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Tandem Flatbar/SRAM Conversion Question

Old 03-14-24, 11:43 PM
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Tandem Flatbar/SRAM Conversion Question

I have a Santana Tandem (2007 Ultegra 3x10 Group) and I'm converting it to flat (MTB) handlebars (I'm not as flexible as I was in 2007.....).

The brakes and rear shifter were easy (Paul Comp brake levers and a Shimano thumb trigger shifter).

The front shifter is the problem. For some reason I haven't figured out, the thumb trigger shifters for my triple crank doesn't work as the force required to shift is too high. I replaced the cables when I did the conversion, so I don't think it is friction.

Other than trying to adapt the Ultegra STI shifter, which would be quite a feat, I can only think of two options.

1. Thumb shifter for the front derailleur, which I really would like to avoid.

2. A SRAM wireless FD would seem to be likely to work.

So, my questions is whether SRAM makes or made a 3X wireless FD (I can't seem to find one), or am I stuck with a 2X FD?

Also, I really like the 52/42/30 triple crankset (we live in San Diego which is surprisingly hilly and we aren't spring chickens), so I'm wondering how folks feel about 2x vs. 3x cranksets.

Cheers, Mike
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Old 03-15-24, 05:53 AM
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Look for some Shimano SL780R levers, they are ultrgra level road shifters for a flat bar setup.


There are also BL-780R brake levers.
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Old 03-15-24, 08:38 AM
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Thank you!

Cheers, Mike
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Old 03-15-24, 09:06 AM
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I've looked around (eBay, Google, Amazon and a couple of my "go-to" vintage shops) and I can't seem to find one. Any hints?
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Old 03-17-24, 05:22 PM
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Those levers don't look very vintage. I wouldn't look for them on Ebay, etc. I would see what Universal Cycles, Jenson USA, Modern Bike, etc. have in a matched set of 3F + 10R triggers. Ultegra level is unnecessary. Water under the bridge, maybe, but, did you investigate whether a simple steer tube extender could have solved the problem you had with the existing cockpit??

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Old 03-17-24, 06:03 PM
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I've tried about everything, but the 1-1/4" steer tube on the Santana tandem makes it really hard to find stuff. Also, the fork is carbon and I'm not about to mess with that. I think the safest alternative is to have a custom steel fork made and use off the shelf stuff.
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Old 03-17-24, 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
I've tried about everything, but the 1-1/4" steer tube on the Santana tandem makes it really hard to find stuff. Also, the fork is carbon and I'm not about to mess with that. I think the safest alternative is to have a custom steel fork made and use off the shelf stuff.
Is the carbon fork original (from 2007)? Is 1-1/4" a Santana thing because afaik current (threadless) standard is 1-1/8". Before you go the route of a custom steel fork ... I mean, this problem must come up often and Santana may have steer tube extenders for their forks. I'd at least consult them first.
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Old 03-18-24, 02:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm
Is the carbon fork original (from 2007)? Is 1-1/4" a Santana thing because afaik current (threadless) standard is 1-1/8". Before you go the route of a custom steel fork ... I mean, this problem must come up often and Santana may have steer tube extenders for their forks. I'd at least consult them first.
Alas, Santana isn't very helpful....
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Old 03-19-24, 07:45 AM
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A few thoughts based on owning many Santanas over the past 30 years (I currently own three):

1. As bwilli88 suggested, what you need is a Shimano "flat bar road front shifter," because Shimano's road front derailleurs use a different pull ratio than their MTB FDs. Hence, an MTB shifter (XT,etc.) will not work with a road FD. Since you are just using it for the FD, you can get the left shifter from either a 9 or 10 speed shifter set. I did this to swap my Santana Fusion touring tandem from Ultegra 3x9 STI shifters and drop bars to flat bars. Works perfectly. The 10-speed version is Tiagra SL-4703 (https://www.universalcycles.com/shop...php?id=76006); while usually sold as a set, my LBS was able to order me just the left shifter. (As an aside, bwilli88 are you sure those are SL-M780 shifters you have pictured? The M780s are black XT shifters and are MTB-only AFAIK - with the "M" designation; the ones you pictured look more like my Tiagra flat bar shifters).
2. Depending how much higher you need to get your bars up, you could keep your eyes open for a take-off Santana fork with a longer steerer tube, either steel or carbon. They come up now and again on eBay, etc., or check some of the tandem dealers that carry Santana, like Precision Tandems. You can also look for higher-rise stems, although choices are limited due to the 1-1/4" steerer (mostly just ones from Santana, although Giant CONTACT OD2 stems are also 1-1/4"). Tandems East does offer a "threadless stem converter"/riser to use 1-1/8' stems, although you'd have to check with them to see if they thinks it's ok to use with a carbon steerer tube (I wouldn't think so myself, but am not sure). See https://tandemseast.com/santana-parts-2/
3. If you are thinking of a new fork, consider going with a 1-1/8" tandem fork with headset reducers to get the steerer tube size down to 1-1/8". Tandems East offers a kit for this (see link above), including a carbon disc-capable fork (not cheap, but neither is a custom fork).
4. If you want lower gears you could change out your chainrings to something like 48-38-28 (or 26 or 24). I run that on all my Santanas with no issues, with the stock Ultegra FD.
5. If you are on Facebook, there's a Santana Owner's Group that you may want to join (I'm the admin) to access more Santana owners.
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Old 03-19-24, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Philly Tandem
A few thoughts based on owning many Santanas over the past 30 years (I currently own three):

1. As bwilli88 suggested, what you need is a Shimano "flat bar road front shifter," because Shimano's road front derailleurs use a different pull ratio than their MTB FDs. Hence, an MTB shifter (XT,etc.) will not work with a road FD. Since you are just using it for the FD, you can get the left shifter from either a 9 or 10 speed shifter set. I did this to swap my Santana Fusion touring tandem from Ultegra 3x9 STI shifters and drop bars to flat bars. Works perfectly. The 10-speed version is Tiagra SL-4703 (https://www.universalcycles.com/shop...php?id=76006); while usually sold as a set, my LBS was able to order me just the left shifter. (As an aside, bwilli88 are you sure those are SL-M780 shifters you have pictured? The M780s are black XT shifters and are MTB-only AFAIK - with the "M" designation; the ones you pictured look more like my Tiagra flat bar shifters).
2. Depending how much higher you need to get your bars up, you could keep your eyes open for a take-off Santana fork with a longer steerer tube, either steel or carbon. They come up now and again on eBay, etc., or check some of the tandem dealers that carry Santana, like Precision Tandems. You can also look for higher-rise stems, although choices are limited due to the 1-1/4" steerer (mostly just ones from Santana, although Giant CONTACT OD2 stems are also 1-1/4"). Tandems East does offer a "threadless stem converter"/riser to use 1-1/8' stems, although you'd have to check with them to see if they thinks it's ok to use with a carbon steerer tube (I wouldn't think so myself, but am not sure). See https://tandemseast.com/santana-parts-2/
3. If you are thinking of a new fork, consider going with a 1-1/8" tandem fork with headset reducers to get the steerer tube size down to 1-1/8". Tandems East offers a kit for this (see link above), including a carbon disc-capable fork (not cheap, but neither is a custom fork).
4. If you want lower gears you could change out your chainrings to something like 48-38-28 (or 26 or 24). I run that on all my Santanas with no issues, with the stock Ultegra FD.
5. If you are on Facebook, there's a Santana Owner's Group that you may want to join (I'm the admin) to access more Santana owners.
Great advice - thanks!
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Old 03-20-24, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
I have a Santana Tandem (2007 Ultegra 3x10 Group) and I'm converting it to flat (MTB) handlebars (I'm not as flexible as I was in 2007.....).

The brakes and rear shifter were easy (Paul Comp brake levers and a Shimano thumb trigger shifter).

The front shifter is the problem. For some reason I haven't figured out, the thumb trigger shifters for my triple crank doesn't work as the force required to shift is too high. I replaced the cables when I did the conversion, so I don't think it is friction.

Other than trying to adapt the Ultegra STI shifter, which would be quite a feat, I can only think of two options.

1. Thumb shifter for the front derailleur, which I really would like to avoid.

2. A SRAM wireless FD would seem to be likely to work.
3. Fit a MTB front mech.
4. Figure out which Shiftmate will work.
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Old 03-20-24, 06:05 PM
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Backing up a little, what are you trying to accomplish? It sounds like you want a more upright position. You can accomplish that much more easily with just changing your stem. There’s no reason that a drop bar bike needs to be less comfortable than one with flat bars, and if you’re riding more than an hour at a time you may well miss the ability to change hand positions.
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Old 03-21-24, 05:19 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
Backing up a little, what are you trying to accomplish? It sounds like you want a more upright position. You can accomplish that much more easily with just changing your stem. There’s no reason that a drop bar bike needs to be less comfortable than one with flat bars, and if you’re riding more than an hour at a time you may well miss the ability to change hand positions.

Stem availability is very limited due to the 31.8 mm steerer.
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Old 03-21-24, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by grumpus
3. Fit a MTB front mech.
4. Figure out which Shiftmate will work.
MTB front mech won't shift well at all with the road chainrings the OP is using (52/42/30)
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Old 03-21-24, 07:48 AM
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If you just want to get your bars higher, consider a "stem raiser." A bit clunky looking, but easy and cost effective. Precision Tandems has them at https://www.precisiontandems.com/catalogpartsweb.htm (not the easiest web page to navigate, click on "stems" in the left nav and then look for this on the page:STEM EXTENDERS STEM
-------
RISER STEM RAISER MOVES HANDLEBAR IN ANY DIRECTION FROM THE ORIGNAL POSITION Handlebar Riser -- works with 31.8 bar and Stem, black (not as pictured)
ASX-50 - 50mm Bridge, Permits a 2" arc of adjustment in any direction ASX50 $75.00
--------

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Old 03-21-24, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Philly Tandem
If you just want to get your bars higher, consider a "stem raiser." A bit clunky looking, but easy and cost effective.
Did you miss the bit where he's already done the conversion and just needs to get the front mech working?
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Old 03-21-24, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Philly Tandem
MTB front mech won't shift well at all with the road chainrings the OP is using (52/42/30)
It will probably work better than trying to shift a road derailleur with a MTB shifter.
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Old 03-22-24, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by grumpus
It will probably work better than trying to shift a road derailleur with a MTB shifter.
Yeah, the MTB shifter doesn't like the road triple AT ALL.....
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Old 03-22-24, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
Yeah, the MTB shifter doesn't like the road triple AT ALL.....
Correct. As already discussed, the correct and very easy fix is to get a Shimano flat bar road shifter and use it with a Shimano FD with the proper cage profile for the chainrings you want to run. I've done it on several tandems and single bikes and it works great.
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Old 03-25-24, 06:14 AM
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I renovated the drivetrain on my tandem. I replaced the rear hub, rear derailleur, cassette, and rear shifter, going from 7 speed to 11 speed. I had a triple chainring crankset. The Deore XT 11 speed shifter (made for flat bars) might be the best shifter of any type I've ever used because it's fast and accurate. I didn't change the front derailleur or shifter. It happened that the narrower chain fell between chainrings so I had to get a new rear crankset. I replaced only the right crank (and chainrings) and found one made for 10 speed. The left shifter is an old ratchet friction style, not indexed, and it works fine.
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Old 03-25-24, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Philly Tandem
Correct. As already discussed, the correct and very easy fix is to get a Shimano flat bar road shifter and use it with a Shimano FD with the proper cage profile for the chainrings you want to run. I've done it on several tandems and single bikes and it works great.
This is the answer, or use a friction shifter.
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Old 03-26-24, 01:56 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider
I renovated the drivetrain on my tandem. I replaced the rear hub, rear derailleur, cassette, and rear shifter, going from 7 speed to 11 speed. I had a triple chainring crankset. The Deore XT 11 speed shifter (made for flat bars) might be the best shifter of any type I've ever used because it's fast and accurate. I didn't change the front derailleur or shifter. It happened that the narrower chain fell between chainrings so I had to get a new rear crankset. I replaced only the right crank (and chainrings) and found one made for 10 speed. The left shifter is an old ratchet friction style, not indexed, and it works fine.
Is friction shifter of the same or similar physical layout as the new indexed shifters?

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Old 03-26-24, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
Is friction shifter of the same or similar physical layout as the new indexed shifters?
Not exactly, but the difference is not a hindrance at all. As you can see, the left shifter is in front of the mounting point and the right is behind its mounting point, because of the design differences.

A full album of pictures of the bike throughout its evolution is here.

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Old 03-26-24, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider
Not exactly, but the difference is not a hindrance at all. As you can see, the left shifter is in front of the mounting point and the right is behind its mounting point, because of the design differences.

A full album of pictures of the bike throughout its evolution is here.

Nice setup!
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Old 03-28-24, 01:59 PM
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I am glad the o.p. finally decided to ask about the ergonomics of replacing the front shifter independently. I for one simply would not be able to abide even the mild difference in dimensions/throw/etc. that might result from simply sourcing any 3x front trigger that might be available other than the one expressly designed to work with the rear shifter of my choice. But we are all losing sight of the prize because all this talk of trigger shifters implies a change of fork and much more and I am just not sure that this is the way to go. The o.p. talked about a custom (steel) fork which is still going to have to match the 1.25" construction of the present carbon fork. I can only imagine that that fork is going to cost more than the entire 2024 value of the present tandem. The exaggeration (if) is only slight. Someone on planet Earth is capable of fabricating a carbon stem raiser in a 1.25" inch format so the o.p. can use their existing controls. The cost should not exceed the contemplated mods. Finding that fabricator would be my priority. Or finding a good Physical Therapist as an alternative. There is also the option of sourcing a tandem already built with an elevated cockpit for the Captain. I've seen these at Tandem Rallies. They must wind up on the classifieds market with some frequency.
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