Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Size does matter...

I've got a lot of bikes. I'm not going to tell you how many, but it is somewhere between "a lot" and "that's crazy!" I take pride in the bikes I own as they are all very good at specific bicycling missions. I've got a European lowracer recumbent that can cruise at high speeds for long distances with all the comforts of a lazy-boy recliner. I've got a touring bike that can tackle the most rugged remote roads on the planet and beg for more. These are the sorts of bikes that other cyclists really dig and are the bikes that visitors to my apartment [A.K.A. bike storage space] are drawn to. Frankly these are the bikes I daydream about when I'm not riding. I picture myself zooming along through the mountains on my lowracer on my way to completing a brevet or perhaps on a multi-month long bike tour through Mexico and Central America on my touring bike.

So what bike do I ride the most* ? Surprisingly none of my "serious" bikes. It is my 16" wheeled folding bike - a Bike Friday Tikit - that sees the most action. Honestly I don't day dream about my Tikit. It isn't sexy and it is so small it is often ignored in the back of a closet when people are looking at my other bikes. Yet time and time again it is the bike I find myself riding. I use it for errands, to get to work, to meet friends for coffee, for fun rides, etc... I pretty much use it for everything except those specialist bike missions that my other bikes were designed to excel at. Although I like to think of myself as a brevet riding bicycle tourist the fact is most of my riding is pretty mundane - renting a DVD, buying a few groceries, grabbing a bite to eat or commuting to work.

The Tikit's small size makes it easy to get out of my apartment without dominating the whole elevator. Once on the road its quick handling makes it a nimble ride to get around the many obstacles that are the urban landscape in the centre of my city. Once at a destination I don't worry about locking up my bike. I just take it in with me. I can take it on public transit during rush hour when full size bikes are banned. I can also easily throw it into a car if I am meeting up with a friend who is driving or carpooling with a co-worker.

Although it looks small Bike Friday makes the Tikit in 3 sizes so my little bike fits me the about the same as my 58cm road bike. The small wheels and upright posture are not going to win me any races on the open road, but in town the fast acceleration and nimble handling more than make up for any other performance losses.

I knew something interesting was going on when two of my friends who are not bicycling obsessed got so excited about the Tikit they bought their own folding bikes and a co-worker's brother is about to pull the trigger on a folder. It just goes to show you - good things do come in small packages...=-)

In the interest of giving credit where credit is due I need to thank Kent Peterson for turning me on to the possibilities of the folder world and Alex Wetmore for posting lots of great information about the Tikit.

* most being defined by # of trips not total distance.

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