Time for a Beefier Fork on the Triplet?

20160517_205918Our Precision Triplet was originally designed around and fitted with a Reynolds Ouzo Pro Tandem fork with a 1.25″ steerer tube, 395mm length and 55mm of rake, i.e., the Santana spec., and a Dura Ace compact caliper brake.

We acquired it back in April 2012 and while the fork seemed like it might not be up to snuff for a triplet with three full-size adults, it would probably be OK for three somewhat small ones as there are tandem duos who use the same fork that tip the scales in the 400lb range of our trio.

However, the longer I’ve lived with the triplet and ridden it the more I’ve come to believe that some of the less than optimal handling characteristics of the triplet could be associated with fork deflection. After all, given the bike’s steering geometry, the triplet should be very resistant to stoker steer and hold a straight line with ease.  However, of late I’ve noticed that I’m constantly course correcting the triplet even on dead flat roads: it can become quite tedious at times.

It goes without saying that fitting mud guards to the fork with it’s compact Dura Ace caliper brake is a challenge.  I use an SKS Raceblade Long on the front to deal with the brake caliper’s minimal clearance, noting the fork crown isn’t all that generous either.

Therefore, since the triplet will likely remain in our stable for at least a few more years I’m thinking it may be time to have Mark Johnson at Precision tandem work with either Co-Motion, the folks at R&E or one of the custom builders to have a more robust pearl black steel fork produced for the triplet. I’d like to have a bit less rake and more steering trail and I’d also like it fitted with cantilever bosses and a disc tab. While I’d like to fit a disc to the fork, I’m really not in a hurry to have another front wheel built around a disc hub.  Therefore, linear pull brakes on the canti-lever bosses might be the hot ticket as it would eliminate the clearance issues with the mud guard.

I’ve got at least all summer to have it produced as the next possible triplet outing isn’t until October in Tennessee.  I think Miss Debbie is still on the fence about riding the triplet at STR as she continues to have comfort issues when we ride the triplet more than two days in a row and is also concerned about how much climbing their might be.  So, that one’s still up in the air.  However, GTR in Valdosta next year is a no-brainer: we’ll be all over that.

More to come, I’m sure….

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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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4 Responses to Time for a Beefier Fork on the Triplet?

  1. tandemracer says:

    Consider a Wound Up fork. The increased lateral stiffness dramatically improved the handling on the Litespeed tandem. They would probably build one for you that has both canti and disc mounts.

  2. Jonathan Woo says:

    I’m interested in buying your Ouzo fork should you decide to sell it. I want caliper brakes up front and I’m trying to save some money over a new one from Santana. Please email me should you decide to sell it. Thanks.

  3. Carl says:

    Hi Mark, is there more still to come? What direction did you end up going?

    We may need to replace the fork on our recently acquired triplet. It currently has a 1/1/8 Winwood, with a 398 axle to crown length, I can’t quite figure out what they expected you to do with the extra inch and half between the fork and 28mm tires but there will not be a fender clearance issue i assure you. I also do not see any indication that this is a suitable fork for a triplet, it is definitely the cheapest disk alternative but I am look for safe, good handling alternatives.

    At a current team weight of 325 with expected growth that to 350 in the coming years we are probably on the lighter side for a triplet team. I am looking forward to putting a proper fork on the bike if for no other reason so I can get my leg over the bars that extra inches makes for a good stretch. The frames headtube will certainly allow for a 1 1/4 as it appears the frame was build up originally for some off road riding with all cables up top, the bike came to us with an extra fork 26″ with a 1 1/12 diameter steer tube. So to switch up to the 1 1/4 ill need a few more bits and new king headset, is it worth the effort or will the 1 1/4 be ok? Did you go carbon or steel?

    Thanks
    Carl

    • TG says:

      Hey Carl:

      Hope you and Missy are still enjoying Florida.

      I haven’t done anything with the triplet as it gets ridden so little that I’ve just never followed-up and ordered a steel fork. We may have an opportunity to ride it at the end of May for a one-day event up in South Carolina and I may just ride it “as is” with the Reynolds Ouzo Pro composite fork one more time just to confirm my previous impressions on how it influences the handling of the long bike.

      The 398 axle to crown height is the pre-composite, steel fork standard dimension for most tandems. Well, I say standard, the range that most builders used was 389mm to 400mm with a variety of different off-sets and with the exception of Santana, everyone used the 1.125″ steerer tubes from about the early 1990’s on.

      If I was to follow-through on getting a fork I would definitely go with a steel fork from either Co-Motion or R&E Cycles in Seattle. Our triplet was built to work with a 1.125″ (1-1/8″) steel steerer tube so no other viable option there. As to the off-set, I’d have to see what Dwan or the folks at R&E recommend. The Reynolds used Santana’s fork specs when they made these things so it has 55mm of off-set, which I don’t enjoy at all. I’ll guess that Co-Motion uses their standard 50mm off-set on their steel triplet forks (same as steel forks for their tandems) and something in the 389 – 395 fork-to-crown length department.

      Anyway, that’s the latest…

      Regards

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