Santana’s Frame Deflection Test Rig, aka “Otto” (Part 2)

As mentioned in Part 1 (which you really should read before diving into Part 2, otherwise you’ll be a bit lost)…

Bill had a 12-hour flight back from Taiwan and as he often does when asked a question via Email, on Tandem@Hobbes discussions and in person, he provided a very detailed, articulate reply that included quite a bit of background information.

Again, for anyone who has not had an opportunity to engage in a dialog with Bill – via correspondence or in person – this is what I’d characterize as a somewhat typical response on a potentially complex and easy to mis-understand or mis-interpret subject.  Let me also stress that it’s important to read Bill’s writings very carefully, and then to re-read them again after stepping away for a while.  Be attentive to every word because Bill chooses his words very carefully and uses a lot of them.  Moreover, you’ll rarely find a typo and few if any grammatical  errors in his writings.  So, while you may not necessarily agree with his views and may even find issue with certain things put forward as technical or  scientific statements of fact, at least you’ll know where he’s coming from by the time you’ve finished reading or listening to what he has to say.

With that said, here is what I’ve decided to make Part 2 of what will be at least a 3-Part Blog Series.  Frankly, I’m still reading through the original replies myself and doing some other ‘homework’ regarding the EFBe Pruftechnik [EFBe = Engineering for Bikes] testing protocols and history of EFBe’s General Manager, Manfred Otto’s work in developing Cannondale’s frame deflection test fixture, aka Otto. The first Otto appears to have been developed nearly a decade ago and, in addition to being mentioned extensively in Cannondale publications, the text fixture has evolved into EBFe’s current STERW Frame Out-of-saddle rigidity test stand.  Again, more on that in Part 3.

EFBe STERW (Steifigkeit Rahmen Wie Get Ritt)


Introduction To ‘A Response From Bill at Santana:

TG: Bill shares some history on how his passion for tandems began at what I suspect is a much earlier age than many of us which, coincidentally, was also true for Dwan Shepard, co-founder of Co-Motion Cycles who cobbled together his first tandem at age 15 (who knew?):

BMcR: My interest in tandems has always been performance. Within a few months of buying my first tandem (at age 15), a friend and I set a course record for “The Grand Tour” — which is America’s first and oldest double century. That June 1967 record (10:25) lasted for 9 years.

After many of my riding friends (all teenaged boys) bought or built tandems (no two alike) we often discussed the various merits of our personal “racing” tandems.

(At the time—1966—there were maybe 50 lightweight tandems in the U.S.)

I had a job at a bike shop the day our Schwinn rep delivered the news that Schwinn was soon going to introduce a Paramount tandem. I immediately ordered one. A few weeks later, when the spec’s were released, I canceled my order in disgust.

Prior to the tandem, the word “Paramount” meant best spec available. The Paramount singles had Reynolds tubing and a “full Campy” component list.  The Paramount tandem had plain gauge cro-moly tubing, Huret derailleurs operated by Schwinn’s “Twin stick” stem-mounted levers, TA single-side drive, the same headset as a Varsity or Sting Ray, and the non-tandem version of Mafac’s cantilever brakes. Campi parts? Seatposts, pedals and Hubs (which were 36° back when Campi 40° hubs were readily available).

As you can see, my critical nature towards tandems and tandem performance came very early—and hasn’t diminished.

TG: For those who don’t know much about Santana Cycles Inc., founder and president beyond what they may have read in Santana’s annual Tandems & Tandeming — tandem primer, catalog and tour guide all rolled into one — Bill provides a very brief history on how he came to first own ‘Buds Bike Shop’ in Claremont, California and how even ‘Before Santana’ much of his energies were focused on evaluating how and why some tandems seemed to out-perform or be more efficient than others:

BMcR: Three months before getting my college degree (BA in Classical Political Philosophy from Claremont McKenna College) I purchased the bike shop where I had worked for 7 years. I’d already been a tandem rider for 8 years. I was also already married to Jan — one of many riders I met after arriving at a ride without a partner. Jan’s best double century time on a single, by the way, had been 10:50 (a few weeks before her 17th birthday).

  • Before Santana came into existence I would order otherwise identical A/B tandem frames from a builder to test different geometries and tube layouts during back-to-back rides.
  • Before Santana came into existence I became an Associate Editor for Bicycling Magazine. While on the staff I produced their first comparative road test (6 tandems!). The format, copied from Car & Driver Magazine, was possibly the first attempt of any bike mag to “score” the performance of various frames from best to worst.
  • Before Santana came into existence I had personally ridden and evaluated three-dozen different brands or designs of tandems.  Then and now, I find that I need to ride as both Captain and Stoker before I can properly evaluate a tandem’s performance.

TG: Bill, while not a frame builder, describes his background as a tandem and bike frame designer, his early efforts to quantify how different designs influence the performance and efficiency of a tandem frame and discusses the first tandem frame testing jig back in 1982 based on the work of Gary Klein, John Shubert, Gary Fisher & Crispin Mount Miller .

BMcR: I am, by the way, a very perceptive rider (singles and tandems) who has designed hundreds of custom singles for my shop’s customers.

I have worked closely with dozens of gifted bike builders and designers.

While I have never, ever built a frame, I’m not afraid of talking frame building with anyone. Simply put, I understand framebuilding without having a framebuilder’s personal bias (or limited perspective).

By the early ’80s Santana’s “test & design crew” reached a point where we needed something more definitive than back-to-back “seat of the pants” evaluations.

In 1982 we built a tandem frame testing jig which was an improved version of the earlier singles-only test rig that Bicycling Magazine had commissioned Gary Klein to design and build. This instrumented test jig was used to verify the superiority of the direct lateral frame that we had discovered by accident. While that original jig had tons of drawbacks, no other tandem builder (including big-buck players such as Schwinn, Trek, Cannondale or Specialized) has ever bothered to build a tandem frame evaluation device that was half as good.

Our original jig (which was not free-standing) was pulled apart when we moved

Santana to a new location in 1992. Although we kept the pieces for a few years, we never re-constructed it in our current location.  Instead, in 1992 our frame test program evolved to electronic strain gauge testing (Santana was the first American builder to utilize this technology).

More recently, we’ve struggled with FEA (Finite Element Analysis).

In Part 3 I’ll dive right into Otto, which will tie-back to the Finite Element Analysis just mentioned, share what Bill notes Santana’s Otto does and does not do, as well as a few other things I asked based on seeing the text fixture in Ritterview’s photos.


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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3 Responses to Santana’s Frame Deflection Test Rig, aka “Otto” (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: 2011 Santana Beyond Review – Introduction & Background « The TandemGeek's Blog

  2. Pingback: 2011 Santana Beyond Review – Introduction & Background « The TandemGeek's Blog

  3. Pingback: santana » Blog Archive » 2011 Santana Beyond Review – Introduction & Background « The …

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