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Ritchey Double Breakaway tandem?

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Ritchey Double Breakaway tandem?

Old 03-04-18, 02:55 PM
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JBinDC
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Ritchey Double Breakaway tandem?

In our interest in having a gravel/light mountain tandem built I came across the Ritchey Double Switchback Breakaway. Has anyone ridden this bike? I remember Ritchey frames being highly regarded from my mountain bike racing days but never owned one. Apparently these are welded up in Asia instead of the USA now but they look great. They claim you can build it with 700c road wheels or 650c mountain and maintain good handling with either. Pricing seems reasonable and it's obviously something that you aren't going to come across out on the road! For these reasons the bike also makes me weary, is there just so few built they don't come up on anyone's radar screen or do they kinda suck and that's why? Any thoughts?

Thanks!
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Old 03-07-18, 08:37 PM
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I have no personal experience with them, but they look cool and the write up on the Ritchey page makes them sound very interesting. I also found this on the Tandemgeeks blog - https://tandemgeek.wordpress.com/201...rn-to-be-sure/
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Old 03-08-18, 06:38 PM
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I considered the Double Switchback before my latest tandem build, but ultimately went full custom for a host of reasons. The Double Switchback is an interesting beast. I really like that it fits reasonably wide tires, packs for travel, and takes disc brakes.

The geometry is somewhat limiting, however. The stoker top tube is on the short end for production bikes ó 710mm versus a more common ~725mm. The captain position is off the charts, though ó itís very long and low in both sizes. I personally happen to ride bikes that are similar in stack and reach to the M/S. I think the L/S would only fit most captains with flat handlebars. The geometric trail is somewhat high with the 71.5degree head angle and 47mm rake fork. Some folks would like that feel, others want much lower trail. I havenít seen a published frame weight, but I suspect itís around 12lb for the bare frame. The frame construction passes an eyeball test for reasonable frame stiffness, but I havenít ridden one.
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Old 04-08-18, 04:04 AM
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Personal experience

My wife and I purchased our Ritchey Breakaway tandem about 2 years ago, and have put thousands of miles on it. We rode the Dirty Kanza 200 on it in 2016 and plan to again this year (did not get in last year). Last year we rode Rebeccas Private Idaho on it as well. It was purchased specifically for the purpose of riding gravel. For the last 9 months or so we have ridden this bike more than any other bikes in our stable, as we have gravel accessible from our house. We also own a Santana tandem with Columbus tubing which we have owned since new.
For us, this bike replaced a Cannondale 29íer tandem which we rode in the 2015 Dirty Kanza 200 and I sold two months later - it was heavy and unresponsive, etc. I also totally stumbled upon this bike on the Ritchey website and rolled the dice on it, as I simply could not find anyone who knew anything about it. My short assessment of this bike is:
Pro:
Breakaway system works for airline travel. In numerous trips still have not paid a dime in fees.
The fit and geometry work great for us. For gravel, the geometry works for us, including rake, etc. and provides great stability. If you want a corner-carving machine, there may be better options out there, but you will find tires make as much difference as anything in cornering.
While not light, this is several pounds lighter than our Cannondale.

Con:
Limited water bottle mounts (4), insufficient for long gravel rides.
Cheap front eccentric Bottom bracket bottom bracket. Very difficult to adjust timing chain tension.
Ride comfort in my opinion just so-so. Better than our Cannondale but nothing compares to the Columbus tubing on the Santana.

We had some headaches with component build. The shop we bought the bike from put more road-oriented chainrings and gearing, and I have subsequently changed much of the components over to lower gearing suitable for gravel events. We run drop bars. I also would recommend you run with the biggest brake rotors you can find. We run 203mm. The shop put smaller rotors on and we can say from personal experience it can be rather terrifying to lose your brakes when they overheat. Cool stop pads and larger rotors have solved our issues. One other issue we had from the beginning was a defective coupler which had bad threads on one of the bolts and took us a few months to thoroughly diagnose ( the shop never could).

Overall a great bike for the money. There are other great options out there but probably none in this price range considering you donít have to pay extra for the breakaway travel feature. Good luck with your search.
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Old 04-11-18, 04:36 PM
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Thank you!

Thank you all for the great responses. Clearly this is a quality tandem capable of some rough riding but Iím concerned about ordering one sight unseen. We are 6í and 5í2Ē which is why we like our Cannondale road tandem so much. The funky geometry is perfect for our sizing but I wonder if the Ritchey geometry and sizing will work.

Springbok, fantastic riding you two do! Are you from South Africa? I ask because we are planning to tandem the Argus.

Thank you all again!
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Old 04-15-18, 07:46 PM
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No personal experience with the Ritchey Tandem, but I have done DK.

200 miles of gravel will expose any weak links in your bike setup.

If it holds up to DK, that's a pretty significant endorsement.

I wish I had known about the Ritchey before we bought our gravel tandem.
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Old 04-23-18, 11:04 AM
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I am quite sure that the Ritchey will work for you in terms of sizing. I am 6' tall and my wife is 5' 7" and the bike fits us well. There is a lot of room in the back for adjustment - for example our bike could easily accommodate a shorter rider as the top tube is sloping, and with an adjustable stoker stem (which we use) it is easy to set up the proper seating/cockpit size.
I am originally from South Africa but living in Texas now.
As for gearing setup, think carefully about what kind of riding you are going to do. If all onroad, then very different gearing than what you would need for gravel - where you typically need gearing lower and more in line with MTB riding. I just recently switched to eTap and am loving it.
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Old 05-03-18, 03:22 PM
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How long is it typically to set up the tandem from each use? I am interested in Ritchie breakaway primarily because I don't have much space in my home to store a tandem and I don't have the rack or the big car to transport a tandem...if the setup is somewhat within 20mins each time, I will finally be able to get a tandem to take my wife along the ride.
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Old 05-05-18, 04:51 AM
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Ashun, google ďhoist for a bikeĒ and see if that would work for you. No one wants to build/take apart a tandem every time they want to ride.
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Old 05-07-18, 05:57 AM
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Agree a hoist may be better choice for purely purpose of apartment living. Obviously when traveling you have other concerns such as packing to avoid damage etc, but in those cases plan on minimum of one hour.
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Old 05-09-18, 03:47 PM
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Ritchey Breakaway Tandem

My wife and I have one of these, and we love it. I am about 6'3" and my wife is about 5'6". Our frame is a Large. My regular road bike is a 61 ETT, so the bike is a little cramped for me, but it is still a pleasure to ride.

Ours is setup as a flat bar touring bike. Surly rack on the forks. Hope V4 brakes. SRAM 1X11 drive train. Spinnergy 700C Tandem wheels and Schwalbe 700C X 35 tires. All up, including riders and luggage we are carrying around 450 pounds, plus the weight of the bike.

The time to assemble depends on the degree of dis-assembly. Fully dis-assembled, meaning the brakes are off, the cranks are off, etc. and the bike is packed in the bags, I can put it back together in about an hour. A partial dis-assembly to pack in our car may take me 15 minutes. I have had to break it into 2 pieces to fit on Scottish Rail bike racks, and we can be back on the road in 5 minutes.

The bike has done a fair amount of local rides, and a couple of extended tours in the Scottish Highlands. It is stable at speeds even with the fork mounted luggage. The bike itself weighs about 40 pounds, so it is not a featherweight. We have ridden some cow trails with it, but it is not a great off road bike. On gravel roads, it is fine.

The brakes were a bit of a problem. I started off with the Hope E4 brakes, and they overheated badly when we needed to stop in a hurry on a steep downhill in Scotland. We had smoke pouring off the disks at 40 MPH on the speedometer. I replaced the E4 with the V4 and replaced the Hope rotors with Shimano Ice-tech. We have not had any further trouble. If you get one, do not skimp on the brakes.

I have not had any trouble adjusting the front chain tension. I did have trouble getting the GXP cranks to line up with the rear cluster. The rear hub needs to be a 135 mm, which is not a common size for modern tandems. Water bottles are not an issue for us. We can carry plenty on the rack.

It does indeed come apart and fit into a pair of airline legal bags: one for the frame and one for the wheels. It has even flown in a Twin Otter to the Isle of Barra airport in The Outer Hebrides, Scotland.
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Old 05-16-18, 09:02 PM
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I have a titaniun breakawat single and find it to be an outstanding ride.
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Old 11-04-19, 07:39 PM
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So after a year of contemplating (and the process was accelerated by the recent theft on my bike as well as my wife's), I pulled the trigger and got the BAB Tandem, now in the post. I have never build up a bicycle before let alone a tandem, and if anyone have any suggestions on certain things to watch out for or recommendatinos, it will be greatly welcomed. So far, I hear that I need to invest in a good large disc brake which I agree for enhanced safety. Thanks!
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Old 11-05-19, 11:50 AM
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We put together a tandem based on Tom Ritchey’s Double Switchback frame last March. This replaced the tandem – also made by Tom – we had been riding since 1977. We loved that older tandem and only replaced it because our 69-year-old knees wanted a wider gear range than it allowed. We also wanted better braking than was possible with two rim brakes and an old Atom drum brake.

Judging from what we see on other tandems these days, I suspect that our choices were fairly typical. Back in 1977 there really was only one choice for high-quality components. Tom sold us two complete Campagnolo Nuovo Record component sets he had purchased from the Masi operation that had just closed down in Southern California. Except for one cracked crank arm and an abraded rear spindle, those components have lasted just fine during 42 years of heavy use.

Of course, this time there were several other good options to choose from. Still we decided on the Athena line from Campagnolo. These derailleurs support the use of a FSA triple chainring and an 11-gear rear cluster. By the way, there didn’t seem to be a good alternative to the FSA tandem crankset since we wanted to move away from the old four-taper spindles used back in the 70s.

One big change that has taken place over the past few decades is the interdependency between bike components. With integrated shifters, the brake levers decide the shift levers, which decide the derailleurs, which decides the freewheel. Back in the old days, combining components from different manufacturers was not a problem. Mostly I chose the Campagnolo Athena derailleur because I like the design of their integrated shift levers. Tom let us test ride one of his tandems that was setup with a Shimano drive train. These worked fine; however, I prefer the lever-and-thumb-button design used by Campagnolo over the double lever design used by other manufacturers.

The result is a smooth shifting bike with 33 useful gear combinations. For us, this is a dramatic improvement over the 9 useful combinations we had on our old bike. The only shifting problems are with the front derailleur which hesitates when climbing up to the big chain ring with a dry chain. Also, dropping down from the big chain ring sometimes skips the middle chain ring. I suspect these are adjustment problems. My one complaint about the Ritchey frame is that it does not support threaded adjusters for fine tuning the length of the front derailleur cable.

Of course, brakes are the other big decision. Good quality rim brakes will not work on your new frame. This was our biggest hesitation when we bought the new Ritchey. You are committed to using disk brakes. However, we are more than happy with the braking system we installed. We use mechanical TRP Spyre calipers and 225mm Hope rotors. We do a lot of descending and have yet to experience any problems with this arrangement. Probably our most demanding regular descent is a fast 2000-foot drop (King’s Mountain for riders in the Bay Area) with a lot of turns.

I bought the biggest rotor I could find on the Internet; however, it appears that 225mm Hope rotors are no long available. These rotors require extra mounting hardware to properly position the calipers. This is shown in the photo below.




By the way, Tom scoffs at my large rotors as unnecessary. He and Martha ride on 203mm rotors.

I chose mechanical calipers because I wanted a braking system that could be maintained when travelling. I cannot imagine bleeding a hydraulic system on the side of a road. However, folks with hydraulic systems claim they have superior performance so if you lack my pessimism about when things will go wrong, you might consider hydraulic calipers. If you do choose hydraulic calipers, then you may want to consider the new Hope vented rotors. These are expensive and smaller in diameter; however, the venting provided by the double rotors, separated by a narrow spacing, should be a very good braking system. This is how high-quality automobile disk brakes are built.

The rest of the bike went together fairly easily. My stoker prefers a conventional seat post, without a shock absorber, so we purchased Tom’s clever seat post design with its highly accessible adjustment bolt. We also use a standard front stem for the rear handlebars. This requires a shim with an inside dimension that matches the seat post diameter and an outside dimension that matches the steerer diameter. These shims are readily available on the Internet.

In summary, this is a very nice tandem. We stand when we climb and we climb a lot. Our biggest concern about the new frame was its rigidity under these conditions. We have found that the split diagonals in the middle section provide the necessary support. I have travelled a lot with a Ritchey Breakaway single, so I am familiar with this clever solution to fitting a full-sized frame into a suitcase. We look forward to travelling with our new tandem as well.
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Old 11-08-19, 05:09 AM
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Thanks MikeAndJean for the interesting description. Just to clarify a couple of points: First, 11-speed cassettes are all interchangeable, so you are not limited to a Campy cassette and freehub body if you prefer something else. Second, I've tried adjusting the Campy 3x11 front derailleurs on a few single bikes in the shop where I work and have never been able to get them to shift very well no matter what height, angle, tension, etc., etc., that I tried. IMO, you're better off sticking with a 3x10 setup if you want a triple front derailleur that works decently.
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Old 11-08-19, 10:03 AM
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This was a fun story with the Breakaway tandem. https://www.spinergy.com/blog/2019/09/17/freedom-ride
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Old 11-08-19, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
Thanks MikeAndJean for the interesting description. Just to clarify a couple of points: First, 11-speed cassettes are all interchangeable, so you are not limited to a Campy cassette and freehub body if you prefer something else. Second, I've tried adjusting the Campy 3x11 front derailleurs on a few single bikes in the shop where I work and have never been able to get them to shift very well no matter what height, angle, tension, etc., etc., that I tried. IMO, you're better off sticking with a 3x10 setup if you want a triple front derailleur that works decently.
We used DT Swiss 540 hubs, which I thought would support any 11-speed cassette. However, the first Shimano 11-speed cassette I brought home wouldn't clear the frame. I don't know the names for the different Shimano product lines; however, this cassette had a nice dull-grey finish and looked like a good quality product. The mechanics at the local shop (buy local and keep those shops open) recommended a different Shimano 11-speed cassette with a shiny silver finish. This second cassette works fine.

As far as shifting goes, as an experienced mechanic your troubles with the front derailleur are reassuring to me (I last worked in a bike shop back in 1972). Shifting on our new bike is acceptable as long as I keep the chain lubricated. I agonized a long time over the 3x11 versus 3x10 decision. I went with the former because I assumed it was the future. As folks who rode their previous tandem for over 40 years, we are planning to keep this new tandem for a long time. I don't want to find myself buying replacement parts, in a few years, from the "vintage bicycle" listing on eBay.
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Old 11-08-19, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeAndJean View Post
We used DT Swiss 540 hubs, which I thought would support any 11-speed cassette. However, the first Shimano 11-speed cassette I brought home wouldn't clear the frame. I don't know the names for the different Shimano product lines; however, this cassette had a nice dull-grey finish and looked like a good quality product. The mechanics at the local shop (buy local and keep those shops open) recommended a different Shimano 11-speed cassette with a shiny silver finish. This second cassette works fine.

As far as shifting goes, as an experienced mechanic your troubles with the front derailleur are reassuring to me (I last worked in a bike shop back in 1972). Shifting on our new bike is acceptable as long as I keep the chain lubricated. I agonized a long time over the 3x11 versus 3x10 decision. I went with the former because I assumed it was the future. As folks who rode their previous tandem for over 40 years, we are planning to keep this new tandem for a long time. I don't want to find myself buying replacement parts, in a few years, from the "vintage bicycle" listing on eBay.
Did you forget to remove the spacer on the 11 speed cassette that would not fit?
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Old 11-11-19, 01:15 AM
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Originally Posted by MikeAndJean View Post
We used DT Swiss 540 hubs, which I thought would support any 11-speed cassette. However, the first Shimano 11-speed cassette I brought home wouldn't clear the frame. I don't know the names for the different Shimano product lines; however, this cassette had a nice dull-grey finish and looked like a good quality product. The mechanics at the local shop (buy local and keep those shops open) recommended a different Shimano 11-speed cassette with a shiny silver finish. This second cassette works fine.
They must have installed a Shimano 11-34 cassette because it's the only road 11-speed cassette that will fit on the narrower 10-speed body.

Originally Posted by MikeAndJean View Post
As far as shifting goes, as an experienced mechanic your troubles with the front derailleur are reassuring to me (I last worked in a bike shop back in 1972). Shifting on our new bike is acceptable as long as I keep the chain lubricated. I agonized a long time over the 3x11 versus 3x10 decision. I went with the former because I assumed it was the future. As folks who rode their previous tandem for over 40 years, we are planning to keep this new tandem for a long time. I don't want to find myself buying replacement parts, in a few years, from the "vintage bicycle" listing on eBay.
Unfortunately, anything with 3 chainrings is already in the past. 3x11 parts are already extremely rare and I doubt you'll find any in a few years. On double-chainring setups, the difference between the two rings keeps getting bigger and the range of the cassettes keeps growing, so the overall range of modern doubles can be at least as big as what we had on stock triple setups 10 years ago. Unfortunately, with the older triples you could modify the gearing to get an even wider range than standard, which still can't easily be matched with double-chainring gearing.
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Old 11-11-19, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
They must have installed a Shimano 11-34 cassette because it's the only road 11-speed cassette that will fit on the narrower 10-speed body.
Unfortunately, anything with 3 chainrings is already in the past. 3x11 parts are already extremely rare and I doubt you'll find any in a few years. On double-chainring setups, the difference between the two rings keeps getting bigger and the range of the cassettes keeps growing, so the overall range of modern doubles can be at least as big as what we had on stock triple setups 10 years ago. Unfortunately, with the older triples you could modify the gearing to get an even wider range than standard, which still can't easily be matched with double-chainring gearing.
You are correct about the cogs on that cassette. So this is the only 11-speed cassette I can use on those wonderful Swiss DT hubs?

Also, your comment about triple-chainring drive trains is troubling since the FSA triple cranksets are the only tandem cranksets currently available with a large diameter spindle. Our older tandem had conventional four-taper spindles, which we had seen break on tandems. This makes sense if you think about it. Putting the connecting chain on the left side triples the torque transmitted through the rear spindle. Therefore, we put the connecting chain on the right side. This allowed the use of conventional cranks and resulted in a nice stiff drive train but reduced the number of possible gear combinations. When we were younger this didn't matter too much. If the gearing was too low or too high we just spun faster or stood up and cranked harder. Now days we greatly appreciate those 33 closely spaced combinations on the new bike, ranging from 24 inches to 128 inches.

When buying parts for the new bike I noticed the scarcity of 3x11 derailleurs; however, I didn't realize that I was seeing the tail-end of a technology. It looks like I should stockpile some 11x34 cassettes for future use.

Thanks for the information.

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Old 11-11-19, 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
...........with the older triples you could modify the gearing to get an even wider range than standard, which still can't easily be matched with double-chainring gearing.
I may be wrong, but this might possibly be the primary reason why a front triple chainring set might just hang around for many years to come.
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Old 11-12-19, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by jim_pridx View Post
I may be wrong, but this might possibly be the primary reason why a front triple chainring set might just hang around for many years to come.
It is certainly a big reason why the triples continue to hang around on our tandems. Our total range is 6.2, from 21 to 128 gear inches, and we use all of it.
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Old 09-14-20, 09:32 AM
  #23  
samkl 
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Looks like these are back. They added some bottle cage mounts and (I think?) updated the geometry too.

Seems like a great frame, and we're seriously thinking about upgrading from our Burley Duet. But does it make sense in 2020 to buy a disc tandem without thru axles? (I've never had a disc brake bike at all so I don't know what I'm talking about.)

Last edited by samkl; 09-14-20 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 09-14-20, 03:24 PM
  #24  
DangerousDanR
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We have not had any issues with the QR axles. Wheels are available from House of Tandems or Rolf, or probably many others. We have has as much as 500 pounds total weight on the bike. In theory, a QR front disk wheel can be pulled out of the fork under heavy braking. That has not been my experience, and when I look at the forces involved I don't see it happening when the front wheel is fully loaded. I could fit a through axle fork if I thought this was going to be a problem. My HoT Spinergy wheels can be converted to T/A with new end caps.

Our frame uses a 135 mm hub in the back and a 100 mm hub in the front. That 100 mm hub is available from many sources, like Hope or DT Swiss. The Ritchey web site says the new frames use a 145 mm rear hub, and I know that DT Swiss makes a Tandem specific 145 mm hub with a QR axle. Bearings will probably be available for a long time.
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Old 09-14-20, 03:36 PM
  #25  
unikid
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I agree thru axle would be nicer. Having the rear disc mount on the lower leg on the rear triangle would also help with the axle not getting forced out of the rear dropouts when slamming on the brakes.

Perhaps they left it standard to accommodate a broader range of wheelsets. Or felt that people might be swapping between wheelsets and hence to make that easier as well. Who knows.

Regardless what wheels you run, I would recommend these axles over the standard quick release to avoid problems: https://www.dtswiss.com/en/components/hubs-and-rws/rws
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