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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 11-11-07, 05:02 PM   #1
WheresWaldo
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Update on some upgrades

As noted in a thread from a few weeks ago I had mentioned that I was going to change a few things on our 2005 Cannondale Road Tandem. I go a lot of helpful, and some not so, suggestions from the good folks here. I have since started on the upgrade process and I am happy to report that so far things are going well.

First thing changed were the Avid BB-7 Disc Brakes w/ 203mm rotors. In went Avid Single Digit 7 Linear Pull brakes. Amazingly this swap removed 1.3 pounds of weight off the bike. On our Sunday ride the brakes worked well, but now I also understand why CDale is equipping their new bikes with Travel Agents. The SD-7 need a lot of cable pull, almost too much for the STI levers, but since I usually adjust brake pads very close to the rim I had enough cable pull to lock up the brakes. We only experienced pad rub on one small section of uphill when we decided we wanted to stay up with the hammerheads on the ride. Still being anal, I will be equipping the brakes with Travel Agents, so that I can back off the pads just a bit. The other thing was the rear brake noodle was noticed by Bittersweet (my stoker/daughter) as it slightly brushed the back of her leg on every pedal stoke. Didn't effect braking but it annoyed her just the same, and as every tandem couple knows the Stoker is always right!

Next up was the fork. Out came the Cannondale Tandem Specific Fatty, all 1009 grams of it. In went a Nashbar/Winwood Carbon Cross fork. The Fork came in at just under 700 grams. An added bonus, is that I knew it would change the handling, I just didn't expect it to make such a big difference. At any speed over about 10 mph the Dale just got more stable, the faster we went the less jittery the front end was. I don't understand why Cannondale specifies this tandem with so little trail. Of course the carbon fork also smoothed out some of the road buzz. So far so good on the frame upgrades.

I have a narrower handlebar that will go on to replace the 46cm bars currently on it. Not on yet. Will be building some new wheels also. I decided to go clincher, even though I believe tubulars would be a great option. Problem was, even though I found a lot of 25-28mm wide tubulars, they were almost exclusively knobby cross tires. I will update with more miles and once the wheels are built.
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Old 11-13-07, 12:04 AM   #2
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So, what it the total weight of your bike now? As you do the upgrades, it would be helpful for the rest of us to know the total weight so that we can see what is possible.

Thanks!
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Old 11-13-07, 08:59 AM   #3
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Regarding the rear noodle - we had the same problem. I very carefully bent the noodle a bit more - to less than 90 degrees. I also added a Velcro strap to hold the cable housing tight to the top tube. Stoker doesn't complain about this any more.

We also run Avid linear pull brakes. However, we use Dia-Compe 287V brake levers with bar-end shifters so we don't need Travel Agents.
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Old 11-13-07, 09:17 AM   #4
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Panito123, the weight before was 37.94 pounds (37.9 lbs = 17.2 kg). with these few changes the new weight is 35.73 pounds (35.7 lbs = 16.2 kg). About 2.2 pounds (2.2 lbs = 998 g). Mind you this is without new wheels. So I am still using the stock Cannondale wheels and tires. I would suspect at least another pound or so to come off with a new wheelset.

BTW, weights were measured on an Alpine Bicycle scale. It may not be 100% accurate but it measures are consistant and good for reference. My Cannondale is a Large/Small 2005 frame.
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Old 11-13-07, 09:24 AM   #5
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Regarding the rear noodle - we had the same problem. I very carefully bent the noodle a bit more - to less than 90 degrees. I also added a Velcro strap to hold the cable housing tight to the top tube. Stoker doesn't complain about this any more.

We also run Avid linear pull brakes. However, we use Dia-Compe 287V brake levers with bar-end shifters so we don't need Travel Agents.
That is good to know, I wasn't sure I could bend the noodle more. I was afraid the tube would kink (I do not have a tubing bender). I actually used a Mountain Bike trick to shorten the cable. On the back end from the braze-on to the noodle, I used a short length of Nokon cable. It lets you make a pretty sharp bend with the cable routing without fear of adding too much drag within the lining.

I am fully entrenched with STI so the Travel Agents seem to be required to get enough cable pull so that you don't need to adjust the brake pads to within .125" of the rim.
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Old 11-13-07, 10:18 AM   #6
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...so the Travel Agents seem to be required to get enough cable pull.
Either that or one of these: http://www.sidetrak.com/Catalog/components.html#BPB
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Old 11-13-07, 11:41 AM   #7
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Just a thought: Could you save a couple of ounces by replacing the eccentric? I don't know about the stock Cannondale eccentric, but the Bushnell eccentric only weighs 140 grams.
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Old 11-13-07, 02:17 PM   #8
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TG, have you actually seen one of these? I couldn't get to the details page. I am curious how they install and how well they work.
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Old 11-13-07, 02:23 PM   #9
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Just a thought: Could you save a couple of ounces by replacing the eccentric? I don't know about the stock Cannondale eccentric, but the Bushnell eccentric only weighs 140 grams.
Legitimate question, I thought the Cannondale Eccentric was one of the best there was. Is there an advantage, other than weight, to use the Bushnell?
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Old 11-13-07, 02:41 PM   #10
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Waldo - I recall that when I bent the noodle more, I got a short length of larger diameter cable (that was a closer fit to the ID of the noodle), inserted it into the noodle, bent it a bit more & then withdrew the cable. The cable on the inside keeps the tube from kinking.
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Old 11-13-07, 02:54 PM   #11
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Legitimate question, I thought the Cannondale Eccentric was one of the best there was. Is there an advantage, other than weight, to use the Bushnell?
They're supposed to easier to adjust and less likely to get stuck. You can go to http://www.rodcycle.com/ and click on "The Bushnell Eccentric" under "Other stuff we make" to read all about it.
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Old 11-13-07, 03:10 PM   #12
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Ok I read the Bushnell page, sounds like a good product. The pictorial history was interesting also.

The link to the BPB is http://www.sidetrak.com/Catalog/bpb.html (< notice Catalog not catalog in the URL). I still am not sure how well they would work and they are double the cost of the Travel Agents online.
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Old 11-13-07, 07:42 PM   #13
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TG, have you actually seen one of these? I couldn't get to the details page. I am curious how they install and how well they work.
Yeah, there still out there but not all that common, e.g., Counselguy's Calfee's rear disc was set up with one just last year.

I liked them because they work as a psuedo cable splitter, didn't bend the spiral-wound brake cable around the tight cam wheel, and just seemed like a better design. The psuedo cable splitter aspect allowed you to position it near the captain's seat tube (where it could be secured) so that you could use two normal length brake cables instead of a single tandem length cable. The weight is 30g vs. the 21g World Class / Problem Solver Travel Agent.
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Old 11-14-07, 06:49 AM   #14
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They're supposed to easier to adjust and less likely to get stuck. You can go to http://www.rodcycle.com/ and click on "The Bushnell Eccentric" under "Other stuff we make" to read all about it.
Having worked with most of the other more current designs, it remains the most well-thought-through eccentric design that I've encountered.

The most recent generation -- which is actually the result of a redesign by the good folks at daVinci Designs / tandems. I have one sitting in my home office that I have yet to install in our of our tandems... all of which use earlier Bushnell models. There are only two ways that I can think of, maybe three, that could lead to a Bushnell eccentric being 'stuck':

1. Someone goes nuts while they're tightening one and strips out the threads in the wedges using a a 3/4" or 1/2" drive and/or some other type of high-leverage wrench.

2. Someone installs one in an eccentric without any type of grease or anti-seize compounds for a rider who emits toxic sweat on a tandem that receives very little preventative maintenance or cleaning and the eccentric and eccentric bottom bracket or it's tensioning mechanicsm become fused by corrosion or some other chemical function.

3. Someone lives where the sun don't shine and water / condensation collects in and freezes the thing solid.
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Old 11-14-07, 09:22 AM   #15
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TG, I see you are a fan of the Bushnell, Let me ask you this, You and others seem to put lots and lots of miles on your tandems. I would assume that you are either tinkering or maintaining them much more frequently than someone like me who has about 500 miles total in the last two years on our tandem. Did you feel that the additional cost (if there was additional cost) of the Bushnell was warranted in your case? Would you have made the switch (or speced) the Bushnell even if you were a low-mileage tandem rider?

A side note is that in 2008 I am hoping to at least double our 2007 tandem miles, the goal is 600 miles and riding the Assault on Marion on the tandem (first 70 miles of the Assault on Mt Mitchell).
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Old 11-14-07, 11:57 AM   #16
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Did you feel that the additional cost (if there was additional cost) of the Bushnell was warranted in your case?
The Bushnell eccentrics were the OEM eccentric on our Ericksons and the Ventanas.

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Would you have made the switch (or speced) the Bushnell even if you were a low-mileage tandem rider?
Absolutely not, unless:

1. I was having problems keeping the one I had on a C'dale from driving me nuts from a perpetual creak caused by the eccentric that required tempting fate with higher-than-recommended or prudent torque values. I say this having snapped a wedge bolt on our '98 C'dale MT3000 whilst trying to rid the evil creak. Co-Motion's tandems aren't prone to this same issue in the way that C'dales were.

2. I was looking to shave grams and the cost per gram saved of the Bushnell vs the stock C'dale or Co-Motion eccentric made it a worthwhile endeavor.
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Old 11-14-07, 02:04 PM   #17
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Hi Whereswally,

It sounds like our bike upgrading tendencies are similar based on the other thread.

Anyone know what a Trek eccentric weighs compared to the Bushnell? Just curiosity as I'm not planning to change it. In my experience the Trek one works very nicely and can be tightened and loosened using a 6mm allen key and has a nice simple design, which probably also means it's also cheap.

Basically it is a wedge design, with the wedge tightened using a bolt. The clever bit is that the bolt head is captured by a hollow bolt (a chainring bolt) so that when you undo the bolt it also forces the wedge apart to loosen the eccentric without any hammering or similar nastiness.
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Old 11-14-07, 03:39 PM   #18
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mrfish,

Yes I would agree, our tendencies seem similar. There was more to my upgrades than just the need to upgrade parts. I also enjoy tinkering with bikes. But at some point I decide, for myself, that I have done enough upgrading, or that any additional money spent will mean absolutely nothing as far as performance improvements go (like upgrading equivalent parts). I was at that point with our single bikes. I ride a PedalForce RS with full DA, my backup RS is full Ultegra. My daughter rides an RS with full Ultegra. My rain bike is a Taiwan Al frame with full Ultegra. I don't have anything that I want or need to upgrade on the singles. So my attention was turned to the tandem. Even spending a few hundred on upgrades I still believe that the Cannondale is the best bang for the buck tandem around. It is a really good tandem, just not a great tandem. I am hoping the few upgrades that I am doing will get me closer without great expense.

I am not looking to change the eccentric, but it is always good to learn about new things.
  1. I do not have trouble with creaking bottom bracket
  2. I have only loosened the eccentric once since I got the bike, and probably won't again until I replace the chain.
  3. Like your Trek only 1 bolt need be tightened or loosened to adjust, seems rather easy.
BTW, new rims are here, will be building new wheels some time after the Thanksgiving holiday, once I figure out what I want for spokes.

WW
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Old 12-09-07, 11:53 AM   #19
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Going out today on our maiden voyage with some new wheels. I built up a set of wheels for the tandem using a self modified Shimano M-760S 32 hole Freehub, I have a write up at my site on the conversion, look here. Rims are double-eyelet DT Swiss R 1.1 32 hole, spokes are Wheelsmith DB 14 w/brass nipples. Total difference in the weight is 879 grams (879 g = 31.1 oz). Finished the wheel build last night. Will be reporting on the ride today and in the future on durability.
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Old 12-10-07, 12:55 PM   #20
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Pretty much done with the parts swap, when it was all said and done our Cannondale L/S road tandem went from 37.94 pounds (37.9 lbs = 17.2 kg) w/o bags, computer, bottles (but with pedals and bottle cages) to 33.90 pounds (33.9 lbs = 15.4 kg) for a total reduction of 4.04 pounds (4.04 lbs = 1.83 kg), not quite the 5 pounds (5 lbs = 2.27 kg) I was looking for (< very arbitrary number) but I am happy with the choices made.

So overall, what was removed was Avid BB-7 disc brakes and associated hardware, OEM 40 spoke wheels and tires (Hugi tandem hubs Mavic A-719 rims, IRC Tandem tires), replaced with Avid SD-7 with associated hardware, 32 spoke custom wheels (Shimano M-760S hubs, DT R1.1 rims, Michelin P2R tires).

Took the wheels for an initial spin yesterday, 34 miles, acceleration is much better, the wheels are actually stiffer than the 40 hole they replaced. Just a bit easier to maintain speed on short inclines. I don't believe this was placebo as I was hurting all day yesterday as a result of chest tightness the entire ride (lungs not heart). Thats what I get for taking three weeks off the bike and then trying to ride hard on the tandem. Thank god my stoker felt real rested, if not for her I was about to give up on the ride after the first 5 miles.
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Old 12-10-07, 04:50 PM   #21
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Nice job on the wheelset...reading about the process you went through on your site was quite educational for this wheel building novice that has been doing an extensive C"dale tandem update as well. The wheels look like a super vaule ...a great balance of cost-weight-reliability. Keep us informed on how these wheels hold up as you build more mileage on them.
Thanks for sharing this fun weight reduction/upgrade project with everyone.... and keep riding with your daughter.

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Old 12-10-07, 05:53 PM   #22
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Suggestion: For the rear brake, use the inline version of the travel agent, and locate it as near the brake lever as possible. The travel is doubled, and tension halved in the cable downstream of the travel agent. This eliminates 75% of the felt effect of cable stretch. (but NOT in the cable between the lever and the travel agent) This makes a huge improvement in the feel and effectivness of the rear brake. Using the "noodle replacer" version on the front yields front and rear brakes that have about the same feel, rather than the mushy feel you often have from the much longer rear cable run.

On our Bilenky, I located the inline travel agent just ahead of the front cable stop on the top tube, and zip tied it to the top tube. I first had it mounted to my interupter lever, that worked great, but I decided that I didn't like it flopping about when I worked the lever. Mounted on the lever, the rear brake actually had a more solid feel than the front.

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Old 12-10-07, 10:08 PM   #23
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Kevbo, I have a travel agent at the brake, both front and rear. and other than a little pad squeal (I didn't have them toed in at all) I have not had an issue with stopping the bike. Are you saying that for the rear the in-line travel agent is better?

I have one of those somewhere in a box in my office, probably take me more time to find it that to order a new one.
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Old 12-10-07, 10:16 PM   #24
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Nice job on the wheelset...reading about the process you went through on your site was quite educational for this wheel building novice that has been doing an extensive C"dale tandem update as well. The wheels look like a super vaule ...a great balance of cost-weight-reliability. Keep us informed on how these wheels hold up as you build more mileage on them.
Thanks for sharing this fun weight reduction/upgrade project with everyone.... and keep riding with your daughter.

Bill J.
Bill, thanks for the comments. Wheel building is a science, not some magical black art. With a little help from various sources (books, internet, etc.) It is easy to build a wheel. Harder to build a good one, but still doable. The very first wheel I ever built is still alive after 20,000 + miles, although out of service now since it is 20+ years old.

I was looking for a balance between cost and reliability, I think I got that. Hub conversion was easier than I had anticipated, rear wheel took me longer. Even though I knew it would have virtually no dish I still had the habit of turning the drive side nipple 2x the non-drive side. After realizing what I was doing I had to detension the entire wheel and start over
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Old 12-11-07, 10:53 AM   #25
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Are you saying that for the rear the in-line travel agent is better?
"Better" is of course a subjective term. If you have no issues with cable stretch, then it's not better, because the caliper mounted version is a little lighter, cheaper, as well as a bit cleaner looking.

A travel agent located at the caliper eliminates one advantage of direct pull brakes, that being greatly reduced effect of cable stretch. Locating it near the lever restores most of that advantage. Due to the length, cable stretch is often a problem for tandem rear brakes, it is seldom an issue for the much shorter front cable run.

If you are running out of lever travel, or nearly so, or find it very fussy to adjust the brake so it doesn't drag with the noodle replacer, then you will find the inline version is better. Perhaps it is because I have large, strong hands, but cable stretch was the limiting factor for the effectivness of our rear brake. The inline travel agent is much better for me.
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