2yrs of Bike Friday Tandem Traveller XL Riding…

29 03 2013
Sharon eager to ride...

Sharon eager to ride…

It’s been a little over 2 years since we took home our Bike Friday Tandem Traveller XL. It’s 20″ wheeled travel tandem that packs into a suitcase and a half for travel or storage. This is our first tandem bicycle so our opinions are based on lots of Bike Friday riding, but near zero “normal” tandem rides.

I’m going to tackle 3 issues that were of concern when I was doing my pre-purchase research for this bike and discuss them now that we have some time under our tandem belts. If you want to read my previous tandem posts just click here and my tandem Flickr photos are here.

Maintenance

When I asked around in tandem forums about Bike Friday tandems I had several people tell me they required tons of maintenance to stay functional. That the shifting and braking would go out of whack and the frame needed to be checked and adjusted frequently. I’m lazy and I wasn’t super excited to spend a ton of time working on this bike. Since it’s a tandem it often sits all week and then gets pulled out last minute on the weekend when we decide to do something in town. Not having a reliable bike we can just jump on would curtail a lot of our tandem riding.

I’m happy to report that the tandem has been utterly reliable for us. I built it up following Bike Friday’s owner’s manual. It was my first Bike Friday build as my other Fridays came professionally assembled from the factory. So this bike was built up just like anyone who landed at a touring destination would build up their new tandem. The only maintenance I’ve done to it so far was adjusting the tension of the timing chain last week before the Victoria Populaire. That took 2mins and I took care of it outside a coffee shop while Sharon procured some java.

Handling

I was prepared for a significant learning curve when I got the tandem. I didn’t want to crash and kill Sharon’s tandem stoke. So I had a bunch of Sunday empty parking lot training sessions planned to ease into it. Our enthusiasm got the better of us and we ended up spending 3-4hrs on our first ride going into downtown to run errands. Perhaps it was my years of cargo bike experience, but the tandem was a no brainer to ride. We mixed it up with heavy car traffic that first ride with total confidence.

This spring we dusted off the tandem after a 3 month layoff and the first few pedal strokes were tentative, but after 30 seconds we felt right at home and started bombing around at full tilt. That gives us a lot of confidence when starting off a 100 person group ride in the middle of the pack where holding your line and reacting to other riders’ goofiness is a requirement.

Performance

Having owned a number of small wheeled recumbents and folding bikes I know that small wheels don’t equal slow, but that said they don’t automatically equal fast either. Combine that with the unknown performance just due to the fact it’s a tandem and I had some concerns we wouldn’t be satisfied with the bike’s performance for demanding rides.

As it turns out our speed over a significant distance [50-100kms] is a respectable 20kph which includes traffic lights and stop signs, etc… That’s with no training and we definitely have some extra power we could generate by syncing our pedal strokes better. During groups rides we end up right where we should be in terms of the riders and bikes we finish with. For a fully equipped touring bike powered by some middle age recreational cyclists our Bike Friday tandem isn’t letting us down.

For comparison my solo high performance rando bike average speed is ~25kph for longer rides.

I have no doubt that we could design and build a performance oriented tandem that would be faster, but for our current needs the ease of storage and touring capabilities of our Bike Friday are a better fit than a tandem designed to ride faster. We could also do more targeted training to get faster, but we prefer to blame any lack of speed on the bike, hills and/or wind! ;)

Seems like we have a winner...

Seems like we have a winner…

Sharon has been through a number of stoker bar options on the tandem. She couldn’t adapt to drop bars and she tried some flat bars with better results, but not total satisfaction. So we are now using some Thorn comfort bars with Ergon Grips that have built in bar ends. So far Sharon’s been happy with them and I think we’ll be sticking with this setup for the foreseeable future.





Making a Brompton…

22 11 2012




Bike Friday Tikit Stem Mast Solution…

13 10 2012

Click image to jump to stem replacement form…

I’m reposting an email from Bike Friday which provides the info you need to get your Tikit rolling again.

“Dear Bike Friday tikit owners:

We know you are anxious to get back on your tikit. We have finalized the first steps of the replacement process.

We will build replacement stems for the 3,800 tikits spread around the world, and will work with each of you to see that your stem is replaced and you are back on your tikit as quickly as we can.

We will send the replacement stem directly to you or your Bike Friday dealer, your choice. We will reimburse tikit owners with a stipend for the labor cost of installing the replacement stem. tikit owners in the USA will be asked to send their defective stems back to us for disposal.

We can’t express how deep our gratitude is for the continuing support and patience of all tikit owners. We were humbled by the response to our call for financing ideas to enable us to move faster with our process than we would be able to do otherwise. We are working on that while we continue to move ahead at best speed. Already several people have come forward so that our confidence is much improved.

We are making progress in lining up material and the additional manpower necessary to build replacement tikit stems.

One of the biggest challenges in the next phase will be deciding what order to replace the stems. Thank you to those who already have offered to wait while those in urgent need are taken care of first.

This form is somewhat extensive and detailed, as we do need all this information to implement each stem replacement. We also give you the opportunity to rate your level of urgency so we can make sure those who rely on their tikits everyday can be serviced as soon as possible.

Please fill out the STEM REPLACEMENT FORM that you need to have to get a new stem as quick as possible. This is IN ADDITION to the registration for updates form and inspection survey we have previously asked you to fill out. Sorry for so many forms.

You can find all information pertaining to the stem issue at this link to our website.

If you know of any other tikit owners who may not be reading their e-mail please pass this message on to them. We want to find everyone!

Thank you again for your patience.

Alan Scholz, Co-Founder, Bike Friday

Bike Friday tikit owners hot line phone number: 541-683-0175, International +1 541-683-0175

Bike Friday tikit owners email tikitowners@bikefriday.com”





Bike Friday Tikit Stem Safety Inspection…

3 10 2012

Click to jump to the Tikit inspection protocol…

Bike Friday is advising owners that they should check their Tikit’s stem mast for cracks. You can click on the image above to jump to the web page with instructions for the required inspection protocol. You can register your Tikit at this link to ensure you receive info from Bike Friday about this issue.

Bike Friday is telling Tikit owners not to ride their bikes until the problem is fully investigated. That’s definitely the most cautious route and it makes sense for them given the potential liability costs of even one accident.

My understanding is that this problem has affected 5 bikes out of 4000 that have been made so far. Clearly a stem mast failure is serious, but it’s not common problem.

Personally I inspected my Tikit and I have no cracks so I’ll continue to ride my bike, but I’ll check the stem mast every week to ensure that no cracks start. To be clear that’s a personal risk assessment. I’m not recommending Tikit owners ride their bikes or suggesting it’s safe. If you choose to ride your Tikit you do so at your own risk.

I appreciate the head’s up from Bike Friday about this. I’m sure they’ll figure out what’s going on and resolve the issue fully for their customers. Sharon’s keen on getting a Tikit at some point and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another bike from Bike Friday.

I’ve been doing stupid stuff like this on my Tikit since 2007…

I have been unofficially torture testing my Tikit by riding down stairs and jumping off curbs since 2007. My stem mast hinge is in perfect shape. Again not a recommendation that you try the same stuff with your bike, but I just wanted to put things in perspective.





Bike Friday NWT – Sold

10 08 2012

My trusty Bike Friday NWT…

Update – NWT is sold  – thanks!

I’m sad to post this bike for sale, but I’ve come to the realization that any far flung bike touring I’m going to do will be on my Bike Friday tandem with Sharon – not solo on my NWT. This Bike Friday NWT is in excellent condition with a gorgeous paint job and is fully setup for touring or commuting. Everything is in nearly new shape with nothing required for several years of riding.

NWT Specs:

  • 58cm effective top tube frame
  • Shimano Nexus 8 IGH with JTek bar end shifter
  • Shimano 105 cranks [53T x 23T gearing]
  • Velocity rims [Aeroheat front and rear]
  • Shimano Dynohub wheel with Velocity Razor rim
  • Greenspeed Scorcher 20″ 40mm tires
  • Shimano V-brakes with Koolstop pads
  • Cane Creek V-brake compatible drop bar levers
  • Shimano Sora front derailleur with Dura Ace bar end shifter
  • Salsa stem
  • Bike Friday folding travel racks
  • Bike Friday travel fenders
  • 2 water bottle mounts with 1 bottle cage + 2 Bike Friday watter bottles [unused]

What the NWT looks like ready to pack for travel…

Extras…

  • this bike comes with 2 front wheels. One is a normal wheel with a Shimano hub + Velocity Aeroheat rim. The other is a Shimano dynohub wheel + Velocity Razor rim.
  • you get the original Bike Friday Owner’s Manual and spare spokes
  • powerful dual LED dynohub headlight for 24/7 lighting without any battery hassles
  • Bike Friday travel fenders which install with one bolt each for ease of packing.
  • new in bag SKS full coverage fenders I haven’t mounted [better for commuting or if you are riding a lot of wet weather]
  • you get a fully functional front derailleur and shifter which are installed and cabled so you can easily convert this bike to a 16 speed if you want more gear range by adding a second chainring

Note the NWT does not come with a saddle or pedals.

Solidlights dual LED headlight…

The NWT comes with the LED headlight installed. You can remove it easily and run the standard front wheel if you don’t plan any night riding for an extended period of time. The swap only takes a few minutes.

IGH for nearly maintenance free riding in all weather…

I find the current 1 x 8 IGH setup ideal for riding in the city and for touring with a moderate load. This bike has a front deraileur and shifter installed so you can add a second smaller chainring and run a 2 x 8 setup to provide added low gears if you wish. I will include a new unused dual pulley chain tensioner you can swap in if you choose to run 2 chainrings.

The NWT running errands in town…

What I like about this bike:

  • versatile for commuting, touring or pleasure rides
  • supple Scorcher tires roll fast and are comfortable on rough surfaces
  • dynohub & fenders allow for all weather day & night riding
  • dual racks allow for carrying full size panniers or strapping on boxes
  • nimble for city riding, but stable at speeds with a load on tour
  • quickly folds into small package for storage or transport
  • can be packed into an airline legal suitcase for plane travel

Lazy in action!

The price for this NWT new with shipping was $2900. That was before I added the second dynohub wheel + headlight and upgraded to a 105 crankset.

I will sell it for $1900USD shipped anywhere in North America. That’s ~40% of buying the same bike new. The price is firm.

You can see lots of photos of this bike on my Flickr page here and you can read my NWT blog posts here.





Tikit PR Racks Options…

7 06 2012

My Tikit porteur rack…

I rec’d some mail about getting a Tikit PR made and wanted to just throw out a few options and non-options for those Tikit riders who are interested:

  • I have spoken with Bike Friday about getting a production Tikit PR rack made and they can/will do it if they feel there is a market for them. So the more people that request such a rack the more likely they’ll build one.
  • I was asked if Lane at CETMA really wouldn’t build another PR rack for these bikes even at a premium price. That’s my understanding, but you can always ask politely.
  • Alex Wetmore doesn’t want to build any of these racks for $$$. I asked him!
  • You can buy a Tikit 2 pannier rack and attach a platform to it for a DIY PR rack. I haven’t tried this so there may be a problem, but it looks like an easy way to get a PR solution on your Tikit.
  • Anyone who fabricates with thin wall steel can build you one of these racks if given the bike and some photos to work from.
  • Keep in mind a custom rack can be expensive. I asked a local bike rack builder for a quote and he wanted $450+ to tackle the project.
  • If you or a buddy can weld this isn’t a hard project. It will just take some time to test fit and get everything dialed.




Bike Friday Tikit Porteur Rack…

5 06 2012

My Tikit porteur loaded up…

I’ve been meaning to share some photos of my Bike Friday Tikit loaded up with cargo on the custom porteur rack I had built.

Locked, loaded and on the move…

I got my inspiration from Alex Wetmore’s blog posts about the custom PR rack he built for his own Tikit.

The box almost hides the bike!

Having tried all the available racks for the Bike Friday Tikit I think the PR style rack offers the most capability for a variety of loads as long as you are okay with a slightly wider fold.

At the UPS Store…

You certainly can’t beat the ease of placing a box or bag on the PR rack and securing it with one strap.

Worm’s eye view…

The low forward position of the cargo minimizes the impact on handling and it’s right in front of you so you know the status of any precious cargo.

A wider folded profile with the PR rack…

The Tikit rolls and folds normally with the PR rack in place, but the overall width is larger which may not suit folks who take their Bike Friday on busy public transport. I don’t ride the bus with my bike so this isn’t an issue for me.

Rear of the bike is empty…

I rarely need more cargo hauling capacity than the front PR rack provides, but the whole rear of the Tikit is empty for carrying another box or a couple full-size panniers on a folding touring rack.

The PR rack off the Tikit…

If you are keen on one of these racks for your Bike Friday there is sadly no production source at this time. However, there are a number of custom fabrication options in most towns that can replicate this rack if they have your bike and some photos to work from.

BTW – if you are wondering why they are called “porteur”racks or PR racks it’s because in French “porteur”means Pretty Rad = “PR”….;