Honestly I've always been curious about tandems, but have never ridden one. The problem is that it's really tough to find a tandem that fits properly. Since you have to have a single frame that fits two people. There are a lot of really crappy tandems available on Craigslist, but honestly I'm past the point in life where I'm interested in crappy stuff. On the other hand, I'm not particularly interested in spending $20K on a Specialized Carbon Fiber tandem either.
Fortunately while perusing my favorite bike maker's website, I noticed that he is building tandem frames.
I got my first Habanero back in 2004, after spending a year or so riding Max' Cannondale. My Habanero was built by the inimitable Sheldon Brown, marketed as the 'Century Special'.
My second Habanero was targeted as my rando bike. My original Habanero had a ~5" drop from the seat to the bars (now modified to be a much more reasonable ~2"), and by day 3 of a 1200K I found myself riding entirely on the pads of the aerobars. So #2 was a 62cm frame, based on Habanero's cross geometry.
I really like Mark Hickey's philosophy. He acknowledges that he over-engineers his frames and builds, which for those of us in the 100kg+ club is a welcome relief. So I pinged him about the tandem frame, and he responded nearly immediately with a lot of great detailed information.
I still need to make, well, pretty much all the build decisions. The sizing will be interesting, as I'd prefer the geometry of my 64cm Habanero, but the stoker will be coming from a 52cm or 54cm bike (not sure which. Need to measure).
There are a few other important decisions to make as well.
Mark recommends the Wound Up Composites CF fork.
|Wound Up Tandem Fork|
They do have a disk version. Mark suggests not to go that route, and I'm inclined to follow his advice. I'm not yet convinced of the integrity of a CF disk fork. It s tempting though.
|Wound Up Tandem Disk Fork|
One of the advantages of a disk fork is additional tire clearance. My other Habaneros fit 26s well, 28s with a bit of luck, and almost certainly nothing larger. Mark says that he can probably design the bike to take a bigger tire. But too big, and brake clearance becomes an issue. A disk brake would take care of that problem.
As I mentioned above, the rider size differential is moderately challenging.
My plan is to go with a pretty standard build. Ultegra components, and whatever is the equivalent of Open Pro wheels. I think the Velocity rims are popular for this purpose. Hopefully nice fat tires. It's not clear yet what the price will be. My hope is to keep it under $5K. Seems possible.
I really don't know what goes into a tandem build at this point. I imagine there will be a lot of questions that arise along hte way.
While poking around his tandem build info, I couldn't help but notice he's now selling 29er frames. Of course I just sold a nice single-speed 29er, but the prospect of a hard-tail geared 29er in a fetching Ti finish is enticing. Might have to wait until after I get my Motobecane Boris set up though.