Author Topic: 20" folder for travel bike not commuter...what rides most like a road bike?  (Read 2395 times)

I am considering a 20" wheel folder that will fit into a large duffel bag / suitcase for when I am working away from home.

What I am interested in is getting one that a) rides most like a full-size road bike and b) is upgradable with normal parts that I already have in the spares box ie at least 8spd so it has a freehub not screw-on freewheel, BSA bottom bracket etc.

The absolute smallest fold size isn't essential as I'm happy to spend a bit of time removing the bars / seatpost / wheels for transport, and it won't need folding again until I travel home. I'm almost certainly going to try swapping out flat bars for bullhorns for a more roadie position, which of course will also compromise the fold. I've got spare parts galore and reasonable knowledge of flat/drop bar conversions so I know what hurdles I need to overcome on v-braked MTB-shiftered setups; this doesn't put me off.

At the moment I'm looking at second hand Terns and Dahons, my favourite being a Tern Verge of one spec or another.

Am I looking at the right thing? Am I wanting too much from what will have been designed for short urban commutes? I would hope to be able to do a hilly 100km on it, which the approx 30-100" gearing on 8+spd models would be fine for, it's ride quality I have no idea about.

Thoughts, comments, suggestions please.

Ta  :thumbsup:

which the approx 30-100" gearing on 8+spd models would be fine for,

What setup manages this spread on 20 inch wheels? Surely not with an 11t smallest at the back?

Hilldodger

I'd go for a Birdy every time.

In the past, I've done many a long day ride on them and because of the suspension, you can run very high tyre pressures.

Plus, the handling is more like a large wheel bike with none of the twitchiness many folders suffer from.

Socks

  • Clennel Street on my touring bike
Depends on your budget, however if you want a bike with 20" wheels that rides well a Moulton with separable frame would do the job.  Suspension irons out the bumpier ride of small wheels.  Doesn't fold, but separates easily into two halves for transport.  It isn't designed for quick folding (eg to hop on / off a train), but from your description of what you need that sounds OK.

I've used a Moulton TSR for day rides and audaxes up to 400k, goes nearly as well as a bike with full size wheels and the comfort level is better.

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Have you looked at Airnimal? I'm very pleased with mine so far, though went for the 26" wheel version. They have a range. 
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Karla

  • car(e) free
    • Lost Byway - around the world by bike
Airnimal and Moulton do sound like the solutions you're looking for.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
A friend will shortly be selling her late husband’s Airnimal Chameleon, complete with Delsey suitcase. Drop bar Shimano 105 triple, carbon fork, SQR Tour saddlebag, associated tools, spare tubes and spare tyre. It has been ridden through the Pyrenees and Alps on multiple trips. It is currently packed away in Hemel Hempstead but easy enough to put together.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

which the approx 30-100" gearing on 8+spd models would be fine for,

What setup manages this spread on 20 inch wheels? Surely not with an 11t smallest at the back?

One that I looked at was 53 front ring, 11-32 cassette which is approx 30-90" on 406 wheels (which is a long way from 100" I'll give you that).

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
My Moulton runs a 58/11 top gear. Chainrings start at sub-£20.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Depends on your budget, however if you want a bike with 20" wheels that rides well a Moulton with separable frame would do the job.  Suspension irons out the bumpier ride of small wheels.  Doesn't fold, but separates easily into two halves for transport.  It isn't designed for quick folding (eg to hop on / off a train), but from your description of what you need that sounds OK.

I've used a Moulton TSR for day rides and audaxes up to 400k, goes nearly as well as a bike with full size wheels and the comfort level is better.

This currently is a sub-£500 idea, and Moultons seem to be £1k+...a bit rich to try it out at the moment.

Re: 20" folder for travel bike not commuter...what rides most like a road bike?
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2020, 03:40:20 pm »
A friend will shortly be selling her late husband’s Airnimal Chameleon, complete with Delsey suitcase. Drop bar Shimano 105 triple, carbon fork, SQR Tour saddlebag, associated tools, spare tubes and spare tyre. It has been ridden through the Pyrenees and Alps on multiple trips. It is currently packed away in Hemel Hempstead but easy enough to put together.

Moderately interested in this and airnimals in general but I don't think I can use a normal bag / suitcase for 24" wheels and do they do any smaller? I already have a 26" wheel Ibis Tranny as a travel bike but still have to use a specific case/bag for this due to the wheel size and (splittable) triangle frame.

Re: 20" folder for travel bike not commuter...what rides most like a road bike?
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2020, 03:41:42 pm »
My Moulton runs a 58/11 top gear. Chainrings start at sub-£20.

Would almost certainly change the chainring but not sure how much space there is on the average 20" wheel folder to go very large without fouling the chainstay.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: 20" folder for travel bike not commuter...what rides most like a road bike?
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2020, 03:54:46 pm »
The Airnimal is packed in a standard large rolling suitcase out of a luggage shop, not bike-specific. That is why it uses 520 tyres.
https://flic.kr/p/2kfKPnq
https://flic.kr/p/2kfG3qu
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: 20" folder for travel bike not commuter...what rides most like a road bike?
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2020, 04:05:55 pm »
The Airnimal is packed in a standard large rolling suitcase out of a luggage shop, not bike-specific.
https://flic.kr/p/2kfKPnq
https://flic.kr/p/2kfG3qu

Looks interesting. 24" wheels? Is the frame one size or one of a range of sizes (I'm 6'2")? I suspect it comfortably blows my budget.  :-\

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: 20" folder for travel bike not commuter...what rides most like a road bike?
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2020, 04:10:24 pm »
Paul where are you? Airnimal happily let me go off and have 90 min test ride earlier this year.

They are a very helpful and enthusiastic bunch there.
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: 20" folder for travel bike not commuter...what rides most like a road bike?
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2020, 04:22:58 pm »
The Airnimal is packed in a standard large rolling suitcase out of a luggage shop, not bike-specific.
https://flic.kr/p/2kfKPnq
https://flic.kr/p/2kfG3qu

Looks interesting. 24" wheels? Is the frame one size or one of a range of sizes (I'm 6'2")? I suspect it comfortably blows my budget.  :-\

Yes, 24” wheels are either 520 (road) or 507 (MTB). Airnimals only make one frame size, as is common with folding bikes.

Price is TBD as yet. I only just this afternoon got back from taking snaps (in a socially distanced fashion) of the various frames, bikes, wheels and components. Most of the interesting stuff will either go on the Bay or to good homes as appropriate.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: 20" folder for travel bike not commuter...what rides most like a road bike?
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2020, 04:28:13 pm »
Airnimals only make one frame size, as is common with folding bikes.
Both the Joey and the Chameleon are available in two sizes, I think that's always been the case with the Chameleon, but the Joey S (Small) is a recent addition.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: 20" folder for travel bike not commuter...what rides most like a road bike?
« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2020, 04:35:45 pm »
I had only got up close and personal with Rhino and Joey before now. This rider's other bikes are all 23", so I expect this Chameleon would be the larger size.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: 20" folder for travel bike not commuter...what rides most like a road bike?
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2020, 05:19:12 pm »
Ok then, semi-official interest in the airnimal LWAB, pending price when I'll probably withdraw.  ::-)

Re: 20" folder for travel bike not commuter...what rides most like a road bike?
« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2020, 06:38:07 pm »
Back to 20" wheeled folders...Dahon did a 'special edition' years ago (Speed Pro or something like that) which looked like the sort of thing I had in mind. Did that just look the part to sucker people like me in, or was there a worthwhile difference in the ride?

Also, am I going to find rim-braked small wheelers are a recipe for brake-fade innertube explosions (and frightening handling characteristics) on a Scottish mountain descent? :o

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: 20" folder for travel bike not commuter...what rides most like a road bike?
« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2020, 06:47:12 pm »
An old friend had a couple of Dahon Speed Pro. Nice lightweight machines.

If you use a wider tyre and fairly beefy Al rim, you shouldn't have a problem. Deep section rims provide a lot more surface to radiate heat.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: 20" folder for travel bike not commuter...what rides most like a road bike?
« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2020, 11:00:44 am »
'folds but rides like a road bike'. Ah, that's the dream, isn't it?  I've owned and used many bikes with 20" wheels (and smaller) and the one thing none of them do is ride like a normal road bike.  What most commonly happens is that you get used to it, and after that it isn't a big problem. However small wheels, rim brakes and long descents are not a good mixture.

If you want something which fits the original brief (although not 20" wheels) and you want to spend the money, I'd suggest looking at Rob English's travel bike design. Be warned though, it may spoil you.

https://www.englishcycles.com/cat/custombikes/travelbikes/

No need for small wheels; the whole bike packs into a relatively small case. The frame fold is brilliant and arguably causes the least amount of compromise in the way the bike rides vs any travel bike design.

Years ago I realised that I'd like something similar, but being both prepared to try stuff out and something of an inveterate skinflint, I tried a different route.   Mainly because I practically tripped over it, I took a Rudge BiFrame (Montague design) and bent it to my will.  It started out as a rather lardy MTB-like bike which folds, and it ended up as a bike with dropped bars which folds and that I am happy to ride all day. A key feature is that once unfolded, the frame rides more like a standard bike than pretty much anything else I have ridden (that I was prepared to spend the money on, anyway).  Still a bit heavy but when riding, much more like a conventional road bike than anything with 20" wheels.

The wheels are 559 type, which is nominally a 26" size. However with ~32mm tyres fitted (although the frame will accept up to about 50mm) , the actual wheel diameter is a little over 24-1/2".  Unlike the airnimal (which uses some pretty weird rims in some cases) you can get tyres, wheels etc pretty much anywhere.  I fitted my Biframe with 3x8 gearing and it has gear ratios from 24" to about 105", without using any special parts. In fact the only 'special part' in the whole bike -with the possible exception of the seat pin- is the frameset; everything else is bog-standard bike parts.  With bog-standard parts throughout, the contraption weighs about 28lbs.  I reckon with a bit of attention to the build, that could easily come down by a pound or two without spending a fortune or making the thing flimsy, if it matters to you.

I ended up throwing most of the original parts fitted to my BiFrame away. But given that a workable BiFrame isn't going to set you back more than about a hundred quid (and a basket case a lot less than this) you can probably afford to do this.   There are two frame sizes for 26" wheeled BiFrame; about 21" and about 23".  You would need the larger of the two sizes, and I think it will ride better than the smaller one. They come in White, Black or blue depending on the model year, and there are small differences in the frame accordingly.  There is also a much less common version which accepts 700C wheels, but this obviously doesn't pack down quite as small.

Anyway I hope I have given you a few ideas

cheers



LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: 20" folder for travel bike not commuter...what rides most like a road bike?
« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2020, 11:11:19 am »
I have done the Galibier, Tourmalet and Ventoux on my rim brake Moulton without significant issues but some forethought regarding components is a good idea.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Tomsk

  • Fueled by cake since 1957
    • tomsk.co.uk
Re: 20" folder for travel bike not commuter...what rides most like a road bike?
« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2020, 11:39:21 am »
I have a fairly old Ridgeback Attache 20" (406mm) wheeled folder (basically a re-badged old-style Dahon) which rides well - I've toured on it in some hilly areas such as Argyll, the Lake District and Exmoor, and it descends extremely well at speed, and with some luggage on board too. 7sp SRAM hub gear (low ratios: about 25" to 72" I think), replacing the original slightly closer ratio-ed Nexus 7, which failed due to water ingress following the, at times rather wet Scottish tour! 1.5" Marathon tyres replaced the original cheapies. There's a neat front Dahon rack and a bulky, ugly rear one that I've used for camping trips - traveling light, the front panniers plus bar bag and Camper Longflap suffices in all but winter - just about manageable by train with the bike in one Dahon shoulder bag bag and all the camping kit in a laundry bag ... In stripped down mode I did once do a 400km Easter Arrow on it.

Modified to fit by sawing off the fixed handlebar clamp and using a 100mm stem (shimmed to fit) to get enough reach for my long arms. Warranty voided by this of course! Just enough length in the seatpost for long legs though (I'm 6'1").

Due some tlc this winter as it hasn't been used for much more than local trips of late. The front hub bearings are on the way out, maybe get a hub dynamo to replace. To me, the good things about Dahons and their offshoots are their low cost, availability of accessories and the standard wheel size.

Re: 20" folder for travel bike not commuter...what rides most like a road bike?
« Reply #24 on: December 19, 2020, 11:14:11 pm »
Re the Montague biframe;  models were originally sold with montague and/or Schwinn or BMW branding on them in the USA



The image above shows a ~21" framed machine.

Rudge branding was used in the UK; this is a 23" frame (for 26" wheels)





If you take both wheels out the rear triangle swings inside the main frame triangle and (with a wheel stashed either side) this makes the whole bundle reasonably slim. A faster fold leaves the rear wheel in, and the front wheel out, but is a bit more bulky.

To allow the fold, the seat tube(s) are nested inside one another, are longer than normal and also have a slacker angle.  To get the saddle in the right place (for most folk)  the rail clamps usually need to be set forwards of the seat pin. Other than that all the cycle parts are utterly conventional; 7/8" dia quill stem, 1" threaded headset, 559 wheels, wide spaced canti bosses (so will accept cantis or Vs).  There is one set of bottle braze-ons on the seat tube. The thing on the other side of the seat tube is a grease nipple, use of which helps stop the nesting seat tubes from seizing up.  The front mech is on a braze-on fitting (because of the unusual seat tube angle) and is set for a 48T big ring. I think there is usually enough vertical adjustment to allow 46-50T at least.

Weaknesses are weight (two seat tubes are exactly twice the weight of just one),  the gear cable routing around the BB is something of a water  trap (there are short lengths of cable housing there, without which the fold wouldn't work). The BB shell is connected to the seat tube via a saddle weld; this means a cartridge BB with a large centre diameter will not always fit. I suspect the saddle weld will be the first place for the frame to crack in hard use, but I have yet to see this happen. [If it ever happens to my machine I shall weld repair it, and add some reinforcing gussets.] Local to me there are quite a few of these bikes being used as standard bikes, appearing not to have been folded for years.

Obviously any racks will impede the fold; I use a carradice saddlebag on an uplift; the bag and the uplift come away together so the fold is not impeded. My plan has always included mudguards which come away still attached to  the wheels, but I have not yet (in quite a few years... ahem)  fangled them, so my machine has mainly seen dry weather use to date.

Current Montague models are based on a later design and the range at one point included one with dropped bars and skinny 700C wheels, not heavy. Not cheap, but not a bad ride either.  A bit like this;
 


the bike above is a custom one, not an off the peg model.  But since all the cycle parts are standard, you can do your own build very easily. BTW with a frame of the newer sort ,  a padded sleeve around the front part of the frame helps stop the handlebars from swinging into the top tube. It also provides a neat cubby hole for storing odds and ends in; there is enough room inside for a mini-pump, tubes and a multi-tool.

cheers