Introduction: - Couple on Coupled Co-motion Tandem Tour Trace - CycleBlaze

October 20, 2014


Time for a new Tandem!

Rhona and I are long-time tandem riders, in fact we can't really recall the year we purchased our first GT tandem.

Many happy times, and a few crashes on the GT Tandem!
Heart 0 Comment 0

It was long enough ago that the GT had odd sized 700D wheels which GT apparently thought would catch on in America. In 1996, after years of persuasion, I finally convinced Rhona to ride the GT across the US (mostly) on the Adventure Cycling Northern Tier route with me. That ride was such a success that many other long tandem tours followed. On that first tour, the GT held up pretty well, but the fork seemed to transmit the shock from every frost heave through my hands and up into my arms. That weakness was all the excuse we needed to purchase a used Cannondale Mt300 (Los Dos) Tandem soon after we returned. Our plan was to sell the GT, but for sentimental reasons we couldn't part with it and, calling it our "Beater Tandem" we loaned it to friends and relatives in the hope of gaining additional tandem partners. The Cannondale took us on many adventures, including a three week tour of Ireland, the Montana portion of the Continental Divide route, and the Underground Railroad route, to name a few.

This picture was from our Underground Railroad tour several years ago. While Rhona still looks the same, the Cannondale Tandem didn't age as well.
Heart 0 Comment 0

At a recent MATES tandem rally we could not help but notice the Cannondale looked pretty shaggy in comparison to EVERY OTHER TANDEM AT THE RALLY! The flat black paint color which was unimpressive when we purchased the bike had not aged gracefully with the paint missing or bubbling up in spots. Many of the cosmetic defects could be regarded as "adventure features" and serve to remind us of incidents and episodes on our many tours, but some of the other critical components were going to require tweaking if not replacement after more than 20,000 spirited rides. While could handle local ride duty, we were going to have to spend some money to get it ready for more epic tours.

At the MATES rally we were talking to Ed Hass prior to one of the group rides. Ed and Barb Kornblu from Tandems East were riding in the rally and Ed commented that probably half of the people at the rally had purchased their tandem from Ed. Throughout the weekend, it was obvious many of participants considered Ed and Barb personal friends, not just as a vendor. We traveled to his shop in Elmer, N.J. in August and ordered a custom size Co-Motion Speedster Co-Pilot tandem which was ready for pickup this Monday.

The Co-Pilot feature indicates the tandem frame is built in three sections which are "coupled" together with S&S couplers. The tandem can be taken apart and packed into two suitcases

S&S brand suitcases which do not incur extra fees on airlines.
Heart 0 Comment 0

which do not result in an extra charge when flying. Taking the tandem apart and piecing it into the suitcases and then putting it back together again can be a challenge. We arrived at Mel's at 6:30 and Jay Warren, one of Mel's mechanics worked with us until almost 10 p.m. to make sure we understood the procedure.

Jay (seated) and Joe provide instruction on the numerous steps involved stripping down and building up the tandem.
Heart 0 Comment 0
A close-up of one of the cases with half of the tandem. The frame parts are encased in padding with velcro attachment strips. I didn't find out if the padding was Mel's creation or from Co-Motion.
Heart 0 Comment 0

The time went quickly, there was a lot to learn. Rhona took pictures throughout the training which came in very handy the next day when trying to repack the tandem. We enjoyed Jay's company and benefited from his mechanic's knowledge but also from his role as a tour leader for Adventure Cycling. In fact, he was contacted the day before about possibly leading their Natchez Trace tour this year. With prompting, Jay told us about his 16 year old daughter, Neva who has already had some adventure experiences including being the youngest person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. We read an article about her here

Jay & Mel pose with the proud new owners. This Speedster may be a classic someday. This year's version no longer includes the (diagonal) internal lateral tube. We believed the extra stiffness would provide necessary stiffness for loaded touring. Customizing involved raising the fork tube allowing the captain to sit up higher and lowering the stoker's seat height to accommodate Rhona's short (but powerful)legs. The result proved to be a very comfortable bike for each of us and what I consider to be pleasing lines. It's hard to see in this picture, but the color is a pretty metallic blue.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Nothing like a cup of coffee admiring a new tandem in the daughter's living room!
Heart 0 Comment 0

This tour on the Natchez Trace was Rhona's idea. We rode a short portion previously on our Underground Railroad tour and enjoyed the calm traffic and scenic parkway riding. A southern tour seemed to make sense for a late October ride. Internet research on the lead us to a helpful website at which lead to the decision to not camp this time. However, questions about logistics, accommodations and meals/food availability along the route resulted in our contacting Randy Fought at the Natchez Trace Bed & Breakfast Reservation Service

(800.377.2770 (US only) or 615.522.4865 Although I have never met Randy or for that matter even talked to him by phone, he was tremendously helpful in setting up or initial itinerary and then making modifications when we needed to postpone the trip by several days. I emailed him about the need to make the change and (I swear), he emailed me back within a minute with the changed reservations. Does he hover next to the phone/computer just waiting to help his clients? I thought his website was well done and upon checking further was interested to note he has another business creating and designing websites.

Now that we have the tandem home I have several days to set it up for touring and get packed and ready for our tour.

Rate this entry's writing Heart 3
Comment on this entry Comment 0