ironhanglider wrote: Of course it would be a bit of a stretch to have child stokers included, but if in a couple of years either of my children want to take up cycling as a sport I'll have to change clubs since it would be silly to not be racing in the same club, and equally silly to have to pay for two memberships.
Problem with you moving to a CA club is there probably won't be a suitable grade for you. E grade CCC/Vikings is a lot different to E grade Vets. Though I think they go down to F grade now and sometimes have a sportive category.
I'm only allowed out once per weekend, so it would be choice between that and not racing, I'd simply have to become suitable for the grade. I'm competetive enough downhill and on the flat, I'm only weak in the hills and that can be solved by losing 20kg.
Elton wrote:As per my phone call on Sunday, I went to Ian D's on Saturday night and he took each of the bike components off and assessed their state. The front of the bike took most of the impact and the frame appears to have no damage.
- the front fork with a similar tandem fork (recommended try Hillbrick Bicycles in Sydney); - 3T handlebar of 44 cm width (same size); - 3T stem of 80 mm length & 6 deg (same size); - Cane Creek headset (as probably damaged); - Shimano 9 speed gear/brake road levers (right and left); - Shimano 9 speed rear derailleur (long cage); - Rear derailleur hanger; - Brooks saddle - Champion flyer; - Rear light (Cateye).
I have suggested some possible substitutions and waiting for feedback on those, such as ensuring that the forks are Disc compatible so we can make use of the other disc calliper. I like the idea of Microshift levers and rear derailler too since I note that some of the Microshift rear deraillers have a listed capacity of 45T which is would be awfully handy given the gear range that we are running on this bike; 55-42-30 on the front and 11-34 on the rear. I had to do some weird stuff to make it work before.
Not great but all this stuff is easily replaceable. I don't know how badly scratched the frame is yet, and I presume the bar tape will need to be re-done. I guess I can choose a new tape colour then, John says it is much the same to him Any suggestions? Black is boring, red would be hard to match with the wheels and wrong, we did have a dull silver before but I didn't think much of the tape itself. I'm thinking I might go for something bright.
Might also get one of these for Bling, plus I don't ride with a watch and the races have been starting on time.
I’m sure that everyone who can build wheels fantasizes about what would be their ideal wheels be if they had the means and opportunity. Every now and then you get the opportunity to go close even if it does require a leap of faith.
BTW this is a long post about wheels, read it at your peril.
The subject of this fantasy were no holds barred, go fast, race wheels for the Heavy Tandem (220kg for riders and bike). The fantasy wheels were an item o discussion before John even started looking seriously for a bike. The ideal wheels would be useable for both disc and rim brakes, not too heavy, good aerodynamically, and reliable enough to use on a regular weekend basis.
Rims: Material. Aluminium. This was never much of a question for us. John already had designs on riding at the Nationals and the expectation was that rim brakes would be mandatory for a while yet. For the hills we have around here even single bikes can overheat their rims/tyres so carbon rims with rim brakes are not an option for us.
Tubulars Decided on tubular rims rather than clinchers for a number of reasons. The pros include being lighter for the same strength, the ability of tubular rims to withstand greater tyre pressures, the ride qualities of tubulars and the virtual elimination of pinch flats. The pressure factor is significant because at our weight we find that we regularly exceed the maximum recommended pressure for the tyres (and probably the rims) just to get a reasonable ride. Typically we run 28mm tyres at 120-140psi. Big tyres and high pressures have a habit of pulling rims apart. With tubulars the pressure also helps to hold the tyre onto the rim. The intention was to use either Vittoria Pave or Challenge Parigi-Roubaix which are both notionally 27mm.
Depth. Having already determined material, the next question is shape/depth. Here there is a significant trade off between aero-ness, strength and weight. I have a pair of 32 hole rims that are 45mm deep but the rims alone weigh 880g each! At the other end of the spectrum sub-400g rims are around but are neither aero nor strong. I decided that the ideal would be somewhere around 30mm deep which would be typically 520g or so.
Spokes: CX-Rays At our weight, even with the more symmetrical wheels allowed by a 145mm rear wheel spacing , we would need at least 40 spokes. CX-Rays are frequently used on weight weenie bikes because they are lighter than most. However they also have the best fatigue resistance numbers. At between 2 and 2.5 Euro each they are not cheap.
Hubs: Tandem hubs are a specialty item so they tend to be rare and expensive. $500 is about the start point.
Nipples: Aluminium I would almost always go for brass, however aluminium is appropriate for special wheels.
This was all well and good but it was just a dream.
CRC had a sale on tandem hubs. A pair of disc compatible 40 spoke White Industries hubs for $120 delivered was too good to pass up. So I convinced John to buy a set and I got a pair for me even though I don’t have a bike to fit the 145mm rear hub spacing yet. I figure that the wheel isn’t going to go off, and I might slip a bike past the Chancellor one day...
Now the build began:
Velocity (used to?) make a tubular version of their Deep V rims, the Pro Elite which is 30mm deep (520g) and suitably strong enough for this purpose. They also make some shallower and lighter rims, which would probably also have been suitable. Unfortunately for them they don’t advertise them in a 40 hole version and did not respond to any email requests as to whether they would make any.
Then I found a mob in Taiwan (Newsonsportec) who make 23mm wide tubular rims and they come in pretty colours too! I asked whether they would do a custom 40 hole drilling and they said yes (they will also do other rims in 40H drillings but you need to order 5 rims). The colours can be either anodised or powder coated. Naturally go-fast wheels need to be red and I chose anodised. At 25mm deep they are a little shallower than the Pro Elite but they are also 40g lighter. It is possible that the more rounded U section rather than the V section might be more aero to make up for it though.
Spokes. The fantasy wheels would have Sapim CX-ray or DT Aerolite spokes. However Newsonsportec also make spokes, and have some semi-aero 2.3mm wide spokes (same width as CX rays) which also came in pretty colours. Naturally I got anodised red ones to match the rims. It turns out that whilst CX-rays are butted spokes that have been squashed, these are plain spokes that have been squashed. So CX-Rays end up being .8mm thick, where these are 1.5mm thick. Unfortunately I wasn’t really happy with the spokes, so in the end I have had to buy 164 CX-Ray spokes (ouch!) and I will be re-building all 4 wheels.
Nipples. Newson Sportec also do nipples in Brass Aluminium and Titanium. I’m normally a brass sort of person, but I’d use Al for special wheels though. However the Ti ones piqued my interest so I did some research. Ti are lighter than brass but not as light as Al. There is also an issue with galling so they can bind to the spoke when being turned. They are much stronger than the others and therefore there is a very greatly reduced chance of rounding them off.
What I found really appealing about these was the shape of the head. Instead of finishing the top of the nipple in a standard screwdriver slot, these nipples finish in a star shaped spline which mates to a tool that goes on to a socket handle. The shoulders of the head are also curved so that there is a bit of movement to allow the nipple to angle towards the spoke rather than inducing a bend. These are expensive little beggers at about $1.20 each but I figured that they had sufficient bling factor that I thought I’d give them a go. These are the most extravagant part of the wheels, but they do make the wheels a bit special which is part of the exercise.
I did buy some copper anti-seize paste (a whole tub from a car-parts shop, (let me know if you want me to put some into a tiny packet and sell it to you for $10 like Ti-prep do), which certainly did reduce the galling issue but did not eliminate it. All in all I don’t think that from a building perspective that the Ti nipples were a great success. The head shape and tool combination was really good and they fitted so well together that the tool held the nipple well enough to place the nipple into the rim. Without the galling characteristic of Ti these would easily be my favourite nipple to build with. If they made the same shape nipples out of Al or Brass I’d be all over them.
My maths puts them at just a bit less than 2kg with the CX-Rays which is pretty respectable for disc hub tandem wheels.
Hey Cameron, one of my best mates sons well actually both of them have race tandems with visually impaired riders but only the track I think. Would you like me to find out from them where, they got their gear from or know of a good builder of wheels for tandems? I posted some or a photo of one winning the Aus Sprint or time trial title last year I think or could have been the year before.
I don't suffer fools easily and so long as you have done your best,you should have no regrets. Goal 6000km
foo on patrol wrote:Hey Cameron, one of my best mates sons well actually both of them have race tandems with visually impaired riders but only the track I think. Would you like me to find out from them where, they got their gear from or know of a good builder of wheels for tandems? I posted some or a photo of one winning the Aus Sprint or time trial title last year I think or could have been the year before.
I'm always keen to know of sources of bits. Is one of them Peter Spencer? I have faith in my own wheel building, but I am always keen to discuss the merits of different philosophies.
find_bruce wrote:€2 (~$3) per spoke & $1.20 per nipple didn't seem so bad until I remembered you need 80 per bike
But the wheels will be around long after the pain has gone.
There is a para-cycling World cup on in Canada now not that anyone'd notice. OZ Tandem finished the TT in 14th, 3 and a bit minutes down, however that did involve 2 stops and a wheel change which does dampen the enthusiasm a bit. The winners averaged 50.36km/h
Oz Tandem wrote:Well that's bike racing. We got a flat in the TT. Always positives though: 1. the tyre came off the disc and we didn't crash. 2. we were still able to take some data from the race and compare ourselves to the rest of the countries. Wouldn't say we are happy, but we live and learn and are pumped for the road race on Sunday.
A recent post on the Tandem Bike Australia Facebook page has a few pictures by Evan Dawson including this one. It seems that both boys rode with Ben MacFie, Kelvin for the kilo and Ben for the sprint.
I'd love to get out to see some track tandem racing. I'm not sure that I'd take it up, since it is so specialised that the only racing appears to be for titles. Given the opportunity I'd like to race on our track in Canberra once it is back in service. I could even turn my bike into a track tandem easily enough.
With John's bike out of action, he has the use of Elton's race tandem, a handsome Pinarello, which he bought from a forum member. We have both been off the bike for a while for various issues.
Our pre-race admin was poor, including driving the wrong way despite the fact that I knew the way perfectly well. In the end there was no warm up, and I even had to adjust my saddle height on the line. However we were at least there and riding.
Surprisingly despite pleasant (if a little windy) weather, and a non-threatening course there were relatively few starters. ABC grades were combined for the start with only 3 in A grade, 8 in B grade, and 3 in C grade. D grade was better but still with only 7 including Elton and Don on Elton's other tandem.
The course is an out and back in both directions from the central start/finish. The southern side is reasonably favourable which is a long gradual climb and return. The northern side is more lumpy and ends in a drop down to the turn at the lowest point of the course. Although the faster riders did two full laps, E,F and G grades only did a lap and a half and naturally we would only ride the favourable part of the course once and the less favourable part twice.
At the start we went to the front and from there we would drift back on the hills, and forward again over the top. Up the last climb before the descent to the turn the bunch broke apart with us off the back. There was never any doubt that we'd catch and pass the others on the descent so I'm surprised no-one hung back to get firmly planted in our slipstream.
We did discover a brake issue at the turn which caused us to overshoot whilst we slowed sufficiently to make the turn. This gave up a lot of our lead. On the return climb all the others came past and then the chase began. The others formed into a group of Angie Kev and Andrew, followed by the pair of Lee and Malcolm and then us. After a long chase, we finally caught and passed the pair of Lee and Malcolm right at the end of the first lap. Shortly afterwards we caught Andrew, and we rode in the vicinity of each other for a while without working, since we couldn't hold his wheel uphill. He made a good effort to hold our wheel most of the way down the big hill to the turn and was able to close up to us under brakes, which worked better this time but still not satisfactory. I've since adjusted the brakes properly.
Andrew came past us soon afterwards and we would neither catch nor get caught by anyone else for the rest of the race.
Did manage to get a lot of video of mostly empty roads behind us. Here are some highlights.
Well it has been a while since I posted. Since then John's bike has had more adventures.
The bike got re-built with a new fork, shifters, rear derailler, derailler hanger and other sundries like cable and tape. With the new fork came the opportunity to fit the other Bengal disc brake to match the rear, so I rebuilt some wheels so that John now has 3 sets of disc braked wheels. Three front wheels with White Industries Hubs, and two rear wheels with WI hubs and one with a Shimano hub with a drum to disc adaptor. The Wheels are designated as Training/everyday wheels with 32mm Vittoria Randonneur (soon to be Vittoria Voyager Hyper) intended to have a high degree of puncture resistance. Sportif wheels which are nearly identical wheels but with skinny 25mm lighter tyres. Race wheels with 27mm tubulars.
John was building up for the Hartley Lifecycle challenge in November which rode from Canberra to Charlotte Pass and back. Unfortunately the new right shifter was faulty, so I swapped it for a Microshift lever (which is still destined for my bike) whilst the warranty process goes on. The bike has now done hundreds of km with the mismatched levers, but none of his other pilots have made any comment. He has duly done his training and did his ride quite comfortably. Hi did report an instance of 'chain suck' in the middle of his big ride which prompted a chain replacement due to a bent chain.
On Sunday we were finally able to race again. Unfortunately it was not a stunning success, mostly for reasons that didn't relate to the racing. I had a late night before (working on another tandem for someone else) which wasn't a good start, there was some work to do on John's bike anyway because we needed to put a wide range cassette onto his race wheels. There is also the usual list of adjustments that need to be made on race day for a different pilot, pedal change, saddle height, stoker bar height, and ensure that the 'new' wheels really do roll without rubbing the brakes. Some of this was done at John's place, and some was done out at the race course. Unfortunately we arrived late, and registered before we even parked the car, and even heard the sounds of other grades being sent off whilst I was still putting the wheels on the bike. What I didn't notice at the time was that the saddle was now pointing up at a rather more dramatic angle than usual, before rolling down to the line and by then there was no time to change it.
Chainsuck is not something that can be adjusted out, so I didn't look too closely at the front derailler, which was a mistake. The Orroral Valley course is very much up and down, despite my lack of climbing prowess I enjoy the course partly because there are no fewer than 5 climbs per lap which come off the back of a descent. This means that attacking the descent gives momentum which can be used to bounce up the bottom bit of the climb and therefore gain a lot of time over the poor descenders. This also means that it is a pretty severe test of a bikes gears. We used the full range from 55x11 to 30x34 and would have to make the transition in the space of a few tens of meters and failing to do so results in having to do this under pressure. Gear changes under pressure on a tandem are to be avoided, particularly front shifts. Not long into the race I tried to shift into the small ring and it simply refused to drop down even with the pressure off, on a steep hill we slowed dramatically; I called for power to get us going again and dumped 3 or 4 gears on the back to try and get something that we could use. Of course this was exactly the time when the chain dropped off the front middle ring and missed the small ring entirely so we came to a sudden stop. Off the bike, get the chain on and then prepare for a start up a steep hill. Tandem hill starts are a special challenge. This time we got set started, and as I tried to get into the seat, my knicks caught on the front of the saddle, and I found myself not on the saddle, and without my left foot attached to the bike, John was powering away on the bike to try and give us some speed and I couldn't clip in. The short version was that we ground to a halt again in short order. We re-set ourselves and tried again, this time I managed to get well enough into the seat and we powered away again. This little exercise cost us a total of a minute and a half.
This was not the end of our troubles, we finally diagnosed an annoying ticking noise as the crank hitting the front derailler when in the big ring (all of a sudden the dodgy front shifting was explained) I took a punt that it hadn't caught badly yet, so it probably wouldn't. After the nasty climb to the Boboyan Road turn the saddle position really started to bight. I was getting pain in the lower back and wasn't able to produce the same power. There is a strava segment up the climb where we had the dramas and our second time up that climb was a minute and a half slower than the first lap! It is encouraging to note that when we go back we can do a 'real' time which will lift our position into the top 100 for that segment. A similar segment in the other direction has us at 31st.
All in all there was still a lot to take away from the race, and we even managed to beat a couple of riders in our grade and came up with 5th. I'm pretty sure that no-one will touch our maximum speed of 86km/h on that course, because we sure do go downhill fast.
Di2 triples (Di3) and hydraulic discs. The stuff of tandem early adopter dreams.
Unfortunately early adopters also need to have deep pockets, which John doesn't have. (He might have short arms too but I don't ask those questions )
For now we will stick with 9speed to maintain access to wide range cassettes. If we both lost weight (neither of us would be underweight if we lost 20kg) then the need for the really low gears would go away.
There are a few tandems around with Di2 using compact cranks and a modified derailler to use a 36T cassette which does get close to our low gear (25.5 GI v 23.8 GI), but it also loses the top gears. We do like going fast when we can, and enjoy having the 55x11 available, it is a gear that gets some use.
At high speed downhill, getting out of my aero tuck and sitting up enough to pedal, costs me more power than I can generate with my legs at about 55km/h. The heavy tandem takes that equilibrium speed up to 68km/h or so before it is faster to tuck and roll. We pedal down a lot of hills whilst chasing the mountain goats.
I'm not sure of the requirements, others have done the heavy lifting with gaining acceptance, I just turn up and race. The local clubs here in the ACT, both CA and AVCC seem to cope with tandems racing.
I actually can't think of a situation where it would not be safe for a tandem. Whilst some people imagine great differences in speed and manoeuvrability, the reality is that the differences are really very small and within the normal range of single bike riders capabilities. In addition to that tandems tend to have a buffering influence in a bunch by smoothing out the sudden changes in speed and direction. The biggest difficulty in a bunch situation is knowing where your rear wheel is in relation to someone's front when rolling off the front in a pace line and swinging over, however whilst it concerns me as a pilot, no-one else has ever expressed concern to me and I am sure they would if they felt that we had pushed them off into the dirt. I did once suggest to one rider that squeezing up between me and the dirt whilst in the middle of the bunch was a bad idea since I'm not aware of their presence until they are virtually alongside the stoker. Tandems tend to not make sudden changes of direction so others would have (comparatively) lots of time to get out of a closing gap. Similarly most pilots will leave more room in front of them to allow for the sudden movements of others. I've not touched wheels whilst on a tandem, nor am I going to try, but I suspect that the extra weight and the wider bars would actually make it easier to stay upright in that situation compared to a single bike.
An example that gets brought up in conversations is U turns. I must be some sort of turning god, because on a single bike among E grade competitors I can turn tighter and faster than all of the others (35 years of race practice might have helped too). On the heavy tandem we are simply reduced to taking the same line and at the same speed as the average E grade rider. I have no doubt that in higher grades my single bike turning would be closer to average and that on the tandem, the good turners would be able to turn tighter and faster than us. I'd actually be comfortable with this and would allow enough room for others to do so if they could, if we went to the front of the bunch for the turn and came out at 2nd or 3rd wheel with others turning inside us it seems to me that this would be less disruptive than 'closing the door' on riders behind during the turn and then trying to close down a couple of bike lengths gap to those in front. All in all I don't think it is a big deal.