Origami Lotus 16 Inch Folding Bike Review

Origami Lotus Folding Bike Lime
Origami Lotus Folding Bike Lime

So what does a folding bike manufacturer do when they realize they lack a 16-inch wheel model in their lineup? They start from the ground up with a vision, tweak a prototype, and then drill down the best folding bike specs using a popular bike forum. Yup, that’s exactly what Paul Pinigis, owner of Origami Bicycles, did to create the newly launched Origami Lotus 16 inch wheel folding bike.

Origami Bicycles background

Origami Bicycles was founded in 2011, is located in historic Richmond, Virginia, and continues to offer folding bikes that appeal to all types of cyclists’ needs.

While Origami Bicycle did sell a 16-inch folding bike in the past named Wasp the Origami Lotus is a much higher-end, performance model.

Tri-fold and bi-fold folding bikes

Over the years 16-inch wheel folding bikes have catered to a small segment of riders seeking a compact, space-saving solution for commuter/city riding. While Brompton (and clones such as Mobot or 3Sixty) is the most well-known in the 16 inch wheel tri-fold folding bike there is lots of renewed excitement in the 16-inch bi-fold segment thanks to Fnhon Gust. Even Dahon recently redesigned their Dahon VISC SL9 frame to better compete in this resurging lightweight folding bike segment.

Unlike Brompton which uses proprietary parts, the Fnhon Gust frameset opened up the opportunity to personalize your own style of bike using popular off-the-shelf parts.

The Origami Lotus did just that by keeping biking enthusiasts in mind when designing their personalized 16-inch folding bike version.

Origami Lotus seeks design feedback

The Origami Lotus starts with a Chromium-Molybdenum-Steel (Chro-Moly) frame similar to the Fnhon Gust. Chro-moly is a steel alloy that provides greater strength thereby allowing for thinner tubing and lighter frames while maintaining the feel normally associated with steel frames. The Lotus frame is lightweight, responsive, and durable.

From there Paul utilized the bike forums to assist with market opinion mainly on two major folding bike specs – gearing and brakes.

Using this type of marketplace feedback process Paul not only created interest in his upcoming folding bike but was able to be better understand his consumers’ desires. This approach, with enough engagement, is far better than a survey. We give Paul great credit in that he respectfully responded to each and every consumer’s comments.

Origami Lotus gearing and brakes

While the bike forum seemed really convicted on the use of an internal geared hub (IGH) like a Brompton or Downtube miniB the ultimate decision was to go with a 9-speed using a Sensah MX9 rear derailleur with an 11-25T range, 58T front sprocket, and a Sensah MX9 thumb trigger shifter. This gear set will provide more than enough gearing range for any riding situation.

While just launched in August, Origami Lotus may offer a future model featuring an internal gear hub.

The forum participants really went back and forth over braking options. Lighter caliper brakes seemed to be the higher request versus the extra weight of disks, and true needs of this type of commuting folding bike. Regardless, Origami Bicycle was fairly convicted and opted to stay with their initial desire to use hydraulic disk brakes.

While hydraulic brakes do offer better stopping power in all weather conditions with less hand pull, hydraulic brakes require maintenance and the disks can get bent when continually folding and transporting these types of smaller foldies. The Origami Lotus is currently equipped with Kamros 2-piston hydraulic disc brakes.

Lastly, the rims are 16″ x 1.35″ doubled wall aluminum with 14g, black steel coated spokes, Shengfu 100 mm front hub and 135mm rear freehub, and covered with Kenda tires.

Photo Courtesy Origami Bicycle

Origami Lotus bottom line

With the tremendous popularity of this 16-inch bifold folding bike in areas like Singapore, we are excited to see this design now enter the U.S. Paul Pinigis is just as enthusiastic and so much so that we will end it here with his quote:

We put a lot of miles on the prototype of the Lotus, but it was a little rough around the edges. When I finally got to ride on the production model I couldn’t stop smiling. This Origami Lotus is a great looking folding bike with a fanatastic personality. The ride is pleasant and very maneurerable; it responds quickly without being twitchy.

Paul, Origami Bicycles

Origami Lotus Folding Bike Pricing and Specs

The Origami Lotus 16-inch wheel folding bike is currently priced at $599 USD plus nominal shipping. Origami Bicycle also offers bicycle bag options to transport their folding bikes. A suitcase specific to the Lotus will be available in early 2022.

The main features are as follows:

FRAME ChroMoly Steel 4130
FORK Rigid ChroMoly
RIMS 16″ Double-wall aluminum 349
TIRES Kenda 16 x 1 3/8
CHAINWHEEL 58T Aluminum with 130 BCD & aluminum guard, Rear Cassette 11-25T
GEARS Sensah MX9 9-speed with Sensah MX9, index Thumb/Trigger
BRAKES Kamros 2-piston Hydraulic Disc Brakes
HANDLEBARS Aluminum 24.5 x 560mm
HANDLEBAR STEM  Aluminum, folding, height-adjustable
PEDALS Plastic folding
SEAT Soft Velo
SEATPOST Aluminum, 33.9 x 600mm
SEAT HEIGHT 28″ to 39.5″
FOLDED DIMENSIONS 25″L x 25″H x 13.5″W
WEIGHT 25 lbs (without fenders)