That single word sums up what it is like to ride a small folding bicycle (or a foldie). I have owned my Citizen “Miami” with its 20-inch wheels for nearly two years now. It’s easily the most fun on two wheels since my 1960s Schwinn Sting-Ray with the banana seat. This silly thing is a blast! Many other small folding bicycles look like they would be just as much of a joy to ride too, whether they are a Bike Friday, Tern, Dahon, Brompton, Schwinn, or another brand.
You may ask why small foldies are so much fun? I guess it has to do with the fact that the rider is closer to the ground, which gives one the illusion of derring-do and increased speed, as well as enhanced maneuverability. While certainly quite nimble, my foldie is not meant to be a trick bike. But is just as stable as any other two-wheeler, if not more so, as my foldie is quite stable in snow due to its lower center of gravity. While being a stable ride, I still find ways to test my foldie (and myself) that do not fall into a traditional riding guidelines. These include gliding with both legs hanging over the left side when approaching the bike parking racks at work or taking some turns at a sharper angle than necessary just for the thrill of it.
Speed on my foldie is more of a mirage related to one’s proximity to the ground. You are unlikely to keep up speed with you friends pedaling standard street bikes for very long riding a foldie with its smaller wheels.
Over time, our riding abilities and/or needs morph based on many factors, including health, age, income, climate, geography, etc. Beside my Citizen foldie, the newest resident in my bicycle stable is a Trek Allant. With 26-inch wheels, this particular bike model is more comfortable for riding longer distances at a quicker pace and without the additional pedaling needed with 20 inch wheels. It also has curved handlebars that are designed for the rider to sit up versus lean over like many road and most racing bikes, which is a welcome relief for my lower back. Regardless, for work commutes and shorter trips and errands, my foldie is the odds on steed of choice for me, as it evokes so many joyous summer days of enthusiastic bicycle riding when I was a kid growing up in suburban Indianapolis.