First, I must offer apologies to regular followers of this blog for not having posted anything for over a month now. It's been a busy and challenging time lately, on all fronts, and I frankly just haven't been inspired to write. But let's see if we can fire up the old boilers again and get this ship moving...
Yesterday, I found myself with a set of bikes in my repair stand that made quite a contrast. I tried to get a good photo of the pair, but I fear that it really doesn't do justice to the strange duo I was working on.
To the right, you can see a classic old Schwinn Twinn, the basic tandem out of the grand old Scwhinn company in Chicago. In contrast to the very high end Paramount tandems of the era, this one is a heavy, sturdy, simple workhorse. I won't hazard a guess on the weight, but suffice to say it took some effort and grunting to get it up there in the stand. These were the bikes that were the staple of many a rental fleet, especially a beach towns, where many a happy couple cruised the boardwalk on sunny days. Sturdy, welded steel frame, stout steel wheels, all steel components... and one gear with a coaster brake in the back. Not the kind of bike you'd want to take on long, hilly rides, but for a mellow outing with a friend or sweetheart, perhaps a picnic midway, it was just dandy. This one was found at a yard sale for next to nothing, and I'm sure it will give the new owner a lot of smiles.
On the left, and difficult to make out, is the main frame and back wheel of a much newer tandem.... a tandem recumbent to be more specific. Even more specifically, it's from the Vision line of recumbents, and aptly named the Double Vision (for all you Foreigner fans?). It doesn't look like much without the seats and front wheel, but when fully together this is quite an impressive bike. It seems to go on forever... a very long bike that makes squeezing it in the shop a challenge. I generally find myself driven to sardonically calling them "Battlestar Gallactica" when we have one in the shop, and everyone in the shop knows which bike to which I'm referring. Don't get me wrong, they're good bikes, and the owners I've talked to all love them. They're just a bit of a pain to maneuver around our small repair area.
I actually have a bit of a soft spot for the Double Vision, of all the tandem recumbents. A number of years ago, we had one come into the non-profit bike shop where I worked in Portland, and all of us mechanics just had to give it a try. I have to say, it was a challenge. As I'd never ridden a recumbent previously at that point, and had exactly one tandem ride under my belt, I could not get solid control over it on the first try. Luckily for me, a colleague had a lot more experience with both, so he took me for a spin around on it, with me in the "stoker" seat. It was a blast, honestly.
Anyway, it was a funny situation yesterday with such two very different tandems in the same repair stand. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, each represents a very different set of requirements and limitations, as well as price range. Both could be a lot of fun to ride. And I find it fun to work on such very different bikes. That's one of the joys of my work... I get to handle all manner of bikes. Do I have my favorites? Sure, and I have those that I'd just as soon not work on, if I can skip it. But I honestly enjoy the variety of working on such a wid variety... it's one of my versions of fun!
(Oh, and in the window behind the tandems is a Brompton P6R in Apple Green. I seem to have become the arbiter of what goes in the front window, and it's usually a Brompton of some type. Big surprise, I'm sure.)