I emailed Co-Motion’s Dwan Shepard before the North American Handmade Bicycle Show to ask him what he wanted to accomplish with his display. He wrote, “We’re showing what we actually do every day here: Really nicely made bikes with well-established provenance, purpose, form and craftsmanship.”
Mission accomplished. The Co-Motion team set up a display of single and tandem bicycles that was open to foot traffic on all sides, which allowed show visitors to converge on the scene from all angles.
The show was also proof that my 2005 tandem, if not totally out of date, is increasingly datable. That’s because my bike, custom sized but based on the Speedster, has a lateral tube–the tube that runs from the head tube to the rear bottom bracket. Lateral tubes on 2015 tandems? Nowhere to be seen.
(By the way, the new Speedster, more touring oriented than mine, comes with 700 x 35 tires–and fender clearance. My tandem came with 700 x 28 tires, and after those tires wore out, I replaced them with 700 x 32, so, no more fender clearance for me.)
Deleting the lateral tube was a slow evolution for the company. It started when the super-adjustable Periscope tandem launched in 2001, 2002. That bike never had a lateral tube, probably because the stoker’s seat tube was so short.
“It sort of opened our eyes to different way of looking at how we could build a tandem frame,” Dwan said. “The next one we introduced was the Macchiato–basically taking that no-lateral idea and thinking how much material can we take away–how light can we make a tandem. So we made it out of aluminum and designed it for pure performance. Then, as we introduced new models, we worked in more no-lateral bikes.”
Of course, Co-Motion did more than simply remove a tube. Larger-diameter tubes keep the bikes from turning into flexible flyers. The visual result, at least to my eye, is super clean.
And that’s even though the decals got bigger along with the frame tubes. If nothing else, it makes it easier to know exactly what brand of bicycle is passing you at the Midwest Tandem Rally. Another benefit? If you’re thinking about a tandem with S&S frame couplers, your build takes four couplers, not six, which keeps the weight down and speeds packing and unpacking.
If there’s any downside to the no-lateral design, it’s the inaccessibility of the stoker’s second water bottle, which ends up behind the captain’s seat tube. Dwan said he felt that retaining the original position of the bottle was a poor reason to have an extra tube in the bike.
If it were me, I’d bolt the cage to the stoker’s handlebars. That is, if the stoker would let me, which she absolutely would not.
At least one customer had Co-Motion move the second bottle under the top tube. If you’re considering the same solution, keep in mind that you’ll need a really strong water bottle cage–or get used to stopping every once in a while to pull your bottle out of the ditch.