Switching It Up: Bike Friday Tikit Commutes

Photo courtesty of @sharrowsDC
Photo courtesty of @sharrowsDC

Last week someone asked me how many bikes I own. I generally deflect this question because anyone who is surrounded by bad influences (I’m looking at you, Felkerino) and has the money can purchase multiple bikes. So I have more than one bike, but do not consider it any sort of accomplishment.

That said, the question was a good prompt to look in the Dining Room Bike Shop and switch up my commute steed. If a person owns multiple bikes I do think they should, you know, ride them.

I’ve been riding my Rivendell Quickbeam almost exclusively because it’s the best bike– shhh, please don’t tell– but that doesn’t mean the other bikes don’t need love, too.

Riding the Tikit up through Glover Park. Time out for a photo.
Riding the Tikit up through Glover Park. Time out for a photo.

I’m in a local training this week, but it is an eight-mile ride across town. The way to training is a steady uphill, making the return a nice swoopy downhill glide. The idea of having gears for the week also held great appeal.

I saw the Bike Friday Tikit resting quietly in a corner. I pulled it out, dusted it off, pumped up the tires (stupid Schrader valves), and put a Carradice trunk rack. “I choose you, Tikit!”

“Fine,” the Tikit seemed to say. “But don’t rush me and don’t take me beyond the Beltway.” This bike has a personality of the what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind.

Bike Friday Tikit
Don’t mind me

The Tikit’s ride is definitely unique to the other bikes I own. My position is more upright than my other bikes and the reach is fairly short. If I try to push on the pedals to make the bike go beyond its preferred speed of what I estimate is 12 miles per hour the bike resists me.

Carrying capacity is low, right above the little wheel in the rear. If I stand up to pedal the bike dances strangely with me. It takes a couple of miles to adjust to the additional weight on that part of the bike as opposed to being in a Carradice bag hooked directly to the saddle.

Finding the beauty in the Bike Friday Tikit
Finding the beauty in the Bike Friday Tikit

Once I accept the Tikit for what it is or, as Felkerino says, I stop fighting the bike, the ride becomes quite pleasant. I settle into the Tikit’s optimal rolling speed, I do the uphill dance on the pedals, and the bike begins to feel like a great commuter.

I did make an unfortunate turn onto one of the old cobblestone streets in Georgetown and I will tell you that a stiff, little-wheeled bike is NOT a good match for that surface. Luckily, all my teeth are still intact.

On the up-side I rode home via the double hairpin and the Tikit passed the double hairpin test. “I may not be speedy, but I am somewhat dextrous, you hapless human,” the bike said.

@sharrowsDC and the Surly Ogre
@sharrowsDC and the Surly Ogre

I would also like to thank my friend Brian, aka @sharrowsDC, for the fine company and creative route choice for the ride home. Brian also made the tricky double hairpin without putting a foot down. Skillz and small victoreez.

8 thoughts on “Switching It Up: Bike Friday Tikit Commutes

  1. I’ve been riding the Tikit’s big sister, a New World Tourist, daily this summer. It’s a blast to ride but I have to watch out for ruts in the road or I’m gonna be in a world of hurt. I wish Bike Friday would sell a version of its bikes without the folding mechanism. That bike would be a BLAST!

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  2. I would love to be able to switch bikes but I only own one. I’d love to have more but I don’t have anywhere to put them. My trusty steed lives in the rather narrow hallway in my flat, and I already have to do a little dance to get past him. Trying to squeeze another bike in there is out of the question.

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  3. Great post as usual Mary, but I have to stand up for all Tikit’s everywhere and take offense at your labeling it as slow!! 😉

    I’ve been commuting with my Bike Friday Tikit for nearly five years and find it anything BUT slow. I know you are really referring to top speed here, so my comments are somewhat disingenuous, but it should be pointed out that the Tikit has multiple gear options. If you so choose you can have a full range of gears equal to most road bikes and your top speed would be no different than any of them. I think that model is called the Speeding Tikit, but they might have changed the name recently.

    I have a Season Tikit which has a Shimano Nexus 8 IGH. The gear range is around 307%, but mine was designed as a commuter. I think my top easy cruising speed is 16-17 MPH the way I peddle, so yes top speed isn’t great on mine either. The Shimano Alfine 11 is on my wish list for the future. That will take care of the top speed issue. Again, not a priority as my Tikit is my commuter and no longer goes on 50-60 mile rides.

    Where Tikit’s are absolutely not slow in the least is acceleration. I commute in downtown San Francisco, and I can tell you the Tikit is faster off the line than any bike I have come across. It’s not that I am so awesome either, but the 16″ wheels accelerate much faster than larger wheels. I get annoyed when I am at a light, waiting my proper place, and some fixie or roadie pulls up arrogantly ahead of me. When the light goes green, I take great pleasure in wheeling around them and leaving them in the dust. It annoys and puzzles them to no end…

    You did point out how your Tikit made that double hairpin turn which you have mentioned before. Maneuverability is another great point of all small wheeled bikes. Yes, it hurts more when you hit a bump, but it is also much easier to avoid them too!

    I’m wondering if part of the issue is you putting weight on the rack.Though it has one, it’s not really made for it. Bike Friday’s service people will tell you the rear rack is better looked at as a stand for the bike when folded than for carrying “stuff,” though it can do it.

    In any case, I never have put anything on the rack simply because I got mine for it’s quick folding ability, getting on an off the train and into my office building. I love being able to fold and unfold my bike in 3-4 seconds (I’ve gotten pretty good at in five years.) Luggage would defeat the purpose, so I wear a backpack. I don’t know if it would make a difference but it might be something you might try as an experiment?

    As always, love your posts! Keep them coming!

    Ty

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    1. Hi Ty, thanks for your thoughts on the Tikit’s ride. Kept meaning to write you back, but was hard to do via my phone or iPad. I actually did not realize they were making different types of Tikits. When mine was purchased, there was only one model. I think you are right about the weight of the bag affecting the feel of the bike. Also, I think this bike is undergeared, i.e., it is easy for me to spin out on it on the flats. I could use a backpack and that probably would improve the handling, but I prefer using the trunk and keeping the weight off my back. Actually, if I decide to ride this bike much more, I will likely switch to an internal hub for it. I think that would better suit this commuter steed. It was sure fun to ride it again, and it definitely liked getting its picture taken all over town, ha ha!

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      1. Hey Mary,

        Mine has the Nexus 8 IGH. It is nice and convenient, especially for commuting. It would be a good upgrade. As I indicated, I’m thinking about going to the Afine 11. A bit overkill, but I just love the thought of having that full range of gears.

        Also, I didn’t realize you had an older Tikit, but after looking at the pictures more closely I can see it now. Hopefully, you have been in touch with Bike Friday about some important safety upgrades:

        1. Steering Mast:

        This is pretty important. Bike Friday is literally telling Tikit owners NOT to ride their Tikit’s until it gets replaced for free by them. They went above and beyond tracking owners down. Hopefully, they reached you. If not, check this link and get in touch with them:

        https://www.bikefriday.com/blog/?p=992

        2. Safety Brace for old seatmast- Not as vital, I don’t see it on yours, but it could just be the picture. This goes on the bottom of the seat mast, basically on the carrying handle and completes a triangle. BIke Friday was finding there was tendency of this part to crack some years back.

        I had bought mine right when this happened in 2009 and mine already had it installed. I later upgraded to the new seatmast, which at the time was round $200, but I was happy to do it as it made the bike a lot nicer to push around by the handle and looked nicer as well.

        Here is a link to the Tikit wiki where more details can be found:

        http://cs.gmu.edu/~sean/stuff/tikit/wiki/pmwiki.php/Maintenance/HomePage

        Here is a link to VIk Banerjee’s blog with pictures of the new seatmast:

        http://thelazyrando.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/new-tikit-seatmast-2/

        I hope this is all old news to you! Let me know if there’s anything I can do.

        Ty

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  4. I ride an Express Tikit when I want to keep the lock at home. It has a 10 speed cassette. That is it. Very nimble and fast. Fold instantly to take into the grocery store. Never worry about theft. Always answering questions from strangers. Love it.

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