Golden, Colorado

Tandem Build: With all the parts at hand.

Tandem Build: With all the parts at hand.

I can’t remember the last time I built a bike, tandem or otherwise when I had all the parts on hand at the start. Well, ok maybe I have built a few retail boxed bikes. Like my Trek Top Fuel, that I got from Big Ring cycles. Although that was not a smooth build, I guess that is not unusual for Treks. Other than that, I can’t remember a time ever. In mid-October I built a Fandango for a trip to Italy. I think it took me 7 days and 3 parts orders. We rode it 10 miles before packing it for a 9-day cruise with Santana Adventures; more on that later. I am way behind on posting, but with WordPress, I can backdate posts to put them in something like chronological order of the actual events. Nick and Teri, from Denver, were also on the cruise. I had casually known them for a few years but didn’t really know they rode tandems. Nick, through Colorado Plastic Surgery Center, had a competition or drawing, I am not sure the details, for a couple to win a Santana cruise trip and a really cool couple from Canada won it and were also on the trip.

Learning more about what Lisa and I do on our MTB tandem they got the bug and wanted to get one. Working with Alex at MTB Tandems we spec-ed out a really nice high-end EL CONQUISTADOR DE MONTAÑAS build for them. The only special request was that they wanted a small rear seat tube for kids, which when Teri rides the bike leaves a lot of seatpost out, and the addition of CINCH power meters.

I get the box from MTB Tandems in two nicely packed boxes. I was excited to do this build because it with spec-ed with “tandem” approved parts. I tend to under-build our tandems which is a little sketchy.

Full Tandem build kit from MTB Tandems

The first task was to build the wheels. Nox Composites Kitsuma DH Enduro rim, 35mm, 36 spoke, black, 27.5 Tandem, paired with DT Swiss 240 Hybrid/EBike hubs. WOW, these are stiff strong wheels. I am running the underbuilt version of the wheels. 28 spoke standard (non-tandem rim thickness) and standard DTswiss hub. They are light, but in stiffness, there is no comparison. With the wheels built and my current tire of choice, Maxxis 2.8 + 27.5 mounted, it was time to really get started with the build.

The build kit Alex provided was awesome. Details like the chainring being mounted with the right spacers (right side drive), the brake hose length was perfect, timing chain cut to length. It was really easy to build. The only problems I had was with the Orange seal tubeless kits rim tape. I don’t like that stuff. I tried Stans tape but that didn’t work well either. I ended up using Gorilla tape which is what I have on my wheel. The reason I like it is that it has a little stretch and contours to the rim nicely. The downside, maybe, is that it is a little thicker.

Of course the day I delivered the bike, Denver was getting our biggest snow of the year yet, so we had to wait a week before we had a 60 deg day and the snow was melted. Lisa and I met up with Nick and Teri at Green Mountain for their first ride out on trails. Nick has a fair amount of trial experience and Teri is a novice. They both have a lot of tandem road experience though. They both took to it quickly and had no problems on the loop. There are just a few tips I have for experienced teams starting to learn to ride a mountain bike tandem. 1) The stoker needs to be consistent/smooth with their power and not react to rapid power changes from the captain. As you get more experience this will change but in the beginning, consistent power. 2) Practice standing on descents. The key is for the stoker to drop their heals and weight the saddle a little so that if/when the captain brakes hard, you don’t end up on top of them. Practice standing and braking unexpectantly hard. 3) When on a technical hard climb, the stoker should keep their hands in narrow to remove the ability to have leverage on the bars allowing the captain to stay on the line.

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