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  1. #1
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    Tandem for a Family?

    I'm seriously considering a Family Tandem from Bike Friday as a tandem for myself and my son to ride this season. It makes sense in that it looks like it could fit in our station wagon (instead of on a roof-top tandem rack), would be a good fit for him (he'll be seven this May), and could be used with my wife occasionally.

    I've already done twenty mile rides with him on his Burley Piccolo bike trailer, and he did well. He's getting a bit large for it, and I'd like to try 30-35 mile rides this summer, and let his younger sister move onto the Piccolo (great trailer bike, btw).

    As for the family tandem, I would like at least 24 gears, drop bars, barcons, good tires, etc. I bike commute and do club rides as often as possible, so doing longer rides eventually is likely as my son gets older.

    So, any advice on the Family Tandem? I'd like to keep the cost around $1,500 or so to begin. For that much, I could find a used Cannondale or Burley Duet, and go for a child crank conversion kit, but then I'd also need a roof rack for it and I'm concerned about mounting and dismounting the whole thing by myself when we go out to rides.

    My only fear with the Family Tandem is out-growing it too fast, but it seems like a good starting point (unless others argue differently).

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    Update... Co-motion Periscope

    Over the last few days (snowed in with the family, no less, but riding the trainer every day), I've looked again at the upcoming Co-motion Periscope tandem (http://www.co-motion.com/peri.html). On the negative side, it's a radical new design that hasn't be proven by owners yet, and it definately has a different look. Also, it's roughly twice as expensive as the Bike Friday at $3000.

    On the positiive side, it has a greater potential for a family tandem with more performance growth (adult club riding) as well as good flexibility for both my kids as they grow up. Surprisingly, it has "telescoping" seat posts for both captain and stoker, along with length adjustable stems for both captain and stoker. What this means is that my wife may also be able to captain it with my son, so I could do the trailer bike with my younger daughter.

    So, in a perfect world, my wife and I could occasionally do decent club riding on the tandem, and then ride with our kids on a bike that would adjust well as they grow older. For $850 more, we could get it with S&S couplers, but it's unlikely that my wife and I would fly to Europe with it for a tour in France, or that we'd take it to Mexico with the family, but the concept is worth considering if we're blown away by the test ride.

    So, I called Co-motion and asked some questions. Then I called Bike Gallery (my local Co-motion dealer), and learned they'd have one in around mid-February for test riding. They also said that Co-motion could normally produce one with color choice, size, S&S coupler option in about a month if we ordered.

    It comes in two sizes-- short and long captain's top tube. From the sounds of it, either would work for us, with the long being better for me (less forward adjustment on the captain's stem), but the short may be better if my wife captains. Again, the test ride will be crucial, and their tandem specialist sounds like she'll help us quite a bit with the process.

    I have no problem with my son on the Burley trailer bike, but when my wife and I test test rode a Cannondale tandem (entirely on our own) about a decade ago the experience was pretty extreme. I've been reading a lot of the "tandeming for the first time" resources on the web, and it sounds like I was making the mistake of tilting and riding the tandem too much like a single, and as a result my wife was trying to steer and balance in a way that made captaining a real test of upper body strength.

    Anyway, I think we'll hold off until we can test ride the Periscope. I'll need at least that long to figure out how and if to afford either $3000 or $3850 (S&S) for the bike, along with a $300 swinging Yakima rack for it. Ugh.

    p.s. does it frighten anyone else that so many used tandems for sale, including decked-out expensive ones, have low or no mileage?

    Thanks!
    Last edited by pdxcyclist; 01-10-04 at 09:01 AM.

  3. #3
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdxcyclist
    p.s. does it frighten anyone else that so many used tandems for sale l, including decked-out expensive ones, have low or no mileage?
    Not at all. In fact, I would venture a guess that a large percentage of tandems sold see very little use. Tandems are often times purchased on a whim before a serious, candid discussion takes place between the intended riders about their respective interest, expectations, the amount of free time they are willing to dedicate to it, the amount of compromise they are willing to make, and how long they will give things to "click" before giving up.

    The rest of my reply is posted to a new thread entitled "Why Some Teams Don't Click":
    http://www.bikeforums.net/tandem-cycling/43598-why-some-teams-don-t-click.html#post379700

  4. #4
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    I have to say that the thread starter sounds like an ideal candidate for a BF - they are low cost, fold into small spaces, and you can fit kids on them without kid-back conversions.

    We have friends who have put many, many, many miles on their BF Tandem Two'sday (sp?) both as a couple and primarily with their kids. Both their 6 and 4 year old fit on the BF. Crank shorteners are all you really need.

    We considered the BF ourselves, but wanted to invest in a bike that was built for grown ups - go fast parts on it so that we can have fun too. Both my wife and I ride, and our kids have riden with us since birth in various configurations including trailer, trail-a-bike (Adams - personally I believe the Burley is far better and worth every $ if you are putting in regular rides), and a custom tandem.

    Why did we choose a "traditional" tandem over a folding BF? A whole list of reasons, but basically the BF advantages (folding, sizing) were not benefits to us due to how we use/plan to use our tandem.

    Transporting the bike was not an issue for us -- we ride in the city every week - to school and back, on weekend errands - so our bike is not coupled or folding. Vancouver BC has lots of hills, a very good network of bike routes, and for many of the tours we might want to go on, we can start from the house and explore islands and coastal routes. Probably not unlike Portland.

    Sizing was not an issue - we did some research and decided to go with a custom builder in Seattle (Dennis Bushnell) who is well regarded (and deservedly so). Going custom meant we could get a frame that did not require a kid-back in order to fit our 6 year old. My wife being 5'2" did not hurt in this either.

    Our rationale for buying an "adult" bike that could be neatly converted to kids with only the addition of crank shorteners was that kids remain small for a very short period of time, relative to the lifespan of a tandem.

    Integrating cycling into our every day lives is accelerating - my eldest son is in grade 1 - we ride about 50% of the time, year round, and next year I'm hoping to jack that up another notch when our youngest son starts kindergarten. Then we'll have a tandem pulling a Piccolo trail-a-bike so I can deal with two boys.

    And since I no longer travel to work with clients, one of our two cars is going up for sale as soon as I can carve out the time to get it ready. This will mean that > 100 days a year by default our kids are on bike, if only for a 5K jaunt to school and back.

    Having had the kids on or near bikes (including spring and summer credit-card tours, cycle-camping etc) , there is no questioning coming from the kids when we say "lets ride to ..." - its just a natural part of life.

    Because we feel fairly confident that our tandem will be a life-long tool and toy, we were not afraid to "buy up" and get a very nicely equipped custom bike. Seems a little extravagant "just for kids" but we don't think so. We want them to grow up as cyclists for recreation as well as transportation. Nice gear just makes it even better

    And besides, Sue and I want to play too! When both our kids are in grade 1 or higher (fall 2005) then the days my wife doesn't work we'll have mornings and early afternoons open to us to go riding together, sans kids!

    About the only challenge now is to decide when to get tandem #2...

  5. #5
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    Have you considered a Santana?

    Pdx. I have a Santana Visa. What a great smoooth ride it is. However, 4 years ago I had to get some very radical neck surgery, (Removed my Spinous process from c-2 through c-7) and now I cant bend over the handlebars for more than 15 minutes or so. The Tandem has sat in my Garage gathering dust. I began scuba diving and love it. I'm thinking of selling the Tandem now. I spent 3000 on it. It fits me, at 6 foot even, and my wife, at 5'2" By sliding the seat all the way down my kids can ride on it with me. They were from 8 to 13 4 years ago and they were fine back there... I live near Salem Oregon and am interested in selling if you are interested. My email is twtruffles@integrity.com

    Roy White.

  6. #6
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    Mwatkins,

    Thanks for your report about buying a tandem. I'm envious of how much use your tandem gets-- I finally got things set so I could bike commute this year, but my son's school is nine miles in the wrong direction. It would great to use the bike as everyday transportation with my kids, and I don't want a tandem that's too precious to take off from home to the store, coffee shop, or video store on.

    In your case, the custom tandem sounds like a great move. I'd also like to have a tandem that's good for both kids and adults.

    I'm doing 3-4 business trips this year, and I'm looking at BF Pocket Rockets and New World Tourists all the time, thinking about how nice it would be to take one as luggage on my trips. (Better still, a Co-motion S&S Nor'wester.) The Q series tandems are also attractive (can be both a tandem and a single), but the cost is siginificant. I may get to test ride some Bike Friday bikes and tandems this Saturday if I can make the drive down to Eugene. Unless they have something "pre-owned" that's really special, I plan to wait until trying out the Co-motion periscope as well.

    All in all, it feels great to get into serious cycling again (after a six year kid break).

    Thanks!

  7. #7
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    Roybiker,

    Thanks for the post about your Santana. I'll send you an email with a few questions.

  8. #8
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    Update-- A Trip to Bike Friday

    Well, I spent the afternoon at Bike Friday down in Eugene, Oregon, and it was fun.

    I first tried a demo Pocket Rocket with drop bars, two rings and STI integrated into the brake levers. I was really surprised by how nice and nimble the bike felt. Something about the frame seems to put the center of gravity and the center of tilt (vis-a-vis the wheel axles) much lower, and the result is a light, fun ride. The bike had too short of reach for me, so going out of the saddle was too twitchy, but I was impressed. The STI seemed difficult to trim, but it might have been out of adjustment.

    Second, after much talk about our family riding needs, I tried out a pre-owned Tandem Traveller Q with my wife. It's a basic blue with a triple crank and Ultegra bar cons (which I have and prefer on all my road bikes). It also had a "thud buster" shock in the stoker's seat post.

    Given our last try on a Cannondale tandem about ten years ago, my wife was pretty apprehensive about stoking. She's a "goofy foot," meaning that she likes to start with her left foot high, whereas I need my right foot high for starting. With a little help, we got off to a start, and all through the first loop around the parking lot she wanted to stop. Up front, I felt that the bike was feeling pretty good (much better than the muscle match with Canonndale a decade before). I convinced her that she was doing well, and we tried again, and as she relaxed we got in another six loops around the lot. Little things, like when to coast, either had to be felt or communicated. I thought the bike was feeling quite good in terms of feel and control up front (I rode both on drops and hoods), and with each loop she grew more confident.

    After that, she brought back our two kids from her sister's house, and we had the stoker bar reversed for my six year-old son (to move it closer to him), and a saddle without a "thud buster" post put on, so that it could go low enough for him. The crank shorteners wouldn't fit on the cranks, so we tried a test ride without them. He scrambled right up on the bike on his own, got his feet set, and was ready to go (just like on our Burley Piccolo trailer bike). We took off, and logged a couple of miles on a bike trail next to the shop on the tandem.

    It was a great ride. Like the Pocket Rocket, the Q felt very stable yet nimble. On some touring bikes, for example, I feel like I'm riding a 4x8 sheet of plywood because their "dead-on" handling is so strong. With the Bike Fridays, I had a confident feel and maneuverabilty. The ride was much better than the feel of a trailer bike, and my son was giving me a running commentary: "Dad, you need to tell me when you're going to coast. Dad, you're spinning too fast for me. Dad, this feels great."

    We would have gone further, but it was cold out, and I'd prefer to have my son wearing SPD shoes to clip into the pedals. The mechanics offered to fashion a set of crank shorteners from cro-mo to fit the cranks, and I think I'd take them up on the offer since the spin was a bit large for my son, and I'd also like to get my four year-old daugher on-board before too long if we buy the tandem. Also, I much prefered the bar cons for shifting, because I could feather the front derailleur, and and the rear shifting seemed more dialed in as well.

    The last part is also good-- the tandem can be reconfigured into a single bike, and I'm having them price it out with a used hard case for taking it as a single on my business trips. It won't be as smooth and light as a Pocket Rocket or Pocket Rocket Pro, but for the 3-4 times I'd take it travelling a year I think it'd be fine.

    So, I'm waiting for a price on Monday. Overall, I was happy that the bike felt so comfortable and safe right from the start. Our neighborhood is very hilly, and I need a secure-feeling tandem to start right off up hills to ride from home, and I think this could do it. As for taking it to remote starts, it looks like I could break it down partially for the back of our station wagon, or fit it onto a Tandem Topper or Yakima tandem rack on the roof.

    All in all, I think we might log some fun miles on this bike (if we can afford it).

  9. #9
    Gordon P
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    Here is a nice famiy bike I found on the net yesterday.

  10. #10
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    Our friends have so thoroughly used their Tandem Two'sday that I can't imagine you not getting value and use out of it, if the bike meets your needs. No doubt about it, it wins for quick setup and breakdown, fitting in cars, etc.

    Re crank shorteners, a set of Phil Wood crank shorteners is what works for their tandem; I'm not sure if Phil Wood co. sells them any more, but you may find them if you ask around here or on the Tandem@Hobbes list. You'll have to be careful about them - not all bikes have the same clearances between the crank and chain stay - some designs are more flexible than others.

    We are opting for toe clips for our kid until they get older. SPD shoes every 6-8 months for fast growing little boys are not on our shopping lists ;-)

    Actually I'm in the middle of sorting out a crank shortener dillema myself, one son can more or less get away with out them, but not the other. But without them, toe clips will rudely drag on on the ground on the downstroke when there is no stoker (happens all the time when I am picking up kids from school), so I use velcro straps between pedal and crank to solve this.

    Happy roads and trails...

  11. #11
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    The BF Traveller Q can be broken down, but it's not a swing design like the Two'sday. We'll try it first in the back of the station wagon, but if the disassembly/re-assembly takes too much time for weekend ride starts we'll look for a roof-rack option.

    I'll see if I can find the Phil Wood crank shorteners. They had a nice machined aluminum set from Tandems East, but they were just too narrow for the crank arms. I also see that Ride2 had shorteners in two different widths ($100), and I might ask them about those before having the custom ones made.

    A question: do you find that you need to reduce your candence when riding with younger kids? I've always noticed that my son is something of a masher, while I'm normally spinning at 80-120 rpms. I wonder if his style would change on the tandem, of if I'm going to have to slow down on the spinning (like I did yesterday on the test ride).

    You'll likely be right about the cost of replacing SPD shoes all the time (but I'm seen some for $20 a pair before). If we go for clips, I think I'd buy Power Grips (http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...ype=&estoreid=). Long ago (1991?) I used thems and found them to be lower profile than clips, and easier to enter and disengage from.

    Btw, there's a pic and specs about the Q we're considering at
    http://www.bikefriday.com/usedbike99view.cfm?id=464

    Thanks!

  12. #12
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    The Power Grips idea is interesting - thanks for that tip. BTW even my 4 year old can fairly quickly get his feet into toe clips - entry seems not to be the problem. Remaining in the clip/on the pedal is. While its still early days with my son, and the situtation is definitely improving, every once in a while I hear "Out!" and a second or two later "In!" from my 6 year old (teamwork already happening here!).

    Re cadence, yes, I reduce it; our no-car tandeming parent friends also report they do too. I probably spin at the lower end of my normal range now, and I do not find it terribly uncomfortable. If I spin > 90 I am much more likely to pop my son's feet out of the clips for him.

    FYI standing is not a problem at all.

  13. #13
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    Well...

    The link above to the Traveller Q is probably dead now-- it's listed as sold on the www.bikefriday.com website. We worked out the last pricing details, and I put a deposit down on it this morning. I hope to travel down on Friday with my son for a final tandem test ride, and then a test ride on it as a single, and finally packing training for taking it on trips.

    I think my wife was sold on it after seeing my son and I ride so confidently on it. I looked into a few other options before deciding (Cannondale RT1000, a Santana, Burleys, etc.), but it was hard to beat the combination of
    • good for kid stokers
    • easy to transport
    • a decent travel single for me
    • a tandem for two adults as well
    • confidence-inspiring feel and ride

    The Co-motion Periscope would likely have been a stronger frame and a bit better for fast riding (with kids and adults), but the price diference was substantial (especially with S&S couplers) and I would have forfeited the travel single option.

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to doing more tandem riding with my son soon. Thanks to everyone for comments and tips!
    Last edited by pdxcyclist; 01-20-04 at 02:32 PM.

  14. #14
    Señor Mambo
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    Hey pdxcyclist,

    I've been reading this thread with interest and congratulate you on the purchase of your Q. But did you ever get to try out the Family Tandem? If so, how did it handle? Any creaks or abnormalities?

    This particular tandem is what we're looking at. Thanks for any info.



    Quote Originally Posted by pdxcyclist
    I'm seriously considering a Family Tandem from Bike Friday as a tandem for myself and my son to ride this season. It makes sense in that it looks like it could fit in our station wagon (instead of on a roof-top tandem rack), would be a good fit for him (he'll be seven this May), and could be used with my wife occasionally.

    Thanks!

  15. #15
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spambait11
    Hey pdxcyclist,

    I've been reading this thread with interest and congratulate you on the purchase of your Q. But did you ever get to try out the Family Tandem? If so, how did it handle? Any creaks or abnormalities?
    There was a demo Family Tandem that I looked over closely in the showroom, and it looked solidly made. I doubt you’d find it creaky or cheap feeling. I fully planned to test ride it, but after talking with Dave the sales rep. I decided it was a better investment of time to test ride a Pocket Rocket and the Q.

    I think the base Family Tandem could be a perfect bike for a lot of families. In my mind, an ideal set up would be a family in the “typical” American suburbs (flat, spread out, a few miles to store, video store, other friends in suburbs, etc.). The parent and child could ride to all sorts of places via tandem, and demonstrate a life-long lesson in how to get around without driving a car constantly. If it’s like the Q, then getting started should be a snap even for the parent who hasn’t biked for a long time. Also note that they show up used on Ebay and as pre-owned at www.bikefriday.com fairly frequently for around $1000 or less.

    For us, there were some reasons why the Family Tandem didn’t make sense. First, the flat bars. I ride flat bars with extenders on my commuting bike almost everyday for 15 plus miles, but I really don’t like them for longer rides (others prefer them). So, unless we were only doing short trips, I’d want drop bars. Secondly, the base Family Tandem has only 8 gears, which is all one needs for most flat riding or town trips, but not enough for hilly areas with a tandem (our home neighborhood is very hilly, and there are significant hills on most rides we do). To be fair, though, a lot of used Family Tandems show up with 24 gears and good upgrades.

    Those two reasons alone would make me want a customized Family tandem with drop bars, different shift system, and a triple ring 27 gear system or their 3x7 rear hub system. My estimate had the cost of this custom Family Tandem (with better tires, etc.) at around $1,600 right off the bat.

    Other things—the Family Tandem is a slide apart design (like the Q), but the swing design (like the Two’sday) is much faster and more efficient. Last, the Family Tandem is a stock frame, and not custom sized for riders, and I believe it's rather heavier than most the others (especially the stock model). As noted by Dave, this isn’t a perfect bike for faster or longer rides with two adults.

    So, if one wants a tandem with a bit more growing room and performance (for two adults, especially), the extra money for the Two’sday, Traveller, and others can make sense. For example, at www.bikefriday.com there’s a pre-owned Two’sday for $1,965. For $365 more than my modified family tandem, there’s a lot of benefits (and it comes with a 30 day return warranty, and a lifetime warranty on frame and fork, etc.).

    Caveat: never buy a used bike that doesn’t fit. They can replace the stem with a one with a better height and reach for you, and even the seat tubes can be cut down to smaller sizes, but they can’t change the top or main tube that sets the reach for the captain. If you order a new bike, you’ll get a bike customized to your size and needs.

    Another caveat: make certain you get their opinion of the gearing setup on the pre-owned bikes. The gearing component mixes on the bikes were selected by the previous owners, and some are less than optimal, so get their honest opinion before you buy. Our Q has a basic triple ring with a rear derailleur, which I liked because it’s what I know and is lighter than their 3x7 SRAM rear hubs (which some people really prefer).

    Final caveat: sometimes it’s smarter to buy a bike and grow out of it (like the Family Tandem, which seems relatively easy to resell), than buy something fully tricked out but not ride it enough.

    Sorry this is so long. This was a fun process for us, and doing the test rides was the best part. I don’t think I’d ever buy a bike just on other’s opinions, so finding a way to test ride something similar to what you want can be a pretty crucial part of the process.

    Good luck—and post again if you go with a Family Tandem or something else. (I’m just happy to have a stokid who’s ready to roll, and waiting too long can be the worst mistake.)
    Last edited by pdxcyclist; 01-20-04 at 09:24 PM.

  16. #16
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    tandem Two's Day for sale

    Just posted to "the other list".....

    -------------------------------------------------

    Subject: tandem Two's Day for sale

    FOR SALE: Tandem Two's Day with 2 Sampsonite travel cases and trailer kit, $1500 OBO. Travel bag, front and rear racks, fenders. Rear 7 speed cluster with 3-7 internal rear hub. Front internal hub brake. Rear seat shock post. Drop handlebars, front and rear. Fits a variety of captains and stokers: 2 masts for rear seat, extra rear handle bar extension tube, 2 front masts, Extras: 2 sets of wheels 406 & 459, assorted extra parts, spokes, tubes and tires. No seats or pedals included. Purchased used in 1999 has toured numerous states and been to a few countries abroad and still has a lot of traveling left in it!!

    Art or Judee 330-688-7299.
    Email: Grnmach2@earthlink.net.

    -------------------------------------------------

    No personal interest. Really nice folks who we know from the "net" and what looks to be a nice bike.

  17. #17
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    From the decription, the price is more than fair. A similar set-up in Cottage Grove, OR, recently sold for over $2,200 on Ebay (without the bag, second wheelset, and some other options). The Twos'day has a good reputation and a swing-fold design.

    I'd contact them for size and wear details, but I'm committed to the Q because I've test rode it, like the idea of the travel single, will have a warranty, and know it should have less wear being a 2003.

    Other than that, this would be a seriously tempting kit.

    Thanks for reposting it.

  18. #18
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    Surprising

    Well, my wife and I drove down to Eugene yesterday and picked up the Q. One of their staff took us through the process of breaking down the bike and packing it into one of the new Samsonite suitcases they now sell. It took him about 35 mintues, going slowing to show which felt bags were for which parts, and how to handle the chains and cables, etc.

    I was impressed that it went so fast, but there was a huge advantage in that the bike is essentially new with no grease or crud build-up. In fact, he recommended that I lube all joints (frame, seat tubes, pedals, etc.) with white lithium grease when I rebuild it at home. Once that's done, and the chains, wheels, etc., get dirty, I know I would take at least 30 mintues to clean the bike as I pack it (so as not to terribly mess up the packing materials).

    Total weight packed in case: 59 lbs, including both regular and thudbuster stoker seatposts (one for kids, one for wife), but no pedals. I think if we're careful we could keep it under the 60 lb. limit for airlines.

  19. #19
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    Size of case

    The main surprise I had was that the tandem could fit into one case so easilty, and that the case is surprisingly small consider what's in it. It has a telescoping hand-hold, and it could have easily slid into the trunk of my '98 Escort. In the middle of April, I hope to take it (and the Q as a single bike) with me on a flight to Spokane, Washington.

    Here it is next to my Bruce Gordon BLT for scale:

  20. #20
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    What's Inside

    I may or may not have time to build it for the first time this weekend. It came with an video to watch about building and packing it, and I'd like to study that once more before putting it back together. Overall, after seeing it done yesterday, I don't think I'm going to have much trouble building it as a single or a double.

    As for transport to local starts, to begin I think I'll just use our station wagon to begin with. I'll leave it built as a tandem in the garage (hung from ceiling), and then split it in half just behind the captains seat tube so that it can be placed in the back of the station wagon as two parts for going to the ride start. There, I'll only need to re-assemble front to rear, tension the timing chain, and reconnect the cables. If this is too much work, I'll start researching a tandem rack for our roof.

    This is what it looks like inside:

  21. #21
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    First unpack, build and test ride as a Single

    Well, I did get some time with the Q today.

    As I unpacked, I took about 20 pictures to help me remember the sequence and positioning. I also watched the 60 minute video yesterday about building, packing and tuning in different configurations.

    I built the bike as a single today, because I hadn't been able to test ride it as a single. The assembly was straight-forward, and I was please that the cable lengths were very close and only took a little adjustment on the brakes and rear derailleur. I used white lithium grease on all the pipe connections and most threads.

    After tweaking, I took it out in the dark and cold for a test ride. The ride was very close to that of the Pocket Rocket, and again I enjoyed the lively feeling of handling. During the ride, my saddle felt too low and too far ahead, but there's pleny of adjustment to fix that. The stem is higher than I'm used to, and that too can be lowered, but for now I like the ease of the higher stem and the comfort in the drops.

    Two things I did notice-- 1) If you really hammer, you can feel the handle bars flex toward you on the tall stem. This may be more a indicator of bad form on my part, but there isn't a high top tube to lock the bars in place. 2) Going out of the saddle feels different than my other bikes. Not bad, just different. There plenty of clearance for my knees from the barcon shifters (a relief), and it was enjoyable to crank up hills. Neither of these issues are problems-- just different.

    Overall, this should be a fine traveling bike for me, and I hope to take it to Spokane, DC and maybe Colorado this year on business trips. I'm beginning to think of this as my "James Bond" bike, because I call it Q and because the assembly process is reminiscient of assembling a *****...

  22. #22
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    First Tandem Build

    This morning I converted the Q into a tandem for the first time. It was all pretty straight-forward, but I went slow and greased all connections and double-checked my assembly as I went. Overall, it took just under two hours because I was putting so much thought into it (and setting up some gear for the first time, like the Power-grips, crank-shorteners, and kid's saddle).

    The only thing I had to redo was the timing chain-- I thought I had the cranks in sync, but then found I was off by a tooth. I only had to loosen the bottom tube to de-tension the chain, slip it off, and then reinstall it with the arms perfectly in synch (and then retension and tighten the bottom tube). It was nice to not have to break the chain or mess with the BBs.

    The image below shows my Stokid #1. We were almost skunked on our test ride (yes, he put on a helmet on his "big hair"). We waited all day for the sun to dry the roads off, and then fifty yards out of our driveway it began to pour rain on us. We tried a couple of hills in our neighborhood and did well for the first time. I'm confident now we can ride at will from home.

    Once we get more experience, I'll consider having Bike Friday customize another Burley Moose rack for the back. That way, we could try connecting Stokid #2 on our Burley Piccolo trailer bike off the back for a "poor man's" triple.

    As for car transport, splitting the bike in half and laying in the back of our station wagon should work. It will take me about twenty minutes to re-assemble at the ride start (center tubes re-connect, timing chain replacement and retensioning, cable reconnection and checking). I may still go for a roof-top carrier just for the sake of simplicity (and the ability to have more than two or three in the station wagon).
    Last edited by pdxcyclist; 02-07-04 at 07:21 PM.

    '99 Bruce Gordon BLT
    '96 Canondale T700 (wife's)
    Two kids bikes (Giant, Performanc)
    '03 Bike Friday Traveller "Q" (everyone's)
    2007 Birdy Light (my London machine)

  23. #23
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    Another Short, But Good, Ride

    Again, another Saturday of waiting for the roads to dry, followed by a short ride that ends in more rain. It's getting tough to wait through this damp weather.

    Nevertheless, my six year-old stoker and I rode from home today. On our largest hill (right at the start) I was amazed by how much he contributed to the climb. I'm used to the climb on my commuting bike, but my stokid was almost taking us up entirely. Later in the ride, I could feel him tiring, but on this climb he accelled.

    We got in about four miles of riding before the rain started again. I actually had to talk him out of going further. We had a short rest break at Grand Central Central Bakery in Multnomah Village (no money, so no pastries), and we weren't there a minute before two guys came up and starting asking questions about the bike. "We've never seen one like that before..." I think I'll train my stoker to answer all the questions.

    We also drove over to Gateway Bicycles and bought an Atoc roof rack for the tandem today. I like the idea of it simply going on the roof of our cars, and then being able to use one vehicle to take all four of us to a ride start (with tandem, wife's bike, trailer bike). I don't think we could have fit everyone and everything in with the tandem in half in the back of the station wagon (and fitting it in my '98 Escort coupe could have been a challenge).

    We went for the "non-swing" design Atoc Tandem Topper. I liked this model because it will also work with a single (you pull a pin, and the longer rear bar extension for the tandem is easily removed). I needed another single bike carrier anyway, and this will make it easier and faster to get the tandem around. I also decided the bike was light enough to load by myself on top of the Escort or our Taurus wagon.

    Other fun news-- we registered for the Northwest Tandem Rally. It's on my stoker's seventh birthday, so it should be a fun weekend away. Details at http://www.nwtr.org/2004/index.html. It's our first tandem rally, so don't be too judgemental if you see us there... I doubt we'll have fancy matching jerseys or anything like that yet...

    Here's a pic of the Atoc Tandem Topper:
    Last edited by pdxcyclist; 02-14-04 at 08:05 PM.

    '99 Bruce Gordon BLT
    '96 Canondale T700 (wife's)
    Two kids bikes (Giant, Performanc)
    '03 Bike Friday Traveller "Q" (everyone's)
    2007 Birdy Light (my London machine)

  24. #24
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    Strange Color in the Sky

    Awoke this morning to a strange color in the sky: blue.

    This led to a emergency situation: we were going to visit a grandparent today, and could I get the bikes together fast enough to go with us???

    The Tandem Topper was still packed in the garage, and I had to move my single bike carrier before I could install it. That done, I unpacked the Topper (making a terrible packing peanut mess) and figured it out. Nice simple design. It installed quickly and securely, with no headaches.

    Then the challenge of mounting the Q by myself. Not too hard, even with the slope of the driveway.

    Here's an overview shot of it installed on my Escort:
    Last edited by pdxcyclist; 02-15-04 at 09:02 PM.

    '99 Bruce Gordon BLT
    '96 Canondale T700 (wife's)
    Two kids bikes (Giant, Performanc)
    '03 Bike Friday Traveller "Q" (everyone's)
    2007 Birdy Light (my London machine)

  25. #25
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    Closer View

    The one concern I had with the Topper was the captain's BB height from the rack bar. The fork clamp is raised about 5 inches from the bar, and as you can see below there is plenty of clearance for the captain's BB.

    Overall, with tandems, I think it's important to be realistic about transport. Supposedly, the reason why our Q was used so little and sold so soon by its previous owners was that they weren't realistic about how much trouble it would be to transport in their car. I could see myself spending more time that I wanted breaking down the bike, rebuilding the bike, and then retuning the brakes and shifting, all at the expensive of riding or family time on a nice day. So, yes, the rack is another expense, but it sure makes the day go faster and smoother.

    The rack and bike feel plenty secure. The bike rides high, however, and I'll have to be particularly careful of low trees and parking structures:
    Last edited by pdxcyclist; 02-15-04 at 09:03 PM.

    '99 Bruce Gordon BLT
    '96 Canondale T700 (wife's)
    Two kids bikes (Giant, Performanc)
    '03 Bike Friday Traveller "Q" (everyone's)
    2007 Birdy Light (my London machine)

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