Friday, July 27, 2007


Immediately below you will find the preliminary report on our test of the Bike Friday Tikit which was done yesterday. We are happy to report that a more detailed version of the report, with more photographs, is now available - you can find it HERE. However, we must stress that this version of the report is rather rough at present, with plenty of typos and some details still to be completed. As the Tikit is a particularly interesting compact folder which has only just appeared in the UK, we thought it worth getting this report out as soon as possible, even though there is still some work to be done on it. We hope to have the report finalised in the next few days.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Bike Friday Tikit

The Tikit is Bike Friday's first really compact folder, and uses 16 inch 349 wheels in place of the 20 inch ones used on previous models (apart from the old Satrday recumbent, which also used 16 inch wheels). The Tikit can be folded without undoing any catches - a smart tap on the back of the saddle allows the rear traingle to be folded underneath, and cables free the front stem catch as this is done. The bike was announced a few months ago, but the first ones to reach UK distributors Avon Valley Cyclery only arrived here a few days ago. I went down to Bath today to look at the bike, and test it. The weather was not good - it rained (drizzle, heavier rain and VERY heavy rain) throughout the test, but I did manage to ride from Bath to Kingswood on the cycle route (tarmac, along the old railway), then took to the roads to go across to Keynsham, railway path back to Bath, local roads,towpath to Bathampton and then roads back to Bath. I took in one longish, steep hill (Bathwick Hill) to see how well the bike (and I) climbed. I also tried folding and unfolding a couple of times. Briefly:
Frame etc: steel, nicely made, no sign of flex in the frame, just the faintest sign of stem flex when applying a lot of effort climbing, but only a slight fore and aft movement, and unlikely to be noticed in normal riding.
Gears: 8-speed derailleur, 11-28 cassette, didn't count the front ring, but probably about 54. Twist grip has quite short movement, which like most twist grips makes it a bit awkward changing down in the wet (difficult to grip it, and then difficult to avoid changing down by more than 1 gear). Not a problem if it is dry. The front ring has a guard, and the ring could be replaced with a smaller one if required.
Brakes: Tektro V brakes with Shimano levers. Excellent, very powerful, meaning a little care is required in using the front brake.
Wheels & tyres: 349 wheels, Schwalbe Marathon tyres. With about 85psi in them, these rolled very freely.
Racks and luggage: Nothing fitted, and I need to check on the options here.
Folding and unfolding: the ingenious cable system means no catches to release when folding. The sytem seems to work well, but personally I think I'd prefer to have a manual catch for the stem, and do without the complexity of the cables. Folding should be quick and easy (see the Bike Friday web site for links to a video), but a bit of practice required to do things in the right order. When folded there is a positive catch to hold the package together. This needs to be released before a similarly simple (with practice) unfold. Bike can be wheeled along on one road wheel when folded - there is even a handle specially for holding it when doing this! Folded size is certainly larger (longer in particular) than a Brompton or Mezzo, but pretty compact.
On the road: Very free running. The small wheels, high pressure tyres and lack of suspension mean that the ride is not as comfortable as say a Birdy (with suspension) or the Dahon Curve (small wheels, no suspension, but Big Apple tyres), but not unduly harsh. Very stable - taking a hand off the bars to signal, get out a handkerchief etc does not cause any worries. The bars are about average length. Gear range is what you would expect, thugh ust a fraction high overall for me. I tested the small framed version - there is a medium (none in stock) and a large frame as well (large was too big for me). Subjectively, it did not feel quite as light when lifted as I expected, though certainly not a heavy machine (I will confirm the weight later).
Overall, a very impressive new machine.
A rather more detailed report, filling in some gaps and providing some more figures, should appear on the web site in a few days time. Many thanks to Avon Valley Cyclery for allowing me to take out the bike for 4 hours to test it.
Bike Friday:
Avon Valley Cyclery:

Monday, July 23, 2007

Birdy Touring Report update

A number of Birdy owners have kindly sent some further comments on the Birdy Touring since we published our report about 3 weeks ago. I've now added these to the original report, and also put a few further updates of my own in the report. You can access the report HERE. I'd like to thank those who have provided additional material - your support is always welcome.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Our eagerly awaited (I hope!) report on the Dahon Curve SL is now available. New compact folders always create particular interest, and in the case of the Curve this is certainly merited. Like any folder, the design has to be a compromise, but overall we think that Dahon has done a good job with this bike. To find out more, read the full report HERE. Many 2007 Dahons feature a new front luggage mounting boss, and so you may find the comments on this in the report, interesting even if you are more interested in other 20 inch wheeled Dahon models.

Lovely weather for ducks, but not cyclists

Emerging from a meeting at the Black Country Living Museum this morning, I was taken aback to find the lobby full of folding bikes - Bromptons, Birdys, an Airnimal Joey etc. It turned out that they were the CTC annual folder ride, lead by Colin Langdon. As I had a load of computer and photographic equipment with me I was in the car (though I often go there by folder) - I felt very sorry for them, as it was pouring with rain at the time (as it has been for so much of the last couple of months). If any of the riders read this, I hope that the weather was kinder to you on other days, and that you enjoyed the BCLM (it is one of their Steam Weekends tomorrow and Sunday, so I hope we have better weather for that as well).

Birdy Touring Test Report update

I was taken to task about a week ago by some Birdy enthusiasts regarding my recent test report on the Birdy Touring. I'll be updating the report in the next few days to incorporate some useful comments offered by these other owners, plus some more observations based on my own experience of using it since the original report, including a 107Km Brevet Populaire on 15th July. Please excuse the delay - I'm rather busy at present.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

July Origami Ride

We were remarkably lucky with the weather for the Origami ride at Malvern on 14th July. 17 riders and a very varied collection of folders met at Great Malvern railway station, where light refreshments and good conversation preceded an 11:00 start.

Bromptons were not the most common machines present this time, with a particularly good showing of Moultons, including a Pylon and a Double Pylon (both fitted with Rohloff hub gears), and also 5 Dahons (or re-badged Dahons), including two Curve SLs.
A leisurely ride took us to our lunch stop, where we were able to sit outside enjoying the sun, before posing for a group photograph.

After lunch we made our way back to the railway station, where more light refreshments were welcome before we left.
A number of people took the opportunity to try the Dahon Curve SL which we are currently testing, and it created a very favourable impression. The report should appear on the web site in a few days time - it is basically complete, but just needs a bit of tidying up.
Unfortunately the weather on Sunday was back to normal, with quite heavy rain for much of the day. This was not good for me, as I was doing the Broadway Babe 107Km ride from Redditch. The weather prompted a change of plan regarding which bike to use, and consequently the Birdy Touring had its first outing on a Brevet Populaire. It performed very well in the conditions, though it does seem to have acquired a new rattle. Happily my new Goretex jacket also proved effective at keeping out the rain.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Malvern Origami Ride Saturday 14th July

Don't forget the monthly Origami Ride is at Malvern on Saturday. We will have the Dahon Curve SL there for people to try; our plan to have another folder which we have on test at present there too has failed, as I can't transport two at once.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Folding clothes

As we noted a couple of days ago, citycycling has introduced some new clothing. For the next two weeks, the new folding-themed shirt is reduced from 10.90GBP to 9.65GBP (+P&P).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

An eventful day with a folder

I decided to take the Dahn Curve SL test bike to the Shrewsbury CTC midweek ride today, Tuesday 10th July. It turned out to be an enjoyable but eventful day. For the news page, I'd better try to keep it brief:
Travel - the local train from Tipton to Wolverhampton was very late, and no explanations offered, but it seemed to be a general problem affecting trains from Birmingham, so I still arrive in comfortable time for the train the Shrewsbury (which had also come from Birmingham). This too was delayed, but not by much, and by the time it got to Shrewsbury it had recovered some lost time.
Miniature Shetland Ponies - at Wellington a young lady who boarded the train was so taken with my folder that she asked the Train Manager whether her miniature Shetland Pony would be allowed on the train (no, she hadn't got it with her on this occasion). He was doubtful, but not certain, and obviously intrigued by the idea, so he used his mobile phone to contact his boss, but still no definitive answer. When I left Shrewsbury station they were discussing it with interested but puzzled staff on the information desk at the station. Miniature Shetlands are smaller than some large dogs, and apparently they can be trained as guides for the blind - slower to train than a dog, but much longer lives. And yes, the answer to the obvious question, it is claimed they can be house-trained as well! Use Google to search for Guide Pony to find out more.
The CTC Ride - a most enjoyable ride to Long Lane - I was a bit taken aback, as the web site advertised a ride to Welshampton, but apparently the hostelry there has closed down. I'd been planning to ride part of the way home from the lunch stop, rather than go back to Shrewsbury, and the changed destination actually suited me better.
The ride back - as I was on the Curve, I was not sure how far I would ride before catching a train. Everything was fine until Telford, where inevitably I got lost. The signposting is Telford is the worst that I have encountered anywhere in the world, and I have never visited this godforsaken place without getting lost. I've had a GPS system for almost a year now, but this was the first time I had to use it to extricate myself from anywhere. I eventually located National Cycle Route 81 (by luck), and all went well until I reached Albrighton, when either the signs weren't there, the route ends without any warning, or I missed a sign (though I was looking our very carefully for them). As a result I ended up riding on the A41 to Wolverhampton - not an experience I would recommend to others, though there are certainly worse roads. Returning to the subject of Telford, the author Ellis Peters (best known for the Brother Cadfael books), wrote a book (very entertaining, and set in the 1970s, nothing to do with Cadfael) entitled "Never Pick up Hitch-Hikers!". It's set in a fictitious new town, and a major element of the plot is that the hero gets lost due to the new road scheme and the signposting, or lack of it. Brother Cadfael was in Shrewsbury, and that series of books was about the immediate surroundings, so I don't think there can be any doubt that Ellis Peters had Telford in mind when she wrote "Never Pick up Hitch-Hikers!". That book was published in 1976, but the signposting hasn't improved.
The Curve - by the time I got home I'd covered about 82Km, or just over 50 miles. I'm pretty impressed with it so far - very comfortable, enjoyable to ride, good brakes, perhaps the overall gearing is a fraction high for me (I had to take a breather on one steep hill on the way out of Telford), a bit of flex in the handlebar/stem, easy and quite compact to fold, and the new luggage mount seems to work well with a small bar bag. You will need to wait about 10 days for a full report, by which time I hope others will have had a chance to try it and offer their comments at the Malvern Origami Ride on 14th July.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Dahon Curve SL test report coming soon

We have managed to get hold of a Dahon Curve SL for testing, and so far we've clocked up just over 80Km (50 miles), including a couple of short rides into town, a train-assisted commute and a leisure ride of about 44 Km (train assisted) which was mostly on a towpath. We hope to have the full report available in about 10 days time, and the bike will also be available for others to try at the Orgami Ride at Malvern on Saturday 14th July.
We've also managed to fit the luggage mounting adapter, as you can see in the photograph. This is the KLICKfix 0211R unit, onto which you then need to attach the normal KLICKfix handlebar mount, and then you can fit a bar bag designed for use with this system - we used an elderly Carradice Super C bar bag. The special frame adapter is not easy to find, but you can order on line using THIS LINK. You will also need two M6 bolts to attach it to the lug on the frame. We found it best to feed the two rear cables through the two parts of the mountings, with the front brake cable passing outside the mount. The Carradice bag fits fine - you might find that a very deep bag would casue problems with wheel clearance though.

The Derailleur Code

Citycycling 25 has Der Bromptonaut in The Derailleur Code, possibly by way of Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.

You may find a folding bike theme in some of the clothing on offer.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Recent Magazines

Velovision's website (the magazine is worthwhile reading for those of us interested in more than just run-of-the-mill bicycles) reports that the BSI Sustainability Design Award 2007 has gone to Joe Wentworth's retrofit folding handlebar design and mentions the shaft-drive Beixo bikes, courtesy of Peter de Lange. They also link to Jeff Potter's report (of Out Your Backdoor) of the Philly Folder Roundup.

Switching to hardcopy mode, Velovision's June issue (it takes a little longer for some things to get to Australia and occasionally real life also intrudes) noted that silver Brompton jewelry is available from Voss Spezial-Rad in Germany and tested the BionX-assisted Airnimal Joey. It is likely that the Bike Friday Tiket will be reviewed in the next issue, together with the Strida.

A to B Magazine's 60th edition marked their 10th anniversary (another June edition) with tests of the Dahon Curve and the electrically-assisted Nano Brompton and mentioned the Stash folding helmet.

Independent Tribes

The Independent on Sunday newspaper has a short piece on the increase of cycling in London recently (83% in the last year quoted), noting the tribal aspects of bike choice and rider appearance. The 'Fold-up tribe' is represented by Cliff Rice, an IT manager who rides a Brompton to work and an Airnimal for French cyclosportive events.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Strida 3 Test Report

At long last our Strida 3 test report is available - you can access it HERE. As an important bonus, it includes some very interesting comments from Strida designer, Mark Sanders.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Northern Ireland Small Wheel Ride

Chris Sharp reports:
On Sunday 1st July we held the first small wheel ride in our area (maybe the first in N.I.) and six cyclists turned up. Two F frame Moulton's, two Brompton's,a single speed Triumph 20 with a young girl on board and a very trick Triumph 20. We left Coleraine and travelled along the cycle path to Portstewart. where we rode along the waters edge to Portrush. From there we could see Scotland on the horizon, and we stopped at the harbour cafe in Portrush for tea and coffee.
After we returned to our bikes we retraced our route in sunshine to Coleraine with 15 miles completed. Everyone was invited back to Willie Carton's home near by for tea and coffee before we all left for home.
This ride today gave me a buzz and also I had a few e-mails from other cyclists who had family committments or were not in the country today.
I will have a couple of small wheel rides next year and this all looks good for the future.
A picture can be found HERE.