Friday, April 18, 2008

Standard Tikit Rack Review

If you are a regular blog reader you'll know that I've been riding my Tikit a great deal and really enjoying the versatility of this folding bike. One thing that has been missing though is a way to carry cargo on the bike as opposed to on me. The existing single pannier front rack does let you carry some stuff with you, but its capacity is limited. I have been looking forward to the release of a rear rack for the Tikit all winter. Needless to say I was excited to get a prototype rack to test.

Before I talk about this rack I want to clarify that Bike Friday is coming out with two rear racks for the Tikit. The rack shown on this site and which I'll review is a light duty rack meant for commuting and errand running. Bike Friday is calling this the Standard Tikit Rear Rack. The second rear rack to be released late this year will be more robust and will be able to carry full size panniers. I'm calling this second rack the Tikit Touring Rack just to keep them straight in my head.

When the box arrived with the standard rack in it I had a flashback to Christmas! The rack was very light in my hand and looked like quite a refined prototype. All the welds were neat and the powder coat looked nice. The rack had 4 blue PVC tube sections installed on it as protection when folding the Tikit. Since I have an all black Tikit I didn't love the blue and started scheming about how I'd cover the tubes up with black electrical tape. Looking at the photo sent out by Bike Friday of the production rack it seems they went with a more neutral clear protective tubing which should look great with any colour Tikit.

I've installed a lot of racks in my time and more than once a beautiful looking rack turned out to be a nightmare when it just didn't want to fit onto the bike in question. One clear advantage with buying accessories designed specifically for your bike is they will fit like a glove. The standard rack didn't disappoint. It went on in a few minutes without a hitch. The only issue was having to clean the paint out of the upper rack mounting braze-ons so I could get the bolts in. In the photo of the production standard rack the fender support strut has been removed and the fender attached to the rack. I chose to leave this strut in place and just put the rack over it as I preferred how the stock setup looked. This is a purely aesthetic issue with no functional difference.

Once I had the standard rack mounted I tried folding my Tikit to see if there was any impact on the fold. Not only was the fold unchanged, but the folded Tikit now rested on the rack making it uber stable. You'd have to try hard to knock it over now - very nice. Not only did the rack add functionality to my Tikit it solved one of my few dissatisfactions with the bike. Another bonus is that the rack completely protects the rear fender from being scratched during the folding process. Bike Friday notes that you can pack the Tikit in a suitcase without removing this rack. I haven't tried this as I don't fly with my Tikit [yet!], but I'm glad they designed it with air travel in mind. The less disassembly/assembly you have to deal with when on the road the better!

I've used the standard rack for a couple weeks now carrying a variety of small loads. When not needed I don't notice the fact I have the rack mounted as it is low profile and very lightweight. I'm pleased that it doesn't interfere with the fold and the added stability of the folded bike is welcome. I've even carried a large box I need to ship on the standard rack by strapping it to the seat post. It was surprisingly stable and has really opened my eyes to the expanded capabilities of the Tikit now that the standard rack is mounted.

The standard rack will fit trunk bags, but full-size panniers will not work due to its small size. You'll have to wait for the touring rack to carry your Ortliebs! You could possibly mount some of those combo trunk bags with fold out panniers although I don't have such a beast to test. Bike Friday has indicated it will be developing luggage that will be designed to work with this rack. I'll look forward to see what they come up with. I've already been thinking about mounting a milk crate to this rack with zipties. I'd just do this when I needed to carry that extra large load and remove it afterwards.

I have experienced one problem with this rack. The protective tubing at the front of the rack can move out of place resulting in some scratching of the rack if you fold it and don't notice the problem. I'll fix this by covering the tubing with black electrical tape which will secure it in place and allow me to keep my Tikit Ultra-Stealthy-Black...=-) I've advised Bike Friday of this issue and I am confident they resolve it on the production racks.

As you can tell I am quite happy with this rack. It's a refined product that is attractive and functional. I would definitely add it to my list of must have Tikit accessories. The utility rack will cost ~$50.00 and can be purchased from Bike Friday here or ordered with any new Tikit.


Lord Peter said...

Love your blog. We seem to share a similar aesthetic, as I own a stealth black NWT, which I often use with a black Wald basket zip tied to the rack. You might prefer that to a milk crate - you can find Wald baskets at Amazon for about $10.

kenf said...

I just got my Tikit rear rack installed today. It is one of the production models with the clear protective tubing. As I have a blue Tikit I would have liked the blue tubing.

As for the fender brace, do you think there would be any advantage to using one screw through both the hole in the rack and the brace? I would guess that this would give additional support to any load on the rack?

Vik said...

Hi Ken,

I attached my rear rack and the fender brace with a single bolt on each side. I didn't really do it to help support a load on the rack as I think it is more than sturdy enough for the types of loads it was designed to hold. I just couldn't be bothered to remove the fender strut and have to adjust the fender to work with the rear rack as a support. Also in the photo from BF shows that shows the rear rack without the fender strut installed I didn't love the line the fender followed.

Just personal preference.

Vik said...

BTW - Ken I could probably be talked into swapping racks with you if you really wanted the blue tubing to match your Tikit.

kenf said...

Hi Vik,

I think swapping racks at this point may be more trouble than it's worth.

What I was talking about was using a bolt through the top of the rack, through the top of the fender stay, and into the fender, so the stay would give more support to the rack. It would require a longer bolt. And I'm not sure if enough of the bolts holding the rack and stay on the side are long enough.

I also found that the Detours Teeco pannier will work with the rack, and I suspect the Tucan model will as well.

Vik said...

Hi Ken,

Sorry I misunderstood what you meant about attaching the rack and the fender struts. I don't plan on carrying a lot of weight on this rack so I won't bother, but it is a good idea to have in your back pocket should you wish to tour with it and use those panniers you've noted fit the rack.

I'll be keen to see what the Tikit touring rack looks like.

Agreed that shipping racks is a lot of work just to get the colour of protective tubing to match your bike. However, some people are fanatical about such things so I figured I'd make the offer if it was critical to you...=-)

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

Well got around to mounting my rear rack. Also a pic of the TEECO pannier mounted on it. Plus a tidbit from BF about the rear pannier rack ETA. Next year...ugh!

Anonymous said...

vik, i have to say, you (and certainly others too!) paint such a fine picture of the tikit it must be mine!

should arrive by the end of next week


dylanmac said...

I just installed my Tikit rack (I removed the rear struts) and I gotta say, it completely messed up the folded stance of the bike. The bike will no longer stand on its on. I have to use the pedal to balance the bike upright. What a pain in the ass. Anyone else have this problem?

Vik said...

That's totally weird. The rear rack should make the bike way more stable when folded.

I'd have to see some photos of the problem to help. I'd call BF and explain the problem to them and see what they say.