Total elapsed time for conversion from rideable triplet to
rideable tandem: NINE minutes, performed before a roomfull of people at the
Midwest Tandem Rally (MTR'98) in Omaha.
Bicycle description provided by Dave Walker August 98
Thinking about an S and S-coupled travel tandem? How 'bout a triplet? How 'bout BOTH?! Rather than break the bank buying two custom travel multi-bikes, we figured the logical thing to do was to build one that would do both--kill two birds with one stone, as it were.
At long last, here it is! Being the first one of its kind anywhere, there was a lengthy gestation period: design, modification, tube selection, jigging, brazing, filing, sandblasting, painting, and final assembly. Hey, you can't rush perfection! We're very proud of the result, too. She rides as good as she looks, and she looks mmmmmmmahhhhvelous!
The convertible geometry and coupling placement of the bike is the proprietary creation of Sixties Cycles (Lafayette, CO), with all rights reserved. The Bilenky Cycle Works (Philadelphia, PA) crew did a superb job of turning it into fillet-brazed steel sculpture. In particular, Andy Dyson deserves a heapin' helping of credit for meticulous detail design and selection of the optimal tube combination to maintain strength and stiffness while keeping the weight competitive (60 lbs. in triplet form, 44.5 lbs. as a tandem). According to Andy, the low-angle tube miters required at many of the joints were a particular challenge; but who better than the Bilenky artists to boldly go where no framebuilder has gone before? After all, Bilenky built the first S and S-coupled triplet in the world--featured on the cover of Tandem Magazine.
The "Fiesta" paint job is the prodigy of Tailgunner John C. Smith's sister, artist Margaret Lee. We brainstormed several evenings in a lodge at Snow Mountain Ranch in Frasier, Colorado, over Christmas, 1997, developing the final concept. Dave Cimino, an employee of GT Bicycle's R&D Department in Longmont, Colorado, and painter of the US National, Saturn Professional, and US Olympic Team bicycles (to name a few) finished our cromoly canvas with top-quality German-made Sikkens enamel. Dave tells us it's unquestionably the most elaborate bike finishing job he's done, and he's justly proud of the result. One friend from California who saw a picture of the bike commented, "Looked at the 2 + 1 = 3 bicycle on the coupling site. What was the paint scheme I was seeing there? Looked a little psychedelic...the water supply secure in the Boulder area?" We think it reflects the good cheer not just of the riders on her but the smiles and comments of passers-by as well!
The conversion from triplet to tandem (or vice-versa) is facilitated by daVinci "Easy Splits" cable connectors in the rear brake and both derailleur cables. Each cable uses two connectors so that when converting from triplet to tandem the center cable section between the two Easy Splits comes out with the frame section. The two end sections (frame and cables) are then reconnected and tightened down. Cable adjustments are pre-configured using daVinci INCAs (In-line Cable Adjusters) in the middle (triplet) sections so that no cable adjustments are needed when converting the bike. The rear transfer chain is reconnected to the left-front crank and you're back on the road (_sans_ midshipman) in about ten minutes. It's that easy!
The entire bike comes apart and fits into two S and S 26" square cases for easy transport. We're working on a set of neoprene wet-suit-material "socks" to protect the tubes (nothing against S and S's tube wraps, but we had access to the neoprene so it seemed to make sense). Our next task is to come up with a reliable, repeatable packing process (get out the camera...); the photos showing some frame sections in the suitcases was our first attempt, just to demonstrate that yes, indeed, they all fit within the case dimensions!
One last detail of the design is the wheels. They're 24-spoke FIR Rialto deep-V rims built on a Phil cassette rear and a Nuovo Record front hub (to satisfy the retrogrouch in me). Spokes are Wheelsmith single-butted DH-13s, laced 2-cross. Many people think we're nuts using 24 spoke wheels (and no drum brake!) on a triplet, fer Pete's sake, but comprehensive engineering analysis by the Sixties Cycles R&D Department has already proven it's a superior design. Besides, they look great with the fiesta paint scheme :-)
And all of this was made possible by S and S Machine's BTC. We're already thinking about the world tour we hope to make around the beginning of the new millenium. Thanks, Steve!
Dave Walker, Captain; Leila Vale, Midshipwoman; John C. Smith III, Tailgunner, Lafayette, CO
Updates provided by Dave Walker