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  1. #1
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    What was good about Burleys?

    I have been reading the hard sell on the Santana website about how their tandems have so many great engineering features; what's overbuilt and why, reasons for tubing and component selection. This sort of thing appeals to me. I can see how not as much engineering effort might have gone into one-off cruiser tandems from other companies. But Burley clearly made a lot tandems, there are probably just as many as Santanas in the sort of 20-yo range I'm shopping, and they all far outnumber Cannondale, KHS, Trek, and the rarer ones. I read some old threads here about their corporate doom, but not too much about the bikes themselves aside from "my FD won't shift" etc.

    Are there any bad ones to watch out for? Any normal issues? Do they have any oddball features that would prevent maintenance or upgrades with currently available components?

    What made them good bikes? Did they have any uniquely great features? Any significant upgrades I should hold out for? Santana for example has a timeline on their site showing when they went to 1-1/4 steerers, A-headsets, standard disk mounts, 160 spacing, etc.
    Genesis 49:17

  2. #2
    Senior Member SJX426's Avatar
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    @Darth Lefty - Have a 1994 Burley Duet. It was a purchase from WRK101. There isn't a lot of uniqueness about it other than the BB which is unique to Burley. The BB is serviceable to some extent and they appear to have good durability. Although I have stripped mine down to bare metal, I did not remove the rear BB. The front is where the eccentric is, of course, and is not an issue. My estimation is that if you can find a good machine shop, you can service the BB. Of course there are couple of shops across the nation that focus on tandems and will service or offer replacement parts (Tandem East).

    I think their design is kinda funky with all the bends and the overall design. It works well for us as my wife is not a regular rider and we take it out only occasionally in the summer. If you want to see pictures of it in the nude, I have a few in my Flickr albums. One item that I did not like was the mounting of the Arai brake anchor. I had it moved from the top of the chain stay to the bottom. Huge improvement in removing the rear wheel and avoids messing up the inner chain stay paint.
    Bikes don't stand alone. They are two tired.

  3. #3
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJX426 View Post
    There isn't a lot of uniqueness about it other than the BB which is unique to Burley. The BB is serviceable to some extent and they appear to have good durability. Although I have stripped mine down to bare metal, I did not remove the rear BB. The front is where the eccentric is, of course, and is not an issue. My estimation is that if you can find a good machine shop, you can service the BB. Of course there are couple of shops across the nation that focus on tandems and will service or offer replacement parts (Tandem East).
    is it unique threading? or only a unique part that could be replaced with anything?
    Genesis 49:17

  4. #4
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Good thing about the Burley Duet was the price point, about as cheap as you get a "serious" road tandem.

    Bad things were the frame design with the bended tubes lead to a very heavy bike, and the proprietary bb as alluded to.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

  5. #5
    Senior Member SJX426's Avatar
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    the frame alone without the fork and with the stoker BB is 13lbs.
    Bikes don't stand alone. They are two tired.

  6. #6
    Senior Member SJX426's Avatar
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    @ [IMG]P1010022 by superissimo_83, on Flickr[/IMG]

    The BB is retained with a Cir-Clip on both sides. The bearing s are sealed and I believe the axle is pressed onto the bearings. For my unit, the corrosion level presented more issues than I wanted to overcome and since it spun smoothly, I let the sleeping dog lie.
    Bottom Brackets and Eccentrics from Tandems East
    Bikes don't stand alone. They are two tired.

  7. #7
    Senior Member SJX426's Avatar
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    You might be interested in this design too:
    [IMG]P1010345 by superissimo_83, on Flickr[/IMG]

    Some tandems use bolts to "pinch" the eccentric to keep it from rotating. I have seen issues with stretching the boss lugs with that design. The issue with the Burley design is that he eccentric cylinder is AL and the set screws have a conical end on them which "digs" into the AL> This leaves a impression on the cylinder.

    Maybe not a problem until you need to adjust a small amount. They don't need to be over torqued either. The shell can be distorted if the set screws are too tight. The critical part is that you need to tighten them evenly. Why? Because the eccentric will "pivot" based on the force from the set screws. An example, if the right side is too tight, the right side of the axle will be biased toward the front and the left toward the rear. Just when you think you have the chain properly tensioned, you find out you messed up with the torque of the set screws. It will be, in this case, too loose.

    Once you have the tension correct, you find out that it varies through 360 degree rotation. This can be addressed by loosening the chain ring bolts to compensate for the tight side.

    You may know all this already but I had to get it out! Once it is set, it is set.

    Don't get me started on the Pederson self-actuating Suntour rear Canti's!

    One more thing. A number of these tubes are closed. An example is the front BB. The shell seals all connecting tubes. No drain holes. Big deal right? Well notice that there is a water bottle boss in the above picture. When I stripped the frame and turned it over, about a cup of water came out of the captains seat tube. Some came out of the tube with the water bottle bosses.

    If you look at the links in my first post, #2 , you will see the condition of the frame as purchased and the stripping process with the exposed rust under the paint that was not apparent.

    Currently the frame is still bare with WD-40 coating to prevent rust. I was going to powder coat it red, but the painter I was going to use is not accepting new business, too busy.
    Bikes don't stand alone. They are two tired.

  8. #8
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Burley built some of the best tandems for the money spent. Proof is in the pudding as many 'older' Burleys are still racking up the miles!
    Are they the greatest tandem ever built? They never claimed that, unlike some 'other' brand has. They did build a very good introductory tandem in their early years at a very reasonable price; their later models just kept getting better and better and still at a very competitive price.
    Have ridden over 30 brands/models of tandems in 40+ years. From A to Z . . . literally!
    Have owned a custom Assenmacher (put 64,000 miles on that beauty!) to our current Zona all-carbon fiber machine (with 40,000+ miles on the odometer). Have also owned Follis, Colin Laing, Co-Motion . . . all excellent bikes (except for the Follis).
    Yes, have ridden well and also lesser known brands including Burley, Borthwick, Cannondale, Co-Motion, daVinci, Dawes, Follis, GT, Ibis, KHS, Motobecane, Osell, Peugeot, Raleigh, Roland, Santana, Schwinn, Trek, among many others.
    Buy what fits you properly. Buy what handles/rides best. Buy the best you can afford. Test ride several tandems if you can, and then decide.
    Pedal on TWOgether!!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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  9. #9
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    Buy what fits you properly. Buy what handles/rides best. Buy the best you can afford. Test ride several tandems if you can, and then decide.
    This feels like good advice except that it doesn't seem likely. As long as we get a small/medium tandem we can surely set it up to fit. They don't seem like road bikes that come in ten sizes; we are almost surely going to get a medium/small and from there we can set it up however we want with bars and stems and posts and saddles to our liking. What we can afford is not the same as what we are willing to spend, with a growing family. I've just built up a nice road bike for well under $1000 and that draws objections, so a steel 20yo tandem for a similar price is probable, if I can get a similar price out of my unused and for-sale CL350. We're not likely to test ride a lot of brands; new bikes are rare as hen's teeth and owners of used bikes are nervous nellies about test rides.
    Genesis 49:17

  10. #10
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    1994 and older Burleys came with Sanshin hubs which are splined for Sun Tour cassettes. Sun Tour no longer makes cassettes. When your cassette wears out, you may be looking at replacing the whole rear wheel or paying big bucks to buy used or NOS Sun Tour cassettes on the internet.

  11. #11
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jhenry45 View Post
    1994 and older Burleys came with Sanshin hubs which are splined for Sun Tour cassettes. Sun Tour no longer makes cassettes. When your cassette wears out, you may be looking at replacing the whole rear wheel or paying big bucks to buy used or NOS Sun Tour cassettes on the internet.
    Thanks. How far back in time from there to freewheels?
    Genesis 49:17

  12. #12
    Senior Member SJX426's Avatar
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    @Darth Lefty - Based on the parts on my Burley, I have narrowed it down to a 1994 vintage. I think they used parts that were in the bin until they were gone because mine has parts described on BikePedia from two years. I assumed the parts from the newer year represented what I have. Ok so mine had a 6 speed freewheel. I upgraded to 7 speed. The shifters are indexed Sutour 7 speed barcon's now (I traded my 6 speed barcons). I had a couple of 7 speed freewheels in the parts bin that I picked from.

    I understand your situation. I am much in the same situation but continue with the N+1 and do reveals over time. Did two last week. The Burley came to me at a very good price but was cosmetically poor condition, hence the bare frame. I plan on painting it at some point in time. There are two, oops three others in the wings.

    My hubs say they are sealed and they are sealed cup and cone, not sealed bearings. The spoke count is 48! I have seen Duet's between 450 and 1200 on CL in various conditions. That makes me pause for the effort I have and will need to put into mine. What is important to me is that I have one we can ride upon occasion. We don't do a 1000 miles a year so this bike is perfect for us. I commute to work and my wife will go out 10 times in a year. Big difference so this works out well for both of us.

    I am not happy with the handlebar configuration for her yet. We just solved the saddle issue with a Terry. My wife is a decent stoker in that I don't have issues with stability and we learned the key handling issues of starting and stopping easily. She also didn't want any constraints on her feet but recently asked to add the half cages. That she is much happier with as her feet stay on the pedal and she can easily remove them. This sounds a bit crazy because I am the one who has the chore of getting on and off the pedals from a stability and safety point of view. She gets to just sit there!

    Keep looking. Do get the best you can afford. Also keep in mind that you want a slightly smaller captains size than your road bike. You need to be able to spread your feet apart to allow for the crank to turn without hitting your legs while balancing the bike when the stoker gets on.
    Bikes don't stand alone. They are two tired.

  13. #13
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJX426 View Post
    You might be interested in this design too:
    [IMG]P1010345 by superissimo_83, on Flickr[/IMG]

    Some tandems use bolts to "pinch" the eccentric to keep it from rotating. I have seen issues with stretching the boss lugs with that design. The issue with the Burley design is that he eccentric cylinder is AL and the set screws have a conical end on them which "digs" into the AL> This leaves a impression on the cylinder.
    Santana uses essentially the same design, although their set (or "grub") screws are on the underside of the BB rather than the top. The Santana eccentric is aluminum, and the set screws basically embed themselves into the eccentric to fix it in place. I've owned a number of Santanas of different vintages, and the eccentric has never posed any problems.

    Burley made a number of different tandems, of differing quality. The best known and most common is the Duet, which is definitely an entry level tandem. In later years they came out with higher-end tandems with nice component groups at very good prices. (In fact, I've heard that they basically lost money on each of the better models.) The Rumba is one example, which was even available with S&S couplers at a great price; it was the cheapest S&S tandem available at the time (I bought one on my local Craigslist a few years ago and it was a surprisingly nice bike). There is also the Burly Tamberello, which I believe was essentially the same as the Rumba, but with an aluminum frame. As far as parts go, TandemsEast in NJ bought all of Burley's tandem parts when they stopped building the bikes, so they are a good source for parts, including the proprietary BB setup.

    As far as the "hard sell on the Santana website," look at that in relation to what your needs are. I presently own two Santanas (one tandem, one triplet) and a Co-Motion tandem. The proprietary aspects of Santana design, including 1-1/4" forks/headsets/stems, 160mm rear spacing, wider BB axle lengths due to the wider rear spacing, etc., are fine, but the jury is out on whether they are necessary. Sure, they can't hurt durability and all that, but are the normal standards realistically worse? All the specific parts are readily available from Santana, and they have good customer service. You'll pay a bit (or a lot) more for certain parts, though, than for standard parts like 1-1/8" headsets. In short, I wouldn't necessarily buy a Santana because of their proprietary parts and designs, but I wouldn't not buy because of that, either.

    Nowadays I'd put Co-Motion and Santana on an equal footing for tandems. Both are relatively high volume (for tandems) while still being enthusiast-level quality. Good quality used examples of each brand appear often, and I'd pick one of those brands over a Burley only because of increased resale value down the road (both brands hold their value very well). However, if you find a higher-end Burley for a killer deal, grab it and enjoy it!

  14. #14
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
    Thanks. How far back in time from there to freewheels?
    We bought our Burley Duet in 1994, but I was NOS, so a 1993 model or before. It came with a rear 6 speed freewheel. The axle in that hub broke fairly soon( a common problem according to the LBS) and we rebuilt the wheel with a 7 speed cassette hub.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

  15. #15
    Senior Member DCwom's Avatar
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    We have a Burly Tamberello and the BB is NOT propitiatory, so it probably depends on the year/model. We are very happy with the Burley, our singles were not high-end, just basic hybrids from a LBS. The Burley was a big upgrade and we immediately increased our speed & range over the singles, I think a lot might depend on what you ride for a single.

  16. #16
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    Our first tandem was a used Burley Rock & Roll with a Softride beam and 26" wheels, straight bars and 8 speed twist shifters. I spent a few hundred bucks for some used brifters, handlebars, and new rims/spokes, and it did us well for several years. We put probably 5,000 miles on it. I have a tall stoker and we had the beam raised to the max for her. One day the frame cracked at the beam attachment point, and that was that. I sold the parts for about half of what I paid for the bike. For us, it was a good starter and I had no regrets.

  17. #17
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for the info, it's appreciated.
    Genesis 49:17

  18. #18
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I knew the guys in the tandem assembly shop in the 90's the frames were made by Alan, a founder of the CoOp, who now runs Bike Friday .

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by briwasson View Post
    In later years they came out with higher-end tandems with nice component groups at very good prices. (In fact, I've heard that they basically lost money on each of the better models.) The Rumba is one example, which was even available with S&S couplers at a great price; it was the cheapest S&S tandem available at the time (I bought one on my local Craigslist a few years ago and it was a surprisingly nice bike).
    Do you mean the Samba? I hope so! That's what we ended up with...and it was really hard for us to figure out how the different models compared, since none of them are made any more. If you know how the Samba fits into the lineup, I'd be very curious to hear!

    We just ended up trusting the bike shop owner -- who seems to be a bit of a tandem nut. He seemed really confident that this bike is going to outlive all of us!

  20. #20
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiramarch View Post
    Do you mean the Samba? I hope so! That's what we ended up with...and it was really hard for us to figure out how the different models compared, since none of them are made any more. If you know how the Samba fits into the lineup, I'd be very curious to hear!

    We just ended up trusting the bike shop owner -- who seems to be a bit of a tandem nut. He seemed really confident that this bike is going to outlive all of us!
    Paging through Bikepedia, here's how it looks. Prices are from 2005 pages, most years they're not listed

    Rumba - steel road. $1800
    Duet - nicer steel road $2200
    Paso Doble - race steel road $3200

    Tamburello - aluminum road $1800
    Tosa - nicer aluminum road $2200
    Rivazza - race aluminum road $3200

    Samba - steel MTB $1500
    Rock'n'Roll - nicer steel MTB $2000

    Zydeco - steel hybrid, pretty inexpensive. There was a variant with a weird ladies' x-frame in the back that was called "mixte" but looked like no other mixte on the planet. Toward the end the Zydeco became aluminum. $1000

    Some of these had variants with Softride beams or S&S couplers.

    There's a Rivazza on the local Craigslist this week for <$1000 including a Yakima tandem rack. That's a screaming deal for someone.
    Last edited by Darth Lefty; 05-14-15 at 02:13 PM.
    Genesis 49:17

  21. #21
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    One thing that's good about Burleys is that they are (or at least still were a few years ago) honoring warranties. We have one of the last Burley tandems made, a Rivazza. Been a great bike with probably about 50,000 miles on it in the last 10 years or so.

    About 5 years ago I put this post on the forum under a thread called, I think, "Burley History":


    "I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the old Burley company is still honoring warranties on frames. We purchased a Burley Rivazza new at the about the time the old company quit making tandems (about 5 or 6 years ago). A couple of months ago the local bike shop told us we had a cracked headtube and needed to replace the frame or have it repaired. I had noticed something that felt like a loose headset but it didn't appear to be loose and, according to my shop, what had appeared to be a paint chip was a cracked headtube. Since we had been told when we bought the bike that there was a "lifetime warranty" on the frame, I called Burley. They e-mailed me a letter explaining that the current Burley company that sells trailers is not the same company as the one that made bikes and if I had any warranty claims against the old company to make them in writing to a lawyer in Eugene. I went ahead and sent the letter, expecting to receive a reply saying something to the effect it was too late and they were out of assets. However, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from a nice fella who was administering the Burley warranty claims fund. He sounded very happy to actually have someone he might be able to spend some of his fund on. Sort of like the the maytag repairman in the old commercials. Anyway, he said if they had any more frames they would replace it, but since they didn't they would pay for it to be repaired if I could find someone to repair it (not that many people who will take on repair of an aluminum tandem frame). They guy at Ventana cylcles said he could do it for $1,000 or so and the Burley warranty guy said fine. Never got to see how that would all work out, because when the local bike shop was taking the bike apart to ship the frame to Ventana, they called and said "Sorry, it really was just a paint chip. No broken frame, just a broken headset."

  22. #22
    hup
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    My wife and I ride a Burley Rock n Roll that dates from 1995-1997 based on the parts mix. We bought it used about 4 years ago for less than $400. It had been given the road bike treatment, with drop bars and bar end shifters. We are not "high octane" tandemists, and our bike satisfies our modest needs to a T. I have bumped it to 10 speed with STI shifters, and I had a set of wheels built with the existing Shimano hubset and Velocity Aeroheat rims.
    The bike is by no means a lightweight, but as I said it is perfect for our tandem needs.
    Re: bottom bracket - the stoker BB was making some noise, so after researching I discovered that it was C clipped, pressed, and then "glued" in. I spoke with my lbs and he said it was much like the old Klein BB and not too unlike the countless contemporary press fit "standards" of today. I bought the correct bearings from the local bearing supply store for $20ish and lbs installed them. Good as new.
    I corresponded with Mel at Tandems East and he said that he could do the same for the front eccentric, that is replace the bearings. He quoted $20 labor plus parts and shipping.
    That seems to be as proprietary as our Burley gets.

    Here is the obligatory tandem pic

    IMG_2182 copy.jpg
    Last edited by hup; 05-15-15 at 06:32 PM.

  23. #23
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hup View Post
    It had been given the road bike treatment, with drop bars and bar end shifters.
    This seems like a very common mod and I've been trying to figure out why. I think it must be for a larger team mismatch. The longer MTB reach plus a bunch of rise in the front for the captain, and the lower MTB standover and upright posture in the rear for the stoker. Or if anyone else can tell me why I'd love to hear it.
    Genesis 49:17

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