Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Folding Bikes
Reload this Page >

Pick a folding bicycle wheel size

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.

Pick a folding bicycle wheel size

Old 01-04-19, 07:41 PM
  #1  
Andy Thousand
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: New York
Posts: 12

Bikes: Brompton

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Pick a folding bicycle wheel size

Ok my folding bicycle commuters. Here’s a question for you.
If you could only choose one wheel size for your folding bicycle between the following 3, which one would it be?
Heres your 3 choices:

1) 16-inch
2) 20-inch
3) 24-inch

Remember to choose wisely because each has their advantages and disadvantages.
Andy Thousand is offline  
Old 01-04-19, 08:05 PM
  #2  
downtube
Senior Member
 
downtube's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Greensboro, NC
Posts: 1,427

Bikes: Many Downtube Folders :)

Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 236 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
20" is the sweet spot. Perfect compromise of size & function.

Thanks
Yan
__________________
Designer of Downtube Folding Bike
Ph.D. Temple University ( Math )
Biked across the USA twice
Semi-active chess player ( two time Bahamas National Champion )
Sivananda ( Bahamas ) Trained Yoga instructor ( 2013 ) and ThetaHealer since 2013
Bicycle delivery worker for Jimmy John's. Delivering is the best workout I have ever had.
downtube is offline  
Old 01-04-19, 10:09 PM
  #3  
linberl
Senior Member
 
linberl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 2,349

Bikes: 2017 Bike Friday PakiT. Dahon Mu Uno (trailer bike) Sold: 2003 Bike Friday NWT, 1997 Trek 720, 1993 Trek 520)

Mentioned: 21 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 908 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 5 Times in 5 Posts
16". I own both a 16 and 20", but honestly the reason to have a folder is to be able to make it small and take it places easily...and a 16" wheel does the best job of meeting both criteria. The real question is why bike manufacturers don't spend money on r&d to develop a 16" that rides spectacularly, has massive non-proprietary upgrade potential, folds ultra compact, is super light weight, and has a reasonable price tag? My Bike Friday ****t meets many of these needs, but the fold could be more compact and the price could be better. Ride, weight and upgrade potential are brilliant.
linberl is offline  
Old 01-04-19, 10:53 PM
  #4  
1nterceptor
LET'S ROLL
 
1nterceptor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: NEW YORK, NY - USA
Posts: 4,734

Bikes: 2014 BMC Gran Fondo, 2013 Brompton S6L-X

Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 286 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Tried other folders with 26" and 20" wheels in the past.

I'm most happy with 16"/349 ETRTO:

Bike To Work by 1nterceptor, on Flickr

Office parking 2017 by 1nterceptor, on Flickr
__________________
One day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20X43026ukY&list=UUHyRS8bRu6zPoymgKaIoDLA&index=1
1nterceptor is offline  
Old 01-04-19, 11:45 PM
  #5  
tds101 
Grumpy old man,...
 
tds101's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Mastic Beach, NY
Posts: 2,883

Bikes: 9+,...

Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 567 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 5 Posts
I have 26", 20", and 16" folders. I just received my Downtube Mini 16" folder today,... 16" is the sweet spot for me.
__________________
If it wasn't for you meddling kids,...
tds101 is offline  
Old 01-05-19, 07:39 AM
  #6  
Sohaib
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 15
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Andy Thousand View Post
Ok my folding bicycle commuters. Here’s a question for you.
If you could only choose one wheel size for your folding bicycle between the following 3, which one would it be?
Heres your 3 choices:

1) 16-inch
2) 20-inch
3) 24-inch

Remember to choose wisely because each has their advantages and disadvantages.
I'd go for 20"
Sohaib is offline  
Old 01-05-19, 09:21 AM
  #7  
12boy
Senior Member
 
12boy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: casper wy usa
Posts: 410

Bikes: brompton sl, surly steamroller, fuji track, gary fisher bmx minivelo etc

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 124 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have a Brompton and a Swift. I feel little difference on smooth pavement between the two. Brompton folds smaller but the 349 only take 1 3/8 tires or smaller, or at least that is what I can find. The Swift doesn't fold as small, although that is more the design than the wheel size. If the Brompton had 20 inch wheels it would be maybe 2 inches longer. The Swift will run 2 inch tires which can help with riding on gravel, potholes and ruts etc. At this point wheelbase and tire choices matter more to me.
12boy is offline  
Old 01-05-19, 11:04 AM
  #8  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,481

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 183 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6724 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 141 Times in 119 Posts
2 - 349 wheel bikes, and 1 406, here ... 1 Brompton, 2 Bike Friday ..


The Rohloff hub works well in a 20" wheel with a common 53t chainring..

in a 16" wheel a hub with the 1:1 ratio, more in the middle, like the Alfine 8 or 11 or AW3, is a better choice.






....

Last edited by fietsbob; 02-13-19 at 10:43 AM.
fietsbob is offline  
Old 01-05-19, 11:50 AM
  #9  
Roegmann
Senior Member
 
Roegmann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Greater San Diego area
Posts: 81

Bikes: Pacific Cycles GT, Downtube Mini 2015 version, LitePro Crius 14"

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 32 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I own (or have owned) folders or ridden friends' folders with: 14", 16", 20", 26" wheels. If, and that is a big if, I could only have one size for the rest of my life it would be the 20" for the same reasons Yan stated.
Roegmann is offline  
Old 01-05-19, 12:00 PM
  #10  
avole
Banned.
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: France
Posts: 1,045

Bikes: Brompton, Time, Bianchi, Jan Janssen, Peugeot

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 598 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
I'm afraid the rest of the bike must come into consideration. There is no sweet spot.
avole is offline  
Old 01-05-19, 05:18 PM
  #11  
BromptonINrio
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 214
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 98 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 5 Times in 5 Posts
i would choose 16" bikes.
i have a brompton and a dahon curve and bolth are amazing!

my third opition is dahon prrmium bikes. i have a dahon mu sl and its also amazing fast, dispite having 20" wheels
BromptonINrio is offline  
Old 01-06-19, 06:01 AM
  #12  
zebede
Hello
 
zebede's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Suncoast, Florida
Posts: 843

Bikes: n+1

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 80 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 2 Posts
20 inch, because you have the most tire choices, balance durability, speed, weight, and comfort to your wants.

The majority of folding bikes have 20" wheels therefore you have the more choice in bikes, again balancing your wants.
zebede is offline  
Old 01-06-19, 07:23 AM
  #13  
kayakindude
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: New England
Posts: 182

Bikes: 1987 Cannondale SR600/BioPace, 1994 Giant Iguana MB, 2009 Airnimal Chameleon, 2016 Dahon Vybe C7A

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 53 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by zebede View Post
20 inch, because you have the most tire choices, balance durability, speed, weight, and comfort to your wants.
I agree with this because with the right gear range a 20 inch can still keep you moving with traffic (20mph+), tons of tire options, and have not come across a surface yet where I regretted not having the large tires...although on a nice day and nice road I do love my 24x1 tires

Last edited by kayakindude; 01-06-19 at 07:33 AM.
kayakindude is offline  
Old 01-06-19, 07:36 AM
  #14  
Tourist in MSN
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 5,769

Bikes: 1961 Ideor, 1994 Bridgestone MB-6, 2006 Airnimal Joey, 2009 Thorn Sherpa, 2013 Thorn Nomad, 2015 VO Pass Hunter, 2017 Lynskey Backroad, 2017 Raleigh Gran Prix, Perfekt 3 Speed -age unknown, 1980s Bianchi Mixte on a trainer. Others are now gone.

Mentioned: 28 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1227 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 9 Times in 8 Posts
What is the purpose of the bike and which is more important, portability or ridability?

My foldup bike has 24 inch tires (507mm) that ride very nicely, but the bike is not very portable when packing it up to go onto an airplane without an oversize fee. Works for me but the bike when folded might be too large for some that are more interested in folding the bike frequently while they are using the bike for short commuting distances.

Without knowing the purpose of the bike, you can't really say what is best.
Tourist in MSN is offline  
Old 01-06-19, 12:20 PM
  #15  
kayakindude
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: New England
Posts: 182

Bikes: 1987 Cannondale SR600/BioPace, 1994 Giant Iguana MB, 2009 Airnimal Chameleon, 2016 Dahon Vybe C7A

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 53 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post

My foldup bike has 24 inch tires (507mm) that ride very nicely, but the bike is not very portable when packing it up to go onto an airplane without an oversize fee. Works for me but the bike when folded might be too large for some that are more interested in folding the bike frequently while they are using the bike for short commuting .
I don't find portability is much of an issue with any of the tire sizes. Storage at work maybe but portability? Bikes in these tire sizes generally all weigh similar, fit on transit and move through buildings/elevators without being unmanageable. I find no difference in packing times or airline issues when flying between my 20 and 24. Same with the train to work. If I brought my bike into my work space then smaller has an advantage. We have a bike rack in the building so no issues there.
kayakindude is offline  
Old 01-07-19, 10:51 AM
  #16  
Pinigis 
Senior Member
 
Pinigis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Henrico, VA
Posts: 1,016

Bikes: Origami Gazelle, Origami Crane 8, Origami Cricket 7

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 189 Post(s)
Liked 3 Times in 2 Posts
20" seems to be a sweet spot for both ride and compact fold.
__________________
Paul Pinigis
Owner of Origami Bicycle Company
Pinigis is offline  
Old 01-12-19, 05:31 PM
  #17  
sykerocker 
Senior Member
 
sykerocker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Ashland, VA
Posts: 4,063

Bikes: The keepers: 1958 Raleigh Lenton Grand Prix, 1968 Ranger, 1969 Magneet Sprint, 1971 Gitane Tour de France, 1973 Raleigh Tourist, 1973 Lambert, 1973 Schwinn Super Sport, 3 - 1986 Rossins, and a '77 PX-10 frame to be built.

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 75 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 7 Times in 5 Posts
I'll also go with a 20" wheel, mainly because I'm a Raleigh Twenty addict.
__________________
Syke

"No wonder we keep testing positive in their bicycle races. Everyone looks like they're full of testosterone when they're surrounded by Frenchmen." ---Argus Hamilton
sykerocker is offline  
Old 01-15-19, 03:33 AM
  #18  
chesky
Member
 
chesky's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 37
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 15 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I believe most will pick 20-inch. You can also check out some comparison on Youtube

chesky is offline  
Old 02-12-19, 01:45 AM
  #19  
gat3keeper
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 5
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I wonder how it feels riding a 12" or 14" inch wheel ?
gat3keeper is offline  
Old 03-05-19, 12:21 PM
  #20  
bikebikebike
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: TX
Posts: 65

Bikes: Downtube IX NS&FS, Dahon Speed8Pro/Matrix,Brom S2L,Montague Para, ICE-XL w Rollie/Schlumpf, Trident Spike, MB's TNTC, ebikes, BFsatrday

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 26 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have 2 26"Montague and Dahon Matrix
2 Dahon and Downtube 20"
Mobiky 12.5
They are tools with specific uses.
You have to know where you want to ride
20+"are bulky but smooth
12"max I would go is a mile
bikebikebike is offline  
Old 03-05-19, 12:54 PM
  #21  
Jakey27
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 10

Bikes: Enigma Echo Ti, Sabbath September Ti, Airnimal Joey

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I went for 24”, just because I prefer longer rides and appreciate a bit more comfort. The fold is slightly less of a priority.
Jakey27 is offline  
Old 03-08-19, 11:11 AM
  #22  
kraftwerk
my nice bike is at home
 
kraftwerk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Brooklyn, NY USA
Posts: 787

Bikes: 2011 BMC Race Machine / 80's Rossin / 90's Merlin/ 70's Raleigh 20/ Ti-'swift' folder

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
In order to get the correct answer you must ask the right question, there are TWO different sizes of 20" wheels: 405 & 451

Now, why there are TWO wheels named 20" is a bit of a mystery but the answer begins with the fact that the metric system is superior.

BTW the answer is: 451

Last edited by kraftwerk; 03-08-19 at 11:15 AM.
kraftwerk is offline  
Old 03-09-19, 01:14 AM
  #23  
Raxel
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 296
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 66 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
406 has the largest tire selections (including knobbies), and is stable enough for fast group ride with roadies.
Raxel is offline  
Old 03-09-19, 03:14 PM
  #24  
1nterceptor
LET'S ROLL
 
1nterceptor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: NEW YORK, NY - USA
Posts: 4,734

Bikes: 2014 BMC Gran Fondo, 2013 Brompton S6L-X

Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 286 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
My 349's don't have any problems keeping up with roadies:
Or any other type of bike on any size tire.
__________________
One day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20X43026ukY&list=UUHyRS8bRu6zPoymgKaIoDLA&index=1
1nterceptor is offline  
Old 03-10-19, 06:59 PM
  #25  
pinholecam
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 343
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 126 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
I have/had 14", 18" 20-406, 20-451 and 700c bikes.

It really depends on the individual's use case. (ie. last mile commute; casual riding; part commute by car; city riding; gravel riding; long distance, etc)
14" - best fold and lightest to handle/fold, but can be harsh on bumps and don't roll over things well. Also not fast unless gearing is very specifically catered for it. Not something for very long distances (ie. above 30km) (Crius Smart 3.0).
18" - pretty nice compromise for compact fold, good choice of tires for many types of riding. Decently fast even riding with 700c bikes though of course more effort is needed and it looses out on top end speed.
20-406 - Starts to get big folded, but good range of tires and styles of bikes. A choice between 18" and 20-406 bikes really depends on what the user prefers/thinks matters (ie. fold size vs better rolling, tire choices )
20-451 - More 'speed' orientated. The best of the 20" and under wheeled bikes to match up to 700c bikes in terms of speed. It still looses out in the rolling over of bumps and rougher roads though. Also looses 700c on the top end of gearing, so looses out in sprints and surges, though I find that its not that important if a course is long and individual effort is involved since I will reel most 700c riders in over a 10km stretch. Very lacking in tire options, mainly narrow tires limit the versatility of 451.

Ideally, I'd like 20-451 with tires choices from 1" - 1.75".

I'm trying out a 650b folding bike soon, as it better rolls over gravel/trail routes for my touring needs, though I do think it crosses the line wrt folding size.

If I don't have the habit of riding my small wheeled bike vs roadies every weekend, I'd probably settle for the 20-406.


So I don't really have the answer to this question

Last edited by pinholecam; 03-10-19 at 07:03 PM.
pinholecam is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.