Tandem Service

Since we got back on the bike in December we’ve been mainly on the Ibis – it’s the one with fenders and Odette finds it easier to get on and off the saddle because of the smaller wheels.  A couple of months ago we got enough slack in the chain that I had to adjust the eccentrics (and ended up taking a couple of links out.)  I continued to feel a little “chain suck” and figured that when I replaced the chain I’d likely need to replace the rear cog.  I was tracking mileage since the last service and realized on Friday that I was going to hit 1,400.  I decided that it was time to call R+E and figure out how to get it serviced.

I wasn’t looking forward to that – the last couple of times I’ve had stuff done there were not great and I haven’t forgiven them for ghosting Will when the free hub on his bike failed.  However, I also needed to start the process for getting a new wheel set on the red tandem and if that was going to happen by mid-July when we leave for Europe, a mid-May start was probably not too early.

Aside:  before the pandemic I’d taken the red tandem in because one of the bolts in the disc rotor seemed to be stripped out. They said not to worry,  pro racers sometimes removed three of the six bolts to save weight!  A year ago when I had it serviced it was making a buzzing sound while coasting.  They said  it was because the free hub had “exploded.”   After some false starts they rebuilt the driver and told me that it would be fine for our Lumi Island trip but that i should think about eventually replacing the wheel.   I emailed them at Christmas time about getting a new wheel set (and maybe a 10th anniversary repaint) but they never replied.  I figured I’d get an appointment for the Ibis and while I was there I’d get them to order new hubs for the other bike and then I waited until I accumulated enough miles on the Ibis to justify taking it in for service., thinking somewhere around 1,500.

Another aside: I was really pleased with the way the Ibis had been working.  I never had any of the shifter jams that had troubled me previously, and everything else was functioning smoothly.  It clearly needed at least one new chain (and likely a new cog) and it was time to change the oil in the hub.  I probably also needed new tires – the Serfas Drifters on the Ibis were fifteen years old when I put them on the bike five years ago.  (I’m still not getting any flats and the ride is cushiony, but they’re starting to look pretty bare.)

Ten miles from home on Friday, just entering Judkins Park by the skate park, I went to shift down and the shifter popped and then went slack.  I knew right away that the head had sheared off of the cable (it’s happened a couple of times before) and we started discussing the route home with the least climbing since we were effectively a single speed.  Luckily it was in about he middle of the range and I figured that we could get up 19th on it.  I figured that I could just pull on the cable hard enough make it shift down before we tackled anything serious but we went up 11th without any problem.  Since we would hit Ravena a couple blocks away from R+E I decided that I’d swing by there and talk to them about an appointment –  if I was lucky we’d leave the bike with them and get a Lyft home.

Unfortunately their reaction was that they were booked up through August and that although they weren’t really making any appointments for service right now they’d make an exception and give me a date 90 days out.  I basically told them not to bother and we rode on home, walking that one block on 83rd.

Now I need to find someplace else to get the tandems serviced.  Someplace that knows a least a little about Rholoff and Gebla Rhobox shifters.   The last time I got fed up with R+E I took the bike to Go Family Cyclery because they were convenient and claimed to specialize in long bikes.  I wasn’t happy with that experience and now their website says they only service bike brands they sell. Counterbalance, on the Burke by University Village, sells CoMotion tandems and I’d expect that they service them, too.  There was a link on Reddit a while ago about bike shops in Seattle to use for  internally geared hubs, and I guess that’s a starting place even though I don’t really have hub issues.  (The cog that I expect to need to replace is Rholoff proprietary and it would be nice if I found a place that that had them in stock or that at least knew how to get them.)

For a tuneup and wheel building on a regular bike I’d go to Recycled Cycles and I think that on Tuesday that’s where I’ll go.  Hopefully they will at least have a recommendation for someplace to take them.  I ordered a Campy shifter cable and on Monday we’ll see if I can fix it myself (since the bike’s got cable splitters it’s just a matter of seating the cable in the shifter and cutting it to the right length – I don’t have to fiddle with the connection to the hub.  If that works I’ll be able to take my time and if not, I’m no worse off…