It takes two to tandem

Our Santos tandem

Why the Santos tandem?
- Beautiful
- Light
- Strong
- Rohloff speedhub
- 26 inch wheels
- Choice in (high quality) components
- enthusiasm and quality 'tick' from Robbert (from Santos who rode the very first Santos tandem)

Apart from various problems with tires we have not had a single problem in 4 years and 11.000 kilometers.
Main point for improvement : the bike can have at least 7 water bottles instead of the standard 6. We have fitted a 7th water bottle ourselves.

Main characteristics:
- Aluminium frame
- Rohloff 14-speed internal hub
- Magura hydraulic rim brakes
- 26 inch wheels
- Tubus luggage racks
- Thudbuster full suspension seatpost (behind)
- Tires: Schwalbe marathon Supreme (asphalt), Continental travel contact (dirt-track/mixed surface)

We are really  super-enthusiast about our bike. We get a lot of attention and often get comments:
- 'wow, you have a lot of water bottles' (children and other cycling newbie's)
- the Rohloff speedhub (the experts)
We find our bike very light and pleasant to ride.

We especially recommend the Rohloff speedhub for a tandem. It is ever so easy to change to a lower gear when doing a heavy climb. The ability to change gears when freewheeling or at standstill are even more useful for a tandem than for a solo bike.
We sometimes 'feel sorry' for ordinary tandems with loads of sprockets and chain rings. We simply have 2 chains, 3 chain rings and a sprocket at the right side of the bike. Minimal wear on chain/chain rings and sprocket since the entire drive-train always stays in the same ideal straight line.
The Rohloff hub also gives a stronger wheel: the spokes are shorter and forces are distributed evenly over the hub, with a derailleur system there is a stronger 'pull' at the side where the sprockets are. Broken/loose spokes tend to occur more at the sprockets side for this very reason......
We have never had (touch wood) any broken/loose spokes or problems with our rims. And we usually travel pretty heavily packed and cannot always avoid all bumps, holes and rocks.......
And all that with only 32 spokes where some tandem die-hards insist on 48 spokes....

A Rohloff hub can also be an excellent choice for a solo bike. Hans already did 30.000 km on his (Rohloff-equipped) commuting bike and recently bought a mountain bike with Rohloff hub. Great stuff !
You will find a lot of relevant info in a pdf file from Thorncycles (Engeland):  Living with a Rohloff
Best thing since sliced bread as far as we are concerned.

Frame/drive-train are remarkably strong and stable, certainly when taking into account that we typically carry some 40 kgs of luggage with us (excluding food/water).
During steep climbs, the drive-train has to cope with  enormous forces, but (much to our own surprise actually), even under the most extreme circumstances, we've never had any problems.

26 Inch wheels seem the best choice for a (world) travel tandem. Smaller, stronger wheels and 26" tires are just about the only truly international (mountain bike) size.
After a blow-out, and no spare tire with us, we were once 'saved' by a friendly French road-man who drove to his house and returned with a (worn-out, but who cares)  tire from his mountain bike.

The Continental tires performed remarkably well during our Surinam trip. Not a single leak, not even a tear under pretty heavy circumstances.

A good full suspension seatpost makes an excellent investment if you appreciate a long-lasting relation with the cyclist at the back, who can't see the holes and bumps coming......

We contemplated a full suspension front fork. Santos advised us to try first with just the ordinary rigid one. So far so good with the (cheaper, simpler, lighter) rigid one. Maybe we'll change our mind after we experience some real serious 'washboard' roads, but for the time being we don't really see enough added value.

Brakes are a little problematic. The Magura's have a lot of braking power, but rims do get hot when a lot of braking is required. Hence our blow-out after a very steep descent with only hairpin curves (=permanent braking).
Disc brakes would become red-hot under these circumstances, so we don't think that they would solve the problem.
The only really structural solution we know is the Arai drag brake, unfortunately it cannot be fitted in combination with the Rohloff hub.
So, we haven't quite figured it out yet. For the time being we try and avoid steep climbs/descents as  much as possible. We don't consider mountains and tandems to be natural friends anyway : climbing hills of 10-15% (or more !) with a fully packed tandem in practice usually means 'struggling up a mountain' in our 'granny gear'.
Where we can't avoid steep descents, we take the occasional break to cool down.

Click here for a photo impression :