A Super light Custom Travel Tandem

Highlight: A fly-weight steel travel tandem from Rodriguez

These have been really hot in 2016!

Super Light Custom Steel Tandem by Rodriguez

Rodriguez Ultra-light tandems offer many advantages over other brands:

  • A Rodriguez rides like steel because it is steel
  • Rodriguez Tandems are built custom to fit both riders at no extra charge
  • We don’t skimp or use tricky weight saving techniques like leaving out the Stiffener Tube
  • Rodriguez Tandems are built to last forever without the use of non-standard parts
  • A fork that’s not only tandem rated, but handles better than any carbon fork on the market
  • An adjustable stoker to dial in your stoker’s fit, then a super-light steel or titanium fixed position stem to shave another pound or two
  • A lifetime frame and fork warranty (most carbon frames have very limited warranties)

For almost a decade now, we here at Rodriguez have been known for building some of the lightest tandem bikes on the road. One surprising thing about these bicycles built for two is that they are made of good ol’ American steel! Well actually, they are made of the New American Steel. In 2007 we introduced our 25.8 pound Ultra-light tandem and shocked our competition. Since the bike’s introduction, we’ve sold them steadily, but 2016 seems to be something special. We sold several just in the last few months.

Now you don’t have to sacrifice weight to have the durability, comfort, and superior performance of a hand-built steel tandem.

A twist this year is that many of them are travel versions using S&S couplings. This adds 2.7 pounds of weight, but we’ve been busy shaving weight where we can and now have these incredible bikes down to a science in the travel version as well. I thought it was time for a highlight on one that’s just coming through the assembly dept. now. This one is our Chorus version, and has some weighty additions, but still comes out incredibly light!

The Current Tandem at Hand
The Weight Break Down on this bike goes like this:

  • Rodriguez Ultra-light Chorus Tandem Model (28.6 pounds)
  • Rodriguez Travel Upgrade (+2.7 lbs)
  • Cantilever brakes for extra wide tire clearance (+8 oz)
  • Bodyfloat seat post for Stoker comfort (+8 oz)
  • Option for disc drag brake (+5 oz)
  • Spinergy Tandem Wheelset upgrade option (-5 oz)

Including the above list of weight additions, final weight on this bike is 32.5 lbs once the included lightweight custom steel stoker stem is installed. Our ultra-light tandem models come stock with a temporary adjustable stoker stem that is heavier. Once the stoker’s fit is completely dialed in, measurements are taken of the final preferred position and a lightweight steel (titanium in the case of the Record Tandem) fixed position stem is built to replace it.

Realize, when I quote weights, I’m quoting verified true digital scale weights that we will stand behind with a ‘no bull’ money back guarantee. This one clocked in at just 33lbs 4oz with the adjustable stem and the other options.

Custom Rodriguez Tandem with S&S couplings

This Rodriguez Travel Tandem (Chorus model) is not only great looking, but only weighs 33lbs 4oz as pictured here with the fully adjustable stem and several comfort upgrades that add some weight. Subtract 3/4lbs when the included ultra-light stem replaces the adjustable.

Lightened couplers and braze-ons all around help to keep this flyweight tandem one of the lightest, best performing tandems available today. This customer also chose to add rear rack braze-ons for light touring. At Rodriguez, your bike is really ‘your bike’. Just tell us what you want and we will make it happen!

View the full photo gallery for this bike here

If you or anyone you know, has been considering a high-end tandem, ultra-light or not, we ask you to consider a Rodriguez Custom Tandem. We build every tandem by hand, custom for its owners. We’ve been doing it longer than anyone else too. Since 1973 we’ve been building our tandems right here in Seattle’s University district. We’d love to be your tandem shop.

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

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What’s lighter than a modern carbon bike? The new 13.5 pound Rodriguez Outlaw

This morning, I dropped my old truck off for repairs, and pulled my bike out of the back to ride on in to work. The mechanic was impressed with the nice paint job. It’s always fun to have someone lift my Rodriguez S3 bike and watch their jaw drop as they effortlessly lift it chest high with just one hand. So, I handed the bike over to him and said “Lift it up”.

Well, he lifted it, and as expected, his jaw did drop. He said “I gotta show this to the other guys!” So he rolled it to the back of the shop, lifting it several more times in disbelief as he went. Once there, he handed it to the other mechanics and told them to lift it up. Needless to say, they had the same reaction as he did. I asked them all “What do you think the bike is made of?” They all said in unison “Carbon fiber…”….then, noticing that I was shaking my head ‘no’ one of them said “Titanium?” “No” I said. “This is an American made steel bike, made right here in Seattle”. The surprise on their faces was evident as they all lifted the bike several more times, and one of them even took out his magnetic ‘pick-up’ pen device and stuck it right to the top tube just to make sure it was steel.

If you ask most people why they bought a carbon fiber bike, the answer invariably comes back “Carbon bikes are lighter weight”. Well, what if that’s not true? What if that’s just something you’ve been told? What if a comparably priced steel bike was just as light as a carbon fiber bike? Would you still want a carbon bike? Now, what if a comparably priced steel bike was even lighter than the carbon bike? How about one step further…what if a steel bike was lighter, less expensive and rode faster?

Think I’m crazy? Let’s peel the layers off of the onion and get to the truth about carbon fiber mania. The fact is, here at Rodriguez we did make carbon fiber bikes, but that was 35 years ago. Yes, you read right. 35 years ago we made custom carbon fiber bikes. I’ve written a slew of info about frame materials here if you are having trouble sleeping. Material World is a 4 part article that I wrote for the Bicycle Paper a while back.

Before we start: Is weight the only consideration for spending a lot of money on a bicycle? How about fit, durability, color, ride quality or longevity? Do these matter to you at all? If so, you’ll want to read on. If weight’s the only thing important to you, then you should read on as well, because I think you’ll be surprised.

Along for the Ride
We can start with the premise that most people prefer the ride quality of a steel frame to carbon. Heck, even a lot of carbon bike manufacturers cede the argument to steel for durability and ride quality. So what if you could pay less money, have a faster riding bike, more comfortable frame, and still have the lightest bike in the crowd? Sounds to good to be true right? Well, I’m actually talking about our 13.5 pound 2013 Rodriguez Outlaw, and it’s very real! As a matter of fact we’ve converted dozens of carbon frame riders to the Outlaw by just allowing a test ride on this amazing bike! Even the most die-hard carbon enthusiast will have to admit this bike cannot be beat.

Side note here for those of you who think you have a lighter bike than the Outlaw.
I have had several people tell me they have a friend with a lighter bike than the Outlaw, but have yet to weigh one. The closest carbon bike to come in here was still 2 ounces heavier than the Outlaw, but was twice the price. Seeing is believing. We keep a scale at our front desk so that we can weigh bikes that come in, and we’ve weighed just about everything. Don’t trust word of mouth as our industry is full of….well….inaccuracy at best when it comes to weights. I know that a lot of manufacturers publish weights in their catalogs and websites that are untrue. If you want to have some fun, buy a small digital scale and carry around with you to bike shops. Ask what a bike weighs, and then pull out the scale to verify it. I’ve done it, and it’s a blast! Like to read more about that?

All right, all right, back to business

I know, I know….you’re reading all of this, but then you pick up a magazine and read a glowing review of a sweet carbon fiber bike from some giant company. How can that be? Wouldn’t they be reviewing steel bikes if steel was so cool?

Let’s have a look at the vicious ‘Cycle of Business’ shall we?
Magazines review bicycles that their advertisers send to them for review. Companies send bikes for review that they want to sell. Look through the magazine and you’ll usually find an advertisement for the very bike that got that glowing review…..sometimes just opposite the review itself. It’s no coincidence. Big companies that advertise don’t make hand-built steel bikes. That’s because carbon fiber bikes are inexpensive to build overseas, so it would make sense to prime the public to want them. Not to say that the review isn’t genuine. The reviewer probably really liked the bike. It’s just that the opportunity to ride that bike for review is not a random selection, but a selection from an advertiser. The Cycle Continues

“Well, what about the pros?” you ask. “The pros only ride the best right? Almost all the pros ride carbon fiber, so doesn’t that make it the best?” Right and wrong. You see, the pros don’t ride a bike that they expect to last year after year (durability). Heck, a lot of them don’t even require their frame and fork to last one race. So, if by ‘best’ you include durability in your criteria, a pro has no need for that.

A pro does have a need for sponsorship though, and if their sponsor is trying to sell carbon fiber frames, then carbon fiber they will ride. After all, it’s their job to sell bikes. If we paid millions in sponsorship to a pro team, then they would be thrilled to ride steel Rodriguez Outlaw hand-built bikes (but, that’s not going to happen). If your criteria is “I ride what I’m paid the most $$ to ride” then at this point in history, carbon is the best. I’m not saying that a carbon frame will not perform, I’m just saying that it is not a superior performance to steel.

Fit note: – Realize also that the pros are riding bicycle geometries designed to fit them and their riding style. When you purchase that same frame in a store, you’re not purchasing a bike to fit you, but rather a bike to fit the pro it was made for. Ask your sales person what it would cost to get that same frame made truly custom to fit your body and riding style.

Good natured sarcastic rant warning
What’s fashion got to do with it? With all of the magazine ads, pro sponsorships, certain bike shops, and even industry rags smack-talking any bike that isn’t carbon, it’s almost fashionable to ride carbon fiber. I’d say that it’s become so fashionable in some circles that you almost have to be a heretic to ride steel. One more great reason that we call this bike the Outlaw I say. Peer pressure is a powerful motivator, but we’re here to help give you the ammunition to resist…..come to the dark side……be an Outlaw….like Alice Cooper says, Flush the Fashion!

This ‘cycle’ of promotion steers the consumer to the product the manufacturers wants to sell. Now, obviously I’m trying to do the same thing, but I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is. Basically, you’ve got to verify weight if it’s important to you. I think that if you do that, you’ll find that here at Rodriguez, we can build your bike in America just as light as any overseas carbon bike. I’m confident that if you ride our bike back to back with a carbon bike, you’ll choose the Rodriguez every time….just like Steve and countless others have over last few years.

With the fashion sufficiently flushed, let’s get down to earth

I think that I’ve shown here that a light weight bicycle can be achieved through either material, so I would like to put all the hype about weight aside for minute, and talk about some things that are way more important.

1.) Fit: If your bicycle doesn’t fit well, you’re going to hate riding it no matter what it’s made out of. At Rodriguez we view fit as the most important component to any bicycle. We offer a fit guarantee with every bicycle we sell. Here’s a few articles that I’ve written over the years to back-up what I’m talking about on this subject. Ignoring fit when buying your bicycle is a huge mistake that many people make.

2.) Longevity: If you don’t care how long your new bike will last, then don’t worry about this section.

Most of our customers plan to ride their new Rodriguez for many years to come. What the consumer doesn’t realize is that our industry is steering very heavily toward a disposable product model by engineering bicycles to only last 5 to 10 years. Sure, carbon fiber frames with their short warranties are part of that model, but an even greater problem is wreaking havoc at bicycle repair shops all around the country. This is the trend of straying from industry standards to proprietary parts.

What the heck am I talking about? If you don’t know what ISO standards are, and proprietary parts are, you’re bound to end up on a bicycle that will end up in a land fill before its time. Yes, I’ve written a few things on the subject.

Here at Rodriguez, we reject the disposable bike philosophy, and substitute our own. A Rodriguez is built to be a forever bike.

3.) Personality: Do you have a favorite color? Why not paint your bike that color? At Rodriguez, your bike isn’t built until you order it, so you can choose any color you want. Obviously this isn’t a benefit exactly of a steel frame only, but Rodriguez customers love to have their new steed reflect their personality.

4.) Made in USA: I think there is something to be said for purchasing your bicycle from a company that is committed to manufacturing their products right here in the USA. We’ve seen almost every manufacturer move their production overseas in the last 2 decades in search of those creamy profits at the top. At Rodriguez, we’ve changed our manufacturing methods to provide the

greatest value and made in USA quality. We even manufacture parts in Seattle that we ship to Taiwan companies. How many manufacturers can say that?

The fact the we make your bike right here, means that we can customize more than just the paint. We can change geometry, braze-on fittings, tubing weights, wheel color, tires, you name it, we can do it!

5.) Most importantly: Don’t buy a bike, buy a shop! Really, it’s not about the bike. I can’t stress enough how important your relationship to your shop will be for your cycling enjoyment. A good shop has mature, professional employees who spend an hour or more fitting you to a bicycle before they sell you something. You should get a fit/comfort guarantee with your bicycle as well. Can you bring it back for a refund if you don’t like it? This is important, right?

6.) Get a Guarantee!! I cannot believe how many people have expensive bikes that are only a few weeks old and they hate them (like Jane). Why don’t they get their money back? Well, the shop or manufacturer doesn’t offer a satisfaction guarantee. Realize, any bike can be comfortable on a 10 minute test ride. The real test is how you feel on it after a few weeks. That gives you time to really settle in to the fit that your fitting professional has recommended, and feel how the bike reacts to your daily riding style. If the shop, or bicycle manufacturer, you’re working with doesn’t offer free fitting (including free stem and bar swaps) for their bicycle customers after the sale, I would strongly consider another shop. A lot of shops do not offer such a guarantee, so it’s your job as a consumer to ask that question before you purchase.

If they don’t offer a 30 day money back satisfaction guarantee, then realize that you will possibly be paying hundreds of dollars for fit work at another shop in order to relieve your pains, or, like Jane, you’ll just ride your old bike and let the new one hang in the garage. Now-a-days, high quality bicycles sell for $3,000, $6,000, $10,000 or more! That’s a lot of dinero for a wall hanger!

Wow! That’s a lot huh? If you’re looking for an uber-light bike, a heavy duty commuter, or and all-around bike for any occasion, we’d love to have a shot at becoming your bicycle company. Here at Rodriguez, we realize that the most important choice you make when selecting your new ride is the people that you are working with.

Thanks for reading


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