Our bike

Our vehicle of choice is a Santana Cabrio quad tandem http://santanatandem.com/Bikes/QuadEtc.html.

The bike breaks down into two conventional bike boxes – the frame being joined with SS couplers. It’s proven to be robust and rides well for such a long bike. We’ve come to learn that some of the technology and componentry is a bit unconventional and can therefore be a little hard to source.

It is our opinion (and we’re novice bike mechanics, so read these as you see fit) that there were two ‘Achilles heels’ on the bike. First, the bike was provided with a ball bearing headset (whether it shipped with this or was assembled incorrectly we can’t be sure), which handled badly and ultimately compromised the front forks. The mechanic who identified the issue for us was astounded to find that headset on this bike. The result was our having to replace the forks and install a Chris King NoThreadSet, which has proven to be bomb proof to this point.

Second, the large load of the bike places a lot of stress on the tyres which initially resulted in side wall blowouts front and back (usually front) and continues to result in dramatically shortened life of the tyres, not to mention a few unnerving moments We were initially supplied with the wrong tyres for the bike, then worked with various Schwalbe Marathon tyres which coped admirably. Schwalbe were great to deal with but weren’t happy to guarantee their tyres would take the load (up to 500kg…), so we alternatively selected Continental Travel Contacts, which were alleged to be the best option to sustain the load. This trip proved the true test for these tyres, with the first tyre failing after three days, and the second failing after eight days.

We’ve now moved back to Schwalbe tyres, choosing Marathon Plus. So far so good. We keep them at 4.5 bar.

***STOP PRESS*** Schwalbe Marathon Plus lasted 900km on back; replaced with Specialized Armadillo which can be inflated to 8 bar. We’re running at 6 bar. Marathon Plus on the front is running at 4.5 bar out of a max of 5 bar and is approaching 2000km.

Of less dire consequence was the need to replace the alloy chain rings with more suitable and durable steel rings.

***STOP PRESS*** Replaced running gear at 1850km on left hand side of bike (chains/chainrings alloy), first time ever (365 euros inc 42 euros delivery).

Another challenge we’ve yet to attend to is the – in our opinion, sub-optimal – braking, comprising V-Brakes front and rear and an Arai drum brake to the rear. Although the drum works effectively and V-brakes pull you up pretty quick, we don’t like pulling up quickly on V-Brakes, neither do we like the prospect of replacing the rims over-frequently (we’ve had a rim explode on a mountain bike so don’t like to take chances once they start to concave). We are keen to get disc brakes to resolve this, but their are big challenges associated with this – and costs – in the meantime we ride conservatively. Most of the time 🙂

It would – without doubt – be more sensible and more convenient to be on two regular tandems. But we wouldn’t have met the people we’ve met, raised the money for charity we’ve raised, brought joy to so many passers-by; nor would our children have had the endless conversations they’ve enjoyed together as we clicked up the kilometres.


2 thoughts on “Our bike

  1. Hello!
    We’re a family (with kids 4 and 7) from Luleå in northern Sweden following your blog 🙂 We find it very interesting and we found your blog when we were searching for info about quads. That because we’re also planning on getting a quad for coming trips. Today we’re riding a Cannondale adult tandem with the children on an Adams Trail-a-bike tandem, this makes a budget-quad but although pretty well working. This summer we made our first tour since we got children, a successful 12 day trip on Gotland with full camping gear. Best of all – children loved it so we’re already planning for next step. We would love to get in contact with you for your experience on buying and touring with a quad (with S&S couplers).
    Looking forward to read about the rest of your Odyssey and good luck to you all!

    ps. we have very good experience from Specialized Crossroads Armadillo tyres. Used one pair for 12 years on our fully packed tandem without flats! They can take up to 80psi as well.

    1. Just a quick reply for now as we have pressing social commitments 🙂 We would be very happy to connect / chat with you about our quad experiences. In a nutshell, it’s hard work but a fast, fun and social way to travel – we have lots of conversations with a lot of people we wouldn’t otherwise meet. Thanks for feedback on Armadillos too – so far so good.

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