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R+E tandem: mid 80s

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R+E tandem: mid 80s

Old 08-08-22, 06:37 AM
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bentaxle
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R+E tandem: mid 80s

I don't start many new threads, but I was asking Bulgie if maybe he built this tandem. Apparently it was built just after he left R+E, but his spirit is probably in the frame, since he trained his descendants. He asked me to post photos here.

This bike has been around, climbed in the Sierras (CA), the Green Mountains (VT), and even crossed the Alps once. Shipping a tandem is not for the faint of heart, but then I suppose crossing the Alps on tandem with a baby in a trailer (and diapers, etc.) isn't either. Here are some photos in its current form.


sloping top tube before they were in style!

Cantilever brakes









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Old 08-08-22, 06:58 AM
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Wow, that is nice.
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Old 08-08-22, 07:49 AM
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Beautiful bike. I'm curious to know whether a drag brake was used for the Alps crossing.
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Old 08-08-22, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by due ruote View Post
Beautiful bike. I'm curious to know whether a drag brake was used for the Alps crossing.
Originally Posted by himespau View Post
Wow, that is nice.
Thanks for the likes and comments! Regarding due ruote's question: No this bike has only ever had the cantilever rim brakes, front and rear. Even with the loaded trailer, the brakes were always more than sufficient. Neither the captain or stoker are huge people, but the trailer did add some weight. The cantilevers were always more than sufficient.

And note that the bike also had rear panniers and front "low rider" bags when touring. So it was a loaded bike that the cantis were handling.

Last edited by bentaxle; 08-08-22 at 08:02 AM. Reason: Note added
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Old 08-08-22, 08:23 AM
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That's a beauty! How cool that you still have it!

I picked a very similar tandem up on Saturday with a free sign on the top tube. It has a number of similarities as far as frame configuration, but also many of the same components, down to the aluminum canti hanger on the headset. Maybe bulgie would know something about this one?





Not to hijack the thread, I just thought it was an interesting coincidence!
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Old 08-08-22, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by JacobLee View Post
That's a beauty! How cool that you still have it!

I picked a very similar tandem up on Saturday with a free sign on the top tube. It has a number of similarities as far as frame configuration, but also many of the same components, down to the aluminum canti hanger on the headset. Maybe bulgie would know something about this one?

Not to hijack the thread, I just thought it was an interesting coincidence!
Wow, free is more than quite the deal. If the size is right for you and a stoker, you'll have awesome times with it. I do suspect it is a similar vintage, but I'm pretty sure it's not an R+E. But some similar features, for sure. The tube between the bottom brackets is ovalized on yours as on mine. But the sloping top tube is also ovalized on mine. Some other build differences, but the eccentric captain bottom bracket also looks the same. But there are only so many bits and bobs specific to tandems that were made at any time, so probably many builders used some of those things. (Note that my R+E has a Santana stoker stem!) I'm sure that the serial number is a clue. Could it be a similar vintage Santana? I'm sure knowledgeable folks like Bulgie might have ideas.

And, yes, I'm pleased to still have mine. I don't plan on parting with it, but need to find a way to get in some more rides with it.
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Old 08-08-22, 08:46 AM
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That sure is a beauty, and has an awesome history.
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Old 08-08-22, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by bentaxle View Post
Wow, free is more than quite the deal. If the size is right for you and a stoker, you'll have awesome times with it. I do suspect it is a similar vintage, but I'm pretty sure it's not an R+E. But some similar features, for sure. The tube between the bottom brackets is ovalized on yours as on mine. But the sloping top tube is also ovalized on mine. Some other build differences, but the eccentric captain bottom bracket also looks the same. But there are only so many bits and bobs specific to tandems that were made at any time, so probably many builders used some of those things. (Note that my R+E has a Santana stoker stem!) I'm sure that the serial number is a clue. Could it be a similar vintage Santana? I'm sure knowledgeable folks like Bulgie might have ideas.

And, yes, I'm pleased to still have mine. I don't plan on parting with it, but need to find a way to get in some more rides with it.
It'll definitely be interesting to rehab and ride this! Size is right, stokers will agree to short, flat rides and being dropped off at friend's houses. We have a really nice tandem that sees maybe 50 miles a year!

Yes, there are some period details that are bound to be the same: Phil hubs, Huret Duo-Par rear der, Shimano cantis, that cable hanger that I haven't seen elsewhere and takes up more stack on the fork than a steel hanger. Fun mystery.

I love that yours is shifted by the stoker! That must have required good communication, and a stoker who is paying attention!
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Old 08-08-22, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by JacobLee View Post
It'll definitely be interesting to rehab and ride this! Size is right, stokers will agree to short, flat rides and being dropped off at friend's houses. We have a really nice tandem that sees maybe 50 miles a year!

Yes, there are some period details that are bound to be the same: Phil hubs, Huret Duo-Par rear der, Shimano cantis, that cable hanger that I haven't seen elsewhere and takes up more stack on the fork than a steel hanger. Fun mystery.

I love that yours is shifted by the stoker! That must have required good communication, and a stoker who is paying attention!
Yes some fun mystery there, and it sounds like you are all set to have some fun with your new frame.

And on the shifting by the stoker, I thought it would be a good way to engage the stoker. Communication on a tandem is important, and that made it unavoidable. Also, there is a bit more of a demand on steering, etc. for the captain, so it was sort of a little like an automatic transmission from the captain's point of view. Of course, the captain needs to be clear and anticipate the shifting needs in advance. But it worked pretty well.

(Note that that cable routing for the captain to shift was also included. You may not see the brazed on guides in the full picture, but in the rear derailleur shot, you can see the "helmet"-style guides for the under-bottom-bracket routing for the captain's cables which are not used in that photo. The stoker's guides are over-bottom-bracket routing.)
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Old 08-08-22, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by bentaxle View Post
Yes some fun mystery there, and it sounds like you are all set to have some fun with your new frame.

And on the shifting by the stoker, I thought it would be a good way to engage the stoker. Communication on a tandem is important, and that made it unavoidable. Also, there is a bit more of a demand on steering, etc. for the captain, so it was sort of a little like an automatic transmission from the captain's point of view. Of course, the captain needs to be clear and anticipate the shifting needs in advance. But it worked pretty well.

(Note that that cable routing for the captain to shift was also included. You may not see the brazed on guides in the full picture, but in the rear derailleur shot, you can see the "helmet"-style guides for the under-bottom-bracket routing for the captain's cables which are not used in that photo. The stoker's guides are over-bottom-bracket routing.)
Very cool! I had noticed the dt shifter bosses for the captain, but I hadn't made the connection to the over-under stops on the chainstay. Smart.
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Old 08-08-22, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by JacobLee View Post
I picked a very similar tandem up <snip> many of the same components, down to the aluminum canti hanger on the headset. Maybe bulgie would know something about this one?
The headset housing hanger is a different brand. Believe it or not, I can spot a couple subtle differences. The one on the Rod tandem was made by Angél Rodriguez, or I should say designed by him and made to his spec by some local manufacturer. When I first started there in '79, he showed me how he made his prototype by sawing up a Stronglight 93 crank that had been ruined somehow (stripped extractor threads I would guess). So I made one for myself the same way — here's a shot of it in progress, still some smoothing to be done:

The 1" hole for the steerer is where the extractor thread used to be. Good forged alloy!

Later, Angél got tired of all that sawing and had a batch of maybe 100 of them made, I think they were cast and then polished up to look nicer than the cast finish.

The one on JacobLee 's bike has some extra curves that aren't there in the Rod part, and a different surface finish.

One design feature of these, easy to miss if you're not thinking about it too much, is the way the cable just sort of skims the headset. The forward offset of the cable relative to the headset is kept to a minimum. That offset is what puts the bending load on the hanger, so minimizing the offset minimizes the bending load also, making it stiffer and lighter at the same time, a nice trick when you can pull it off!

Here's one I made, installed, showing the minimal offset. This one is actually not as short an offset as possible, because I made it so the adjusting barrel clears the headset. (It can have maybe 2 mm less offset if you only need the cable to clear.) I like a long adjusting barrel 'cuz I'm a lazy mechanic, this gets you all the way through the brake pad wear without having to readjust the cable down at the cable anchor pinchbolt.

Also I wanted room for the large locking ring, which makes it easier to lock/unlock the adjustment.
Yes I am totally nerding out on headset housing stops!

Mark B

Last edited by bulgie; 08-09-22 at 01:07 AM.
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Old 08-09-22, 12:53 AM
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A few fun facts about the Rodriguez tandem:

The toptube is made by Phil Wood. It's just 4130 Cr-Mo "aircraft tubing", 1-1/4" diameter x .035" (0.9 mm) wall plain gauge, that Phil's minions flattened into a nice oval. I think they probably made dies to do it, because if you just squish a round tube like in a vise, you don't get that nice pleasing oval, you get a more pointed shape on the sides like a football. Dunno if it makes the bike ride better but it sure looks nice, to my eye.

Theoretically it'll be laterally stiff and vertically compliant, and yes that's a long-running joke but in this case it's literally true. The oval will have lower torsional rigidity also, compared to round, which may not be ideal, but the oversized tubes elsewhere seem to provide enough overall torsional stiffness. The main benefit is for when you do rapid steering maneuvers, like to dodge a pot-hole — with a tube that's flexy side-to-side, the stoker's weight will sort of lag as the frame flexes first one way and then the other way. "Wagging the dog". It's not going to make you crash, but it's an unpleasant sensation, and nice when it does not happen — more precise handling and more confidence-inspiring.

That sideways bending load is at a maximum at the Captain's seat tube, and decreases down to near zero at the head tube and stoker seattube. So on my own tandem, I made my TT oval in the middle (cap'n ST), and round at both ends, with a long slow transition that takes the whole length of the tube to change from round to oval. Kinda splits the difference, with the oval there in the middle where it helps the most, round elsewhere for better torsional resistance. Seems to work...

Fun fact #2, I made a tandem for Mr. Phil Wood himself, or should I say for the Phil Wood Company. Dunno if it ever even got ridden; I think it was mostly a show bike to show off all their products at the bike shows. They had me make it with no canti bosses, no way to mount any brake whatsoever other than Phil Disks front and rear. Mistake! Those Phil disks are sort of death traps, prone to catastrophic failure under hard braking, the worst possible time for a brake to break. So I kinda hope no one actually rode that bike!

FF#3: The fork blades on the old Rod tandem are Reynolds 531 oversized tandem, made from 1" diameter round (before ovalizing), versus 24 mm round on typical singlebike blades. Most tandems back then used the 24 mm blades, so the OS blades on a Rod were a pretty big deal. (Santana had their own OS tandem blades from Ishiwata, starting in about '77, which were even bigger — too big IMHO. Frikken cricket bats!) The OS 531 blades were listed in the Reynolds USA stocklist as "Jack Taylor" blades, but I'm pretty sure the Taylors weren't the first builders to use those. I've seen them on pretty early Singer and Herse tandems, and I think it's more likely the Taylors got the idea from the French, not the other way, but I'm not sure about that.

ANYWAY the big blades don't fit in a normal crown. Singer, Herse, Taylors all had their own tandem crowns made for them, and so did Angél Rodriguez. His crown is sand-cast, not as smooth as an investment casting, but really well designed and super strong. We never saw a single one that failed in any way, including on at least one fork that was seriously bent from a car crash, both the steerer and the blades bent but the crown did not. Angél's design had another trick, namely that it could be bored for either a 1" steerer or the only existing oversized steerer of the day, the French 28 mm tandem steerer. (Remember, 1-1/8" and other headset styles hadn't been invented yet.) We gave the option to the customer and about half went for the OS steerer, half chose 1". I think a 1" steerer on a tandem is kinda dumb, but then when I made my own tandem I used 1" because I was a weight-weenie (got the whole bike under 30 lb with clinchers, touring gears and zero carpet fiber). 28 mm was the better choice for strength and durability but it roped you in to an obscure French size with poor headset availability. FYI Jack Taylor tandems alsways used 28 mm AFAIK. Stronglight made a top quality headset in that size but by 1980 they were out of production and hard to find. The 28 mm headsets you could still get then such as Bardon were lower quality, unimpressive. Oh yeah the 28 mm steerer was 531 also, and we had the matching 531 head tubes to go with it. I stil have a Rodriguz crown, and a 531 28 mm steerer and matching headtube, dunno what I'll ever do with them...

FF#4: In about 1980 or '81, Bicycling Magazine tested a Rod tandem I built, and the headline was "Is There A Tandem More Advanced Than The Rodruiguez? We Haven't Seen One." That was rather gratifying to me personally but I have to admit, most of the things they liked about it were ideas Angél came up with, I was just the guy brazin' 'em up and filin' 'em down. More a triumph for Angél, as much as I try to make everything about me... Needless to say, sales went through the roof after that review and we soon had a 3-year waiting list. Mostly because I was the only person building them and I was really friggin' slow. Angél definitely wished I would build them faster but he had little leverage over me — I mean what was he gonna do, fire me? So I made them they way I liked, which was reeally nice. Eventually we hired a couple more guys and Glenn Erickson and I trained them (with help from Angél who rarely ventured into the frame shop, but sometimes...).

I left in '84 to go to work for Davidson, so I was not there when bentaxle 's frame was made.

I could go on for days but ain't nobody got time for that.

Mark B
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Old 08-09-22, 01:14 AM
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Talking about the reddish mystery tandem that JacobLee posted,
Originally Posted by bentaxle View Post
Could it be a similar vintage Santana? I'm sure knowledgeable folks like Bulgie might have ideas.
I'll comment on that one in the thread about that bike. But yes bentaxle , it's definitely not a Rodriguez.

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Old 08-09-22, 05:41 AM
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Originally Posted by bulgie View Post
A few fun facts about the Rodriguez tandem:

. . . .

I left in '84 to go to work for Davidson, so I was not there when bentaxle 's frame was made.

I could go on for days but ain't nobody got time for that.

Mark B
Thanks, Mark, for all the background and history. Very informative. Good to know some of those details about what went into the design of my tandem. I will say that the handling is very precise, as you describe for the ovalized tubing. Our combined rider weight was pretty modest, so I suspect that we have a 1" steerer: I don't recall being given a choice and for us light riders, it probably was fine to use a 1" steerer. Similar regarding your comments of the torsional stiffness (oval vs round top tube). It rides really well!

I'm not positive that I read the Bicycling article that you mention, but it is pretty likely, and our order could well have been part of the groundswell of orders. But it must have been after the tail a bit, because we certainly didn't need to wait 3 years. More like 6 months, if I remember correctly.

I was also interested to read about the reddish tandem where you offered your comments on that one, too!

Last edited by bentaxle; 08-09-22 at 05:59 AM. Reason: after reading about "reddish tandem"
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Old 08-09-22, 09:29 AM
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Thanks bulgie for all the info!! Do we get course credit?

Here's the hanger in more detail, on the reddish Santana. I see the curved sides, now.




Thanks for letting me butt in! Always appreciated.
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Old 08-09-22, 12:00 PM
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Beautiful tandem! I have one in San Diego that I've been trying to rehome for many months now. Mr Bulgier believes it was probably built by his apprentice, Tracy Annis. If anyone may be interested, please contact me directly. Sorry about the minor thread hijack...
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Old 08-09-22, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by bentaxle View Post
Our combined rider weight was pretty modest, so I suspect that we have a 1" steerer: I don't recall being given a choice and for us light riders, it probably was fine to use a 1" steerer.
Yes I can tell by eyecrometer that your steerer is 1". Quite likely by the time you ordered yours, the 28 mm option was seen as even more obsolete (funny since nowadays, 1" is obsolete...) So even if they still had some of the OS steerers and crowns bored to match, they might not mention that option to anyone but the heaviest riders. Just guessing. But yes, your 1" streerer is probably fine, R+E knew to use "extra-butted" tandem gauge steerers.
I'm not positive that I read the Bicycling article that you mention, but it is pretty likely, and our order could well have been part of the groundswell of orders. But it must have been after the tail a bit, because we certainly didn't need to wait 3 years. More like 6 months, if I remember correctly.
Probably orders slowed down a bit after I wasn't making the frames anymore.
Coincidence? Um well yes in this case, really just a coincidence.

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Old 08-10-22, 03:59 AM
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Originally Posted by bulgie View Post
I could go on for days but ain't nobody got time for that.
Hey Mark, can you just start a thread talking about all the s#!t you know? Thanks.
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Old 08-10-22, 04:11 AM
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Originally Posted by P!N20 View Post
Hey Mark, can you just start a thread talking about all the s#!t you know? Thanks.
Ha ha but no, I've forgotten most of it.

Nice of you to say though, thanks.
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Old 08-10-22, 04:19 AM
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Originally Posted by drpaddle View Post
Beautiful tandem! I have one in San Diego that I've been trying to rehome for many months now. Mr Bulgier believes it was probably built by his apprentice, Tracy Annis. If anyone may be interested, please contact me directly. Sorry about the minor thread hijack...
Well I wouldn't call Tracy my apprentice exactly. He did learn to build Rodriguez tandems from watching me, but I think he taught me about as much as I taught him. Outstanding FB and person. Haven't kept in touch, hope he's well.

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Old 08-10-22, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by bulgie View Post
But yes, your 1" streerer is probably fine, . . .
Originally Posted by P!N20 View Post
Hey Mark, can you just start a thread talking about all the s#!t you know? Thanks.
Thanks, Mark. I wasn't really going to start to stay awake at night, given that its been fine for almost 40 years, and has been used a lot. But it is reassuring that you are convinced that it is a beefy enough steerer tube!

And I'll agree with P!N20 that these details are much appreciated. Even if you've forgotten more than most ever knew!
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