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Archive for the ‘Folding bikes’ Category

tikitintorontoI’ve had a Bike Friday Tikit for a couple of years now and I’ve been fairly happy with it. However, I’ve also been thinking about alternative folding bikes for a while.  In the interim, Bike Friday ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to launch a new 16″ wheel folding bike called the PakiT, which was advertised as being both lighter and cheaper than the Tikit. When I saw this, I figured it was only a matter of time until they discontinued the Tikit.

(Note that I am a happy customer from the their first Kickstarter campaign that launched the Haul a Day)

That confirmation arrived today via an answer I got on the Bike Friday FB page.

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“the tikit is being phased out. You can still order a tikit, but only until the end of this year, and at the new price listed on our website.https://www.bikefriday.com/folding-bikes/bikes/tikit-3/” Note that they raised the price quite a bit.

I’m a little sad about this since the Tikit has some unique features for a Friday, like the quick fold. It also served me quite well this past summer on STP.

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Nevertheless, from the looks of things, it is much more expensive to build than the PaKiT. Also, given the fact that there is a limited market for folding bikes that cost upwards of $1000, it’s not a bad move to concede the quickfold focused commuter market to Brompton.

If I get a chance, I’ll try to test ride the PakiT so that I can do a direct comparison with the Tikit. Also still waiting on a chance to check out the Helix.  Or perhaps I’ll take a second look at putting a internally geared hub on the PBW.

So many choices in the folding bike world these days…….

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Today was a great day for a bike ride with several hundred of my closest friends AKA Bells on Bloor. This year, the ride started and ended at Christie Pits since we were celebrating the installation of a bike lane pilot on a short 2.5 km section of Bloor St. Before the ride officially started, a smaller group of us gathered at High Park to ride to the ride.

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Our local MP Arif Virani rode along with us for the first part of the ride to show his support.

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I liked this heavily modded Dahon Mu with belt drive, Alfine 11 gearing, and loopwheels.  Apparently it was a prototype built for the Eurobike show some years ago.

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Lucy says time to ride.

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Stopped at Keele. For some reason, when you are riding with these guys, you get more respect from motorists!

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MJ leads us up the hill.

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Doug was rocking his brand new Fat Bike. With a front basket for Honey of course.

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A group shot upon our arrival across from Christie Pits.

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This must be the place.

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Bells specially decorated for the event were given out and mounted by volunteers.

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Had to get one myself.

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MC and chief ride organizer Albert Koehl gets things started.

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The crowd is enthusiastic.

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and now it’s time to ride.

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Angela and colleague in the lead with the official Bells on Bloor Banner.

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For your reference, this is what it says on the back (although the website is defunct, and has been replaced with bellsonbloor.org.

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Albert ringing his bell.

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Riding past the ROM.

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and along Bloor to Sherbourne.

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Back along Wellesley, and then turning north on Queen’s Park Crescent, which was fun because we were occupying the full width of the roadway.

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Police bike corking a BMW.

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Back along Bloor St.

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Greeted by the banner again at the end of the ride.

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Cycle Toronto was providing bike valet.

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There were many craft and food vendors. The longest line was for Pizza Libretto.

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This vendor regretted not having more of these shirts to sell.

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Large and small wheels!

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Just making sure that I get a decent shot of the forks on Doug’s bike.

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Honey had a good time.

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Thanks to the organizers of the ride, and to everyone who rode today.

Note that a different version of this blog post appears on the bells on bloor website, with more covearage of the speakers, and less bike geekery.

Also, here is a video.

 

Update: Dandyhorse coverage here.

 

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Brompton vs Tikit

I’ve been a Tikit owner for several years now, and I’ve certainly been happy with the bike for its intended use: being able to suitcase the bike so that I can have my own bike on hand during trips. However, I’ve always wondered about the Brompton as an alternative, and for city use, I could see how the extremely compact fold would be an advantage. Last weekend, I participated in the Brompton Urban Challenge, and I was able to secure a loaner for that event. I was able to bring it home to practice folding and unfolding it. At the same time, this was a golden opportunity to compare the bikes side to side.

The loaner bike that I got was the six speed with straight bars and fenders. In Brompton parlance, this would make it an S6L, in red. Here it is, loaded up for the journey home from Curbside Cycle.

Since the primary use for my Tikit has been as a travel bike, the first thing to do was to see if the Brompton would fit my existing F’lite case, just like my Tikit.

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I’m thinking how wonderful it would be not to have to partially disassemble the bike for travel. However, you can see that the Brompton will not fit.

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I’m assuming that the Brompton hardcase is much more square in proportion than a typical suitcase.

Next up: a side by side comparison. Here I get another surprise: the Brompton actually has a longer wheelbase.

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You can also see that the type S bars put my hands lower than they are on the Tikit.

From the side, the folded sizes don’t look that different.

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However, looking from the front to back, you see that the Brompton is much more compact, even ignoring the fact that I’ve put custom handlebars on the Tikit that stick way out to the side.

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Here’s a top view of the two handlebar setups.  If I ever do get a Brompton, I’m going to have to figure out how to get a similar bullhorn type setup on it. This will necessitate using a quick release to clamp the handlebars on the Brompton. The total widths of the handlebars are similar.

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Back to back test rides confirm the impression that I got during my test ride at Kinetics: the Brompton stem (and perhaps frame) is significantly stiffer than the Tikit. This photo shows why: the diameter of both the frame member and the stem are larger on the Brompton. (for the record, my Tikit is a size M with the heavy rider upgrade)

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The other differences between the two bikes that I felt:

  • Braking was much better on the Brompton, especially the rear brake (which is very marginal on the Tikit). The braking was good enough that perhaps the disc brakes on a Kinetic Brompton would be overkill.
  • Shifting was much better on the Tikit. Granted, mine has a belt drive 11 speed Alfine. Nevertheless, the 3×2 gearing on the Brompton was awkward, and I was also very concerned about how flexy the Sturmey Archer shifters seemed.
  • The folding was more solid on the Brompton, and not only is the folded package a more compact shape, it was also significantly easier to carry.

Speaking of carrying, interestingly enough, the two bikes as specced weighed in at exactly 26.8 pounds (to the precision of my bathroom scale).  This included fairly heavy saddle and pedals on the Tikit, as well as the extra weight of the Alfine hub.

Interestingly enough, Bike Friday is launching another 16″ wheeled folding bike called the Pakit that breaks down to be more compact than a Tikit, and it also lighter. The question is whether the Pakit will replace the Tikit in the Bike Friday lineup in the long run.

Would I be tempted to buy a Brompton? Given my budget, I’d have to sell the Tikit to fund the purchase, so this would not be an easy decision. I’m going to hold off until I also see the Helix folding bike, which is due to materialize sometime in the fall. It has larger wheels and still supposedly fits into an airline legal suitcase.

The other issue of Brompton ownership is that it is a bit like joining a cult. Speaking of which, I did have a blast at the Brompton Urban Challenge. My report appears at the Dandyhorse Magazine blog.  However, I can show a few extra pictures from the weekend.

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Have you ever seen so many ETRO 349 wheels in one place?

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I really liked this number that belongs to one of the mechanics at Curbside. It has a custom paintjob from Velocolour that puts my Canadian flag themed Tikit to shame.

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It is the lightweight version with a Ti fork and rear triangle. However, the low spoke count front wheel is definitely not stock.

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Here is the rear triangle, showing also the Nokon cabling.

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Carbon bars and a higher quality rear shifter.

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The Brompton Urban Challenge was a great event, hanging with a very fun group of people. Thanks to Curbside for the generous loan of the bike. Perhaps it wouldn’t be too bad joining the cult. We shall see……

Here is a video of the event.

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One of my ulterior motives in coming to Glasgow was the opportunity to visit Kinetics, which is a shop specializing in folders and recumbents, and is specifically known for its custom builds of Bromptons.  A quick ride northwest from the centre of town, and here we are.

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Parked out front is an 8-freight, a Mike Burrows designed cargobike that looks like the lovechild of a longtail and a long John.

This one has e assist.

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The monoblade fork that is typical of a Burrows design.

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The rear is also one sided.

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Once you step inside, there are an overwhelming number of things to look at packed into a very small space. Up front is a fully equipped machine shop. Ben is busy working on a Rohloff equipped Brompton.

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Fitting either a Rohloff or an Alfine hub to a Brompton requires a new rear triangle with wider dropout spacing, and these are made right here. Here are three pairs of triangles and forks. Custom forks allow for the installation of a front disc brake.

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A closer look at the copper plated frame in the corner that was a special request.

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This is as close to a smile that I could get out of Ben.

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This bike has the version of the rear triangle with an integral rack. It is stronger and lighter than the original.

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This particular bike was also being built with components from the Brompton black edition.

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The back room is filled with a variety of folders and recumbents.

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On the floor, an Alleweder, and on the wall, various HP Velotechnik bikes, a Birdy, and a bright blue Brompton that is his demonstrator.

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On the opposite wall, a Moulton, and some other bikes nearer the ceiling.

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The demonstrator has a Rohloff rear hub and front and rear disc brakes. Ben is now partial to this hybrid front brake that is cable actuated, but has the hydraulic advantage of being self adjusting as the pads wear.

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The rear triangle with Rohloff, and an Avid disc brake. There is not enough space in the back for the hybrid.  On the green bike, there was a TRP mechanical disc that is better than the Avid since the pads are actuated on both sides of the disc.

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This plaque is a nice touch.

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Do I look happy riding the bike?

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Overall impression was very good. I haven’t had that much time on a regular Brompton, but compared against my Tikit, I would say that the stem is much stiffer on the Brompton, and the gearing and brakes were terrific. What I thought was the rear brake was particularly strong; I almost lifted the rear wheel the first time I used them, but upon further reflection, what I was using must have been the front brake. I forgot that the brake levers are reversed in the UK. Both brakes were much better than on my Tikit. First time on a Rohloff equipped bike, so all I can say is that the shifting was reliable. My Alfine is a bit out of adjustment after many times of folding and unfolding the bike, although nothing I can’t put up with even on a long ride. Ben explained that the indexing on the Rohloff is in the hub, so it can’t get out of adjustment due to a change in cable length.

The new rear triangle makes the folded bike about an inch wider than the regular bike, and it still ships in the regular cardboard box. It will still fit in the hardcase if a little foam is carved out.

For a more comprehensive review of the bike, see this link to Velovision.

My visit came to a close as another customer rolled up with a Nexus equipped Brompton that needed some attention.

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Thanks to Ben for all the explanations. You’ve given me much food for thought…..

 

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This past weekend, I rode Seattle to Portland (STP) with roughly 10,000 other cyclists; this was an annual ride organized by the Cascade Bicycle Club. According to their stats, most of the riders are from WA, only 248 are from out of country, roughly half are riding STP for the first time, and a fraction of the total ride the full 205 miles in one day. The rest of us do it in two days. I rode it with good friend Steve, as well as M and J.

Here we are about to leave for the start line at about 5:30 am. (thanks Peg for getting up to take the picture)

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All smiles at the start line.

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And we’re off. The person with the megaphone is yelling at mister 7274 for not wearing a helmet.

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Still riding with the much faster M&J near the start.

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We took a break at the Seward Park rest stop. Unfortunately just prior to this, Steve clashed wheels with another cyclist who braked suddenly and then someone ran into him. Fortunately, he escaped with just bruises on his wrist and thigh.

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On the way to the REI rest stop at mile 24, I am overtaken by this mysterious bike. I manage to catch up briefly and the rider verified that this was indeed a Ti folding bike. She was much faster so I didn’t get any more information.

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A little sleuthing turned up the name: the Burke 20, which does not appear to be on sale according to the website. No information on pricing either, but it would be an interesting thing to compare to the Helix (another Ti folding bike that has yet to see the light of day).

Unfortunately, before the REI rest stop I also lost track of Steve and when I tried to use Glympse to track him, the app gave me the impression that he was ahead of me. This turned out to be wrong, and we didn’t get back together until the overnight stop Saturday evening. For the record, Glympse didn’t seem to work very well during the whole ride, even in Portland.

The REI rest stop was a mob scene. I learned later that experienced riders avoid this stop by riding on, or by stopping at a Starbuck just before this point.

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For the Washington State portion of the ride, all turns were indicated by pink road markings, although most of the time you just followed the line of cyclists ahead of you.

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People working hard about 2/3rd’s of the way up “the Hill” which turned out to be not too much trouble.

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Two Team Joy riders being greeted at the top of the hill.

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Lunch stop was at Spanaway. With 10,000 cyclists, expect to line up for everything. This is the line for one of the banks of portapotties.

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The food line was similarly long: about 15 minutes each.

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Lunch the first day:

IMG_3566 I could have also grabbed an assortment of cookies or granola bars. People who are severely allergic to peanuts should note that one of the two choices for sandwiches on both days was PB&J.

The only thing for which there wasn’t a line was filling up your water bottles. I ended up having to spend about an hour here. I would have been better off finding lunch and a bathroom elsewhere. There was a Home Depot just a few blocks away, along with some other stores.

Shortly after lunch we entered Joint Base Lewis–McChord, which restricted traffic to military personnel.

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It was actual wonderful riding, with next to no car traffic. I did see the occasional sign that warned of things like: “live artillery fire over roadway”.

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Just past the base and on the road to Yelm, we see the first sign for Centralia.

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About 14 miles of the stretch between Yelm and Centralia was along a very peaceful multi-use trail. I was enjoying this enough that I only took this one lousy picture.

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This gives you a slightly better idea of what it was like.

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The trail ended at Tenino where there was another mobbed rest stop which I bypassed.

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Some local people were situated just a little further along, and were selling bottles of water at a county park with bathrooms. Much better!

The end of the first day at Centralia College.

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Overall, my strategy of eating either a pack of energy chews or a Kind bar every hour on the hour kept me from bonking, but my legs really started running out of gas for the last 20 miles or so. When I got to Centralia, just past this gate I lay down on some grass, and I didn’t get up for about thirty minutes. I was convinced that I wasn’t going to be able to do the second day, but after about an hour, I was up and about looking for my luggage, and figuring out where my riding friends were.

Here are the number of bikes in the guarded bike corral that had kickstands, my Tikit among them

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and here are the bikes that didn’t have a kickstand

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including these two Bromptons.

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I saw about ten or so Brommies either at Centralia, or at the very end of the ride, but I never saw any on the road. Kudos to my fellow 16″ wheel riders!

A few notes about staying at Centralia:

  • food options were varied enough, with a few vegetarian or gluten free options. There are also grocery stores in town.
  • we stayed in the gym, but the great majority of people camped. I guess they knew it was not going to rain.
  • if you stay in the gym, bear in mind that the men’s bathrooms on either side are different. One has more bathroom stalls, and the other has more shower stalls.
  • unaccountably, if you wanted to get coffee with the paid breakfast, that was a separate line outside the cafeteria.
  • they are smart enough to start serving breakfast at 4 am. We left Centralia around 6:30, and I got the sense that most had left by then.

Just south of Centralia, we get a small section of bike path just along I-5. However, the rest of the day was on roads.

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Just after the first climb of the day is the small village of Napavine where apparently this woman gives out free banana bread every year. Regrettably I was not able to sample it as it had walnuts.

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Rolling hills and nice country riding.

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Another mobbed mini stop at Winlock which Steve and I bypassed. I guess we missed the world’s largest egg.

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Miracles of miracles, we meet M&J who did stop at Winlock to check out the egg.

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Lunch at Lexington was much more efficient. There was almost no line for food.

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Lunch the second day included a garbanzo bean and potato salad with pesto.

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A little past the lunch stop was the Lewis & Clark bridge where we crossed the Columbia River into Oregon. Here we are turning left towards the bridge.

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We were directed onto an offramp to wait the canonical 15 minutes before we were allowed to cross as a solid mass of cyclists.

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And off we go.

Welcome to Oregon.

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Riders were warned not to use the shoulder because of expansion joints. Sure enough these were covered by large metal plates, and on the fast ride down off the bridge, about 20 feet passed one of these plates I saw many water bottles by the side of the road.

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Curving onto HWY 30.

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A look back at the bridge.

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The next 40 miles was on HWY 30, which was the least pleasant part of the whole ride. In some sections there were two lanes of traffic in either direction but there was usually light enough traffic that the curb lane was left empty. Signs indicated to drivers that there would be cyclists on the road this particular weekend.

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Road narrows to one line in each direction in the town of Rainier.

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Other sections had a relatively narrow shoulder, and things would get a little dangerous if there was car traffic along with cyclists insisting on passing, as many of the pacelines would do.

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There were also some sections of rumble strips on the approach to St. Helens.

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One bright spot along this road: we meet up with M&J again just as we stop to take selfies at the city limits sign. Thanks to blue Colnago guy for taking this picture.

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One final bridge towards downtown.

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and here I am crossing the bridge, trying to look happy for the photographer.

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Not surprising to see good bike infrastructure in downtown Portland.

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Just before the finish, we see one of the bikeshare stations that are still in the process of being installed. Branded by Nike by the looks of them.

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Here I follow Steve down the finish chute.

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Another picture of Bromptons that did the ride. I was told that some of them belonged to one day riders.

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Overall, it was a very well organized ride. All of the volunteers were wonderful, and my fellow riders very friendly. I enjoyed myself, although I was somewhat undertrained for the event, and I was seriously wiped out after the first day. My GPS stats showed that I spend about a total of about 10 hours on the first day, and 10.5 hours on the second, with an average riding speed of about 20 kph, which was about what I expected.

I did get of comments on my Tikit. Aside from the usual jokes about having to pedal harder, most people gave me a big thumbs up. I did see three other Fridays on the route (no other Tikits) as well as a Family Tandem and even a triple. However, nothing tops the dad of the year with the kidback tandem and trail-a-bike with a trailer behind that!

Interestingly enough, I also got a lot of nice compliments on my wool jersey.

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I would certainly consider doing it again. The weather conditions were near ideal: overcast most of the time, and not hot (max of about 75°F). If it had rained or been very hot, it would have been much more difficult. My only regret was that I didn’t have any time to explore the cycling mecca that is Portland. Maybe next time.

A big thanks to my riding buddy Steve for inspiring me to do the ride, and to Peg for logistical support i.e. hosting before and the ride back to Seattle.

 

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With the growing popularity of cargobikes, I expected that there would be several cargobike dealers to visit while here in Vancouver. I had visited one dealer several years ago when I checked out an early Yuba Mundo, but they had gone under after about a year. A cursory Google search turned up several other dealers that were also out of business. There was one dealer selling Bullitts that I didn’t want to contact as it looked like they were selling by special order out of their home. A little more digging yielded a few options.

One was the Bike Doctor, on Broadway across from the MEC mothership. I’ve visited them before when I was looking for raincapes.

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Here you can see a Wike box bike and a Yuba Boda Boda out front.

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Inside, you can see that they also carry the Babboe box bike.

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They also have a good selection of family biking things.

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In my brief visits with them, I’ve found them friendly, and their service and parts department was very helpful.

Another interesting shop was the Tandem Bike Cafe, at 16th and Heather. It is a coffee shop that also does bike repair. When I rode by, I had to stop since there was both a CETMA and a Metrofiets bike out front. I had not seen either in the flesh before. I was told that they could special order either of them.

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Here you see the flanges that allow the CETMA frame to be broken down for shipping.

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Some very clean TIG welding on the Metrofiets, and it also looks like the rear dropout is splittable for the installation of a belt drive.

Last but not least, a local contact pointed me towards Grin Technologies, so I went down there to check them out today.

On my way, I meet this fellow doing a technical check on one of the new bikes for the bikeshare system on the Hornby bike lane.

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I asked about the helmet law, and he showed me a cable integrated into the handlebar that could be used to secure a helmet, but since he was from the bike vendor, he didn’t know about the details of any helmet sharing system.

The Google map directions to Grin were a bit unclear as their postal address is on Powell St, but their actual access is off a parking lot accessed from E Cordova St.

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Once inside, an overwhelming number of things to look at.

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A wide selection of unicycles.

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Their main business is selling kits and components for e-bike conversions. They do, however, sell this one type of ready to ride electrically assisted cargobike, the eZee Expedir.

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More interesting to me was the row of bikes behind the two Expedirs.

Firstly, an e-assist Brompton.

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Beside it was an Xtracycle Edgerunner in the process of being built up, and then a Yuba Mundo with a complete middrive that was somewhat reminiscent of the Stokemonkey.

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However, Ben told me that their system was built in house and was considerably more refined. For one thing, this set up drives the chain, and a special crankset allows the rider to freewheel, whereas the Stokemonkey drives the crankset directly, requiring the rider to always be pedalling. There is also a clever arrangement that senses pedalling effort so that the controller can provide a proportional amount of assist.

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One of their visions is to have this system made as universal as possible so that it can be installed on a wide variety of longtail cargobikes.

Here is the staff parking; quite the interesting collection of bikes.

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Of course I immediately focused on the Haul a Day in the same orange colour as my own.

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It had a hub motor drive installed, but they were planning to install a middrive. The owner told me that hers was a prototype HaD, and so it didn’t have a diagonal frame brace that later models had, like mine. Compare the above picture to mine:

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Next to it was a longtail based on the Xtracycle Leap extension.

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I was told that one of the hazards of working there was that when you showed up with a new bike, there was the possibility that it would be turned over to prototype a new configuration of electric drive. There were a few non-assisted bikes in the rack. I was amused to hear them referred to as “acoustic bikes”.

In the back was a vintage Xtracycle FreeRadical with an original Stokemonkey drive.

I could have easily spent another hour looking at all the things on display, but regrettably I had to move on. Thanks to Ben for showing me around.

I applaud their efforts in promoting electric assist with made in Canada solutions. After a week of biking around Vancouver, I can see the need for e-assist to make cargobikes more generally appealing.

A little further on, I had to stop by Bomber Brewing, since I had ridden by it three times during a previous training ride.

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I tasted a couple of beers, but left with just a six pack of their Park Life Passion Fruit Ale that I had just yesterday at a restaurant. It tasted like a Radler, but I was told that it only had 7% of Passion Fruit Puree that was fermented with the rest of the beef. A nice, light summertime drink. Regrettably, they were out of their Bike Route Best Bitter, named for the fact that they were situated at the intersection of two bike routes.

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That’ll wrap up my reporting from Vancouver this year. We’ll see what shape I’m in when I reach Portland.

Update: here is an article from ModaCity about the cargobike scene in Vancouver. It is optimistic, but it also mentions the lack of dealerships. Note the picture of the Bullitt cargobike with a beer keg from Bomber Brewing.

Update #2: Spokesmama has a much more extensive list of cargobike dealers in Vancouver.

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This July, in a fit of over enthusiasm, I signed up to do Seattle to Portland, which entails riding 205 miles in two days. Note that I haven’t done anything like this since Dalmac 2000 (which was also pre kids), and so I’ve been a bit concerned about being undertrained. To make thing things even more fun, I’ve decided to do it on my Tikit, for reasons of logistics, etc. I’ve been putting a bit of mileage on the Tikit, and I’ve found two things for sure: one is that I’m a bit slower on it than on my Tamarack, but on the plus side the Selle Anatomica saddle is more comfortable than the Brooks B17 on that bike.

Also, TBNer’s look a bit surprised when I show up to a ride with small wheels. This was June 19, and it was really hot so I wimped out and only did 74K that day.

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One thing I did back in March was to finally install the fenders that were originally delivered with the bike. They work well, and don’t interfere too much with the fold. I will have to dismount them to suitcase the bike.

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The other thing I soon realized was that the water bottle mount on the back of the seat tube is totally unworkable, so I decided to mount a cage on the stem. It is off to the side so that it doesn’t interfere with the fold.

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I used these bottle cage clamps from Velo Orange that were serviceable, but wouldn’t necessarily work with all bottle cages since they have no holes for cage mounting bolts.

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Another note: over time I noticed that the rear brake action was getting spongy, and I found out that this was because the barrel adjuster to the travel agent on the rear had broken, causing some friction. My particular setup has tri bar type road levers, and so travel agents are used on front and rear, and the way that the brake cable on the rear came in at an angle to the linear pull brake must have stressed it enough to break this part. I ended up getting a new unit, although in retrospect I could have gotten away with just a new barrel adjuster. The new unit is black, though!

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Note that the rear brake cable on the Tikit must be tandem length. I discovered this on Canada Day, and so I had to cannibalize another bike to get this done for a ride later that day.

Further note to self: when I get back from Seattle, remember to put a new brake cable on the back of wife’s recumbent.

The original plan was to use this Carradice Bag mounted on the seat post so that I have the option of carrying a few things along for the ride (such as raingear?). However, I decided to leave it behind as it was taking up too much space in our luggage.

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Once I arrived in Vancouver, I had second thoughts, and so I bought a Charlene seat pack from Porcelain Rocket.
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It can take up to 5 L, while being quite a bit smaller and lighter than the Carradice. I’ve already found it very handy. The roll top closure can be used to carry extra stuff, such as a baguette:

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or a wet raincape.

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Final touch: a proper bell.

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The bar end bell that I had been using never put out enough sound to satisfy me.

Now onto more vital matters…. such as training.

 

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