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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 10-25-07, 07:54 PM   #1
Xanti Andia
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Help for a world tandem tour

I have been following a team that is starting off in a round the world self suported tour on an Argentine built tandem. Here is their site (in Spanish) http://elmundoentandem.blogspot.com/

So few tandems here that the bike is built as a double MTB, without tandem hubs. It has 26' wheels, Shimano Deore 36h hubs, Shimano LX V-brakes, Shwalbe Marathon 1.5 tires and a trailer. They have already broken one rim after 1500 km. I am concerned that they don't have good enough brakes, and not strong enough wheels. What would be some logical and posible upgrades? They have had 4 flats in 1500 km, which seems like a lot, does not speak well of Shwalbe Marathon. Roads should have been fairly decent so far, yet they plan to go through Nepal and China.

They are in Brazil now, which like Argentina tends to have a very closed market and dificulties shipping, but after that it is South Africa, any of you in South Africa to help them out? It would make sense to have parts shipped to or sourced in South Africa.

This is their current setup (translated form their site):
Frame
Roselli CroMo
Wheels
Shimano Deore Hubs
Spokes DT Swiss 2 mm.
Rims Mavic 138 36 h (rear rim replaced with a Dohnsa, a local utility bicycle rim)
Tires
Schwalbe Marathon slicks 26" x 1,5.
Brakes
V Brake Shimano LX.
Drive train
Front Derailer Shimano Exage 500.
Rear Derailer Shimano Deore, 9 speed Deore casette, Aluminium Excentric
Bottom Bracket: First w/bearings
Cranks Shimano 2200 de 170 and 175 mm., 39 teeth sinc chainwheels
Drive cranks and chainwheels Shimano Alivio
Drive chain Shimano HG.
Sinc chain Shimano IG.
Pedals
Shimano MD 525.
Saddles
Selle Italia.
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Old 10-28-07, 10:11 AM   #2
Xanti Andia
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Just a note to bring this thread to the top, I wonder why it did not receive any response, are the questions unclear?

1. How to build a sronger wheel for loaded touring, considering currente Deore hubs (135 mm specing and 36 holes) . This is the major concern

2. What to do about the brakes.

3. And a follow up, will it be necessary to open the axel spacing to 145 mm and can this be done?

Thanks
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Old 10-28-07, 01:25 PM   #3
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Boy Scout motto comes to mind: "Be Prepared!"
Suggest: Ditch that tandem and start from scratch!
Can this bike be upgraded? Sure . . .
Proper preparation/research for such an adventure is tantamount. So is having the proper vehcile built that will carry you and your gear for over a year(s) and thousands of miles over nearly non-existing roads in places where tandems or bikes have rarely been seen.
Wheels: 26" wheels are fine for a touring machine; suggest 48-spokes, front and rear; hubs: Phil Wood/Chris King/White Industires or equivalent. 48 spoke rims are rarer, and selection will be a bit limited, but they are built for heavy loads.
Brakes: definitely would add third brake (disc or drum) unless they want to walk while descending mountain roads/passes for hundreds of miles.
Flats: get used to it, they will happen. Heavier tires + liners + goop in tubes can help.
Rear triangle can be spread on a steel frame from 135 to 145mm by a competent bike shop.
Have friends who have toured on their Cannondale tandem: across the USA, across Australia, and cycled the Silk Road (China/former Soviet republics/Turkey). Now planning to do Iceland on the same C'dale.
There is not a bike shop 'around the corner', so be prepared. Some of the larger cities in the east have 'bike repair' folks at some market places that are quite ingenious with minimal tools/equipment. But can be hundreds to a thousand miles apart. Be prepared to fix your own problems and carry spares.
Asides from a proper bike, there will be passport issues, language barriers (not everyone speaks/understands Spanish/English/Mandarin/Turkish/Flemish or Uzbeck); some roads can barely be called that . . . dirt/mud for hundreds of miles. Foods/money (hey . . . no ATMs in this town?), culture (folks wearing shorts in some of these places is No-No.), etc.
Our suggestion: buy a tandem set up for global touring from folks who regularly build them: Co-Motion,
daVinci, Santana, Thorn, Koga Miyata, etc.).
Touring the world on a tandem is a romantic idea; but as we stated: "Be Prepared!"
We wish them luck . . . they'll definitely need some of that.
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 10-28-07, 06:05 PM   #4
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I wonder why it did not receive any response, are the questions unclear?

Without knowing a lot more about this bike and the key components (e.g., frame/fork quality, headset, bottom brackets, reliability of 2200-grade cranks & ring sizes/material, shifters), any suggestions to help band-aid the bike may only serve to help them get into more trouble later on. They really need to get themselves to a good bike shop somewhere where a no-kidding bicycle technician can put their eyes and hands on this tandem before they press on. That's the only sound advise I can offer.
1. How to build a sronger wheel for loaded touring, considering currente Deore hubs (135 mm specing and 36 holes) . This is the major concern

An XT or XTR rear hub will have the same "guts" as the tandem-rated HF08 hubs from Shimano and be far more durable than the hub they now have. A 140mm Shimano tandem hub with left-hand threading for an Arai drum would be the best bet if they could get one (see below).

The original rims were far from ideal and chances are the current one they have may have a short life. What they "need" is first-quality, heavy duty rim and a very good wheel builder: Rhyno Lite, Velocity AeroHeat AT, etc... On the bright side, at least they chose a wheel with a somewhat common spoke count so finding replacements will be easier than finding any other drillings. If they don't have the skill and tools to replace broken spokes on the cassette-side of the bike they need to get that and a bunch of spare spokes before venturing further.

2. What to do about the brakes.

They needed an Arai drum brake but I believe that would require at least a 140mm wide, left-hand threaded Shimano tandem hub: not sure if 135 are still available and/or if you can shorten the axle and still get the Arai drum to fit. If the frame is steel, the rear frame can be cold-set to accommodate the 140mm hub without too much trouble: again, a bike shop or machine shop would be able to do this properly for very little expense. Getting their hands on an Arai and having someone who can install the thing on a frame that wasn't originally made for it is, again, something for a good bike tech or machinist to address.

The V-brakes are generally a bad choice for this type of touring and they'd do well to either carry several spare sets of pads (along with spare cables, spare chains, spare bottom brackets, and all of the tools needed to install these things.).

As for dealing with any challenging descents -- with or without the drag brake installed -- if they find themselves riding the brakes for more than a few hundred meters they'll need to stop the bike for rim / tire cooling and/or simply walk the bike down, lest they induce brake fade and invite a tire problem.

Speaking of tires, they should be running something a lot more durable than a 1.5" slick: it's no wonder they've had a bunch of flats. I would have opted for tubeless cross terrain tires and sealant backed up by tubes and spare tires.
Again, this is probably enough "help" to really get them into trouble later on without knowing any more about their bike, their knowledge of bicycle mechanics, and if they will be heading off into remote areas where they will be "on their own" for days at a time.

Last edited by TandemGeek; 10-29-07 at 06:58 AM.
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Old 10-29-07, 07:44 AM   #5
Xanti Andia
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Thanks TG and Zona.

The pilot of this crew actually has a zillion km of touring in his legs including a trip Buenos Aires to Cuba reported in a published book, and some tandem tours on an even lesser tandem.

However as for lack of preparedness sometimes from a first world perspective there is a lack of understanding of what we have to work with and what is possible to do with subomptimal gear, supplemented by skill and patience.

I'll forward the comments and report how they do.
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Old 10-29-07, 05:57 PM   #6
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Looking forward to updates on their world adventure!
While suboptimal gear is do-able, failures in middle of nowhere in Asia/Africa or middle of desert/jungle can prove to be a a stumbling block.
Friends who toured on their C'dale had their steel framed trailer break in middle of nowhere in Austalia. Located a ranch, miles away, that had welding equipment and fixed it . . . for free. Oh those crazy Yanks pedaling across Australia on a 'push bike with 2 seats!'
In China had a component that needed to be replaced. Handed the broken part to a bike repair set-up at an open-air marketplace and 24 hours later they had a bit crudely fashioned, but workable, replacement.
Keep an open mind . . . but there can be surprises around the corner!
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Old 04-10-08, 01:02 PM   #7
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Just an update on this thread.

The tandem team in question has now logged over 8,000 km, Buenos Aires-Argentina to Sao Paulo-Brasil, and Capetown-South Africa to Syria (minus flights from Sao Paulo-Capetown and Tanzania to Egypt).

Deore hubs have so far survived, LX brakes without a drum have held the loaded tandem (except for one descent in the rain were the pads melted).

Mavic 138 26" 36 h rims however did not make the trip, rear rim was replaced in 1000 km with a local Argentine rim that is still on the bike, and front rim was replaced in South Africa with an Alex rim, also on the bike now. However some spokes have broken along the way, and as TG sugested, they did eventualy need to have a casette removal tool shipped to them. Continental Sport Contact and Schwalbe Marathon tires have done about 2000 km each on the rear and 5000 on the front. The rest of the trip was done on localy sourced tires which would last 300 - 800 km

You can read more details here (in spanish):

http://elmundoentandem-elequipamiento.blogspot.com/

So far it is the triumph of tenacity over what we in this forum might consider inadequate equipment!

Last edited by Xanti Andia; 04-10-08 at 01:07 PM.
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Old 04-10-08, 02:11 PM   #8
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I think there is a great deal of intangable value in getting by with what you have and making due.

Drag brakes are great but waht's gonna happen if you don't have one? Evidently, you might melt yoru brake pads. Or you're rim explodes and you crash? Maybe you walk a while. Or...any number of other possiblilities. What happens if you DO have a drum brake? You safely and slowly and efficiently descend the mountain and make it to your planned destination when you planned on arriving there- guaranteed. Which situation woudl you rather hear your grampa tell?

Of course- I don't think everyone shoudl go out and take off their drum brakes, remove every other spoke from their wheel and break a pawl out of their freehub jsut so you have a story to tell after walking 500 miles out of the australian bush. But if there's anythign to be learned from this (excellent) travelblog and from the people of less developed areas AND from 12 year old kids AND from 20-30 year old kids (zoobomb.net) it's that you "get by" with much less than the upgrade happy cycling industry woudl like for you to believe.

When the focus is taken off the gear more energy can be direct towards having fun which is the whole point of having nice gear. And I don't think boyscouts are particularly fun to go camping with.


all that being said, if anyone wants to get rid of thier $1500 tandem wheels I'd be happy to take them off your hands =)
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Old 04-10-08, 05:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Xanti Andia View Post
So far it is the triumph of tenacity over what we in this forum might consider inadequate equipment!
Suboptimal would be probably be more accurate; however, it they are using a base-grade Deore rear hub vs. Deore LX or Deore XT I am impressed that the bearings and freewheel mechanism have required no attention. The spoke breakage is not surprising given the small-size flanges used on the non-tandem hubs.

As for the brake pads melting, been there and done that with the LX V-brakes on our '98 Cannondale MT3000. It was a humbling experience, to say the least. It's the thin-brake pad material, more than anything else, that made the V-brakes the less appropriate brake for this type of a journey as the more traditional cantilever brakes use shoes that are at least twice as meaty and thick and afford as you'd expect, about 2x the useful life.

Regardless, it will be interesting to monitor their progress: it is indeed an epic journey.
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Old 10-20-08, 08:42 AM   #10
Xanti Andia
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Just a follow-up note. They made it back to Buenos Aires on Oct. 12. 17,500 km! The cycled itinerary was: Buenos Aires-Sao Paulo, Capetown-Dar Es Salaam, Cairo-Ishtambul, New Delhi-Kathmandu, Hanoi-Kuala Lumpur, Santiago de Chile-Buenos Aires.

Notes on the bike:

Front wheel bearings were replaced twice, rear wheel bearings finished the distance. Timing chain and chain wheels finished the trip just barely. Consumables where two cassettes, three drive chains and a good number of various tires, inner tubes and patches, and brake pads(did not ask how many). Bottom brackets, eccentric and head set fine. Seat stay weldings failed and were re-welded on route, near the finish. One broken spoke. Mavic rims where replaced early on, by an Argentine rim (Dohnsa) and an Alex Rim in South Africa, both of these rims finished the trip. Bob trailer had zero problems, except for one flat.

Best part of the trip, Turkey, and Southeast Asia, worst India (traffic, pollution and poverty) and Egypt (misogyny experienced by stoker).
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Old 10-21-08, 05:52 PM   #11
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Congratulations to your friends on their epic 11,000+ miles tandem toot!
There tend to be a few parts in this world were women are not treated properly because it offends the local (particular male) morals. Just think if these folks would come to the western-type world, they'd have to put up with ours.
Sounds like another book could be in the offing?
Again our congratulations!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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