I have long wanted to own a tandem, and earlier this year my wife agreed we should give it a go. I have ridden all my life, raced on the road for a few years, and done some big self-contained tours in Australia and Europe. Mrs WPH went carless for many years and was very good on a bike before Baby One came along.
We looked for several months for a suitable machine. Quality tandems are quite rare in Australia. The Apollo MTB and road tandems seem good value, but I was after a 700c bike suitable for touring at some stage in the future. The new Cannondales (increasingly rare) cost too much for a first-time purchase. Most other tandems are flat bar anchors or boardwalk cruisers. We bid for an ancient and weary Dawes Super Galaxy on eBay, but missed out, and I was surprised at how disappointed I was.
The T200 was also on eBay but was not sold by auction. Mrs WPH contacted the seller by email and offered an amount which he accepted. The price would be high by US or UK standards but I figured it wasn't too extortionate considering the scarcity of nice machinery here, plus the re-sale should be okay, and the bike was obviously in very good condition. We were living in Perth at the time and the bike was in Melbourne, so freight would be extra.
My brother TRH, who lives in Melbourne, collected the bike on our behalf. The vendor was selling the tandem after serious surgery on his back, and he had been cared for in the ICU where TRH works. A small world in a city of 3 million.
TRH and his friend John, who are both roadies, set the bike up for the Beach Road Sunday AM bunch ride, and in the process discovered the rear seatpost was rusted in! Repairs would be extra. The bike was rideable but a little tall for John who, of course, could not lower the rear seat. After a couple of rides TRH had to pack up his entire house (including an awesome shed) and move, and complete university course, and present at a conference, and buy a new motorcycle etc, so time to work on the the tandem and organise its transport was very limited. During this period TRH attempted to cut the rear seat pin out and made some progress, but was banjaxed because it was over 400mm long and he couldn't source a blade long enough to reach right down to the bottom.
Finally TRH built a lovely ply and Tassie oak transport case (pictures to come after the camera battery is recharged) and we organised shipping to Perth. Sats and Aldo at Quantum in North Perth removed the remainder of the old seat pin in record time. Aldo also fabricated a lovely little rear brake cable hanger (see pictures in next post). I learnt later that Mrs WPH had hurried them along by asking them to finish the job in time for my birthday (27 Jan 13). The repairs did not affect the paintjob. The bike went back into the transport case... and four days later we sold our house and moved from Perth to Albany, a very complex and stressful process.
Mrs WPH, keen to ride the thing, made time and space for me to assemble and refit the bike Friday evening and yesterday (Saturday). We still have about 15 boxes to unpack, the place is chaos, everybody is exhausted, so I was very grateful to get time to work on the bike.
I figure the bike is about 20 years old. It came with crappy plastic pedals and dodgy seats which TRH trashed. It runs cantis front and rear, 7sp with a Deore triple crank, XT hubs, Matrix (Trek) rims and Trek stems etc. TRH had replaced the rear chain and cassette in Melbourne. The frame is nearly perfect with only one little paint chip and no other signs of wear.
The T200 is heavy compared to more modern tandems, but it was also a lot cheaper than more modern tandems. The front top tube is 57cm and the front stem is 120mm, which makes it about 2cm too long for me, and finding a replacement stem for the oversize fork will be a hassle.
The main changes:
- drive: new 105 9sp triple front mech (very cheap at Chain Reaction), very old 7sp bar-end shifters (off my first touring bike replacing the downtube shifters), new cables, new flat steel pedals (cheap from the LBS which removes pedals like these from new bikes all the time)
- contacts: new Pro 44 bars for the captain (I could not fit the bar-end shifters into the old Modolos, plus they were too deep), new stoker bar made from the old Modolos chopped and flipped, new bar tape, seats from stores
- wheels: new Conti Ultra Sport 28c tires (very cheap at Chain Reaction)
- brakes: new cables, new straddle cable for the front, new hanger for the rear
I have new black mudguards ready for the wet weather and a Thudbuster for Mrs WPH once I can find a correctly sized shim (27.2 to 30... the rear seat tube has a larger diameter than standard after the removal of the old seat pin).
Working on the bike was easy because it is like new. I test rode the bike yesterday evening and it all works very nicely.
This evening's maiden voyage as a couple will be pretty tentative. Mrs WPH and I have not ridden more than about 2 hours in total since Baby Two came along 26 months ago and we are very very unfit, but thrice around the cricket ovals over the road will serve to get us started. I hope to be able to post a snap of a happy tandem couple in the relevant thread soon.
Six months have elapsed since we bought the bike, and there were times when I thought I would never get to ride it with my fambly, but this tandem forum has always lifted my spirits when it seemed the problems and expenses were too much to bother with. We are now determined to ride the wheels off the thing to make all the work and cost worthwhile.
You better wish us luck.
(Thanks Roq and TRH especially for work and advice and for listening. Thanks Mrs WPH for your care and good cheer.)