forms of transport.

If I had to tour (with minimal use of other transport) then I would use my Moulton TSR 20" wheeled bike. Its portability is enough that should I have to carry it occasionally on a train, bus or plane, it would be small enough split apart to just get away with it.

I have no experience of other folders like the BF or Dahon and will leave others to comment on their suitability.

I am curious though what has made you consider touring with a smaller wheeled bike ?

Regards

Jerry

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Old 02-12-11, 02:54 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by johncooks View Post
Please excuse me for being redundant if these questions have previously been broached. I haven't been able to find the questions I'm looking for.

This is not so much a question of "Bike Friday or Dahon or Brompton?" but, all things equal, which wheels would you choose for longer rides or touring? And maybe the follow-up question: can a bike's specific attributes make wheel size practically irrelevant?
Well ... wheel size has some effect. For instance, with a tiny wheel your trail is going to be very low. IME, there is some "small wheel = bumpy" effect; although you can compensate greatly with wide supple tires. There are some increased rolling resistance effects from small wheels too. For long distances, I would stick with 406 wheels. There is a much better selection of tires and tubes and based on imperfect anecdotes/experiments your handling, comfort, and performance will be better with 406.
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Old 02-12-11, 03:34 PM   #9
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I love my Brompton, and there is absolutely nothing out there that could possibly better fit MY needs.

However, if the foldability of the Brompton wasn't THAT important to me, the Brompton woudn't be on the top of my list for touring.

1-if the touring you are planning has lots of climbing, you might be better off with a lighter bike like a high end Moulton or Bike Friday;

2-if the touring you are planning has lots of downhill, you might be better off with a bike with higher gears;

3-if the touring you are planning has lots of dirt roads, off road shortcuts and bad asfalt, you might be better off with bigger wheels, front and rear suspension (I would suggest a modified downtube FS in this case)

Just keep in mind that tire size is one of several modifiers that can play a major role on your final experience. Good luck on your final decision
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Old 02-12-11, 08:56 PM   #10
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Small wheels for touring: I have done a fair bit of that on a great variety of small-wheelers.

On dirt/gravel roads I had trouble. My Birdy fully loaded would drift uncontrollably to the low side of the dirt road if it had a camber to it. In general, smaller/narrower tyres will tend to sink into soft surfaces a lot worse that large fat knobblies.

On tarred roads, no trouble. However the Birdy would develop a slow speed wobble above certain speeds (a known issue with Birdies).

I basically ignore warnings about such-and-such a bike not being suitable for whatever. And then I get great rewards.
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Old 02-12-11, 09:11 PM   #11
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Some of my touring has been on my Bike Friday (20" wheels). In the absence of any need for the folding characteristic I still choose to use my 700c touring bike, but the difference is very small and part of my preference is an economic one - tires wear out faster on the Friday and they cost more. My Friday is not suspended, but I've found that the use of somewhat wider tires compensates quite well for the smaller wheels. On my 700c touring bike I usually run 25 - 28mm tires front and rear whereas on the Friday I use 37mm in the rear and 28mm in the front. Gearing is similar on the two bikes, in fact the Friday currently has a slightly higher top gear than the large-wheeled tourer.
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Old 02-12-11, 09:55 PM   #12
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I'd always pick my NWT for touring over my Tikit. The NWT is just a stiffer bike designed for touring and the bigger wheels work much better on rough surfaces. I run 40mm tires on both bikes, but the NWT's 20" wheels have so much more air in them. I recently went on a 100km overnight tour on my NWT that to my surprise was 80%+ unpaved and a lot of that was rocky. The 20" GS Scorchers did great and I kept up with my buddy on his 700c Surly LHT no problems.

If I only owned a Tikit I'd tour on it and it would work, but if I was buying a folding touring bike it would be another NWT.
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Old 02-13-11, 04:36 AM   #13
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We did a lot of touring on our 6 speed Bromptons. It's true, they are no MTB's but a sandy track sure is possible. They are no racebikes, but if you got the power you can be fast. When I don't need the folding much, - the Brompton folding is superb!- I take my Airnimal Joey. Not because of the wheelsize, but just because I like too ride that bike, right now.
But for me there is only one advise: Try before you buy.
Why? The difference is in the rider, not in the bike. So a good bike for me can be a disaster for you.
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Old 02-13-11, 07:14 AM   #14
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But for me there is only one advise: Try before you buy.
Why? The difference is in the rider, not in the bike. So a good bike for me can be a disaster for you.
Good advice.

Regards

Jerry
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Old 02-13-11, 08:28 AM   #15
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I have had very nice touring with my Downtube 20" NS
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Old 02-13-11, 09:59 AM   #16
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Thanks to all for their opinions and trusty well-earned knowledge. It is greatly appreciated. One thing is for certain: I have a lot of test riding to do!

Jerry: I just thought taking some tours on a small-wheeled bike would be fun! And it would allow me to make a few detours otherwise difficult to make.
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Old 02-14-11, 11:03 AM   #17
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I prefer 20 inch wheels for longer distances (over 10 miles)16" wheels without suspension beat me up.I have an old BF which I' ve managed to find some fat HP tires for that along with a suitable wide supportive sprung saddle really make things so much better.
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Old 02-14-11, 11:37 AM   #18
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Where are you located in the PNW?
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Old 02-14-11, 07:19 PM   #19
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Building around Pan Tour hubs gives suspension , a bit, .. narrow 74 axle hubs is a buzz reduction
at 1/2" of elastomer motion with in the hub,
100mm wide axle on the front and there's 1 inch of travel

thereare rear cassette hubs too and ones with discs too, though the use the bigger hole of Rohloff discs
for movement space..
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Old 02-14-11, 09:46 PM   #20
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I used a Tikit to tour Borneo. It did the job pretty well! But yes, a 20" would do better esp on rough roads. We hit some pretty bad roads in Lao in Dec and our 20" Expedition and Dahon Speed 8 coped easily. However my friend on a road bike struggled.

http://lovethefold.blogspot.com/2009...in-borneo.html

http://lovethefold.blogspot.com/2011...o-paksong.html

My take is for commuting, the 16" wheel is more than sufficient and both the Brompton and the Tikit are excellent bikes in this regard, with the former having the edge in compactness. But if you do tour as well, go for the Tikit with double chain ring and touring racks.
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Old 02-15-11, 09:33 AM   #21
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Moulton bicycles prove that with the right frame design wheel size does indeed become irrelevant...
Ja' think?
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Old 02-15-11, 07:53 PM   #22
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Dynocoaster: I live in Portland, Oregon.
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Old 02-15-11, 07:58 PM   #23
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I live by the Canadian border. Have you been to Bike Friday in Eugene? It is worth the trip, I was down there last summer and received the tour of the process. Very cool and you can ride the different bikes when you are there.
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Old 02-16-11, 12:31 PM   #24
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This is not so much a question of "Bike Friday or Dahon or Brompton?" but, all things equal, which wheels would you choose for longer rides or touring? And maybe the follow-up question: can a bike's specific attributes make wheel size practically irrelevant?
One thing you should note is that there are really 4 common "small" wheel sizes in approximately 2" increments: 305mm, 349mm, 406mm, and 451mm. 305mm and 349mm are called "16 inch" and 406mm and 451mm are called "20 inch", but the true diameters are closer to 14", 16", 18", and 20". For "16 inch" bikes Dahon uses the 305 size and Brompton/BF use the 349 size and for "20 inch" bikes almost everyone uses the 406 size except Bike Friday which uses the 451 size on some models.

Personally I think "20 inch" 406mm wheels are by far the best choice because you can get almost any kind of tire you want and in a pinch you'll always be able to find BMX/kid tires at any department/toy/hardware store. 559 (MTB 26") may be the most common wheel size in the world, but 406 wheels have to be the most common size in the US.

Other than that wheel diameter is irrelevant compared to each bike's specific attributes.

Last edited by chucky; 02-16-11 at 12:39 PM.
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Old 02-16-11, 07:59 PM   #25
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FWIW, I've seen pictures of people all over the planet on their Bromptons.

including perpetual traveling Heinz Stuck .

Last edited by fietsbob; 02-17-11 at 11:07 AM.
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