Small Wheel Bicycle - History


An early proponent of small-wheeled adult bicycles was Paul De Vivie, better known by his pen name "Velocio". His approach was to use a balloon-width tire of about 2.25" (57mm) on a 20" (500mm) rim, giving a wheel of approximately 24" (600mm) in diameter.

The man credited with being the father of modern small-wheel bicycles is Alex Moulton who pioneered the field with his F-framed Moulton Bicycle in 1962. His original small-wheeled design notably featured full suspension. Raleigh introduced the RSW-16 as a direct competitor, but it lacked the suspension of the Moulton, and compensated for this by using very wide 2-inch "balloon" tires. The RSW-16 "Compact" was a folding version. In 1968 Raleigh introduced the Raleigh Twenty which later went on to become one of Raleigh's biggest sellers. A large number of European manufacturers made U-frame small-wheeled and folding bicycles in the 1970s.

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