Why Do Some Bikes Have Smaller Wheels?

If you’re wondering why some bikes have smaller wheels, wonder no more! We’ve got the scoop on why some people find smaller wheels appealing.


They say size doesn’t matter. But what if it does to you? What if, at least when it comes to your bike’s wheels, you want the smallest?

For some of us, this begs the question: Why would you even want a bicycle with tiny, small wheels? Aren’t bigger wheels… well, you know… better? The long answer short, as with any good yes-or-no question, is “it depends.”

If you found yourself wondering about the same, hop in and buckle up. Because we’re about to dive deep into the world of small-wheeled bicycles and go over the reasons for their existence.

Why Wheel Size Matters

There’s little mystery about how bikes work.

Two wheels with rubber tires are attached to a frame with handlebars at the front and a saddle at the back. You mount the bike and spin a pair of pedals connected to a chain, which makes the back wheel roll and gets the bicycle moving.

To understand why some people find bicycles with smaller wheels appealing, you need to understand this: The harder you pedal, the more you accelerate. The faster you pedal, the higher your riding speed.

And here’s where the size of the bicycle’s wheels comes into play. It’s easier to get smaller wheels to spin, which is why you can take off from a standstill more easily with a smaller-wheeled bike.

Larger wheels, on the other hand, require greater pedaling effort. But they allow you to ride at a higher speed. It’s a little like trying to race somebody with longer legs than yours; they are almost always guaranteed to win.

So it’s a trade-off, really. Do you want to go fast and far on a regular bike, or get around town quickly on a small-wheeled bike?

Small-Wheel Bikes: Pros and Cons

As with any other means of transportation, small-wheeled bicycles are not for everybody. They have pros and cons, so they may be a good or bad purchase depending on what you’re looking to get out of them.

The Pros

  • With a small wheeled bike, it’s easy to take off from a standstill. They’re good for getting around town in rush hour, where you have to ride in traffic.
  • Smaller wheels have less air and wind resistance. This makes riding a small-wheeled bicycle less difficult than one with large diameters.
  • These bikes are lightweight and compact. You can park them, lock them up, and carry them in one arm without any hassle.

The Cons

  • Bicycles with small wheels are bumpy. They don’t ride as smoothly over bumps or potholes as bicycles with regular-sized wheels.
  • Small-wheeled bicycles tend to be unstable at high speed, and they can’t carry as much weight as their bigger-wheeled counterparts can.
  • They’re not good in sand or when it’s raining or snowy.

In Summary

Small bikes are easy to carry, maneuver, and accelerate with less pedaling than larger bikes. But they’re also bumpy, jumpy, and unstable, especially at high speeds.

Riders who want to ride fast and cover greater distances should go for standard bikes; there’s no question about it. But those who want to be hip, cool, and mobile in the city should consider getting a smaller-wheeled bike.

By Dim Nikov

City dweller. Recreational cyclist with a knack for writing. Always trying to find the right balance between life and bike.