Foldable bikes, what's the trade off of the smaller body and wheels? (and other questions about foldable bikes) (1 Viewer) Question 

A zed

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I'm thinking about getting a foldable bike. So far I've mainly been seeing two different varieties, ones with small bodies and wheels that have seats and handlebars that extend high and what I would call more of a "normal" body (though the ones I've found are almost exclusively mountain bikes) with a hinge built in the middle of the body so it just folds in onto itself.

How does this smaller body and wheels of the first design affect riding?

Is it easier since the bike is lighter or do smaller wheels make it more difficult?

Personally I think I'm more drawn to the second design, since that sort of body of bike, minus the hinge, is what I've been riding whenever I've had a bike in my life. However as I've mentioned I've pretty much only seen these as mountain bikes (with dual suspension). Now again my technical knowledge is extremely limited, but it's my understanding that having dual suspension means I'd be limited to the flimsier rear racks (where it only connects to the seat not also to the wheel) and that the suspension makes the bike heavier. The first problem is the one that 'worries' me the most, and I'm curious if anyone does ride dual suspension and what they think of these problems.

Is the weight limit a hassle?

Does the weight of the suspension actually make a difference?

Any other sort of advice when it comes to anything foldable bikes would be super appreciated. Or even just directions to somewhere I can learn more about these technical parts of bikes and sort of understand for myself all of these pros and cons. Also if anyone is aware of decently priced non-mountain bike foldable bikes of this second design please let me know, as, at least with where my knowledge is right now, that seems to be what I'm looking for.
 
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Matt Derrick

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i've never ridden a folding bike, but i've done a little bit of research on them so take what i say with a grain of salt.

the smaller wheels will mean you'll need to pedal more, but that can be made up for slightly with decent gearing. 'bike friday' seems to be a popular brand.
 

ali

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I also have never ridden a folding bike, but if you are after a touring (not mountain) model that is regular-sized, those exist too. Some are sold in the west under the brand name Change Bike.

I was looking into one as well as a touring possibility, but for now I am leaning toward trying to make do with my cheap and cheerful hybrid (with front shocks). I figure it's better to dip my toe in the touring water without laying out a huge chunk of cash, then if I find that I enjoy the lifestyle, it might be worth investing more in gear that works better for me.
 

A zed

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I also have never ridden a folding bike, but if you are after a touring (not mountain) model that is regular-sized, those exist too. Some are sold in the west under the brand name Change Bike.

I was looking into one as well as a touring possibility, but for now I am leaning toward trying to make do with my cheap and cheerful hybrid (with front shocks). I figure it's better to dip my toe in the touring water without laying out a huge chunk of cash, then if I find that I enjoy the lifestyle, it might be worth investing more in gear that works better for me.
Thank you so much! This design is exactly what I was looking for! But hoo boy is that expensive. Still, thank you this at least gives me somewhere to start, maybe trying to find used ones or any sort of "knock offs" with a bit less expensive components.
 

A zed

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I'll put this here for future reference, and for others who may be interested. Flatbike is the American distributor for Change bikes so if you're interested in getting one they're here. But as mentioned they run on the expensive side (at least in my eyes), cheapest I'm seeing is $1200. However they do sell the frames themselves, with the 700c/road frame currently going for $600 available here. So for anyone that also values having a foldable "standard" frame, building off this frame might be your best bet but still expensive.
 

The Drifter

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I've got a folding electric bike with 20 inch wheels I bought it 2nd hand for £120 off ebay in 2019. A real bargain, the steering was wonky and the brakes were messed up, eventually got that fixed. It took me a while to get used to it because I prefer full size bikes. 20 inch wheels is a much better option than 16 inch for me, it just makes the bike more solid and stable.
 

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I've got a folding bike rebranded from Dahon, and there are some significant downsides which I'd like to point out:

Rigidity- the frame is simply not as rigid. Between this and the smaller tires, riding at a moderately high speed can be...exciting, and not in the good way (say, doing 30+ downhill).

Also, the folding mechanism? Somewhat delicate. I loaned the bike to a friend for a few days and ended up having to machine a new latch because he snapped it off by accident.

Also, if you're thinking about touring on something with uncommon sized wheels, make sure you've got a source for tubes- not ever LBS will carry 20" tubes if you get a flat, and this can be a real pain to source in some parts of the world.

As far as 'lighter'- You don't lose a lot when shrinking from 26/29 to 20", but you add the weight of the folding mechanism.
 

CrazyEarl

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I've used a folding bike from Tern fitted for touring. I think it was the C8 w/ 20" wheels. I liked it. And if I had the money, I would buy one.

Only 8 speed, but due to the wheel size, you didn't need any extra gears for climbing hills. Which was my biggest apprehension about it. It seemed a bit easier on my knees than a regular touring bike.

Handling does feel a bit weird, especially going down hill. But you get used to it. I wouldn't describe it as unsafe.

The folding mechanism was sturdy and had a few years of use, including overseas shipping.

The biggest drawback is something already mentioned. Parts. It's hard to find 20" tubes depending where you are. The shifter was also made by Tern and integrated into the handlebar. So if you broke it, you'd have to order an entire handlebar replacement. Friction shifters #1.
 

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