Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tikit 3 Month Review

It has been a little over 3 months since my Tikit arrived from Bike Friday. The most telling statement I can make about it is that I have used it more than all my other bikes combined if you count number of trips rather than distance covered. Living downtown the Tikit is ideal for the myriad of short hops I need to make. Since I can take it inside buildings with me I don't bother with a lock and make all sorts of extra stops when I am out and about. I have used the Tikit for several multi-modal commutes. It works very well for getting onto public transit or carpooling with a co-worker.

The Tikit's cockpit is sized like my non-folding bikes and is quite comfortable for moderate distances [up to 20kms]. I haven't gone much further than that yet so I won't comment on it as a long distance ride. The small wheels have not been an issue for me at all. The ride isn't rough and the bike is fast enough to keep pace with other riders in town. The handling is fairly quick - which in town is a plus as it makes the Tikit very nimble. The small size of the bike makes getting it in and out of my apartment very easy and it can be stored in the bottom of a closet.

Mechanically all the components have worked well and not needed much attention. The gear range has proven practical and even on the steepest hill in my area I was able to get up without needing lower gearing. I have replaced the stock grips with Ergon Grips. The stock grips were functional, but not fantastic. The Hyper-Fold continues to work effortlessly and has only needed to be lubed once. I had replaced the stock pedals with metal MKS EZY pedals for better grip in wet/snowy conditions, but have since gone back to the stock pedals since they are more comfortable and it is dry now.

What don't I like?

  • the single sided front pannier rack is of limited use as any weight in the pannier has a negative impact on bike handling.
  • the lack of a useful front rack and no rear rack limit the Tikit's ability to carry cargo to: backpack, trailer or seat bag. Hopefully BF will rectify this situation soon.
  • when folded the Tikit leans over quite a lot when standing up. This makes it a bit unstable and it wants to fall over if it is on a moving vehicle or gets bumped lightly. Not a huge deal, but something that could be resolved.

Planned Upgrades:
  • replace stock Schwalbe Marathons with Greenspeed Scorchers. Stock tires are a bit slow and provide a harsh ride - although they are very durable/flat resistant.
  • install 2 sided front rack if and when BF makes me one.
  • install a rear rack when BF makes one available.
  • other than that I'll just enjoy riding my Tikit.
If I was doing it all over again I'd buy another Tikit with essentially the same spec. I'd probably ditch the single sided front rack though. For my use it is the best folder on the market at the moment.

16 comments:

Alan Barnard said...

Vic,

Thanks for the excellent report. If you ever have the opportunity, I'd love to hear your impressions on the Tikit versus the Brompton.

Regards,
Alan

Vik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vik said...

Thanks Alan,

I haven't had a lot of experience with the Bromptons compared to my Tikit or Dahon so I don't want to say too much, but I feel comfortable making the following observations:

- Brompton has the smallest most refined fold.
- comes with internal gear hub which is cool.
- the Brompton construction and design is excellent - very refined.
- I prefer the handling of the Tikit to the Brompton. I find it more stable and I can forget I'm riding a folder on the Tikit.
- I prefer the different frame sizes of the Tikit and the use of standard MTB stem/bars. This allows a lot of flexibility to get the cockpit exactly how you want it.
- I like the fact that the Tikit fold is so fast and even more importantly there are no adjustments to make when unfolding the Tikit. Your cockpit is always in exactly the same position.
- I like buying a bike that is handmade in North America and from a small company that lets me call up and talk to the designer or the production folks. That's cool.
- finally in terms of cost I think the Tikit is an excellent value - particularly the Model T.

The Tikit really makes sense for me since I don't need the smallest fold, I want to be able to ride longer distances comfortably and I fold my bike a lot.

If I worked in a heavily populated urban centre and used crowded public transit with short rides on either end I would have gone for the Brompton. They seem like very cool bikes, but owning two folders is already a bit excessive - must resist!

Although I do prefer the Tikit it really is a choice between two excellent, albeit different, bikes. If I had not heard of the Tikit and bought a Brompton I'm sure I would be quite pleased with it.

Alan Barnard said...

Hi Vik,

The Tikit's quick fold and the fact that you don't need to adjust the seat each time are nice features. If it was just a bit more compact I would have gone for it instead of the Brompton. I totally agree with your assessment that they're both excellent bikes that serve slightly different purposes.

Thanks again..
Alan

Vik said...

Welcome to the fold Alan....BTW - is your Brompton your only upright bike?

Alan Barnard said...

"Welcome to the fold Alan....BTW - is your Brompton your only upright bike?"

Thanks Vik; I'm having fun.

Other than a rusted old 1960's cruiser that we keep around, yes, the Brommie is my only upright. I wouldn't mind having an upright city bike, maybe a Riv Atlantis with Albatross bars, but for distance riding it will probably always be bents for me.

Regards,
Alan

kenf said...

Hi Vik,

I just got a Tikit last week, and so far I like it very much.

Several questions, which Ergon grips did you use? And you say "if and when Bike Friday makes you a 2 sided rack." I was told that such a rack was at least a year away.

Thanks,
Kenf

Vik said...

Hi Kent,

I don't have the packaging anymore, but Egron makes a grip for use with grip shifters. You can find it on their website.

I spoke with BF in Jan and they agreed to make me a custom 2 sided front rack for my Tikit. I have to follow up with them this week and see where things are at. I had hoped to have it this spring. but I am not sure that is as realistic ETA. I'll post more once I have rec'd an update.

Enjoy your Tikit!

litsl said...

Vik,

I love your blog and clear enthusiasm for these bikes. I bought one in Oregon last year and am now starting to use it for commuting in the UK.

I have had the maiden voyage this weekend and had 2 problems:

1. Too much flex in the stem - my friend at a bike shop fixed this with tensioning the cables more;

2. Bike being difficult to stand gracefully when in a folded state - I put it on the train, carefully, and when I arrived in London and started cycling I couldn't change gear. A quick inspection showed the gear shifter had shorn off near the adjustment nut on the handlebar. It seems to me that if the bike were able to stand neatly in a folded state it this may not have happened.

You seem quite ingenious. Have you managed to figure out any modifications to allow the bike so stand up naturally? I noticed on the bike friday website a Tikit which is standing quite nicely (in Japan or somewhere).

Carl

kenf said...

"2. Bike being difficult to stand gracefully when in a folded state - I put it on the train, carefully, and when I arrived in London and started cycling I couldn't change gear. A quick inspection showed the gear shifter had shorn off near the adjustment nut on the handlebar. It seems to me that if the bike were able to stand neatly in a folded state it this may not have happened.

You seem quite ingenious. Have you managed to figure out any modifications to allow the bike so stand up naturally? I noticed on the bike friday website a Tikit which is standing quite nicely (in Japan or somewhere)."

Carl,

2 things. Did you get fenders with the bike? The rear fender bracket also serves as a point to support the folded bike. And check the bit about the overlatch screw on the Bike Friday web site:

http://www.bikefriday.com/service/tikit/overlatchbolt

Ken

Char said...

Hi - I recently put the one-sided rack on my Tikit. I was a little concerned about it being heavy one-sided when a pannier is on there, but I rode with it to work this morning and it was fine. It reminded me of my cross-country trip when I had front panniers on my bike. The Tikit didn't seem to be one-sided and I soon got used to the heavy feel of the steering. But it wasn't difficult to adjust to. I agree, a two-sided rack would be good - but I don't know if that would interfere with the folding/compactness of the Tikit...

Vik said...

Hey Char - glad to hear the single sided front rack is working for you. How much weight did you have in the pannier?

litsl said...

Hi Ken

Yes I have the fenders with the bike and can see the rubber point on the back which is supposed to help the bike stand when folded. It doesn't do the job!

I've also checked the overlatch bolt was fully in.

I notice Vik has a recent post on this and shares my frustration. I think part of my problem is that my Tikit is a large one and the longer stem interferes with the bike standing up (Bike Friday folks told me this). I have tried leaving the stem unlatched and the bike stands better but is still very unstable.

Bike Friday are now going to send me:
- a longer bolt as recommended by Vik in his recent post;
- a replacement for the broken gear shifter (though I still don't understand how it sheared);
- a stronger single cable for the folding stem mechanism;

They have also made some suggestions about how to alleviate stress on the gear shifter, which I still don't understand.

Carl

PS I just rode my Tikit across London today along a canal path (Grand Union Canal and The Regent's Canal). Even with it stuck in one single gear and in the heavy rain it was great fun!!!

Anonymous said...

regarding the front pannier rack's "negative impact on bike handling" - I now have an experience of 6 months commuting with an Inertia Business Pannier on a front rack on my Dahon Speed, and steering was negatively impacted until I used the pannier's cross straps (see http://inertiadesigns.com/catalog/popup_image.php?pID=168&image=2&osCsid=ad5353be8fae93b24b0ac89abe3986ac).
no problems since.
Mind you I'm not loading it very heavily, but it has to be ~4-5 kilos.
You could probably just add some straps to hug the pannier.

Martin said...

I had problems with my Detours Tecco pannier bouncing over the stops on my front tikit rack. Ended up using a bunggie to hold the pannier. Rock solid and no more problems...

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