The process was certainly educational for me. There are a lot of considerations when designing a tandem that you don't need to worry about on a solo frame. Like trying to fit a 75" captain on the same bike as a 65" stoker. Thanks to Mark's excellent guidance, we ended up with a great looking frame. I had a few requirements:
- Similar geometry up front to my 64cm Habanero
- Support for disc brakes on the frame
- As many water bottle braze-ons as possible
- Ability to fit 700x35 tires
- Priced around $5,000
- Pump peg
Mark just about hit the $5K mark on the nose. This strikes me as remarkable for a custom titanium tandem with solid components. When I looked around at other Titanium options it was tough to get anywhere near $10K.
|Ready For Disk Brakes|
Mark got the frame a couple months ago, and started assembling the bike. He did discover a problem right away; the rear brake bridge was a little too low to clear the tires we planned to use. We could have just gone with smaller tires, but I've really become a fan of larger tires, so I wanted to keep the option of using 700x35s.
|Mark's brake bridge mod provides clearance for 700x35s.|
Delivery And Assembly
Mark generously offered to meet me in St. George where I was crewing for Hoodoo. Ultimately though I gave up on the logistics of that and he shipped it to me in Oregon instead.
|Ready To Ride!|
|One of these dropouts is no longer like the other|
The rest of the assembly went uneventfully. It's really only a 15 minute process or so to unpack and assemble a well packed bike. I was a little nervous about the carbon fiber fork, but ours is a tandem-specific Wound-Up, and it feels really beefy. Likewise I had Mark go with stout wheels, Velocity Dyad with 36H in front and 40H in back.
|Wound-Up tandem fork|
|Still need pedals and another seat..|
|Poor-Man's Tandem Workstand|
|Official Weigh-in: 37 pounds, 15 ounces.|
With our trip to the San Juan Islands just a few days away, we needed to get a test-ride in. Neither I nor A__ have ever ridden a tandem. So really had no idea what to expect. I read a few tips online and then we loaded the bike in the truck and drove to a nearby school with a big parking lot and endless miles of low-traffic roads nearby.
|75% of the HBC Titanium Fleet Represented Here.|
After a short 5 mile loop we started to feel more comfortable. A few small downhills where we hit maybe 30MPH and a few tiny climbs passed uneventfully.
We've got about 50 miles on the tandem now, comprised of ~15 mile rides. Some of the early challenges revolved around cadence. A__ tends to apply power to the pedals for fewer radians than I but, at least on flats, we're now more synchronized there. Riding solo I have a cadence in the high 70s, which exaggerates the problem above. Switching to a higher cadence helped even out our pedaling, but when climbing even small hills we still get a bit out of sync.
After getting the wrinkles figured out, it's been quite enjoyable riding the tandem. On flats we cruise at about 19-20MPH, about the same as I'll do on a solo ride. Climbing is considerably slower, and we're not descending especially fast, so overall average is perhaps 17MPH. Faster than A__ alone, and slower than me alone, but that will get better with practice.
I really have nothing against which to compare the Habanero, but my impressions so far are positive. We did have an interesting experience with cross-winds on San Juan Island; a tandem has a larger area and a longer moment-arm than a solo so even a moderate breeze really made us wobble. I'm sure this will get better with practice, but I'd hate to imagine riding a tandem in a strong wind.
The triple chainring is well out of sight of the captain. Coupled with the additional abstraction from the drivetrain, it's tough to tell which ring you're in without peeking under your arm or asking the stoker. A tandem seems like an ideal application for a Shimano flight-deck, or better yet XTR Di2 synchro-shift.
I really hate v-brakes. They stop the bike just fine, but opening them up to take out a wheel is a real pain in the neck. The front brake has a little jagwire adjuster that helps a bit, but I've not yet succeeded in getting the back brake open.
|Trying to get those brakes open is a real pain|
I've ordered a set of Paul MiniMoto brakes which allegedly have a better quick-release mechanism. If I'm happy with those I'll probably order a couple more sets, for the fixie (which currently has V-brakes) and the rando habanero (which has cantis).
|Paul MiniMoto quick release|