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  1. #1
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    Odd question about tandems for a project...

    Hello to everyone. I'm in the early process of building a little project and was looking for a little guidance from some of you.
    I attend a fun little annual gathering out in the desert every year, and there is a lot of neat concept art type vehicles there. One of the people I went out there with this past year had built a pretty cool "Art Bike" using 3 standard bicycles. 1 on either side, and 1/2 of a bike on the back center, with a small platform in the middle.. Platform dimensions are roughly 32" W x 48" L with a wheel base width of roughly 50.5" on center. It had a extra seat in the middle for a passenger, and space on it for a cooler or other misc items... Anyway, it was a lot of fun to ride around on out there with friends. Here is a picture of what it looked like. Some of you can probably guess where it was taken and what I'm event I'm talking about. 8-) Here's another pic of it right as it was done being built. So after cruising around out there for a week with it, I really got to thinking about building a similar one myself. The size of the one he had worked great, but I think it could be a little bigger still. So I was thinking about replacing the side bikes with a pair of tandems, which would allow me to extend the platform a little more. Might go a little wider also.
    So my question for you fine people here is: Do you have a recommendation for a cheap, durable steel tandem bike? It would need to be steel so I could weld the connections on for the center platform. The terrain out where it will be ridden is perfectly flat, and hard like asphalt so gearing isn't a real issue. In fact it would probably be better if it was a single speed. Big wheels would be a plus as it can get bumpy in spots, and there is the occasional small sand dune you need to muscle through. I'm probably going to keep the rear center 1/2 bike in my plan, but add a electric hub to it as well to give the whole contraption a little extra "push". So who knows of a good candidate bike or bike frame that would possibly work? Any suggestions?
    Thanks in advance!

    /edit I say durable in the sense that it would not only have to hold your standard pair of riders, but also the weight of the platform, extra passengers, cooler, etc etc... Of course this weight would be spread more or less evenly over the 4 connections to the 2 tandom bikes on either side, with a little weight also taken by the rear 1/2 of a bike on the back of the platform as well.

    /double edit Bonus points if the pedals are free spinning, so everyones feet don't have to be moving/pedaling at the same time.
    Last edited by TandemArt; 02-26-13 at 01:50 AM. Reason: clarity

  2. #2
    Senior Member WNY tandem's Avatar
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    I would think that a pair of old Schwinn or Columbia tandems would work, but finding and old steel tandem with independent pedaling might be hard to find.

  3. #3
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    Yep, independent coasting ain't gonna happen in old bikes you can find cheap. Look for single speed, 26" wheel balloon tire bikes.

    But now, if I was going to build a Burning Man machine out of tandems, I'd do two tandem tall bikes like this one joined together with enough lightweight seating for four in the middle. What a machine that would be! Four pedaling and four riding!
    BICYCLE - [bahy-si-kuhl] - Noun :> A medical device used to correct the common geriatric condition of OFS, (Old, Fat & Slow), in a manner that does not induce brain-decaying boredom like walking or running.

    2005 Trek T2000 Tandem, 2003 Burley Tosa Tandem, Pacific Dualie beater tandem, and 6 singles including 2 fixies.

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  4. #4
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    As suggested some old cruiser tandems would work.
    May be able to find a couple older steel Burley mountain bike tandems at a reasonable price.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Stray8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemArt View Post
    So my question for you fine people here is: Do you have a recommendation for a cheap, durable steel tandem bike? It would need to be steel so I could weld the connections on for the center platform. The terrain out where it will be ridden is perfectly flat, and hard like asphalt so gearing isn't a real issue.


    http://www.amazon.com/Pacific-Dualie...eywords=dualie



  6. #6
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    depending on how whatever tandem you find is made, you might be able to find two old front freewheeler sprockets and get independant pedaling. i have one on my freakbike tandem so the rear rider can coast. i got two for it really, but one had boogered threads. either person could coast then. i remember another person did this and he said they worked fine.

    edit for pic: one thing though. i guess since these weren't really made to be part of a tandem drivetrain i get a lttle interferance bettween the chains if everythings not pretty tight. i guess on a real tandem sprocket there's a little more width bettween the sprockets.

    Last edited by Philphine; 03-08-13 at 08:17 AM.

  7. #7
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    Well, just to avoid being "that guy who posted months ago but never finished his story", here's an update. I got the bikes, and besides being cheap steel china bikes, they worked find for my project. The only issue so far is the wheels are ****. So I need to replace them with something more burley. We took it out for it's maiden voyage over the 4th and it rode really well. Load was 4 people pedaling, a large cooler (30 rack of PBR, 20lbs of ice, water and a handle of jager,) a deep cycle battery with inverter and a small stereo. Occasionally a passenger in the middle. Guessing the total load weight was around 900 pounds when we had a passenger. It's not a high speed ride, but it's not designed for that. The linked steering is great at speed, but the thing turns like a limo, so you need to plan ahead to position your turns and come to a stop facing the direction you want to go. Towards the end of the day we finally bent the front right wheel (minor taco) a bit while aggressively turning into a driveway at slow speed. Which is why I need to replace the wheels with something more durable. As long as you are slow on the turns that could have been avoided, but it's good to know about this issue at home vs out at Burning Man. Also coming soon is the electric assist hubs for the front tires. We will probably wind up pulling the batteries for them on a trailer behind the bike to keep weight on the platform down. I just cut some plywood as a temporary platform for the 4th, but eventually I will make something more lasting. I need a few more welds on the bikes to support the frame, and lessen the stress on the welds while riding. The subtle wiggle will eventually pop them I'm guessing. Finally there will be a canopy over the top, but that should just be some light bamboo and cloth.
    Here are the pics of it without the platform, just the frame.

    Edit: The majority of the frame was made from a recycled iron bed frame, with a few pieces of new angle iron also.

    Here's a pic of it from the 4th with the temp platform. This was right after we bent the front wheel a tiny amount. (lookers left front wheel). I replaced the seats that came with it with new cushy cruiser seats.
    Last edited by TandemArt; 07-06-13 at 03:13 PM. Reason: more info

  8. #8
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    NO, NO NO!! How much more wrong could you possible get it! Unbelievable the things you kids do!! If we've told you once, we've told you a hundred times! PBR is CRAP! Get some REAL beer on that ride! (Bet I gotcha! )

    Seriously, congrats. It's looking like a showstopper! If you're going with electric assist hubs, lace `em to some Velocity CliffHanger 26ers with straight guage 2.0 spokes, and never worry about them again.
    BICYCLE - [bahy-si-kuhl] - Noun :> A medical device used to correct the common geriatric condition of OFS, (Old, Fat & Slow), in a manner that does not induce brain-decaying boredom like walking or running.

    2005 Trek T2000 Tandem, 2003 Burley Tosa Tandem, Pacific Dualie beater tandem, and 6 singles including 2 fixies.

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onegun View Post
    NO, NO NO!! How much more wrong could you possible get it! Unbelievable the things you kids do!! If we've told you once, we've told you a hundred times! PBR is CRAP! Get some REAL beer on that ride! (Bet I gotcha! )

    Seriously, congrats. It's looking like a showstopper! If you're going with electric assist hubs, lace `em to some Velocity CliffHanger 26ers with straight guage 2.0 spokes, and never worry about them again.
    Thanks. I'm looking for a rim with the most lateral strength possible, as that seems most likely to be an issue with this contraption of mine. Riding straight ahead it's fine, but unlike most other bikes when this one turns there is a lot of stress on the wheels in a lateral motion. Will that wheel be the most durable? Again, weight really isn't an issue with 4 pedalers and electric assist. I'm not looking to rip around in this thing at high speed, it's a 10-15mph MAX (usually 10 or so) cruiser. The assist units need to just.. assist. Not looking for them to be working hard pulling us around.... Any tips on them would also be appreciated.

  10. #10
    Junior Member WesleyEng.com's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Philphine View Post
    depending on how whatever tandem you find is made, you might be able to find two old front freewheeler sprockets and get independant pedaling. i have one on my freakbike tandem so the rear rider can coast. i got two for it really, but one had boogered threads. either person could coast then. i remember another person did this and he said they worked fine.

    edit for pic: one thing though. i guess since these weren't really made to be part of a tandem drivetrain i get a lttle interferance bettween the chains if everythings not pretty tight. i guess on a real tandem sprocket there's a little more width bettween the sprockets.

    Does that mean I can just grab a freewheel sprocket from any old bike and use it for my stoker?

  11. #11
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    The triangular shape of many of the current technology rims are a big part of what give them their strength. Your Chinese rims are probably stamped steel box rims. BIG difference. Cliffhangers will stand up to quad and quint use, and you really only have 2 people per bike plus some "touring" gear, (but I gotta admit, you really know how to tour!)

    Actually, the wheels on most cheap tandems don't even stand up to tandem riding, let alone the lateral stresses you're putting them under. That's why they're so cheap. Everything is made to last 220 miles, as that is how far the manufacturers stats show most tandems in this price range get ridden before they become a garage clothes hanger.

    Get some real wheels built. And keep posting pics!
    BICYCLE - [bahy-si-kuhl] - Noun :> A medical device used to correct the common geriatric condition of OFS, (Old, Fat & Slow), in a manner that does not induce brain-decaying boredom like walking or running.

    2005 Trek T2000 Tandem, 2003 Burley Tosa Tandem, Pacific Dualie beater tandem, and 6 singles including 2 fixies.

    TampaBayCycling.com - A LOCAL Cycling Forum
    The Florida Panthers Tandem Club

  12. #12
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    looking at how your drivetrain is set up, i'm going to guess it wouldn't work. but i'm nobody's tandem expert (like i said, my project is a freakbike and i just sneak in here for idea gathering). on mine the front and back are linked on the front freewheel sprocket it's self. with your's being linked on the other side, even if you found a front freewheel setup, all you would get is freewheeling in two spots, but the two riders would still be like hard linked together (further proof i don't really know what i'm talking about. i don't know the proper terms). i think you'd have to get something made for a tandem.

  13. #13
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    As promised, here's an update post burn.
    Well, Bikurious made it there and back in one piece. I didn't get the best pics, but this should give you an idea of the final design was.



    I had to tighten the cranks on the front pedals often, they fell apart easy. I replaced the front rims with tougher ones and steel heavy duty spokes. They worked great. I winged it on the back and used the hubs, rims and spokes that came with the bike. The rear wheels taco'd a little, but only at the very end due to poor ratchet strapping to the trailer by a over zealous camp mate. I need to beef them up for next year. Got some unpoppable tubes from Walmart and a friend donated some old downhill tires that were great. Next year I'll electric hub the front wheels and add more batteries for more LED strips.
    Ironically I found she rode best with only 2 people on board and some gear (we carried a cooler with beers, water, and ice on board at all times.)
    Last edited by TandemArt; 09-10-13 at 02:43 AM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Stray8's Avatar
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    Very nice. I see you also swapped out the rear bars to hi-risers. Good call.

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