Rejuvenating the Old Battle-Axe

IMG_7131We had another trip to Hatton Locks at the weekend and Boo experienced the joy of mud in her eye. She is very proud of her Stratford Junior Cycling team colours….even when mud splattered…a good look for her at the end of 30 miles!

One of the things becoming abundantly clear from our training rides on the tandem is that in order to be reliable over the course of two weeks and 950 miles of cycling some mechanical refurbishment will be needed before we set off. In addition, my dear partner in this crazy endeavour is growing ever taller and therefore needs some adjustment in her position on the bike. We have been putting the saddle ever higher to achieve this, but are running out of adjustment and impacting stability as the centre of mass moves ever higher. A change of approach is needed! So I measured up Boo’s inside leg and found we could get her on the main cranks instead of the ‘kiddie cranks’.

So I’ve engaged in some research for appropriate parts, developed a shopping list and split out the repairs and modifications into those I want to do and those which are less straight-forward.

At the weekend I visited John Atkins Cycles in Leamington Spa to discuss the work I needed to get done. Given the frequently encountered view from Local Bike Shops; that they can only work on bikes bought from the shop, it was a very refreshing change. They were happy to do the work and had no problem with me sourcing the parts tandem specific parts (mainly from St John’s Street Cycles) which they had difficulty getting. In addition, they had great suggestions regarding how the braking performance could be improved and offered to help in sourcing 13-gauge spoke for the wheels I’m going to be building.

Helpfully as soon as I got talking about LEJOG, the chap I spoke with in the workshop had some useful advice about route-planning through the Scottish highlands. Importantly, his advice seemed to be borne of real experience of touring North of the Border. All in all, just excellent service, exactly the sort of thing I remember from the local bike shop in my youth. Chapeau!

So the plan of campaign looks like this:

  • Build new wheels, based on White Industries hubs (compatible with drag brake)
  • Remove existing drag brake, refurbish and refit to new wheels
  • Switch 6 speed to 9 speed block
  • Gear levers from downtube to STI levers
  • Switch to bar-end control for
  • Remove Kiddie cranks and swap to short crank-arm crossover crank (150mm)
  • Replace bottom brackets

I look forward to getting this underway. I’ll get the credit-card ready for ordering the new parts!


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