Two for Two…

We made the best of good weather over the past Saturday and Sunday by getting in a couple of 25-mile rides.  It wasn’t pretty as this was only our 3rd time back on the tandem since January 15th and last week’s ride was a short one.  But, any ride is a good ride.

Looking ahead, nothing really near term for cycling events until the Georgia Tandem Rally in mid-May.  We have a lot going on in April with Debbie’s retirement on 3 April, a trip to New Orleans on 6-9 April, Easter, Debbie’s 60th birthday events, and then we head to Panama City Beach for spring bike week the first weekend in May.  Of course, Debbie hasn’t been on the motorcycle since last November so at least year-to-date she’s way ahead on cycling miles vs. motorcycling miles.

And, in terms of her retirement plans, she plans to ride her bicycle… a lot. So, perhaps that will motivate me to start getting out before work for a 20 miles road ride or in the evenings for trail riding on a mountain bike.

Posted in Bloggishnish | 1 Comment

Rally Report: 2017 Sebring Tandem Rally

Once again we are pleased to share a Florida PANTHERS Post-Event Report from our guest contributor Kathy Foster. 

The Sebring Tandem Rally, now in its seventh year, is stretching into four days. A number of couples arrived at Sebring’s Chateau Elan Thursday for a Friday morning ride of 25 or 40 miles.

“I bet we had 10-12 tandems out on the road that day,” estimated Ray Murtaugh. He and his wife Nancy Raftery rode the 25-miler as did the rally’s only triple, powered by young Sophie and her parents Carl and Missy Gruber.

By 5 p.m., 49 bicyclists had gathered for a chow down at the Cowpoke’s Watering Hole, named for the time when Central Florida was mostly ranches and citrus orchards. Tables formed into a giant U enabled newcomers to mingle with rally veterans. By dinner’s end, three more teams — John and Barbara Heineken, Jeanne and Paul Knudsen and Reg and Michele Ullmann–had formed a Sebring Rally auxiliary table in the covered patio.

After a super dinner, some of us had no calories left for the ice cream social at the hotel.

Anyway, the main course for me was the Saturday morning ride. All rides started at Chateau Elan, which overlooks the Sebring racetrack. A few hearty souls picked the 60-miler. We opted for the 48-mile route, which took us around Lake Josephine and Lake June and along the upper rim of Lake Placid. For much of the ride, the wind was at our backs. The 33-miler skirted parts of Lakes Josephine and June as well.

We were exhilarated to have averaged 16.4 mph despite wind in our face for the long home stretch. Strong pulls by Dick and Patty Young and Hank and Kathy Williams were greatly appreciated.

Jan Thompson told us a symphony would be performing at 4 in tent next to the racecourse. We thought we’d misheard, but after reading the word “orchestra” on the side of a parked truck, we decided to walk over. There were PANTHERS president Bob Thompson and Jan, Bruce and Susan Hansen, Hugh and Laura Aaron, Jim and Betsy Chisholm from Cincinnati and numerous other rally participants enjoying live music. The field was filled with families and couples listening to the Florida Orchestra playing “The William Tell Overture,” “Flight of the Bumblebee,” and other numbers depicting “bursts of speed.” We think the orchestra was bused in as part of the festivities leading up to the 12 Hours of Sebring race on March 18.

Another bonus this year were free hors d’oeuvres and gourmet cheeses at happy hour. At the banquet, Nancy and Bruce Grant of St. Clements, Ontario, won the award for the farthest distance traveled. Another lucky couple won a gift certificate for a Go Pro camera.

The rally wrapped up Sunday with a choice of a 33- or 42-mile ride heading north through Sebring and Avon Park. It brought back memories of the first tandem rally we attended– a Southern Tandem Rally in Sebring 20 years ago. One ride had ended with a route along Lake Jackson, past stately homes overlooking the water. We had planned to sit once again on the porch at the pink Kenilworth Lodge. Alas, the old inn was boarded up. But rallies here are still very much alive.

The next rally sponsored by the PANTHERS (Partners Aboard Neat Tandems Happily Enjoying Riding Simultaneously) will be Oct. 20-22 in The Villages, Fl. Registration details are due in April but you can book a room now for $111 a night by calling The Waterfront Inn at 352-753-7535.

Posted in Tandem Rallies | 2 Comments

Making Custom Carbon Fibre Tandems: Filament Bikes

We’re pleased to share the following reader contribution authored by Richard Craddock of Filament Bikes.

Filament Bikes is a company that makes custom carbon fibre bicycle frames in the UK and exports around the world. I recently took on a couple of tandem commissions and wanted to share the process with the wider tandem community. I’ll describe some of the technical aspects of designing and making the frames.

Road Tandem:

I took on a road tandem commission which needed to be lightweight and built for disc brakes. The riders wanted a design that could be used for long road rides around Oregon. The frame was made using custom round tubes which offered excellent stiffness thanks to the laminate design and a fibre type that has a very high strength and modulus. They’re also quite a large diameter at 2 inches.

The first part that I needed to make was the pilot’s bottom bracket shell to use with an eccentric bottom bracket insert. The internal mould tool was made from stainless steel and the shell is made by wrapping sheets of carbon prepreg around it until the desired wall thickness and laminate design is achieve. Once the lay-up is complete the epoxy is cured under heat and pressure in the oven. I used heat shrink tape in this case. Here’s the bottom bracket shell being made:


The construction method I use is known as tube-to-tube, where the frame is made from separate tubes which are shaped to fit together, held in a fixture, then joined with structural adhesive. This method allows the use of any sizing, geometry and tube diameters without the need for fixed mould tools for each size. Here’s the frame held together with the adhesive:

Once the adhesive is cured the frame can be taken out of the fixture and the wrapping process is carried out. Each tube junction needs to be wrapped with many layers of prepreg carbon fibre at specific angles to reinforce the joint. Here’s the frame with the completed wraps before is gets cured under heat and pressure:

Here’s a closer look at a wrapped junction. There are lots of layers formed from individual pieces of prepreg carbon sheet laid down here.

The completed frame weighed 2.4kg / 5.3lb and was fitted with through-axles, a titanium threaded stoker BB shell, and four bottle cage mounts. It will be built with a right side timing belt.

TT Aero Tandem:

For this project, the brief from the client was for an aerodynamic frame to be used exclusively in competitive time trials. The UK has a long history of time trial racing and it’s still a thriving scene. The team are a husband and wife who aimed to set new National Records for mixed teams at the standard distances of 10, 25 and 50 miles.

The design called for narrow section aerofoil shaped tubes and for the frame to be stiff enough to handle the power produced by the team. For this reason I chose to use a second down tube.

The tubes were made by a company in the USA which specialises in carbon fibre masts and spars for sailing boats. We worked out the optimal laminate and wall thickness to use with a suitable aerofoil section, and they also made some short sections to slide over the main tubes to be used as seat posts.

Anvil Bikeworks of Colorado made the fixture parts required for tandem construction. Here’s the frame in the Anvil fixture:

I used a separate mount for the stoker stem because it could not be attached in the usual way due to the aero seat posts. After the wrapping process the frame looked like this:

The final steps were to make the seat posts and have the frame painted. Here it is finished:

The team rode fantastically well and managed to set new UK national records at the 10 and 25 mile distances.

The tubular carbon construction method is particularly useful for tandem frames because it can efficiently cover the many variables of individual custom sizing for the both the pilot and stoker. For the investment in tooling and design I’m now happy to be a tandem builder and I plan to make many more tandems in the future alongside the ‘half bikes’!



Posted in Technology & Equip. | Leave a comment

From Double Forte to Facebook and Off-Road Tandem Rallies: A Retrospective

Back in April 2000, and at the suggestion of a fellow off-road tandem enthusiast who was also a fellow subscriber and contributor to the Tandem@Hobbes listserve I created a newsgroup / discussion forum for off-road tandem enthusiasts called Double Forte.

For those who aren’t old enough to remember listserve’s, they were to groups of like-minded people what Facebook and Facebook Groups are today.  The Tandem@Hobbes listserve was launched in August 1993 by Wade Blomgren. Except, it worked strictly by Email: you’s subscribe to the list and when anyone else who belonged to the list would write an Email for the group — analogous to posting something to Facebook — it would be sent to all of the list members.  Tandem@Hobbes was and still is an all text-only Email without any ability to handle .html or attachments so any photos had to have .html strings included in the text to point to photos hosted out on other Websites.  Hey, it worked and believe it or not it’s still up and running today!  Message traffic is way down from where it was in the 1990’s when I first signed-on, with perhaps ~30 to ~60 emails a month being generated vs. ~700 to ~1000 a month during when we joined.

The only issue with Tandem@Hobbes is that the crazies who had an interest in off-road tandems were a very small minority and of the Hobbes readers and the discussions on off-road tandeming were just not a good fit for the rest of the discussions at Hobbes.  So, as I said I created Double Forte.  The following are taken from the “FAQs” page at a companion Website I created for the discussion forum that is still on-line. It hasn’t been updated in over a decade, but there’s still some interesting information ‘archived’ on the site that somewhat benchmark’s the state of off-road tandeming around 2005.

What is Double Forte?

Double Forte is an international subscription based electronic mailing list established to promote interest in and to facilitate the exchange of information regarding the sport of tandem mountain biking. The group’s members are cycling enthusiasts who have discovered the enjoyment, excitement, and camaraderie of riding mountain bikes built for two. The group provides its members with a forum where they can share technical information, riding tips, trail reviews and event information related to tandem biking. Membership is moderated but granted to anyone interested in tandem mountain biking to ensure discussions remain non-commercial, topical and free from objectionable language.

What Double Forte Isn’t

Double Forte is not a cycling club:

  • It does not collect dues,
  • It does not publish a newsletter
  • It does not have by-laws
  • It does not have a leadership structure
  • It does not host events
  • It does not endorse or certify ride leaders

Since Double Forte isn’t a club any group tandem rides that may come as a result of forum discussions will always be no-host events. Individuals who volunteer to identify dates, times and ride routes do so as a courtesy to others who are interested in participating and are otherwise just another participant on the group ride. The rides may or may not be held in conjunction with a social event arranged by the same individuals who organized the ride.

Everyone who participates in a ride has a responsibility to follow the rules of the road and extend care and consideration to the other ride participants as they do to all other road users. Ride “organizers” may elect to offer suggested ride routes of varying length and point out challenging aspects of the various routes; however, are not expected nor encouraged to take on a role as ride leaders. Again, each participant is responsible for their own actions during a group ride, including knowing their limits with regard to bike handling skills, knowing the rules of the road, ensuring their tandems are in proper working order and is expected to be self-sufficient during the ride. Social events held in conjunction with group rides are looked upon as separate and distinct events that are defined by their hosts.

When do I use Double Forte vs Tandem@Hobbes or the rec.bicycles newsgroups?

This group is intended to be a quiet companion to the Tandem@Hobbes list which is THE LIST for tandem enthusiasts. Tandem@Hobbes is an international subscription based electronic mailing list for all forms of tandem bicycle enthusiasts, whereas Double Forte is targeted to the much smaller community of tandem mountain bike enthusiasts. Suitable topics for Tandem@Hobbes include questions and answers related to tandem components, riding technique, brands and equipment selection, repairs and upgrades, prices, clubs, tandem anecdotes, rides, rallies and other activities, cooperating on FAQ (frequently asked questions) material etc.

We strongly encourage members to post road, touring & other general tandem related topics or questions to the Tandem@Hobbes list. This guideline is intended to ensure the DF list does not in anyway detract from the purpose of the Tandem@Hobbes listing while, at the same time, keeping the DF list focused on tandem mountain biking topics. Additionally, this list is not intended to replace the various other rec.bicycles newsgroups. Items of general interest to the broader audience of bicycle enthusiasts should be posted to the rec.bicycles newsgroups (if you have access to them). Links to these other resources are available on the “links page” at the Double Forte Website which can be reached through:

 What are the benefits of subscribing to Double Forte?

The expected benefits of this list are to provide members with:

    • a group whose members are all interested in tandem mountain biking,
    • more focused responses to specific questions related to tandem mountain bikes,
    • a slightly more private forum in which opinions regarding tandem mountain biking can be expressed with reduced fear of repercussion,
    • a place to discuss tandem mountain biking far beyond what might be considered “polite” on Tandem@Hobbes or the rec.bicycles newsgroups.

Why the name Double Forte?

  • The Group’s Name: The complete name of this group is ‘Forum for Off-Road Tandem Enthusiasts’.
  • The Group’s Nickname: The nickname for this list is DOUBLE FORTE and it is derived from the group name’s acronym, ‘FFORTE’ or ‘Double-F ORTE’. In music, Double forte (or fortissimo) means, “to play loudly, strongly and with great force”. Somehow, this just seemed appropriate for those of us who enjoy the sport of tandem mountain biking.
  • The Group’s Icon: The Icon for Double Forte is it’s musical notation, ‘ff’ overlaid by the group’s name. The double f is symbolic of the group’s name and, coincidentally, the tight bond that exists between the two members of a tandem mountain bike team.

When I stopped maintaining the Website Double Forte had about 240 list members.  Interesting enough, it grew to over 400 members at one point and according to the YahooGroups server there are still 394 Email addressed linked to the group!

The message traffic peaked between 2002 and early 2004, but fell-off as other web-based discussion forums like MTB Review‘s forums emerged.  More importantly, in February 2004 this thing called Facebook was launched and the world changed.

As you can see below, message traffic fell of precipitously shortly after February 2004 and by 2013 Double Forte monthly message traffic was dropping into single digits on a regular basis and during the past few years is almost non-existent unless someone posts a technical question that almost anyone should share an opinion on, e.g., tires selection.

As Facebook as evolved it has also embraced the concept of groups and while a few of the regional tandem clubs have dabbled with Facebook Groups, nothing on the scale of Tandem@Hobbes or even Double Forte have evolved.  Well, I say that: Tandem Club UK has a very healthy and public (not private) Facebook page with 613 members, so they’re leveraging FB pretty well.  Alex Nutt has also created a Tandem Mountain Bikes public page on Facebook that is very active with 295 members, so that one should eventually eclipse Double Forte’s 394 members.

However, not too long ago a new Facebook group was created called S.O.O.R.T.A. (Self-Organized Off-Road Tandem Adventures) by off-road tandem enthusiasts Chris & Monica from northern Florida, just short of a year ago on 2 April 2016. The purpose of the group was to see if other tandem enthusiasts might be interested in gathering for a no-frills / no-formal structure / no-registration fee off-road tandem gathering at one of the trail systems somewhere in the Southeast.  The first such event was held on 15 April at Mulberry Gap near Elijay, Georgia. The second meet up was in 10-12 June at the Tsali Recreation Area near Bryson, North Carolina.

The third event was a gathering at the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area near Oneida, TN, in mid-September.  In mid-January 2017 S.O.O.R.T.A. went west to Tucson, AZ, for “winter camp” with the Russell’s hosting.  At the end of January quite a few off-road tandem enthusiasts had a quasi-S.O.O.R.T.A. event when they invaded the annual Ididabike Ride, 50-mile endurance event at White Springs, Florida.  More recently a gathering was held at the Santos trails near Ocala, FL, in mid-February.  So, it’s a concept that’s definitely gained traction.

Now, truth be known, the name of the S.O.O.R.T.A. group is a spin-off of an off-road tandem event name created by Alex Nutt of‘s called A.O.R.T.A. (Appalachian Off-Road Tandem Adventure), the first of which was held back in May of 2010.

I think there have been two subsequent A.O.R.T.A. events since then that we were not able to attend and there will be a Mid-Western Edition to be held in Missouri this year on 12-14 May at the Bass River Resort in Steeleville.  While A.O.R.T.A. was originally coined to denote off-road tandem rallies that would be held along the various trails that line the southern half of the Appalachian mountain range — from Georgia up and into Virginia — it’s now something of pseudonym for off-road tandem rallies as Alex looks towards other locales that clients have said would be great places for an off-road tandem weekend.

Now, the original A.O.R.T.A. events are actually a spin-off as well. The predecessor events were the three Western North Carolina Off-Road Tandem Weekends organized and hosted by David Lee from Asheville, North Carolina, a long-time off-road tandem enthusiast.  We attended two of these; the second one in October 2001 hosted out of the Bent Creek Lodge near Asheville, and the third in October 2004  where the Lakeview Lodge served as home base for two days of riding at the Tsali Recreation Area near Bryson, North Carolina.  The 2004 edition also incorporated the name of my off-road tandem discussion forum, Double Forte which by this time was into its fourth year after I launched it in April 2000.

What prompted this retrospective was the posting of the photo above from the October 2004 gathering at Tsali on the S.O.O.R.T.A. Facebook page earlier this week by David Lee. All but one all of the teams in attendance were looking resplendent in their brand new Double Forte jerseys. Yes, I even did a jersey, for posterity sake. If memory servers, there were about 115 of the jerseys made… so they’re collectors items at this point.  I was asked to see if there was interest in doing a second run a couple of times and could never generate the quantities it would take to make it economically feasible.

So,  it’s been very satisfying to see Alex Nutt’s specialty off-road tandem business continue to do well enough to be his full-time job and to see the off-road tandem community growing.  Yes, growing.  S.O.O.R.T.A. is really exciting because there are a lot of new, younger riders (well, OK… younger is relative compared to the road-tandem scene) coming on board.

Mind you, there are a couple of other off-road tandem events including two that predate the Western North Carolina Off-Road Tandem Weekend. The second oldest is the Fall Allegany Rally for Tandems (aka., F.A.R.T.)  which was first held back in 1994.  However, it gets top honors for the being the longest, continuously running off-road tandem rally!

The granddaddy is the Eastern Tandem Off-Road (ETOR) Rally which was first held in 1990 at Atsion, NJ, hosted by Tandem Club of America founder Malcolm Boyd and his beloved Judy Allison.  The Eastern Tandem Rally is, in and of itself, the granddaddy of tandem rallies with the first gathering of seven tandem teams for a two-day weekend at Cape May, New Jersey, back in 1973.

The ETOR rallies were held from 1990 through 1994, but then went on hiatus until Malcolm & Judy resumed hosting the events in 2007.  It has been held every year since with Brenda & Larry Isherwood now carrying the banner for the 2017 edition which will be held on 6-8 October at White Clay State Park in Newark, Delaware.

So, there you have it. At least to the best of my knowledge. I suspect someone will post a comment to correct me on at least one of my references and/or to let me know about another off-road tandem event or discussion forum that I’ve not mentioned.

Posted in Off-Road Tandems | Leave a comment

Tandems East Weekend – Waiting List Now In Use

Posted to Tandems East’s Facebook page yesterday:

Posted in Tandem Rallies | Leave a comment

Periscope Triplet For Sale in Virginia: $5,000 with Roof Rack

A friend and former Atlanta resident who relocated to Roanoke, Virginia is selling the family’s Co-Motion Periscope Triplet, as their children are now either riding the tandem or their own single bikes.  These are very versatile family tandems that can accommodate anything from two children with a captain of any size or three adults.

From Russell:

I purchased the bike from Mark Johnson of Precision Tandems in 2008, when my
son was 18 months old and my daughter had just turned 4.  My 4 year old
daughter started off on in the rear, while my son had a toddler setup in the
middle, sort of like you would do on a regular tandem for a small kid.  I
since sold those parts back to Mike and now have the middle setup like the
rear.  It is ready to ride with you and two partners of roughly age 4 and up
(depending on how big your kids are)

Both rear and middle positions include Davinci 130-150-170 mm cranksets, to
make it easily adjustable for a wide range of people.

All three positions have adjustable stems – the front is the Co-Motion Max
Captain Stem.  The middle and rear are currently setup with a
mast/threadless stem combo, for high adjustability.

I have different seatpost setups for middle and rear depending on rider
size.  The standard setups are like the captain setup in the picture, with a
mast and then a seatpost (presumably where the bike name came from).  For
the middle and rear, I also have a different setup (as in the rear in that
picture) where you put a different seatpost collar on and then just use the
seatpost, to allow shorter riders.    Items of note that were upgrades from
the stock setup

  • Ultegra STI 10-speed shifter, XT rear
  • Davinci 24-23-46 110 bcd chainrings on rear, with spare 130 bcd spider
  • 11-36 10-speed rear cogset
  • Kickstand plate (never used)

There are a lot of additional parts – it has a custom high intensity rear
LED mounted to the Old Man Mountain White Rock rack.  I also have a
ThudBuster seatpost and shim, and several choices for middle and stoker stem
setups.  I also have a custom hitch for a BikesAtWork trailer that we used
to pull with it – we would put the kids riding stuff on the trailer
(scooters, balance bike, 16″ wheel pedal bike, etc) and ride to the
greenway, and the kids would ride on their own until they got tired, and
then put the tired kid and riding item back on the bike and eventually
return home.

Includes ATOC triplet topper to carry on your vehicle Would consider selling
BikesAtWork trailer with it also (Model 64A)

I have many wonderful memories from riding with the kids on it, but we just
don’t use it anymore and I don’t need it as decoration.  It has the original
chains on it and measuring with the Park chain checker they are still in
good condition.  The whole bike is in great condition overall and ready to
ride – no crashes.

I live in Roanoke VA but get around from PA down to SC with some frequency
and could meet you somewhere.  The bike can be shipped UPS also – Mark
shipped it to me UPS originally.  I’m open to shipping within the US if need
be, but would prefer not to do so.

Contact me by email –  I can get additional
pictures if you have specific questions.

Posted in For Sale, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rally Info Updates

This past week a few more rally dates were firmed up.  For the road tandem rallies, the 2017 Southern Tandem Rally (STR) has firmed up their dates and the website / registration will be opening up in a few weeks:

Southern Tandem Rally, 21-24 Sep, Salisbury, NC, $TBA per team, Lodging TBA

On the off-road side of the ledger, AORTA is redefining the Appalachians to include the Ozarks and the Eastern Tandem Off-Road Rally is venturing into a new location this year as well:

Appalachian Off-Road Tandem Adventure (AORTA), 12-14 May, Bass River Resort, Steeleville, MO.

Eastern Tandem Off-Road Rally (ETOR), 5-8 Oct, White Clay Park, Delaware

We’re still working on our rally plans, but have decided to join Mel & Barbara Kornbluh for their Tandems East Weekend in July since Manheim, PA, is a mere 45 minutes from my parents home.  We’ll either visit with my folks ahead of the tandem rally or perhaps visit with them after the rally, but it will make for a nice week-long trip back “home” to PA.

Posted in Tandem Rallies | 1 Comment