Friday, July 11, 2008

Seasons Tikit First Impressions


Overall

Pulling the Season's Tikit out of the box my first impression was this didn't look like much of a prototype. The only detail that was not polished looking was the hand written "Seasons" added to the Tikit decal on the frame. The rest of the bike looked just like my Tikit except with a Nexus 8 speed hub. The ride is the same great Tikit experience just a slightly different flavour.

Frame/Fork

The Seasons Tikit is a medium frame which is about 1.5" shorter in the main tube than my large Tikit. I adjusted the saddle and bars to match my larger Tikit with the help of a longer stem. I didn't expect the medium frame to feel so different, but I am definitely more at home on a large Tikit. I can ride the medium, but I don't feel as natural on it or as comfortable. This isn't really a problem as Bike Friday will ensure you get the right size bike when you order a Tikit. My only advice would be if you are between frame sizes order the larger frame. I think the longer wheelbase will only be a good thing.

The Seasons Tikit shares the same frame as previous Tikit models which in my mind is a good thing. The only difference I noted between my older Tikit and this new model was a slightly different locking mechanism to hold the Tikit together when folded. This does away with the over latch bolt, but from a functional perspective there is no difference between how either of my Tikits fold. The hyper-fold cable operated latch system is still super easy to use and very fast.

Cockpit

The controls on the Seasons Tikit look the same as my Tikit with the exception that the Microshifter has been replaced with the Nexus shifter. The Tektro brake levers are functional and comfortable to use. The Seasons Tikit comes with a great bell. I love the sound and the design is low profile so it doesn't catch on anything when folded. My only real complaints with the controls on the Seasons Tikit are the area for your hands is not very big and the foam grips are too soft. My hands just barely fit and I don't think they are particularly large for a man. The stock grips are simply too soft - they compress when you grab them and end up putting a lot of pressure on the contact areas of your hands. I had the same issues with my Tikit and solved them by moving the controls inboard about 2cms when I installed some Egron grips.

I generally replace stock saddles right off the bat when I get a new bike. However, on my Tikit I left the stock saddle and have been pleased with it for rides up to 25kms. I might invest in something else if I was riding further, but a 25km range is pretty much as far as I go on the Tikit. The Seasons Tikit comes with the same saddle. I recommend you give it a try before you swap it out.

The stock folding pedals on the Seasons Tikit work well when it's dry. I do find they are slippery when wet. If you do a lot of riding in the rain/snow I'd consider something more grippy with a metal platform. I haven't found the ideal pedal yet for my Tikit so I use the stock pedals in the summer and switch to some metal pedals in the winter when my shoes are likely to be wet most of the time.

Wheels

The Seasons Tikit rolls on two 24h unbranded rims matched with a narrow unbranded front hub and the Nexus 8 speed IGH on the rear. This is similar to my Tikit and having 16" wheels with 24 spokes makes for a very tough wheel. I have had to do zero wheel maintenance on my Tkit even though it gets ridden quite hard. With the large diameter of the Nexus IGH the rear wheel of the Seasons Tikit has short spokes and should be very strong.

The stock Schwalbe Marathon 35-349 tires work well and are quite tough making them a good choice for trouble free commuting. Compared to the Greenspeed Scorcher TRs on my Tikit the ride is not as plush. I do like the reflective stripe on the side wall of the Marathons. A detail the Scorchers do not have.

Drivetrain

Due to a lack of time [this is the last task I have before I hit the road to the arctic!] I'm not going to be able to go into a huge amount of detail about the Nexus 8 hub. So what I'll do is provide you my feelings riding the 8 speed geared Tikit and the Seasons Tikit. I'll also include some links you can follow to learn more about this hub.

Let me first say I had no complaints about the 8 speed geared drivetrain on my Tikit. It works well and hasn't need a ton of maintenance. Even when I jumped aboard the Seasons Tikit I still thought no big deal the Nexus 8 hub works very well, but my older Tikit also performs nicely. Well to my surprise after using the Nexus 8 for several days I jumped back on my Tikit because I needed to use a bike with a rear rack and the shifting is nowhere near as crisp/quick or nice to use as the Nexus 8. I was a bit shocked frankly. I haven't checked the numbers, but the gear range on the Season's Tikit seems comparable to my Tikit and has been suitable for all my riding around town.

So what's better about the Nexus 8?
  • light positive action on the shifter
  • fast shifts through as much of the gear range as you want in one motion
  • shifts at a stop
  • less maintenance [great for rain/winter riding]
  • less possibility of damage when folding and transporting
  • more compact chain line keeping you and stuff around you cleaner
How much better is the Nexus 8 than my stock Tikit's drivetrain? Well not so great that I'd sell my older Tikit. It does indeed work quite well. However, the Nexus 8 is good enough that if I was starting from scratch I wouldn't consider any other option for gearing. The geared hub and the Tikit are a perfect combo.

Nexus 8 Links:
Brakes

The Seasons Tikit uses the same Tektro V-brakes and levers as my older Tikit. I find they perform quite well and are easy to maintain & setup. I'm still running the stock pads on both Tikits, but I'll switch to the excellent Koolstop salmon coloured pads when it comes time to replace them. My biggest pet peeve with brakes is squealing and these brakes operate silently so they get a two thumbs up in my books.

Accessories

The Seasons Tikit came equipped with fenders and the shower cap cover. I find the fenders indispensible for riding in the rain and wouldn't own a Tikit without them. The combination of the small wheels and these fenders keeps me totally clean and dry when I'm bombing around town on wet streets. Due to this I usually grab my Tikit as I'm heading out the door into the rain. I haven't used the shower cap very often simply because I don't get onto crowded trains/buses much or have to smuggle my Tikit into office buildings. However, the few times I've used it I was really gad to have the cover attached to the bike and ready for action.

One accessory I really miss with the Seasons Tikit is the lack of the rear rack I have on my older Tikit. The rear rack stablizes the folded bike very well and proves useful for carrying all manner of cargo. When I told my friend Kurt I'd loan him the Seasons Tikit to commute with while I'm away touring in the arctic his first question was does it come with the rear rack. When I said no his next question was if he could could steal the rack off my Tikit while I was gone.

4 comments:

Stewart said...

How does it fold compared to your other Tikit? Does the chain ever come off? I can only think of the Brompton as the other "under" folder (rather than side folder like a Dahon) that uses an internal hub gear. That still has a chain tensioner even when no derailleur is employed. If the chain stays on when folded, even during transportation, then the geometry of the fold was really well designed. My NWT sheds its chain every time.

Vik said...

Stewart the fold on both Tikits is the same. The whole rear triangle folds so the BB and the rear hub always maintain the same distance. As a result the chain never comes off either bike when folding or unfolding.

ankchank said...

Any chances of a close up of the rear drop outs? I have a NWT with a Nexus 8 and BF sent it with a Shimano tensioner for the vertical dropouts. I didn't think that worked very well so I swapped it with a Surly one and that works fine. It looks like your Tikit has some sort of modified horizontal drop out. And for some reason BF sent it with a 1/8" chain.

Anyways, I've been thinking about switching the NWT for a Tikit in a desperate attempt to get a little more room when in the suitcase. Anyways, my bike looks like your bike's older brother.

Vik said...

I've posted a close up of the Seasons Tikit's drop.