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  1. #1
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    Converting to Multiply speed?

    Has anyone had any experience converting a single speed tandem into a multiple speed? My husband wants to convert ours but I'm not sure if is going to be a huge job to do or a costly one at that. We recently bought it and we didnt realize the single speed was going to be so hard to go on rides towing our kid in a trailer.We only use it for casual use riding around the nieghborhood. Any input or ideas would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Senior Member rishardh's Avatar
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    I have no experience but will take a shot at it. If the tandem was designed to be a single speed then I dont think its possible as the gear cable guides and stops will not exist. If the tandem was converted from a geared bike to a single speed then you could convert it back to a multi speed by adding the necessary components which can add up in cost considerably depending on the level of components you want to go with. If you are mechanically good it wont be that hard.

    So, the question is what kind of frame is it? Does it have a derailleur hanger or a hole to bolt on one at the rear drive side drop out? Post some pics if you can. There are some very knowledgable folks here in the forum that can answer your questions.
    Last edited by rishardh; 02-06-09 at 07:13 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    Given that you're talking neighbourhood rides, an internal geared hub could be all you need. This may get expensive, but requires the fewest part changes.

    In either case there is the question of dropout spacing. If an older bike, intended as a single speed coaster-brake model, it could be quite narrow by today's multiple-speed standards.

    This does leave the question of cable stops, but there was a time when we didn't have cable stops and still did multiple speed bikes. Just takes some ingenuity, and you're probably only talking rear wheel.

  4. #4
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    Oh, and you'll probably need to add hand brakes.

    You might want to build a detailed plan with a budget before deciding whether to go ahead or pick up something used that already meets your needs.

  5. #5
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    You can put a derailleur system on almost any bike, with or without braze-ons. Clamp on cable guides and stops were the norm for a billion years, and are still available. Or, if you have to you can run fully enclosed cables from the front to the back and just zip-tie them on. K-mart does it!

    The problem is expense. You will need several hundred dollars worth of parts and a good deal of expertise to accomplish it. I won't go into all the details but you'd need a new tandem rated rear wheel, the derailleur itself, a cassette (the sprocket set in the rear), cables, shifters, a complete handbrake set (assuming your single speed is a coaster brake currently - most are), and you'd also need to change out the rear sprocket (if that's even possible on your bike), as a derailleur chain is not compatible with a single speed sprocket usually.

    A better way to go would be a three speed of some sort, if it could be made to work. Although the three speed hub was not made for a tandem, I'd bet it would hold up fine for the type of riding you're describing. The three speed hubs use the same chain as a single speed. But the problem there would be axle spacing. A competent shop with knowledge of tandems would have to take a look at the bike to advise you. If it could be done, there is even a 3 speed hub available that would not require the addition of hand brakes ... a three speed coaster brake hub.

    There are probably other considerations there that failed to register with me before my second cup of coffee, but ..... bottom line is that you are going to spend more on the conversion than the tandem probably cost. A far better use of your money would be to find a used multi-speed tandem on CraigsList or somewhere.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Upgrading properly will cost more than what the bike is worth.
    Suggest looking for a multi-geared used tandem and selling the single speed. Will be more co$t effective and work better in the long run.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    Upgrading properly will cost more than what the bike is worth.
    Suggest looking for a multi-geared used tandem and selling the single speed. Will be more co$t effective and work better in the long run.
    That's what I think too and I've even done it.

    Starting with the rear triangle spacing. A single speed bike frame will be more closely spaced that a multi speed bike so you'll have to modify the frame. You'll probably also need to fabricate some kind of rear brake mount. The list goes on.

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    I converted a single speed old Schwinn tandem into a multiple speed. You can only expect to do this economically if you can source relatively inexpensive used parts and you are handy at metalwork.
    In my case I did it mainly so my 10 year old daughter could ride with me and since I was only 140 lb at the time I did not bother with an extra brake (but I did braze on good stoppers).

    I feel that an economical used tandem would suit you most. Look in Craigslist . The big names in tandems will still be expensive but Nashbar for instance made a very capable tandem at a very reasonable price which I think would suit you well.

    The one approach to making your bike multispeed without too much trouble might be a multispeed hub as previously suggested although you will have to learn how to build a wheel or have someone do it for you. Although new multi-speed hubs are expensive you could go with a 3 or 4 speed used Sturmey Archer if that gives you enough gears (they are widely spaced). You can find complete bikes with Sturmey Archer hubs in thrift stores for $15.

    I would not recommend that you go down any hills with the load that you are contemplating unless you get more braking power.
    Last edited by CycleBiker; 02-07-09 at 01:45 PM. Reason: Typo

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    Thanks!

    Thanks everyone for your replies!

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