BF Tandem Traveller XL Update…

5 07 2011

Parking the Bike Friday tandem takes some ingenuity...

It’s been a few months since the Raspberry Rocket showed up at our house so I thought I would take a moment to provide an update on our experiences with her. First off I should note that she is the only bicycle allowed to live in the house! Not just in the house, but in the dining room so it’s like we eat dinner with her every night…=-) She’s a bit too long to easily fit into our garage through the side door we use and we don’t want to leave her outside so she has the honours of being our only house bike.

Mechanically she has been perfect. I found the idea of assembling a box of tandem parts a bit daunting the first time, but following the Bike Friday instructions was easy and within 2 beers I had her rolling. Since that day I haven’t had to make any adjustments or work on her beyond tweaking the position of the bars. When I was doing my tandem research a few folks warned me that a folding tandem would be a headache to maintain and it would not be reliable for us. Having had great service from my other Bike Fridays I ignored those people [especially since they didn’t own a folding tandem!!] and decided that I would just trust the fine folks in Eugene to build me another awesome bike. I’m glad I did.

I should note that ~30% of our riding is on dirt and gravel as well a long rough decked wooden bridge we tackle nearly every ride so this bike sees some bumps and abuse beyond buttery smooth pavement. We ride her like a bat out of hell or at least as close a replica to a bat out of hell as two middle age recreational cyclists can muster! Sharon loves passing people instead of being passed and I don’t mind the strange bewildered looks from other cyclists when they see a strangely shaped small wheeled pink and purple-ish beast go by..=-)

We ride the tandem for 80%+ of our rides together not counting dirt excusions to Hartland Mountain Bike Park. It just makes so much more sense for us to be on one machine where we can chat and stay together without any effort. We arrive at our destination in much better spirits and there has been no downside so far compared to riding two singles. Since we both do a fair bit of solo riding we each get to ride single bikes enough each week that it’s not like we have to choose to dedicate ourselves to the tandem 100% of the time in any case. The steel multi-part travel friendly frame is stiff enough that I can ride without thinking I’m on a tandem that fits into a suitcase and it has enough vertical compliance that combined with 40mm Greenspeed Scorcher tires we don’t slow down for lumps, bumps or other rough surfaces and we don’t get beat up. It’s a very impressive bike design given the challenges a tandem faces compared to two single bikes. Nice work Bike Friday!…=-)

The only problem we are having with the tandem is that Sharon is not adapting to drop bars well at all. We had to pull them from her Surly Cross Check commuter bike and we had to pull them from the tandem. I’ve swapped in some flat bars with bar ends I had lying around. If she likes them in general I’ll work on a flat bar setup we’ll keep for the long haul that gives her enough hand positions for all day comfort. It’s too bad that the drop bars can’t stay as they suit the bike and provide lots of hand positions, but we tried all sorts of variations in position, tape, padding and hood position with no success. Once I get a permanent solution I’ll post some photos of it.

 


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8 responses

5 07 2011
Randobarf

Vik, as pretty as they may be, you don’t need drop bars in the stoker position on a tandem (even a racing tandem). You can use a stoker bar instead. Position the stoker bar a lot higher than you would on a single bike (considerably higher than the top of the seat, depending on the tastes of the stoker). It’s not even unreasonable to go for a very upright stoker bar and a sprung Brooks seat (in the stoker position, NOT the driver position).

Here’s a Co-Motion stoker bar:

http://co-motion.com/index.php/product/co-motion-stoker-handlebar

5 07 2011
thelazyrando

Thanks! I’ll be playing around with her bars this summer and I’ll keep the CM stoker bar in mind. I want to get her to a comfortable position and then perfect the bars for a longterm solution.

5 07 2011
JJake

If you are set on drops, look at some of the Trek WSD bars. The reach and drop on those would be much better proportionally for her than the bars you have there currently. Just looking at her in the photo, I’d set her up with something in a 70 reach with a 125 drop. And check her shoulder width – I am guessing she’d need no wider than a 40 bar and likely a 38. But that might not be wide enough to clear you body on the captain’s saddle. So I would actually concur with Randobarf on the “bullhorn” style bar, like the one from Co-motion. Just wrap it with tape and don’t use grips.

5 07 2011
trailz

I guess I’d also consider a trekking bar. For me it provides multiple hand positions, including providing a more close in grip for the more upright ride, but further out grip for a slightly more aggressive position. Also, great side grips for climbing/accelerating.

5 07 2011
thelazyrando

She finds the hand positions on a drop bar don’t feel comfortable so I’m not confident a slightly different shape will change anything in that regard. I’m not set on drops, but it seemed like a logical choice for a touring bike.

The stoker cockpit and position of the captain’s saddle/body limit the bar options and I don’t think would work for trekking bars.

5 07 2011
Chandra

Nice ride!

Peace :)

6 07 2011
dougandanne

My fiance and I recently got a full sized Trek tandem (one of the huge production they did back in the early 90s and sold for ten years). We really love it. Last weekend we did a camping trip to a state park near Port Townsend and next week we’ll be riding down the coast on it. I really love bringing Anne along.

7 07 2011
TenSpeed

You might consider the Profile Design Stoker bar on the back – we used one for years on our Cannondale tandem, both on-road and off-, and my wife loved it. Oh, and she also hates drop bars. Your BF tandem looks great!

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