For many years I have had a Daws Galaxy Tandem, dating from 1992. It had various faults, the frame needed a little welding, some of the components were wearing out. I always planned on rebuilding it some time, however, each year, I would service it, get it going, replace parts here and there.
Last year, I saw a George Longstaff Frame for sale, looked lovely and size was spot on. The tandem was built for Sandy Gilchrist, who runs a bike shop in Scotland and works as a mechanic on the Specialised Mountain Bike Team. I believe that Sandy used the Tandem for time trial and racing
The idea was that I would strip the Daws and use the components on the Longstaff....... didn't quite go to plan. One Bottom bracket was shot, so had to go (the other had already been replaced. The XT chainset on the Daws was shot, especially the middle ring. I found a new Tiagra square taper chainset, old stock, probably dates from 2003 - Not perfect, but OK. My groupset was already XTR rear mech and XT front mech, but I found that an old LX front mech I had worked better with the Tiagra chainset. The Wheels were a set I built myself in the early 1990's on 105 hubs - the front was still OK, but the rear was getting very worn, so I had a wheel built on a Sturmey Archer Hub which has a drum brake (I want to use the bike for touring so a drum brake is very useful on mountain descents). The shifters on the Daws were really vague, but I picked up a pair of really nice 8 speed XT shifters. The chain was jumping on the cassette (SRAM cassette with KMC chain - never worked well together), so I replaced the Cassette and Chain with new SRAM (would have prefered XT or XTR but difficult to find 8 speed) - in hinesight I should have gone 9 speed. The Daws was setup with cantilever brakes, the Longstaff could only take calipers, so I got a set of long drop ultegra brakes (I wanted a good set of brakes on the tandem, the old XT canti's weren't brilliant). The Schawble Marathon Plus tyres (filled wil lead) were 32mm and too big (thank goodness) so I got some 28mm Continental Grand Prix 4 seasons - much lighter. Now I had gone this far, I couldn't stop - both seat posts were replaced with Thomson Elite, the front stem is a Hope and stoker stem is a Thomson Elite. Front bars are Carbon Easton Monkey Bar and the rear is an aluminum Easton Monkey Bar, front Saddle is Fizzik mountain bike saddle with carbon rails, the rear is a good quality comfortable saddle.
All up, with rack and mudguards, the bike weighs in at 38 LB (a little over 17 kg) - which I am really impressed with. Without the hub brake, I would probably be down to around 35 lbs. What is the lightest you can get to on a touring tandem?
I first built the bike late last summer, however, many of these upgrades have been completed over the winter. Yesterday was our first outing. To say that I was impressed is an understatement. It rides and handles more like my touring bike than the old Daws; the Daws was sloppy and flexible, the Longstaff is taught, with little noticable flex. When the stoker pushes, you can feel the extra drive intsantly. Now the gears are sorted, they are sweet, changes are so smooth, even changes under load are perfect (servicing the XTR rear mech has worked wonders). The 24 speed setup suits the bike really well, I am not finding that the gaps are too big. The Ultegra brakes also work so much better than the XT Canti's. Even down a 1 in 6 (15%) hill I had loads of stopping power. The hub brake is really good for checking the bikes speed on long descents; it is probably overkill, but nice to have that extra security (A few years ago, cycling from UK to Spain, I was riding in the Pyraneese on my racing bike with fully loaded panniers the glue on the tubs melted on one long descent)
The Geometry is interesting (relative to the Daws), it is roughly 12 inches shorter - forks are more upright, rear wheel clearance to the seat tube is much smaller, and top tube length is shorter for both main rider and the stoker. I actually prefer the riding position, my main stoker is my 10 year old daughter, and it is ideal. I love the short frame, handling is brilliant, it feels much more like a normal bike. another benefit is cycling uphill, it feels so much more together; the Daws was slow uphill, the frame flexed and it was difficult to establish a rhythm, the Longstaff flys up hills, and it is really easy to get into a nice rhythm - I am able to hold a much higher gear
Overall, I have spent a little under $1000 and seriously raided my stock of bits and pieces. However, for that money, I feel that I have one really well sorted Tandem