Nicholas’s Tandem

Stoker Stem: ControlTech adjustable stoker stem, Long model
Handlebar: Scott Drop-In LF, rotated back for maximum reach
Conversion Kit: Burley’s Partial Kit with 36T sync rings

Setup and Modifications

Problem #1 — Gearing

We bought the tandem as a used bike specifically to set it up with a child-conversion kit permanently mounted. The bike is equipped with Dura-Ace components throughout. While this is a very nice feature, it has only a double chain-ring up front, which gives us a low of 40x28. It remains to be seen whether this is low enough for the rolling terrain of the Ohio River Valley. I may have to switch to a triple crank to give us lower gears. Possibly a Shimano 105 triple?

Mid-season assessment (7/96): So far so good. While we haven’t gone out and look for all the steep hills around here, the ones we’ve encountered have all been ridable. We even passed a few single bikes on the infamous Broad Run Road hill (about ½ mile, 300 or so vertical feet) on the local Tour de Gil a couple of weeks ago.

End-of-season assessment (10/96): Longer rides such as our annual Old Kentucky Home Tour combined with the rolling terrain around here definitely gave us a work-out. We can keep up with most of the other tandems on the flat, but get dropped like a bad habit on any sizable climb. A triple is definitely in the work this winter.

Status (3/97): Rummaging through the parts bin at my favorite bike shop, I found a barely-used Ritchey Logic triple crank (right side only) which fits our needs prefectly. The double-ring Dura-Ace crank is temporarily retired to the spare parts bin, and we are now riding with the 32x42x52 Ritchey crank. This also requires replacing the Dura-Ace front derailleur to the 105SC derailleur that can handle the triple rings.

Status (’98): The tandem now sports a Specialized tandem crank set that I acquired over the winter. The chainrings combination is still 32x42x52T.

Problem #2 — Rear BB Axle

The bike came equipped with Phil Wood sealed bottom brackets, but, alas, the rear BB axle is not long enough to accommodate a second sync ring to the child crank (the inner ring would carve into the chain stay). So I had to swap out the Phil BB for a generic Shimano fixed-cup/adjustable-cup BB with an axle that is about 5 mm longer. The front BB is unaffected.

Status: I now have a spare Phil BB. When the stokid no longer needs the child-conversion kit, we’ll replace the low-tech Shimano BB with the Phil BB, and away we’ll go.

Problem #3 — Synchronize Crank

The supplied sync ring included with the Burley kit is 36T ring with 110-mm bolt circle (mountain bike), while the Dura-Ace crank sports 130-mm bolt circle. Luckily, the shop had an old Sugino crank laying around that they let me have for pittance. Of course, it’s useless as a real sync crank because it has the standard right-hand thread for the pedal, but is now mounted on the left side (which requires left-hand thread). But we won’t need to thread a pedal in that crank arm, as this rig is strictly for the stokid.

Status: The stoker sync crank arm doesn’t match the rest of the drive train, but it works!

Status (’98): The tandem now sports a Specialized tandem crank set that I acquired over the winter. All crank arms match now.

Problem #4 — Stoker’s Handlebar

How to overcome the stretch of Cannondale’s legendary stoker’s cockpit? I bought the long model of the ControlTech adjustable stoker stem, which at maximum extension reaches an impressive 10" back from the captain’s seat post. Then I mounted a Scott Drop-In LF handlebar, the one with an inward extension from the normal bar-ends. The bar was then rotated about 100 degrees toward the stoker, so that the bottom portion is now straight back, and about 12" from the stokid. A short dowel whittled to fit between the ends of the bar made it a straight across connection, and a cushy Cinelli cork tape completed the kid’s bar.

Status: We may have the weirdest-looking stoker’s bar, but the stokid likes it, and there’s enough room along the stem that we can mount an ATB-style handlebar bag (backward) for quick access to sunglasses and toys.

End-of-season assessment (10/96): This set-up is definitely the way to go for smaller stokids. In fact, we are buying yet another Cannondale tandem (delivery late October) and I’ll set up the stoker stem identical to this one, as it’s for Paula to captain with Nicholas riding as stoker.

•   •   •   •   •

They ain’t heavy—they’re my sons — Recap of a summer on the tandem with Nicholas and Lucas.

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last updated: 2 February 1999