Friday, October 9, 2009

The Tikit in Borneo

It is well known that the tikit is an excellent commuter bike, perhaps one of the best in its class. But I brought it along as I wanted to see if it could handle the rigours of hard core, no holds barred bicycle touring in headhunter land.

Lets start with the downsides first. Luggage carrying capacity is not its forte especially with the one sided commuter rack. With a heavy 7 kg touring pannier, it affected steering feel. This issue is easily solved with the twin touring rack so I guess to be fair, I was using the wrong rack for the wrong purpose. I ended up carrying the tikit's pannier on the other folder. With the rear rack (which my tikit did not have yet), this would greatly enhance its carrying capacity.

Secondly, my tikit has limited gearing and this applies to all folders with single chain ring. To tour, a twin or triple chain ring or a dual-drive system is absolutely essential (tikits can be custom ordered with this set up) especially for long climbs and fast descents. However if the terrain is relatively flat unlike Borneo, then this is not an issue.

Those 2 matters aside, the tikit impressed me no end with its comfort (despite 16" wheels), sharp handling and extreme stability at high speed descents. Even through broken roads, it felt surprisingly stable. I give credit to the rigid, unbroken frame design for these sterling qualities. The adjustable handlebar height also helped to get that perfect riding position, and being able to change it from time to time did ergonomic wonders to ease sore shoulders, back and palms.

The tikit was also was the best climber among the 4 folders as it felt very agile. Celia who rode the tikit most times commented that she liked the tikit because it was "light and fast". Even when it came to pushing the tikit up unmanageable hills, she was surprised that it was very "balanced" and could be done by just holding only the seat! When I asked if the tikit was comfortable over such a long ride, Celia (a Phd Spine Physiotherapist) remarked, "I won't survive the tough ride if it wasn't good!"

Mike commented on how rough the road became after a nice long descend, and exclaimed as he whizzed by, "My gosh, I lost my dentures! Ha, ha... "

The tikit also somehow drew more attention than the other folders, which can be a liability at times. But that is the price to pay for being such an attractive bike, at least in my eyes.

The ease of folding and packing the tikit also bode well for it compared with the other folders. It was always the first to go into the bag, and the first to be ready to ride. It is also very helpful that the deraileur folded inside, thus preventing damage during transportation.

All things considered, I would certainly choose a NWT or an Expedition for a Borneo tour over the tikit. However, touring on a tikit is possible and I dare say that this could very well be the best 16" touring folder, if properly set up. Don't underestimate this commuter bike as it could be a joy to use on tours where the terrain is more "civilised". I came away respecting its incredible versatility.


Michael Khor said...

Very nice account of your Borneo adventure, Al. I see you guys cleverly avoided Telupid ... must be my colourful report :)

Oldyonfoldy said...
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Oldyonfoldy said...

We read abt you kena shower only with rain water plus the endless and scenic-less ride. Guess we are a bit too old for that type of torture la. Ha ha.

Thanks for inspiring us to do the trip! :)