Anonymous asked in SportsCycling · 8 years ago

Folding Bikes-How far can you go on them?

Thinking of getting a fold up bike to cycle to a train station 4.7KM/2.92 miles. Is that further than folding bikes are built for? Would smaller wheels make it take forever?


Why is it hard to keep balance? Ground wise, its all flat, no hills or anything and its a reasonable road surface. Just some fast cars :S

10 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Depends on what type of folding bike you're talking about. Bike Friday, Brompton, Birdy, some of the Dahons - or the cheap supermarket summer offer. The quality folding bikes will let you ride that distance and more with ease. The smaller wheels are (usually) compensated for by a corresponding transmission. And if you think folders are slow, you should have seen Sam Whittingham on a Bike Friday at the HPV world championship in 2001 ;-)

  • 8 years ago

    Folding bikes can be very nice to ride, but to get equal quality to a comparable full size bike you have to pay more. Folding frames cost more to make and many parts are unique to a particular bike and cost more. The result is that many people who buy inexpensive ones find that their bike doesn't perform well. If you are riding a short distance to a train station, an inexpensive conventional bike that you lock up at the station might work better. I used to use an old English 3 speed bike for the same purpose, I paid $25 for it at a garage sale and rode it for over 10 years. It was much better than any folding bike that you could buy anywhere near 4 times the price

  • Tex T
    Lv 6
    8 years ago

    I've ridden a folding bike with 20" BXM wheels for a long time and have done up to 30 miles at a time. So three miles should be fine. The wheel size isn't as important as the gear ratio and most folding bikes are set up so that turning the pedals one time will take you the same distance as a bike with bigger wheels so it will take you the same number of peddle turns to go the same distance even through your little wheels are turning way faster.

    Why do folding bikes, or bikes with small wheels feel "twitchy"? It has nothing to do with how much of the wheel is touching the ground, in fact wheels with a large diameter have a smaller fraction of tire touching the road than a smaller wheel. It has to do with the rotational mass of the rotating wheel. A large wheel will have a bigger rotational mass than a small wheel so it resists being turned more than a small wheel. (Newton's laws of motion, blah, blah) You need more force to deflect the big wheel from it's course so it feels more stable, you need less force to make a small wheel turn so little movements with the handlebars will turn the front wheel quickly giving you that sense of unbalance. So hold the handlebars lightly and relax and bend your elbows and look down the road and you may find it easier to ride the little wheels.

  • Stacy
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    I have a Bike Friday. It is a good riding bike, it is not easy to fold (compared to others). It is very convenient to own, I can throw it into my car any time. It is not a long distance bike. Get the simplest folder that you want. If I did mine over, I'd get a 1 speed like a Dahon Speed uno. If you don't need gears, don't get them with it. Mine has internal + a derailleur. Now, I prefer it only have the internal gear and a belt drive (which is rare) Ride one, all folders are twitchy. If you think it can supplant a regular bike, think again. It is just a cycling option.

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  • BigE
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    The answers are right. I ride a "Bike Friday" folder, and folders tend to be expensive.

    Yes, they are twitchy simply because the lack of rotational stability. But I have gone many miles on my folder. I use mine to throw into a trunk and it works great.

    Where I used to live, you needed to put the bike under the seat, which is why I got a folder. But since then, they allocate cars for bike use only, so that point became moot.

    I've not ridden one, but I like the look of Strida (belt drive, 1-2 speed) It doesn't fold as small as a Brompton or Bike Friday, but it does fold to the size of a very large umbrella with wheels. It would be a commuter only bike, but it would be cool.

    Expect to pay between $500-$1000 US

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    3 miles isn't far. Good exercise!

    You can go all the way on a folding bike but it's hard to keep your balance.

    On the techie side they tell me that smaller wheels are more efficient provided the surface your riding on is in good condition and smooth.

  • 8 years ago

    They are more difficult to balance because of the wheel size. There is less area touching the road, and so your centre of mass is out of proportion compared with a normal bike. You will quickly get used to it, like any other bike, though.

  • John M
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    A folding bike will be able to go that far and more. You wont notice much difference in balance.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    balance is not an issue

    no 3 miles is ok

    the bigger issue is, a cheap bike will fall apart pretty soon

    there are lots of really bad cheap folders out there

    if you are paying under $400, i would expect it to be broken pretty soon

    misc parts start bending or just wearing out


  • 8 years ago

    I asked my mate for some advice on what sort of folding bike to get as he already has one, he has another Raleigh folding bike which is more expensive but reckons this one is just as good for half the price.

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