A Saturday morning folding bike breakfast

Kent, Mark and I met at the top of the I90 bridge this morning for some socializing and bike geeking. The toys of the day were my Bike Friday Tikit and Kent’s Dahon Curve. Mark brought along Jan Heine’s Alex Singer — normally one of the most interesting bikes of the bunch, but today it didn’t get much attention.

Kent’s Dahon is really nice. For $400 you get a bike which folds up to a tiny package (not as small as a Brompton, but smaller than the Tikit) and which rides nicely. Contrasting the Dahon and Tikit was fun. The Dahon is very simple in comparison. The fold isn’t as slick, but it is fast enough (Kent says it takes about a minute). The Dahon folds into a small package partially because it is a small bike to begin with — both Mark and I felt that it was undersized than us. Kent said that if you think about it as the fast alternative to walking then you’ll have the right mindset. I was impressed with the parts spec on the Dahon. For $400 it includes some nice features like Schwable Big Apple tires and a simple and effective Sturmey 3sp drivetrain.

Kent and Mark were impressed with the fast folding of the Tikit and Mark liked the riding position (which is pretty similar to my other bikes). The Tikit has some handlebar flex that I’m still working out, but once you get used to it the ride is pretty nice. The Tikit is closer to a normal bicycle in ride and fit, but it also has a much more complicated design and is much more expensive.

The ride also gave me a chance to try out my newest rack. I built a second rack for the Tikit that fits into the folded bike more nicely than my original design. There is clearance for the saddle to fit into the rack and it doesn’t get in the way of the rear tire when the bike is folded. I think that I came up with a solution that is asthetically pleasing and functional.


  1. Brian Loudon says:

    Nice rack. BF ought to license. I do wish their stock rack were at least double sided. Sure, you couldn”t need the off side bag mounted when folded, but the capacity would be nice.

    I notice that is a different Tikit from previously. Is the bar flex of the same sort as on the other?

  2. Bill Gibson says:

    Dang. When I finish my Masters degree, I”m getting a welding rig and braze some steel.

    I actually put a folder in my Amazon shopping basket, but won”t pull the trigger; have to pay for school, etc. Say, is there an article in BQ in this escapade, hmm?

  3. AlexWetmore says:

    I”d give the design to BF or anyone else who thought it was a good idea and had the capabilities to go into production with it. It isn”t feasible for me to really produce them on even a small scale, so the best that I can do is share the design.

    It is a different Tikit than the previous one. I have two Tikits now, a medium (grey) and a large (blue). The medium fits me better with drop bars. I”ll probably be selling the large in the winter, but may use it as a test platform for internal gears first.

    The handlebar flex is similar on both bikes (now that the hinge has been fixed on the blue one). I”m going to try using a steel riser instead of the stock aluminum one to see if that reduces the flex.

    The flex is a little disconcerting, especially when riding hard out of the saddle. On the other hand once you get used to it (which doesn”t take long) the bike handles really nicely.

    Bill asked “Is there an article in BQ in this escapade?”. I”d be flattered to think so, but there are much more capable rack builders than myself and I think that racks are much simpler than frames. If they talked to anyone about building racks I think there are better choices.

    I am planning on a series of blog entries that I”ll call “rack building 101″. I”m hoping to have time to put the first entry together today, it”ll just talk about the tools involved.

  4. christian says:

    hey..just curious about the flex (my Tikit is supposed to arrive tomorrow, so I guess I”ll know soon enough). Did you experience it with the stock straight bars to the same degree (did you even use those enough to observe)?

    I”m not a big straight bar fan, but I”m thinking of something more like the On-One Mary bar rather than drops, assuming they”re not too wide for the folded package.

    Also, when you say “riser” in this context, which part do you mean?


  5. AlexWetmore says:

    I only rode the bike about 5 miles with straight bars and it was immediately after unboxing it. I don”t remember much about that ride.

    The riser is the piece of metal coming out of the steerer hinge and going up to the stem. It is made of 1 1/8″ aluminum and it doesn”t appear to have much wall thickness. I have some spare 1 1/8″ steel that I may try instead. It isn”t clear if all of the play comes from the hinge, or if some comes from the extender.

    The On-One Mary bar looks like it won”t stick out as far as drops. I”d be curious to try a Tikit with this bar as it would also work easily with the stock brake levers and shifters. Maybe I should pick one up. I”ve also considered using a Nitto Dove bar, but I”m much more comfortable on drops.

  6. Joe Broach says:

    Great work on the rack!! Have you carried much of a load yet? Any idea on the Tikit’’s geometry? It looks as though we”ll be leaving our current place (with its secure bike room) next spring, and I”m beginning to get serious about a folding single. -joe

  7. christian says:

    thanks.. that’’s helpful.

    I”ll probably try the Mary bar, since I already own a pair. They”re a little expensive (60-65-ish most places). I think Trek/Bontrager has a similar shape that’’s a little cheaper since they”re aiming for city bikes rather than offroad use, but I don”t remember what it’’s called.

    I really like Albatross/Dove style bars, but I suspect I”d need a really long stem to make a pair work on a Tikit. This is primarily going to be a multi-modal commuter bike for me, and it may not regularly see rides longer than ~9 miles, so I”ll probably err on the side of compact and light


  8. Brian Loudon says:

    My problem with Mary bars is the width – 64.5cm. I”m used to 44cm drop bars and the Marys give me a very “driving the bus” feel. I currently have a set mounted on a Swift Folder and it feels a bit ridiculous.

    If I ever revitalize the Swift or otherwise have a need for non-drop bars I will be considering some Soma Sparrows (http://store.somafab.com/sosp490bar.html). 49cm and compatible with bar-end shift/brake levers.

    The B601 and B617 versions of Nitto’’s Promenade bars are even narrower (45cm) and have grip points in the same orientation as drops, but the rear sweep may not be compatible with a bike’’s cockpit length and folding style.

  9. AlexWetmore says:

    Joe — I”ve carried about 20# on the front of a tikit, but with my older rack. It handled pretty well. I can”t ride no hands with a load, but I can”t really ride no hands on the Tikit anyway. I haven”t measured the geometry, but plan on doing it soon.

    The Soma Sparrow looks exactly like a Nitto Dove. Both are the same width. It”ll have the downside that Christian mentioned of requiring a long stem.

  10. christian says:

    here’’s my Tikit with Mary bars:

    I really like the wide bars on this bike. The stock straight bars weren”t working for me at all. The width doesn”t interfere with the fold, but the forward extension makes it about as wide as if I were using drop bars. I haven”t taken it on a city bus yet, but it’’s been fine on my employer’’s shuttle van to the commuter train station.

  11. AlexWetmore says:

    Thanks for posting that photo. Do you have one of it folded? I”ve been thinking about trying out those bars on a Tikit because it”ll be a cheaper way to integrate an internal gear hub.

  12. christian says:

    here’’s a folded shot http://www.flickr.com/photos/halibut5000/1572688768/ You can see how the bars stick out a bit (part of the issue is that I need a long-ish stem to get comfortable). I”ve found them to be pretty manageable so far. I”ve also considered something like these Salsa bars http://www.salsacycles.com/images/zoom_motoAceflat.jpg which have a 17 degree bend and would make for a more compact fold, or these from Jitensha Studio http://www.jitensha.com/eng/flatbar05.html. I already owned the Mary bars, so I”m going to stick with them unless they become awkward.

  13. AlexWetmore says:

    Thanks. I didn”t know about the Jitensha/Nitto bar and it looks like a good option. The price is great too.

    How long is your stem? What size Tikit do you have? It seems like they sell the bikes with longer top tubes and shorter stems to keep the fold compact.

  14. christian says:

    Hey– the stem is 12cm. It has a 17 degree rise. I have a size Large tikit. A shorter stem with no rise mounted higher up the riser tube would have gotten me in the same position. It’’s another part I already had. One nice thing about the Mary bars is that they don”t bring your hands much closer to your body than a straight bar might. I don”t know if that would be the case with the Jitensha/Nitto stem. I don”t notice much flex in the front-end (possibly because I have the riser tube all the way down inside the head tube), but the rear end sure is bouncy (fun, after you get used to it) in contrast with what I”m used to riding ( Surly LHT with 700×40c Marathons).

  15. christian says:

    hey– just came across this photo of the Jitensha/Nitto bars actually mounted http://www.cyclofiend.com/cc/2007/cc389-rayshine1007.html

    This photo gives a better sense of the stem one might need.

    p.s. definitely noticing the front end flex in my Tikit now that I”ve taken it on some longer rides. It’’s odd, but I think (hope) it’’s safe. Let me know if you come up with some stiffening solution.

  16. AlexWetmore says:

    Thanks. Those are some great photos. I ended up ordering the Origin-8 Space Bars, which appear to be clones of the On-One Mary bars. I also have a SRAM S7 and rim on the way to do an internal gear conversion on one of my Tikits.

  17. Re: Bike Fridays, I have a new New World Tourist that is really nice except for the gears. I have drops with bar-end shifters and Tiagra front and rear derailers. A Sora triple crank. I have trouble finding a straigt-running gear with little chain cross. Tuning chain rub out of the front derailer is a constant chore. I”m going to try a 50 instead of the stock 52T outer chainring. Any suggestions?