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.