As noted in my post from last weekend, after a triumphant return to off-road riding with Miss Debbie, our 2002 Ventana El Conquistador de Montanas (ECdM) definitely needed a few adjustments following its 4-year hiatus.
#1 on the list was raising and pulling back the handlebars. Twelve years ago when Alex built-up our 2002 ECdM — which, coincidentally, was the first full-up tandem to be sold by Alex and MTBTandems.com — I was apparently 12-years younger and riding with a much more aggressive posture. The ‘Superdust’ 2002 Ventana ECdM was a replacement / upgrade from our 1997/00 ‘High Zoot Translucent Red’ ECdM which had replaced our ‘Sunrise Orange’ 1998 Cannondale MT3000. As you can see in the photos below, the captain’s handlebars are well below he saddle on all three bikes: I guess there was a time when that worked well for me. However, on last Sunday’s outing I was definitely feeling way too stretched out, bent over and had too much weight on my hands.
Therefore, the first order of business was to figure out what stem and riser-bar combination would deliver a better riding position. Alex had a Thomson stem that was 10mm shorter than the one I had on our Ventana and a set of FSA XC280 40mm mid-rise bars that we used to pull back and raise up my riding position. The plan is to ride it with the FSA XC280 set-up on a temporary basis to see if that will work or if I still need a more upright solution. Just testing it in the parking lot outside of MTBTandems.com’s shop in Canton, Georgia, it seemed to be a lot better.
The next order of business was eliminating the noise and chatter from the brake system: chattering brakes don’t work well and the squeal is just… well, not what you want every time you touch your brakes. As you can see in the photos above, to the right and below, we ended up just eliminating the entire brake system. Yup, those way-cool, super-gonzo, bomb-proof 4-piston hydraulic Hope Enduro front & rear brakes are now in a box along with the also very cool Easton C2 composite handlebar that was replaced by the aluminum riser bar. While the Magura MT7 and MT6 hydraulic brakes were quite tempting, for our immediate needs my gut told me the mechanical Avid BB7’s with the Single Digit 7 levers would more than adequate and… well, simple, quiet and more affordable. Out back, in addition to switching over to the BB7 mechanical (left), we also upped the rotor from 185mm to 203mm which completed the scorched-Earth approach to riding the Ventana of the Hope brake system. As to why there was a 185mm on the rear to begin with, I’m pretty sure 185mm worked out to be the largest size caliper Hope (right) made for a rear installation back in 2002.
I also rotated the eccentric 180° to lower the crank axle a half inch which, in turn, allowed me to drop my saddle height another half inch: yet another way of changing that bar height to saddle height differential on a tandem.
To add more steering trail and firm up the steering I raised the triple clamps back to the top of the stanchions which relaxed the head tube angle and increased the steering trail. Yes Alex, you were right… I’d originally focused on the effective fork rake. Alex correctly pointed out what was happening to the head tube angle as the fork stanchions move up or down in the clamps.
If the weather gods are nice and hold off on the rain, Miss Debbie has said we’ll hit the trails this morning after 10am when the bow hunters are done. It will be interesting to see how all of these changes have worked out. Keeping my fingers crossed that we have another good day on the trail.