Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tikit Rear Rack Affects Folded Stability

I love my Bike Friday Tikit, but I had noticed that it wasn't very stable when folded. It would tend to lean to the side the front wheel was on, and the only thing keeping it from falling over was the handle bars acting like a tripod leg. This of course wore on the handlebar. It was fine sitting on flat ground, but if it was on a train or a bus, a turn would cause the bike to fall over.

I was a tad dissapointed at this, especially since everything I'd seen online had said that the rear rack made the tikit extremely stable when folded. I chalked it up to the fact that I also had a double-front-rack, which perhaps was making the front wheel side heavier, causing it to lean.

Luckily, the good people at Bike Friday called recently, out of the blue, just to see how I was liking my bike. Yes, seriously. I had heard tales of the great customer support at this smallish Oregon company, but I still wasn't expecting such attention. I mentioned the problem, and the customer service rep called the guy who oversees Tikit production (Tim) over from the other room. I described the problem to him, and took some photos and e-mailed them to him. He told me what he expected was the problem, and later confirmed it when he received my photos: My rear rack had posts that were too tall. This meant that, when folded, the rear wheel was being held too high off the ground, causing the bike to lean to the other side. This is evident in the photos I sent him (also in this post) by looking at how high the rear fender is held by the too-tall rear rack. Tim put another rack with shorter posts in the mail.

I swapped out the rear rack, and now the Tikit is rock-solid-stable when folded!  I sent them back the too-tall rear rack in the same box, as they said they could modify it for future use.

See the comparison photos below:

Before. . .                                                                       . . . and After!

Before. . . . (Note how high the rear rack is over the wheel)

. . . and After!

Note the difference between the two racks (shorter one is the good one;  taller one makes the Tikit less stable when folded).

It's so nice to have a company that provides this kind of support.  I had been willing to live with the annoyance of the leaning rack, but the company called to check on me just because, and now my bike works even better.  So glad I went with this bike, and this company!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Dog on a Tikit!


I took Lucy on a short (~2 mile round trip) ride to the local park and back, using the milk-crate I attached to my Bike Friday Tikit's double front rack with bungee cords (as shown in a previous post).  Worked like a charm, cost me nothing (since I found the milk crate in a pile of stuff my neighbor was going to put in the recycle bin, and I already had the bungees), and it's easy to attach and remove.  Perfect size for Lucy, who weighs about 17 lbs.  I bet I could fit a slightly bigger dog in there, though.

My point-of-view when stopped at an intersection.  I laid a couple towels down to as a cushion for Lucy to sit on.  You might notice a slight skew comparing the handlebars to the crate.  That is actually due to the handlebars being slightly misaligned, which I hadn't really noticed until this ride.  Took 30 seconds to  re-align them using an Allen wrench.  The crate itself is quite stable with 5 taut bungees holding it in place, and doesn't shift around.

At the park.  I could attach the crate to the rear rack, but I like having the dog up front to interact with, and I'm pretty sure she would get antzy in the back as well.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Attaching a Milk Crate to a Tikit

My Bike Friday Tikit has basically replaced my previous bike, a cheap mountain bike that folds in half. That bike was ok, but it was really cheaply made, and I'm tired of expecting it to break while riding around town. The Tikit is well made and has been a great all-around city bike so far.

One thing my older bike could do that my tikit could not, however, was carry Lucy using a handle-bar mounted pet carrier. The Tikit's handlebar stem is not meant to carry much weight, so I decided not to use the same pet carrier on my little folder. Instead, I've been brainstorming about how to rig something up using the Tikit's double-front rack. That rack is really meant to support panniers, and I do use it to carry my Teeco Detours bag once in a while, but I wanted to use it to support a pet carrier on top.

As fortune would have it, I saw that one of my neighbors had put a milk crate by the recycle bin down in the garage, so I figured it was finders-keepers and snatched it up. A few bungee cords, and it is quite stable on my double-front rack. I put lucy in it and moved around a little, but I haven't taken her for a full-blown ride yet. Perhaps this weekend. I could mount the milk crate on the rear rack as well, but I like to be able to interact with the dog when stopped at an intersection, and I think she likes to be in front anyhow.

I used 5 bungee cords to secure the crate to the rack, as I wanted it to be as stable as possible and not wobble around. Might have been overkill, but it is indeed pretty solid. Don't want the dog falling off the bike!

Pics showing how I attached it below:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Solar power

Solar power

I was walking Lucy this morning and noticed that some neighbors just a few doors down from our condo are installing photovoltaics on their roof! A sign of the times? People investing in their home infrastructure with the future economy and the environment in mind? Either way, it was nice to see! With Los Angeles having so many days of sunshine per year, I hope more and more people make the investment to do things like this.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Interesting Day for Government Economics

So the state of California is apparently close to resolving our budget crisis, thanks to a bunch of spending cuts (a compromise for Democrats) and tax increases (a compromise for Republicans). This includes major cutbacks to education funding, for all public schools in CA including the university systems, and we're all gonna have to pony up more money in the form of state income tax surcharges and increased sales tax.

But one tax increase I think might actually have a positive impact on society is the increased gas tax (an additional 12 cents per gallon), and increased vehicle licensing fees:

"Vehicle license fees would nearly double, going from the current rate of 0.65% to 1.15% of the value of a car or truck. The sales tax would increase by 1 cent, raising the rate in Los Angeles County to 9.75%. Gasoline taxes would increase by 12 cents a gallon. And residents would pay a new surcharge on personal income taxes, amounting to 2.5% to 5% of their total tax bills, depending on how much federal money California gets." (From the L.A. Times article)

All these extra costs are going to be hard to swallow, but perhaps the increased vehicle-related costs will encourage people to use their cars less and use public transit, car-pools, and bicycles more often. In a city like L.A., where so many people drive alone in their cars to work, contributing to pollution, dependence on foreign oil, and traffic congestion, a significant change leading less people to drive could have a major impact. We already saw that ridership on L.A. public transit went up by a whopping 10% in a year (hey, it's a big increase by public transit standards) from September 2007 to September 2008 due to the gas price increases through the summer, and then remained high despite gas price reductions, probably at least partially because people who changed their habits didn't trust that the gas prices would stay low for very long.

On the Federal side, it sounds like the Stimulus package has been put into its final form, with a big surprise for transit advocates: $8 Billion for the construction of new High Speed Rail lines. Wha?!? That's great, but it's a big surprise because the Senate Bill only allocated $2 Billion for HSR, and the House Bill didn't allocate any special funding for it. So, after each of those bills being crafted over weeks, to compromise between $2B and nothing, the Conference Committee bumped it up to $8 billion in one day?!

Well, whatever. I won't look a gift horse in the mouth. With this news and hopes that the Kerry HSR bill will eventually make it through congress, it's getting more and more plausible that the CA HSR system (which needs $10B from state bonds, $10B from the federal government, and $10B from private/commercial sponsors) will actually happen.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

iPhoto '09 will have built-in geotagging and Flickr integration

New geotagging and Flickr features in iPhoto '09!

Just announced at the Macworld Keynote: the new version of iPhoto (2009) will ship with the following cool feature additions (among others):

A "places" section that groups your photos according to where they were taken. This appears to be fully-integrated with google-maps, showing a map with a pin representing each geotagged photo you have, very much like Flickr's map. It also includes the ability to geotag a photo right there in the iPhoto interface.

Even better, the new iPhoto will have a simple "upload to Flickr" option, that sounds like it will replace the third-party iPhoto plugin I've already been using. Sounds like there will also be Facebook integration as well.

This is exactly what I've been waiting for. Now I'll be able to take care of all my geotagging, labelling, keyword/tag adding, and captioning in iphoto, and just upload my finished photos to Flickr in a one-step action, without any additional steps. Count me in.

Check out Macworld's coverage of the keynote for more information (the iPhoto posts are near the bottom of the page, as they were talked about early in the keynote address).