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.

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:

Do you want a Forever Bike?

No Planned Obsolescence

What you don’t know can cost you thousands!

In our repair shop each year, we see several expensive bikes each year rendered useless! When I say expensive, I mean bikes that sold new for over $5,000. Sometimes they remain in the repair shop waiting for parts for most of the riding season, and sometimes they are off the road for ever. That seems unacceptable to me for bikes this expensive, and less than five years old. It’s amazing to me that the customers were unaware that the bike they purchased for such a large sum of money was designed to become obsolete after a few years. This is due to the use of proprietary parts, or parts that don not comply with ISO standards.

Proprietary parts are parts designed specifically for use with that particular bike. They are only made by that manufacturer, and they only sell them to dealers that carry that brand of bike. We’re seeing more and more of this in our industry. What this means to you, the customer, is that if you purchase a bicycle that uses proprietary parts, you are trusting that bicycle company will always manufacture the special parts for your specific bicycle. It also means that you have to take your bike to a dealer that sells that brand of bike in order to have the special parts serviced or replaced.

Part standards that are non-ISO compliant are phony ‘standards’ that are really just new designs issued by companies wanting to say that their bikes use standard parts. The difference between proprietary parts and these phony ‘standard’ parts is that they allow anyone to use the new ‘standard’ if they want to….so….somehow that makes it a standard. This is just another way to build planned obsolescence into an expensive bicycle.

Most people think that if they are paying thousands of dollars for a bicycle, it will last more than a few years. They are also under the impression that they can have the bike repaired in just about any bike shop. For most high-end bikes manufactured today, this is not true.

The Real Standards: For those of you who want to buy an expensive bike that will last forever, this article is a must read. ISO, or International Standards Organization, is a term that you need to familiarize yourself with before laying out the big dollars. I’ve written an article about ISO called Chaos that can be read here. If you want a bike that can be repaired by any bike shop around the world, for as long as you own it, then there are areas of the bike that need to comply with ISO standards, otherwise, it will become obsolete and may do so in just a year or two.

First, one real life example of what I’m talking about:

Can you imagine purchasing a $5,000+ bike and then just a few years later, having to purchase a new frame to replace it? Not because of wreck, but because the frame broke at the bottom bracket under normal use. This is an actual case that happened last summer in our shop.

Repaired Carbon Fiber Derailleur Hanger

A high end carbon fiber frame was brought in because the customer had shifted into the spokes and broke the derailleur hanger off of the bike. He was told by the manufacturer that his warranty would be void if he had it repaired. The local shop where he bought the bike told him he was S.O.L. Well, he had to have it repaired in order to ride the bike, so he hired us to machine an aluminum hanger and attach it to the frame (see picture).

A few months later, the frame broke at the seat tube, completely unrelated to the new derailleur hanger. The break was at the point where the seat tube meets the bottom bracket 18 inches away from the derailleur hanger. The manufacturer said ‘no warranty because the frame has been modified’. This is a common theme among big manufacturers these days. Really, these expensive carbon bikes are designed to last about 5 years. The trend is to design an expensive frame that is not repairable in any way, and then deny warranty because of some technicality. Can you believe that exposure to sunlight can void your warranty on some carbon frames?

The customer in this story now owns a Rodriguez lifetime bike that complies with ISO standards. He brought the carbon fiber frame in for us to cut to pieces and dispose of in our dumpster. He loves his new Rodriguez S3 frame, and says it rides even better than the other bike ever did. Another pleasant surprise, his S3 steel Rodriguez is also lighter than his carbon bike. He was surprised that it was lighter, but it is.

I’m trying very hard to get the word out about proprietary parts, and what they mean to you as a cyclist. The noise of cycling magazines filled with ‘experts’ telling people the benefits of XXXX company and their new design seems to drown out common sense.

So why are companies using non-standard parts?

I can’t read their minds, but I can think of several reasons that manufacturers can benefit by deviating from ISO standards.

  • Control of warranty costs
    Let’s say that a manufacturer wants to advertise that they offer a ‘lifetime’ warranty on their frame, but they really don’t intend for that frame to be on the road in 30 years. Simply design the frame to work only with a proprietary fork, or headset, or bottom bracket, etc. After 4 or 5 years, they just stop making that proprietary part and the ‘lifetime’ frame warranty is useless. They’re not going to give you a new frame because your head set wore out, or your fork broke right? Don’t think they would do that? Read the example above. They’ll look for any technicality they can to ‘opt’ out of the warranty. I think this is why some manufacturers that offer lifetime frame warranties only offer 5 year warranties on their proprietary forks.
  • Better design
    Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they’ve come up with a design that is better. I’m sure there are improved designs out there, but the fact remains that unless the part is compliant to ISO standards, you’re taking a risk. I’ve found that the “better mouse trap” usually has a big following for a few years, gets some great write-ups in magazines, and then it’s off the market again. It’s really interesting to read Bicycling magazines from the 1970’s and see all of the new designs that are going to revolutionize the industry, and then try and find one of those designs manufactured now. Unless you want to pay to be their product test subject, I suggest sticking with the 30+ year old standards.
  • Trickery in advertising
    Let’s say a company wants to advertise an honest frame weight that’s lighter than everyone else’s frame. It’s possible to make a frame even lighter with the use of proprietary or non-ISO compliant parts. The funny thing is, when the proprietary parts are installed, then the overall weight of the bike is actually heavier than a light bike with the ISO compliant parts. Don’t be fooled on that one. A frame weight for a bike using proprietary head set, bottom bracket, or forks is going to result in no weight savings when the bike is built up completely. All you end-up with is an expensive bike that is heavier, and will not last forever.
  • Profit for their dealers
    This one’s a no brainer right? If there’s no competition for the proprietary parts, then the profit margins can be really high. If you’re bike won’t work without a bottom bracket, and the only one you can buy for your bike is the one made for your bike, and it’s only available at the dealer……you get the point. This arithmetic is heading in one direction and that is higher, higher, and higher prices. Ouch! Not the direction that most of our customers want to go.
  • They don’t love their customers….
    …OK, maybe they do love their customers, I don’t know. What I do know is that they’re not doing their customers any favors by selling them non-standard parts. I’ve always said that when you purchase a bicycle, you’re purchasing a relationship with the dealer and the manufacturer of that bicycle. If you want that relationship to be a pleasant one that lasts, make sure that they share your philosophy and expectations you have before you spend the money.

no Planned Obsolescence
Avoid the chaos of non-ISO compliant parts! At Rodriguez Bicycles, we go out of our way to make life easy for our customers, and build them a bicycle that will last them a lifetime. We use ISO compliant parts so that you’ll be able to get your Rodriguez repaired at any shop just about anywhere. We love our customers, and they love their Rodriguez Bikes!

Thanks for reading