More photos are now up on photobucket here. Many of the new photos can also be found on the English Cycles website here & here with some commentary by Rob. It is really looking good!!
I decided to have Rob add mounts for a drum brake.
In discussing where we wanted to mount the control lever, I suggested it be on the stoker seatpost and we ended up putting it there. We initially planned on using a downtube shifter, but it interfered with the brake cable, so we looked at alternatives with brake and cable mounting and routing and settled on using a bar-end shifter.
Note that Rob used a noodle at the stoker BB and there is no cable housing required for the drum brake.
I'm curious if anyone else has ever mounted the drum brake control lever on the stoker seatpost?
The frame is now headed to paint and then back to the shop for final assembly. I'm looking forward to the first ride in just over a month :)
A couple of backyard photos (These are also on photobucket here. Note that these are not the wheels that will be on the bike. The studio photoshoot is coming up soon, and we pick up the bike on Monday, August 6th.
The bike is looking very nice. I am sure you are counting the days to getting it.
"I just took the inaugural tandem ride - my regular tandem partner Peter captained (170lbs) with me on the back (140lbs). The bike feels very nice, stable, smooth and quiet. The ride was flat, but we did a bit of out of the saddle, and no noticeable unwanted flex. Hopefully you and Amy will like it too! Shifting is great - I forgot how much I like Campy shifters, and the SRAMpagnolo works beautifully."
Less than two weeks until we pick it up! :)
The professional pics aren't in yet, but here's a teaser shot from Rob.
I'm sure some of you don't like the non traditional look (lots of top tube slope and seat tube showing). I'm particularly fond of it.
First ride report next week!
It certainly looks racy. I would have a concern about the bending moment on the rear seatpost. That is a lot of seatpost showing.
I'm not concerned at all about the bending moment. :)
Nice really nice. Can't wait to hear how it all works and performs.
No worries about the seat post so long as you use one of the better Alu ones and setter clear of composites and have plenty of post left in the seat tube.
We fitted a 450mm Thomson Elite seat post to our Erickson when we loaned it to Rachael Scodoris and Laura Winberry for the 2011 US Paralympic Nationals; no issues as best as we can tell.
We picked up the tandem yesterday and took it for a 45 min test ride. It really turned out well. It rides really, really nice. The stoker is happy. The captain is happy. I will do a more in depth review in a couple of weeks. For now, here a couple of photos that Rob snapped on the test ride.
We have been visiting friends and family since we picked up the tandem, but have gotten out on a couple more rides. Rob has gotten back the professional pics and they are now posted on his website here. You can also find them in my Photobucket page here.
We are now back home in New Zealand with its winter weather, so it's not conducive to additional test rides. However, I am starting to put together a full report with weights, costs, ride, etc. For now, here are some initial impressions:
- Soooo Smoooooth compared to the C'dale! I now only need to call out major bumps (I would love to do a back to back comparison with a Calfee)
- Shifting is excellent with the Campy shifters and SRAM X9 10 speed RD
- No noticable flex when powering up a climb
- We got the length of the stoker compartment just right (31")
- No problem with stoker bar/captain hip clearance - we have more clearance than on the C'dale
- Packs easily into two S&S cases (still need practice on dis/re-assembly)
- Adjusting the shifting after re-assembly is not a big deal
Rob did a great job on this build and we are very happy with our new tandem. If you are in the market for a custom tandem, I would highly recommend you put an English on your short list.
If you have any questions, please ask and I will try to answer them.
P.S. We now have a Cannondale Tandem for sale in New Zealand. PM me if interested.
Final Build - Pricing & Weights
Still working on putting together a full report, and I keep getting distracted with other things, so I thought I would share a couple of things now.
The first is a price comparison of an English Travel Tandem Frame vs. a Calfee Tetra Tandem Frame w/ Couplers:
The English is a significant amount less money than the Calfee. It would be great if I had the finances to purchase one of each and do a thorough comparison, but alas that is not to be. So here's what I know about the differences:
- The English is very smooth and comfortable
- All reports are that Calfee makes some of the most comfortable tandems
- The English: 8.23 lbs (3,732 g) with a 57.3 cm captain HTT and a 31" stoker compartment.
- TG's Calfee Tetra w/ Ti couplers: 8.75 lbs (3,968 g) with a 53 cm captain HTT and a 30" stoker compartment.
- I think I read someplace that you can now get aluminum couplers. That would drop the Calfee's weight significantly. Can someone confirm what material Calfee uses for the couplers now?
- The English has a basic powder coat with decals on top. It looks pretty good. Wet paint is extra.
- The Calfee tandems I have seen in person and have seen pictures of have some pretty awesome paint.
- Most tandem teams we meet will have never heard of English Cycles.
- The Calfee name is well known and and respected for good reason.
- The English: Steel w/ Ti midtubes
- Calfee: Carbon w/ Ti couplers and SS dropouts
What else is different? Help me out here.
I also did a spreadsheet showing our final build with prices and weights.
I'm very pleased with the final weight of 28.45 lbs w/out pedals and bottle cages. This will drop to approx. ~28.12 as soon as I get some new tires. (I had previously converted the Rolfs to tubeless and it gave a much improved ride on the C'dale, but tubeless just doesn't work on a travel tandem.)
As expected when doing a custom build spec, I do see a couple of components I might want to change out in the future. The seatpost collars were chosen with an eye towards durability on a travel tandem. There are several lighter weight options (e.g. KCNC SC9 at 26g for two). The 54T chainring is rather portly at 204 grams, and I'm not quite sure I like the look of it. A friend has loaned me a used DA-7800 53T to experiment with. Time will tell.
I'm still very pleased with the result. :)
More to come in the future.
Very nice bike.
I would recommend some Thomson seat clamps as they work much better than some lighter weight alternatives I tried. I found that the captain's seatpost needs to be clamped more firmly on a tandem than on my single bikes to avoid being turned round by the stoker. The thomson seat posts are somewhat prone to this from their machined surface finish.
Since you mentioned light weight, other weightweenie thoughts without spending $$$ on new cranks and wheels for instance might include:
i-link cable outers
extralite headset expander
masterpiece seat post, or at least the head parts as this is where most weight is saved
ergonova ltd bars
kcnc jockey weels
fibrelite carbon chainrings for the left side of the bike
stronglight chainrings for the right hand side
kmc xl10 chain throughout
SRAM powerdome or Dura Ace cassette (I would not go lighter than this personally)
swap rim tape for veloplugs
kcnc or similar lightweight skewers (I am dubious about this on for the rear wheel, but for the front should be fine)
schwalbe ultremo tyres
aluminium butterflies and ti axles for the speedplays
Once you've done all that, drilling out the waterbottles can be effective ;-)
I would discuss parts with rob, as he is definitely an expert in weight weenieism.
Also, thanks for the weight weenie tips. I'm only a weight weenie up to a point as I don't really believe a few grams of weight savings really make that much of a performance difference. If it costs $1/gram saved to make a change, I will probably do it. At $1.50 I might do it. At $2.00 forget about it. In all cases durability, reliability and tandem suitability are given a high level of importance.
How have you found the ultremo tires for tandem use? Durability? Puncture resistance?
Regarding tyres, I would use the Ultremos if you are looking for lowest weight and ride clean dry roads. I tried the first version Ultremos when they came out and found that UK roads would cut the casing. But since then they have improved the rubber mix and strengthened the casing so they are probably worth another try.
For real UK roads (wet, holes, gravel) I found Michelin Pro Race III works well in 25mm pumped to about 125-130psi. They hook up really well on some climbs where other tyres just would not grip (20%, 5 deg C, leaf mould and dew). I've been running these with Supersonic inner tubes for the last few thousand miles, including some dodgy Swiss gravel roads where Swiss people ride MTBs (I blame my Garmin) and had no issues . That said, I think the Pro Race 4s are lighter and less robust, so I would get Pro Race 3s on closeout if you can. In my experience the supersonic inner tubes just require care when you install them, then they work just like other inner tubes, but with 50g saving per wheel for an additional £5.
Another good alternative is the Conti GP4000s with or without Gatorskin. The non Gatorskin versions beat the Michelins on all measures in the Tour tests, so I will try these when I wear these out. For my single bikes I have been using Veloflex Carbons, but they would probably not last long on the tandem as the tread is quite thin.
Thank you for sharing.
Love to have some long term follow up on your bike when you have time between your rides. First, how is the two titanium tube system working out? When you use your boom tube to adjust the chain tension, would that not alter the angle of you rear top tube? Any problem with flex, torsion, noise, or installation? Also how are you controlling galvanic corrosion at the steel-titanium interface?
Sorry for the delayed response. With improving weather, I have been spending more time riding, and less time writing :)
The titanium tube system is working out fine. There is some minor flex in the top tube to account for any variation in boom tube length. In practice, it is so small that it isn't noticeable. No issues with flex or torsion. Eventually, I plan to substitute a heavy wall (1.6mm) SS tube for the boom tube, but I just haven't gotten to it yet. And, since we aren't noticing any flex, it's pretty low priority. Tube installation was a bit trying at first until we figured out a couple of tricks. I would guess S&S couplers would be slightly easier to deal with, if you're okay with the extra cost and weight (I'm not). Galvanic corrosion doesn't seem to be an issue. We use a small amount of teflon grease at the joints when assembling.
Last weekend we flew to a tandem stage race. We took the two bike cases and two carry-on's. We had more than enough room for all of our gear and paid no extra luggage fees. The cases fit nicely in our small car for the trip to the airport, and also in our rental car at the destination. We are learning how to pack the bike better and faster each time we do it. When we arrived at the airport for the trip home, there were two other teams flying out at the same time. They had large, nicely made, custom boxes for their tandems. It was quite the constrast to our two, small by comparison, S&S cases. I may have seen a hint of jealousy in their eyes? Dean?
One concern that has been raised is the change to cable length by using the boom tube to adjust chain tension. In practice, this has been a non-issue. We have a small stand that holds the rear wheel off of the floor. This makes adjusting the deraileurs quick and easy for one person. The SRAMpagnolo shifting works beautifully.
I've made a couple of small changes. I replaced the seat post clamps with Token's and changed the tires to Schwalbe Ultremo ZX 700x28's. I also replaced a couple of pieces of the Yokozuna brake cable housing with standard housing. The Yokozuna was just too stiff in a couple of spots.
We are very pleased with the bike and wouldn't hesitate to recommend Rob English as a builder.
I like your Tandem project very very much. Congrats to the nice build. Since I want to start in the near future a similar project, I am very curious of the tubes sizes and confication used. Can your share some insights. You mentioned the extraordinary comfort. Can you also share your subjective evaluation of the overall stiffness compared to your old Cannondale bicycle?
Many thanks and kind regards
Suggest a c/f adjustable stoker stem. We've had one on our c/f tandem for the past 34,000 miles. Nice to be able to adjust distance a tiny bit (at stoker's request).
We have ti-glue-on on stoker's stem for our mini garage door opener; c/f glue-on under boob tube to carry 2 spare spokes. Special glue-on dead center on stoker stem for her water bottle cage. Bottle has flexible plastic straw so she can drink without removing bottle.
Keep stoker's comfort/convenience in mind!
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