Minor Tandem Update

   I looked over the rear seatpost and found that it is actually in good shape. There was a bent up aluminum shim around the top part and that made it look a little jacked up. But I removed that and cleaned it up, tightened the seat clamp and ta da!  I also got a better look at the weird clamp mechanism dangling from the rear seatpost, and it appears to be more or less intact, but missing a semicircular wedge piece that would form the bottom half of the clamp.  The seatpost itself has some spring to it for shock absorption, and that all seems to be in working order. 

   I also scraped off the jockey wheels and lubed the derailleurs and the chains. I checked the chains for wear, but both are totally fine. The brake pads also seem to be original and very much not worn. I need to look into it, but there’s a small (adjustment?) screw on each brake pad that I imagine might be used to adjust the angle for toe in.  

   I took the rear seat post to the Gear Hub and dug around in a box of parts, and I did find a wedge that should work. It was a millimeter or so too wide to fit between the two screws on the clamp, but luckily I recently purchased a bench grinder, so when I got home I put on my safety goggles and my work gloves and my denim jacket (and I finished attaching the protective shields to the wheel) and I carefully ground it down on both sides until it fit. Then I went ahead and switched out the front saddle onto that clamp and put the whole thing on the bike. 

   I had an old Avocet laying around, so I put that on the front of the bike just to give me something to ride on for now. If I ever plan to take a long ride with someone I’ll probably switch it out for one of my regular saddles. And it’s an old fashioned clamp mechanism on the front seat, so I will have to get one that adjusts easier to replace the front one. But on the bright side, I should be able to turn that old clamp upside down and put a saddle on there, then keep that one handy for rides with Ezra. By reversing the clamp and flipping it the saddle height in the rear becomes and inch or so lower, and that should just about allow Ezra to reach the pedals and ride comfortably as a stoker. Then when I want to ride with an adult I can just switch out the whole rear seat post. Quick and easy!

   I did a little bit of test riding today since the sun decided to come out. The rear derailleur works well, but I had trouble shifting the chain onto the largest cog. The jockey wheel was bumping up against it. It’s possible that the chain will need to be on the smallest chainring in order to get there, but the front derailleur also needed some adjusting and I ran out of time. Boo!  The shifting was smooth, though, otherwise. The bike will need a thorough cleaning, then I’ll re-lube everything and give it another go. And I still need to adjust the position of the two sets of crank arms so they are in synch. Either way I’m still really happy with the purchase. I feel like I found pretty much what I was looking for, and it doesn’t require any major work to get it rideable. Now I just need some good weather, some spare time, and a friend with the same. 


A Random Tandem

I finally found a tandem!  And I bought that tandem!  I have been looking on Craigslist and elsewhere for the perfect starter tandem. I have no guarantee that my wife will be for realz down with riding, and my son is still at least one growth spurt away from being stoker sized, so I couldn’t possible spend multiple hundreds of dollars on a bike that I’m unlikely to ride by myself. But I also didn’t want to get something too cumbersome or too crappy since that wouldn’t really create the kind of tandem experience I seek. So I contacted a few people and asked a few questions, but nothing I found really fit the bill. Then I went in for my Bike Swap orientation on Saturday evening and lo and behold!  The KHS Tandemania Comp from, I believe, 1995. 

   I’m not very familiar with the KHS brand, but I’m getting there now that I have a good reason. And as a side note, just like when you learn a new factoid and suddenly it starts to come up everywhere, I have seen so many KHS bikes around town in the last 24 hours. It’s a Taiwanese brand that makes some decent, affordable bikes. Solidly middle of the road, and reliable enough that they don’t come up for sale used as often as many more expensive brands. 

   This one needs a new rear seat post and a saddle to go on it, but other than a cleaning and a tune up it doesn’t seem to need much else.  I’m planning to move the current saddle to the rear since I’ve ridden on an identical one before and I think my wife will like it. I’ll probably just transfer my C17 to that one whenever we’re going to go for a ride. 

   I’m really looking forward to working on this thing!  It will all have to be done in the front yard since it can’t make it up to my attic workshop.  It’s all Deore components, which ain’t too bad no matter what decade they’re from. Tandems are different in some obvious ways, and this one has an eccentric bottom bracket in the front, which I’ve seen before, but never personally experienced or dealt with. I’ll need to do some research ahead of time, which only makes it more exciting for me. But mostly I’m looking forward to riding it. 

   I did get a taste of it on the night I bought it. I don’t have a tandem rack for my car, and I’m not even sure my car can take one without some other support structure in place. So I ended up riding the bike home from the orientation meeting, then going back for my regular bike afterwards. The bike rode well and the brakes were more than sufficient for just my weight.  It was a little weird riding on the clipless pedals with regular shoes, but I managed. And I think I have some pedal-correct shoes someplace.  I shifted the rear derailleur a little bit, and it worked alright, but far from smooth. Though in the end I didn’t feel like the hearing was bad. Riding in the middle range felt like riding other bikes I’ve owned in the past. The rear end felt a little odd, but the weight and acceleration felt very familiar and natural. So that’s a plus!

   I’ve got a couple things I’d like to get for this, mainly to aid in my wife’s future comfort. Fenders and a rack of some sort for starters. So I’ll have to post an update later on.