I’ve had a belt drive Alfine 11 Tikit for about a month now, and I’ve been a bit slow to document initial impressions. Partly this is because I’ve been having too much fun riding it.
Freshly unfolded. I added the Selle Anatomica saddle, and the pedals. It has the custom lightweight stem, Greenspeed Scorcher tires, and the touring bars that I first saw during my visit to Bike Friday.
One of the first things that I did after unboxing the bike was to line it up with my PBW folder.
The wheelbases are similar. The main difference was that I deliberated raised the handlebar position with respect to the seat. You can also see that there is a substantially different front angle with the steering axis of the Tikit being considerably steeper. Smarter people than I can explain how this reduces trail and affects the handling of the bike. What I can report is that the Tikit is easier to ride no hands.
One of the first things that I wanted to do was to take it on a field trip to San Diego, so I need to try to suitcase the bike. I had an existing suitcase that I had used in the past with the PBW which was a knockoff of the Samsonite Oyster case. After studying the online videos, I overfolded the bike and laid it on the suitcase just to scope out the situation. It wasn’t a promising start.
I did manage to flex the top of the case enough to close and latch it, but it was not a good feeling, so I broke down and bought a Samsonite F’lite case, which is what Bike Friday uses.
The F’lite case is the 31″ model, which I guess is a bit bigger than the 30″ model that Bike Friday sells. The length is immaterial to the packing. The main difference with the old case is that it is considerably deeper.
One additional note about suitcasing the bike: after my trip, I noticed this nice little tattoo on the case from one of the nuts on the ends of the rear axle. The next time, I’ll tape a plastic flange on the the axle to prevent this sort of thing.
Aside from the wonderfulness of being able to take a bike along on a road trip without airline charges, I’ve found that the quickfold makes the Tikit even more useful than the PBW. Here is my table at a restaurant in San Diego. No locking at the curb necessary.
I specified the heavy rider upgrade on the size M frame, even though I weigh about 150 lb soaking wet. As a result, I’m very satisfied with the stiffness of the stem.
I really like the handlebars, which I had cut down to about shoulder width. My wrists are happiest when my hands are in the same position as riding on the hoods on drop bars, and the touring bars are perfect for me. The upward curves at the ends also give me a nice hand position to pull against when I want to accelerate.
The red saddle has already picked up some colour transfer from my Levi’s commuter jeans, even though they’ve been washed about four times by now. Beware if you have a light coloured saddle.
Just a couple of niggles about the bike:
- the bike arrived with the headset loose, and it has worked loose once again since then. I’ll have to keep a close eye on this.
- the brakes are V-brakes set up with travel agents. I’m not sure if this is because I chose road brake levers, but as a result, the brakes are pretty spongy. In fact, I don’t think that I’d be able to skid the rear wheel if I put the rear brake full on, unless I made a special point of unweighting the rear wheel. I might be a little spoiled since three of the bikes that I ride most regularly have disk brakes, but I guess the brakes on the Tikit work well enough.
- There are a couple of creaks and groans that I am still trying to trace. Until I do, I’m not going to install the rack and fenders.
- Finally, there is a annoying rattling sound from the rear of the bike that appears to be due to the fact that there is some side to side slop in the rear cog for the belt drive. According to this thread on the Bike Friday forums, this is something that others have noticed as well. I haven’t had time to try some of the solutions suggested on the forum. It is a bit annoying since I specifically specced the Alfine hub with belt drive to have a totally silent drivetrain. Certainly the belt drive NuVinci bike that I rode at Bike Friday was totally silent, but I decided to go with the Alfine 11 since I was familiar with the Alfine 8.
Overall I’m very happy with the bike, and I look forward to riding it a lot more. If I can just cure that rattle, the bike would be perfect.
Side note: in order to fund this bike, I had to sacrifice a couple of bikes, one of which was the Moulton ATB. It went to a good home; I sold it to the same fellow that bought my RB-1.
I’ll be putting the PBW up for sale soon as well.