Combing my hair….

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Tikit – one year review

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So I have now had the Tikit for nearly a year and have used it as planned to get to work.

Statistics

Compared to the cost of driving, the bike-train-bike combination has saved me more than the price of the bike. Here are some usage statistics (road bike in brackets):

Work Trips: 106 (39)
Abandoned Trips: 1 (0)
Falls: 0 (1)

Leaving aside the 1 abandoned trip last week due to the heaviest snow in 20 years, it is clear that the Tikit has proved a reliable and stable means of transport, being used on two and a half times as many occasions as the road bike. It is also the case that the Tikit has endured worse weather than the road bike, so the comments should be read in that context.

Pimping my ride

The saddle was too wide for me so I swapped in a Selle Italia C2 Gel Saddle – about £15 from eBay.

selle-italia

I also put on some Time ATAC pedals, a Cateye front light, two Planet Bike rear blinkies and a cordless computer. The intention was to make the already light and nippy Tikit into something approaching a foldable road bike.After a few days I took the cover and the little bag it sits in off because I couldn’t see me using it and it spoils the line of the bike. Finally I bought some Ergon grips on Vik’s advice but todate have not got round to fitting them. time-atac

Later in the year I tired of carrying a rucksack and bought a rear rack from Bike Friday and an Altura Dryline Rackpack

rackpack

This bag has only a 7 litre capacity but serves pretty well holding a pump, wet weather over-trousers, reading matter for the train, mobile phone, memory sticks etc. It has a permanent part which straps to the rack and the bag itself is held in place by velcro and 3 clips, which makes removal prior to folding straightforward. It is completely watertight.

Finally, on the advice of the Bike Friday Yak Group I changed the brake blocks for Koolstop Salmon – more of this later.

What I like

The Tikit rides well, it is a bit twitchy compared to a bike with 700c tyres but that is to be expected. With practice it is easily stable enough to ride hands free.

The gear range – one of the things that attracted me in the first place – is more than adequate. The gear shift is smooth and precise.

The fold – slightly bigger than a Brompton – but simple with no fiddly unscrewing and works in seconds once you have the knack. It has meant I can get on trains which otherwise would have been barred to me. Actually Northern Trains aren’t too bad. They have a two bike policy, but the guard usually tolerates more. However the fold guarantees a place.

The fitted tyres – Schwalbe Marathon Plus – seem bomb proof. No punctures in the year. Others have complained about them, but I find they run quite nicely if kept at 85 psi.

Things I don’t like

The brakes. Very early on I decided the Tektro brake blocks were not doing the business on my very steep morning descents. The Koolstop Salmon blocks made an immediate difference, and I have been through two pairs. However this greater stopping efficiency comes at a price. After 11 months I noticed the rear rim was dangerously worn. Look at the concave profile below:-

img_3679

This came as a serious shock. A replacement 349 rim from St John Street Cycles would only be £11 but it would mean being off the road while the wheel was rebuilt. I ordered a new wheel and rode carefully for a week.

In a way this shouldn’t come as a shock. The much smaller 16 inch wheels are rotating far faster than 700c wheels for any given speed. I was using the bike in very hilly terrain and often on wet days. My riding style is hardly conservative, accelerating fast and then scrubbing off speed. The perfect recipe for wear. Nevertheless it is disappointing. I think it is probably something which is outside of Bike Friday’s control. There is little choice in 349 rims and certainly, to my knowledge, no one making rims with a ceramic coating.

The cleaning The Tikit’s chain line runs very close to the road and picks up the muck. If you want to get reasonable wear out of the chain, cassette and chainring you need to clean that muck off. And keep cleaning it off. Bike Friday make it easy by having a KMC chain with a magic link, but it still gets tiresome.

Conclusion

The Tikit is a great bike. It is a pleasure to ride. For me it has easily paid for itself in the last year. I think if the Seasons Tikit, with its Nexus hub gear, had been around a year ago I would have gone for it to save on cleaning. The brakes would not be an issue anywhere other than the hilliest city in England, but they are here in Sheffield. Which set me to thinking…but that’s another post.

Written by Gareth

February 8th, 2009 at 3:07 pm

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