Thursday, December 27, 2007

Show me the money...

Tikit Launch VeloSport Berkely CA

What I like better about my Dahon...

It is pretty clear that I like my Tikit a lot, but it isn't perfect so I thought I'd post the areas where I prefer my Dahon Speed D7:
  • I like the ride of the 20" [406] wheels. They are fast and deal with road imperfections better than the 16" [349] wheels on the Tikit. Having tried some 20"x 2.00" Big apples I'm going to fit those tires to my Dahon and the ride will be even better. I also like the tire selection in the 406 size better and I have two recumbents with that size wheel so they can share tires/tubes.
  • the steerer/stem on the Dahon is very stiff. I don't have an issue with this on the Tikit, but I've got the stem set right at the lowest level. The Dahon stem is larger diameter and stiffer even when extended fully.
  • the D7 comes with a kickstand and rear rack. A front rack is available as an upgrade. The Tikit doesn't have a rear rack available and only has the option of a single sided front rack which is of limited utility. The Tikit has a bracket for mounting an after market kickstand.
  • I'm not 100% on this [as the bikes live in different parts of the country], but I think the Dahon fold is smaller.
  • Dahon has dealers everywhere I go allowing for easier access to spares and after sales support. Plus no shipping costs to buy one.
  • a Dahon Speed D7 costs about 40% of the price of a Tikit.

On a roll...

One of the features I really like about the Tikit is the ability to pick it up by its built in handle and roll it along next to me. Having carried my Dahon around TTC stations in TO and tried to roll it awkwardly when folded I can appreciate the ease with which I move the folded Tikit. Having said that I would note that you still have to push 25lbs of bike around so it isn't effortless, but it is the best system I've seen to date.

A couple tips:
  • keeping the Tikit more vertical means you have to lift less weight as most of the bike is balanced over the front wheel.
  • When you want to move quickly lowering the Tikit lets you push it along quite a bit faster, but you have to support more of the bike's weight.
Another benefit of the Tikit's super easy fold/unfold is that I am much more likely to unfold and ride the Tikit even relatively short distances. The same process with my Dahon is enough hassle I wouldn't bother unless I was going quite a long way.

Salsa Moto Ace

My Tikit has the large frame and since I'm at the lower end of the fit range my seatpost is has very little extension. This puts the saddle pretty close to the BB horizontally and I wanted to see how I'd like the riding position with the saddle moved back on its rails a bit more. To keep the cockpit roughly the same that required a shorter stem. I swapped the stock 100mm 15 deg rise stem out for a Salsa 80mm 15 deg rise unit. So far I like it. I'll report back after I get some longer rides. in.

My bad Schwalbe - sorry!

I've been holding back a little [only a little!] on my criticism of the stock Tikit tires. I generally like Schwalbe rubber and have it on most of my bikes. I've felt a bit bad putting them down, but the lackluster performance of these 349 Marathons has been hard to ignore.

Well today on my way out the door I decided to throw a few lbs of air into the back tire. To my shock and horror I didn't have the 70 psi of pressure I thought I did. I had just under 40 psi in the rear tire - well below the 50psi lower pressure limit, not to mention the 85 psi upper pressure limit! Doh! What a Homer Simpson moment. The front was also at 40 psi so I topped both tires up to 80 psi. Not surprisingly I felt like I was flying along when I was on the road. Without a bike computer it is hard to quantify the performance increase, but saying it is significant isn't an overstatement. I won't be setting any PRs on my Tikit, but I will be smiling a lot more as I cruise around town with less effort.

My apologies to Schwalbe - it was 100% operator error.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day Ramble

After passing out at 10pm on Christmas day - halfway through Harry Potter and with 3lbs of turkey and a whole beer in my system. I awoke to several options for my cross town commute home - Sean offered to drive me and my Tikit downtown, I could ride a few KMs to the C-train station for a $2.25 ride into the core or I could ride back the way I came. Well even though it was a lot colder than the previous day and the wind was fairly strong with a light snowfall I decided to roll home under my own power.

I didn't see any other cyclists the whole ride. I was looking forward to snapping a few more pics, but my camera battery packed it in due to the low temperature. My bike path speed on the Tikit is about 18kph and my open road speed is about 20kph. I can sprint faster, but the extra energy input is not rewarded with a longterm speed increase on the Tikit. I tend to bomb everywhere on my bikes at pretty at pretty close to maximum velocity - the Tikit is teaching me to chill out and enjoy the ride at a more leisurely pace.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Seeing red...

For a small light the Planet Bike Superflash is quite effective for getting people's attention.

Hyrdate or die...

You can bolt a bottle cage to the back on the seat mast. This is reasonably easy to grab while on the go and doesn't mess with the fold. If you remove the shower cap & carry handle from the main frame tube you can attach another bottle cage in its place.

I'll stick with a single bottle for most of my riding. If I'm on tour I might remove the shower cap or more likely I'll just carry some additional water in my luggage.

If you want to avoid plastic bottles and are of the "...steel is real..." philosophy then you might appreciate a Kleen Kanteen stainless steel water bottle.

Schwalbe Marathons

The stock Marathons are durable, slow-ish and stiff. If you want a trouble free commuter tire these are a great option and you can also get Marathon Plus tires in a 35-349 size for even more flat-proofness, but I shudder to think how slow they'd be!

Dual Dinotte Lights

I bought some Dinotte 200L-AA-S lights on sale in November for $100 each vs. the regular price of $160. The fit and finish is very nice and they mount on any bike I have with ease.

Running off 4 standard NiMH rechargeables you can get 2hrs @ 200lumens, 4hrs @ 100lumens and 8hrs @ 50 lumens. There are also 2 different flashing modes and a strobe mode.

The battery packs attach with a velcro strap to the stem. I bought a few extra battery holders so I can swap in fresh batteries very quickly. The white button on the rear turns the lights on/off and switches between power levels.

The light is projected in a tight cone.

Definitely very bright for their size and cost. I went out for a ride with them, but I'll have to report on their performance later as there was too much light pollution downtown to really make an evaluation. One thing is for certain oncoming traffic/pedestrian knew the Tikit was on the road!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tikit to Paradise

There is an interesting article here about riding folding bikes in Thailand, a thread on Bike Forums about the same trip with more pics and a crazyguyonabike journal with pics of other bikes they encountered.

Tikit & BF Trailer

Found this pic in a thread on Bike Forums discussing towing a BF trailer with a Tikit.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Chris Wee's Tikit Page

Click here to see Chris' Tikit Article on crazyguyonabike.

Christian's Tikit

Christian has a blue and black Tikit with a Caradice SQR seatbag. He has more pics on his Flickr Page.

Great use of storage space.

Tikit goes shopping...

My local grocery store has a sketchy bike rack to lock up your bike on the side of the building. The location and the folks loitering around it do not inspire confidence in the security of a bike locked there.

So I rode over with my Tikit. Folded it quickly and threw it into a shopping cart. I have a large Tikit, but it still fits in a normal sized cart without issue. There is even loads of room around teh folded bike to put food in the cart! Plus of course the lower shelf for big items.

Nobody cared I had a bike in the store with me - in fact nobody even seemed to notice! Using a backpack and a single front pannier I was able to haul quite a bit home.

As noted below the single pannier upfront is not ideal for hauling really heavy items. You can do it, but the bike wants to turn right all the time. For a short trip that's fine, but I'd get fairly irritated dealing with that for over an hour.

Bike Friday if you're listening the front rack is great, but we need one that can carry a pannier on each side.

Tikit's Big Brother

A study in contrasts - Bike Friday Tikit and Thorn Sherpa. I guess it is obvious I like black bikes...=-)

Bike Friday Factory Tour [Tikit Production]

Round*UP 2007 Fast Fold Showdown

The few, the fast, the folders...

Alan Scholz Talks Tikit

How to Unpack a Tikit...

How to Pack a Tikit...

How to Showercap a Tikit...

How to Walk a Tikit...

How to Unfold a Tikit...

How To Fold a Tikit...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Tikit Additions/Upgrades I'd Like

Photo by Alex Wetmore

The Tikit is a great bike with the right add ons it could be even more useful.

Front two pannier rack:
  • The single sided rack is useful for light loads, but you cannot load it heavily without compromising the Tikit's handling.
  • I'm happy to say BF is going to build me a custom 2 pannier front rack in the early part of 2008. I'm very impressed with the responsiveness to my phone call.
Rear rack:
  • right after a front rack that carries two panniers I'd like a rear rack that will accept a couple panniers and have a shelf to strap stuff to.
  • I've got a pic on this blog of a German Tikit with a rear rack, but have not confirmed that this will be a Bike Friday production item.
  • Talking to Bike Friday they weren't sure what was going to happen as far as coming out with a rear rack. I'll look into in some more next time I speak with them about my front rack.
Greenspeed 40-349 Scorcher tires:
  • I like Schwalbe tires. I have them on most of my bikes. On the Tikit the stock Marathons are durable, but not particularly fast or comfortable. I think the 40-349 Scorchers will fit under the Tikit fenders and should offer less rolling resistance with a more plush ride. The trade off may be shorter lifespan and high chance of flats.
  • I'll run the stock tires until early summer and then put some scorchers on.
Alex Wetmore style porteur rack:
  • I really like Alex's custom porteur rack. He isn't making them for sale, but hopefully Bike Friday will take him up on the offer to copy his design.
  • Being able to strap a normal bag or a box to the front of the Tikit would be a very practical option.
  • Based on where they are with a rear rack for the Tikit I wouldn't hold out much hope for seeing this from BF any time soon.

Tikit Single Pannier Front Rack

I ordered my Tikit with the option single pannier front rack. This rack has two benefits:
  1. you can fold the bike and roll it around with the pannier on it
  2. the rack keeps the shower cap off the front wheel so you can roll it around when it is covered
It does these two things as advertised. It installs easily and looks unobtrusive when not in use. Unfortunately the single sided concept has issues when the pannier is anything, but lightly loaded. The bike wants to steer towards the pannier making for a manageable, but less than thrilling ride. Carrying a wind breaker, spare tube and some basic tools won't be an issue, but if you throw in lunch, a book and an extra water bottle you'll notice it.

I'd really like to see a double sided version of this rack that can hold a pannier on each side for balance and if you wanted to just run a right pannier so you could leave it on when folded that would be an available option. Two panniers up front would make the Tikit a VERY useful beast of burden.

Update: I spoke with Hugh at BF and they are going to build me a custom two pannier front rack! Sweet. Time frame is for March/April 2008 and we haven't worked out a cost at this point. If you want one of these racks I'd call Hugo and let him know - making a small batch will be more cost effective than making just one.

Tikit on Trial

Tikit on Trial website - follow the trials and tribulations of Lynette Chiang [BF Tikit Evangelist] as she tries to get her Tikit into various buildings & businesses in NYC.

Alex Wetmore's Tikits

If you're interested in more info than the Bike Friday Tikit pages provide have a look at Alex Wetmore's blog. He has two Tikits and has done some cool upgrades:
  • custom porteur front rack [very nice!]
  • 8 speed internal hub
  • drop bar conversion
  • origin 8 space bar conversion
The Daily Randonneur Blog also has a Tikit post.

Planet Bike Red Zepplin

I'll a pump guy. In fact I'm a pump [plus basic tools, spare tube & patches] with every bike kind of guy. If you ride a bike any distance and with any frequency I figure you should be able to deal with the obvious problems like a flat tire.

In a break with tradition I decided not to pair up a pump with my Tikit instead I put a Planet Bike Red Zepplin in the tool kit. It is far more compact than even my smallest pump. The short range I will ride it and the small size of the tubes mean that a couple CO2 cartridges will fill several tubes and I can always fold it up and throw it in a taxi or on a bus to get home if all else fails. I will carry a spare tube, tire levers & a patch kit with me. As long as I'm running Schwalbe Marathon tires flats are not a huge risk.

For tours I'll throw in my smallest Topeak Morph pump.

VDO C3 DS Wireless Bike Computer

I'm a data junkie - at least as far as distance and speed goes. The folding stem on the Tiit makes a wired bike computer a real PITA to install. So I thought I try a wireless unit. I've had mixed results with wiresless computers in the past, but I had heard good things about the VDO C3 digital unit.

I picked one up at MEC and was pleased with the construction, ease of installation and comprehensive instructions.

I found the menu system and buttons were not very intuitive to use. Perhaps because all but one of my other bike computers are Cateyes and I'm trained in the Cateye interface? Not a deal breaker as the menu provided sufficient explanation on screen to allow you to find what you wanted.

Unfortunately in use I found the VDO unreliable. On almost every ride over the course of a week I would lose signal for a long time - sometimes until I was home and fiddled with the position of the transmitter, magnet and computer. I was always able to get it working again, but in my world I don't want to mess with my bike computer more than a couple times a year. Since I couldn't get reliable speed and distance data from the VDO I returned it.

For general use around town I don't really need a bike computer, but for commuting and for touring I like to know how far I've traveled and how fast I'm moving.

MKS EZY Pedals

The stock Tikit folding pedals work well enough when it is dry out, but they become quite slippery when wet. Seeing as it is winter in Canada wet isn't that unusual! Ideally I'd like a pair of really grippy folding pedals - that way they'd stay on the bike, but I couldn't find a pair that fit the bill. My LBS had a pair of these MKS EZY MTE [lots of letters!] quick connect pedals. They have a fitting similar to an air gun - push in on the fitting and the pedals come off or go on without tools. They came with some yellow plastic safety clips that go between the fitting and the crank to avoid unintended releases. I had hoped to ride them without these clips, but a pedal came off on my first ride - I guess my running shoe must have pushed in the fitting? I ride fairly aggressively around town and the last thing I want to think about is suddenly standing on air! Using the safety clips isn't a deal breaker, but it is one more step when removing/installing the pedals and you have to try and avoid losing them when the pedals are off the bike. These clips take something away from what would otherwise have been a really elegant solution.

The pedals themselves seem well made and they aren't slippery. I'd give them an A without needing the clips and a B because you need the safety clips.

My Tikit's First Ride

Naturally I had to try out the Tikit as soon as possible. I needed to grab a couple things from the cycling dept @ MEC as well as rent a DVD @ Blockbuster. My initial impressions were that the bike fit like a full size bike and handled quite well, but the stock Marathons felt sluggish and a bit harsh. I left the bike in the 16T cog in the back the whole time. The brakes work well and are thankfully silent.

One issue that concerned me when I bought the Tikit was flex in the bars I had read about. I'm happy to report that the large frame and the revised front hinge + cable works like a charm. I don't notice any significant flexing when I'm riding it and even when off the bike trying to make the front end flex it is solid.

It seemed nobody even noticed the Tikit as I rolled it around both shops. The carry handle was conveniently placed and the fold/unfold is as advertised very fast and just as importantly to adjustement of fiddling required to get the Tikit cockpit back in exactly the same position.

My Tikit Arrives!

A little over a week after I ordered it my Tikit arrived from BF...=-)

It was packed quite carefully and needed just minor assembly - attach one pedal, the front fender, install front wheel, adjust seat post and steerer bar height. I was a bit surprised there was not a sheet of paper with unpacking instructions right on top of the Tikit. I didn't have any major issues putting the bike together, but I have built my own bikes from scratch. I could see how someone with less bike maintenance experience might wonder what to do. There was a DVD in the box with some videos on how to fold/unfold the Tikit as well as how to pack/unpack it in the BF travel case. There wasn't a video on how to unpack and assemble your Tikit when you receive it the first time.

Once the Tikit was all in one piece I went about adjusting it. I'm at the lower end of the adjustment range for the large frame so the bars are at their lowest position vertically and the seatpost is only expose a few inches. The reach to the bars is perfect and the having the steerer and seatpost both at close to their lowest settings means my Tikit probably has the least cockpit flex possible.

The overall fit and finish of the Tikit is excellent and it is clear that the designers put a lot of thought into this bike as there are so many small details that seem to work "just right". The components are nothing special, but they work well and I'll replace them with whatever suits my fancy down the road when they wear out.

The Bike Friday head badge is a nice touch.

I really like the fact you can get the Tikit in different sizes to get an appropriate saddle to bar distance.

The stock folding pedals work fine, but they are slippery when wet.

I'm pleased the Tikit comes stock with fenders and a bell - practical accessories for an urban/commuter bike.

Buying a Tikit

Photo from Bike Friday website

My first stop when seriously considering buying a Tikit was the Bike Friday website. To their credit it is chock full of information - both factual and entertaining. If you want to know something about Bike Friday's bikes, accessories or the company - the answer is on their site. It may take you a while to find it and you may not be able to put your finger on it easily the next day, but the facts are there...=-) I really think they need to reorganize the content in a more logical and straightforward way so that new customers can get the information they need quickly and easily. It would also allow existing customers to find something they had read earlier without a lot of detective work.

Although it was at times a bit frustrating I plugged away at the Bike Friday website until I had a pretty good idea that I wanted a stock 8 speed Tikit. I had some questions, such as sizing, tire selection and accessories, that I wanted to speak to a human about and I also wanted to confirm what the price would be under the current promotion.

I called BFs 1-800 number, which works for my part of Canada, and ended up speaking to Bruno Lindelien [pictured above]. He was helpful and we narrowed down what I wanted and what the costs would be fairly quickly. I ended up ordering:
  • large stock 8 speed Tikit [10% off w/ promotion]
  • shower cap bag [free w/ promotion]
  • single sided front rack
  • Total $1,125.00USD + shipping
There were one thing that I wasn't totally stoked about:
  • The only shipping option to Canada was FEDEX @ $150. My experience with FEDEX has been under performance at a premium price. This time was no exception. I won't bore you with the details, but I'd really like it if BF offered a USPS shipping option to Canada. After all the Tikit is a small travel bike the shipping cost for it shouldn't be as much as full size bike.
Overall I was pleased with the service I received during the ordering process and I'd order another bike from BF. If they resolved the issues noted above I'd give them an A+ and even with those issues I'd give them a B+.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why a Tikit?

Video: Kai Fuchs

My Reasons

This video highlights one of the key reasons I wanted to get my hands on a Bike Friday Tikit - the effortless fold. Unlike my Dahon there is no requirement to mess with QR levers or adjust the seatpost, steerer or handlebars. After every unfold the Tikit's saddle & bars are in exactly the same spot...=-)

The another reason is the ability to get the Tikit in one of three frame sizes [small, medium or large]. I can ride my Dahon without problem, but the one size fits all approach does not result in an optimal cockpit.

Finally the reviews suggest the Tikit rides like a full sized bike with excellent handling.