Our Tandems: 1997 to Now

This is actually something of a re-post / cross-posting from something I shared out on the Facebook Group Tandem Bicycling USA a few days back.  However, since I tend to delete most of my posts, comments and photos on Facebook, I decided I’d just move our tandem resume to my blog.  So, for those who’ve already seen this, it’s pretty much the same. For those who haven’t seen this… well, here you have it: a chronological recap of the tandems that we’ve owned since August 1997.

A photo from May 2012, when we had four tandems in the stable; left to right: the 2008 Calfee, the 1998 Erickson, the 2006ish Precision triplet and our 2002 Ventana ECDM. Of the four, only the 1998 Erickson has been sold. We still have the other three.

Our 1st road tandem: a 1997/1997 Santana Arriva we bought from Jack & Susan Goertz of Tandems Limited back in August 1997. We put a lot of miles on this tandem in the year and 3 months we owned it and yes, it was far from stock. It didn’t even make it out of the shop with the original shifters, going from barcons to Sachs Ergo… and I did the upgrade in Jacks’s basement/shop while he worked with other customers. We sold and shipped it to a couple somewhere near El Paso, TX, in Oct 1998.

Our 1st off-road tandem, a 1998 Cannondale MT3000: an awesome bike that introduced us to off-road, single track tandems and helped to launch DoubleForte, my off-road tandem discussion group. It was bought lightly used in early 1999, enjoyed for about 18 months and then sold & shipped to a couple in New England.

Our 1st of two Erickson tandems. We ordered this in June 1998 and took delivery in late fall. It was a Signature model, full campy and we logged well over 30,000 miles on this tandem from 1998 through 2008 when it was fully replaced by our 2008 Calfee. We sold & delivered it to some friends in Florida in 2013 who, subsequently sold it to long-time friends a couple years back who keep it in California.

Our 1997 Ventana El Conquistador. I bought this as a frame-only back in December 2000 for $1,100 and rode the heck out of it. When our friend Alex Nutt decided to become a boutique off-road tandem dealer, in 2001/2002 we ordered a new, custom Ventana to replace this one. This was sold and shipped to someone in Sacramento, CA, in mid-2002. UPS lost the 2nd of two boxes that had contained the fork and wheels, if you can believe. Oh yeah, they paid for that: it was supposed to be signature service.

This was our 2002 Erickson Custom Travel Tandem. I ordered it during April 2002 and, well, this one took a bit of time to get. The first frame was inadvertently built as a non-travel tandem, so there was a do-over. But, we took delivery in late fall 2002. It shared riding duties with our 1998 Erickson for 6 years, eventually selling it to a couple from Kentucky in 2007 who took delivery at the Southern Tandem Rally in Chattanooga, TN, after we ordered our 2008 Calfee travel tandem. I would LOVE to get this tandem back.

Our 2002 Ventana El Conquistador de Montanas, (King of the Mountain) custom. As mentioned, when our friend Alex Nutt decided to become the 1st boutique off-road tandem dealer in the U.S. (and probably the world), we helped him get his internet / home-based business started, to include ordering what was the very first MTB Tandem sold. I knew Sherwood Gibson at this point and we worked out the specs for this tandem over the phone and, to the best of my knowledge, it’s the 1st (and perhaps only) “Signature” Ventana, as I asked Sherwood to sign the frame with a Sharpie before he shipped it out. We still own it, but don’t ride it that often as Debbie lost her off-road tandem mojo a few years back.

I call this our 2008 Calfee Tetra Custom S&S even though the frame was built and originally delivered in December 2007. However, it had to go right back to La Selva beach for a few little tweaks, thus… it didn’t get built-up until early January 2008. Best tandem ever! We’ve easily put 30,000 miles on this tandem and it’s gone through a lot of wheelsets and two major component upgrades and many minor ones. It has multiple brake configurations, can sport mudguards and a rear rack for touring and is best of all, nearly mar-proof since it’s unpainted carbon simply one of the most comfortable tandems we’ve ever ridden. This is how it looked early and sporting a set of Topolino Wheels. The Topo’s rode very well, but ultimately proved to be not all that durable over time, plagued by spoke nipple and rim fatigue failures.

This is a 2006ish triplet designed and sold new in 2008 or so by Mark Johnson of Precision Tandems to a family in Macon, Georgia. The frame was fabricated by the folks at R&E Cycles / Dennis Bushnell in Seattle, WA. The couple found their daughter wasn’t all that interested in riding the big bike so it went up for sale in 2011. I bought it in April 2012 after discovering and becoming smitten with the big 3 seaters at the Alabama Tandem Weekend a month earlier. I included this photo because as soon as I took it home it received a major make-over. But, this is how it started life.

This is same 2006ish Precision triplet after the make-over. Just about everything but the shifters, 2 of 3 crank sets and fork was replaced and the frame was stripped, bad-welds hidden by bondo and repainted by Hill Clarke at Airglow (no longer a going concern) in Washington, Georgia, during late April / early May. We’ve had several different tail gunners on the bike, ranging from the petit Miss Lisa and Miss Brenda to 6’2″ tall Tim P. (in the middle) during periodic use since 2012. It typically get’s used at two tandem rallies each year, with an occasion one-day fun ride thrown in. It only weighs about 39 – 40 lbs as it sits. Aluminum, really thin, aluminum.

No, this is not a new Calfee travel tandem. This is just our 2008 Calfee following a recent cosmetic update and the installation of new-to-us FSA SL-K LIght carbon cranks. The bike has never looked or shifted and ridden better!

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 Our Tandems: 1997 to Now

  1. Tom in MN says:

    I think the first 2008 Calfee photo is missing. Interesting post.

  2. Francisco says:

    Thanks for the guided tour. All the bikes are interesting, the refreshened Calfee is stunning.

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