Tina the tandem - by Steven Rowley

Thursday 2 September 2010, Filed in: General

Tina the Tandem, as our Routier was immediately christened (well, she does live in Essex!), was bought as a bit of an indulgence. She has the unenviable task of being a jack of all trades. The brief was that Tina had to be able to take our nearly 8 year old on the back as well my wife. She had to be capable of a family pootle, an audax or a tour.

The Routier comes with flat bars so I guess is aimed at the leisure market. We specified that Tina came with Ergon grips (gents on the front and ladies version on the back) and Cane Creek bar ends. On a long ride we have found them as comfortable as drops. The frame is a little small for me at the front (I’m nearly 6’2”wink but the seat post is long and I find the riding position is comfortable. At the back, the addition of Santana crank shorteners means that our daughter is well comfy. We are still trying to sort the ideal riding position her mum but our continuous fiddling is starting to bear fruit and we’ll get there soon. You can feel the frame flexing sometimes, but I think the only solution would be to spend a whole lot more than we did.

We had heard that gear shifting on tandems was sometimes a pain but we’ve had no problems. The 8 speed XP pods shift the Shimano XT rear and Nexave 400 front derailleur beautifully. Avid Arch Rival brakes are fitted front and rear and we upgraded the standard rear disc to an Avid BB7 with a 203mm disc. The BB7 is connected to the main left-hand brake lever and the rear Arch Rival is connected to a thumb shifter, also on the front bars. This is very useful as a parking brake as well as offering emergency braking. The BB7 is brilliant with smooth but powerful braking. On our descent of L’Alpe d’ Huez I thought I’d burnt it out as the brake lever was touching the bars. But, it transpired I just needed to adjust the pads and the same set are in use today.

The rest of the standard equipment is very good. Normally when I buy a bike I have to change the tyres straightaway. This hasn’t been the case with Tina. The Schwalbe Marathon XR 700×32c expedition tyres are excellent. When we bought Tina the standard spec Routier was £995, it’s now gone up to £1200 but I still think Routier is value for money.

Tina was purchased from JD Cycles in Ilkley. Ruth and John Hargreaves, the owners, have given us nothing but peerless service. We would highly recommend JD Cycles and continue to buy stuff from them.

We tried and nearly succeeded in ascending an alpine Tour de France climb. We’ve done a London to Brighton night ride, a 109k audax plus a fair few shorter family rides and Tina the Tandem has performed brilliantly. We’ve had great fun and Tina certainly turns head and attracts comments – what else would you expect from an Essex girl?

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