| REVIEW: BF Tikit...

Ok here is a late review of my stealth Tikit CarbonDrive Infinity made by Bike Friday (BF). Its code-name is "biquette", not only does it look like a little black goat but it has its agility, nervousness and capacity to climb almost everything. 
A little bit of context here; ...last winter i was thinking about buying a good folding bike to replace my current hardtail Kona Cowan. I used to do a lot of BMX and street riding in Bamako and Paris but eventually realized that mountain bikes and especially aluminium frames are not my cup of tea (it is for sale btw). On top of that i have way less time for jumps or tricks now, mainly commuting and following bike paths in Montreal, late March seemed like a good moment to shop for a more suited ride. My only non-negotiable demands were to have a chainless commuter with a rear hub to make for a clean, maintenance-free drivetrain.
After researching about folding bike manufacturers and reading tons of threads about the different models available today, i've contacted Bernds (very good service, nice bike options, similar to BF in a way, the only downside was the shipping price for Canada), Pacific Cycles (the iF Reach LX was on top of my list but its geometry does not allow a belt-drive integration) and Abio. I also had the opportunity to test ride my friend Gabriel's Jetstream P8, a Raleigh Twenty and both a Dahon Mu Uno and a Tern Verge at my LBS, just enough to give me an idea about how a folder feels like, and of course they felt funny.

Opening that box was a pleasure, i looked like a kid at the office. Everything is perfectly positioned and protected, ready to be used right after assembly, even the tires were inflated. You know you just bought a custom bike when there is a nice package inside waiting for you with a personalized card, booklets (even those from the different branded products you've added), candies and coupons. By the way, all BF models can fit in a suitcase/trailer for traveling which i may order in the future.
It took me a few weeks to finalize all the specifications of the Tikit i wanted in close collaboration with Eric Fischnaller, it ended up costing me about 3000.00$ (incl. 170.00$ of shipping costs)... and yes it is a lot of money for such a little bike, add on top of that some horrible Canadian custom/brokerage fees of about 400$ and then you have it! It hurts but i didn't regret it when riding the streets of Montréal it's a different bike for sure and i love watching all the details and parts of the frame, its quick fold never cease to amaze me and the people around too. Remember that it is among the first generation of folders to accept both a carbon belt and a NuVinci, in time belt-driven bikes will certainly be cheaper.
There is an unending heated debate concerning Dahon VS Brompton VS BF, if you want some of their well-equipped models it will eventually cost you a leg, and after that it's a question of personal preferences, size and wallet.
In general, the frame (size L) is stiff and really well built, it accepts standard parts and accessories like my Thomson seatpost. The infamous "weakness" of the Tikit seems to be the flexible stem post, but i can say that it actually is a good thing  and soften the ride a bit without sacrificing confidence. Rolling on 16" wheels is honestly quite rough even if this bike just ride better than the 20" Dahon and Tern that i've tried.

I really like how the front flat bar looks and feels with its side "horns", same goes for the efficient Shimano Deore 590 levers and the silver Incredibell is a neat little detail, seamlessly integrated with the comfortable Ergon grips and is quite loud. The only things that aren't on par with the rest of the bike are maybe the fenders but i've learned to appreciate them under heavy rains :-)
The stock BF saddle is not really impressive, but it does the job well for short distances nonetheless so we'll keep it for now.

In this configuration, the combo NuVinci/Gates belt is about 20.0 to 72.00 gear inches. It's pretty low and you can reach your top speed very rapidly, however the ride is excellent and the acceleration amazing thanks to the small wheels and the carbon belt tension, you can definitely climb the steepest hills but don't count on racing!
In short, i love it! it was worth the investment and i don't regret the choice to support a smaller/greener and customer-oriented  company that makes arguably some of the best folders. Thanks a lot Eric for your time and help, Bike Friday's outstanding service reputation has [for my part] been respected.

  • CONS:
-  It's not cheap despite being mostly customized and really well equipped. i always feel quite ashamed to tell the real price because i already know the consequent reaction. People just don't get it and it's difficult to justify the value of what they perceive as a small toy.
- Low gearing range... at least for now because the choice is pretty limited, as soon as Gates will be making different sprockets and belts due to the increasing popularity of the system then i'll upgrade it.
- Safety; it does look unique and expensive and i'm scared to let it stay outside for too long, especially in Montreal (a paradise for bike thieves) Good thing i have detachable MKS EZY promenade pedals that i take away with me, and when folded it looks kind of broken which in this case isn't a bad thing :-)
- 16' wheels are small, you can really feel the ground and the tiniest cracks, it's also less easy to find different models compared to 20" wheels.  For example, no snow tires available at the moment.
- Some say the fold is not as "nice" as the Brompton or Dahon but it is not an issue for me.
  • PROS:
- Well-designed bike, well-balanced and it's custom made for you. Mine is a bit butt-heavy due to the weight of the  rear hub when holding it up but it doesn't affect the ride, it's a beautiful machine. The beauty is in the details too, there is lots of engineering behind the frame and it shows when you fold it the 1st time.
- Drivetrain; i really like the visual elegance of a single-speed coupled with a rear hub, when you get used to the NuVinci N360 it's difficult to come back, so simple yet smooth, reliable and silent.
- It's a bicycle but even better, it's a cool folding bicycle that rides like its larger cousins. You can take it inside your favorite bar, your trunk or your local bus! The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages IMHO.
- Stealth; my knees actually make more noise than "biquette", it sounds like driving an electric bike or a F-117 Nighthawk, though i can't testify the latter.
- What many consider "twitchy" at first, soon becomes "agility" and the last time i took my mountain bike, it felt like riding a slow tank.
- It folds well and incredibly fast even without the Hyperfold mechanism, the great thing is being able to push it while folded.
- Practical; No need to adjust anything when you fold it, the bar and seat keep their respective positions.
- Social; i don't know if it's a good thing or not but you'll get noticed and will have to answer lots of redundant questions, although it's a fun way to meet new people.

If you do ask me, then my answer would be "yes i would recommended it" this Tikit model is a great but expensive urban commuter, what it lacks in speed, it shines in fun, convenience and craftsmanship. Remember that it's been configured for my tastes, my size and weight. Please don't hesitate to comment and/or ask questions.

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