Archive for March, 2009

Cycling Infrastructure

March 28, 2009

The Cycling Info blog is a good read. The latest post concerns cycling infrastructure in the Netherlands. While I think we in the UK have a lot to learn from the Dutch on this topic, I am not a fan of over segregation of bikes and over road users. Take this cycle path with its own tunnel under road.


While this might be a good way to avoid a busy road, the design is far from ideal. If you were cycling in the opposite direction you would be approaching a blind corner. Now ask yourself how happy you would feel approaching that corner at night and whether you would prefer to be at road level and pressing a button to halt the traffic – in full view of all the other road users. A more mundane issue is that I know from my cycling in Stevenage, one of the few towns in the UK designed from the start to accommodate cyclists, that tunnels like this attract broken glass on the road. Not sure why, they just do.

104, 105….smile

March 27, 2009


A Mini-review to mark the first 100 miles on my Alfine Tikit.


The initial impressions are certainly confirmed – the disc brakes work like a dream and are completely silent (none of that frightening pedestrians with squealing rubber), the gears shift perfectly and getting the right size Tikit makes a huge difference to the feel on the road; from a cramped position on a Medium Tikit to a suitably stretched position on the large model improves not just the aerodynamics but also the sense of control. The H bars provide a variety of comfortable handholds and the disc brakes are so effective that at low speeds braking can be effected with one finger tip from the ‘bar end’ part of the bar.

I did wonder about the choice of a Shimano 105 chainset. This is well made and gives me the 172.5mm cranks that match my road bike, but the bottom bracket is narrow. The Tikit design puts a lot of gubbins around the bottom bracket with one of the main hinges in the folding mechanism and the various stops and releases associated with the hinge. Initially I thought this was a problem. The bike would work fine on the flat, but when climbing there was a loud metal spring-like noise. In consultation with Bike Friday I looked for the cause. There was a bit of chain rub going on:


As can be seen above the chain was just touching the spur which buttresses the frame tube. A bit of careful work with an adjustable wrench sorted it out but not the noise. Today however silence is restored. The culprit was one of the small washers that are clenched by the jaws in the rear triangle. The left hand washer was damaged:


Loosening the bolt and rotating the washers slightly and click…problem solved. Now I can get into some serious training for Paris….


The Alfine Tikit is slightly heavier than a standard Tikit. This is not an issue, the hub gears are well spaced and it is easier to get up Sheffield’s hills than its predecessor. The concentration of the extra weight in the rear hub does have one unintended effect however. The standard Tikit fold technique – thump the saddle forward and yank the bike upwards – doesn’t work quite as effectively. The rear triangle doesn’t swing round and latch onto the frame. The weight in the hub (combined possibly with the resistance to bending in the rear brake pipe) means it tends to stop halfway and hang down from the hinge. This is not a major issue however as I have developed a technique involving a leftwards nudge with my right foot.

Sheffield makes it onto Streetview

March 22, 2009


One of the first cities in the UK to get this service, Google didn’t tell the neighbours they were coming. This post is only marginally cycling related.

I’ve signed up

March 20, 2009


Yes, in a fit of Friday afternoon web surfing I have signed up for the 2009 Folding Bike Challenge. That’s right, the Alfine Tikit is on its way to Paris. 240 miles in 4 days. Not a tall order on the Campaged-out road bike, but my longest trip in one go on a Tikit is about 7 miles. Time for some training methinks.

Reduce – Reuse – Cycle

March 15, 2009

Finished the original Tikit refurb for Julia.

It is a medium Tikit so always was a bit too small for me. Sawed a chunk off the seat post and head tube so that it would fit and still fold. Put the original Bike Friday wide saddle back on and replaced the ATACs with SPDs.

Replaced chainring, chain, cassette and jockey wheels. Upgraded the brakes to Deore and finally got to add the Ergon grips which had been sitting in the carrier bag since December. Well actually Chris at Tony Butterworths did most of the work. As might be expected from Sheffield’s best bike shop, the end result is pretty pleasing.


Time for a test ride



Pretty pleased with the result, time to head into town for some coffee…and in Julia’s case a short doze.


The couple that folds together stays together!

Time for a quick chukka anyone?

March 5, 2009

Everything bike is now clearly a la mode, even the BBC have caught up with a short film on that Shoreditch favourite Bike Polo

The trouble with working…

March 3, 2009

…is it seriously cuts into cycling time. However this is clearly not the answer.

Alfine Tikit: First Impressions

March 1, 2009

Got my new Bike Friday Tikit on the road today. It is a large Seasons Tikit hyperfold frame with disc brake fittings on the back and a special wider set of forks to accommodate the front disc. The Hubs are Shimano Alfine, including a dynamo front hub. The brake levers are Shimano SLX fitted on Bike Friday H bars. Goodridge stainless brake hoses keep the brake oil in, and should be robust enough to stand the folding and unfolding. The chainset is Shimano 105 and there is a Chris King Headset. All other pieces are Bike Friday standard issue.

Have fitted Time ATAC pedals, a Selle Italia saddle, a Cat Eye wireless computer and best of all a B&M Lumotec IQ dynamo front light.

There were three tests I wanted to run to start with:

1. How is the gearing for ascending Sheffield hills?
2. Do the brakes work descending Sheffield hills?
3. What is the light output like at low speed?

There was only one place to go, the unimaginatively named Alpine Road. This residential road is only about 100 metres long but averages about 10% and kicks up nastily at the end.


Test One

The Alfine hub shifts effortlessly and with a 52×16 combination the lowest gear was able to propel me up the hill at just about three miles an hour. The look is one of concentration rather than effort, at this speed and on this incline pedaling is a mental as well as physical activity. However the pedaling was pretty effortless, considering the gradient – which can be judged from the base of the green telecoms box on the left.


Test Two

Julia agreed to sit in the road and watch as I descended – I promised to miss her if I couldn’t stop. Actually I wasn’t worried about the ability to stop, more about the ability modulate the brakes to stop the bike with me still on it.


I needn’t have worried, smooth, silky smooth braking and the pads are not yet worn in.

Test Three

It was too early in the afternoon for a genuine test, but as it got darker I tried another ascent of the the hill. Again I am impressed, the light is clearly strong enough even at 3mph. How much of this is coming from the standlight facility in the IQ unit and how much is coming from the hub dynamo is difficult to tell however.


So tomorrow the bike gets roped into service for the commute – looking forward to it – am really impressed with this bike. Just need to fit the rear rack and I’m ready