Join Date: Jul 2008
Bikes: Brompton, Dahon Vitesse D5
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Every folding bike strikes a slightly different balance between a bunch of requirements, there's often no outright winner. I'm a fan of the Curve SL/XL though I think it makes a lot more sense with Big Apple tyres. . . quite a versatile bike in that it's well-specced, fast and agile, folds pretty small. The wheels seem indestructible. But if you're on crowded trains any bike is going to be problematic, even a Brompton, i.e. if there's no space nothing will be small enough. If there's always space on the trains then a 20" folder could do. I kinda prefer the ride of the Curve SL to my 20" Dahon except on really bad road surfaces (of which there are plenty where I live). . . then the 20" wheels win out. But there's not much in it. . .
Bromptons win in the small fold department but the design makes the bike less versatile in terms of component switches and the base models have very limited gearing.
As a general rule the smaller the wheels the longer the stem/handlepost, resulting in greater flex in that area. Both the Brompton and Curve bikes suffer from this, and that changes the way one has to ride. So if you're counting on using your upper body and pulling on the bars then a 20" Dahon or something similar would be preferable.