OK, we had a choice: pick up a second Harley-Davidson motorcycle — a Road King that would allow us to cruise on interstates in relative comfort so we could expand our motorcycling horizons — or feed our new-found passion for riding three-seat tandems by picking up a triplet.
Yeah, pretty bizarre trade-offs when you consider the differences and it could be argued that both represented wretched excess in otherwise lean times. Well hell, you only live once and nobody else is going to spoil you. This was actually the second late-model Road King in the special white & pewter paint scheme that caught our attention. Sadly, the first one slipped away the day before I was planning to give it a look-see noting it had ABS which is a must-have for an 800 lb motorcycle in my book. I found the second one pictured above in Tennessee and while it had just about everything we were looking for, it didn’t have ABS. So, that made it easy to pass-up, never mind not really having enough room in the garage for a 3rd, large motorcycle. So, that made me turn my attention back to the silver and blue Precision Triplet that came to my attention a while back when the owner — Roger D. — dropped an Email to ask about how to price it for resale.
I’d actually gotten to know the owner of the Precision triplet when he was just shopping around for the three-seater; a really sharp Army officer stationed here in Georgia. As often times happens when folks buy tandems, sometimes things just don’t play out the way they envision it and such was the case with this triplet. Roger had envisioned getting out with his family a couple of nights a week and making bike riding a bigger part of their family time and recreational activity. However, that didn’t quite come to pass. They did make it to the Georgia Tandem Rally back in 2009, just a year into tandem/triplet ownership when their daughter was 12, but as often times happens when kids hit their teens priorities change. So, with perhaps 400 miles of use the tandem went on the block in 2011… and simply languished there despite a very attractive price point that was about 1/2 of what it originally cost. I had actually thought about buying it even before we had our triplet epiphany in Alabama, but assumed it was too big given that Roger was about 6′ tall and I am only 5’8.5″ at 6am (closer to 5’8″ by 6pm). So, I dismissed it and moved-on. Well, after we had our tandem epiphany I decided to ask Roger for some additional frame dimension data and also sent off a note to Mark Johnson at Precision Tandems to see if he still had all of the frame specs so that I could put a plug in my blog for Roger’s triplet.
As the numbers came in I became a bit more intrigued as the frame was now looking like it “might” be close-enough to fit both me and Debbie. Moreover, there were some other features about the frame that made it very attractive, e.g., very roomy 29″ stoker compartments, ovalized top tube, massive stays and other little design elements that suggested the triplet would handle quite nicely. Since I wasn’t “there” yet, I went ahead and put a plug for Roger’s triplet in our 3x the Fun article in the hopes that someone would snap up the bike for a win-win. At the same time I started measuring our three tandems to see just how close the sizing of the triplet was and son of a gun, the top tube was only 3cm longer than our Calfee’s and the seat tube was only about 2cm taller. Debbie’s position on the triplet was actually the one that was borderline, with perhaps just 3cm of play in the seat height: but that was still close enough. So, I pretty much convinced myself that the triplet would fit so all I needed to do was make the 50-minute drive down to Peachtree City to swing a leg over the bike to verify and buy. Well, wouldn’t you know it. During the past couple of weeks Roger and his family had relocated to the Birmingham, AL, area! So, I was now going to be a 3hr drive… so be it.
I took a vacation day on April 17th and made the drive over to Birmingham after doing a little farm-boy engineering to my Toyota Tundra so that I’d be able to bring the 10′ long bike home. You see, I never bothered to put bike racks on top of the Tundra because I never needed them: all of our bikes and tandems could fit inside the bed without limiting the seating in the cab. I also wasn’t all that excited about drilling holes into the fiberglass shell so that I could put a Yakima sports rack on the shell. So, I decided that the easiest quick fix was to weather-seal the gap between the truck’s cab and the A.R.E. camper shell so I could open up their respective windows and simply put the triplet inside the truck with the front end of the bike poking into the cab. To keep the frame level I’d simply set the rear part of the frame on a crossbar spanning the width of the camper shell. Hey, it worked GREAT!
Yes, as you can plainly see we bought the triplet and brought it home. Roger seemed happy to have it sold, and we were happy to have a triplet that we could dial in to fit and otherwise be somewhat tailored to meet our preferences. Now, I will confess that I was somewhat surprised by what I’ll simply say was a very disappointing finish on the frame that was unique to this frame as it was the only one painted by a particular painter. But, then again, I’m pretty anal when it comes to aesthetics, fit and finish… so take it for what it’s worth.
Once I had the triplet back at the house I was able to dive into the frame and was surprised to find that the paint was even in worse shape than I thought. Through email exchanges with Mark Johnson at Precision Tandems I was able to get the full history on this frame and it was truly an epic story that makes this bike even that much more interesting. But, on the downside, the issues that I discovered with the finish warranted a complete redo. So, I contacted Hill Clarke at AirGlow in Washington, Georgia, to see if his paint booth was big enough to handle the 8′ long frame and if his schedule would accommodate a quick turn job, as we’d hoped to use the triplet at GTR in mid-May. He said bring it on! So, Thursday night I stripped all of the parts off of the frame, re-weathersealed my truck and hit the road on Friday for a 4hr round-trip to Washington, GA.