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  1. #1
    Hook 'Em Horns
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    Mine: Paul Taylor Custom 66cm, Rivendell custom 68cm, '75 Eisentraut Touring 69cm, 68cm track frame of indeterminate origin, '92 Cannondale M500. Ours: '93 Burley Duet tandem XL. Hers: L Mercier Sora thingy
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    Assembly and shakedown ride on Burley Duet - lots of observations/questions

    I received my 1993 Burley Duet on Friday afternoon via FedEx. The box was undamaged by the shipping and the bike shop that had packed it up in Asheville did an excellent job.

    Upon unpacking the bike, I can say that this particular bike is analogous to finding a classic muscle car in a barn in like new condition. The previous (original) owner took excellent care of this bicycle. There are no chips whatsoever in the paint, and only a few scratches. All the interfaces are shiny and rust free. Everything that should be oiled, is oiled. The bar tape was a bright white (well, until I got my grimy hands on it). The original wheels appeared to be fine, no rust on the spokes or anything like that. It had the original tires on it, as far as I could tell, and they look to have some wear left in them, although I'm going to replace them anyway.

    I found some undesirable configuration items upon assembly:

    -The drum brake makes putting on the rear wheel a PITA. Is there a technique for doing this better? I had to do it 3 times before I got it right. I found that I needed to align the drag brake first, then get the axles in the drop, then tighten down the axle nuts, then tighten the drag brake nut, then attach the drag brake to the cable.

    -Speaking of, I don't really care for the non-QR rear. That will be rectified with the new wheelset I am working on though.

    -Both the front and rear rim brakes are connected to the right hand brake lever. This is unacceptable to me. I managed to get the brakes adjusted for acceptable braking action with the right lever but it's not going to stay this way. The left lever is connected to the drag brake. I will connect the rim brakes normally and get a thumbie or something for the drag brake.

    -Neither of the seat posts nor the stem are very long by modern standards. I will need to get longer replacements, in particular, I will get a Nitto Technomic for the front. None of them are inserted to the minimum insertion point, but far enough that I am comfortable with them. I suppose the larger issue is that the bike is not quite big enough for the captain but I think it's workable in the interim until we get our (someday) full custom.

    -The handlebars are really bad. I am used to riding drop bars with lengthy ramps like the Nitto Noodlebar and these ones are set up to ride like a track bike. They are going away and I mean fast. I want to get something like a 48MM Noodlebar or maybe one of the ones that Velo Orange carries.

    So the initial shakedown ride was just around the block for a smoke test pretty much, with me riding it alone. I wanted to get a feel for the handling, braking and shifting and it seemed to go well enough. I live on a hill and I found out quickly that I don't really care much for the 54/44/28 configuration, especially the middle ring being a 44, but for now it's good enough - drivetrain upgrades are coming. The other thing was that the dummy brakes on the stoker handlebar was rubbing my backside. I bent them outwards.

    Thusly we packed the bike up in my Kia Rondo with many struggles, back wheel in first and sitting on top of the front passenger seat with both seatposts and the front wheel removed. A smaller tandem might have fit in head first with the front forks between the driver and front passenger seat but this XL model is just too big for that, not to say we didn't try!

    We headed town to Austin's Veloway about 20 miles away from the house. I just was not comfortable taking it out for our initial spin on public roads. From reading the webpage on the "The Proper Method" I was aware that my single bike habits were not going to translate to riding a tandem. And oh how right the author of that article was.

    Getting the stoker mounted was not as much of a problem as I would have expected. I thought it would have been very difficult to keep the bike steady with both of her feet in the toe clips but that part was actually quite easy. Getting my foot in was another story though as she started cursing when I ever so slightly leaned over to get my right foot attached. I really didn't think I leaned that much, and maybe she was just scared. I don't know. Maybe I should tell her to lean slightly in the opposite direction? Or work on a different technique? I tried to use the method described in "The Proper Method and it seemed to work for the most part.-

    When I took off it was not so confidence inspiring. She was cursing some more and fretting about the noises (my toe clips were scraping the ground). It felt like the bike was really going different directions in the front and the back. I think because she was freaking out for lack of balance, or maybe the frame is a bit whippy being 4130 crome-moly and so forth. But finally I got situated and we pedaled away, tenuously at first.

    Her cadence is definitely not as high as mine and that caused some immediate issues, she was trying to let off at what I would consider a normal cadence and I was wanting to pedal. I like to use a 90-105 cadence and clearly she was not used to that. I could feel her letting off of her effort at the higher cadence and that caused the tension to come out of the timing chain (I think) which was not desirable at all, felt really strange.

    I had zero confidence in the turns, granted the veloway has some sharp corners on it, but I wasn't comfortable with the handlebars, the handling of the bike, or my own technique. I am having a hard time imaging cornering on a charity ride or a club ride like I might normally do on a single. I can't imagine taking a sharp turn at the moment.

    I knew the Burley had bar end shifters going in, but I think they are really not desirable on a tandem, at least, for me anyway. I am fine with the bar ends on my Rivendell but I don't really care for removing my hands from the brake hoods while riding the tandem. Maybe that is partially due to the undesirable handlebars, but I am planning on a switch to STI anyway.

    The issue with the middle ring on the crankset was evident again. I would like a middle gear with 38 or 40 teeth I think rather than this 44 teeth setup. With the 14-28 7 speed cluster on the back the issues were magnified. I had neither a low enough gear to go fast in the middle ring nor a high enough gear to climb steep inclines.

    Not being able to see the gears, on top of the aforementioned issues, was really hard for me. It seems to me that I usually always know instinctually where I am on my single bike but maybe because of all the other things going on I was just completely lost as to what gear I was in. Add to that the fact that I was overshifting the front derailer at times and I was just real confused. I don't know whether to just give it some time, or seek out something like a Shimano Flight Deck setup so I can see what gears I am currently in.

    But it wasn't all bad. We got it going better after a while, and we even got up a better technique for getting up the one really steep pitch at the Veloway. I found that I was actually more comfortable with the bike's handling at higher speeds. I started to get it mapped out in my head how I was going to take all the corners. We stopped a few times, each time it seemed to get better stopping and starting.

    By the end, my wife was saying that she really liked it. Me too . We did 12.3 miles for the shakedown ride.

    I do have a laundry list of changes I want to make to the bike though, some of which I have already purchased.

    -New wheelset (Shimano HF08 hubs and Rhyno Lite rims procured so far, looking for sales on triple butted spokes)
    -9 speed drivetrain upgrade (already procured HG61 12-36 9 speed cassette, SGS derailer, chain and cassette hub)
    -New chainrings - thinking 52-38-26, ramped and pinned for 9 speed STI
    -STI shifters (already procured)
    -32mm tires
    -Hook up rim brakes normally
    -Kool Stop pads for rim brakes
    -Thumbie for drag brake
    -Nitto Technomic stem
    -Nitto Noodlebar 48cm front
    -Some wider handlebars for the stoker so they're not interfering with my ahem backside.
    -longer seatpost
    -[edit] new pedals, my feet are too big for the original MKS pedals the bike shipped with.

    Well guess that's it for now. I need more pointers though! This is like learning to ride a bike all over again, and I am a very experienced singe bike rider!
    Last edited by brons2; 08-05-13 at 12:58 PM. Reason: forgot to mention

  2. #2
    mje
    mje is offline
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    We experienced all the same issues as you did on our early rides. Most of them get better with experience. We sometimes still have a hard time compromising on cadence. You progressed much faster than we. It took us several rides to get as far you did on your first.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Paul J's Avatar
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    Sounds like a lot of our first rides. :-)

    We used flat pedals for a time until we were comfortable with riding the bike. We had a pretty cool experience cool last year as we were finishing up a ride by using a bike path in Greenville SC. As we navigated the post you see at the entrance of a bike path with an intimidate sharp turn onto a narrow bridge with easy a single who was right behind us came by and said how impressed he was with our handling the tight situation. All in time, keep us posted.
    1982 Merckx Campy Super Record, 1995 Merckx Campy Centaur 10, Bushnell Tandem, SOMA Double Cross

  4. #4
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    Any first ride that leads to a second ride is a success. I'm sure it will all come together just fine.

  5. #5
    hup
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    Ride as much as you can, even with the undesirable setup. Practice really, really helps with your comfort and confidence levels.

    .... and show us some pictures of your new ride!!

    Cheers ~
    Henry

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    One small comment, the method you are using to start is NOT necessarily the PROPER METHOD. It did not and does not work for us. We developed OUR method which is very similar to the way you start and stop on a single bike. Whatever method you use to start and stop MUST keep your stoker happy and she MUST feel secure and safe. I would suggest trying several different ways to start and stop until you find a method that is comfortable and safe for your team.

  7. #7
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Our first tandem was a Burley Duet. We also changed out the rear hub for one with a QR.

    The drum brake is a bit of a Pita when changing a flat.

    Here's a link with some help in dealing with it.

    http://www.precisiontandems.com/arai.htm

    As I recall, we had a little traingular piece we added that allowed quick adjustment of the cable tension, and aided getting the wheel on and off. Can't find a link to anyone selling it now though.
    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.

  8. #8
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    I have limited experience riding a tandem. Maybe a dozen rides. I've borrowed them from friends and ridden with my girlfriend on individual as well as club rides and a few centuries. We both are experienced riders which I think helps. Also she trusts that my bike handling skills are good enough to keep us upright and safe which I think has built her confidence as well as mine on the bike.
    Lots of communication about what is going on and laughter is what makes for a fun ride. And thanks for your write up. We are building/modifying up our recently purchased tandem and it's good to read about what to look for.
    Lou...

  9. #9
    Senior Member mkane77g's Avatar
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    Our first road bike was a Duet, 1989. Enjoy it your way.

  10. #10
    Hook 'Em Horns
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    Mine: Paul Taylor Custom 66cm, Rivendell custom 68cm, '75 Eisentraut Touring 69cm, 68cm track frame of indeterminate origin, '92 Cannondale M500. Ours: '93 Burley Duet tandem XL. Hers: L Mercier Sora thingy
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    Our first tandem was a Burley Duet. We also changed out the rear hub for one with a QR.

    The drum brake is a bit of a Pita when changing a flat.

    Here's a link with some help in dealing with it.

    http://www.precisiontandems.com/arai.htm

    As I recall, we had a little traingular piece we added that allowed quick adjustment of the cable tension, and aided getting the wheel on and off. Can't find a link to anyone selling it now though.
    Thanks for that, I realized that the bike actually has the quick release kit, I just didn't know what to do with the extra bolt and nut. Mystery solved.

    On a side note, has anyone tried to have a disc brake mount TIG welded on to a steel frame after they had the bike already? There are some competent frame builders in my area who could probably do it, but is it cost effective?

  11. #11
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    I really like the comment that any first ride that leads to a second ride is a success.

    A few observations:
    1. our first tandem was a 1995 burley duet. It really was great bike, and held its value well when we sold to buy a coupled co-motion.
    2. some might, but I would not weld a disk brake attachment point to the seat stay. Not sure about the compostion of the steel in the frame, but everything changes when you heat it up. Also, you'd need to consider whether the seat stay and chain stay have enough clearence to accomodate a disk. Then you'd have to re-paint that part of the frame.
    3. We've never tried to ride without clipless pedals. Too much chance that the stoker would have a foot slip off the pedal, and get whacked in the back of the calf on the next rotation. You'll get the cadence worked out.
    4. We've never believed there is a proper method for starting a tandem, other than the one that works for you.
    5. Bar end shifters are not that great on a tandem, as I find we shift a lot more than we would on singles. Having said that, we do have them on our travel tandem. It was easier to find nine speed bar-end shifters than Ultegra STI in nine speed, and I do like the way I can fine-tune the front shifter with the bar-end shifter. We'll stay with nine speed stuff on that bike as long as possible, as it is much easier to use the quick link by hand on a nine speed chain than a ten speed (very handy when re-assembling the bike for travel).
    6. Good choice on the Nitto parts. THey make great stuff.

    Sounds like you really picked up a winner with this tandem. Wishing you many good rides.
    Joe

  12. #12
    Hook 'Em Horns
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    Mine: Paul Taylor Custom 66cm, Rivendell custom 68cm, '75 Eisentraut Touring 69cm, 68cm track frame of indeterminate origin, '92 Cannondale M500. Ours: '93 Burley Duet tandem XL. Hers: L Mercier Sora thingy
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    I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Kalloy 26.6 seatposts that are on the bike now are still made, and they come in a much longer 350mm length which should be more than long enough to accommodate me without having to pull the seatpost out past the minimum insertion point. Best of all they only cost $19.95 at Harris Cyclery online, go figure! I thought replacing the seatposts might be expensive but I got 2 of them for less than $48 shipped! Bargain!

    In case you have an old school bike with a use for such equipment, here they are:
    http://harriscyclery.net/product/kal...ength-1834.htm

    One thing that does seem to have gotten expensive is the Nitto Noodlebars, I wanted to get some 48s but they are $125 plus these days with the devaluation of the dollar and the appreciation of the yen. That's a bit beyond the pucker factor for me. Soooo, I plopped into Velo Orange and found these 48cm rando bars that I'm going to get instead. They look right up my alley, i.e., wide, flat, classic bend, all that I'm sure some of you who have Calfees are rolling your eyes

    http://store.velo-orange.com/index.p...handlebar.html
    Last edited by brons2; 08-06-13 at 10:11 PM.

  13. #13
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    Two thoughts:
    1) You might not need the drum brake much in Austin? Possibly take it off and save it for future trips to the mountains?
    2) Consider mounting a cheap computer **with cadence* at both positions - we used the Cateye Astrale 8. This way you can both see what the cadence is and have an intelligent conversation about what it should be. This did wonders for us. Mounting is easy, just splice the wires. She will be encouraged when she sees you keeping the cadence below the agreed number. Also, without without a measurement you're both guessing about what the cadence is unless you are very experienced cyclists. What feels ok at the beginning of the ride may feel too fast at the end when you are tired.

  14. #14
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Sounds like a first tandem ride! Good on ya.

    We have two rear wheels. The one with the drum we only use when touring in areas that might have very steep descents. Captain has a bar-end shifter to control it. Rim brakes work fine for us, even in our local mountains with long descents up to 7% for our ~300 lb. team. Double sided clipless pedals will make starting much easier.

  15. #15
    Hook 'Em Horns
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    Mine: Paul Taylor Custom 66cm, Rivendell custom 68cm, '75 Eisentraut Touring 69cm, 68cm track frame of indeterminate origin, '92 Cannondale M500. Ours: '93 Burley Duet tandem XL. Hers: L Mercier Sora thingy
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    Quote Originally Posted by WheelsNT View Post
    Two thoughts:
    1) You might not need the drum brake much in Austin? Possibly take it off and save it for future trips to the mountains?
    2) Consider mounting a cheap computer **with cadence* at both positions - we used the Cateye Astrale 8. This way you can both see what the cadence is and have an intelligent conversation about what it should be. This did wonders for us. Mounting is easy, just splice the wires. She will be encouraged when she sees you keeping the cadence below the agreed number. Also, without without a measurement you're both guessing about what the cadence is unless you are very experienced cyclists. What feels ok at the beginning of the ride may feel too fast at the end when you are tired.
    Thanks for the suggestions. Splitting the feed on a Cateye is a great idea.

    Kinda hesitant to get rid of the drum brake due to team weight, but it's true there are only a few hills around here that are longer than 1-2 miles. I can hit 50 easily on my single bike on many hills around here if I go into an aero tuck. I'm 6'7" so maybe sitting straight up will be just as effective as a drum brake

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