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  1. #1
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    Our Burley Is Broken. Fix?

    On last Saturday's ride the stoker said the Softbeam seemed to be moving a lot. A quick look found a crack on both sides of the top tube at the adjustment fitting. See pics below.

    This was our first tandem, and we have been riding about 4 years.

    Truth is, we were about ready to order a new custom fit tandem. After having one or more children in college for the last 15 years we just paid the last tuition payment for the last child. I'm now a year past knee replacement and everything looks good. We have our measurements and have submitted them to Co-Motion. We're thinking a Supremo with S+S couplers, but we might go with a Speedster, or step up and get a Seven Ti. In any event, we'll probably pull the trigger on a new tandem later this week.

    So losing the Burley is not great loss. I can part it out and recover a few dollars. It's basically Ultegra shifters/DR's with a set of 26" Joe Young laced Aeroheats on Shimano hubs. And I have a full repair kit for the Softbeam, as well as both a tall and short saddle mount, so it will bring a few hundred bucks I imagine.

    My question is: Can the top tube and fitting be fixed and paint matched at a reasonable price, say a few hundred dollars?

    Or should I part it out, buy some old wheels, weld on a seat tube at the stoker's position, and make a yard decoration by the back fence?





    Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.....Milton Friedman

  2. #2
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    If it's aluminum, it's best to make it yard art. One could attempt to fix it, but aluminum tends to fatigue and generally does not take kindly to repairs. I'd start with the manufacturer. (are they still around?) They might do something with it.

    If steel, it's worth a look to see if you can find someone to repair it. I'd just reinforce the broken area with a collar. A good bunch of builders hang out on mtbr forums under a 'frame building' forum.

    Steel or Aluminum: If it were my bike; I'd just weld up the crack and keep an eye on it. With a very patient fabricator; you could very likely put a patch on it that'd be good enough to keep the bike around as a spare. Of course, by the time it was repaired/painted; you could likely pick up another one on craigs list for not much more than the repair cost.

  3. #3
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Burley no longer makes tandems. The Company was restructured from a cooperative to a private company in 2006. I don't recall if there was a lifetime warranty on their bikes. If there was it would be an interesting question whether the warranty liability came over to the new company. Couldn't hurt to give them a call.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

  4. #4
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    That's a tough one! The reason that the cracks developed, most likely, is that this area is under a great deal of stress due to the long lever arm of the beam, so anything less then a perfect repair would be dangerous. It is also in a tough spot being on the long, continuous and curved top tube...difficult to replace. I don't think that it will make good economic sense to attempt to fix it. Being that it is a softride, the resale market is kind of limited and you'd never recover the cost of the repair. I would suggest parting it out and write off the frame.
    Steve
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    If there was it would be an interesting question whether the warranty liability came over to the new company. Couldn't hurt to give them a call.
    Quote Originally Posted by steve53mg View Post
    That's a tough one! The reason that the cracks developed, most likely, is that this area is under a great deal of stress due to the long lever arm of the beam, so anything less then a perfect repair would be dangerous. It is also in a tough spot being on the long, continuous and curved top tube...difficult to replace. .
    Merlin - you do pose an interesting question, and one worth answering.

    Steve - the bike was always a little small for my long legged stoker. The reason for the fatigue is almost certainly the long moment of the beam. And, we have used the highest saddle mount in addition to having the beam at it's highest setting. This resulted in a pretty good bending moment on the mount, even though stoker is well under the max weight for the beam. But, as you say, the break is not in a very good place to try and repair and a less than perfect repair would be dangerous. I wouldn't let the stoker ride after we saw the problem. We were 20 miles out when we found the crack, and we stopped and called a neighbor to come get us.

  6. #6
    hup
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    Senior Member hup's Avatar
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    Having a full on repair would most probably mean replacing the entire tube. I don't think that would be cost effective on this bike. (we have a Burley Rock n Roll) You would never likely be able to recoup the cost. However, if you love the bike and maybe want to keep it as a sentimental favorite or perhaps a loaner then it might be a plan. First thing would be to find a reputable framebuilder and talk with him/her about it. I'd be wary of someone who wanted to try doing a repair. It would seem to me that it would be safest to stick with the original design. However, a competent framebuilder might make a case to repair that seems feasible to you. I hope that you'll update us when you ultimately decide which way to go.
    We enjoy our Burley.

    Henry

  7. #7
    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monoborracho View Post
    My question is: Can the top tube and fitting be fixed and paint matched at a reasonable price, say a few hundred dollars?
    Based on my limited knowledge - Yes, the frame could be fixed; however it would probably require a full strip-down, frame repair, complete re-paint, and re-assembly. If there are no frame builders withing driving distance of you, you would have to figure in shipping costs. I know that R+E in Seattle does repairs like this and you might be able to get a quote if you email your photos to them.
    2011 Rodriguez Rohloff tandem
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  8. #8
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Low cost option would be to buy a new frame and move the parts over. Since a complete new tandem is already in the budget I would keep the wheels as a backup set, sell or keep the other components as desired and loose the frame.

  9. #9
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    Why not ask a local frame builder?? You could get an answer for free. My son has the same bike and it has served him well. Seems a shame to not keep it going.

  10. #10
    Senior Member DCwom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    Burley no longer makes tandems. The Company was restructured from a cooperative to a private company in 2006. I don't recall if there was a lifetime warranty on their bikes. If there was it would be an interesting question whether the warranty liability came over to the new company. Couldn't hurt to give them a call.
    When we bought our Burley from Mel's stock at Tandems East he said that the lifetime warranty on Burley frames was handled by some kind of escrow-like setup where that was funded by the privatization. If you don't get anywhere with the new Burley corp you might give Mel a call as a last resort.

  11. #11
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    Dependeing on the size you need. HubBub is selling a Calfee Ti Tandem.

  12. #12
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    This is the first ever we've heard of frame failure on a Burley tandem.
    Our advice: order the Co-Mo (we put 56,000 miles on our old Co-Mo); make yard-art out of the Burley frame and part out the rest.
    Pedal on!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

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