Firefighter friends test ride it for us.
Our Speedster Rohloff and Mocha Rohloff both sold and went to join new families, so it was time to add a new Rohloff tandem to our fleet. Our choice was this gorgeous 2018, Cortez Blue Equator Co-Pilot. We named her Tallie (short for Natalie) and we love her already. She went to France with us in June, 2018.
Before I sum things up, I'd like to make a comment about tandem mileage (miles ridden). You can see that for most of the bikes in our fleet, I have reported the total miles we've ridden each bike, so far, or while we owned it for the ones that are no longer in our fleet. If you add things up, in the 24 years since 1994 (that's when we started keeping mileage records), we have put on right at 60,000 miles of tandem riding (as of January, 2018). In that time we have had the habit of riding quite often daily recreational rides for fitness and for relationship tending. We have made the tandem(s) a major part of most vacations during that time, going on numerous tours. If you add in the first 14 years of our tandem experience, not included in the above figures, you would come up with something over 70,000 miles. So, we certainly hope to see 100,000 tandem miles in our lifetime, but unless we start riding all day everyday, it may not happen. I find it very interesting when couples claim to have ridden 100's of thousands of miles tandem. I don't know where they get the time, but I can tell you that tandem riding is a major focus of our life, and has been for many years, and we still don't have 100,000 lifetime tandem miles. Are those reports really accurate? Or are they inflated estimates? Take that for what you will.
So, that's the tour of the tandem ownership and experience of the Owings Family and Tandem Diversity in the 38 years and counting that we have been tandem riders and travelers. As I wrote at the top of this summary, our credibility in your eyes, the reader and potential customer, should be based in large measure on our ability to frame answers to your questions and problems on the basis of broad experience. We have that experience and stand ready to help you, no matter where you are on your tandem journey or relationship.
Let us know how we can help you. To contact us, click here.
And finally, a quick summary of lifetime miles for the tandems we currently own and somewhat regularly ride (as of June 30, 2018):
OPUS IV Trio 515
Bike Friday Tandem TwosDay 1900
Rans Screamer 3590
Co-Motion Speedster Copilot 24,107
Univega tandem 51
Co-Motion Robusta 897
Co-Motion Speedster Copilot (our Wisconsin bike) 6325
Co-Motion Macchiato 684
Co-Motion Supremo 203
Co-Motion Primera Ultra 3898
Co-Motion Equator 677
Our daughter's Tsunami triplet. We can't really claim this bike as ours, but we do get to ride it with her.
A Schwinn Town and Country tandem.
A matching Schwinn Town and Country triplet.
Co-Motion Speedster CoPilot
Greta came into the family originally as a back up to Rosie for daily riding and travel, but within a short while she assumed a completely new role. We kept her in Wisconsin, near family that we visit often. Greta's presence there gave us a machine ready and waiting to take us on rides around the Madison area, one of the best cycling areas we've encountered. In fact, the only traveling Greta did was to Wisconsin and back a couple of times, before we realized she should just move there permanently. Now, however, she's going to be replaced in Wisconsin by a new Equator.
Greta is Rosie's twin sister. She's green and she has updated components, but in other respects she is identical to Rosie.
Lifetime miles to date: 6325
Greta on the Military Ridge Trail outside Madison, Wisconsin.
It turns out that with trail surfaces that are often gravel in Wisconsin, and with deteriorating surface conditions on the trails that are paved, we think we will do better for our Wisconsin bike to have an enclosed hub and belt drive. So, Greta has been brought back home and will enter the rental pool and will be available for sale used. She'll be replaced in Wisconsin by a new Equator.
Mt. Rainier and a bald eagle.
Here we are with Rosie at the finish of a self-contained tour down the Washington Coast, out the back door, down the coast, return via train, ride from the station to the back door to complete the loop. Rosie has done several trips like this, sometimes with panniers and sometimes with a Bob trailer.
Lifetime miles to date: 24,107
This photo tells lots about us and about Rosie. This was taken just outside Rosenheim, Germany on a tour with Santana. We later covered this same road on a self-contained, self-supported tour of Bavaria. The spot is on a tandem test ride loop used by Wolfgang Haas, European distributor of Santana tandems. Note the front rack - after the Santana tour we went with Rosie for an additional week, self-contained, along the Southern end of the Romantische Strasse, carrying our stuff in panniers, front and rear.
Lifetime miles to date: 3590
First trip to France. Loire Valley, 1995.
The Tandem Two'sDay, with trailer, ready to depart Amsterdam for Paris, 2002. After Paris, a train ride to Germany, then a tour along the Romantische Strasse to Wurzberg, then train to Frankfurt, then home. On this trip she really showed us her versatility.
Lifetime miles to date: 1900
She took us to many new heights.
Lots of chain - lots of wow factor - lots (but barely enough) of brakes. Our brand new Counterpoint OPUS IV Trio in 1994.
Lifetime miles to date: 515
Our first Counterpoint tandem on Mt. St. Helens in 1993. Descending was a thrill for the stoker, out there on the front!
Our first Counterpoint tandem. Cycling vacation on San Juan Island circa 1990.
Lifetime miles: Don't know - records lost
My son and me with the Nishiki tandem circa 1989.
Lifetime miles: Don't know - records lost
Schwinn Twinn, rigged for camping with Blue Sky trailer, 1982.
Lifetime miles: Don't know - records lost
Pictured here on tour in the UK.
Lifetime miles to date: 3898
A Schwinn Paramount waiting to be refurbished and repainted to original specs.
Molly enjoying palm trees and warm breezes on The Big Island.
Co-Motion Mocha with Gates belts and Rohloff hub
Molly Mocha, Molly for short, joined the family to take over primary travel responsibilities from Rollie. She is easier to pack due to smaller wheels and compact frame size. She also helped us with our evaluation and testing of a new travel trailer system looked at by Co-Motion. She has been to Hawaii with us, and traveled to Turkey in the Fall of 2014. She is equipped with the latest generation belts and now has Gebla Rohbox shifters. We really wanted this bike, a Mocha with belts and Rohloff hub, to have its own model designation, similar to the Equator, a belted and Rohloff equipped version of the Speedster. We chose the name Passport for the model. So far Co-Motion is having none of it, but in time they may see the sense to having a separate model name with this simple, easy to remember name that tells much about the strength of this bike, specifically traveling. Anyway, meet Molly.
Molly has Gates belts, a Rohloff hub, and a sweet two toned paint job. She has traveled to The Big Island and to Turkey.
Lifetime miles to date: 1905
For years we've longed to have a "Dutch Beater" tandem in the family, for running to the grocery and out to dinner. While on a trip to Belgium with my son in law several years ago I saw a Gazelle tandem in a shop in Leuven. For years after I tried to figure out how to get one to our home here in the States. Finally, I made contact with Gazelle USA, and Tootle joined our fleet. She's called that because we sort of Tootle along on her.
Out the back door for a morning ride. Rollie not only took over travel duties, but also backed up Rosie for daily rides.
Lifetime miles to date: 4046
Rollie at the Hotel Sacher in Salzburg, Austria. We are departing for Passau, Germany where we will join 2 Santana Cycles tours down the Danube River to the Black Sea.
The 3 of us with the real Heceta Head lighthouse in the background.
Lifetime miles to date: 897
This bike (Robbie) began what may very well turn out to be a bit of a tradition - he was a surprise gift from me to the two of us for our 35th anniversary. Dwan at Co-Motion helped me to find a custom painter (a motorcycle painter) who could put on a paint job to my specifications, that would depict scenes of significance to the two of us from our first 35 years together, 25 of which had been spent tandeming. The four scenes we settled on were: the Heceta Head lighthouse in Oregon, Mt. Rainier, a bald eagle, and an orca. All of these were iconic reminders of our time together and the many activities we had shared over the years. The end result was beautiful - thank you Dwan! Robbie is a lightweight performance bike. He hails from the era before Co-Motion eliminated the internal lateral tubes from the Robusta line. He is a joy to ride - like driving a sports car. He doesn't travel much - he went to California for the Tour de Palm Springs a few years ago, riding in the back of our van. He was our first performance bike and our first anniversary bike, so will always be special to us for those reasons.
Even if not exactly what we wanted/expected, she was a pretty bike.
Lifetime miles: 512
Lifetime miles to date: 77
Bike Friday Tandem Two'sDay
About the time we were ready to take our first step into serious tandem travel and touring, a couple of guys in Eugene, Oregon had come up with the Bike Friday concept, a small-wheeled, folding machine that could travel in a standard suitcase and that, as an added bonus, could carry itself, so to speak, and all associated tools and packing materials, in a trailer that was made from the cases and a small frame and pair of wheels. This was before S&S couplers had really taken off, so there was not yet a widely available take apart or folding option for mainstream, full sized tandems. If you wanted to travel, to carry the bike in airline checkable luggage, and to be fully self-contained, the Bike Friday tandem was it at the time (and truly still is, really). In fact, the Bike Friday might be the best overall design for those who want travel to be their main focus. When it comes to group rides, the Friday has a minor disadvantage from the small wheels, in our experience. It was this minor disadvantage, experienced when riding in groups, that led us to purchase a second travel bike, with full-sized wheels. So, we ended up with bikes from both the small wheel and full-sized wheel world. We love the Two'sDay and have taken it on several trips, mostly self-supported and self-contained. It still is a go-to bike for that particular application.
Custom Co-Motion Java, after frame repair and repaint. Threaded headset. Double laterals in the stoker compartment. Truly an elegant and exceptionally practical bicycle. We miss her, but we have moved on.
Lifetime miles: 10,130
Counterpoint OPUS III
When my wife first began serious tandeming, we started her off in the recumbent position. The Counterpoint tandem had many advantages, including the recumbent position for my budding stoker, normal upright captain's position for me, and the ability to communicate easily on the bike due to our close proximity. This bike did recreational rides, plus one Tour de Blast (Mt. St. Helens) and one Cycle Oregon Double Century. It was a good starter bike but fairly quickly we concluded we wanted a triplet (see Counterpoint Triplet below), I wanted drop bars rather than flat bars (see Counterpoint OPUS IV below), and Chris was ready to start working toward a conventional tandem (see Tandem Two'sDay and CoMotion Java below). We sold this Counterpoint to a local couple after about three years.
The next step up, as the kids got taller, was to this Nishiki tandem. This was quite a jump in terms of performance. Rim brakes were both operated off a single brake lever, while an Arai drum brake was operated off the other lever. This wasn't the best arrangement, in my opinion, but at least there was a drag brake. This bike lasted for a couple of years, for the kids and me to ride. It didn't have a large enough stoker compartment to be comfortable for my wife, so when she became interested in doing more tandem riding, we bought our first Counterpoint (see below).
The Nishiki goes on the car-top carrier, cycling vacation at Roche Harbor, San Juan Island circa 1989.
When we bought our first Counterpoint tandem, the Nishiki was sold to a couple just getting started into tandem riding.
The kids have outgrown the child stoker adapter. This tandem is very close to being too small. Circa 1987. Shortly after this, it was sold to another growing family.
She's not just pretty - with her Rohloff drive train she makes an ideal travel partner. Here she is taking a lunch break (top) and lounging in the vineyards of Burgundy (bottom)
Lifetime miles to date: 677
We've named him Willy.
Sapphire, our newest tandem addition, commemorates our 45th anniversary. She is a beautiful sapphire blue and sports Shimano Di2 drive train.
45 years - a big number!
Lifetime miles to date: 203
We were helping Co-Motion to evaluate a prototype travel trailer set up. Molly got the call to help with that.
A couple from Arizona was looking specifically for a Rohloff, belt drive tandem with 26" wheels. Since we plan to upgrade to a new Equator tandem in the near future, we offered to sell Molly to these folks. They bought her and proceeded to ride her across the country! I think it was good for everyone that Molly found a new home.
Other tandems in our fleet that don't really rate separate listing
There are a handful of other machines acquired over the years as collectors items or just for fun.
Rollie enjoying the beautiful hills of Burgundy on a Santana Cycles tour along the Soane and Rhone Rivers in France.
This bike was repainted and sold to a couple from California who were looking for a used belted, Rohloff tandem. We plan to replace Rollie with a new Equator sometime in the future. His last international trip with us was in January, 2017, to Vietnam.
We're still sold on the Rohloff hub and belts, especially for travel. We are planning to replace this bike with a new Equator, and a new Equator will also replace our Wisconsin tandem, as mentioned above.
Taking delivery in Eugene. She was a surprise for Chris.
Lifetime miles to date: 684
Heceta Head Lighthouse.
Rosie sightseeing in Lisbon, Portugal.
Co-Motion Speedster CoPilot
My recovery from the neck injury and our return to conventional tandeming were celebrated by the acquisition of the bike the Bilenky travel tandem was originally meant to be. In contrast to the Bilenky, this bike was a standard, off-the-shelf bike, purchased from the Bike Gallery in Portland, Oregon. It was fitted with S&S couplers for travel - we had not sold the S&S cases when the Bilenky sold, so we had those and so were all set to start traveling, which we did. We picked up the bike in January of 2001 and were off to Hawaii for Santana's Valentine Day rally that February. We ultimately started naming our tandems, or at least the ones we use frequently - this bike is affectionately known as Rosie. Rosie has been a favorite bike since arriving that January. She has been through lots with us - international travel, domestic travel, rallies, tours both with groups and self-contained, RAMROD, daily recreational rides - you name it. She has been our vacation companion and our relationship counselor. She has been back to Co-Motion once for a frame repair and repaint, has been through 3 of sets of wheels, more chains and cassettes than I can remember, has had her shifters rebuilt 4 times, has had her rear derailleur replaced, has upgraded cranksets from her original - you get the idea. However, I have to say that costs to maintain her, given the miles and trips she has done, have not been what I would consider to be extravagant. Rosie remains a favorite, comfortable bike - she is the one that is often selected for our daily rides (our morning ride). We plan for her to grow old with us.
Custom Bilenky Tandem
Our thought was to replace the functionality of the Two'sDay for self-contained touring, with a bike that had sull-sized wheels. After a thorough search we found Bilenky in Philadelphia, who would build us a custom tandem and a trailer based on the S&S cases that carried the bike on the plane. This was our first bike with S&S couplers; we took delivery just 3 years after purchasing the Bike Friday. We had very high hopes for this bike, but many of our hopes were not realized. First of all, delivery was delayed significantly so we had very little time on the bike prior to our first scheduled trip, a Santana tour in Tuscany. Secondly, the front half of the frame was originally damaged at the factory and had to be rebuilt, and in the rebuilding was made to incorrect dimensions. So, the bike didn't really fit me. Bilenky's suggestion, which I didn't particularly care for, was to make adjustments via changes in stem length. Finally, the paint did not come out the way we ordered it. In summary, I'm sure this was a very nice bike, but we had a bad attitude about it from the get go. She went with us to Tuscany and then on a Santana rally in Arizona, but shortly after that we made the decision to sell her, which we did to a couple in St. Louis. I sincerely hope she has been a good machine for them. It was after this experience with Bilenky, when compared with how smoothly things had gone with our custom Co-Motion, that we decided to stick with Co-Motion for most of our future tandems.
Still fun in 2013.
Custom Co-Motion Java
In transition from stoker recumbent to stoker upright, in 1994 we added 2 machines to the collection, essentially simultaneously. The first was this custom built Co-Motion Java, custom because the stoker compartment was made larger than stock in order to accommodate both our children, both taller than their mom. Turns out Mom could ride it too (with the seat all the way down), so she made the switch to this bike pretty quickly and we never rode much on the Counterpoint OPUS IV tandem covered in the next section. The Java was sold to a couple in Ohio after 13 years of service to us. She put on 10,130 miles as our go-to bike for double centuries, a Cycle Oregon, club rides, rallies, and daily recreational rides. She traveled just once, to Arizona for a Santana rally in Scottsdale. She went back to Co-Motion for a cracked frame repair and repaint once, about midway through her time with us. This bike had, and still has, a very special place in our hearts; she truly was the first top tier conventional tandem we owned. She certainly cemented our long-term relationship with Co-Motion.
At the finish of the Cycle Oregon Double Century in 1993, with our first Counterpoint tandem.
When Chris decided to make the switch to a conventional tandem, we sold this Counterpoint to another couple just getting into tandeming.
We feel that, in order to set ourselves up to give advice on selection and use of tandems, we need to have credibility, and the best way to get that credibility is by way of experience. Experience that involves owning, riding, and traveling with a wide variety of machines so we can offer personal insights from our own experience, not from what someone else says or from what we have read. Certainly there are many brands and models of tandems we've never ridden, but our experience is sufficiently broad to provide valuable perspective when deciding which tandem to own, for what purpose.
So, we offer here a brief run down of all the tandems we've owned over the years since we got into tandeming in 1980. Most of these bikes still live with us and many still ride with us. Join us now, in our ride down memory lane.....
This bike was our first, purchased in 1980, using a loan from my life insurance policy. The plan was to do more family cycling, with me pulling our youngest in a trailer and Chris riding with our oldest on the tandem. Very quickly that morphed into me on the tandem with one of the kids, pulling the other in the trailer; they took turns riding on the bike. The first challenge was making and installing a child stoker crank set; there were child stoker adapters available, but prices were higher than we paid for the bike! I made my own from a bottom bracket cut out of an old single speed bike fished out of the dump. This bike served us well until the kids could reach the pedals, and then it quickly became too small.
Co-Motion Primera Ultra
New on the show room floor for 2016 was this performance enhanced Primera, the brain child of the crew at Co-Motion, further enhanced by us with Rolf tandem wheels and carbon stoker bars. We tried the bike out on an extended tour, to test its worthiness for touring, and we liked it so much we decided to keep it in our personal collection and to replace it on the floor with another for the 2017 model year.
Enhancements include: Co-Motion carbon fork, Gates timing belt, Rolf tandem wheels, carbon stoker bars. The idea was to have a bike that would be competitive with the Carrera, at a lower price. We think it was a success. In particular, we like very much the increased comfort and performance of the Rolf wheels.
This is a good all round bike and a good travel bike. We've taken Willy on 4 international tours in the last couple of years and select him now most often for our daily rides. He'll get some competition once our new Equators arrive, though.
Since we never really used this bike much, and since there was little prospect that would change, we were very much open to selling it when a couple from Seattle, looking specifically for a Counterpoint, offered to buy it. We sold it to them, making us and them happy.
Finally, given that our daughter's 3 sons all like to ride together, the triplet just didn't have enough seats. We acquired this quad from friends in Canada. Turns out though, it was too big to store, so was sold to a growing family in Portland.
Meet Tootle. The electrical cord is for something else, not her - she is strictly pedal powered.
Lifetime miles to date: 26
Co-Motion Gates belted, Rohloff equipped Speedster CoPilot
This bike came into the fold with the intention that he would replace Rosie as our main travel bike, and he did that for a while. He was named Rollie in honor of his Rohloff hub. These days this bike has its own model designation, the Equator. I'm not quite sure where that name came from, but there it is anyway. Rollie originally came with the first generation Gates belts and the bar end shifter from Rohloff. I upgraded him to the new Co-Motion bar top shifter and the newer Gates center track belts. The belts in particular are better since they don't require nearly as much tension to stay on the sprockets. Rollie has been to Europe and South America, and has been a very capable back up to Rosie. We have enjoyed the belts and enclosed hub for travel. There is much less fuss and adjusting, and the drive train stays much cleaner. We think belts and internal hubs have a bright future for tandem travel.
Ruby joined the family on the occasion of our 40th anniversary, so she is our second anniversary bike. The stone that commemorates the 40th wedding anniversary is the ruby, hence Ruby's name and color. Also, she has a special engraving on her head tube badge - a lighthouse with an inset ruby for the light. Lighthouses have always been important to the two of us, from the very beginning of our marriage. Who knows what our 45th will bring?!
Lifetime miles to date: 51
Univega Tandem Sport
This is a "just for fun" bike we picked up used from a local shop, for riding on some of the local trails and logging roads, especially in the San Juan Islands, which are not too far from our home. It gets very little use, only when we on rare occasion feel the need for a trail ride that one of our other bikes can't handle, usually because of too narrow tires.
About the time we were selling the Bilenky, I suffered a neck injury of unknown cause, resulting in a pinched nerve and severe neck, back, and arm pain. After letting things cool off for a couple of weeks, we attempted a ride on our Co-Motion Java, only to discover that my pain was intolerable after about a half mile. Not being willing to give up on tandeming, we immediately investigated recumbent tandems, arriving at the decision to welcome a Rans Screamer into the fold. This bike we purchased from Angle Lake Cyclery in Seattle. Knowing we would want to travel, Dale at Angle Lake sent the bike off to Dennis Bushnell to have S&S couplers installed prior to our picking it up. I should note that I also bought a Rans single bike for my commuting. We had no idea how long my recovery would be from the injury (turns out it was more than a year before I could get back on an upright bike), so figured the Rans could be either temporary, or perhaps permanent. It certainly allowed us to continue riding and traveling during my recovery; in addition to our usual recreational riding, we took the Rans on Bon Ton Roulet in New York (that was the only time this bike flew) and on some local tours including the San Juan Islands and the Skagit Tulip Festival. We very much enjoyed the bike, even though our sense was we were slower on it than on our conventional bikes, and I suppose we would have been content had my neck required us to continue riding recumbent indefinitely. That, fortunately, did not come to pass and we were able to get back to conventional riding, though I did have a very short relapse about 10 years later that put us back on the Rans for a couple of weeks. For this reason, the Rans remains in our collection of tandems, against the chance we need to get back on it temporarily, or (hopefully not) maybe even permanently. If the latter should happen, we already have contingency plans to have Kelvin at Angletech put together for us a Screamer that has 7 couplers, so it can travel in standard S&S cases as opposed to the large case our Screamer requires.
Counterpoint OPUS IV tandem
Almost simultaneous with the arrival of our first Co-Motion, we brought a new Counterpoint OPUS IV into the fold, to replace our first Counterpoint, mostly to upgrade components and to address my desire to have drop bars in the captain's spot. As noted above, my main stoker pretty much moved to conventional tandeming about this time, so this OPUS IV has seen very little use over the years.
Counterpoint OPUS IV Trio
We had lobbied Jim Weaver, builder of Counterpoint bikes, to develop a triplet so we could ride with our daughter, who had not yet departed for college. Jim came up with the push me/pull me design which has never failed to draw lots of attention and lots of comments (see our piece on this bike here). This turned out to be pretty much a just for fun bike; we've ridden on club and century rides as well as a couple of NW Tandem Rallies. This bike is still in our collection and we haul it out every few years when we find ourselves with an extra stoker.