So a while back I posted a safety notice from Bike Friday regarding a potential problem with some Tikit seat masts [called aardvarks in BF lingo]. When I inspected my Tikit it did indeed have a small crack in the area in question. The Season Tikit that has essentially become Kurt’s daily ride has no such crack even though he rides his Tikit 10 times harder than I do mine…oh well who said life was fair?…=-)
Because my Tikit is nearly two years old it’s not made the same as the current model and so I have to send it back to Bike Friday so they can build me a new aardvark. Since my Tikit is my “go to” bike for daily rides in downtown Calgary I’ll miss the little guy a lot, but the nice thing is he’ll be better than ever when I get him back. Plus he’ll get to visit all his buddies back at Bike Friday HQ in Oregon. So all in all not a tragedy.
There has been lots of chatter online about the safety notice from Bike Friday and what it means for people thinking about buying a Tikit. I haven’t posted my thoughts until now because I wanted to mull things over as well as see how everything played out. It’s been a few months so I thought I’d post something from the perspective of a long time Tikit owner.
First off how has the crack in my Tikit’s seat mast affected me so far? Not at all. I’ve just kept on riding the bike and keeping an eye on the crack. It isn’t propagating noticeably and I had a busy summer so I wasn’t motivated to do anything about the problem. I will be sending my Tikit off to Bike Friday soon and I expect I’ll lose it for 3-4 weeks including shipping time. That’s really the only downside to the whole situation.
How do I feel about the fact my Tikit has a design issue? Well the biggest factor contributing to my decision to buy a Tikit was the cutting edge design. I own a Dahon and have friends with Bromptons. Compared to these folders and any others I’ve been able to get my hands on, the Tikit is at a completely different level of performance. It fits better, it rides better, it folds faster and it rolls better when folded. To put it even more plainly my Tikit changed my life and how I move about town on a bike. I love my Tikit and I would love it to be perfect. I would love for it to be a flawless design. But, it’s not. Bike Friday tested the Tikit and decided at some point it was ready for production and sale. In retrospect there is a small, but serious issue that needs attention. I have to ask myself would I rather have been riding a Tikit for 2 years and having a blast or would I rather Bike Friday had tested it for two more years and found this issue? That’s a no brainer – I’m stoked to have had my Tikit all this time. In fact I knew as an early adopter of the Tikit that one of the risks was a design flaw cropping up. In balance I feel I came out way ahead by getting a Tikit back in Dec ’07.
I’m a big believer that you really only get to know people when they are faced with a crisis. It’s easy to be friendly when everything is going well, but when the chips are down you get to see who your friends really are. Well in this respect the crack in my Tikit’s aardvark has shown me Bike Friday’s true colours. For a small company in the midst of a difficult recession having to spend a lot of money resolving a defect on a popular model is a huge challenge. I’m impressed that Bike Friday didn’t try to shirk their responsibility on this issue. They did the responsible thing and notified owners that could be affected. They also provided a free solution to prevent the problem from happening in the form of an aardvark brace. Cracked aardvarks are being repaired. It would be nice if everyone could be perfect, but since that’s not likely to happen anytime soon I’ll happily take proactive and responsible. I understand that a new aardvark design is in the works and should go into production shortly.
I’ll be cleaning up my Tikit today and getting it ready to ship back to Bike Friday for repair. I’ll have it back in time for the two us to celebrate our 2 year anniversary…=-) At some point Bike Friday will do a major revamp of the Tikit making even better than it currently is. The new design will get tested before it goes into production, but there will still be a chance something might crop up in the first while. And I’ll be lining up to get one of the first Tikits that rolls off the line because I know it will be an amazing ride and that Bike Friday has my back.