Ryan approached me asking if I would consider building a lightweight, packable road tandem for him and his wife Amy. Having done recumbent tandems previously, I figured an upright one would be relatively easy! There were a lot of ideas and concepts floated about before we settled on the final design:
- Oversize headtube for tapered steerer fork.
- Sloping toptube to maximise stoker seatpost extension – with a titanium seatpost for additional comfort.
- 1.5″ titanium mid-tubes (if required the frame stiffness can be fine tuned by changing the wall thickness/material of these tubes).
- Rear drum brake with stoker seattube mounted control lever.
- 3×10 gearing with ‘SRAMpagnolo’ shifting.
- Fender mounts on the rear.
- Double binders on all midtube sockets for definite security.
- Packs into two cases for minimal dis-assembly and ease of fit.
The finished bike comes in under 29lbs without the drum brake, and Ryan and Amy were both very pleased with the initial test ride – they have promised a fuller report in due course!
We made it out on a couple of more rides with the tandem while we were in the US. It is sooooo smooooth!!!! :) Amy is loving the ride! I no longer have to call out every little bump in the road. In fact, I stopped calling out any bumps just to see what would happen. Amy never squawked once. I now only have to call out major bumps. Amy said a bump that would have felt like “it was cutting me in two” on the C’dale with a suspension seatpost now is “somewhat uncomfortable” on the English. Mission accomplished!
As we discussed, I was worried that the tandem would be really noodley with the long stoker compartment and titanium mid-tubes. We did some hard efforts on a couple of hills, and I am happy to report that we didn’t notice any unwanted flex. I’ll keep paying close attention and will swap out the bottom mid-tube with a heavy walled SS one at some point just to see what difference it makes. For now, I think that I was worried unnecessarily.
We love our English Tandem and are anxious to spend more time riding it! You did a superb job with it! Next time we are in the market for a custom bike(s) you will be at the top of the list. Thanks again for being easy to work with and for an awesome bike!
One year update:
We absolutely love our bike Rob, and it has been able to travel a fair bit. It’s been around both the North and South Islands [of New Zealand] for various rides and races, where it always offers a superb ride even though NZ roads can be exceptionally rough. It also is often a source of conversation, as it is not only a beautiful thing to ride, but a beautiful thing to look at.
We flew to the South Island for a race last year, where it packed up easily into it’s two cases and was a breeze to reassemble. It rode comfortably, smoothly and responsively; cornering hard and shifting without fail. We’re pretty sure it was the envy of the other tandem racers at the airport when we walked up with two rolling suitcases while everyone else had their huge over-sized bike boxes. Who would have thought it would be so easy to travel with a tandem?
We were able to take our first bicycle tour on it in March, where race-bike became tour-bike, complete with trailer. Even with the extra loading, it was stiff and responsive with spot-on shifting, even on the steepest grades. We are looking forward to our next cycle tour in September, when we pack it up for a tour around Samoa.