Archive for the ‘tikit’ Category.

Chestertown, MD to Newark,DE bike ride

I’m on the east coast visiting my family this week. My mom and I enjoyed a nice mother’s day weekend on the Eastern Shore (of the Cheasapeake) andtoday I headed up to my dad’s house outside of Philadelphia.

I flew out here with my folding bike (Bike Friday Tikit). The $15 bag checking fee ($30 round trip) is annoying, but still cheaper and more enjoyable than renting a car. My clothing suitcase is a small carry-on bag from RickSteves that fits nicely on the front porteur rack. Ithelda few days worth of clothing, my laptop, camera, and other stuff.I had a saddlebag for tools and a few other items. My mom is driving up this way in a few days and will bring my bike suitcase along. I love the Tikit and it’s great for this type of trip. The i-Motion 9 that I put on there is working very nicely too.

The ride was an enjoyable route mostly on small 2-lane roads through farms. I didn’t hit any traffic until getting within spitting distance of Newark. At Newark I hopped on Septa (Philadelphia’s regional rail system) and took the train up to my dad’s house. The riding was about 60 miles and pretty flat. I think over here these would be called rolling hills, but in Seattle this would be called flat.

Thanks to Frank from for helping me with the route. He suggested about 70% of what I rode and his suggestions were spot on.

typical farms of the area

typical 2-lane blacktop.  No shoulders, but without traffic I don't need shoulders.

There are horse farms too

The bike

Taking the train up to Philadelphia.  The saddlebag goes into the suitcase when the suitcase isn't on the bike.

All photos (most of them are on here already).

Notes from my previous similar trip. I took a different route, but the scenery is similar.

I’ll come back later and link to the route on Bikely.

Seasons Speeding Tikit Porteur

I’ve finished my most recent round of hacking on my Bike Friday Tikit.

Side view with lots of visual clutter, making it hard to see the bike.

I callit the Seasons SpeedingTikit Porteur. Seasons because that is what Bike Friday calls the Tikit with an internal hub. Speeding because that is what they call it when you put on drop bars. Porteur because it has a (mini) porteur rack up front.

i9 hub, new dropouts

The new rear hub is a SRAM i-Motion 9 (or i9). The i9 conversion benefited from some brazing of the bike’s rear triangle. I switched the dropouts to the pivoting dropouts that Bike Friday makes. I also had to move the rear canti studs a bit. I made a photo essay of swapping out the dropouts. The i9 seems to work well and has a nice gear range. I had originally planned on building a custom bar-end shifter, but gave up on that project. The rear triangle will get fresh powdercoat soon.

The drop bars make the quick fold a bit wide, but remove the stem and it gets narrower than a stock tikit. I don’t need a compact quick fold very often, so this is a good compromise for me. I can ride on drop bars all day long, but flat bars hurt my hands after 20 miles or so. I really love the Tikit fold, it is very fast and all of the dirty bits on the bike get folded to the inside.

I made the mini-porteur rack a long time ago and it continues to function well. It looks really dressed up with the black powder coat.

The Tektro V-brake drop-bar levers are a lot more comfortable than the Diacompe 287-V option. They seem to work pretty well on the front, but the rear is a bit spongy from the long cable run. The levers work better if your V-brakes have shoes at the top of the slot than at the bottom.

I hacked up my favorite MKS Grip King pedals to have a quick release MKS EZ axle. This lets them pop off of the bike in an instant to make the fold smaller. Taking axles out of $60 pedals and putting them into $50 pedals is an expensive solution, I wish MKS just offered these with the quick release axle as stock.

I’m taking the bike on a train ride with me soon and looking forward to giving it a real test.

Accurately Measuring Cable Pull

I promissed some bike subjects again, and you can’t get too much geekier than this one.

I’m (slowly) working on converting my Bike Friday Tikit to use a SRAM i-Motion 9 internal hub. This bike will have drop bars and I want to convert a Shimano 9sp barend shifter to work with the hub. To do so I needed a way to measure cable pull very accurately.

I built two devices to do this, but I only took photos of the second and far more successful one:

Cable pull measuring device

And here is another shot of the back of it:

This was really easy to make. I used a digital scale that came off of the Digital Readout for my mill. These scales are just like digital calipers and can measure how far the slider in the center moves up and down along the ruler. I drilled and tapped a hole in a block of aluminum that fit a cable housing stop that I had lying around. The block is bolted onto one end of the scale. The center (sliding portion) of the scale has a cable clamp. The other side of the clamp connects a spring to the far end of the scale.

Twist the shifter (or move the lever of a barend shifter) and the scale moves and reports how far it went. These digital scales read out in millimeters or inches and let you reset them anywhere, so it is trivial to measure the motion per click.

I did that and generated this spreadsheet (yeah, it is lame to embed this as an image):

A Travel Agent is simply a cable pull amplifier using two concentric pulleys. It looks like this (image borrowed from Amazon):

The stock pulley amplifies cable pull with a 2:1 ratio. To make the i9 work with the Shimano shifter I need to make a new pulley with a 1:3.6 ratio. You can’t fit a much larger pulley on the Travel Agent, so that means a 32mm outer pulley to 8.9mm inner pulley. That isn’t a hard item to make on the lathe.

I hope to report back on how the whole system functions soon. I still need to build the wheel and install it into the bike.

Some Projects Wrap Up, Others Begin….

I rode about 60 miles on the Cycle Truck during the last week. During the week I was just riding it as a naked bike, but yesterday I fashioned together a basic container using a recycle bin and some muffler clamps. It’ll do until I have a chance to build a real front rack (right now I’m waiting on metal, tools, and my bag!).

Muffler clamps and U-channel make a temporary rack

Alistair gives it a spin around the block

I really enjoyed those 60 miles. It’s really exciting to ride something that I built and have it work. This brazing stuff is addicting. The Cycle Truck handles well but my temporary cargo box is pretty mediocre and has a lot of flex in it. There is more to do too (building the rack, a lot of finishing work, re-routing the shift cables along the top tube, installing fenders). I still hauled a decent amount of stuff in it this weekend and the bike is already proving it’s worth. I’ll probably keep quiet on the Cycle Truck until the new rack is done.

The deck is complete. We used these neat hidden fasteners called EB-TY so it just looks like one great expanse of wood. It is sectional so we can partially disassemble it should we need to do any roof repairs. We still need to put a railing up, but it is really nice to see the deck finished. I think the tigerwood looks pretty cool too.

After today’s riding and deck building I celebrated with this nice dinner:

Salmon (from Loki at the farmer's market), pea+broc+tomato salad (also all from the market), a little sticky rice, and some La Fin du Monde

I promised some new projects too. Today I rode out to Aaron’s Bicycle Repair and picked up a SRAM i-Motion 9 hub. This is going on a Bike Friday Tikit. I know, I already converted a Bike Friday Tikit to have an internal hub gear (and now even Bike Friday is doing it). I have something up my sleeve for this conversion that’ll make it more interesting. The hub came from Aaron’s Bicycle Repair (what other shop in the US stocks all of this internal hub gear stuff) and came home on the Cycle Truck.

The other project is a mountain bike. I sold my mountain bike at the swap a few years ago and haven’t missed it. My cyclocross-ish IvyCycles and RB-T do nicely off road almost all the time. However we’re spending a week surrounded by mountain bike trails late this summer and I thought it would be nice to have a real mountain bike available. If I don’t ride it much compared to the IvyCycles then it’ll be on the chopping block. If I find that 60mm tires really do make a difference compared to 40mm ones then it might stick around. I bought the bike as a single speed but will be putting a Rohloff rear wheel (which is going on yet another future project) on it for now.

Wheels and a saddle came with the bike too

Big Load, Little Bike

This was taken after I collectedmy stuff from the BikeShack’s homebrew tasting benefit party on Sunday. It was a great event and raised a good amount of money for the Shack. They were broken into a few months ago and many of the valuable tools were stolen. Their rent also went up quite a bit recently. The benefit was raising money to help with both issues.

A pretty heavy full size cooler up front, three homebrew kegs (one mostly full, two mostly empty) in the trailer. Total load probably in the 100-150lb range.

I’m guessing that Bike Friday wouldn’t approve, but the setup handled great.

This load is nothing compared to Remi, Lee, and Kelly from point83 moving Remi by bike from Lynnwood to Roosevelt in the rain and snow. You can’t tell from this photo, but that is a full size mattress on the trailer closest to the house.

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.

Tikit followup

This is a followup to my previous mini-report on the Bike Friday Tikit. I took it on a 10 day trip to Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and Saugerties, NY. This involved two flights and a lot of car travel. I used the bike for 3 twenty mile rides, mostly in the Saugerties/Woodstock area. The rides were really enjoyable and gave me time to explore some of the backroads that we don’t see while driving around the area. Once back in Philadelphia my brother and I went for a nice around Springfield Township. This is all riding that I wouldn’t have done without a bike along, but none of it would really be enough to justify bringing a full size bicycle.

The Tikit packs almost as fast as Bike Friday says. It takes me a little bit longer due to the drop bars and my front rack (which has two bolts), but it packs much more quickly than my New World Tourist did. Everything that I need to remove is easy to adjust, unlike the NWT where I removed the cranks, derailleurs, and other major components. I’d guess that I’m packing the bike in about 15 minutes, and unpacking it in about 10. There is a lot (almost too much) of extra space in the suitcase and I had no problems storing my rack, shoes,water bottle,and tools in there with the bike.

The fold is really fast. On Wednesday I used the Tikit to bike commute (which involves a bus). I arrived at Montlake bus stop and started folding the bus. I looked up and a bus was arriving, but I still had time to put the cover on the bike. My Tikit folds wider than stock (due to the drop bars), but it still makes a fairly compact package that was easy to carry aboard.

I’m happy with the gearing that I have on there (54t chainring, 11-34 cassette, which gives me 25 to 80 gear inches). In Saugerties I rode up some very steep unpaved roads and they were challenging but no more so than on my other bikes. The bike handled nicely when coming back down them too.

I emailed the service department about the little bit of play that I had in the hinge that holds the stem. 15 minutes later I had a phone calll from the owner of Bike Friday (Hanz). He gave me some suggestions and I’ve been able to eliminate most of the play. I’m very happy with the companies service.

All in all I’m very impressed. I’d still suggest the Bike Friday New World Tourist for someone who wants to fly to a destination and spend a week on the bike. If you are primarily using the bike for shorter trips and mixing in a lot of other forms of transit (bus, car, train) I’d suggest the Tikit. It rides almost as nicely and folds much more quickly. I don’t think I’d have any problem doing some light touring (overnighters) on the Tikit.

What would I change now that I have a bit more experience with it? I still think that the bike would be better with an internal gear hub. I’ll be putting one on after I learn more about the SRAM i9. I want to tweak the design of my front rack a little bit and wish that Bike Friday had a better system of their own for carrying cargo. A second water bottle cage might be nice. It could be a little cheaper orcome with nicer components. All of these are minor complaints — it really is a very nice folder. It’s a nice blend of folding fast, folding pretty compactly, fitting into a airline-legal suitcase, and riding pretty well. There are many folding designs that can do some of these things, but not many that do them all.

Bike Friday Tikit mini-report

My Bike Friday Tikit arrived last week. I found it at my house around 5:15pm and had it unpacked and ready to ride by 5:30. The bike unpacks really fast and I enjoyed my first ride on it (with a few component exceptions).

Over the weekend I converted it to drop bars and made a front porteur rack for it. I made the following changes:

  • Changed from flat bars to drop bars
  • Installed adapters to make the V-brakes work with drop bar levers. I’ll probably change the levers to Diacompe 287-V sometime in the future…I really don’t like V-brake adapters.
  • Swapped the 175mm crank arms for 170mm ones.
  • Changed the cassette from an 11-28 to an 11-34. This also required swapping the rear derailleur to handle the larger cogs. When the SRAM i9 hub is available I expect to switch to that.
  • Installed my favorite saddle and pedals.

The front rack was a little tricky to make. I wanted to make it pack easily and didn’t want it to interfere with the fold.I originally made the rack platform a little large and had to remove about 1cm from the left to clear the front tire. When the bike is folded the saddle rests inside the rack. I don’t think that this will be my final design, I want to experiment with a triangular rack platform to reduce the size and eliminate any chances of saddle interference. This design does work for now and my first couple of trips.

I took the bike for a test ride today and it rides pretty well.There is a little bit of play in the stem hinge, but I expect that I can adjust that out. The rest of the frame seems to be very stout.

The fold on this bike is amazing. With a little practice (it took me about 5 tries to get the hang out of it) it folds down in a few seconds. My first attempt was not pretty and took significantly longer (but Josh and Cam probably got a laugh out of it). Once folded everything is secured nicely by a single latch and there are no traditional quick releases. My front rack and the drop bars make it a little wider than a stock Tikit, but it is still reasonably small. The fold protects the drivetrain (and keeps the greasy chain away packed away in the middle). More importantly it doesn’t put the handlebars in the middle which makes converting to drop bars possible. This is not true of many folders by Downtube and Dahon.

It packed into the suitcase quickly. This was my first attempt at packing it and I had to figure out a new packing method to work with the drop bars, but it still packed more quickly than my old New World Tourist. I had to loosen six bolts: seatpost, stem riser, pedals, front fender, and handlebar clamp. The stock handlebars don’t even require you to loosen the handlebar clamp. It’s a big change from my New World Tourist where I remove the handlebars, saddle, derailleurs, left crank,and pedals.

I think it’ll be a winner.

If you want more details on the Tikit I recommend reading the review by The Folding Society.

It’s hard to find details on the components on the stock Tikit. I expect that they are still figuring out the best component list. Here is what my bike came with:

  • Flat handlebars with SRAMMRX Gripshift,Tektro V-brake levers, foam grips, and a bell.
  • Microshift rear derailleur. I have no experience with this companies components, but it seems to be okay (it’s better built than the plastic Shimano Sora rear derailleur)
  • Tektro V-brakes. I’ve had some problems with the return spring popping off of the spring tension screw. When I go to the SRAM i9 I expect to use a hub brake in the rear and better V-brakes up front.
  • The wheels have Joytech hubs, un-branded rims, and 24 spokes. The front hub is narrower than a normal hub. The stock cassette is made by SRAM, 8sp, and 11-28.
  • The headset is made by Diacompe and appears to be 1 1/8″ threadless. I haven’t pulled apart the front end to figure out exactly how their steerer and headset arrangement works.
  • The tires are Schwable Marathon. These tires can ride a little rough, but are a pretty good choice for a utility oriented bike.
  • The saddle is a pretty typical plastic/gel saddle. I actually found this to be more comfortable than I expected.
  • The crankset is a generic 130mm BCD crank. The large Tikit comes with 175mm crank arms. The chainring has 53 or 54t and there is a matching chainguard ring. The bottom bracket is a generic cartridge bottom bracket.
  • The seatpost is a Kalloy Uno.
  • Planet Bike Fenders. The rear one has a custom stay that allows the bike to stand on the fender when folded.

When I first saw a Tikit I was a little underwhelmed by the component spec, but upon riding the bike I realized that it really wasn’t too bad. The spent money on some of the most important parts such as tires. I think the first model really should have used an internal gear hub, but the derailleur setup does work pretty well.