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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 10-14-17, 10:26 PM   #1
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20”or 16”?

I own 2 folders, both 20”. one electric, the other a traditional. I am enamored with the Gates/Shimano Nexus-IGH technology and that drive combo will be my next purchase....likely a Downtube product. They offer this drivetrain in both 16” (SA hub)

My question is, since Ive never ridden a 16” bike and its unlikely Id have that opportunity prior to making a decision is what insights can 16” riders give me that I’d likely not get elsewhere?

Full disclosure: I am predisposed to adding the 16” to my fleet primarily for the tighter fold, and would also be a less redundant choice but, again I’m concerned about the rideability of the 16”.

Thoughts?
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Old 10-15-17, 02:59 AM   #2
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It depends on where you want to ride the bike. I`d say the 16" wheels are much more happy on hard roads than mud and snow, more so than the 20" wheels. Tyres count. If you can get a bike with Big Apple tyres.

Do not forget the Downtube mini: https://no.images.search.yahoo.com/s...Mini&fr=mcafee
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Old 10-15-17, 07:38 AM   #3
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It depends on where you want to ride the bike. I`d say the 16" wheels are much more happy on hard roads than mud and snow, more so than the 20" wheels. Tyres count. If you can get a bike with Big Apple tyres.

Do not forget the Downtube mini: https://no.images.search.yahoo.com/s...Mini&fr=mcafee

Thats the one. Or the 8H Downtubes 20”version.
If you or anyones ridden the Mini Id appreciate your impressions.
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Old 10-15-17, 11:43 AM   #4
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at Bike Friday, made in Oregon, you can get a Gates belt drive option with either 20" 406 or 451, on the NWT Silk.

Or the new PakIt. Brompton type, 349 high pressure 16".. They, made in several sizes and offering more options,..

There is another 16" tire smaller 305 rim, fatter lower pressure tire , common on Asian folding bikes and kids bikes..

[have a BF Tikit, and a Brompton, 16", and a BF Pocket Llama 20", all use Chain Drives..]






.....

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-15-17 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 10-15-17, 02:08 PM   #5
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badmother has it largely correct, IMO

I've used my ticket (349) on hard-packed trails like the C&O Canal with good results. But broadly speaking, besides whatever effect wheel size has -- ride quality generally gets worse for rougher surfaces as the wheel gets smaller -- the tire selection in 16" is worse than 20". But if you want/need a smaller fold, smaller wheels is the way to go.
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Old 10-15-17, 05:00 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by FolderBeholder View Post
I own 2 folders, both 20”. one electric, the other a traditional. I am enamored with the Gates/Shimano Nexus-IGH technology and that drive combo will be my next purchase....likely a Downtube product. They offer this drivetrain in both 16” (SA hub)

My question is, since Ive never ridden a 16” bike and its unlikely Id have that opportunity prior to making a decision is what insights can 16” riders give me that I’d likely not get elsewhere?

Full disclosure: I am predisposed to adding the 16” to my fleet primarily for the tighter fold, and would also be a less redundant choice but, again I’m concerned about the rideability of the 16”.

Thoughts?
I commuted for 4 years on a 20" folder with a Nexus 8 in it. Over the last year or so, I've switched to a Dahon Curve "D8" with Sturmey Archer X-RF8 in it with 16" (305) wheels. My backup bike is a Cirus Smart (think Dahon Dove) with 14" wheels, so I'm coo-coo for small wheels.

My thoughts bikes with 16" wheels:
- the ride is a bit rougher with 16" wheels, but this can be partially compensated for with fatter tires such a Schwalbe Big Apples
- they feel more responsive or twitchy... some say unstable, but I like the responsiveness, especially for urban commuting
- Schwalbe Kojak slicks aren't available in 305 size, but you can get Primo Comets. Note that there is a Kojak for the 349 wheels (Brompton)
- studded winter tires aren't available in 305 size, but you you get them in the 349 wheels (Brompton)
- bikes with 16" wheels can have a shorter cockpit that bikes with 20" wheels. I'm 5' 7" and the Curve is just right for me after lowering the handlepost. Bromptons do have a longer cockpit
- often have narrow rear spacing, which means fewer choices for internally geared hubs.
- the smaller fold means you might be able to pack it in a standard airline case without disassembly

Here is my experience taking the Dahon Curve to Europe in a suitcase
https://www.bikeforums.net/folding-b...an-europe.html

Note that the Downtube minis with belt drives are the Nexus 8 and the Alfine 11 models. The Sturmey Archer 8 has a chain.

Let me know if you have any questions.
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Old 10-15-17, 05:06 PM   #7
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at Bike Friday, made in Oregon, you can get a Gates belt drive option with either 20" 406 or 451, on the NWT Silk.

Or the new PakIt. Brompton type, 349 high pressure 16".. They, made in several sizes and offering more options,..

There is another 16" tire smaller 305 rim, fatter lower pressure tire , common on Asian folding bikes and kids bikes..

[have a BF Tikit, and a Brompton, 16", and a BF Pocket Llama 20", all use Chain Drives..]






.....
The BF are intriguing, but their price-point isn’t. I’m quite fond of the more “artisinal” products such as Bike Friday and have NO problems with what they charge. In other words I dont consider them over-priced, just pricey. We had a custom Teardrop trailer built by one of their “neighbors” in Eugene Ore. and we love it (the teardrop trailer actually started our foray into folders in the first place!) but at this point in time a Bike Friday isn’t in our budget. Besides, 1 means 2 in our family as we do most of our riding together (and nearly everything else for that matter. 32 years and counting)
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Old 10-15-17, 05:23 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by edelay View Post
I commuted for 4 years on a 20" folder with a Nexus 8 in it. Over the last year or so, I've switched to a Dahon Curve "D8" with Sturmey Archer X-RF8 in it with 16" (305) wheels. My backup bike is a Cirus Smart (think Dahon Dove) with 14" wheels, so I'm coo-coo for small wheels.

My thoughts bikes with 16" wheels:
- the ride is a bit rougher with 16" wheels, but this can be partially compensated for with fatter tires such a Schwalbe Big Apples
- they feel more responsive or twitchy... some say unstable, but I like the responsiveness, especially for urban commuting
- Schwalbe Kojak slicks aren't available in 305 size, but you can get Primo Comets. Note that there is a Kojak for the 349 wheels (Brompton)
- studded winter tires aren't available in 305 size, but you you get them in the 349 wheels (Brompton)
- bikes with 16" wheels can have a shorter cockpit that bikes with 20" wheels. I'm 5' 7" and the Curve is just right for me after lowering the handlepost. Bromptons do have a longer cockpit
- often have narrow rear spacing, which means fewer choices for internally geared hubs.
- the smaller fold means you might be able to pack it in a standard airline case without disassembly

Here is my experience taking the Dahon Curve to Europe in a suitcase
https://www.bikeforums.net/folding-b...an-europe.html

Note that the Downtube minis with belt drives are the Nexus 8 and the Alfine 11 models. The Sturmey Archer 8 has a chain.

Let me know if you have any questions.
Great info, and great travel info too. Thank you for the detailed reply.

“Coo-coo for small wheels”. I get that.

Rode Vespas and (to a far lesser extent) motorcycles for many years. Prefer scooters and have done some fairly extensive travelling on 10” and 12” wheeled Vespas!

A little bit more about that if you care to squander a few minutes of your time on that....
http://gogogordy1.wixsite.com/scooter-aficionado

Yes the DT 8H or Mini are the 2 I’m deciding between...,as mentioned I have 2 20” folders (as does the Missus) already and a tighter fold is as attractive as the Belt/igh drivetrain. So many choices!
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Old 10-15-17, 06:05 PM   #9
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Great info, and great travel info too. Thank you for the detailed reply.

“Coo-coo for small wheels”. I get that.

Rode Vespas and (to a far lesser extent) motorcycles for many years. Prefer scooters and have done some fairly extensive travelling on 10” and 12” wheeled Vespas!

A little bit more about that if you care to squander a few minutes of your time on that....
http://gogogordy1.wixsite.com/scooter-aficionado

Yes the DT 8H or Mini are the 2 I’m deciding between...,as mentioned I have 2 20” folders (as does the Missus) already and a tighter fold is as attractive as the Belt/igh drivetrain. So many choices!
Vespas! I rode a Primavera 125 for a few years. Loved it.
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Old 10-15-17, 06:25 PM   #10
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Vespas! I rode a Primavera 125 for a few years. Loved it.
Small wheels!
(There is no cure)
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Old 10-15-17, 07:52 PM   #11
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My question is, since Ive never ridden a 16” bike and its unlikely Id have that opportunity prior to making a decision is what insights can 16” riders give me that I’d likely not get elsewhere?

The transition from 20" to 16" wheels was more dramatic than going from 700c to 20" for me. Riding a 20" bike doesn't feel too different from riding a fuller-sized bike, but going down to 16" was an entirely different experience in terms of twitchiness and bumpiness. I've gotten rather used to the ride by this point, but if I didn't have to do multi-modal commutes, I wouldn't ride a 16" bike by choice.
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Old 10-15-17, 08:16 PM   #12
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I'm the odd one out here on wheel size:

I find there is an insignificant difference in the feel of the bike wrt wheel size, when speaking of road bumpiness. I have a narrow-tyred 451mm wheeled bike, a wider-tyred 406mm-wheeled bike (Moulton with suspension) and a Brompton. I don't think the Brompton gives the harshest ride; I think long elements like the seatpost dominates whee size; and riding habits dominate that again. For the latter over the years I have aquired the habit of always lifting a bit off the saddle when going over bumps, even just tensioning the legs up will make a huge difference compared to lead-arsing it over bumps. IMHO that is the primary effect.

The Moulton with its suspension is definitely the most comfortable. The harshest is the 451mm Ti Swift. But even that bike I ride from time to time on MTB-suited terrain, ie mixed dirt audax rides, and while a MTB is surely more comfortable, technique is king.
\
So based on my own experience, I don't hesitate to recommend a 16" bike for firm dirt. But if you are going to negotiate loose surface tracks where wheels may sink a little, that is definitely going to be worst choice.
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Old 10-16-17, 12:29 AM   #13
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It also depends if the OP have other bikes or other means of transport. I remember once we were touring on the local mountain roads. 20" wheels. After many days of rain the roads were soaked. Wheels was not digging in but the whole area around the wheels (more than 1m2) was kind of mowing as we rode. Super heavy to ride (and I was out of shape) so something I never forget. This is why I keep a few 26" and 28" bikes around (that I almost never ride).

If I had to ride those roads on those bikes all the time I would be in trouble, and this is why it is difficult to tell others what to do. If the roads are hard 16" wheels (with wide tyres OR suspension) is no prolem.
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Old 10-16-17, 06:07 AM   #14
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I'm the odd one out here on wheel size:

I find there is an insignificant difference in the feel of the bike wrt wheel size, when speaking of road bumpiness. I have a narrow-tyred 451mm wheeled bike, a wider-tyred 406mm-wheeled bike (Moulton with suspension) and a Brompton. I don't think the Brompton gives the harshest ride; I think long elements like the seatpost dominates whee size; and riding habits dominate that again. For the latter over the years I have aquired the habit of always lifting a bit off the saddle when going over bumps, even just tensioning the legs up will make a huge difference compared to lead-arsing it over bumps. IMHO that is the primary effect.

The Moulton with its suspension is definitely the most comfortable. The harshest is the 451mm Ti Swift. But even that bike I ride from time to time on MTB-suited terrain, ie mixed dirt audax rides, and while a MTB is surely more comfortable, technique is king.
\
So based on my own experience, I don't hesitate to recommend a 16" bike for firm dirt. But if you are going to negotiate loose surface tracks where wheels may sink a little, that is definitely going to be worst choice.
I enjoyed your bike essay page....esp. the R20 writeup.
And also the DT Mini which once featured suspension(?) as it is now one Im strongly considering.
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Old 10-16-17, 10:20 AM   #15
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Have ridden both 305 & 349 ETRTO tires on hard packed dirt/sand. It wasn't too bad.
Where are you located? Maybe some members will offer you a test ride on their bike(s).
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Old 10-16-17, 01:20 PM   #16
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Even the Dahon Belt drive Folding Bikes by DAHON Mu Uno ? Folding Bikes by DAHON, may ask for more than you are willing to spend.
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Old 10-16-17, 05:36 PM   #17
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Have ridden both 305 & 349 ETRTO tires on hard packed dirt/sand. It wasn't too bad.
Where are you located? Maybe some members will offer you a test ride on their bike(s).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FR2T...6zPoymgKaIoDLA
I’m in Southern California. SW Riverside county to be exact.

Nice video....(now I want a tropical drink)
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Old 10-16-17, 05:52 PM   #18
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305 tires in Southern Cali, some (light)off roading:
And 349 tires again (light) off roading in S. Cali
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Old 10-16-17, 06:25 PM   #19
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One thing about small tires...3 weeks ago I was riding my brompton and got the front tire caught in a crevice on the street. Fell down and fractured my pelvis in 3 places so won't be riding for a while. The road was wet and/or I was careless but gravel and other hazards seem to be a bit more dangerous as wheel size diminishes.
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Old 10-16-17, 06:50 PM   #20
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One thing about small tires...3 weeks ago I was riding my brompton and got the front tire caught in a crevice on the street. Fell down and fractured my pelvis in 3 places so won't be riding for a while. The road was wet and/or I was careless but gravel and other hazards seem to be a bit more dangerous as wheel size diminishes.
Ouch. Thats a hard-earned real world observation, and certainly worth considering.
Get well soon.
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Old 10-16-17, 07:32 PM   #21
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There is a bit of a straight answer to it and a bit not....

Usually, the 14", 16", 20", 451 bikes don't have the same materials nor geometry, and all this gets mixed in with the ride experiences we get.

However, I do think that the smaller the wheel gets, the harder it its to negotiate poor roads/trail/gravel.
This can be made up for a bit with wider tires.

I have a 14" Crius smart 3.0 and Java X2. (rather similar geometry and both are alu)
The Crius has 'race' like 1.25" slicks while the Java has 1.75" fatty looking slicks.
The diameter of the wheels become rather different because of this and the ride quality differs too.
The Crius if pumped up hard, is harsh.
The Java feels much better for the same tire pressure, seems to be faster and rides into grass patches better.

Between my 18" Tyrell IVE with 1.5" marathons racer tires and 406 1.25" Raleigh mini velo the experience are as follows.
The wheel diameters are actually only 1" difference if measured with their respective tires. (which may explain why there isn't much of a difference in most ride aspects)
Neither felt more sluggish in terms of rolling (when pumped up to about 85psi), not felt any harsher than the other.
Both had good handling without a clear difference between them.
When tire pressure was dropped to about 65psi, the Tyrell felt more cushy.
The 1.5" tires on 18" wheels do handle packed dirt/gravel ok, I really doubt it on the 1.25" 406 (though I've never really tried much on them)


18" might be a good middle ground? (eg. Birdy; Tyrell IVE)
If not, options for 1.75" or 2" might be a good thing to consider as well.
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Old 10-17-17, 09:40 PM   #22
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That clears things right up pinholecam! LOL
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Old 10-20-17, 08:06 PM   #23
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One thing about small tires...3 weeks ago I was riding my brompton and got the front tire caught in a crevice on the street. Fell down and fractured my pelvis in 3 places so won't be riding for a while. The road was wet and/or I was careless but gravel and other hazards seem to be a bit more dangerous as wheel size diminishes.
Get Well Soon.

My vote is 20" for this reason.
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Old 10-21-17, 07:46 AM   #24
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There is a bit of a straight answer to it and a bit not....

18" might be a good middle ground? (eg. Birdy; Tyrell IVE)
If not, options for 1.75" or 2" might be a good thing to consider as well.

I am more of a value guy. I ran a bike shop for 30+ years and sold it to my son. I really like my 20" folders. I put Schwalbe 1.1" tires on my Dahon Mu d10. It is certainly much much harsher ride than the 2" tires it came with. The speed difference is significant also---way faster. I live in Montana --the 4th largest state in the US---I doubt any shop in the state has an 18" or 14" tire or tube in stock. But every one of them will have 406 tires and tubes.

I ride in the dark early mornings a lot. I ride my 26" mountain bike converted to an e bike at night with 2.1 smooth tires. I'm worried about bumps I don't see at night.

But as a tire seller I am totally into 406. The variety and price of 451 and the 16" and 18" tires are so limiting. All three of my folders are 406. (Swift, Mu d10, IGH 8 Mu).

Broken Pelvis man--12boy----Heal up---my mother broke her pelvis several years ago. The most connected bone in the body. Your torso moves with muscles and leverage from the torso and your legs also.--
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Old 10-21-17, 07:47 AM   #25
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There is a bit of a straight answer to it and a bit not....

18" might be a good middle ground? (eg. Birdy; Tyrell IVE)
If not, options for 1.75" or 2" might be a good thing to consider as well.

I am more of a value guy. I ran a bike shop for 30+ years and sold it to my son. I really like my 20" folders. I put Schwalbe 1.1" tires on my Dahon Mu d10. It is certainly much much harsher ride than the 2" tires it came with. The speed difference is significant also---way faster. I live in Montana --the 4th largest state in the US---I doubt any shop in the state has a 18" or 14" tire or tube in stock. But every one of them will have 406 tires and tubes.

I ride in the dark early mornings a lot. I ride my 26" mountain bike converted to an e bike at night with 2.1 smooth tires. I'm worried about bumps I don't see at night.

But as a tire seller I am totally into 406. The variety and price of 451 and the 16" and 18" tires are so limiting. All three of my folders are 406. (Swift, Mu d10, IGH 8 Mu).

Broken Pelvis man--12boy----Heal up---my mother broke her pelvis several years ago. The most connected bone in the body. Your torso moves with muscles and leverage from the torso and your legs also.--
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