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  1. #1
    Senior Member Still Pedaling's Avatar
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    16" wheel vs 20" wheel

    If this is sort of a duplicate thread, I apologize. Looking at many photos of folding bikes both with 20" wheels, like what I own, and bikes with 16" wheels I started to ponder on what could be major and minor differences between the two. Obviously a bike with 16" wheels would fold down to a smaller package for storing in the trunk of a car, but are there any noticeable differences riding a 16" wheeled bike in comparison to a 20" wheeled bike? Can I assume correctly that the manufacturer would compensate with different gear ratios?

    Cheers
    Wayne

  2. #2
    Senior Member Pinigis's Avatar
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    You may notice that a 16" wheel does not glide of road imperfections as well as 20", but there is no discernable difference on smooth pavement.

    Yes, the gearing on a 16" will be different to accommodate the smaller wheels; this often means a larger crank wheel.

  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    2 of each to make 4 of them .. same deal, thinner tire, larger rim; and fatter tire, smaller rim.

    349/305 & 451/406 .. thinner tires offer a lighter tire, operating at a higher PSI.

  4. #4
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    Smaller tires usually means smaller wheelbase too, so you want to ride slower.
    I don't ride fast on folding bikes so I went with the smaller 14 and 16" bikes for ultimate portability.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #5
    Senior Member Still Pedaling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ttakata73 View Post
    Smaller tires usually means smaller wheelbase too, so you want to ride slower.
    I don't ride fast on folding bikes so I went with the smaller 14 and 16" bikes for ultimate portability.
    I never thought of that. Having a shorter wheel base could make it a bit more difficult riding if you are taller in the saddle. I'm 6' 1", so perhaps a 16" wheeled bike might not work for me.

  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    But and Although .. Bike Friday Has sizes, others dont have but one.

    If you bought a large sized BF Tikit, it would be a longer wheelbase than if you bought a Small sized one.
    that is their 349 wheel bike .. folds fast ..

    their 20" wheel; travel bikes are made in 8 different top tube lengths .

    so wheel base follows as the size increase.

    just are not going to be as cheap as China Mass produces single sized bikes.

  7. #7
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    Regarding Dahons, you're probably out of luck.
    I'm 5'8" with a 31" inseam and my 600mm seatpost has 5-7cm of safe length to spare.
    This goes for both the 16" Mantis and 14" Dove
    Since you're ~15cm/5" taller, you will run out of seatpost.

    Do some research on Brompton, maybe they fit taller riders?

  8. #8
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Brompton's H steering mast adds 3" to the M bar set-up,
    and their telescoping post in top of the post that goes in the frame
    will certainly offer enough extension . 2 QR's

    as may the Extended standard type post , adds same extra 3" ,
    but Tele folds in a Bit lower when in that mode.

    349 wheel .. BF Tikit Builds around that wheel size too ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 07-16-13 at 02:05 PM.

  9. #9
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Still Pedaling View Post
    I'm 6' 1", so perhaps a 16" wheeled bike might not work for me.
    I'm 6' and my S bar Brompton fits fine. Not much left on the extended seatpost,so if your inseam is over 33" you'd prolly want the telescopic. My 20" bikes do feel better when out of the saddle,and ride a bit better,but my riding position is comfortable on all of them.

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  10. #10
    Senior Member Still Pedaling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynaryder View Post
    I'm 6' and my S bar Brompton fits fine. Not much left on the extended seatpost,so if your inseam is over 33" you'd prolly want the telescopic. My 20" bikes do feel better when out of the saddle,and ride a bit better,but my riding position is comfortable on all of them.
    That's nice to know that if I do decide on a 16" wheeler one day I will be able to ride it. The advantage for me would be the smaller size toting it around folded in the trunk of a car.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ttakata73 View Post
    Smaller tires usually means smaller wheelbase too, so you want to ride slower.
    Maybe... maybe not... I'm 5'11", weigh 205 lbs, have the extended seat post. I'm fairly athletic and so when I ride my Brompton and I want to ride fast... I just ride fast, wheelbase be damned. I suppose there might be a comfort zone... I try to ignore it.

    The only real downside I see to 16" tires is that I can't get Big Apples in that size and width to fit my Brompton. Bummer.
    Rivendell Sam Hillborne and Hunqapillar; Brompton M6R Sage Green; Salsa Mukluk 3 FAT Bike; Nerdy Academic; Nikonian; Wing Chun; and a Patridge in a Pear Tree.

  12. #12
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ttakata73 View Post
    Regarding Dahons, you're probably out of luck.
    I'm 5'8" with a 31" inseam and my 600mm seatpost has 5-7cm of safe length to spare.
    This goes for both the 16" Mantis and 14" Dove
    Since you're ~15cm/5" taller, you will run out of seatpost.

    Do some research on Brompton, maybe they fit taller riders?
    Bromptons can use a telescopic seat post to fit taller riders. I am 6'-2" with long arms and legs. I can ride a Brompton, most Dahon's I can't get the post far enough up. I almost bought a Speed TR, but with the seat post all the way out it was still over an inch low. There are somethings you can do, like ad a thud buster, but it adds cost and weight.

    As far as the difference in a 16" wheel vs the 20" wheel. The smaller wheel is more prone to "grabbing" pot holes and curb edges than a larger, just a normal part of the way they work. I can ride a Brompton just as fast or faster than I can a 700c machine with a similar set up. Not that I am that fast to begin with.

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  13. #13
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    FWIW , newer Bromptons wheel bases are longer than the earlier ones .

    That came in when the hinges changed from forged plates fillet brazed, ( a skilled job )

    to the Cast hinges, torch array brazed ... [less skill required , faster per piece.]

  14. #14
    Senior Member alhedges's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ttakata73 View Post
    Smaller tires usually means smaller wheelbase too, so you want to ride slower.
    I don't ride fast on folding bikes so I went with the smaller 14 and 16" bikes for ultimate portability.
    Not necessarily - the wheelbase is the measure from hub to hub, so wheel size doesn't really come into it. The Brompton has a 1045mm wheelbase, my 20" custom BF has a 39" wheelbase, and a Trek 520 in my size (although perhaps not in yours) has a 1044mm wheelbase (although if you go to the next size up (19"), the wheelbase extends to 1046mm).

  15. #15
    Senior Member kamtsa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Still Pedaling View Post
    I never thought of that. Having a shorter wheel base could make it a bit more difficult riding if you are taller in the saddle. I'm 6' 1", so perhaps a 16" wheeled bike might not work for me.
    Here are two tall people with 16" wheel bikes

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNnOdoUn3kg

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology...0/alex-moulton
    Happier than a camel on wednesday.

  16. #16
    Senior Member
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    Based on my Brompton, small wheels can also accelerate faster than bigger ones; very handy in city traffic. I'm usual the first one out of the gate compared to full sized bikes, and it's easier to clear the intersection before the cars move. Steering is is twitchy, or nimble, depending on how you look at it. I appreciate the extra maneuverability when dodging traffic, but it does require more attention and feels less stable; riding no handed is pretty much out of the question.

  17. #17
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    As it goes with other wheel sizes, a larger diameter wheel will handle rougher roads better than a smaller wheel although this has a lot to do with the bike.

    My rigid Phillip's 20 is fitted with 406:40 Schwalbe Marathon tyres (@75psi) and my suspended Moulton is fitted with 349:37 Comets @ 85psi and the two bicycles are nearly indistinguishable when it comes to ride and handling although the larger wheels on the Phillips will roll over and through things better. The Marathons can be run as high as 90 but then the ride quality gets a little jarring unless the bike is loaded down for touring.

    One would probably not want to run the smaller Comets on a rigid frame, the ride quality would probably be very poor... I have run 406:25 Comets on my Phillips at 85 psi and they roll out very quickly and the ride quality is rather excellent due to the suppleness of these tyres although you give up some puncture protection.

  18. #18
    lowlife bottom feeder BassNotBass's Avatar
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    IMHO the ride difference between the most popular 16" size (349) and the most popular 20" (405) is negligible on paved roads when considering the relatively wide range of tire types available for both.
    Last edited by BassNotBass; 07-19-13 at 02:12 PM.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member smallwheeler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BassNotBass View Post
    IMHO the ride difference between the most popular 16" size (349) and the most popular 20" (405) is negligible on paved roads when considering the relatively wide range of tire types available for both.

    ~ end of thread ~

  20. #20
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    Hi,

    Note that the gearing on cheap 16" folders its often identical to
    that used on a 20" folders and they are often horribly undergeared.

    e.g. :

    Citizen Miami 20" : Gear inches 64, 56, 49.8, 42.7, 37.4, 32

    Citizen Tokyo 16" : Gear inches 46.1, 40.4, 35.9, 30.8, 26.9, 23.1

    Both use a 48 front with 14, 16, 18, 21, 24, 28 rear.

    rgds, sreten.

    My 20" folder tops out at about 18mph top gear,
    same rate is 13mph on a 16" albeit a lot easier.
    Last edited by sreten; 07-20-13 at 08:17 AM.

  21. #21
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    To keep the price low the components are chosen for low price too..

    once you own the bike you can have parts changed to suit your preferences..

  22. #22
    my nice bike is at home kraftwerk's Avatar
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    Consider 451 wheels. Just to keep the argument going...

  23. #23
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    And a dual suspension Moulton or Birdy to handle the rougher surfaces.

  24. #24
    lowlife bottom feeder BassNotBass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kraftwerk View Post
    Consider 451 wheels. Just to keep the argument going...
    Once my Brompton arrives I'm looking to modify it so that I can fit the 635s from my Flying Pigeon for a better ride.

    Ah yea, rollin on my 28s pumpin Country Grammar through my DreBeats.
    I plan on living forever... so far so good.

  25. #25
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    The Brompton 349 rim will take a narrower Kojak slick tire too.

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