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.





Victoria Populaire 50K…

28 03 2013
Team Raspberry Rocket mid-ride...

Team Raspberry Rocket mid-ride…

Sharon and I tackled the BC Randonneurs Victoria Populaire last Sunday on our Bike Friday Tandem Traveller XL. We decided on the 50K route because Sharon is scheduled for knee surgery this spring and we didn’t want to push things too hard and cause her any issues. With the ride to and from the event we racked up 70kms.

Click on map for more details...

Click on map for more details…

The event was well run as per the usual high standards of the BC Rando Club. It was a cold, but dry day with around 100 smiling riders. The course is easy to follow and has some nice scenery with enough hills to be interesting, but not punishing.

Ride pin...

Ride pin…

We racked up 50.85kms in 2:55 and finished with a Bike Friday Pocket Llama and a Cruz Bike recumbent. That seemed fitting. We had a great day out on the bike and we’ll be back next year to tackle the 100km course once Sharon has new bionic knee… ;)

Our beast of burden...

Our beast of burden…

Our Bike Friday tandem continues to impress with its ease of use and solid performance.  =)





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”….;





Bike Friday Tikit Love…

29 05 2012

Tikit mobility powered shopping…

My Bike Friday Tikit isn’t getting as much press these days on this blog as it used to. That’s really unfair as it continues to be one of my favourite and most useful bikes. The problem is I feel like I’ve covered all the angles about this amazing bike and don’t want to get repetitive. That’s a failure on my part to be creative.

My Tikit enjoying the view…

The freedom to ride anywhere in town without a bike lock or having to think about bike theft is amazingly liberating. I can carry nearly as much on my Tikit as I can on my Surly LHT touring bike and I can fold the Tikit then jump on the bus or toss it into a car’s trunk.

Fixed gear Tikit…

I had the opportunity to swap my 2007 Tikit for a newer 2010 model, but I kept the older bike and invested some $$ in new drivetrain and paint. She works as well today as she did new out of the box and we’ve had a lot of great adventures together. It’s great to know a folding bike with such an amazing fold also is durable enough to keep riding for the long run. I expect I’ll be on the same Tikit in 2017 – although the colour may change again….=-)

If you don’t know what a Bike Friday Tikit is watch the video above. The convenience of the fold is what sold me on the Tikit in the first place and the great ride + the reliability has kept me smiling.

Stuff I Love About the Tikit:

  • fits me [available in multiple sizes]
  • easy uber fast fold [so I can fold it 10 times in 1 trip without noticing]
  • rolls easily when folded so I can keep it with me
  • great customer service from Bike Friday
  • folding mechanism has held up to thousands of folds and thousands of KMs with minimal maintenance
  • lots of options available [fixed/SS, IGH, belt drive, 2 kinds of folds, different racks, ect...]
  • rides efficiently [25km ride? ...no problem]
  • fun handling
  • very maneuverable in town
  • takes normal bike parts

Tough love…

The only real downside to this bike is you end up talking to a lot of people that you wouldn’t otherwise speak to and you’ll do lots of extra folding/unfolding of the bike to satisfy peoples’ curiosity. I can live with that…=-)





100K Un-Populaire!

17 04 2012

Sharon's first 100K ride ever!

Sharon completed her first ever 100km ride on Sunday. We set out from home on a rough approximation of the BC Randonneurs 100K Populaire route. Skipping the start at the University of Victoria we headed for the Mohka House coffee shop to get fuelled up. We then followed the 100K Vic Pop route along the south end of the peninsula to Mattick’s Farm where we stopped for a bathroom break. Cruising up to Sidney we stopped for a bite of lunch before looping around the top of the Saanich Peninsula and dropping down towards home. We got a bit “creative” with the route so we could reach 100kms without heading to the official ride end point at the university.

Ride data - click for bigger...

Although the GPS data above is a bit less than 100kms we did ride the full distance. We just started and stopped recording data on the bike path near our house so as not to give away the exact location of the Lazy Rando HQ!…=-) Overall the ride was fun and a big accomplishment for Sharon. Riding 100kms opens a lot of doors for seeing cool things in our area and makes a reasonable daily ride on a bike tour.

Sharon wondering when I'll put a Brooks saddle on the tandem for her?

We need to tweak the back end of the tandem for Sharon’s long distance comfort. She wants to move the Brooks saddle from her commuter bike to the tandem and then she’ll break in another Brooks on the commuter 10kms at a time. The straight bars and bar ends worked, but we’ll do some scheming to see what other bar options we can come up with that may work better for her. In general our Bike Friday tandem worked awesome for us and was a fun bike to pedal while enjoying the scenery of our island home.

Garmin Forerunner 310XT...

I threw a Garmin fitness GPS on Sharon’s bars so she could keep track of our ride stats. It’s a handy unit because I can install it on any bike in about 10 seconds and I don’t have to bother with a bike computer the other 95% of the time when I don’t care how far or fast I went.

Garmin Etrex Vista Cx...

I had the 100K Vic Pop route loaded into my Garmin mapping GPS up front on my bars to navigate us.

Rando Beer!

The weather was great. It started off cloudy and cool, but ened up sunny and warm as the day progressed. Nice day to be out on a bike…=-)





Birth of our Bike Friday Tandem…

8 04 2012

Cutting tubing...

These are some photos the kind folks at Bike Friday took for me when our Tandem Traveller XL was being built. I meant to post them last year and misplaced them for a bit. I won’t say too much about them as I don’t understand all the details of the construction process very well, but I thought it would be fun to share and to get a sneak peak at how these bikes are made.

Selecting some more tubing...

Prepping each tube...

Time to drill...

More prepping...

Welding jig...

A big bike needs a big frame fixture...

Welding the rear triangle...

Rear triangle...

Rear triangle...

Captain's seat mast opening in front TT...

More drilling...

Rear triangle fittings...

Rear V-brake posts...

Rear dropouts...

Stoker's BB...

Stoker's seat mast tube...

Rear triangle fittings...

Kickstand plate...

Cable guides...

Fork...

Frame parts after powdercoat...

Assembly begins...

Installing the headset...

A box of tandem parts at my house...

The finished product...





Happy 20th Anniversary Bike Friday!

6 04 2012

20th Anniversary email from Bike Friday...

April 2012 marks Bike Friday’s 20th anniversary of making cool folding bikes. I’m only in my 5th year of being a Bike Friday customer, but it’s been a great ride so far.

Bike Friday HQ...

I stop in whenever my travels take me along the west coast past Eugene, OR during business hours.

Belt drive Tikit...

I managed a quick 30min visit on my way home from Sedona to check out the new showroom bling.

20th Anniversary Bike Friday - click image for more details...

The 20th Anniversary Bike Friday looks pretty sweet [it's missing a wooden front fender].

That's a lovely disco paint job...=-)

I particularly like the sparkly metallic paint job.

A colourful flock of Tikits...

I always leave Bike Friday HQ scheming about a new bike!

Want to tour and need some gear?

The showroom is sporting a great selection of accessories for the bike commuter and cyclotourist.

Red bikes are faster right?...=-)

I had a hard time passing by the red New World Tourist with matching red Selle Anatomica saddle! If it had red rims and some red fenders I’d probably have a new Bike Friday…=-)

A herd of Bike Friday tandems...

I love all the Bike Friday tandems they had to check out. Although I must say we chose well. Our Raspberry Rocket is a primo tandem and still the nicest Bike Friday tandem I’ve seen.

Purple belt drive Tikit...

This belt drive Tikit has a lower cost belt drivetrain that makes it a lot more affordable than the upscale carbon belt.

Back end view...

Sorry I don’t have all the details. If you are interested give Bike Friday a call/email. I’m sure they’d be happy to give you the 411.

Crank end view...

A lower entry cost is certainly pretty key if belt drives are going to penetrate the mainstream of cycling.

The fancy bling carbon Gates belt drive...

All in all it was fun to see the folks I know at Bike Friday and to check out some of the new upgrades to their product line.

20th Anniversary Customer Appreciation Offer...





Bike Friday Tandem Brakes….

5 04 2012

Note a front disc and v-brake posts...

I was asked about the brakes on our Bike Friday Tandem Traveller XL over at my Flickr site and thought I would share the answer here for wider dissemination:

My Bike Friday tandem was ordered with disc brakes and v-brake mounts. I haven’t felt the need for extra braking at this point so we only have the discs mounted.

Like for any bikes there is no magic in v-brakes vs. discs. They both work. So you can pretty much pick whichever you prefer and use them.

Neither v-brakes or discs can take prolonged application before they’ll fail. V-brakes will heat up the rims and your tube will blow. Disc brakes will boil their hydraulic fluid, melt the plastic parts of the caliper and warp the rotor if overheated. Neither outcome will be pleasant with your GF on the back bombing down a mountain!

On a tandem the extra weigh without as much aero drag = extra speed on the downhills which can be a problem.

Are you saying we are so fat we need 4 brakes????

My suggestions are:

  1. if the roads are good sit up, take the lane and let the bike run without braking or minimal braking [I do this with my loaded touring bike frequently]
  2. if you need to brake a lot use pulse braking….slowing hard with front brake, releasing and then slowing hard with rear brake…then repeat. You’ll speed up to a top speed each pulse and then slow down to your bottom speed. Note the fast top speed allows a lot of air to flow over your brakes to cool them very effectively.
  3. add if a 3rd or 4th brake..in my case a v-brake front and rear possibly. Use pulse braking, but now you have 3 or 4 brakes to cycle through so you can brake more frequently without overheating.
  4. take a break or 3 on a steep descent to snap a picture or nimble something while your brakes cool.
  5. if you need more braking than you can get with pulse braking or you can’t be okay with the faster speeds of a pulse braking solution you can get a rear drag brake that will keep your speed lower since it’s on all the time. Keep in mind only a specially designed drum drag brake will do this safely. A disc or v-brake applied even very lightly, but constantly will quickly overheat and fail.

Our tandem team weighs ~300lbs + gear + bike…so probably close to 400lbs total on a ride with a lock and a light load of gear. My main strategy is #1 above….I just let the bike run as fast as she wants and brake only when I absolutely have to – which is infrequently. For a tour with full camping gear I’ll do some test runs locally and determine if I need an extra brake. If  so I’ll put a stoker controlled rear brake on.





The Kent Peterson Effect…

30 03 2012

My Bike Friday Tikit at MEC...

I was  on my way to a business dinner/seminar thing downtown when I had a flat front tire on my Tikit. Bummer! I pulled out a CO2 canister from my seatpack and got the tire firm again so I could keep rolling and made it to MEC [Mountain Equipment Co-op] which is Canada’s REI. They let me use a repair stand, a floor pump, sold me a patch kit and lent me some pliers to pull out a super tough thorn. They also offered help at least 3 times and when all was said and done let me use their washroom to clean up so I could go to my meeting looking decent. Thanks MEC – you guys rock!

I got to my meeting with time to spare thanks to Kent Peterson. I read Kent’s blog regularly. He got me interested in randonneuring and bikepacking with his tales of LD riding and ultralight touring. However, Kent’s main contribution to my bike lifestyle is simply the no nonsense way he gets on with riding his bike for transportation.

One Kent Meme I have learned from his blog is to factor a flat into every commuter bike ride. That way you always have time to fix the flat and still get to your destination on time. I do this a lot and often plan a quick non-essential stop along my route or near my destination so that I can get some extra things done on the same ride and if a flat happens I just skip the non-essential stop.

In this case I planned to stop at MEC and grab a few items I’ve been needing for a while. So when I got the flat I just re-inflated the tire for the ride to MEC where I could repair it in comfort. I ran into a couple snags with a pathetic tube of glue and a lame patch that didn’t want to stick as well as a thorn that was really really really eager to stay in my tire. By the time I was done I was dirty so I washed up and figured I had to rush to my meeting, but I was pleasantly surprised that I still had time to roll over there at a normal pace which made for a pleasant evening.

That’s the Kent Peterson Effect…=-)





Victoria Populaire – 70K!

26 03 2012

Team 20" at the end of the ride...

Sharon and I rode the 50K route at the BC Randonneurs Victoria Populaire Sunday. Add in ~20kms riding to/from the event and we rode farther than ever before on the tandem. Sharon also rode her longest ever distance on a bicycle. Obviously 70kms is not going to impress folks that ride 1200km events, but considering Sharon didn’t ride a bike when I met her this is a great achievement. Even better Sharon’s talking about riding the 100km route on our own this spring. Our distance riding progress may be slow, but it’s steady…=-)

50K Route Map - click for bigger version...

We met up with Aaron and Laura at the start. They were riding Dahon folding bikes so we were all rolling on 20″ wheels. We were joined by Brian and Mike on their big wheel bikes. The day was sunny and there were something like ~140 riders joining us on the course. The organizers did a great job staffing the controls and the route was well chosen for pleasant cycling.

Rider organizer Dave M giving the troops last minute instructions...

We let the majority of riders start in front of us so we could enjoy a relaxed pace around the course. I had my gps running as well as the course cue sheets. Between the two we managed a first ever zero bonus KM event by staying on course the whole time!

The intrepid members of our 50K posse at control #2...

The tandem proved comfortable for this distance and we had no issues cranking up even the steeper climbs on the course. I’m more and more impressed with our Raspberry Rocket on every new adventure. Thanks Bike Friday!

Sharon taking a breather along the route and enjoying the views...

Thanks to the BC Randonneurs for putting on a great ride for those riders not quite ready for a 200K brevet. Thanks also to Aaron, Laura, Sharon, Brian and Mike for riding with us…=-)

Mr.Lazy happy they have cookies at the control!

Victoria Populaire 2012 photos:





Why I ride…?

23 03 2012

Slowing down to enjoy a sunset is so easy...

Riding a bike to get around has a lot of benefits. I was on my way to a pub this week when I took a few moments to appreciate the beautiful sunset on a bridge over the Gorge Waterway in Victoria, BC.

My trusty Bike Friday Tikit...always a good choice for urban rides...





Shakedown Ride…

18 03 2012

A loose headset isn't fun on a tandem!

We took our Bike Friday Tandem Traveller XL out for a shakedown spin Saturday to make sure she was in good shape for next weekend’s BC Randonneur Club Victoria Populaire. Good thing we did as the headset was quite loose and you need a crazy big wrench to tighten it. Happily we stopped in at The Fairfield BIcycle Shop and Aaron helped us out with some tools – Thanks! We also decided to make some small tweaks to our saddles and Sharon’s bars.

Beyond that the shifting and braking is working well. I do need some lube on both the tandem’s chains and she should be ready to rumble!

Testing a route sheet holder...

Our Bike Friday tandem does not see regular rando use so there is no provision for a route sheet holder, bike computer or GPS. So I tested out a Cycloactive Bar Map OTG [Of The Gods] case to see how it stayed in place on our tandem’s unique bar/stem combo. It worked pretty well and can be adjusted back into position easily when it does slide down. For a one day ride I’ll use it as is, but for extended use I’d modify it to stay in place more securely. Note that on a normal bar/stem combo the OTG case would be fully secure without any changes. Our tandem is special in many many ways! I either have to wire in a bike computer or program my Garmin GPS to use with the cue sheet. I’m leaning towards the GPS as I’ll use it on my solo brevets as well so it makes sense to do a run through to ensure it is still working well. I’ve volunteered to shepherd any new riders around the 50K route so it’s fairly important we don’t get lost!

I’m excited to embark on our first rando event together. It’s a modest 50K ride, but that will be a good taste of what a brevet can be like and we can then move up to the 100K and 200K distances if all goes well. I can’t see Sharon being keen on riding more than a 200K event once a year, but that would still be great as a change of pace for our normal riding.

Scott checking the camera position...

We rolled down to the Mohka House for some coffee. I’m still in search of an amazing espresso shot in Victoria. I have found lots of decent coffee, but nothing top notch – yet! Scott joined us for a spin down to the beach where we shot some video for Porcelain Rocket and I got to play around with my new Canon T2i. Between my iPhone, Canon S95 and T2i I really do have a perfect set of photographic tools for just about any occasion. I ended up using all of them Saturday and it was nice to have so many options.

Sharon digs into some tasty Pho...

After our beach session we headed home with a stop at the Green Leaf Bistro for some yummy Vietnamese food. All in all it was a great day to roam around town on our bike and enjoy some warm sunshine.





Crazy Canadian Tandem Team…

19 11 2011

Green, but cold!...

It’s getting down below freezing at night in Victoria which combined with the humidity means it feels insanely cold and black ice/frozen bridges are a problem. Naturally when Sharon and I needed to get across town to have dinner at Aaron & Laura’s place last night we took our Bike Friday tandem. Wearing our parkas and lobster gloves we were plenty warm. We slowed down for all bridges as our slick tires don’t deal well with ice. Happily there were no issues.

Sharon getting excited about the gas fireplace...

Aaron & Laura made a lovely dinner which was consumed with a few glasses of wine. Their apartment has both light and heat – something our cottage is lacking in! I was a bit worried Sharon might get too attached to such luxuries…=-)

Laura wondering if there is any pie left...

After several hours of great company in a warm cozy apartment we had to face the daunting task of bundling back up and heading back out into the cold night. I had debated bringing along sleeping bags, but I wasn’t sure how A&L would react…=-) The ride home was chilly, but fun. No black ice to contend with although there was frost on the wooden bridge we have to cross. We were very happy to see our little cottage and throw ourselves into bed!

Thanks to Aaron & Laura for being such wonderful hosts…





Private Parking…

29 10 2011

Sure - whatever!...=-)





Urban Mobility…

20 10 2011

Aaron - Stylish and mobile!

Getting around Victoria by bike is very convenient. The weather is usually conducive to pedal power and between the dedicated cycling infrastructure and flat-ish terrain you don’t face too many challenges rolling to your destination. Aaron is demonstrating that you can ride and look stylish while on your urban adventures. Unless I’m on some rando-esque type mission I eschew the bicycle uniform as well.

White was the theme today...=-)

Heck I also ditch the bike lock frequently and that is perhaps the biggest victory one can strike in terms of getting beyond the cycling paradigm. My Bike Friday Tikit is the essence of urban mobility for me…well that and my Blundstones!

Tikit porn...





Bike Friday Tikit Redux

16 09 2011

Back and better than ever...

One of my favourite bikes got some love this year – my 4yr old Bike Friday Tikit had its worn out bits replaced and a new powdercoat. I was lucky enough to get a custom PR front rack from Lane at CETMA as well.

  • new powdercoat
  • new Greenspeed Scorchers
  • new chain
  • new cassette
  • new cables & housing
  • new one piece stem/riser
  • custom PR front rack

The rack doesn't mess with the awesome fold...=-)

Bike Friday did all the work for me less the front rack. The drivetrain and tires were in need of replacing, but the paint was fine. I was just in the mood for something other than stealth black. It was fair chunk of change to upgrade my old bike. I considered just getting a new 2011 Tikit. Having ridden a 2010 Tikit extensively there have been some definite improvements over the years, but at the same time my old bike is one of the original Tikits made and it rides just fine so I decided to keep it and show it how much I loved it…=-) If you have an older Friday and want to hit the refresh button give the nice folks in Eugene a call and see what they can do for you. Best to get the work done in the winter when things are less crazy at HQ and you could probably work out a better deal than in July.

Custom CETMA PR rack...

The front rack was a one off from CETMA. I don’t know if Lane would be willing to make another as the whole folding bike thing was a hassle for him to deal with and he has a ton of standard production racks and cargo bikes to build. Bike Friday is considering adding a front platform rack to their product line, but they aren’t sure about demand so if you want one drop Walter at BF an email. If he gets enough you’ll get your rack. The other option is going full custom which is no problem, but expensive.

Side view of the fold...

Naturally the front rack doesn’t mess up the sweet Bike Friday Tikit hyperfold. I haven’t tried it, but I assume the showercap won’t go over the bigger rack, but it might work partially as a protective shield from rain/dirt rather than totally camouflaging the bike underneath. I haven’t used the new rack much yet so I’ll save a discussion of how it’s working for another post. It will certainly make carrying bulky items easier an I’ll probably keep a light sturdy cardboard box handy so I can use it for smaller loose items as well.

The Ortlieb O-bag...

My hope was that this Ortlieb bag would mount to the new front rack via a bolt on QR block. That didn’t happen, but I think if I am happy with the rack I will find a welder locally to help me mount it as a PR rack plus a QR waterproof office bag is in my mind the knock out punch for Tikit’s usefulness and versatility. I’m stoked to be partway there.





Packing a Bike Friday Tandem…

11 08 2011

I found this Bike Friday tandem packing video on Youtube and wanted to bookmark it for easy review when I face the task someday.

 





Bike Friday Tandem Stoker Bar Update

16 07 2011

On a test ride...

We decided to test out the new flat bar + bar ends stoker bar setup on our Bike Friday Tandem Traveller XL by riding into town for some yummy Thai food.

Parking out front of Siam Thai...

The ride into town was fun and Sharon enjoyed the new bar setup so that was good news…=-)

Sharon and her happy hands...

Sharon’s only request was that I add some padding to the bar ends so I’ll hunt down some grips that fit and install them. I’m glad to have our only issue with the tandem resolved…=-)





BF Tandem Traveller XL Update…

5 07 2011

Parking the Bike Friday tandem takes some ingenuity...

It’s been a few months since the Raspberry Rocket showed up at our house so I thought I would take a moment to provide an update on our experiences with her. First off I should note that she is the only bicycle allowed to live in the house! Not just in the house, but in the dining room so it’s like we eat dinner with her every night…=-) She’s a bit too long to easily fit into our garage through the side door we use and we don’t want to leave her outside so she has the honours of being our only house bike.

Mechanically she has been perfect. I found the idea of assembling a box of tandem parts a bit daunting the first time, but following the Bike Friday instructions was easy and within 2 beers I had her rolling. Since that day I haven’t had to make any adjustments or work on her beyond tweaking the position of the bars. When I was doing my tandem research a few folks warned me that a folding tandem would be a headache to maintain and it would not be reliable for us. Having had great service from my other Bike Fridays I ignored those people [especially since they didn't own a folding tandem!!] and decided that I would just trust the fine folks in Eugene to build me another awesome bike. I’m glad I did.

I should note that ~30% of our riding is on dirt and gravel as well a long rough decked wooden bridge we tackle nearly every ride so this bike sees some bumps and abuse beyond buttery smooth pavement. We ride her like a bat out of hell or at least as close a replica to a bat out of hell as two middle age recreational cyclists can muster! Sharon loves passing people instead of being passed and I don’t mind the strange bewildered looks from other cyclists when they see a strangely shaped small wheeled pink and purple-ish beast go by..=-)

We ride the tandem for 80%+ of our rides together not counting dirt excusions to Hartland Mountain Bike Park. It just makes so much more sense for us to be on one machine where we can chat and stay together without any effort. We arrive at our destination in much better spirits and there has been no downside so far compared to riding two singles. Since we both do a fair bit of solo riding we each get to ride single bikes enough each week that it’s not like we have to choose to dedicate ourselves to the tandem 100% of the time in any case. The steel multi-part travel friendly frame is stiff enough that I can ride without thinking I’m on a tandem that fits into a suitcase and it has enough vertical compliance that combined with 40mm Greenspeed Scorcher tires we don’t slow down for lumps, bumps or other rough surfaces and we don’t get beat up. It’s a very impressive bike design given the challenges a tandem faces compared to two single bikes. Nice work Bike Friday!…=-)

The only problem we are having with the tandem is that Sharon is not adapting to drop bars well at all. We had to pull them from her Surly Cross Check commuter bike and we had to pull them from the tandem. I’ve swapped in some flat bars with bar ends I had lying around. If she likes them in general I’ll work on a flat bar setup we’ll keep for the long haul that gives her enough hand positions for all day comfort. It’s too bad that the drop bars can’t stay as they suit the bike and provide lots of hand positions, but we tried all sorts of variations in position, tape, padding and hood position with no success. Once I get a permanent solution I’ll post some photos of it.

 





Bike Friday Tikit Wiki

2 06 2011

Sharon on a roll...

Sean Luke has kindly put in the time and effort to develop a Bike Friday Tikit folding bike Wiki. A Wiki is a user updated body of knowledge about a topic. This means you’ll have a great spot to learn lots about the Bike Friday Tikit and you can add stuff to the Wiki based on your own experiences with the bike.

To edit the Wiki you’ll need a password which you can get by emailing Sean Luke from the Wiki site.

 





I’m a New World Tourist!

18 05 2011

My Bike Friday NWT chilling by the gorge waterway...

In Calgary I was a Tikiteer for sure and my Bike Friday NWT was a fun bike to ride, but if I had to choose I would have picked my Tikit. Lately I’ve realized that I am grabbing my New World Tourist for most rides into town and if you made me choose I’d stick with my NWT.

Why the change?:

  • in Calgary I lived right downtown and ride were short and frequent with high theft potential at each of the many stops.
  • in Victoria every ride into town is a minimum 8km round trip and theft potential is lower.
  • so now I ride into town less often, but I tend to save up errands and hit a bunch at once.
  • I can load up my NWT with a ton of stuff with its burly racks.
  • My NWT has drop bars which I am into at the moment and prefer for longer rides.
  • My NWT has a dynohub and light so I’m always ready for rides that extend into the PM.
  • I don’t have any lighting for my Tikit now that I am not using my Dinotte lights if I can help it.

Loaded and ready for more!

The only thing I want to do to my NWT to perfect it is install some full coverage fenders. I have them in my garage – in fact I’ve had them for 2 years! But I am finally getting motivated with the wet winters here to install them. The Bike Friday fenders do a decent job and are much easier to travel with if you pack your bike into a suitcase. I’m more a fold and trow in the truck kind of guy so I don’t need that sort of packability and I do need optimized fenders.

Well actually there is another thing I need to do to my NWT – it’s time to replace the grubby white bar tape. Using the NWT a ton means that the gleaming whiteness of her beauty is somewhat less gleaming!




Tandem Perspectives…

14 05 2011

Down low...

This is the same moment in time captured from two different perspectives. I like how the choice of camera positions totally changes the relative importance of the Bike Friday tandem vs. the person in the photo and sends a very different message to the viewer.

Up high...

Since digital photos are essentially free take a few of every scene you want to document. Vary the camera postion and viewing angle. I’d rather select from 4 options and throw 3 out than have to use the only image I took and not be stoked about it.

I really like the reactions of the folks in the background of the image above…=-)





Bike Friday Tandem Bar Tweaks…

24 04 2011

The Raspberry Rocket!

Both sets of drop bars needed adjusting on our Bike Friday Traveller XL tandem. I wasn’t stoked about unwrapping the bar tape to move the brake levers around a bit, but small changes to the rotation of drops and the position of the levers make a big difference in how comfortable your hands are on a ride.

Difference between old position and new position...

I cracked a cold beer and started unwrapping the bar tape. I like the top of my drops flat then curving a bit down to the hoods of the brake levers. You see from the photo above the difference between the old position and new position is quite dramatic. The bars were rotated up significantly and so the levers had to be moved down a lot to put them into the proper position.

Do you feel the power?

Sharon chose the bar tape. She figured it would enhance the lusciousness of the Power Raspberry finish on the tandem. I don’t argue about stuff like this. Well right up until she hands me my one piece pink lycra tandem speed suit!….=-)

Ready to rumble!

I adjusted the stoker’s bars as well and double wrapped both bars for more hand comfort.

One last glamour shot...=-)

Now we have to test ride her and see how we like the changes. You gotta love a 4 day weekend for time to ride and mess with your bikes and ride some more!…=-)





Good Friday Tandem Adventure…

23 04 2011

The Raspberry Rocket goes rural...

Yesterday was Good Friday. Sharon had the day off work and since neither of us are Catholic we repurposed Good Friday to be a folding bike holiday…=-) So we rode our Good Friday Tandem [GFT] to achieve a number of firsts:

  • Sharon’s first 50K ride and longest ride ever
  • Sharon’s first ride on the Lochside Trail
  • Sharon’s first bike ride to Sidney
  • Our first ride on the GFT with the new one piece stem/riser
  • Our first successful roadie hunt on the GFT
  • My first Ortlieb failure
  • My first nap on a local beach
  • Aaron’s first oyster burger
  • Our first post ride beer session on the new backyard deck

Aaron riding escort for the GFT...

Our day started eventfully at 430am with our cat puking on us in bed. If you ever need to get up really early ask your cat for a vomit wake up call. It’s very very very effective! By the time Aaron showed up at 9am we had been up for hours and had  absolutely nothing accomplished. This was to be the theme for the day. We made a slow, but delicious breakfast including setting off the Bacon Alarm [smoke detector] – which I am used to, but Aaron was caught off guard. Luckily he didn’t spit a mouthful of coffee on me when the loud alarm startled him. We spent a lot of time getting our Bike Friday tandem ready. Not the bike itself – just the stuff we were taking with us. It was one of those days where I wasn’t sure we’d leave before it was time to sit down for lunch!

The sun is shining - the grass is green - time to ride!

We had not been on the tandem since we got the new one piece stem/riser back from Bike Friday so it took us about 1km to get back into the swing of things. I’ve never tried another tandem so maybe they are all easier to ride than I had anticipated, but the lack of drama is very nice when you have someone else’s fate in your hands. The new stem/riser looks nice and clean so it’s awesome to finally see what the tandem looks like in its completed state. We got lots of double takes and smiles as we passed people. We are calling the GFT The Raspberry Rocket! Kids are especially stoked about this bike.

Lochside loveliness...

I was happy that Sharon finally had a chance to ride the Lochside Trail. It’s just minutes from our door and offers very relaxed scenic cycling to Sidney. For recreational riders the distance is perfect with opportunities for rest breaks and refreshments along the way. The trail is mixed surface with paved, dirt and gravel sections as well as a number of wooden decked bridges. Our 40mm Greenspeed Scorcher tires once again showed why I love them as they rolled over everything with aplomb. At one point a roadie passed us on 23mm tires just before a bridge with a rough wooden deck. We sped up as we hit the bridge and sailed passed the roadie who went from speed demon to hanging on to her bucking bars on the bridge. I’m never going back to narrow high pressure rubber!

If you ride 349 or 406 wheels and haven’t tried some GS Scorchers I’d heartily recommend them.

Aaron and his randonista rig...

Aaron rode his trusty Trek rando rig. He wasn’t challenged on this ride, but I’m sure we were amusing to ride with as people craned their head’s around to see what we were riding. A few people knew it was a Friday and we got some shout outs. Aaron was riding on 32mm Grand Bois Cypres tires so he appreciated the mixed surface bliss of a bit of air volume and a supple casing provides. At one point he was musing about out our lack of rando specific training so I had to point out that anytime I wasn’t sleeping or eating chicken wings WAS rando specific training…lol…when you are a member of team slacker you aren’t strict about your definition of training…=-)

Coffee stop at Sidney...

Sidney is a nice small town at the top of the Saanich Peninsula. It’s often a control on a brevet since there are services and it’s a natural turn around point for a run down to Victoria. We had some coffee and enjoyed the sunshine on a patio for a while. Eventually we needed a break from all our relaxing so we went for a pint and lunch at a pub where Aaron had an oyster burger. It was an educational meal for all of us…=-)

Beach chillaxing...

Team Slacker wasn’t quite ready for the ride back so we spent some time hanging out on the beach enjoying more sun and an impromptu jet fighter air show overhead. The nice thing about living on a peninsula is that there are beaches virtually 360 degrees from you so you can always find a nice quiet bit of waterfront to hang out on without dealing with a million people. I like it…=-)

The bikes enjoyed the sun as well...

After squeezing every bit of slackerness we could out of our visit to Sidney we climbed back aboard our bikes and pointed them towards home. Since it was a holiday and the weather was beautiful there were lots of bikes out and about on the Lochside Trail. The good thing about Victoria area cycling infrastructure is that there is so much of it that even on a busy holiday it doesn’t feel crowded or unpleasant. It’s nice to see all manner of cyclist roaming the paths and roads on a sunny day. We saw quite a few couples/small groups with matching panniers/jackets on what I can only assume [based on the brand new gear] were shake down rides for up coming tours.

Checking out the bacon...

I was quite pleased how well the tandem handled and how it rolled on the dirt and gravel. The 40mm tires and long steel frame absorb a lot of the bumpiness from the road. As we expand Sharon’s bike riding horizons a natural ride from our place is to take the Galloping Goose out to the Sooke Pot Holes for a 100K camping weekend. That trail is mostly dirt and gravel so a bike that can eats up those kind of KMs is essential. I think our next jaunt will be a tour of Victoria along the waterfront with the tandem loaded for camping so we can see how she handles with a touring load and to get some practice on the hills with a heavy rig. Not to over look the importance of educating Sharon about the essential bike touring motto “…this isn’t a bike ride with food stops..this is a set of food stops with some riding in between…”!

Hanging out with a local...

Eventually we rolled up to our house after a full day on the road. Only 50kms of riding, but many hours of good times. Sharon was both stoked to have ridden such a long way and also stoked to get off the bike!…=-) Being serious athletes we set about replacing our muscle glycogen stores with beer on the deck…=-) Thanks to Aaron for accompanying us on the day’s adventure.

Victoria bike porn...

Tandem Ride Report Card:
  • new stem/riser looks nice and worked fine
  • tandem handles well
  • GS Scorcher tires rock
  • gearing is ideal and works well
  • we need to tweak both our drop bars and brake lever placement
  • Sharon likes her plastic saddle better than the rock hard B17 she started with
  • my B17 was not uber comfy [a first for me!] I’ll swap in the B17 I’ve softened a bit with neatsfoot oil and see what happens
  • one of my Ortliebs is failing [see below]
  • need to mount a GPS for Sharon as she wants to see ride data
  • bottom line this Bike Friday tandem is the solution that let’s us ride together which is awesome…=-)

My first Ortlieb failure...

I’m coming up on 20yrs of Ortlieb love so I guess it had to happen sometime. One of my Ortlieb back rollers is about to shed a critical buckle. It looks like the piece can be replaced easily so I’ll going to see if Wayne at the Touring Store [where I buy my Ortlieb panniers] has a spare he can hook me up with. I prefer the Ortlieb panniers with the flip top lid and so this pannier has seen far less use which makes the failure more of a disappointment. Having said that there are no other panniers I’d use on a tour.





Our Surly Friday Saturday Ride…

17 04 2011

We rolled across town last PM for a BBQ on our favourite rides...





Heinz Stucke’s Bike Friday Pocket Llama…

25 03 2011

Heinz Stucke's PL...

I saw this Pocket Llama at Bike Friday HQ recently that Heinz Stucke rode for many miles on his far flung tours.

The man and the machine...

8spd Shimano Nexus IGH like my NWT...

I love all the place names he's written on the frame...

Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires...

Well earned dirt and rust...

If this bike could talk...

Heinz at Bike Friday HQ in Eugene OR...

I need to get my NWT dirty again...=-)

Frame tube detail...

Heinz made it to Hawaii - smart man....=-)

Faded pannier...

Photo: ridecc.wordpress.com