Monday, September 8, 2008

Bicycles, Vans & Land, man

That's a Bike Friday Tikit being ridden by Rob English, one of the designers, and an engineer / racer on staff. He's entering races with that bicycle, and placing respectably. All I can say for myself at 7:21pm was that I was washing dishes again. This photograph is way more interesting than hearing about carrot circles that fit perfectly into drain-holes. Those wheels are 16 x 1 3/8. This specific bicycle is decked out with a lot of options which would make it cost several thousand dollars - Campy Record brake/shifters, titanium seatmast - that kind of stuff. Washing dishes was pretty typical. Looking at this tiny pink high performance bicycle is exciting. It can fold into a very compact and secure package in 5 seconds according to Bike Friday - so maybe 15 seconds tops? No quick releases - it just snaps into a little package.

When comparing folding bicycles of several years ago, I would have said that the contest is between Bike Friday and Brompton for the best one. Choose a Bike Friday for performance and feeling the most like a "normal" bicycle - choose Brompton for the quickest, easiest fold into the smallest tightest package. It looks like Bike Friday made the Tikit to compete more directly with the Brompton. The Brompton sports the same 16 x 1 3/8" wheels, and both Bromptons and Tikits require no quick release fooling to fold. The Brompton has a variety of gearing options, but they're all based on either a single speed, or a 3 speed hub. The Tikit uses more typical gearing components (cassette hub), and the options for a build kit are close to infinite. If you can get by with the 16 x 1 3/8" wheels, it would seem to be the best choice. Those Bromptons look pretty classy, but in my mind, I think Bike Friday wins. I think the Brompton might have a little bit of a better fold.

I haven't ridden a Tikit yet, but I have ridden a Brompton. The steering is not the same as a big-wheeled bicycle. I think I would prefer my wheels to be at least 20 x 1.5" - and even then, you can't expect to ride hands-free. Something about the scientific gyroscopic-ness prevents it. Little wheels don't allow for much hands-free action. That said, I owned a 20" wheeled custom (bright pink) Bike Friday NWT, and I thought that bicycle was just awesome. It took me awhile, but especially now that I own such a small home, I'm finally kicking myself for selling it. At the time I sold it, I needed money and I could make great bicycles appear from thin air for next to free. Now I kinda want my little pink bicycle back.

As tempting as the quick fold and probably-awesome performance of the Tikit is, I'd probably prefer to stick with the 20" wheels and the somewhat slower fold. (Actually, I'll just stick with the awesome bicycles I already have until I'm rich again). That said - I'm a vandwelling person who requires an awesome bicycle and likes to travel. That smacks of the need for a really nice folding bicycle that can carry a load. Bike Friday. Until then, I'll keep my huge road bicycle beside me while I sleep, and my cheap travelin' bicycle strapped to the back of my house.

As my needs, situations, and land-owning status develop, I hope to move toward having one of these parked in the shade:

The ass-end of this house can store whatever bicycles I feel like having, which will allow me to silence myself and sit around a fire.


Anonymous said...


The Tikit's cool but a friend in Spokane had one of the first and complained about the handling. I think BikeFriday worked those kinks out but they are about to have serious competition from Pacific-Cycles' IF Mode, a full sized bike that folds simply and fast into an exceptionally compact package (for a full size folder).

Designed by Mark Sanders (the guy that invented the Strida), the IF Mode folds in about 3 seconds and rolls when folded. A hand hold is built into the frame so the bike can be pulled or pushed like a luggage trolley when folded. The drive train is enclosed, lowering maintenance.

The IF Mode is mega expensive as it is just being released at InterBike this year. Could a 16 or 20" wheeled IF Mini be coming in the near future? I think yes. Now that will be truly awesome.


Pixy Stoneskipper said...

Nah, man. Pacific Cycles? Are you kidding me? What's the deal with that wheel and those disc brakes? I barely have time for that. I cannot put this lightly: I do not trust that bicycle for one second. One sided fork? Klunk-ass looking frame? No me gusta, bro.

Just because you're selling it doesn't mean it's nearly in the same class as a Bike Friday or a Brompton, or, by the looks of it, should necessarily ever be purchased.