Which is Better, a Full-sized Folding Bike or a Small-wheeled Folding Bike? Why is One Better Than The Other?
Full-sized folding bikes are approximately half the size of a standard bicycle. They are allowed on most trains and can fit on boats and RVs easier. However, they are just too big when compared to small-wheeled folding bikes.
Full-sized folding bikes are approximately half the size of a standard bicycle. They are allowed on most trains and can fit on boats and RVs easier. However, they are just too big when compared to small-wheeled folding bikes. Big wheel folders have an average size (volume) of 36”x36”x13”=16,848 in3, whereas most small wheeled folding bikes are around 32”x23”x12”=8,832 in3. This means you can almost fit two 20” wheel folding bicycles in the space taken by one full-sized folding bike. Hence, small-wheeled folding bikes make much more efficient use of space.
Small-wheeled folders have other advantages over their bigger wheeled cousins. Smaller wheels are more efficient up until 16 mph; hence, bigger wheeled bikes are harder to climb hills and slower on recreational rides.
Nowadays, most bikes are of very good quality, so buying a good bike is easy. However, a shopper must make sure the bike fits their body properly. Most 20” wheel folding bikes are one-size-fits-all from 4’8” to 6’2”. How is that possible? The seat tube on a 20” folder is angled back behind the bottom bracket; hence, it increases the virtual top tube length as the seat post is raised (and decreased as it is lowered). The higher a rider lifts the seat post, presumably the longer is their inseam; thus, the top tube length is also increased (likewise, a shorter rider will have a shorter virtual top tube length). Small wheeled bikes really are one-size-fits-all. Unfortunately, big wheeled folding bikes do not share this feature, since their seat tube lies on top of the bottom bracket.
Hence, you need to make sure the frame size (seat tube length) fits your body; otherwise, you will find yourself crunched up or leaning too far forward.
Big-wheeled bikes have some advantages: they absorb more road shock to keep the rider comfortable.
Additionally, they are more efficient on rough terrain (unpaved roads or dirt trails). They are also safer to ride on mountain bike trails. Small wheeled bikes have a habit of rotating around large objects such as rocks, and of throwing the rider off the bike.
Overall, big-wheeled folding bikes are nice and compact, about half the size of a normal bike. However, smaller wheeled folding bikes are about half the size of the big-wheeled folders, and that seems ideal for commuting, flying, boating, and RVs. Two small-wheeled folding bikes can fit into a standard car trunk, as opposed to one big-wheeled folder. The small-wheeled folders can fly on airlines with no oversize fees. They are also designed to be a one-size-fits-all option, so the entire family can enjoy one bike. Big-wheeled folding bikes are more comfortable and safer on the rough stuff; however, they cannot match the advantages of their 20” wheel little brothers. If you shop around, you will find that more than 80% of folding bikes have smaller wheels.
Please shop around and decide your preference on your own