Here at Co-Motion Cycles, we’ve always been quick to point out that we’d like you to consider us your live resource for information about our bicycles. The invention that we’ve all grown to love takes many forms and our staff takes pride in being well informed on topics encompassing virtually every incarnation of the bicycle.
Within these FAQ pages, we’ll make an effort to present common questions and thorough answers. Maybe we’ll save you some time or get you out of a squeaky situation. By all means, if you don’t find the information you need on our website, please contact us. We can usually answer your questions quickly by phone or by email.
Don’t forget, your Co-Motion dealer may be more readily accessible, especially on weekends and in the evenings. Your dealer may also be able to give hands-on assistance - something very challenging to offer through e-mail or on the phone.
Mechanical and Maintenance
Summertime is the time most of us look forward to great weather, long rides, and minimal bike maintenance. After all, the cold and wet of winter presents the roughest conditions for bicycles, right? Actually, no. Water in itself is not a problem. The leading cause of corrosion on bicycle frames is perspiration, sweat!
A few times a year, we’ll hear from a Co-Motion owner in distress about corrosion appearing around the bottle bosses, cable stops or S&S couplers on his or her prized frame. It’s not a pretty sight, and we all want to make sure our frames stay in the best possible shape. The trouble is, your loving care may very well be the cause of your bike’s rust problem.
“But I wipe my bike clean after every ride!” you say. Here’s the problem with that: When you wipe your bike off, even if you use some kind of cleaning product, you just cannot get the worst part of your perspiration off the bike. Your cleaning cloth is pushing the salts, solids and acids into the nooks and crannies of your frame. There they will stay, becoming concentrated and building up every time you wipe off your bike.
Oddly enough, bicycles from rainy climates & get used year-around seldom exhibit this problem. The reason is water. Fresh water rinses the salts and acids from your sweat off the frame and out of the areas that are nearly impossible to reach with your cloth. You can make your bike last as long as they do here in the Pacific Northwest by hosing your bike off every time you clean it. No need for high pressure, just a gentle rinse will do.
As it says on the back of your shampoo bottle: Rinse, lather, repeat. Your bike will thank you by staying beautiful longer!
For the health of your bicycle it is very important that the chain-rings, chain and cogs are serviced or replaced regularly. The chain is really the main topic of discussion here as it wears more quickly than the larger and more durable chain-rings on the crank-set, or the cogs in the rear cassette. As the chain wears, the rollers or unions between the links gradually lose their cylindrical shape and take on the appearance of an hourglass, with a narrow waist where they engage the cogs and chain-rings. If you look at a very well-worn chain, it can be millimeters longer over its entire length than a new one. Either condition leads to accelerated cog and chain-ring wear, as well as hindering shifting and efficiency. This is what you want to avoid.
How often should you replace your chain?
Some recommendations call for mileage intervals, i.e. every 2,000 miles, but this can be misleading. Chains will wear more quickly for riders who often encounter large hills or heavy weather, while identical mileage over flat terrain in pleasant weather will cause little apparent chain wear. Similarly, if you weigh 105 lbs, 2,000 miles of cycling will wear your drive-train more slowly than the same parts under a 195lb cyclist. Put simply, we suggest you judiciously keep an eye on your chain, or seek the advice of a good mechanic.
Chain wear can be measured. With an ordinary 12” ruler, measure from one link pin, down to the 12” mark. Since each link pin is 1/2” from the next, a new chain’s 24th link pin should fall exactly at 12”. When the 24th pin does not line up exactly with your ruler’s 12” mark, it’s time to replace your chain. There are "chain checker” devices sold at bike shops as well that help you evaluate chain wear more easily. This way you have a more definitive way of determining the mileage you can expect from your chain in your area, with your stature, the quality of your bicycle and its parts.
Chain wear is often referred to a “stretch”. Technically, what’s really going on is that the chain’s pins have worn slightly at each link. Each worn pin allows the chain’s rollers to displace slightly, like the cardboard tube inside a roll of toilet paper. The resulting slop allows each link to offset forward of where it should be, especially under the tension of hard pedaling, where a “stretched” can cause a violent and disturbing skip or clunk, when the roller is so poorly aligned with your cog that it cannot drop between your cog’s teeth. This causes the next chain roller to drop into the intended slot, and the teeth in your mouth, having been rather jarred by the experience, will ask you to please take your bike to the shop for a new chain, and possibly a new cassette if you’ve let it get to this point!
When should you replace the chain-rings or cogs?
Chain-ring and cog wear is much more difficult to diagnose than chain wear, especially with the positionally-specific shaped teeth on cogs and chain-rings that are integral with all modern derailleur drive-train systems. Keeping a good chain on your bike, and making sure it is clean and well-lubricated will ensure that you get the maximum life from your chain-rings and cogs. Your cogs and chain-rings should last through three to five chain replacements, perhaps more. If you notice excessive friction or reduced shifting performance after a chain replacement, it is probably time to replace your chain-rings and/or cassette. When replacing these items, we strongly recommended that you stick with original manufacturer replacement parts whenever possible.
The DT Swiss hub is, in our view, the most reliable and easily-serviced hub available today. Whether your bicycle has the DT Swiss Hugi (540) tandem hub found on many of our tandems and touring bikes or the 350 found on other road and touring models. All service manuals, data sheets, weight comparisons and technical drawings can be found on the DT Swiss Tech pages online.
Here's a link to the DT Swiss service manuals for their ratchet system hubs. DT Swiss Service Manuals
All DT/Swiss hubs should be serviced at regular intervals.
According to DT Swiss: “Maintenance of the rear and front hubs wheel must be carried out at least once a year. When used under extreme conditions (heavy rain, mud, transport in the rain etc.) the free-wheel should be serviced more often.”
When it’s time to get a really fine bicycle, the process requires more than getting it down from a hook, throwing a leg over and calling it good. We start with a detailed questionnaire that allows you to tell us about your riding style, what you like or dislike about your current bike and all of your most important body measurements such as femur length, arm length, foot size, height, weight and so forth. We call this form our Fitting Guide.
You can fill out our fitting guide with the help of your Co-Motion dealer, or at home with a friend. Your completed fitting guide gives us the information to place you, virtually, on a bike using our CAD program. Looking at your virtual position using our CAD software, our fitting experts will determine whether one of our stock sized bicycles is appropriate, or advise you if a custom fit should be considered.
For many people, the prospect of ordering a custom bicycle is intimidating, and we hope to put your mind at ease. Our job is to make it as easy as possible to order your custom Co-Motion, and we want help you to understand what we propose to create for you with your vital input. To illustrate our proposed design, we’ll send a detailed drawing, plus a fit recommendation and design summary. We begin building your new bicycle only when we have your approval to proceed.
We have the experience and capability to build an incredible array of bicycles, from time-trial tandems to globe-circling touring bikes. Not only do we build custom versions of any bicycle in our catalog, we have built bicycles for the most diminutive cyclists to heavyweight powerhouses, world-record setters, and just plain folks. Our capabilities, tubing selection, superb staff and unmatched facility is ready and waiting for the opportunity to build your next bicycle.
Incredibly smooth and more efficient power transfer, immediate response and an incredible weight savings of 283 grams (10 ounces) compared to top quality chain and chain-rings makes the Gates Carbon Drive a natural choice for our top race tandems. The Carbon Drive lasts as much as 10 times longer than traditional chain and chain-rings, and never needs oil [Note: Gates’ official word is to expect 2-3x normal chain life- we find this very conservative].
Will the Gates Carbon Drive fit the Tandem I have now?
If you have a Co-Motion tandem manufactured in 2000 or later, chances are good that the Gates Carbon Drive will work on your bike. Most of our tandems made within this time frame have a 28.5” boom tube length- measured from the center of the rear bottom bracket, to the center of the front bottom bracket, disregarding the placement of the eccentric unit.
The Gates Carbon Drive sprockets will replace your chain-rings on the timing cranks. The sprockets are made to fit onto either a five bolt 130mm bolt circle diameter (BCD) and now a four bolt 104mm bcd pattern. The FSA Gossamer and SL-K tandem cranks both accept 130 bcd rings. The Shimano Ultegra tandem cranks also accept 130 bcd rings. The older Race Face tandem cranks have a 110mm bcd, as do many other older tandem cranks so the belt system would not be compatible. Some cranks, like the Truvativ Elita cranks have the 130mm bcd but might not create adequate clearance from the chain-stay tube due to the spindle length. The Co-Motion 11-speed compact cranks use a four bolt 104 bcd spider on the timing side, so the newest version of the Carbon Drive works great.
We do not expect that the Gates Carbon Drive will fit on all tandems. If your tandem meets the following criteria, the Gates Carbon Drive may work for you.
Creaks and squeaks that occur while riding can be very difficult to track down. Here is a list of some of the most common causes of these annoying sounds on a tandem, ordered from easiest to most complex to repair:
1. PEDAL/CLEAT INTERFACE
If you use a clip-in pedal system, such as Shimano SPD, check to see that the screws the affix the cleats to your shoes are tight. Apply a little grease or Teflon-based lube to the area where the cleat engages the pedal, and on the cleats themselves. Worn cleats may squeak even when they’re greased- they should be replaced. Sometimes a pebble can get caught in a cleat and cause a nasty creaking noise. If you have cage-type or platform pedals that do not require cleats, you may want to check the bolts that fix the cage to the pedal body- there are usually either 4 or 8 of them per pedal.
2. CHAIN-RING BOLTS
These little bolts can make quite an annoying ticking or creaking sound that is most likely to occur during hard efforts. Be sure to check the timing chain-ring bolts as well as the drive crank chain-ring bolts. A couple of loose ones is all it takes to make a terrible noise.
Yes, that simple thing can make noise, especially if it’s dry, or if some grit has found its way into your seat tube. Simply remove the posts and apply a thin layer of grease, then re-install. Hint- measure your saddle heights, or scrawl a line on your post so the height will be right when you reinstall them. Also, check the seat-post binder bolt- take it all the way out and grease the threads as well as the underside of the bolt head.
4. SEAT-POST HEAD ASSEMBLY
Even though your noise occurs only when pedaling, the motion of pedaling may be rocking the saddle from side to side enough to make some noise. Remove the seat-post head bolts, apply grease under the head of the bots as well as on the threads and reassemble.
There are several different types of tandem crank-sets we’ve used over the years, but all of them need to be properly tightened and maintained to be noise-free. Check Park Tool’s website to identify your crank type and get tips for proper installation and torque specs.
6. REAR WHEEL
Occasionally, a wheel will creak where the spokes cross over each other. Try placing a drop of oil where each pair of spokes crosses. Sometimes this creaking initiates from grit getting into the spokes and “notching” them where they cross. Keeping them clean and placing a drop of oil at the crosses will eliminate the noise.
7. HANDLEBAR STEMS
You can test the stems for creaks while not riding by straddling the bike, gripping the handlebar at its widest and pulling upward on opposite sides of the bar, mimicking the motion of an out-of-saddle climb. If the handlebar creaks at all, you may have found your culprit. Remove all bolts, grease the threading as well as under the bolt heads, reassemble and tighten evenly.
8. FRONT BOTTOM BRACKET ECCENTRIC UNIT
This is the chain-tension device for the timing chain. You may need to remove the eccentric unit and re-grease it. To remove it you’ll need to remove a crank-arm, then loosen the eccentric and slide it out one side of the frame. Once the eccentric is removed, you’ll want to clean out the inside of the eccentric housing and the outside of the eccentric unit itself. Then apply a thin layer of grease to the outside of the eccentric unit as well as the inside of the eccentric unit. Removing the crank varies somewhat depending on which model of PeriScope you have. You may want to bring your bike in to your dealer to have this done. If you’d like to do it yourself, Park Tool has some excellent mechanical tips on their website.
Please see our instructions on adjusting your eccentric bottom bracket in the section below.
9. BOTTOM BRACKET (BB) ASSEMBLIES
This is a little different from #8 above. Here, we’re talking about the interface where the bottom bracket assemblies thread into the rear bottom bracket shell or the eccentric shell itself. In either case, you will need to remove the crank-arms to get at the BB cups, and a special spanner is needed for every type of BB cup in current use, so I would recommend checking this item last, and only if the other examples above have not eliminated the noise. If you do plan on trying this yourself, you’ll need the correct BB tool. The Park tool link above can help you through the process, and it will help you identify what tools are needed.
It’s most likely that you’ll be getting rid of this annoyance well before you get to the later steps described here, but these things can be very tough to track down. If your noise remains elusive after taking all these steps, don’t despair. The good news is there is always a cause, and it can always be eliminated. It really helps to have a patient and thorough mechanic who will do what it takes to eliminate all possibilities until the problem is solved. Sometimes, a great mechanic can be as hard to find as your squeak, but ask around in your community and you may find a real gem.
Good luck, and happy noiseless riding!
Most modern tandems have a tandem-specific crank-set consisting of 4 arms, with the left side arms connected by a chain. This chain is called the timing chain, because it keeps both riders pedaling in unison. When functioning properly, the timing chain is tight enough to run smoothly with no binding, yet not so loose that chain derailment occurs. One of the first tandem maintenance points that needs attention from new tandem owners is the adjustment of the timing chain. On Co-Motion tandems we have our own easy-to-adjust system. The front crank-set bearing is housed in an aluminum shell with an off-center bore. The assembly is referred to as the “eccentric”. Our aluminum and steel frames are different in the way the eccentric is fixed into place, but otherwise the procedure is the same. On our steel tandem models, the eccentric is held in place by an internal binding system.
Begin your timing chain adjustment by loosening the two allen bolts in each side of the eccentric with a 4mm allen/hex key. Insert the allen key into one of the bolts, then turn the crank as though pedaling until the crank arm or crank spider bears against the allen wrench. Applying pedaling force will now rotate the eccentric. The eccentric can be rotated in either direction with the effect on the chain tension immediately obvious. You may also use a pin spanner to engage both allen bolts on one side of the eccentric and rotate the eccentric that way. The eccentric used in our steel tandems prior to 2005, and our current aluminum tandems is shown at the right. Loosen the pinch bolts that bind the eccentric in place and rotate it by inserting a thin screwdriver or allen wrench into the hole on the left (non-drive) side of the eccentric.
How tight do you want the chain?
While moving the eccentric, keep an eye on the timing chain and refrain from applying force to the pedal when it seems that you have eliminated chain slack. Do not re-tighten the allen bolts yet. Check chain tension uniformity by revolving the cranks a few times. Notice that the chain will be tighter in some positions. Try to find the tightest position and leave it there. You want to Steel BB ensure that even in its tightest position, the chain does not bind. With your finger pressing on the bottom of the chain about midway between the bottom brackets, you should be able to push about 1/2”. Reposition the eccentric until you’re satisfied that the chain can move freely and is sufficiently tight. Re-tighten the binder bolts gradually, 1/2 turn at a time until secure. Older Aluminum Tandems: Older Co-Motion Robusta, Roadster and Al Capp models have 4 set screws securing the eccentric in place. Loosen the set screws about 1 turn each with a 4mm allen/hex key and otherwise follow the above procedure.
The best advice we can give to anyone exploring a tandem purchase for the first time is to try as many tandems as possible. It is unrealistic to assume that the most popular, most expensive (choose your category) or most available tandem is the best one for your needs. Active cyclists who have owned top-quality bicycles for years will be disappointed in cheap tandems, but first timers who are out for some casual recreation may not be. It doesn’t take an $8,000 tandem to make bike path tandem cruising fun. Obviously, a cheap cruiser tandem won’t be suitable for century rides or racing either.
When you begin shopping for your tandem, approach it as you would any major purchase. Give some thought to what you’d like to do on a tandem, and what your budget can hold up to. Read reviews, ask for advice here, and get some hands-on experience. Find out if there’s a local bike club with a tandem group or even a tandems-only club. They can be valuable resources. Bike shops that keep tandems in stock are a rarity and need your support. Find them and ask for their help in selecting a tandem that suits your needs. Most are happy to let you take test rides so that you can compare various manufacturers’ claims with your own feelings. Because of space and expense considerations, most shops will have to order- in your size and color, so impulse purchases are unusual.
Compare the qualities of tandems as you would compare cars or computers. Take notes to help you organize your thoughts. Divide your findings into categories, like handling, comfort, weight, sprinting performance, climbing performance, etc. Captain and stoker observations on these categories can vary greatly. Make sure that you’re both going to be happy.
Remember that changes can be made in components, but you’re going to have the frame for a very long time. Make the frame the most-scrutinized part of your search. Often mass-producers of bicycles make a lousy bike look good by specifying a few high-profile components, gambling that consumers will assume the bike is great because it’s got X,Y+Z. If the brands you’re interested in are not available in your area, call the manufacturer and find out where the nearest dealer is. It’s worth a trip to ensure that you’re making an educated purchase.
Trust your instincts and don’t let the high-tech jargon intimidate you. If you’re persistent in your search, you’ll be able to narrow your choices down quickly. When it comes to writing the check, you’ll know that you made your choice intelligently. That will make all the miles ahead more fun.
This depends on the bike. On our PeriScope 26” models, a child as small as 3’ 6” can ride without any special equipment. On a more traditional tandem frame, children as young as 2 1/2 have been started tandeming with child stoker kits. Yes, child stoker kits are available to fit on virtually any tandem.
The geometry or size of the frame is not important when these kits are used. Typically, the tandem is fitted to the parents, and adaptations are made for the child. Essentially the kit allows for the attachment of a child sized crank-set at any point on the stoker seat tube of any tandem. A chain connects this small crank-set to the non-drive side of the main crank-set. The drawback to the child stoker kit is that it must be removed when adults wish to ride together. Another adaptive device is called a crank shorten-er (below).
This device shortens the radius of the circle that is pedaled by the child, and also reduces the distance from the saddle to the pedal when the pedal is at the bottom of its stroke. Crank shortners can be used to extend the age- or size-range of a traditional tandem, even when the real issue isn’t the full pedaling circle, since they can allow a smaller child to reach the pedal at an earlier age than they would reach the pedal at the crank’s full length.
Because of the dual telescoping seat post system and low, compact frames on our PeriScope models, switching between adult and child stokers is very easy. Once the child is big enough to ride without crank shortners, between 5 and 7 years of age, you can change the set up on a Periscope for an adult or child stoker in a few seconds, as it’s simply a matter of adjusting seat height and handlebar height and reach.
Are you leaving someone behind?
Who’s the cyclist in your family? Chances are, it’s you. After all, you’re the one researching the web about tandems. Are there any other cyclists? Perhaps your husband, wife, kids, significant others? If you haven’t guessed what this is all leading up to, here it is:
You could be alienating the other potential cyclist(s) in your family if you don’t have a tandem. You may already have experience trying to ride with people less experienced in cycling. If you’re like many cyclists who try to share cycling on single bikes, you find yourself gearing down or waiting for your friend/family member at the top of each hill. That’s frustrating for everyone. Tandem bicycles have often been called the “great equalizers” because they allow people of varying abilities to ride together. Better yet, each rider on a tandem can put as much effort into the workout as he or she wants, so if you’re a glutton for intensity; go for it!
Got kids? There’s no better way to introduce a child to the thrill of cycling than on a tandem. They’ll experience the joy of sharing teamwork with you, while you get the benefit of never losing track of your child during unbeatable “quality time”. On a tandem you and your child can explore far beyond the boundaries imposed by the neighborhood sidewalks. Children can literally grow up on a tandem. Our new Periscope design makes it easier than ever for kids to start tandeming at an early age, and keep at it until they’re full grown- on the same bike.
Tandems have become much less of a rarity in recent years for a number of reasons. One reason is certainly that couples today are more likely to find healthy activities that they can do together. Another is that tandems are evolving at a rapid pace, to the degree that their image is less quaint, and more geared toward serious cycling. Properly fit, well-engineered frames and components that are up to tandem duty have come to be expected on modern tandems. And that’s the way it ought to be.
Our company is dedicated to making the best tandems available anywhere. We know we’re not the only ones who say that, but if you’re thinking about tandems, you should definitely have a look at our line. There are several companies making good tandems in price ranges that start at about what two ordinary bikes would cost. But if you’re already into exceptional bikes, you’ll want a tandem that meets your expectations of what makes a fine bicycle. That’s where we come in.
With new wheel sizes seemingly coming out every year, choosing the right size for your tandem isn’t getting any easier. As a maker of primarily 700C-wheeled tandems, we’ve won a lot of converts to the traditional road-sized wheels for those who tandem on pavement. 26”, 650b (27.5” and 29”-wheeled tandems are a great choice if your goals are to ride both on and off-road, or you have specific fitting needs that can only be answered by going to a different wheel size, such as our PeriScope Scout with 26” wheels, or our Mocha with 650b wheels, which makes it a great alternative for smaller riders to the larger wheeled Java. We have found that many new tandem riders buy inexpensive first tandems with 26” wheels, hoping to enjoy some of the versatility that they offer. Often they can become disenchanted when they find it difficult to keep up with others riding
700C tandems on group tandem road rides. We have noticed the same effect on tandems that are otherwise virtually identical. It just seems more difficult to maintain high speeds
on a smaller-wheeled tandem. If you’re interested in fast road riding, and you don’t need the flexible sizing of the PeriScope or off-road ability of our Java or Mocha, we’d recommend 700C wheels.
There are several interesting reasons why there is a distinct difference in the ride qualities of 700C vs. 26”, which has long been debated. First, it helps to understand the history of tire-sizing nomenclature. Both designations, 26” and 700C indicate tire diameters that are only nominally related to the actual diameters commonly used. Most of the 700C tires in use today on road bikes are about 675 to 680mm in actual outside diameter, (not 700). The rim size is the same as that used on zillions of working-class bikes around the world, although their tires measure around 710mm. The 26” size that most of us are familiar with is descended from American balloon-tired bikes, which had tires about 1.75” wide and actually measured at about 26”. When narrower tires are used, the overall diameter invariably changes too, as the tire assumes a relatively round cross-section no matter what kind of casing is used. Amazingly, on a 26” wheel, the small 1” or 1.25” tires can result in a diameter of little more than 610mm, (24”).
Some of you may see what all of this is leading to: Development and gear ratios. Development (or roll-out) refers to a combination of the gear ratio multiplied by the actual tire diameter times Pi (3.14- the circumference conversion figure). The result is the actual distance your bike travels for each crank revolution. Let’s look at a few examples:
1. 700x28 tire (680 actual dia.)/ 54T chain-ring/ 11T cog (54 divided by 11 times 680 times 3.14) Development = 10,481.8mm or 412.67”.
2. 26x2.0” tire (667mm actual dia.—not likely to be used for road rides)/54T chain-ring/11T cog ( Development=10,281.5mm or 404.78”, or not much different from 700x28.
3. 26x1.25” tire (610mm actual dia., a common road size)/54T chain-ring/11T cog Development =9,402.8mm or 370.19”, or 42.48” fewer inches traveled per 360 degree pedal stroke. That’s a big difference.
The point is, a 26” wheel with a small tire is actually little more than 24” in diameter. With gearing identical on all three examples, you can see the difference in the amount of ground covered by each wheel per crank revolution. Another way of looking at is that the smaller wheels must rotate more times to cover the same distance as the larger wheels.
People have been arguing whether wheel diameter is a factor in bicycle efficiency for generations, and we might not be much help in settling that argument. There is another issue that affects bicycle efficiency that has more to do with economics and applied technology than science. Which does help to settle the next obvious question: Why not just gear up to get the same roll-out from the smaller wheels?
The answer relates to a problem that tandems already suffer from—component compatibility. To make example #3 above travel the same distance per crank revolution as example number 1 requires a ratio increase of 11%. That difference can be made up by exchanging the large chain-ring to a 60T ring. There are a lot tandem riders who use big chain-rings, and probably even more who have tried extra-large chain-rings once and then returned to using more common sizes. It doesn’t take long to discover that front shifting is not helped by big chain-rings. The arc of a front derailleur cage is usually matched to the arc of a 42, 48 or 53T chain-ring. A mismatched arc forces derailleur placement higher than optimal shifting requires, since part of the cage will drag on the chain-ring otherwise. A further complication is that in order to cover a reasonable range, each chain-ring must be compatible with, and not too disparate in size from the next one.
Traveling a mile with example #1 requires the 700x28 wheel to rotate 753.8 times, or 153 pedal revolutions in the 54x11 gear. Example #3 takes 171 pedal revolutions per mile with the same gear, while the wheel rotates 840.36 times. The equation changes when #3 is equipped with a 60T chain-ring and the number of pedal strokes required roughly matches example #1, but the #3 wheel still has to rotate 86.56 more times than the larger wheel does each mile.
The combination of losses in efficiency due to component compatibility, wheel revolutions, and gearing compromises add up to a significant enough difference to make 700c wheels appealing to people who spend most of their tandem miles on the road. Since our experience suggests that the road is where most people ride their tandems, most of our tandem models are fitted with 700c wheels. For those seeking other experiences, we very happily offer other choices.
Single Bike Tech
A little history of the development of these models may help in understanding their design goals.
The Americano’s heritage initiated in the early 1990’s, when we first began experimenting with applying tandem-duty components and tubing to touring bikes for heavier riders or heavy loading. We didn’t consider the possibility that it might have broader appeal than we originally envisioned.
By the mid 1990’s, we began to grow a reputation for building very solid touring bikes. We often used one tandem design element, such as a tandem fork or rear wheel to answer the concerns of individuals who wanted to solve problems they had on other touring bikes.
By 1997, the Americano began to take shape. We began to put together all the parts that had proved successful in our earlier nameless touring bikes. We used large diameter tandem tubing, tandem forks, and we built frames to accept a 145mm dish-less rear wheel. We had a recipe for success and soon would be ready to give the bike a name and produce it in a range of sizes. For the next two years, we produced it simply as our tandem-like touring single, or “half tandem”.
Structurally the Americano is designed to carry more weight- the advantages to the tandem-sized tubing and tandem fork are clear design attributes. Less obvious is the Americano’s rear wheel spacing of 145mm (typical spacing on road bikes is 130mm). The advantage to a wheel with 145mm axle spacing is that it allows for symmetrical wheel construction with equal tension on all spokes and no dish. If you’re among the thousands of bicycle tourists who have experienced the disappointment of a collapsed rear wheel, you know the weakness of a dished wheel. A wheel with no dish is structurally superior and if you’re carrying 100 lbs of equipment in the middle of South America, that’s good.
Surprisingly, all these design elements borrowed from tandems did something unexpected: The result is, we are able to build lighter touring bikes than what many other respected builders can offer, yet with much more capability. The traditional approach of using small-diameter heavier tubing, thick spokes and heavy rims is trounced by the Americano’s lightweight muscle. Our intent never was to make the Americano lighter than the other so-called “expedition touring” bikes out there. It just is.
In 1999, we introduced the newly-named Americano and put into our 2000 model year catalog. It has been a stunning success with appeal to anyone who enjoys self-contained touring, or at least dreams of such adventures! We designed the Americano’s size range to accommodate a heads-up position, superb weight balance, plenty of clearance for big tires and large capacity panniers, a lightened version of our unsurpassed tandem fork, everything a touring cyclist could want in a bicycle. Little did we realize that we were soon to meet a lot of folks for whom the Americano seems to be too much bike!
Not long after the Americano’s introduction, we found ourselves accepting scores of orders for a bicycle that was sort of a cross between our Americano and Espresso, a nice, clean and lightweight steel road bike we’ve been constructing since 1991. When we would describe the capabilities of the Americano, we would often hear, “well… I’m not doing anything that extreme”. We found ourselves making a lot of lighter touring bikes, and in 2002, we named it the Nor’Wester.
The original Nor’Wester came equipped either with a touring kit or a lighter road kit for club/century/sport cycling with refined road manners and a fit and comfort no racing bike could match. But just a couple of years later, we found that there was enough demand for a lighter road-oriented model with a carbon fork to refine the line even further, and then introduced the Nor’Wester and Cascadia (formerly the Nor’Wester Tour).
As our reputation for superb touring bikes has continued to grow, we found ourselves fulfilling orders for a 26”-wheeled version of the Americano, an option which grew in popularity enough to create a new model in 2009: The Pangea. The Pangea has virtually all of the Americano’s attributes, but retains the original MTB standard 135mm axle width (145 optional), enabling frustrated MTB owners a chance to transfer their components to Pangea frame to create a real touring machine.
In 2010 we responded to increasing demand for internal gearing by developing new dropouts especially designed for the unsurpassed Rohloff 14-speed hub. We created Rohloff-specific Americano and Pangea models, including Gates Carbon Drive belts and special frame accommodation for removing or replacing the drive belt when needed. We have continued improving our entire touring bike line with better tubing, improved forks, better dropouts and evolving frame design every year. It’s no wonder we’re thought of as much a touring bike company as we are the tandem people.
Currently, Co-Motion’s extensive touring bicycle line includes the ever-popular Americano and Cascadia models for expedition touring, and the Nor’Wester and Camino models for lighter tour duty- all four of these with 700c wheels. The Divide is equipped with 29” wheels, while the Siskiyou has 650b wheels, and the Pangea’s wheels are 26”. We offer transmission choices from derailleur systems to the amazing Rohloff hub and in 2015 we introduced a Pinion gearbox drive-train that we now offer on several models.
Below are a few salient points from each or our touring bicycles to help you narrow down your choices…
Touch-Up Paint Q&A
Sooner or later, that beautiful Co-Motion paint finish is bound to suffer a scratch here and there. We know you want to keep your bike looking as good as possible and protect it from corrosion to ensure its longevity. We offer touch-up paint right here at Co-Motion Cycles, and we now have all current colors, and most colors we’ve used in the past, available for one-click ordering in our online store (click here to visit the store page).
Before you order your touch-up paint, you’ll need to determine the right color for your bike. If you have lost track of your original paperwork or you’re not certain what color your Co-Motion is, you may be able to narrow it down by determining the year your bike was manufactured and look at the standard colors offered in that year, as listed on this page below. The serial number is stamped into the bottom bracket shell on Co-Motion single bikes, and into the front bottom bracket shell on Co-Motion tandems. The last two digits of your serial number indicate year of manufacture. Example: SH12397 would indicate 1997. However, since we change model years each fall, bicycles manufactured in September through December could have the next model year’s color. Our serial numbers do not include a month-day code. If your Co-Motion has a custom paint job please contact your Co-Motion Dealer for the original sales order which would indicate paint colors, or give us a call. E-mailing a digital photo to us at email@example.com is often the simplest and easiest way for us to help you find your color code.
Tips for a Successful Touch-Up Repair
To do a pro-level touch-up you’ll need a couple of things in addition to the touch-up paint. A 0000 artists brush, some 1000-2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper, swirl mark remover and a clean, cotton cloth. First, feather the edges by sanding lightly with well soaked sandpaper. Second, buff the surrounding areas back to a high gloss with the swirl mark remover. Third, use the artist brush to apply the color – full coverage may take several coats. Please bear in mind that it is very difficult to blend in a small dab of paint perfectly to match your sprayed-on factory finish. Metallic and Pearlescent paints are the most challenging, as the tiny metallic or pearl particles tend to gravitate together and the pigment tends to flow to the edges. Mix your paint thoroughly and apply in thin layers for best results. Do the best you can with your touch-up, and rest assured that your work helps protect your frame from corrosion. No one will notice your little touch ups more than yourself!
If you want your frame to be restored to as-new condition, consider sending it to us for a complete repaint.
Traveling with Your Bike
We’ve found S&S couplers to be extremely reliable, perhaps more reliable than any other bicycle component ever made. They are virtually trouble-free, but it is possible to encounter a problem, especially if your bicycle is exposed to heavy dust or grit while uncoupled.
If you think you may have some dust or grit on your S&S coupling, do not try to thread the couplings together until you’ve removed the grit or dust. Use a soft cotton cloth to wipe the threading thoroughly on the female and male ends of each contaminated coupling. Use a high quality Teflon bearing grease such as Finish Line Extreme Fluoro (available in our oline store) to re-lubricate the coupling threads. NEVER attempt to assemble your Co-Pilot without lubricant on the couplings. If no Teflon grease is available, we recommend Never-Seez as an acceptable (but messy) alternative, available at hardware stores. You may now reassemble your coupling.
Your Co-Motion Co-Pilot comes with each coupler well lubricated with Finish Line Extreme Fluoro grease. This lubricant is colorless, so it is not visible. Water or solvents will not affect your couplings or their initial lubrication. There is no need to re-lubricate unless your couplings are contaminated with dust or grit. Finish Line Extreme Fluoro grease is available at many bicycle shops.
With several S&S travel bike cases available it may be hard to choose the right one since they are all made to carry your bicycle and protect it in transit. We sell a lot of travel bikes equipped with S&S couplers and for many years we had just two choices for cases, the original Hard Case and the Backpack Case.
Since introducing our Co-Motion Co-Pilot Case (formerly called the Co-Motion Co-Pilot Hybrid Case) in 2007, it’s more clear to us than ever what the best choice is, and this is why we’re only selling the Co-Motion Co-Pilot case. However, we recognize that there are other choices, and we still field a lot of questions about which case to choose. Here are some facts and observations about some of the cases that are currently available, in the interest of helping you to make an informed decision.
HARD SHELL CASE FACTS
At first glance it may appear that a hard shell cases offer the best overall protection. In use however, the hard cases sometimes seem to expose your bicycle to overzealous luggage handlers, who at times will treat the luggage that looks like it can handle the roughest handling with… well, rough handling. We’ve seen many incidences of hard case carry handles and latches damaged or completely sheared off in transit, which sometimes can lead to a damaged bicycle.
A hard case may give you a false sense of security. Your bicycle needs to be packed as carefully in a hard case as in one of the soft-shell alternatives. Keep in mind that most of the damage we see to bicycles packed in hard cases is from loose items rattling around inside the case, or improper padding. Travelers seem more motivated to carefully pack and pad their bicycles in the soft-shell luggage, and this may be why we see less damage to bicycles packed into soft-shell luggage.
HARD SHELL CASE CHOICES
The original Hard Case has a thin, yet fairly rigid outer shell to protect its contents and has a handle and wheels to make it easier to get around with it in the airport. This case features:
Cable separators work by coupling together two complete brake or shifter cables. The first cable, from your brake or shifter, terminates in the male end of the coupler, and is held fast with two, 2mm setscrews.
Then a second cable is sent out the female end of the coupler and on to the brake or derailleur. The head of the second cable is captured by the female end of the coupler.
We position the cable separators a few inches ahead of the frame couplers on a single bike and, on a tandem the same distance from the second set of frame couplers.
Each set of 3 separators consists of 2 shifter cable separators and 1 brake cable separator. Each separator requires 2 complete inner cables (wires). You will need 4 shifter inner cables, and 3 brake inner cables for one bike.
As the leading supplier of S&S coupler-equipped bicycles, we’re asked on a daily basis:
- I own a Trek, Merlin, Huffy, Independent single bike. Can you add S&S couplings to my bike?
- I own a Co-Motion single bike, can you install S&S couplings?
- I own a Co-Motion tandem without S&S couplings. How much does it cost to make my tandem into a Co-Pilot?
- Should we buy a Speedster today, ride it for a few years and then have the couplings added when we can afford them?
- Why can’t you (or won’t you) add couplings to my bike?
The simple answer to all of these questions is that we do not offer S&S coupler retrofits at Co-Motion Cycles. We have a much better way of integrating S&S couplings, which requires that the bicycle is originally designed and built for coupling integration.
We designed special frame tubing for all of our S&S coupling-equipped models specifically for coupler integration. Our design changes the profile of the tube to incorporate the coupler into a thicker butted tube section, so that the resulting frame is stronger.
Before the frame is welded, the mitering department checks the CAD drawing and marks the tubes to locate the butted or thicker zones for each coupler location. The tubes are then cut where the couplers will be installed. Once the tubing has been cut it is sent to the brazing department where the couplers are silver brazed into the cut tubes. After the couplers are brazed and quality checked, the (now separable) tubes are sent back to the mitering department to be cut at the precise angles necessary to make your bicycle. From mitering the tubes then go to welding. The frame tubes with the S&S couplers already in place are then put in the precision fixtures for tack welding.
This labor intensive process assures optimal coupler alignment, with no added stress to your frame, making travels with your bike much easier. We do not offer coupler retrofits to existing frames, but if you own a non-coupled Co-Motion (or any other brand), or you’re thinking of buying a used Co-Motion without couplings, there are several frame builders who do offer this service for any brand of bicycle. Because we know integrating the couplers into frame tubes designed for that purpose is much better, we cannot stress enough that your best choice is to order the bike with the couplings from the start. When considering a retrofit job from another builder, consider their warranty, (we obviously will not warrant their work) the quality of the necessary repainting, and the cost of disassemble/ reassembly of your bike.