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Small wheels or not?

So what’s the deal with small wheels? 

Truth be told, small wheels, like just about anything else in life are a trade off. Cynics have the idea that they are slower, but riding around on a sporty little 20” zipster will quickly disband that myth. Advocates will even argue that they are quicker off the start line and accelerate faster. 

Curie Lux black

Our Curie Lux is fun, fast and featherlight

 

How to compare

It is difficult to say exactly who is correct. Although the physics are pretty clear, they are often comparing apples and oranges. 

Small diameter wheels, all else equal, have less rim weight and smaller diameter rims and that makes them noticeably easier to accelerate. On the other hand, the small diameter follows the contours of the road much more closely than a larger wheel. Just try imagining a roller skate wheel trying to climb a curb and then imagine a car wheel trying to climb the same curb. Small bumps simply effect a small wheel more than they do a larger one, and that means they can provide a harsh ride. That is why many small wheeled bikes have suspension systems, often made of viscoelastic materials like rubber.

In Vogels case our Curie 20” wheeled folder uses her geometry and material technology to provide a comfortable ride.

 
Advantages
  • Small wheels may offer a harsher ride and they may be challenged when it comes to rolling over extremely rugged terrain, but they also have some distinct advantages.
  • Small diameter wheels provide less air resistance.
  • Reduced wheel (disc) diameter and fewer spokes combine to provide significantly less wind resistance (especially in sidewinds). Everybody knows how tiring it can be to push into a stubborn headwind.
  • Light acceleration and a reduction in rotational inertia provide an exceptionally responsive sporty ride. If the wheels get too small however, the bike can begin to feel nervous. We believe the ideal compromise for a foldable is around the 20” mark, where a bike can still feel like a full sized bike and benefit drastically from the convenience and performance of small wheels.

 

But when all is said and done, the real reason we like small wheels is because they allow us to build a zippy little folder like our Vogel Curie. She tucks away just about anywhere and is ready to come out and play at a moments notice.

 

Want to have a closer look at our small wheeled, zippy folding bikes?

Our Vogel Curie is available in many different configurations ranging from a sporty ultralight roadster with carbon rims, saddle and handlebar or an urban commuter with internal gears and a nice cushiony saddle and fenders.

Curie is built in Copenhagen and its design is sleek and beautiful. It is the lightest folding bike with a reasonable price tag as you buy it directly from us, the makers.

All bikes are custom made to order and ship every 6 weeks to anywhere in the world.

Still not convinced about folding bikes and smaller wheels? We offer gravel and cross bikes too. Take a look around and get inspired!