Friday, October 31, 2008

The Folding Bike Revolution...

It's been about a year since I bought my first folding bike. It's hard to remember what life was like without my Tikit. It has become such a part of my day to day life that it really is a shock realizing I've only been "a folder fanatic" a year. I can't over emphasize how profoundly useful the Tikit is and how much it has facilitated my lifestyle.

Because I no longer even ponder bike security or have to figure what I'll do with my bike later in the day when I meet up with friends or if my plans change I naturally reach for the Tikit nearly every time I have to go out and get something done. It gives me the range of a bicycle, but without the logistical hassle of dealing with locking it up/transporting it, etc...

Nivea has seen me riding my Tikit all summer, but hasn't shown much interest in it until recently. That surprised me frankly, but I didn't want to become "the annoying folding bike evangelist". I was working on her bike a few weeks back and gave her the Seasons Tikit to ride in the meantime. She seemed a bit skeptical, but she likes to ride and wheels are wheels! She got her bike back, but didn't return the Seasons Tikit. I suspected she was liking it, but didn't ask. She recently admitted that she only rides her bike to work now [it has panniers and a rear rack to carry her clothes/food] and as soon as she gets home she switches to the Seasons Tikit. She really liked the uber easy/fast fold as well as not having to lock up the bike outside at her destination. Having spent some time riding the Tikit she finally "got it"...=-)

That reminds me of how I was a year ago. I knew about Bike Friday and I was aware of folding bikes in general, but I didn't "get it". I had all the basic facts and I should have been able to work out how useful a folding bike would be, but I somehow didn't connect the dots. Even buying my first folder I was interested in having a bike I could leave at my parents place that wasn't hard to store and wasn't uber expensive, but I didn't foresee how profoundly they would change the way I get around. I eventually had my own " I got it" moment. I could see the potential of a folder and I could appreciate the finer points of folding bike design. That's when I ordered my Tikit.

I wasn't disappointed at all. The easy/fast fold is a revelation. It isn't an incremental improvement on the typical folding process other manufacturers use - it's the next level! That combined with a great ride and the ability to get a Tikit sized correctly for me puts a smile on my face every time I ride it. One thing I wasn't really expecting was the positive reaction I get from people I meet when I am out and about on the Tikit. I'll often get requests to fold/unfold the bike for people or have pedestrians comment on the bike while I'm waiting for the light to change.

So what does the future hold for me and my Tikit? I would like a rear rack that can hold full size panniers [my BF sources suggest an early 2009 release date for a touring Tikit rear rack] and I'm still looking for some metal pedals that are easily removable like the MKS EZY pedals, but that have a flat platform - beyond that my Tikit is setup very nicely. I have thought that drop bars might be a nice addition to my Tikit, but the current flat bar setup folds so nicely that I'm hesitant to mess with a good thing. If I was going to ride longer distances on a regular basis I'd probably try out some drop bars, but at the moment most of my rides are under 10kms so the comfort advantage of drops doesn't come into play that often.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Paul's Travel Tikit

Paul Baker order up a very nice Tikit customized for touring and sent me the following information about it.

"I’ve recently taken delivery of the best bike I’ve ever owned – a silver Travel tikit. Silver is not a colour that Bike Friday currently offer as an option for the tikit but I managed to convince them to produce one as a special order. Well I think it looks fabulous, and looks particularly splendid with lots of black components. And yes, style and aesthetic appeal really does matter to me. I wear a lot of black and grey clothes and so even the rider is colour coordinated!

Why did I purchase a Travel tikit? Firstly I own a two-seater car (silver MGTF 160) and so carrying/transporting a ‘conventional’ bike is nigh on impossible. The tikit folds down and sits with pride of place on the passenger seat ready to be ridden at the chosen destination. Secondly, Because I will use it for touring abroad. On tours I tend to use trains, buses and ferries a lot and so it’s an ideal bike for such multi-method touring. I had intended to tour up the Norwegian coast this late summer but unfortunately my travel plans fell through. My plan is to undertake the tour next spring/early summer when the Norwegian weather starts improving. I’ll ride up the RV17 ( from just North of Trondheim to Bodo – try it, it’s fabulous! Thirdly because I already own a New World Tourist – yes, it’s silver too. I wanted a newer model and the tikit does everything that the NWT does and more. I can use it to travel to work, to load the panniers at the supermarket etc."

"I decided I wanted to go for a high specification tikit. So my Travel tikit is equipped as follows:
  • mudguards/fenders
  • Schwalbe Stelvio tyres
  • two pannier front rack – yes it works brilliantly and I’m reliably informed will be a stock item from 2009 (great news). And I can fit my Ortlieb Rear Rollers without any difficulty, and without catching toes
  • Bike Friday Touring ‘H’ Bars
  • Avid Single Digit Ultimate brakes and levers
  • titanium bar stem
  • Brooks titanium rail Swift saddle
  • MKS Ezy Fit pedals – with toe clips and straps (yes, I’m a bit old fashioned but so much easier to use any shoes than only those with cleats) (I’m about to purchase MKS M Cube Ezy pedals so will be able to effortlessly swap pedals)
  • FSA Mega Exo Cranks etc
  • SRAM DualDrive with 9 speed SRAM X9 rear mechanism
  • Thompson Elite seat stem
  • rear rack (with cargo net – very, very useful)

Since delivery I’ve fitted:
  • Salsa quick releases on seat and bar stems and front wheel.
  • Cateye Strada Wireless computer
  • Bar bag support for my Ortlieb Ultimate 5 bar bag – it’s a great bag that has holder for my Garmin GPS device"

"So what’s it like to ride? It’s excellent. O.K. It’s not an ultra stiff bike but then I never expected it to be. As with other BR rides it rides like a ‘proper’ bike. I sought lots of opinion before purchase as to which tyres I should fit. I do not regret fitting the Stelvios one bit. My first ride was across Cambridge, (England) away from Ben Hayward Cycles (very friendly and helpful service from Rob Turner and his staff) to my car. I can honestly say It rode well with little indication of being on a folder. Since then I’ve used it most days and it continues to delight."

"The bikes future? Well, hopefully Norway next spring, maybe France (Normandy) at Easter, lots of day rides round the local lanes, commuting to work, trips to North Norfolk and the Peak District etc, etc.

Things to be aware of? I’d really like the BF sales staff to be more proactive in designing the bike. I told them from the outset that I wanted a non-standard spec’d bike and then found that I had to suggest the additional items. I would have liked them to give me more information about possibilities for gearing, upgrade parts etc. If you can do talk to Rob English (he’s very helpful).

Very many thanks to Bike Friday for letting me have a two-pannier front rack – it’s a great addition to the bike and severely extends the tikit’s usefulness.

Would I recommend a purchase – an unequivocal yes."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Shimano Nexus 8 Service Manual

Thanks to Sheldon Brown and Harris Cyclery you can find the complete Shimano Nexus 8 Service Manual online here. I'm not planning on tearing down the Seasons Tikit's IGH, but it's nice to know I have the information how to do that if I absolutely needed to.