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  1. #1
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    DIY Right Sided Timing Chain?

    After over a year on the Giordano Viaggio, my wife and I have decided that we're really hooked on it and want to upgrade it significantly - new wheels and components. We're going to upgrade from the triple 8 speed to a compact 10 speed, and in so doing will need to totally re-do the cranks. I want to try making it a right-sided drive, which seems do-able.

    I have seen mention on various blog and forum posts that people have done this, but I have yet to find a real detailed description of how it was done. So, I am thinking I will upgrade my bottom brackets to BSA, get a single speed crank for the front and a compact crank for the rear (likely SRAM Force or Red). I'm intrigued by the thought of gettting a compact triple-izer, which adds an additional cog to a compact (with the help of a 118mm bottom bracket).

    I can't work out how to make the chainline straight apart from using spacers. Should I use a 113mm BB in the front?

    Any advice or past experience with this kind of mod would be much appreciated!

    Will

  2. #2
    Used to be Conspiratemus
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    Quote Originally Posted by willhs View Post
    ...
    Any advice or past experience with this kind of mod would be much appreciated!

    Will
    You've probably found this link: http://www.bikexprt.com/bicycle/tancrank.htm

    If you are content with a double chainring on the stoker's crankset it does make it easier to set up since there will be only three, and not four, rings to find room for. Just be warned: two chains on the same crankset make an unholy mess if the rear chain derails into the transfer chain (a.k.a. "timing" chain) when you overshift before you have got the shifting finely dialed in. The whole works jams up as the two chains wedge together against a chainring. It is a good idea to ride the tandem without a stoker on these shakedown/adjustment rides, both to reduce the force that wants to jam up the chains, AND to avoid having her standing around getting bitten by mosquitoes while you struggle with your big screwdriver (you remembered to bring one, right?) to get the chains freed up and re-railed.

    Same-side drive is supposed to be kinder on bottom brackets and easier to carry the bike downstairs without scraping your shins on the transfer chain but otherwise I don't see any real benefits if you already have a tandem-specific set of cranks. Modern cartridge bottom brackets seem to last fine on cross-over drives.
    "I did not know that!" -- J. Carson

  3. #3
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    Yep, I did find that link, thanks. I was actually thinking to put the timing chain on the INSIDE of the "triple" and put a chain catcher between the timing chain and the drive chain. That would be like the Paketa, and would provide a narrower Q factor for the front crank.

  4. #4
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    The sync chain chain line doesn't need to be "perfect" on a tandem, just close enough. Remember, the chain run is twice as long as the drive chain on a fixie and the chain rings are the same size, e.g., 1:1 ratio. So, having the front & rear chain rings a few mm off line doesn't create a chain run-out issue like it would on a track bike / fixie. Just something to keep in mind.

  5. #5
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    Hi Will,

    Congrats on finding a shared interest in tandeming with your wife. It's great to have shared hobbies.

    A right side drive is definitely do-able, but I wonder about upgrading your existing tandem rather than just buying a better one and selling your existing. By the time you add up the cost to change from 8 to 10 speed (wheels, cassette, shifters, derailleurs and cranks), you will be a long way towards buying a whole tandem.

    Okay, now that I have that out of the way, here are my thoughts on a DIY right side drive:

    Disclaimer: I have never made my own right sided drive, but I have thought about it A LOT, and considered it for our tandem before we moved to a place with even more hills than we had before.

    For the stoker cranks, to use compact chainrings (50/34), you can't use most triple cranksets as they generally have 130/74 mm BCD's (bolt circle diameters). The smallest chainring that will fit on a 130mm BCD is a 38 tooth. So, you will need a triple crank with 110/74 mm BCD spider. One option for this is Davinci Cranks. You can order them without chainrings, and then purchase just the chainrings you want. They are square taper cranks so you can choose the length of your BB spindle to set your rear chainline as you want, and may be able to reuse your existing BB's.

    For the captain cranks, you can either order a Davinci with the 110 mm spider and put a single 34 tooth chainring on it. Or, you may be able to order one with the 34 tooth spider/chainring mounted on the right crank. You could also use any other compact crank and remove the outer chainring. Personally I would prefer the cranks to match, so I would stick with the Davinci's. TandemGeek is correct - don't worry about getting the chainline exact for the timing chain.

    Now comes the difficult part - locating a 34 tooth chainring to fit the 74 mm BCD on the stoker cranks. The only one I am aware of is made by Stronglight. It can be purchased from XXcycle here.

    One other thought - Is the rear spacing on your tandem 145 mm? Make sure you check this before buying a standard set of tandem wheels and finding that they don't fit.

    Good luck with your project. Let us know how it turns out.

    Cheers,
    Rhino

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    Rhino and TandemGeek, thank you both very much. That is very helpful.

    Believe me, I did consider just getting a new one. But, honestly the frame on the Giordano is perfect for both of us and is very stiff (and only cost $480 shipped!), and by picking up parts that are used or old model has allowed me to upgrade on the cheap. All in, the final product should cost ~$1,600 and will have SRAM Red components (with mountain derailleur) and be quite light. I don't think I could accomplish anything close to that by buying a complete bike, even used. And, we'd have to worry about the new bike not fitting.

    I don't think a triple crankset will work very well for us, considering the ratios you end up with. So, I'm thinking I should use a compact and "triple-ize" it by using an 118mm BB and adding an additional cog on the inside. So, we can get the nice ratios of a compact with a 12-36 cassette. Considering you can pick up a SRAM Red crank for ~$200 on eBay right now, and it compares favorably with Lightning cranks, I think this will be a nice setup.

    It helps that I don't need the chainline to be exact, but I suppose I can mess around with some spacers if I need to. I tried eyeballing how it would turn out on the bike, but otherwise there's no good way to find the exact distances (i.e., you can't find out how many MM the third chainring ends up being from the BB). So, it will be an experiment!

    Perhaps the biggest upgrade will be the wheels -- going from hybrid tires to true road wheels (which I'm used to) will be a game changer.

    Will

  7. #7
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willhs View Post
    Rhino and TandemGeek, thank you both very much. That is very helpful.

    Believe me, I did consider just getting a new one. But, honestly the frame on the Giordano is perfect for both of us and is very stiff (and only cost $480 shipped!), and by picking up parts that are used or old model has allowed me to upgrade on the cheap. All in, the final product should cost ~$1,600 and will have SRAM Red components (with mountain derailleur) and be quite light. I don't think I could accomplish anything close to that by buying a complete bike, even used. And, we'd have to worry about the new bike not fitting.

    I don't think a triple crankset will work very well for us, considering the ratios you end up with. So, I'm thinking I should use a compact and "triple-ize" it by using an 118mm BB and adding an additional cog on the inside. So, we can get the nice ratios of a compact with a 12-36 cassette. Considering you can pick up a SRAM Red crank for ~$200 on eBay right now, and it compares favorably with Lightning cranks, I think this will be a nice setup.

    It helps that I don't need the chainline to be exact, but I suppose I can mess around with some spacers if I need to. I tried eyeballing how it would turn out on the bike, but otherwise there's no good way to find the exact distances (i.e., you can't find out how many MM the third chainring ends up being from the BB). So, it will be an experiment!

    Perhaps the biggest upgrade will be the wheels -- going from hybrid tires to true road wheels (which I'm used to) will be a game changer.

    Will

    I don't understand the ratio issue with a triple crank. Purchasing a 110mm triple you can replace the rings with whatever you like and customize the ratios to be exactly what you need. 110 rings are available in sizes from 33 all the way to 54. If you like 50-34 you can buy those or 51-35 or 48-34 whatever you like.

    Example triple:
    http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...24&category=62

    Rings:
    http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/chainrings/110.html

    For the sync chain you can buy a 34 ring that fits the 74 bolt circle on the back and use a 34 on a 110 regular 110mm double crank on the front.


    The triple-ze idea should work fine but it will always be an issue replacing rings in the future.

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    Ugh, you aren't kidding -- trying to figure out how to make that all work made my head spin. I think keeping it as simple as possible is probably good. I was just very tempted by the low cost of SRAM Red cranks at this point, since I have that on my single. Thanks for those links to good options -- I found some lighter weight ones that I'm thinking of pulling the trigger on:

    For the back, a FSA SL-K MTB triple:
    http://www.amazon.com/FSA-22-32-44-M.../dp/B002NZC3LE

    For the front, a FSA Gravity Lite:
    http://www.amazon.com/FSA-Gravity-Li.../dp/B000YBHQFM

    I have done some browsing around about this, and I actually think it would be a reasonable idea to use a 22t timing chain for this application. The thinking here is that I want the timing chain to be away from my drive chain so I can use the chain catcher, and the added stress on the chain would be mitigated by the right sided drive. Plus, I don't mind wearing down the chain -- a SRAM 1050 chain can be had on ebay for ~$30. And, lighter weight. :-)

  9. #9
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    Looks like those options are $460 total? Why wouldn't you just buy a normal set of tandem cranks from davinci? http://www.davincitandems.com/comp.html. With the rings would be $550...

  10. #10
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    Hi willhs,

    I have done exactly as you describe with my cannondale. Have a look at previous threads and postings for a detailed descrption.


    The good news is it works just fine. The inner timing chain ring acts as a 'chain keeper' so actually stops overshifts so the real mess of tangled chain/ rings is avoided. I run a 50/34 with a 34-11 on the back which works very well on hilly rides ( 85 miles yesterday with an 11 y/o stoker) as it is lower than the triple the cannondale came with. I have run it with the 27-12 it came with and that was also fine for shorter lumpy rides. It would be too high at the bottom end unless you are fit and well co-ordinated with your stoker.

    The difficult bits of the conversion to sort was the front mech which was changed to a SRAM apex to get perfect shifting as the triple one just didn't seem to work very well. I wanted to minimise the Q factor so used a standard 110 bcd set of compact cranks, TA 33 tooth timing rings and FSA 50,34 rings. The 33 tooth timing ring was fitted using TA triple chainring bolts with spacers. I bought all the kit from Spa cycles in Harrogate in the uk. I think they export worldwide. It is also important to use a 10 speed timing chain as they are that little bit narrower to avoid fouling. The set up is 1cm narrower and several hundred grammes lighter than the original tandem FSA cranks

    The rear crankset in the pics is a cheap sugino which has been changed for a carbon set running an isis drive bottom bracket some 5mm wider than the speccd one. This is to create enough room for the extra ring. This will depend on the frame, specifically the chainstays and might need a bit of trial and error.......

    The set up is much cheaper than a set of good tandem cranks, and is far more customisable to your own preferences ( I don't ride anything other than 172.5 cranks finished).

    Good luck.........show me some pics when you've finished .

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    Actually, now that I've seen the weights on everything, that's an amazing option. I looked at that one a few weeks ago, but it didn't register with me how light those things are.... Actually, what in the world? Based on forum posts, real world weights on DaVinci cranksets are very close to Lightning cranksets, but the lightnings are 3x more expensive!

    Okay, I will contact him to see if we can put together a right-sided DaVinci drive. :-)

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    @jamieandjean10: Thanks! Yeah that's pretty much the setup I was looking to do -- but the weight of the DaVinci is less than anything I could put together, and could conceivably be even a bit less if I can work out a right-sided DaVinci setup. Good to know that 10 speed chains are necessary. I'm thinking to start with a 50/34 in front and a 12-36 in back (hilly terrain).

    I'm going to use the 2012 SRAM Red FD, as I have that on my single and it is truly a step forward in front shifting. I will report how it works on a tandem.

  13. #13
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willhs View Post
    @jamieandjean10: Thanks! Yeah that's pretty much the setup I was looking to do -- but the weight of the DaVinci is less than anything I could put together, and could conceivably be even a bit less if I can work out a right-sided DaVinci setup. Good to know that 10 speed chains are necessary. I'm thinking to start with a 50/34 in front and a 12-36 in back (hilly terrain).

    I'm going to use the 2012 SRAM Red FD, as I have that on my single and it is truly a step forward in front shifting. I will report how it works on a tandem.
    daVinci cranks are great and we use them on both our tandems. Make sure and add the weight of the bottom brackets to the daVinci cranks. Still pretty light but I don't thnk they are as light as the Lightening cranks.

  14. #14
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    I have a complete set of FSA tandem cranks that are only about 8 months old that I will sell for $200 for the complete set. The front is the Gossamer and the rear set is the SLK model. They are both 175 mm long and include bottom brackets etc. I replaced them with the new Shimano Ultegra units.


    Wayne

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    @waynesulak: Actually, the claimed weight for the crank arms is essentially the same, and real world weights seem to verify that. Granted, a square taper BB is heavier than an external, but on the order of <150g for front and rear, which doesn't seem to justify 3x the price.

    @Wayne - thank you very much for the offer... it is an extremely enticing price, but 175 is too long for my stoker.

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    Just curious as to what the point of this "upgrade" will be. You will have less gears than you currently have so will subsequently have less gear range or larger gaps between the gears. Also I find ten speed to be more tempremental to tuning than 8 or 9 speed due to the closer spacing on the cassette. I am not saying that 10 sp doesn't work well, it does, just a bit more fussy. So basically after this upgrade how will your bike perform any better than it does now?

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    @Dean V: Heh, this seems to be a debate that often gets a whole thread of its own :-), but I can speak to my reasons. There are less total gears, true, but there is actually a much wider total gear range than the 48/38/28 front and 12/24 cassette of the Giordano. Knowing the gears we are using, I can definitely say this new setup will provide a better range for us. And, many of the "extra gears" in a triple are overlapping gear ratios on each of the chainrings. I also find that triples are more temperamental than doubles even under the best of tuning, and the new Red FD (double only) is really amazing. Quality of front shifting makes a huge difference in general, and I have been quite frustrated on the Giordano by this. And, I use and enjoy SRAM on my single bike, so it will be nice to have on my bike. It will be more temperamental to tune a 10 speed than an 8 speed, I am sure, but moving from Shimano 2300 to SRAM Red will provide an increase in quality of components which will likely make that a wash.

    There are pros and cons, for sure. Mainly I want components I am familiar with, and excellent front shifting. Total cost of drivetrain components is ~$400 as I am getting some of it used.

  18. #18
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    We ordered our Bike Friday Tandem with right side drive. Single chairing on front to double on the back with timing chain on the inside of the stoker double chainring. Single chain back to a 9 speed cassette. Hub is a Sram three speed which gives us a 3 X 9 setup. The three speed hub shifts much easier than a triple chainring setup although has the disadvantage of not being able to fine tune gearing by just changing chainrings. Shifting/Braking controled by Ultegra brifters. Never ever a missed shift or a problem with it not working.

  19. #19
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    If you are like me sometimes upgrading the bike is fun separate from riding the bike. I would not choose to go from a triple to a double but I am interested in how it comes out. It is also neat to have a bike that is just the way you like it.

    Let us know how the front shifting works out and the gear ratios as well.

  20. #20
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    That frame has the bad ol' idler design, instead of eccentrics, for tensioning the timing chain? Do you know if that will affect your upgrade plans?
    I don't even use the offensive term "Fred." -- Sheldon "All Cyclists Are My Friends" Brown (1944-2008)

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phantoj View Post
    That frame has the bad ol' idler design, instead of eccentrics, for tensioning the timing chain? Do you know if that will affect your upgrade plans?
    I was wondering the exact same thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DubT View Post
    I was wondering the exact same thing.
    Good questions. I don't mind running a chain tensioner for now. It would be really cool if Phil Wood released the Lil Phil Centric -- an eccentric square taper BB for standard shells. It was announced over a year ago, and it's too early to tell if it's vaporware or not. I've emailed them to find out.

    But, as I said, a chain tensioner does not bother me at the moment, or at least doesn't justify the cost of a new frame (which by itself would be more than my entire upgrade). The Giordano frame fits us perfectly and is a lightweight, stiff frame. The standard suggestion for the cash-strapped on this forum is to watch craigslist, which I assure you I've already done, and I would not be able to get something like what I'm putting together now.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by willhs View Post
    Good questions. I don't mind running a chain tensioner for now. It would be really cool if Phil Wood released the Lil Phil Centric -- an eccentric square taper BB for standard shells. It was announced over a year ago, and it's too early to tell if it's vaporware or not. I've emailed them to find out.

    But, as I said, a chain tensioner does not bother me at the moment, or at least doesn't justify the cost of a new frame (which by itself would be more than my entire upgrade). The Giordano frame fits us perfectly and is a lightweight, stiff frame. The standard suggestion for the cash-strapped on this forum is to watch craigslist, which I assure you I've already done, and I would not be able to get something like what I'm putting together now.
    Here is another source for used tandems: http://www.tandemmag.com/classified/

    Just for the sake of curiosity how much do you calculate the updated bike will weigh. I saw somewhere that in stock configuration it weighs something like 43 pounds.

    With updated wheels and components what do you now estimate it will cost.

    Do you know what material spec the frame is made out of? One reason to ask this question is to wonder how the updated bike will be ridden. My perception is that this is a true entry level bike and that the frame was not designed to handle the stress of hard fast riding.

    Wayne

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    There are plenty of other "you should buy from the classifieds" threads, but I will try to briefly justify my purchase:

    We got a year and a half of 100+ mile/week riding out of the stock configuration (with new brake pads thrown on), plus a week of RAGBRAI, all for $480 shipped with no tax. That's an amazing deal and a great price to try out tandem riding, and I think that's really a major selling point to the Giordano. And we found that the frame fits us extremely well, which is nice. The total cost of the upgrades will be in the neighborhood of $1,600 without skimping on anything and getting SRAM Red shifters and FD with an X9 RD. So, total actual cost for the tandem will be ~$2,100, but spread over a year and a half it isn't as hard to do.

    The actual weights I've found on forums are more in the neighborhood of 37 lbs for the stock configuration of the Giordano. I think I can get it under 30 with the changes, which I think is reasonable. I will have it weighed at a bike shop after I am done. And, it will have the shifters, derailleurs, and handlebars that I use on my single bike and enjoy.

    As to the durability of the frame, this tandem has been around under the Lamborghini name for >5 years, and there have been only positive posts with regards to durability of the frame. One couple rode across the country with it. I am not worried.

    The classifieds generally have ~10 year old bikes, and cost at least $2k for anything close to what I would want. But, that's just it -- that same amount I am spending would only get me "close" on a significantly used bike.

    I hope this doesn't come across as too defensive. I really do appreciate bouncing ideas off of you guys and getting great feedback.

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    Quote Originally Posted by willhs View Post
    There are plenty of other "you should buy from the classifieds" threads, but I will try to briefly justify my purchase:

    We got a year and a half of 100+ mile/week riding out of the stock configuration (with new brake pads thrown on), plus a week of RAGBRAI, all for $480 shipped with no tax. That's an amazing deal and a great price to try out tandem riding, and I think that's really a major selling point to the Giordano. And we found that the frame fits us extremely well, which is nice. The total cost of the upgrades will be in the neighborhood of $1,600 without skimping on anything and getting SRAM Red shifters and FD with an X9 RD. So, total actual cost for the tandem will be ~$2,100, but spread over a year and a half it isn't as hard to do.

    The actual weights I've found on forums are more in the neighborhood of 37 lbs for the stock configuration of the Giordano. I think I can get it under 30 with the changes, which I think is reasonable. I will have it weighed at a bike shop after I am done. And, it will have the shifters, derailleurs, and handlebars that I use on my single bike and enjoy.

    As to the durability of the frame, this tandem has been around under the Lamborghini name for >5 years, and there have been only positive posts with regards to durability of the frame. One couple rode across the country with it. I am not worried.

    The classifieds generally have ~10 year old bikes, and cost at least $2k for anything close to what I would want. But, that's just it -- that same amount I am spending would only get me "close" on a significantly used bike.

    I hope this doesn't come across as too defensive. I really do appreciate bouncing ideas off of you guys and getting great feedback.
    I was one of those who questioned why you would be upgrading the existing bike, but if you can do everything for $1,600, I would agree that you are doing the right thing.

    I am curious, what wheels are you planning on using for the upgrade?

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