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  1. #1
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    16" wheel compact folder with wide gear range?

    I've discovered the folding bikes here and found they are quite capable, relatively speaking, as opposed to a gimmick or "toy". Something I have been thinking about is how I will be able to get some riding in on my work trips that have me all over the US - my regular bike would be a pain to strip and pack, not impossible but a major deterrent.

    My question is with gearing. My most often used gear range is 31-83 gear inches, with more often times dropping to the mid-low 20's than going the other way to the low-mid 90's or beyond. Other than the Bike Friday Speeding Tikit, what are some other 16" wheeled bikes with lotsa gears?

    I've been looking at the Bromton's also, but the most gears they offer is 6 - and they use pretty specialized gearing. I think they do have a leg up on the "compact fold-ability" over a Bike Friday, though.

  2. #2
    Member Violinfish's Avatar
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    Done 5000km with my 16" foldie. armed with 50-34T crankset & 11-28T sprockets.

    most of the mileage is light duty,short range commuting & touring.
    as a touring vehicle , the weakness of 16" wheel compact folder is obvious,it's too small to load the luggages.
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  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Brompton M3L + Schlumpf, Swiss, Mountain Drive Crank, for about a 17" Low, and the high about 80", in 6 speeds.

    both are planetary gears , so the 3~4 double shift is quick and easy in spite of the MD shift being like a 50-20 double crank.


    Feel a need for Lots of gears ? there is a Sturmey narrow , 28 spoke 5 speed IGH that can take the same cogs as the Brompton BWR. for 10.


    and put a double or triple crank and one of the custom Front derailleur mounts to really complicate the drivetrain ..


    1962, I put a triple cluster on an AW3. and a triple crank for 3 cubed or 27 speeds.. 3 levers for shifting the hub and the 2 derailleurs.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 05-28-14 at 07:28 AM.

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    The Brompton 6-speed is offered in 3 settings. At the lowest, the range is 29 to 87 gear inches. The standard setup is 33 to 99 gear inches. At the highest, it is 35 to 107 gear inches. None of these quite hit your range.

    Another downside is that this range is spread over 6 gears - it means each gear change is pretty significant and can be compared to skipping every other gear on a normal bike. I eventually got used to this but at first, it wasnt great.

    The upside is that the Brompton gearing "fits" a folding bike well - bikes that are folded tend to get bounced around a bit more and an external derailleur is a prime target for damage, not to mention than with small wheels, the external derailleur is quite close to the ground when riding. Since you want to use this bike for travel, this should be a consideration. You may want to lean toward a bike with a IGH - the Shimano Nexus and Rohloff hub gears offer very wide ranges.

    To get more gear range on the Brompton, there are several other options - but all are quite costly.

    Another folder to consider is the Birdy - I am pretty sure it is still available with the Rohloff. Plus, Bike Friday seems to be able to customize their bikes to your specific needs which is pretty compelling.

  5. #5
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    You can also get a 16" wheel made with a Capreo hub and 9-26T cassette. I'd also investigate using Nuvinci hub, etc...
    http://Charles.Plager.net
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  6. #6
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
    My question is with gearing. My most often used gear range is 31-83 gear inches, with more often times dropping to the mid-low 20's than going the other way to the low-mid 90's or beyond. Other than the Bike Friday Speeding Tikit, what are some other 16" wheeled bikes with lotsa gears?
    Obviously any BF tikit with a double crank will cover you. So you don't have to explicitly order a speeding tikit rather than a model with a front derailer. There are several IGHs that will also cover the range. I'm thinking that anything with more than 300% -- Nuvinci 360, Alfine 8?, Alfine 11, SRAM 9 -- will cover you if the bottom gear is 25". You can actually go with the MTB single chainring groups to cover it as well. Shimano Zee with an 11-36 will cover it as well as multiple SRAM options.

    You didn't mention price, but obviously if there is no limit then Rohloffs and Schlumpf drives are possibilities.

    With Bromptons, you can try ultrawide cog combination with a wide three speed. Schlumpf with a Brompton will give you lots of range.

    You also have the Ori models. AFAIK, they are basically nonexistent here in the US. So I can't really help you with them; but they might be an option for you.

  7. #7
    Senior Member bhkyte's Avatar
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    Other options would be a dahon curve sl , dpwmtube mini old or new (pending....) or a mezzo fitted with another hub. I have 2 dual drive mezzos. Also a birdie is basically16 inch wheel 355.
    Dual drive Mezzo (GOLD), Dual Drive Mezzo with bullbars (black), White Brompton thingy with Dahon Androes stem and bull bars. Birdie (old sytle) 7 speed. Downtube NS8. Birdie red.

  8. #8
    Senior Member ThorUSA's Avatar
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    to the original op
    what is it what you like to find ... low gearing to climb hills or high gearing to fly down the same hills without spinning out abd go 45 miles an hour ...
    or both ?
    Having fun selling Terns and Dahons for a living. My personal website is also my business website, same as my profile name, therefore no link given to follow forum rules.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThorUSA View Post
    to the original op
    what is it what you like to find ... low gearing to climb hills or high gearing to fly down the same hills without spinning out abd go 45 miles an hour ...
    or both ?
    I hit the brakes when I get in the 30mph range, speed is not a priority. If I can hit 27-28 down hill I'm fine, if gravity takes me faster then I can brake to stay within my comfort zone. I don't want to run out of gears very easy going up hills. General riding now I bottom out at 29.4 gear inches. For the "portable riding" I would think this would be a good target bottom, but lower would be good too.

    My target use for the bike is airline travel. I want to carry luggage, also, for some touring so racks are going to be a necessity, as well as fenders. I won't be using it as sole transportation, but I'd like to be able to do an over-night to 2 night trip. Weight-wise since I started riding I am back to well under 140lbs, so a 200lb limit would give me roughly 60lb of gear capacity = more than enough. I know there are more options in a 20" wheel bike, but I need to get a more compact package so that's why I decided on the 16".

    The internal gear hubs look interesting. I was talking with a fellow biker at work today and his buddy has a bike shop. He's looking in to the folding bikes right now too - the commuter train doesn't allow bikes until non-peak hours but the folding ones that tuck away in a bag would work any time. In any event, the internal gear hubs came up because he was saying there is no rear derailleur to worry about. I guess I am not looking at that as too big of a drawback, but maybe it is a big over-look in a travel bike (especially one that will be out of my hands a lot in the luggage compartment, conveyors, and the hands of careless baggage handlers at the airports).

  10. #10
    Senior Member ThorUSA's Avatar
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    I really like this one
    curve1.jpg
    on purpose it has ultra low gearing 25 up to about 6 to 7 miles per hour and than it shifts into second gear automatically which is still very low with about 35
    great for toodling around or pull a trailer with waterjugs, gasoline or groceries ( Im thinking for the boat when you at anchor and need to haul the bike in a dinghy to shore and get water etc etc )

    probably a little slow for you, though
    Having fun selling Terns and Dahons for a living. My personal website is also my business website, same as my profile name, therefore no link given to follow forum rules.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by cplager View Post
    I'd also investigate using Nuvinci hub, etc...
    I was surfing the Dahon line-up this evening and came across the Mu N360. It has the Nuvinci N360 hub. I ran the gear inches and it comes out to 24-88, infinitely variable. The downside is it is a 20" bike. The hub range is the equivalent of a 9-32t cassette, only without any jumps between gears. That would sure be nice. I run in to some scenarios riding with other people that I can't find a good spot to fit in my cadence vs. speed because one gear is too low and one is too high. I usually take the low gear and spin faster (cadence in to the low 90's vs. high 70's). The CVT aspect would eliminate that - so long as the adjustment range covers my cadence and ground speed, which the N360 does.

    The next question is if I can't find the "right" set up ready to ride out of the box, maybe taking a stock bike and adding the hub would be worth the effort/expense - maybe even a double crank. Since there is no cassette in the rear there is no alignment to worry about with one cog - all the chain alignment would be in the chain rings. Though, this set up would require derailleurs to pull off.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
    I've been looking at the Bromton's also, but the most gears they offer is 6 - and they use pretty specialized gearing. I think they do have a leg up on the "compact fold-ability" over a Bike Friday, though.
    "Specialised gearing" that's a nice diplomatic phrase, I would use a rather more colourful phrase to describe Brompton's gearing options My advice after owning an SRAM 6 speed Brompton and having ridden a BWR 6 speed is "just don't do it". After having researched a whole load of other options I did a Nexus 8 / Double chainring conversion on our Bromptons which gives a gear range of 18.5 - 82 gear inches. This is about perfect for us and our touring and daily usage (Norway not being know for its flatness). The Nexus hubs are 'cheap as chips' so if something goes wrong you can replace the hub without breaking the bank. We're quite pleased with the conversion (caveats apply).

    If I am to modify the Bromptons again then it will be to fit Rohloff hubs in them. We have them in our touring bikes and they are brilliant.

    You are right about the Brompton's foldability and that you can roll the bike on its rear rack when folded. This is a useful feature when taking the bike on a train or a bus.

    The big problem is that you take an already expensive bike, spend time fitting more parts that cost more money and maybe you end up with a bike that suits you. That sort of sums up modifying a Brompton.

  13. #13
    Member Violinfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThorUSA View Post
    to the original op
    what is it what you like to find ... low gearing to climb hills or high gearing to fly down the same hills without spinning out abd go 45 miles an hour ...
    or both ?
    45 mph on a 16" folder....so crazy....

  14. #14
    Senior Member bhkyte's Avatar
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    I quite frequently hit 30 on the flats on my 16"(wind assisted), I don't claim to be quick, but the right set up 16" or 20" folders can perform a lot better than some people believe.
    Dual drive Mezzo (GOLD), Dual Drive Mezzo with bullbars (black), White Brompton thingy with Dahon Androes stem and bull bars. Birdie (old sytle) 7 speed. Downtube NS8. Birdie red.

  15. #15
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Violinfish View Post
    45 mph on a 16" folder....so crazy....
    I've done over 40 mph on my 20" folder. (It's got a range of 17" to 106")
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  16. #16
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    Another question - more general - how easy is it to retrofit a drop bar to a flat bar bike? The N360 hub shifter - is there any way to wrap that around the curves of a drop bar? What about a split drop bar? Then that brings up the question of swapping the stem, if necessary, to get more grip on the bar.

  17. #17
    Member Violinfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bhkyte View Post
    I quite frequently hit 30 on the flats on my 16"(wind assisted), I don't claim to be quick, but the right set up 16" or 20" folders can perform a lot better than some people believe.
    I have no doubt about it can reach this high speed on track.
    but fly down multi-curved mountain road at 45mph speed on 16" wheels...sounds like some kind of suicide.
    I'm used to hitting the brake at 17mph when down hill...

  18. #18
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    Another idea. Since the N360 has such a wide range (the equivalent of a 9-32 cassette) it wouldn't be too much to swap chain rings for different environments. If I had, say, a 53 and a 45, that would give me the option to run the 53 normally and if the area I land in is hilly I could swap out for the 45 and drop my bottom gear inches around 25 to 21. It would require a change in the chain length, but with either a different chain or a short removable section (lighter weight that way) it would work.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
    Another question - more general - how easy is it to retrofit a drop bar to a flat bar bike? The N360 hub shifter - is there any way to wrap that around the curves of a drop bar? What about a split drop bar? Then that brings up the question of swapping the stem, if necessary, to get more grip on the bar.
    Origin 8 dropbar ends. I tried them on my Mezzo but wasn't entirely happy with the riding position so I am now using long flat bar ends for more reach. I have no issues with Origin 8 bar ends, I just dont think drop bars work for me on my particular bike. One day I would like to try bull bars if the shifters and levers can be manoeuvred round the bends in the bars.

    18606.jpg
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  20. #20
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I got another 2 cable Grip shifter , made by another German company , with a larger diameter & a spacer to fit inside it ,
    with a gap for the cable from an Aero brake cable to bass thru , under the tape..

    those are made to use in Drop bar installations (will sell, Im OK with the regular one with trekking bars so don'y need it ..

    would work with Nu Vinci too it and R'off are pull- pull shifted in the Hub ..

    some other German Frame builders have bars that split made in the smaller 7/8" tube.. required for the standard shifter.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 05-29-14 at 08:39 AM.

  21. #21
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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  22. #22
    Senior Member ThorUSA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Violinfish View Post
    45 mph on a 16" folder....so crazy....
    I was kidding ... or maybe not ..trying to flush out unrealistic ideas about gear ratios ...
    which the OP does not have ..its quite on target ...just not as easy with a 16 inch wheel
    Having fun selling Terns and Dahons for a living. My personal website is also my business website, same as my profile name, therefore no link given to follow forum rules.

  23. #23
    Senior Member ThorUSA's Avatar
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    The Dahon Nuvinci is a great bike .... 20 inch though
    the shifting while riding is somewhat to have experienced ...however that darn hub is heavy ...ouch
    that bike was priced MUCH higher than it is sold these days ... so all of the sudden its a good deal, it was overpriced before ... but still the weight is there

    thor
    Having fun selling Terns and Dahons for a living. My personal website is also my business website, same as my profile name, therefore no link given to follow forum rules.

  24. #24
    Senior Member bhkyte's Avatar
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    Re drops bars to the op.

    The best option I find for fitting drops on a folder is to fit upside down cut down drop like old style low profile bars.
    I have found this option works much better in providing a compact fold with or without a qr stem.
    Brompton worked really well with these bars an a dahon androes extender.
    Dual drive Mezzo (GOLD), Dual Drive Mezzo with bullbars (black), White Brompton thingy with Dahon Androes stem and bull bars. Birdie (old sytle) 7 speed. Downtube NS8. Birdie red.

  25. #25
    Member Violinfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThorUSA View Post
    I was kidding ... or maybe not ..trying to flush out unrealistic ideas about gear ratios ...
    which the OP does not have ..its quite on target ...just not as easy with a 16 inch wheel
    remember an old joke: every time some guy says his MAX speed was XX mph on a small wheel folder, I always tell him “definitely I believe you can make it faster than 100mph”. then he ask "how?",I say "just find a tower high enough,go up top and jump off with your bike..."

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