Our Tandem – Phoenix Brand -as in Up From the Ashes.

 

I made The Elephant Walk tandem in 2002. It was made by putting two bikes together. The front is an old Ross and the back is a Park Pre not that it really matters. .Making the tandem was a great project and the bike runs great. Actually Rita and I have learned to make it run great. Our usual 18+ mile route includes a bunch of hills and we usually average over 12 mph. We think we are doing well for a couple of older riders. In the St Paul Classic Tour (32 miles)we found that we could hold up and actually pass a lot of other riders.

The tandem did develop a problem after Rita and I became  good riders and that was that we would rip out rear wheel spokes right at the wheel flange.  The wheels were 36 hole rims and when climbing I would stand for more go power and that was tearing up the spokes.  We had to go to 48 hole rims and hubs. The hubs are BMX units with sealed bearings and are very strong. Coupled with new spokes and rims  we haven’t had any problems since they were put on the bike.  The original bike also had an  idler pulley to take up chain slack on the timing chain. I have since cut out the original bottom bracket and brazed in an eccentric crank so that the chain is tensioned just like a professional model.  This winter we had the bike powder coated, orange, and  it looks great.

I have turned into a bike nut. I collect bikes from anywhere. My first bike I actually picked out of a trash pile the day after a yard sale. It’s an old Nishiki that needed work. and was marked $5 it didn’t sell so they tossed it. I have turned into a pretty good bike mechanic even though I haven’t done much bike repair for a long time. The basic technology is still fairly simple. I had  a great helper, Sheldon Brown. (Sheldon left us several years ago and we miss him but his web site is still maintained sheldonbrown.com )Sheldon was  in the Boston area (Newton Mass) at Harris Cyclery. He’s a work. Since he is in the Boston area I believe he may be a lost brother of Click and Clack the Car Talk Guys. Sheldon went on to bikes and Tom and Ray went on to cars. The knowledge by all three in their respective fields is astounding.

Sheldon Brown died in early 08 but his website and knowledge is still on the web so his knowledge and spirit will live ,hopefully, forever,however long that may be. Here is a link to Sunday London Times obit and short bio of  Sheldon Brown.

Sheldon Brown will has written for all the major biking magazines and there was an article on him in one of the cycling mags just last summer with a giant picture of his hansom face. Don’t be frightened he won’t hurt you.

I now have upwards of ten bikes and am trying to keep it at that number but who knows when you will see a great bike deal or a great dumpster.. I don’t have any great new superlightweight bikes.One of my best bikes is an old Bianchi ( we love the Celeste Green). I also have a great French bike that had tubular tires on it when I bought it for $10. One of my works in progress is an English Lambert that was also a bargain. There are lots of bargains in the basic bike out there. Old road10,15-21 speeds are readily available for almost nothing. Since this entry is aging as we all are bikes are becoming fewer and more expensive.  Chances are an old bike may need new tires ( they are reasonably priced) , lubing and a tune up.Then you would be good to go and go and go.

I now ride over 2000 miles a year and my old bikes are doing fine. I have found out that the bike (Its Not About the Bike) is not as important as riding the bike. We met an elderly gentleman on the Gateway Trail who had been riding for 15 or so years and had an estimated 70,000 miles on his old Trek road bike. The frame had cracked last year so he had it rebrazed and it was fine. The main thing is to ride the bike no matter wether a $25 dollar beater or a mid level $2500 bike. I am not enamored with top of line bikes though they are wonders of engineering and lightweight design.