Thursday, February 19, 2009

Back to Back Trike

In an earlier post I pondered whether there were any good suppliers for racks or panniers for the Flevo back to back. I received an email from Craig and Vicky from California suggesting that I try Radical for custom panniers. They attached pictures of their rig with the Radical custom bags on board. I will follow up with Radical since the bags look well made and are a perfect fit for the trike. I was more taken, however, with the back to back trike itself. I've only seen one tandem trike before and never a back to back set up.

I asked Craig about the history behind the bike. I'll let him tell the rest of the story:

We used to ride folding bikes (lived afloat a good portion of our lives and they seemed a sensible solution to space requirements) but we shifted to recumbent bikes in 1997 or so. Gradually fell in with the trike world starting in 2000 and got our first recumbent tandem trike a couple of years later. We enjoyed the tandem aspect but that particular machine was too heavy and too slow, so after a year, we sold it. When the fellows at ICE in Falmouth, GB developed their B2B, it was a custom job for a pair of serious randoneers who had already logged 35,000 miles of riding. That pair’s requirements for a lighter, more aero machine nicely synched with our thoughts and when the resulting machine was shown at one of the European bike shows, it re-kindled our interest in having a tandem. We questioned whether Vicky would find the stoker’s position enjoyable, so we arranged for some cheap seats on a flight to London and then took the train to Falmouth to try the prototype. As it happened, we were seated facing aft during much of the train trip and Vicky found herself getting queasy!

That did not seem like a good harbinger for this machine. However, once she was riding – out in the open – there was no problem and she quickly became quite enthusiastic about having one built up for us. We have had it almost 4 years now and have particularly enjoyed touring with it in such locales as Mendocino, Death Valley, Central Oregon and British Columbia. It *just* fits in our Honda Odyssey van, rear wheel forward between the front seats and the captain’s crank boom removed.

the ICE folk have ceased building custom machines in lieu of their very successful production trikes and bikes. I have seen a photo of another Greenspeed-clone B2B trike in the NY area, however AFAIK, the total in existence of trike B2Bs is only 3.

Thanks for the tip and the history Craig and Vicky! It's great to hear from other back to back tandem couples, no matter how many wheels are involved. We hope to meet you out on the road someday.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Uwe Anderseck's Back to Back Tandem

I found Uwe's back to back tandem on YouTube and wrote his son Martin asking about the design and construction of this interesting back to back. You can see videos of taken from the bike on YouTube by searching for "Flevomartin."

He wrote me back and said:

The tandem in the video is a homebuilt one by my father (who filmed btw. while I was on the captain's seat). You can see it on my webpage (Rücken-an-Rücken-Tandem).

We had the building instructions of the Flevo-BTB here but eventually it had some disadvantages for us:

-big wheels are less stable-the suspension in the middle doesn't bring the wished effect anyway, therefore we chose mesh seats and wide tyres

-the Flevo-BTB is not very stiff when doing fast changes of left and right corners. It bends somewhat in the middle. Our tandem doesn't do that so extremely.

-once built you cannot modify so much at the Flevo-BTB, no easy luggage carrier in the middle and that stuff. Therefore the simple steel tube (50x50x1.5mm btw.).

The BTB concept isn't very popular because recumbent cyclists are "strange" people. And for a tandem you need two of them cycling together regularly. Our tandem was mainly thought for my parents but of course it's much fun to go on it with two strong cyclists. I've done a 24h race together with a friend of mine which was really great fun.

This is the second person with a Flevo BTB who reports that the frame has too much flex in turns. Dustin Anderson reported that the Flevo he bought used had this problem but that it was caused by the fact that many of the small rivets in the aluminum skin on his bike had backed out or failed. He replaced all the rivets but I don't have any ride reports from him so I'm not sure I fixed the problem. I've never experienced the problem on my Flevo, but I bought mine with very low mileage.

I do have to agree with Martin that the smaller wheel size makes the bike much handier to start and maneuver.