The Right Tool for the Job: Bike Friday Tikit Commutes
Over our many years together, the relationship between my Bike Friday Tikit and me has been nothing if not tumultuous. Compared to my full-size bikes, its ride is stiff and twitchy, the position upright, and the reach a little short.
The Tikit’s ability to carry a load is limited when I contrast it to a bike like my Surly LHT, which is made for a person to run away from home with everything they own somehow attached to the frame.
Recently I had been toying with selling the Bike Friday Tikit, but events occurred for a time such that I was without a good parking situation for my regular full-size commuters. Suddenly the Tikit became an interim solution for my bike parking issues, and I began to use it for its intended purpose– short-distance commutes that end with the bike neatly folded under my desk.
I admit I was reluctant to ride the Tikit, due to a poor decision during the 2013 federal government shutdown. I made the Tikit my steed of choice for an unplanned century ride, including 40 miles on the unpaved C&O Canal. This made for a long day on stiff little wheels that prefer pavement and a 13 miles per hour average speed.
But a five-mile commute is a long way from a century, and more in line with the Tikit’s authentic self. My commute has some roll to it, but overall it’s fairly flat. The Tikit’s eight gears (which Felkerino adjusted to seven functioning gears due to the severe chain line from the front cog to the rear) are more than enough for my daily rides.
To carry my daily essentials I use a Carradice Super C Rack Bag. My carrying capacity is more limited with this setup, but the Carradice stores more than it appears capable of upon first look. My lunch, workout clothes, and purse all fit tidily into this bag.
After arriving outside my work building, I remove the Carradice from the rear rack and throw it over my shoulder by its carrying strap. I push the Tikit’s seat mast forward and loosen the head tube so that the handlebars and head tube fall back to the side of the bike as a piece.
Using the handle on the frame, I flip the rear wheel under the bike until it clicks into position beside the front wheel, and push the bike toward its final destination for the day. Under my desk.
When I first began folding the Tikit, I was surprised by the weakness in my arms. I had to keep switching the hand I used to wheel the folded bike along.
It also took time to get a feel for how to wheel the Tikit around in its small state. The Tikit does not fold down nearly as compactly as a Brompton, but I am satisfied with its fold, which I don’t find particularly bulky. However, even though the Tikit appears small while folded, it is still a steel bike I’m pushing around.
I could feel my pushing technique and arm strength improving the more I used the bike. Regularly use of something will do that, I think.
To reassemble the bike is simple as well, and essentially takes three steps: I flip the rear wheel back where it belongs; lift the seat mast up; and raise the head tube and handlebars and screw them tightly onto the frame. I then attach the Carradice trunk bag with the four handy velcro strips, and I’m off.
The circumstances behind riding my Tikit were not ideal, but the resulting affection for my folding bike was an unexpected positive outcome. “Good job, bike!” Every day I found myself complimenting the Tikit for its overall usefulness and ability to fit into narrow spaces. And for short distances, the Tikit has a comfortable fit and riding feel.
Through this experience I also learned that confusion remains about how folding bikes are viewed in the big bicycle landscape. Some would treat all bikes the same. It doesn’t matter that they fold, nor how small they become when folded. They belong on a bike rack or locked up somewhere, just like any other bike.
Others see a folding bike such as the Tikit as a go-anywhere steed, suitable for pushing thrugh hallways and stashing under a desk or in your grocery shopping cart. After all, isn’t that one of the main selling points of a compact fast-folding bike? In its folded state, it becomes something other than a bike, like a small piece of luggage to carry with you. But there are those who don’t share this point of view. Folding bikes fall in the gray area of bikes and bike-related policies.
Circumstances have since changed and I’m back to riding big wheels for my daily rides, and my Tikit rests in a corner of the Dining Room Bike Shop, eagerly awaiting the next time its services can help me out of a tight spot.