Ruegamer / Rue Sports… On Again, Gone Again

While I was doing some research on high-end and boutique tandems I discovered that Rue Sports, aka, Ruegamer Uberlight had once again exited the market.  Brent Ruegamer at one point in his career worked for Calfee Design and parted ways to pursue composite frames under his own brand.

Some of his early efforts were simply stunning designs that gained him a lot of exposure. He developed a bit of a following in the ‘weight weenie’ world as one of his trademarks was coming up with frames that were true to his brand: Uberlight.

He debuted what was purportedly an 18lb tandem a few years back that also garnered a lot of attention.  Mind you, it wasn’t clear for whom the tandem was built, the 18lbs didn’t include a few things and the bike was also sporting some insanely light “Lightweight” wheels.  However, while it’s practicality was not fully explored, it was a visually stunning machine with a trademark wild paint job.

Bottom Line: Ruegamer Sports, aka, Ruegamer Uberlight and Rue Sports has once again ceased doing business, subsequent to their relocation from Prescott, Arizona to Southern California.

———————————————————–

The Beginning of the End: One of our BikeForums brothers commissioned a tandem from Brent back in July of 2008 and received it in April 2009.  Throughout the process, there was a lot of angst and issues that seemed to suggest all was not well with Rue Sports.  Sure enough, Rue Sports and Brent Ruegamer disappeared for a while and the word on the street was: down and out for the count by the Fall of 2009.

However, by the winter of 2010, Ruegamer was back and had a robust portfolio of bikes and frames at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. There is a pretty nice article by Paul Skilbeck on the NAHBS site called “In the Game” that gives readers and overview of Ruegamer, circa Feb 2010.

However, there was apparently a lot going on in Brent’s life over the previous year, and that, in and of itself, caught a lot of folks off-guard.  But, the cycling community is a pretty forward thinking world, so most folks accepted the change and focused on the products, which were as amazing-looking as always, case in point the 1800 gram tandem ‘Bre’ Ruegamer is holding in one hand at the Feb 2010 NAHBS, below:

Well, as I said, at the outset of this entry when I went looking to see what the status of Ruegamer / Rue Sports all I could find was a very sparse Web page with a single bike listed for sale and some disconcerting forum discussions at Fairwheelbikes.com.  The thread had originally gone silent back in June 2009 and was raised from the dead by a Ruegamer customer in Europe on Oct 6th, 2010.  Again, it’s not a pleasant thread, but on Oct 24th, 2010 one of the folks who supported the business confirmed that Bre Ruegamer had decided to exit the frame building business.

As to the Nov 13th, 2010 update by Lars, it paints a pretty ugly picture of the one of the worst-case scenarios someone could come up with for a custom tandem commission.  Now, to be fair, our BikeForums brother’s Ruegamer tandem looked great,  is still going strong and being ridden hard by that very robust team.  So, I’m not sure the analysis of the ‘end of the line’ tandem is representative of what Ruegamer was building in better times.

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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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6 Responses to Ruegamer / Rue Sports… On Again, Gone Again

  1. Torsten Hein says:

    Hi there!

    Thanks for the update~!

    (I am writing from South Africa)

    Right now it seems that the lightest/carbon tandem frame is the Tank Matrix which is carbon tubes and what seems to be aluminium joints?

    Do you know of any other (decent) carbon tandem frame builders?

    Many Thanks
    Torsten

    • TG says:

      Off the top of my head….

      Matrix is about 6.7lbs when last I checked, which is about par for the course with several composite tandem frames, but it’s not the lightest.

      Calfee Designs began building composite tandems back in 1998 and has two different models using different modulus:
      Tetra Tandem @ 6.5 lbs (varies by size and the size/weight of the client)
      Dragonfly Tandem @ something less than 6lbs (varies by size and the size/weight of the client)

      Cyfac has the Le Duo which I believe is also in the same weight class as the Calfee Tetra

      Ciocc, ditto on weight class… but coming from Italy

      ariZona cycles produced several composite tandems in the same weight class and is coming back with a new model in the near future.

      Ruegamer’s tandems were actually pretty light, but some of them were made for some really lightweight teams and/or may have limited life because of their weight saving characteristics.

      There are a few other firms that have and/or still do make composite tandem frames, some are all carbon while some others are hybrids with, alloy boom tubes and stays (daVinci), Iso or Exogrid structures and/or titanium rear triangles (Santana), etc.

      Of course, there are some other exotic materials out there that can be used to produce tandems that are as light as composites, e.g., Paketa’s magnesium frames, Co-Motion’s ACMUltra 7 aluminum alloy, and even a carefully designed and executed True Temper OX Platinum steel frame can come in around the 6 – 7 lbs range.

  2. Lars says:

    Hi,
    Just an update from Lars. In the end Ruegamer cinfirmed they could not deliver the full bike we had ordered and made a downoayment of USD 5300 on. She offered to send the frame which we accepted and also asked themto pay back the differing USD 2300. The frame was sent to my brother in law in New York. Since then Ruegamer has not answered any emails. My lawyer in the SF area could find no trace of them. The frame was disfunctional and damaged. I sent the frame to Calfee for inspection. They’ve documented it. In the end I ordered a new tandem from Calfee so now my wife (who is almost blind) and I are enjoying the ride. But we are USD 5300 poorer. We have however decided to soend another USD 10000 on nailing them. They’ve gone underground. I’m just on my way over from Sweden to SF for work (and will do the Gran Fondo in Santa Rosa). On this trip I will hire private investigators to find them, and then I have a lawyer ready to sue them.
    On the cycling front my wife and I are planning trips to South Africa in March (Cape Argus cycling event in Cape Town), the Swedish Vatternrundan (300km’s with 30000 participants).
    It’s lovely, but Ruegamer will get what they deserve. Even if it takes a while…

    • TG says:

      A sad, sad situation to be sure.

      We wish you all the best in your legal pursuits but, more importantly, hope that you and your wife continue to enjoy tandeming together on your Calfee for many years to come.

      • Lars says:

        Just back in good old Sweden from SF and Santa Rosa (where I participated in the LL Gran Fondo). Di a training on our Calfee yesterday with another cyclist/manager for disabled people in Paralympics etc. New projects starting up to engage people with sight disabilities, and great interest in the Calfee! Nothing like this has been seen in Sweden before.

      • TG says:

        Awesome!!! So glad to hear it.

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