Friday, May 15, 2009

Our Burley Tandem (OT; no SS)

In 2004 my bride and I rode the Solvang Century on a tandem. We were married about a year earlier, but even prior to that, she realized that if she was going to spend enough quality time with me she would need to ride with me. Having no history of bike riding, a tandem was in order. Now usually this would be a dumb idea; 9 out of 10 times (or so; maybe it's 99 times out of 100) when one buys a tandem for this reason, the bike will sit unused after a few rides. This is because one only rides a bike because one is basically a masochist and endorphin attack, and neither love nor money will lead anyone to sit on the back of a tandem unless it's something they really want to do. Turned out my bride is actually 1 in a 1,000,000; however both love and money also figured into it. After looking around we decided on a Burley “Rock and Roll”. The Rock and Roll is a mountain bike tandem. The 26” wheels are actually stronger than 700c wheels and the Rock and Roll actually comes as a road bike and DaVinci still pushes 26” wheels as the best wheel for a tandem. First I kicked myself for not getting the “road kit”, but I never leave anything stock, so in the long run it worked out. The one thing we did do is special order the color; dark blue (same as the Samba). The 2003 color for the Rock and Roll was orange and my bride hates orange.

After riding the tandem off road a few times, I switched out the handlebars. The OEM handlebars were Ritchey risers with SRAM Gripshifters and MTB brake levers. I picked up a MTB mustache bar that were Gripshift friendly and a stem with a steep rise; that’s what we used at Solvang (sorry no photo). Pictured here is a 2002 Samba; it’s basically the same bike with lesser components.

After Solvang we rode one more ride, the Strawberry Fields Ride in Santa Cruz and then rode infrequently after that. The next incarnation started with some bar end shifters I had purchased many years earlier. My original plan for them had long since faded, but they remained in the back of my mind. The Gripshifters and MTB brake levers were never a very elegant solution and I had always wanted to use aero brake levers with V-brakes, aka Tektro Road V-brakes. I decided the handlebars would be Nitto Albatross or Mustache; the bars and brake levers are available for Rivendell. At the time I was putting together , Luisa's Long Haul Trucker and decided to use the brakes and levers (Shimano LX on her bike). This left a need for some V brakes for the tandem. I had always liked the Avid Arch Rivals. Although they are no longer in production, I found a set on ebay and I was set. Arch Rivals were Avid answer to Shimano's Parallel-Link V brakes; very strong and without all the moving parts.

The first set of bars I bought was the Albatross bars. Both the Albatross and Mustache bars are bar end shifter compatible. After I mounted the bars they seemed a little long; hmmmm. Oh I know, I’ll cut them down. Wrong; bad idea. It seems the ends of the bars are internally relieved to accept the bar ends, but only for 2 inches. I cut the ends of the bars off and they were now the same size as the mustache bars, but no longer bar end shifter compatible. Damn. Okay, now I have to order another $70 pair of handlebars. Damn. Oh well, it is what it is.

Anyway, the bars, brakes and shifters went together without incident and blue handlebar tape put it all together. My bride and I did Solvang again this year and it was a blast. The photo shows the most recent build and us riding. Nothing better than quality time with the wife.