Bicycle Built for 4, 3, 2, and 1




Something you’ll only see at Rodriguez

Counting on you fingers
There are a lot of custom bicycle builders in the world. That list shrinks quite a bit when you look for custom tandem builders. Now, you can probably count on your fingers the number of shops that can build you a bicycle for three. Think about it….how many can you think of? Now, think of how many shops will build you a bicycle built for 4 or even 5! These are what we call Extra-Long bicycles. Is your list shrinking?

Now for the really hard stuff!
Add convertibility to the mix . What is ‘convertibility’? It’s the ability to make your Extra-Long bicycle easily convert to a bike for 3 or 2 riders. How cool is that? The number of builders that have accomplished this you can count on just one hand now.

But wait! I’m not finished. Now for the icing on the cake. How about an Extra-Long bicycle that will convert all the way down to a regular bicycle built for one? The list of builders who’ve done this can probably be counted on one finger….Rodriguez Bicycle Company of Seattle.

You won’t see much about our company in magazines or online bicycle tech sites. For some reason, they don’t take much notice of what we’ve been doing out here in Seattle for the last years now. If you’ve heard of us, it’s probably because someone you ran into along the way recommended our shop. Maybe you needed something very specific, and another shop sent you our way. (Many thanks to all of you who are getting the word out.) When it comes to the extra-ordinary, we’ve done just about everything possible with a bicycle. The crew here is the best there is.

Now about this amazing bike
This particular project was really cool. In 2002 we built one of our exclusive Rodriguez 8-ball convertible tandem/single bikes for a couple here in Seattle. This specific bike sports the very first Rodriguez bottle opener. The one on this bike was actually made by hand here in the shop at the request of the customer. I liked it so much that I traced the shape on a piece of paper, and then imported it to my computer. Then we had them custom cut for us by a company here in Seattle, and have ever since.

This Fall, that couple approached me about building a couple of sections for their children. This is something that we’ve done before, so we came up with a plan for them. They also wanted to upgrade the shifting to Rohloff and put the drag brake on the front wheel in the form of a Sturmey Archer drum brake.

All of the finished upgrades can be seen in the full photo gallery for this bicycle.

Now for a few of the progress photos:




Making room for the new bottom bracket that will contain the Bushnell eccentric. This is required for upgrading to the Rohloff rear hub. Dan P. does some great work!


The frame got a full new rear triangle to make room for wider tires, Rohloff rear hub, and Bushnell eccentric



The frame stretched out on the frame table and the beginning of the 3rd section.

All of the finished upgrades can be seen in the full photo gallery for this bicycle.

Rodriguez and Erickson Custom Bicycles Logo

The New Rodriguez Bandito


The Lightest Road Bike with Disc Brakes!

Unleash the Beast!

For a decade now, we here at Rodriguez have been known for building some of the lightest bikes on the road. The amazing thing about these bikes is that they are made of good ol’ American steel! Well actually, they are made of the New American Steel. In 2006 we introduced our 13.5 pound Rodriguez Outlaw. That led to mass retirements of Trek Madone’s, Cervelo R3’s, Specialized Tarmac’s, and many many other overseas-made carbon frames. We love the look on people’s faces when they lift the Outlaw for the first time. Especially if they rode in on something they thought was ‘really light’.

Well, now we’d like to introduce something else equally spectacular. The Outlaw has a new cousin equipped with disc brakes, the Rodriguez Bandito. It took some time, and some planning to get this bike down to it’s fly-weight of just 15.9 pounds, but we’ve done it. The lightest disc brake bikes that we’ve been able to verify weight on are at least 2 pounds heavier than the Bandito.


“The Rodriguez Bandito offers the serious weight weenie some never before seen features available on a fly-weight disc brake road bike!”


Custom Steel bike with disc brakes by Rodriguez


Verified 15.9 pounds with disc brakes and 32c tires!

First up: 32c Tires

Now here’s an idea. One of the benefits to disc brakes on a road bike is that the brake caliper no longer limits your tire width. So, if the frame and fork are designed properly, you can put wide tires on your bike. Unfortunately, race bike manufacturers don’t realize that most ‘everyday’ riders would like this ability, and design their forks and frames for the same skinny tires that you could run with caliper brakes:-( We ask “where’s the fun in that?!”

The Bandito is the first ultra-light disc brake road bike designed for use with wide tires. As a matter of fact, we even did the weigh in with 32c tires on the bike. You can run up to 35c tires on this bike. We see the ability to run wide tires as the most important advantage to road disc brakes. Otherwise, why pay the weight penalty?

Next features: Lighter, more comfortable and more durable than your carbon bike

Now you won’t have to compromise weight, ride quality, comfort, or durability to own the sweetest ride in the pack. The Banditio comes with our lifetime warranty, just like all of our steel bikes (most carbon bikes have just 5 year limited warranties). Steel has a well deserved reputation as the smoothest riding material, but also is thought of as heavy:-( This is because most of us owned heavy steel bikes back in the 1970’s, and we associated the ‘heft’ with the frame material. We loved the ride, but were willing to sacrifice that smooth ride to save a few pounds on aluminum or carbon fiber. Well, steel has evolved, and now we can make a Rodriguez from steel that’s lighter than it’s carbon or aluminum counterparts. Some of you are probably ready to email us and schedule a test ride…right? Others out there, I know will be reading this and thinking “Bull Sh#$%” right? Well, read on then. I’ll explain a few things that will help you understand how we can pull this off.

Use your head:
Let’s talk about head tubes and head sets. This is the part of the bike where the fork is attached, and the bearings are referred to as the head set. Originally, carbon fiber bikes used the same sized head tubes and ISO head sets as titanium, aluminum and steel bikes. This part of the frame is under more stress, and carbon frames began to fail at this point. So, manufacturers began to ‘beef up’ this part of their carbon frames. Unlike aluminum, titanium and steel frames, it turns out carbon frames needed more material in this area in order to have the strength needed. To fit these bigger head tubes, bigger, non-standard head sets were used, and sometimes a proprietary fork. The issues of non-standard, or proprietary parts are many, but one thing is for sure. The bigger head tubes and head sets, and proprietary forks may have made the frame weight lower, but added weight to the full bike when built.

Bottoms up:
Now, let’s talk about bottom brackets. This is the part of your frame that holds the bearings for your cranks. Needless to say, this is also also weak point on a carbon bike. It’s a point of great stress on any frame. To fit the ultra-light, standard ISO bottom brackets that are used in steel, aluminum and titanium bikes, the carbon guys had to glue in a steel or aluminum shell so they could put threads in it. This added weight to a carbon frame. This was also a weak point as eventually the glue failed. To solve the problem, the carbon guys again abandoned the long held ISO standards, and adapted one of several different non-standards. Again, the frame had to be ‘beefed up’ and a heavier bottom bracket had to be used.

Let’s compare:
This brings us to an interesting point. Wether intentional or not, these evolutions artificially make a carbon frame seem lighter than it is. If one weighs just the carbon frame, without it’s required heavier bottom bracket and head set, the frame can be a little lighter than our steel Bandito. So a published frame weight is not the only thing to look at. If one weighs the carbon frame with it’s fork, required head set, and required bottom bracket, the result will be quite different. You see, an ultra-light Rodriguez steel frame, you can still use ultra-light ISO standard parts. This means that you can run much lighter head sets and bottom brackets, and in some cases forks. The result is very similar weights, or often, a lighter combined weight for the Rodriguez ultra-light.

So, no more weighing just the frame. You need to weigh the entire bike, or at least the frame with it’s bottom bracket, head set and fork to get a real comparison. If you do that, you’ll find the secret behind the Rodriguez ultra-light steel bikes like the new Bandito.

Added weight for no reason:
When designing the Bandito, we weighed a larger head tube and head set like the carbon bikes run. A lot of steel bike manufacturers run these, but I have no idea why. For instance, the weight difference between an ISO head tube set up and a 44mm head tube was just shy of 1/2 of a pound! On a steel bike, that’s completely unnecessary added weight, as a steel frame is strong enough without all of that ‘beef’.

Then, add to that the larger bottom brackets. The added weight again would be wasted on a steel frame, but none-the-less, a lot of steel bike builders use them.

If a steel bike has these larger head tubes, head sets, bottom bracket shells, and bottom brackets, it is a pretty heavy frame, and a really heavy bike. But, we don’t don’t use that stuff. I would put our ultra-light steel bikes up against any fly-weight on the market of any material.

In closing I’d like to say, if you love really light bikes, and you haven’t ridden a custom, American hand-made Rodriguez ultra-light, DO before you spend money on a carbon frame mass-produced overseas. If you already own a carbon bike, we challenge you to come in for a ride…but be careful…most who do wind up on a Rodriguez.

Thanks for reading – Dan 11-2016


Related Articles


Weight a Minute – Honesty in advertising
Steel vs. Carbon – Steel CAN be lighter
Chaos – Downside to abandoning ISO standards
The New Carbon… Carbon Steel!
Forever Bike – Proprietary parts 🙁

Just in time for NAHBS! But you won’t see this bike there….

…instead, it’ll be where it should be, with its new owner starting a life of challenging bicycle rides and tours! As a matter of fact, you won’t see any of our bicycles there. Instead, we’ll be right where we should be….designing, building and painting these custom creations. If you follow my blog, then you know why we don’t attend…if not, here you go.

Last month, I wrote about some of the incredibly unique Rodriguez bikes we built in 2014. Well, here we go again! 2015 is off to an amazing custom start as well!

More Custom than Custom!

This bike is pretty special, and I think you’ll agree after you’ve viewed the post. It’s a combination of our new Rodriguez Model 2014 tandem, our famous Rodriguez 6-pack, and our old standard, the Rodriguez 8-ball convertible (an invention of ours from the 1990’s that I wrote about last year). So, basically, this puppy is a micro travel bike, and a micro travel tandem all in one. Chances are that you won’t see anything this challenging to design and build at any bike show you’ll attend (sorry show attendees). That’s OK though, you can see the whole thing in detailed photos right here on our website because…well…it’s 2015, right?






Links in this article

At Rodriguez, It’s NAHBS every week!

It’s that time of the year again. The North American Handbuilt Bike Show (NAHBS) is almost here, and folks are asking us if we are going to attend as a vendor. As always, the answer is no. Now, some of you probably already know why we don’t go, but for others who might be curious, we’re simply the busiest little custom shop in world (not to mention one of the oldest). If you want a longer answer than that, here’s an article that explains why in detail.

That being said, we certainly have made a lot of bikes over the last year that would be excellent entries for display at a show like NAHBS. The difference is that these bikes were all custom made for their owners and are out on the road instead of being on display in a show. We have however spent a little time to photograph a few of these unique creations so that we could share them with you over the internet.

Realize this is just a small portion of the unique bikes that have been created here by the Rodriguez and Erickson team. If you’d like to see a lot more photos, visit our complete photo gallery.

I’ve selected a few bikes (there were hundreds to choose from) to highlight here to illustrate some of the more unique bicycles that we’ve done since last years NAHBS show. Scroll down the list and you’ll see that there’s something for everyone. Anyone of these bikes by itself would be a great NAHBS entry, but as a collection, I think it’s almost mind blowing. Look it over and see if you agree with me that we’ve got the best custom bike team in the industry right here in Seattle’s University District.

Click on any image to see a gallery of that bike with lots of close ups.

How about a Bicycle built for 4, that’s convertible to a bicycle built for 3?

Or, a Rodriguez 6-pack micro-folder for Willie Weir to ride through Minneapolis?

It wasn’t just Willie either! We built a half-dozen or so of these amazing Rodriguez 6-pack Micros in 2014!

Have a taste for amazing art bikes? Check out the incredible Erickson Rohloff bike that managed to pull off in 2014.

The Rodriguez Micro-Revolution spread even into our tandem line with a new Micro Tandem Model – The Rodriguez 2014!

Ever seen a step-through tandem tricycle with differential rear end? Well, we built one of those this year!

So you like lugs do ya? Here’s a 2014 Erickson that you might enjoy then.

Still with the lugged theme…a real beauty hand painted by a tattoo artist here in Seattle.

Of course, there’s always the light weight road bikes with cool paint jobs.

Another light weight with a sweet paint job! Orange was hot this year.

How about a titanium Rohloff belt-drive commuter?

Another Rohloff belt-drive bike….this time in S3 steel.

We even built one of our exclusive Rodriguez 8-balls this season!

The Rodriguez 8-ball is a travel tandem and a travel single bike in one bike!

Lots of titanium this year. Here’s a ti travel single with Campy Record.

By request of the Mayor, we even built the official ‘Mayor’s bet’ Seahawks bicycle!

We built some killer fixed gear bikes over the season!

We’ve also been called upon to build several sweet Rando bikes.

Another titanium travel tandem with disc brakes and Campy Record!

A sub 26 pound Rodriguez steel tandem that took the tandem world by storm!

Who’d of thunk it? Off road touring bikes have become somewhat of regular here at R+E Cycles over the last year.

Another heavy duty off-roader. This one’s set up for an Alaskan winter.

Another sweet custom ride! A townie with hydraulic disc brakes.

Another sweet Rodriguez Shiftless fixie. I’d like to post them all, but I’ve gotta stop somewhere.

Step through frames are back for men and women. This Erickson fillet brazed step through is particularly beautiful.

In 2014, Rodriguez Custom Tandems for all shapes and sizes of riders were selling like hot cakes!

If you’re still reading this, I hope you had a great time looking over these unique creations. I’m surprised at the number of bicycles we built this year, but mostly at the variety. It’s truly amazing to look back over a year and see what kind of bicycles are rolling out the door here at R+E Cycles. Thanks for choosing us and telling your friends about us. We love what we do, and I hope that shows in this sampling of our work.

Dan

Steel Rodriguez Outlaw vs. Carbon S-Works Tarmac

Steel bikes don’t have to be heavy, and here’s proof!

As many of you know, we have one of Seattle’s largest bike repair shops and we service every make and model of bicycle. As a high end bicycle manufacturer (Rodriguez and Erickson), we have become the ‘shop of choice’ for folks who ride high end bikes of every make. It’s always fun to weigh the high end bikes that come through our repair shop. Even though I’ve written a lot about the fact that our Rodriguez Outlaw is the true featherweight, some people still think that a steel bike has to be heavy.

So….a picture is worth a thousand words right?


The Shootout – Who’s the Real Featherweight?

Steel Rodriguez Outlaw vs. Carbon S-Works Tarmac


The other day, a Specialized S-Works Tarmac came through our busy repair shop, and we had the chance to put it up head to head against our Rodriguez Outlaw on the same scale. The results were not surprising to us, but to anyone who thinks a light bike has to be made from carbon fiber, the results are probably quite shocking. One of the mechanics snapped the shots below with his phone, and texted them to me.

I put together a quick Facebook post of the images and our website lit on fire! Apparently, there were some recent newsworthy events (like a New York Times article for one) causing cyclists to take a second look at U.S. made steel bikes. As it turned out, this post was well timed. As a result, there are a lot of folks out there investigating light weight steel frames to replace their existing carbon frame. You might be surprised to learn that we’ve been converting people to lighter weight steel for several years now.

Anyway, back to the photos. Below is a side-by-side shot showing exactly what the 2 bikes weighed on the same scale, on the same day.

Now you can have the perfect blend of ride quality and durability of steel in a custom hand made bicycle, and not have to sacrifice on weight. You don’t have to sacrifice on anything I suppose. The Rodriguez Outlaw is custom made in Seattle USA from True Temper S3 tubing. Every frame is built specifically for its owner, and can have any color you want. The Outlaw rides like a steel bike because it is a steel bike.

It’s as light or lighter than any high end carbon bike made overseas, and will serve you for a lifetime of cycling as it’s not going to wear out. You’ll feel more confident on the downhills, and this frame climbs like a rocket! Just ask Steve if you don’t believe me!

Thanks for reading, and please share this article if you know someone who might be interested.

Links inside this article:

The Original Tandem to Single Bike Convertible

“A Bicycle built for two….I mean one….I mean two”

They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. If that’s true, then I’m not sure how to take the fact that it took 17 years for another company to imitate our unique Rodriguez 8-ball design.

Last week, a couple flew in to Seattle to visit our shop. They had recently attended a trade show where a manufacturer was displaying a tandem design that, through the use of S&S couplings, could convert into a single bike. Not only that, but when asking around, they discovered that even another company was talking about introducing a similar design. Now, as you may or may not know, we don’t attend trade shows anymore, but none-the-less I was surprised after all these years to hear that other companies were attempting this challenging design. After noticing that the hits on the Rodriguez 8-ball page were about 20 times their norm, I thought a blog post was due.


Mike and Angela
kick into high gear on their 2005 Rodriguez 8-ball


Evolution with intelligent design:
The first Rodriguez 8-ball was built in 1997 (that’s seventeen years ago as I write this article) and put in our printed catalog for 1999. Over this course of time, we have learned a lot on how to improve the design, and even evolved two more completely different 8-ball designs that accommodate different needs and desires of the 8-ball customer. I’ll cover the different frame designs and their features later in this post, but first let’s step into the wayback machine and study the history of this bike….or should I say bikes.

The history of this design:
As with most Rodriguez unique creations, there were several minds involved to come up with this design. We first started using S&S couplings to make travel bikes in 1996, and it dawned on me that we might be able to make a single/tandem convertible using these. I talked it over a bit with Matt, our head builder at the time, but we couldn’t resolve how to get the rear triangle connected effectively….and then what to do with the cables and getting them to be a seamless transition….etc… We put the idea to rest until John (our head mechanic in the mid 1990’s) showed me a drawing of a bike he wanted to have us build the he could use for travel, tandem, single, and bikepacking. There it was! He had drawn up a sketch of a frame that converted from single to tandem and solved the rear triangle issues. We built the bike, and solved the cable transitions as we built, and it all worked out perfectly. That year at Seattle Bike Expo (we used to do trade shows) John spent the weekend demonstrating this unique creation as he converted it to tandem, to single, and back again for the show goers.

Round 2:
About this same time, Author/Adventure cyclist Willie Weir was planning his trip to Cuba. Willie planned to take something extra along with him on this trip…..his new wife. They wanted to ride a tandem through Cuba. “No problem there” we said, “we can make a travel tandem for you to take on the plane.” “There is a problem though” Willie said, “It will just be by myself for the first leg of the trip, and Kat will join me later”. “What will I do with my single bike when she shows up with the tandem?” Little did he know, we had already solved his problem. I told him about the Rodriguez 8-ball that we had built for John, and he was intrigued. So, we sketched up a bike for them that he could ride as a single for the first leg of the trip, and then Kat could join him mid way and they could continue on through Cuba via tandem….8-ball style.

Willie tells the story of the salivating faces of the cab drivers in Cuba as an American woman shows up with a large box, and here’s Willie to pick her up at the airport on just a bicycle! The cab fair from Heaven, right? Wrong. You see, the box that Kat was carrying contained her luggage and the center section of their new Rodriguez 8-ball. Imagine the surprise on the cab driver’s faces as Willie takes his bike apart and adds the center section. After a few moments, they load the panniers on the freshly converted bike and ride away (waving to the cab drivers). Willie says that the drivers actually all applauded as they rode past. Read more of Willie’s adventures in one of his fascinating (and funny) books available at willieweir.com

Willie and Kat’s 8-ball in Cuba (1998) looking much better than the building behind it.


More 8-ball fun:
After Willie’s bike, we built several more 8-ball convertibles. Each one different from the last. In 2003, we had one of our 8-ball customers call up and ask if we could build a third section for their 8-ball…making it a triple, double, single. “Why not?” I said, so off we went. It was fun, and a lot easier than we thought to make the 3rd section work well. Here’s a few shots of it.

After the conversion to triple went so well, we had a small flood of x-tra long bikes that were also convertibles. We did a couple of 3/2 convertibles, a 4/2 convertible, and my 4/3/2 convertible. We even did a 5/4/3/2 convertible.

Focus Please
But I digress. This article is about tandems that convert to singles. A subject that we know a lot about. As time went on, the Rodriguez 8-ball became a cult favorite. Each one dawned its own nickname….like Brian and Sue’s ‘Mama Cass’…or Charles and Rose Ann’s ‘Study in Orange’.. or the ‘Trickel Nickel’. I can’t leave out Mike and Angela’s ‘Big Blue’. I could go on and on about the fun customers that have Rodriguez 8-ball convertibles.

Even though the 8-ball was a success, there were customers who wanted one that couldn’t get one because of sizing restrictions. These restrictions brought about 2 new Rodriguez 8-ball designs

Why a new design was needed:
The one problem with the original design was the fact that the riders had to have similar saddle heights in order for the design to work properly. If not, then either the stoker had no stand-over clearance, or the captain’s seat couldn’t be raised high enough. The top tube had to be level. For a lot of people, this is fine, but for others, this didn’t work well.

In a traditional tandem design, we slope the top tube in order to give more stand-over clearance for the back rider, and get the seat tube long enough for the front rider. Over the years, I had drawn up a couple of frame designs that addressed this issue and had them ready for when someone needed that solution. It wasn’t until 2009 when we had our first taker on one of the new designs.

You can see a comparison of the 3 different Rodriguez 8-ball designs here.

In these two new designs, the rear triangle detaches and and re-attaches to the captains seat tube. This means that we can slope the top tube like a standard tandem, and the rider’s seat heights are completely un-important in the frame design any longer. There are ups and downs of each design, but suffice it to say that any of these designs are a challenge for any builder to execute well.

Here’s an example of design #2 that we built in 2009

Conclusion
I wrote this article to explain how this bike came to be, and show the evolution of the design. I think that it’s worth mentioning that this is a very challenging design, and each 8-ball is a completely unique creation. While we welcome other manufacturers to the party, we want to let the general public know that the convertible tandem/single is not a new creation, but has been alive and well for 17 years now at Rodriguez Bicycle Company.

The attention that’s being paid to it now is long overdue I say. Thanks John, Matt, David, Todd and Dennis for all your contributions as well as all the other team members here at Rodriguez who’ve put in the time and thought to make these incredible designs successful. We wish all of our 8-ball customers many years of happy cycling! And to those of you in the market today for such an animal….why not consider the most experienced team in the industry to build your Rodriguez 8-ball convertible?

Zelda Master Sword!

For those of you who have a love of video games, this was our newest fun project. This bike has the Zelda Master Sword painted on the seat tube! We had a blast helping find custom colors and to design the location; the painter went to town on airbrushing this beauty as well.

It can be done, maybe next someone will want us to paint a Metroid bike?

Click any picture to see a much bigger version! Or check out more of our Competition series of bikes here.