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  1. #1
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    My new ti / disc brake tandem [picture]

    Picking up on a couple of recent threads here, those being tandem pictures and disc brakes, I thought I would post a picture of my new tandem. The frame is by Spicer, in Evansville, IN. Gene Spicer is about the nicest guy you could deal with. Very honest, and personable, with good customer service. After buying the frame I built everything else myself. A lot of research on this forum and tandem@hobbes, as well as many tandem websites went into the parts spec for this bike. Thanks to all who replied to previous posts about disc brakes, forks, wheels, etc on this forum.

    Wheels: 32 spoke, Shimano XT mtb hubs (see recent thread on tandem@hobbes on whether Shimano's XT mtb hubs are really built to a lesser standard than the tandem hubs) with Mavic Open pro rims. I'll be interested to see how long these hold up!

    Fork: Nashbar steel--more beefy than what was on my steel Burley tandem. And more affordable than the other disc fork options out there.

    Brakes: Avid road disc, 203mm rotors, paired with Shimano road levers and Nashbar bar-top levers. There was a recent thread about using Travel Agents. I bought, but have not installed them, b/c the Travel Agent instructions said not to use them with road levers and Avid road calipers. However, if slight rotor rubbing problem doesn't go away after more usage, I'll install the Travel Agents, and back the pads off some, so they aren't so close to the rotor. So far I'm satisfied with the stopping power of this setup.

    Shifting: Shimano Dura-Ace downtube shifters mated to Rivendell bar-con bodies, with an Ultegra Rear Derailleur and some Shimano front derailleur. Works flawlessly so far.

    Crankset: Truvative Elita tandem crankset, with Nashbar Isis BB's. Crankset is very nice.

    Other: Modolo handlebars, Dimension Stems, FSA headset, carbon seatposts.

    The ride so far: It has that "new bike smell". You know, the chain and gears don't make a sound; no creaking or rattling anywhere. It has a buttery smooth ride, and stable handling. It feels pretty stiff in a turn and a sprint, but soaks up road chatter. Both stokers--experienced "half bike" cyclists in their own right--compared the ride very favorably with their high end singles. Taking the picture made me realize and correct the captain's seat being slightly angled down, and the handlebars being at different angles--things that were hard to notice in my cramped "shop".

  2. #2
    Banned. galen_52657's Avatar
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    Well done Rich! Rolls saddle...very nice!

  3. #3
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Looks great! Rides great too?! What more do you need???
    What is the the weight on that spicey-looking Spicer tandem?
    Enjoy the ride TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  4. #4
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    I've considered a Spicer... please give some feedback as you get more miles in. Is it stiff enough????

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem
    Looks great! Rides great too?! What more do you need???
    What is the the weight on that spicey-looking Spicer tandem?
    Enjoy the ride TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
    My weighing methods are very crude, so here goes:

    Standing the bike on one wheel, the bathroom scale says 35 lbs.

    After weighing myself, then holding the bike while standing on the scale, the difference is 40 lbs.

    All I know is that it is a LOT easier to carry down one flight of stairs by myself, than my previous tandem, a steel Burley Samba.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElRey
    I've considered a Spicer... please give some feedback as you get more miles in. Is it stiff enough????
    If you can't afford other ti tandem options, Spicer is the way to go. I've only owned one other tandem, a very early Burley Samba, which had no lateral tube, so I don't have much of a basis for comparison. It (the Burley) was kind of noodly when maneuvering with a heavy stoker. So far, I've only had lightweight adult stokers on the Spicer. When making a sudden maneuver around a road hazard, I didn't get that flexy feeling with the Spicer. The resolution in the picture isn't too good, but the welds on this frame are very nice, and it was delivered with a nice brushed finish.

    I've already mentioned that Gene Spicer is great to do business with; this is the second ti frame I've purchased from him (the first was a cyclocross frame).

    Here's how this works: you call/email Gene telling him what you want to do. Make sure you know what size you need, and what kind of options you want on the frame with respect to cable routing, disc tabs, spacing, rack attachments, fork rake, etc. Better to put those details down in an email, so Gene can reference it in writing. When you are ready to go, Gene will have a CAD drawing done of the frame (you might have to pay $50 or so to do this, but it is part of, not added to the cost of the frame). Gene will examine the CAD drawing very closely to make sure things are done according to your specs, and he will email you a copy of the drawing also. You MUST go through that CAD drawing with a fine-toothed comb to make sure that all the little details and variables are done right, especially when it pertains to cable routing issues. I had to go through 3 cad drawings of the tandem frame before the factory had everything right. Many times they had housing stops in the wrong places or in a configuration that I didn't like. Water bottle placement was another issue. It's ultimately the buyer's responsibility to make sure that these details are correct in the CAD drawing. After I got this frame, I realized that the water bottle bolts were placed in such a way that I couldn't use 4 large bottles. The rear stoker cage, and the bottom captain cage are too far forward. So it's 2 large and 2 small bottles for this bike! That was a level of detail I simply wasn't going to be able to catch. Once you give the CAD drawing it's final "OK", you pay a deposit for half the price of the frame for production. When the frame arrives, you pay the other half, plus shipping from Spicer to you.

    Rich

  7. #7
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    Thanks Rich. Price would not be my determining factor: as far as I can tell, there's very little difference between the Spicer Ti frame and any other tandem Ti frame (well...except that new Litespeed I posted about). If you noted some distinguishing differences between the Spicer and other Ti frames in your research, please share them.

  8. #8
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Regarding weight savings and tandems, about half of the reductions achieved over the past few years has come from the frame material and the other half from using lightweight components (wheels, fork, cranks, bars, etc.). In looking at your component selection, durabilty seemed to take priority over "bling" or lighweight.

    Question regarding Spicer Cycles & your tandem: Did Gene fabricate his Ti frames in house or does he outsource the work to a third party? The frame's design features look very familiar and the issues you note with bottle placement also given me a feeling of deja vu.

    Finally, regarding the differences between Ti frames, you can't usually see what it is that makes them different unless you put them side-by-side, cut them up, or has a desire to appreciate how each different builder approaches his designs. Santana, Litespeed, Seven, and daVinci's titanium tandems are as different as can be, both in how they look and how they perform. The same is also true of the aluminum, steel, and carbon frames produced by different builders. To many, the differences are neglible and often times masked by tire and wheel selection, riding style, or just a general lack of interest in trying to understand what it is that makes one tandem "feel" better to them than another.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek
    Regarding weight savings and tandems, about half of the reductions achieved over the past few years has come from the frame material and the other half from using lightweight components (wheels, fork, cranks, bars, etc.). In looking at your component selection, durabilty seemed to take priority over "bling" or lighweight.

    Question regarding Spicer Cycles & your tandem: Did Gene fabricate his Ti frames in house or does he outsource the work to a third party? The frame's design features look very familiar and the issues you note with bottle placement also given me a feeling of deja vu.

    Finally, regarding the differences between Ti frames, you can't usually see what it is that makes them different unless you put them side-by-side, cut them up, or has a desire to appreciate how each different builder approaches his designs. Santana, Litespeed, Seven, and daVinci's titanium tandems are as different as can be, both in how they look and how they perform. The same is also true of the aluminum, steel, and carbon frames produced by different builders. To many, the differences are neglible and often times masked by tire and wheel selection, riding style, or just a general lack of interest in trying to understand what it is that makes one tandem "feel" better to them than another.

    1. Keeping this project on some kind of reasonable budget, but ending up with a safe, reliable, nice bike were my priorities. I wanted good quality parts, that were reasonably light for my budget. Thus I chose an inexpensive steel fork; I felt it would hold up better than the carbon alternative that I could afford. The "tandem rated" carbon forks were "unaffordium". The same with the wheels; I had the rims sitting around, and was willing to chance it that XT mtb hubs would hold up reasonably well for my style of riding, and the usage the bike would get. Some of the other parts--shifters, stem, headset, seat, and derailleurs were also sitting around from frames I had parted out & sold.

    2. Gene has his frames produced in Taiwan. I have no problem about the design of the frame, but Gene warned me, that due to language barriers, to REALLY check the CAD drawings carefully for the little details.

    3. What's the main difference between a Spicer Ti frame, and those by Lightspeed, Seven, and daVinci? Probably those other frames will be lighter, and will give an even better ride, and probably use butted tubing. The Spicer ti frame is all straight gauge. But the main difference is I can afford the spicer, and build up a very nice bike, whereas I cannot afford the others, or even come close to it. If I had all the money in the world, I would likely buy a Seven, or a Zona (I also like Carbon); but I don't have all the money in the world. So the choice is something I can afford, or nothing. As for the ride, one of my 2 stokers, who rides a Lemond Zurich steel/carbon, said she thought the stoker's position on the Spicer felt as smooth as her Lemond.

    Rich

  10. #10
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    'All the money in the world'?
    We definitely do not have kind of income, but do own a Zona c/f tandem. However, we own only one car and right now our tandem is worth more than the car . . . Priorities!
    We do consider the purchase of a tandem as 'an investment in our good health'!
    Definitely cheaper than a heart by-pass, or the cancer procedures Kay and I have gone through in the last couple years.
    So enjoy the Spicer!

    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  11. #11
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richbiker
    1. Keeping this project on some kind of reasonable budget, but ending up with a safe, reliable, nice bike were my priorities.
    It would appear you met your objectives... which is always commendable. My guess is that your tandem was produced by the same folks who produced Expat's custom S&S off-road tandem and, as he has noted, they have been extremely pleased with their tandem. Same thing goes for another friend of ours who had a 26" wheeled custom S&S travel tandem made in the same factory that was brokered via their Canadian connection.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the input on the tubeset; I've ridden straight gauge Ti singles so now have some point of comparison. Yes, clearly each Mfg. uses a different design approach and opinions vary regarding success in achieving their aims. Unfortunately, they aren't always up to sharing anything more than those opinions. What one would hope for would be an engineering analysis of "ours vs. theirs" to substantiate the differences in design and performance. I recall Aegis has one on their site comparing BB layups and associated data on deflection among various competirors. I'd love to see that approach utilized with Tandem framesets.

  13. #13
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElRey
    What one would hope for would be an engineering analysis of "ours vs. theirs" to substantiate the differences in design and performance.
    You know, I suspect if someone did an objective analysis of every happy couple's respective choices in mates they would find that they chose the wrong one for any one of a variety of reasons. Yet, for some strange reason and in spite of the analysis, these couples have been quite happy with their choice. That's not to say there are certain things that they might like to change about their mate; however, overall there is a good fit and they've otherwise adapted to the things that aren't quite perfect. After all, perfection is an illusion created by Madison Avenue and highly educated folks who love to round things off to the nearest ninth decimal (.000000009).

    Seriously though, there have been frame deflection tests and a myriad of other analyses performed over the years -- often times skewed to provide a favorable result for the person conducting or paying for the analysis -- and what they all suggest is that with the exception of the truly poor performers there is a no consistent correlation between what analysis suggests should be "better" and how those products are judged by objective riders who, after all, have different views on what is good, bad, or horrible. Moreover, the frame while important to how a bike or tandem will perform, only contributes to the ride feel and often times saddles, bars, wheels, tires, and even tire pressure are left out of the equation. So, some folks will truly be happier with straight gauge Ti while others will decide that adding oversized, ovalized, butted, mixed grade Ti tubesets with swoopy rear stays are essential... and that's OK.

    Bottom Line: Consumers are drawn to products by economics, marketing, or aesthetics and are then left to judge what's either "good enough" or "the best" to guide their purchase. So, all we can ever hope to do is to ride what we like or like what we ride since that's all that really matters.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 09-09-05 at 07:19 AM.

  14. #14
    Banned. galen_52657's Avatar
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    It's all academic....

    We all like to debate the merits of this material and that manufacturing method 'till we are about to puke!

    But, unless you are riding tandems competitively, what REAL difference does it make? I could drop 10 grand tomorrow on a new ti or CF tandem and it might make a 1.5% improvement in total vehicle/rider weight. Pedaling efficiency? Might not make any improvement. Ride quality? could be different, but not necessarily better.

    Unless you are a huge and/or muscular team, frame flex on any decent tandem is not that significant. The only time you really notice and the only time you might have any power loss due to frame flex (and that, in and of itself is debatable) is when standing and applying full power to the pedals. How often to do you do that over the course of a ride? If you teamís maximum peak power output is, say 800 watts how often are you riding at 800 watts? Most of the time you would be cruising along at half that output or less. I would venture that the difference in frame deflection under pedaling load of 400 watts between, lets say the Lightspeed tandem and my KHS would be almost nil.

    We all like our bikes and ride our bikes and thatís what matters. My el-cheapo KHS rides like a Cadillac! I ride over crap that would jar the hell out of me on my CF single and I can barely feel it. I am sure it is a little rougher in the back, but the seasoned cyclists I have had as stokers all say itís smooth.

    Lets remember folks, itís a pile of tubing welded/brazed or glued together. The basic structure Ė the properties of tubing and the frame design itself - has been unchanged for a long, long timeÖÖ.!!!

    Ride and enjoy....!

  15. #15
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    I'm late to the party again, but at least I was mentioned.

    Where to start? First, that is one fine looking tandem. Even though the tires seem a bit skinny for my taste, I wouldn't mind owning it. As far as weight, ours barely touches 40lb, depending on configuration, so the road bike version should be well below that. The XT rear hub has never hinted at giving us any kind of trouble, and I hope you experience the same. As TandemGeek pointed out, we're very happy with our MTB, which I'm sure was produced by the same company. They also do the ones for Aerolite out of Canada. I got hooked up with them through a friend that has been using them for a while now. We went direct, which was a bit of a worry not during the design process, but during the financial part. While I was able to get the exact frame I wanted, I didn't have the forethought to spec extra cable stops for all the brake/shift configurations I'd like. Not a real problem though. Getting a price in US$, and having to wire it in AU$ from a bank here was not the most comfortable part of the transaction. The 5 days where our payment "Floated" between banks was unpleasant. The plus side of the language barrier was that they put US$30 on the customs dec, so no GST or duty was payable. Let's just keep that between us, ok? All in all, we've had ours for a year, and have no complaints, other than the need to swap to a single crown fork, and one day get around to putting the Magura hydraulics on, in place of the Avids. I've attached a photo for comparison, should anyone care to see the same frame in 26" fatty form.

    Cheers,

    Brian


  16. #16
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    Your mtb tandem looks great (although the tires look a little on the fat side for me :^) ). I think you are correct that aerolite & spicer produce their frames in the same factory. I decided to go with Spicer, since I already had satisfactory dealings with Gene. Also, since Aerolite is a Canadian company, customs charges would have added to the cost. Further, I had some contact through TandemGeek with someone who had purchased an Aerolite tandem, and although they were generally happy, there were some things that they admitted were a bit sketchy in their dealings with Aerolite. It also came out that Aerolite was not using genuine S & S couplers, unless you specifically asked for them, and were removed from S & S Machine's list of framebuilders. If the need ever arises, I might get this frame retrofitted with S & S couplers, but not this year. My credit card has to recover!

    Rich

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