Would appreciate the views of the many experts here on building out a new custom tandem.
We’re a 310 lb team with a couple of years in the saddle(s) on our first two-seater, a Co-Motion Speedster. Typical outing is 60-100 miles. Local terrain ranges from the gently rolling to the cuss-your-mother steep-n-twisty (Blue Ridge Mtns). The bike faithfully carried us over 4000 miles this year, including on a multi-day guided trip in CO/UT (GREAT trip). Looking ahead, we want a bike that will be easy to transport. Touring will be either very light or fully supported.
The Co-Mo has been totally problem-free and a joy to ride. But in addition to being uncoupled, it’s way too cramped for the stoker. Et voila, a great excuse for a new bike! Our trusty Speedster is now looking for a good home.
After test driving about a dozen bikes, we’ve decided to get an S&S coupled titanium frame from Seven (basically needed to flip a coin to pick it over a Calfee).
We’re now struggling with all the component choices. The biggest considerations for us are reliability, serviceability, and ease of travel (eg, I'll be able to break it down and rebuild it on trips with little risk of screwing something up). Weight-weenie-ism isn’t a primary goal, but we do like to climb, so it's not irrelevant either.
BRAKES. This is the biggest issue and concern. Looking over various threads on this topic, each type of brake has its champions and its detractors (including those who believe that it – whatever “it” is – is a death trap). Current bike uses V-brakes with travel agents, which to date have stopped us without fail or blow-out, even on some really long, hairy descents. Only real complaint is that they can squeal like stuck pigs, unless the rims are totally clean of every speck of residue. Retailer is promoting discs, but the jury is still out for me. How reliable/serviceable are they? What are the real advantages/disadvantages over calipers, given where/how we ride? I get the sense that bad technique can be just as much of a problem, and a danger, using discs as well as rim brakes, so what's the real benefit? What specific brake models should we be considering?
WHEELS. White Ind. hubs laced to Deep V or Fusion rims get lots of votes from folks around here as solid performing, bomb-proof, every day wheels. Given our objectives, this combination seems spot-on, but are there other suggestions? Preferred spokes?
FORK. The Seven we test-drove had a Wound Up tandem duo disc fork. Ride was incredibly smooth and solid. How does this fork compare to the rest of the market?
CRANKS. I’ve neither a preference nor a guess as to what would best serve our purposes. What’s available for tandems, other than FSA?
DERAILLEURS. Ultegra gets the Honda Accord/Toyota Camry Award… totally devoid of sexiness, but solid as a rock and unfailingly reliable. What could be better here?
SHIFTERS. Does the Accord/Camry Award go to Ultegra here, too?
“OTHER.” If we’re going to plop down this much coin for a bike, we want it to be EXACTLY what we want and to serve our every need for years. What else should I be asking or thinking about?