This is actually a three-fer blog entry, in that there three things that piqued my interest from Co-Motion this week from three completely sources. However, as it turns out, they complement each other.
The first is a nice article w/photos from Bike.Portland.org made after paying a visit to Co-Motion that you can find HERE.
The second was a very cool video that popped up on their Blog this week entitled, “What do you do with those big machines?” In the video you get to see Co-Motion’s Mori-Seiki CNC lathe used to miter the internal (aka, lateral) tube for a Speedster tandem. Same same machine is used to other cylindrical parts, such as Co-Motion’s own bottom bracket shells, tandem eccentric shells, head tubes, steerer tubes and some of their PeriScope tandem parts.
Again, be sure to check out their Blog to see some photos and read a little bit more about what you see in the video.
OK, now for the third complementary piece. This is actually something I pirated from a posting by a friend to the BikeForums.net tandem discussion forum, wherein he shared a note from Dwan Shepard of Co-Motion. We’d been discussing frame design specifications and stock vs. custom tubing use and along the way our friend took a cue from us to check-in with Co-Motion to fact-check their recollection.
The note from Dwan was actually quite excellent, in that it provided a very nice and concise history of Co-Motion’s frame and frame component (i.e., tubes, forks, other details) development and the philosophy behind that development history. So, based on the assumption that Dwan would not take exception to me sharing his note, I’m being somewhat bold and re-posting it here. What’s interesting and bears keeping in mind here is that this Email reply by Dwan is very typical of the detailed response he provides to just about every customer question, as I’ve gotten a few of these gems over the years.
Thanks for your note. One of our best strengths in building custom tandems is our ability to select tubes specifically for the couple who will be riding it. We have a broad array of tubes that can be used for a variety of reasons, such as for saving some weight, making a more comfortable ride, or making a more rigid frame for a heavier couple. But it’s not just custom frames that get extra attention here.
When we first started making frames in 1988, we bought tubesets from Reynolds or Columbus, like everyone else. But as we grew picker about how we wanted our tandems (and other bikes) to perform, we grew frustrated with what was available. Around 1992 we began having custom tubes produced. We started with tandem top tubes from Reynolds, then special tandem fork blades from Tange. It was difficult to justify the expense because we were making fewer than 50 bike a year at the time. As we grew we found that having specially produced tubes meant we could further refine the character of our bicycles and really set ourselves apart from the competition. Now, virtually every tube that we use for every bicycle we produce is special, and as you know our range of models and sizes is bigger than ever.
We go several steps further than most bike companies. Not only do we have wonderful custom tubes made for our bikes, but we also design and produce a lot of our other essential frame components. We make our own forks, for one. How many companies still do? Our forks are made from custom-designed, custom-drawn fork blades. We weld them to our own steerer tube and dropouts, both of which we manufacture here on our CNC equipment. We also make our own headtubes, bottom bracket shells, eccentrics, bridges and many other items that you don’t think about as being essential to a good frame. The function and precision of these parts far surpasses what is commonly accepted in most bicycles.
As an example of how designing in house makes a bike better is our tandem disc-ready fork. Steel forks with disc dropouts are still fairly uncommon, and there was a lot of fear about whether they would be adequate for tandems not so many years ago. The fear was justifiable, because many builders assumed they could simply weld a disc mount onto an existing fork. Sadly, a few people had some nasty accidents due to the fact that the action of the disc brake had a tendency to cause the wheel to fulcrum itself out of the dropouts, or to tear a welded-on disc tab off the fork. Not a pretty picture.
We were not the first company to offer front disc brakes on tandem frames or forks. We tested and tested until we were sure we were considering all possible safety concerns, and that we had a system that was consistent for manufacturing as well as for the rider experience. We designed new fork baldest to reduce brake torque effect and we designed special dropouts that integrated the brake mount into the dropout itself. This feature distributes the stress of braking over the entire fork rather than in a small are, the Achilles’ heel of many disc forks. Extra precautions we took include positioning the dropout slots to make “fulcruming” impossible, and capturing the quick release with a raised ridge. We like to be really certain we’re doing things right!
Say hello to [your wife], and keep enjoying your tandems!