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  1. #1
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    Considering going from triple to double

    Okay, I am curious to hear feedback from people out there that have set their tandem drivetrain up as a double. In particular, I am curious to hear if you found a significant improvement in shifting over a triple? While I love our Co-Motion Macchiato, I do not love the shifting performance I am experiencing. We are running Campy Record on the bike and while it works well enough for a while, it quickly deteriorates (yes, it still shifts, it just takes....some extra love).

    Our previous tandems all had either Ultegra or Dura-Ace triple and were no better. Having spent enough time riding my single with Campy Chorus dialed in, it pains me every ride. All we would need to replace is the spider on the Da Vinci cranks, get two new chain rings, switch out the front derailleur and maybe switch out the 12-25 for a 13-26 or a 13-29 (though still debating on the cassette switch).

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Senior Member embankmentlb's Avatar
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    I am thinking the same way. Road triples in general are finicky at best. I am 100% sure a double would solve all shifting problems. We live in North Ga. & i don't believe a double wound have the gear range needed. If we lived in a flatter area It would be a done deal.

  3. #3
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    It's a nice idea, but every once in a while we just need that granny gear. What I've done instead is run an 11-23 with a 54-38-26 which means I minimize the shifting between chainrings as there is minimal step. When I do shift between chainrings it's a big drop. Even though the chainring spread is outside the "allowable" for my Ultegra front derailleur, it works ok as long as I keep the cable and housing in good shape. I also found that switching to Durace chain made a big difference in the shifting.

    If I went with a double I'd probably try for a 54-34 or some such extreme combination but I don't know how the derailleur would like that. You'd need some agressive ramps on the chainrings.

  4. #4
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tandem_dude View Post
    We are running Campy Record on the bike and while it works well enough for a while, it quickly deteriorates.
    1. Can you fill in the blanks on the list of the components you're using:

    Campy Record 10 Ergo Levers
    Campy ______ Front Derailleur
    Campy Record (Long/Med/Short) Rear Derailleur
    ______ ________ Cassette, 12x25
    daVinci Cranks with FSA ___ /___ /___ Chainrings


    2. Can you post some close-up photos of:

    A. The cable routing between the bars and downtube cable stops
    B. The cable routing at the rear derailleur
    C. The rear drive train in the big-big combination
    D. The rear drop-out/derailleur alignment from behind
    E. The front derailleur with chain in the big ring from the side
    F. The front derailleur with chain in the big ring from above
    G. The cable routing / guides at the front eccentric shell


    3. Can you be more specific about the shift degradation you are experiencing?

    A. Does the shifting become finicky all the time (aka, just riding along) or is it in specific circumstances such as when climbing under heavy pedal loads?
    B. Is it the front derailleur performance that's sluggish and, if so, between which shifts.
    C. Is it the rear shifting that goes off and, if so, is it specific to any chainring combination?
    D. How fast does it degrade: 20 miles, 100 miles, 1000 miles?
    E. Other details????

  5. #5
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    Thanks TandemGeek. Some very thorough questions.

    1. Can you fill in the blanks on the list of the components you're using:
    Campy Record 10 Ergo Levers
    Campy Record Triple Front Derailleur
    Campy Record (Long/Med/Short) Rear Derailleur
    Campy Record Ti and Campy Centaur Cassettes, 12x25
    daVinci Cranks with FSA 53 /39 /30 Chainrings
    2. Can you post some close-up photos of: I will try and do that when I get home tonight
    A. The cable routing between the bars and downtube cable stops
    B. The cable routing at the rear derailleur
    C. The rear drive train in the big-big combination
    D. The rear drop-out/derailleur alignment from behind
    E. The front derailleur with chain in the big ring from the side
    F. The front derailleur with chain in the big ring from above
    G. The cable routing / guides at the front eccentric shell
    3. Can you be more specific about the shift degradation you are experiencing?
    A. Does the shifting become finicky all the time (aka, just riding along) or is it in specific circumstances such as when climbing under heavy pedal loads? Appears on flats, rolling and climbing. Both the shop (I trust my mechanic implicitly) and I have adjusted things. Generally it will work fine for a ride or two, then it quickly goes down hill.
    B. Is it the front derailleur performance that's sluggish and, if so, between which shifts. It is the front. Sometimes it won't drop from the middle to the small. Sometimes won't go from the middle to the large. And then sometimes I am trying to go large to middle and find myself in the small with no issue at all. Also, sometimes the behavior is dependent on the gear I am in, sometimes not.
    C. Is it the rear shifting that goes off and, if so, is it specific to any chainring combination? As far as the rear goes, other than dealing with the initial cable stretch, all seems pretty good back there. Occasional hiccup when it doesn't quite hit things dead on, but generally rights itself after a shift or two.
    D. How fast does it degrade: 20 miles, 100 miles, 1000 miles? 40 to 75 miles. That's a guess. I am generally thinking in terms of the number if rides.
    E. Other details???? We also tried moving the spindle (steel Phil Wood, 118 length) for the BB slightly off center (to the drive side) to see if that would do anything since centered wasn't working well. That hasn't helped either.
    I am probably being overly sensitive to the issue, but I know how Campy can perform and this isn't quite it.
    Last edited by tandem_dude; 02-19-09 at 11:11 AM.

  6. #6
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    Get a third eye chain watcher, and you can set your lower limit more aggressive.

    This cured any middle-to-small ring shifting problems for me.

    Middle to big: Not sure of your problem, but I will say 54/39 is a big difference. We run 53/42/30, with Chorus Ergo 10s shifters and the Comp Triple FD, and have had no shifting woes.

  7. #7
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    We've found the shifting to the small ring can be a bit finnicky.

    However, the shifting on the 2 larger rings is pretty comparable to shifting on a double crank.

    So if you can get the gearing you want with just the big 2 rings, dial the front shifting in for those two, and you don't need to change anything.

    And +1 on 54/39 being a pretty big step.
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  8. #8
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    Oops. It's a 53 not a 54.

    As for the third eye chain watcher we tried to fit one in, but things were too tight down there. The main culprit was the placement of the bolts for the bottle cage.

  9. #9
    I'd rather be riding DKMcK's Avatar
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    Here's instructions on making one.....
    http://www.roadbikerider.com/booksto..._Chain_Catcher

  10. #10
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    Cool, thanks.

  11. #11
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Given the shifting issues are at the front derailleur, all of the photos may not be essential. However, before taking my best guess at a possible cause and solution for your shifting woes I will note that just looking at the photos you've posted in the past, it does appear you have a little more cable housing between the bars and downtube and also at the rear derailleur than you probably need.

    Anyway, since you've mentioned that the shifting was also sub-optimal on your Robusta I'm going to go out on a limb here and offer up some comments regarding tandems, front derailleurs and shifting technique that may allow you to get some better shifting performance out of your current set-up. Just based on the specs, if the Record Triple FD is what I think it is, that shouldn't be a problem as we're using nearly the same thing on our current tandem with the same Record Ergo shifters, daVinci cranks, FSA chain rings (albeit with different sized rings) and an even more narrow chain line. With regard to the chain rings, I'm not quite sure why FSA decided that 53/39/30 was the sweet spot for tandems, other than giving the middle chain ring a little more umphf for climbs without resorting to the smallest chain ring. In any event, I ran 54/44/32 on our tandems from '98 - '07 with a few other combinations thrown in that didn't work as well, e.g., 54/42/28, 54/44/30 and we're currently running 53/42/30 which works quite well. I've ridden a tandem with the 53/39/30 FSAs and just didn't like the big jump that I had also experienced with our initial 54/42/28 set-up back in '98. Anyway, less I digress.... the bottom line is everything you have should work just fine. The only thing I use that's different is with regard to chains since I've always used Shimano cassettes instead of Campy on our tandems. That would have been a discriminator if you were having rear shifting issues, but it's a moot point given it's the front derailleur / shifting that's giving you fits.

    OK, Q&A time

    A. Does the shifting become finicky all the time (aka, just riding along) or is it in specific circumstances such as when climbing under heavy pedal loads? Appears on flats, rolling and climbing. Both the shop (I trust my mechanic implicitly) and I have adjusted things. Generally it will work fine for a ride or two, then it quickly goes down hill.

    This seems to suggest technique may be playing a greater role vs. 100% set-up as there just isn't that much that can go out of adjustment WRT the front derailleur. I say this as most of us tend to be very attentive to things right after making adjustments such as shifting technique, but then fall back into our normal habits only to find that problems have returned.


    B. Is it the front derailleur performance that's sluggish and, if so, between which shifts. It is the front. Sometimes it won't drop from the middle to the small. Sometimes won't go from the middle to the large. And then sometimes I am trying to go large to middle and find myself in the small with no issue at all. Also, sometimes the behavior is dependent on the gear I am in, sometimes not.

    Again, balky shifting at the front derailleur / drive rings can be indicative of attempting to shift while the drive train is still heavily loaded with either you and/or your stoker applying nearly full power to the pedals.

    Many tandem teams will experience this on climbs when they attempt to downshift from the middle to the small chain ring AFTER they have allowed their cadence to fall and are grinding out a gear that is too tall for the grade. In this situation, the amount of torque being exerted by the chain on the drive rings exceeds the power of the spring in the front derailleur as it attempts to push the chain off the middle ring to the smaller ring, hence there's a lot of noise but no gear change. However, in some other instances a team will let up just enough to allow the chain to derail while it is still under a very high load where that load will simply be too high to allow the chain to engage the small chain ring's teeth causing it to simply skip and slip past the small ring and fall to the bottom bracket where bad things can happen.

    Having the drive train loaded-up can also create the same or similar problems with all downshifts as well as upshifts, even on drive rings that have ramps and pins. Again, given a front derailleur works by pure brute force (even more so than the rear), tandems inherently require more finesse and better technique to overcome the much higher chain loads generated by two (or more) riders pushing a gear with 1.5x to 2x or more torque than the captain deals with on their single bike. Therefore, if you don't over compensate by learning to incorporate a very slight soft pedal stroke that accompanies your shifts, front shifting will typically remain balky on a tandem. In most cases, the captain can do this without bothering the stoker because it's the sum of both rider's power that creates the problem. However, if you're blessed with a super-stoker who can really turn out the watts, they may need to be coached to 'lighten up' when shifting from the middle to the small chain rings specifically on climbs and perhaps in other riding situations.



    C. Is it the rear shifting that goes off and, if so, is it specific to any chainring combination? As far as the rear goes, other than dealing with the initial cable stretch, all seems pretty good back there. Occasional hiccup when it doesn't quite hit things dead on, but generally rights itself after a shift or two.

    Having used Campy Ergo on our tandems since '98 I've found that there will always be times when a little 'English' needs to be applied to the upshift lever to nudge the derailleur when there's a bit of chatter coming from the rear cluster or, as you note, a full upshift / downshift to get things back in alignment. I suspect it's simply cable drag/stretch and, well, other than having very clean / short cable housings, inserting teflon sleeves in the cable guides and putting new cables on each year there's not a whole lot you can do other than learning how to compensate on the fly.


    D. How fast does it degrade: 20 miles, 100 miles, 1000 miles? 40 to 75 miles. That's a guess. I am generally thinking in terms of the number if rides.

    I think I covered this one already.


    E. Other details???? We also tried moving the spindle (steel Phil Wood, 118 length) for the BB slightly off center (to the drive side) to see if that would do anything since centered wasn't working well. That hasn't helped either.

    You can certainly do some fine tuning with chain line adjustments, but in general it only really helps to eliminate chain chatter in certain really bad cross-over situations which, well, most of us try to avoid. FWIW, I've used 108mm, 111mm and 113mm rear spindles on three different 145mm rear-spaced tandems and they all have worked fine. We're currently running a 111mm with perhaps a little bit of off-set and I suspect we have the same FSA chain rings on our Calfee's daVinci cranks that you're using on your Macchiatto's daVinci cranks. So, again, I'd be more inclined to look towards technique.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 02-20-09 at 07:36 AM.

  12. #12
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    Our tandems (two doubles and one triple) all have triple-ring cranks. All have Shimano drive trains (including brifters) and all shift _very_ well. Having struggled in the past with both daVinci cranks and FSA chainrings, I can suggest a couple of possible culprits:
    1) Chainline could be an issue. Square-taper BBs come in many different lengths and r/l offsets (that is, two BBs with the same overall length can have different drive-side axle projection). Don't be afraid to play with axle length and/or spacers under the RH BB cup. It took me a couple of years to get the shifting of our daVinci-equipped Bilenky where I wanted it. Correcting the chainline finally did the trick.
    2) In my experience, FSA rings do not shift near as well as Shimano. Simply changing to a genuine Shimano middle ring made all the difference last year on our PeriScope triple. Even with a really long front shift cable, I am quite happy with how well the thing works.

    YMMV, of course... Good luck!

  13. #13
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    First, thank you to everyone for posting responses to this thread. The chainring sizing question was one that I had not thought about.

    [QUOTE=TandemGeek;8393631]A. Does the shifting become finicky all the time (aka, just riding along) or is it in specific circumstances such as when climbing under heavy pedal loads? Appears on flats, rolling and climbing. Both the shop (I trust my mechanic implicitly) and I have adjusted things. Generally it will work fine for a ride or two, then it quickly goes down hill.

    This seems to suggest technique may be playing a greater role vs. 100% set-up as there just isn't that much that can go out of adjustment WRT the front derailleur. I say this as most of us tend to be very attentive to things right after making adjustments such as shifting technique, but then fall back into our normal habits only to find that problems have returned.

    I would agree with you on this point.


    B. Is it the front derailleur performance that's sluggish and, if so, between which shifts. It is the front. Sometimes it won't drop from the middle to the small. Sometimes won't go from the middle to the large. And then sometimes I am trying to go large to middle and find myself in the small with no issue at all. Also, sometimes the behavior is dependent on the gear I am in, sometimes not.

    Again, balky shifting at the front derailleur / drive rings can be indicative of attempting to shift while the drive train is still heavily loaded with either you and/or your stoker applying nearly full power to the pedals.

    Many tandem teams will experience this on climbs when they attempt to downshift from the middle to the small chain ring AFTER they have allowed their cadence to fall and are grinding out a gear that is too tall for the grade. In this situation, the amount of torque being exerted by the chain on the drive rings exceeds the power of the spring in the front derailleur as it attempts to push the chain off the middle ring to the smaller ring, hence there's a lot of noise but no gear change. However, in some other instances a team will let up just enough to allow the chain to derail while it is still under a very high load where that load will simply be too high to allow the chain to engage the small chain ring's teeth causing it to simply skip and slip past the small ring and fall to the bottom bracket where bad things can happen.

    Having the drive train loaded-up can also create the same or similar problems with all downshifts as well as upshifts, even on drive rings that have ramps and pins. Again, given a front derailleur works by pure brute force (even more so than the rear), tandems inherently require more finesse and better technique to overcome the much higher chain loads generated by two (or more) riders pushing a gear with 1.5x to 2x or more torque than the captain deals with on their single bike. Therefore, if you don't over compensate by learning to incorporate a very slight soft pedal stroke that accompanies your shifts, front shifting will typically remain balky on a tandem. In most cases, the captain can do this without bothering the stoker because it's the sum of both rider's power that creates the problem. However, if you're blessed with a super-stoker who can really turn out the watts, they may need to be coached to 'lighten up' when shifting from the middle to the small chain rings specifically on climbs and perhaps in other riding situations.


    I have looked for the heavy load as possibly being the culprit. Why I discounted that is as follows. 1) I am conscientious of shifting in advance of the need. 2) I back off fully on my power (when possible) when executing a shift. 3) I call out FD shifts so my wife will back off on her power. Now, we also have a Ventana MTB tandem. I have no issues with FD performance on that bike. Based on the comments I have gotten so far and considering the smaller spread on the chainrings, I am definitely looking to this as being the culprit - or at least one to consider.


    C. Is it the rear shifting that goes off and, if so, is it specific to any chainring combination? As far as the rear goes, other than dealing with the initial cable stretch, all seems pretty good back there. Occasional hiccup when it doesn't quite hit things dead on, but generally rights itself after a shift or two.

    Having used Campy Ergo on our tandems since '98 I've found that there will always be times when a little 'English' needs to be applied to the upshift lever to nudge the derailleur when there's a bit of chatter coming from the rear cluster or, as you note, a full upshift / downshift to get things back in alignment. I suspect it's simply cable drag/stretch and, well, other than having very clean / short cable housings, inserting teflon sleeves in the cable guides and putting new cables on each year there's not a whole lot you can do other than learning how to compensate on the fly.


    In regards to the sleeves, I have been looking into this lately. Actually, I am considering getting the Gore cables or something along those lines.


    Finally, regarding bikerdave's comments about chainring performance, I took a look at the FSA rings last night and compared them to the Campy ones on my single. I am inclined to agree that they aren't quite up to par.

    Looks like I am in the market for some new chainrings this weekend. I'll post a follow-up as to how it goes.

  14. #14
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tandem_dude View Post
    In regards to the sleeves, I have been looking into this lately. Actually, I am considering getting the Gore cables or something along those lines.
    I'd still add the sleeves... an ounce of prevention
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    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tandem_dude View Post
    I took a look at the FSA rings last night and compared them to the Campy ones on my single. I am inclined to agree that they aren't quite up to par.
    Taking the technique issue out of play there are only a couple of other thoughts that come to mind...

    1. I've only used the Shimano 10 speed / 6.1mm and 9 speed / 6.6mm chains on our Calfee, not Campy's Ultra-Narrow 5.9mm, which could be exacerbating the chain's reluctance to move off one drive ring and on to another.

    2. Like most of these ramped and pinned chain rings, FSAs are over-engineered and need to be paired up in compatible sets with the ramps and pins aligned to work as designed, i.e., see the 1st photo below. Note that the rings are a set: 52/42 - 42/30 - 30. Also note how the numbers and other chain ring markings are aligned in relation to the crank arm. I'm told it makes a difference but due to my anal nature I've always aligned them because it seemed appropriate but with utter ignorance to the technical implications.

    3. FSAs rings aren't top shelf by any stretch and they do some really dumb things when they're produced, e.g., they hard anodize their rings which adds durability and wear resistance (goodness) and THEN they machine the hard anodized metal off the teeth!! ... the one place that it would be of most benefit? However, that said, they've worked well for us so far so I'm not complaining. We've used White Industry and TA Specialites in the past all to good effect with White Ind. rings on our current Ventana and RaceFace on our older Ventana. Drive rings has just never been a discriminator in terms of shifting performance on or off-road but, then again, our 10 speed experience is limited to the aforementioned use of Shimano 9 and 10 speed chains on our tandems, not Campy. The single bikes tend to have Campy but, then again, they're also running Campy cassettes.
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  16. #16
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    I think TG's comments have covered the equipment selection part.

    Some other things; have you tried adding a little oil to the cables where they are exposed and slide over the bottom bracket? I sometimes find on my road bike that this helps. Another thing to check is that the front deraileur moves smoothly by pullling the cable by hand. If it's at all stiff you can dismantle it and clean and lube the pins.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    Taking the technique issue out of play there are only a couple of other thoughts that come to mind...


    2. Like most of these ramped and pinned chain rings, FSAs are over-engineered and need to be paired up in compatible sets with the ramps and pins aligned to work as designed, i.e., see the 1st photo below. Note that the rings are a set: 52/42 - 42/30 - 30. Also note how the numbers and other chain ring markings are aligned in relation to the crank arm. I'm told it makes a difference but due to my anal nature I've always aligned them because it seemed appropriate but with utter ignorance to the technical implications.
    The chainring pairing and orientation was the first thing I thought of. The Ergo shifters also have a pretty long throw to them when used on a triple. Very picky when it comes to adjustment. I don't have a Campy front or rear derailleur but I do have the older FSA triple in front and run Record Ergo 10 levers. I'm running a 54-42-28. I have a Dura Ace triple front derailleur - maybe it meshes better with the FSA chainrings - and lifts the chain differently that a Campy. I don't really know since I've never compared the two. I've never had the problems that have been outlined in this thread though.

    One thing i'm contemplating is looking into retrofitting the "quick shift" mechanism from the newer Record 10 Ergos into my Record 10 levers. In looking at the exploded view diagram of the parts on Campy's website - there is only one part that is different. Should help increase the throw for the amount of shifter lever travel making the shift a bit quicker.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeinxs View Post
    It's a nice idea, but every once in a while we just need that granny gear. What I've done instead is run an 11-23 with a 54-38-26 which means I minimize the shifting between chainrings as there is minimal step. When I do shift between chainrings it's a big drop. Even though the chainring spread is outside the "allowable" for my Ultegra front derailleur, it works ok as long as I keep the cable and housing in good shape. I also found that switching to Durace chain made a big difference in the shifting.

    If I went with a double I'd probably try for a 54-34 or some such extreme combination but I don't know how the derailleur would like that. You'd need some agressive ramps on the chainrings.
    Those are some big changes on that front derailler considering a normal front derailler is only recommended to take 22t difference overall. You are 28. I stretch mine to 24 and do not have a problem and drop from each chain ring is not excessive. (48/36/24)

    And if you go Double- That drop is going to be 20 on one chain ring so the Change in gearing between rings is going make for a larger drop than you are experiencing already.
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  19. #19
    Terri's Captain RickinFl's Avatar
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    Get off the beaten path- switch to bar-end shifting. It works great! Zero issues with front shifts.
    Rick

  20. #20
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    I am an old school junkie on some things, but when it comes to shifting I am all about the brifters.

  21. #21
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    A quick update on next steps. I ordered a new outer ring today (TA Specialties). Fingers crossed it will arrive at the shop by Friday. The new ring will give us a 50/39/30 set up and certainly reduce the spread up front. Fingers crossed this will sort the shifting issue with the front derailleur. Still need to look into the chain watcher and the housing tweaks.

  22. #22
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    Installed a 50 tooth TA Specialties chain ring yesterday in place of a 53 FSA. This change meant I spent a bit of time lowering and realigning the front derailleur. While I was down there, I also decided to squeeze in a chain watcher that I pulled off the MTB tandem. This one has a thinner band that goes around the seat tube so I was just able to get the bottle cage back in after it was installed. It sits lower than the installation guide dictates, but I figure this bit is better than nothing for now.

    Ride report is that with the new ring (plus the other changes) the front derailleur shifts MUCH better. The TA ring is stiffer than the FSA ring. Also, I dropped three teeth so the jump from the middle to the outer ring is tighter. Combined, these changes made for much crisper shifting and no more fighting trying to get the chain to catch.

    The down side? I expected we would spin out the gearing because of this teeth drop and we did on a descent this morning. We were still doing 40mph plus so I am not terribly concerned. I think I will look at going back to the 11-25 rather than the 12-25 on the rear to help a little.

    I've attached some photos - though with everything so crammed in down there, it is a bit hard to see.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by tandem_dude; 03-03-09 at 11:11 PM.

  23. #23
    rhm
    rhm is offline
    multimodal commuter rhm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tandem_dude View Post
    Okay, I am curious to hear feedback from people out there that have set their tandem drivetrain up as a double. In particular, I am curious to hear if you found a significant improvement in shifting over a triple?
    I went all the way to a Rohloff. Not exactly trouble free, since it was a retrofit to an older tandem and I got the hub used, but no regrets.

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    I was very frustrated with my stock Shimano 105 9spd triple, and almost went to a double (because my DA single bike has perfect shifting), but I got a good deal on an Ultegra 10spd triple over the winter, and it has made all the difference.

  25. #25
    Senior Member rishardh's Avatar
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    I did the switch from Ultegra triple to SRAM double. I did not have any shifting problems with the triple setup though. I did it cos I wanted to try SRAM.

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