The surge of amazing tandems builds showing up recently here on LFGSS and Theradavist among others, made me wanting to ride one for myself. So I checked out Marktplaats to see if there were any affordable tandems up for grabs here in The Netherlands.
On one of my first searches I stumbled across an Dutch Empella racing tandem. At first I didn't think much of it, until I noticed the Mecacycle-like split stoker seat tube. Having always lusted for a Mecaclye (on the few bikes I have lusted for, but never got to ride) this feature really spiked my interested. The size turned out to be pretty much spot on for me and the wife, so I pulled the trigger and picked it up.
Considering the age of the bike (it was probably built in the 1990's) it is in pretty good nick. There are hardly any chips in the paint. There is a little bit of rust showing through, but I can live with that (for now anyway).
The plan is to turn this into something of a retro touring tandem. Not sure how exactly, but we will see how it goes.
Updates so far. New wheelset, saddles, and stem. Removed the front rack.
Yikes that’s nice. Any chance of a pic of the rear seat tube please?
Not sure I understand why they built it that way (any reason to shorten the wheelbase on a tandem?!) but it’s pretty cool.
Nice! Before this last update’s pic loaded, I’d wondered if you were going to source an Atlanta rim for the rear : )
Some minor changes. Fitted some bottle cages (Rose) and changed the pedals.
I'm not sure if I the wheels are a keeper. The bladed spokes together with the spline hubs are maybe a tad to flashy for the frame. So I bought a new wheelset that will be delivered next week (Dura Ace 7800 hubset with Ambrosio Excellight 36H rims).
If things go to plan I should also take delivery of a pair of Nitto handelbars (2522's I believe) next week or the week after.
I read here they actually raced these back in the days, so a short wheelbase would have made sense I suppose.
Sometimes things grow on you, but that wasn't the case for the DT wheels. The more I looked at them, the more I was convinced they needed to go.
Unfortunately I was scammed on the DA7800 wheels, so I needed to find something else. I ended up picking up a pair of wheels with DA7700 hubs and some 'PH' branded rims. I haven't been able to identify the (quality of the) rims, but I am hoping that the 36-spoke configuration will make for a sturdy wheel anyway.
I also changed the seatposts. I replaced the old tired lookingo ones for some budget friendly Procrafts.
Fitted the new bars yesterday along with the grips and brake levers. So for now, it is finished. I am really happy with the end result. First test ride is scheduled for later today, so fingers crossed the wheels will hold up.
That looks very nice!
What handlebars have you got on there?
And how was the test ride?
Not so well actually. By the time we had reached the end of the block one of the front pedals had come loose. A couple of miles later the pedal simply fell off. Turns out I somehow managed to ruin the pedal threads. Probably has something to do with the DS crank being on the right side.
In light of this new problem I have decided to overhaul the entire drivetrain. To keep the number of DS cranks as low as possible, I will change the setup to a right side drive.
Handlebars are Ergotec Stuttgarter's. Cheap alternative to Nitto.
did you ride it with as pictured? the cranks need to be level front and rear.. so each riders pedals strokes match!
Ahh. I’m very sorry to hear that.
So the NDS chainsets weren’t tandem specific?
It can easily work to have a right hand drivetrain, especially with the new wide cassettes, and as a plus you get rid of the front derailleur which apparently is an issue on tandems.
Thanks. I already have a spare pair of Nittos, but I'm always on the lookout for the elusive perfect handlebar.
Ergotec makes a lot of interesting bars. I wish there was somewhere you could go and try the all IRL.
I guess not. Which is a petty since I just sold my crank re-thread kit, after it had been lying around doing nothing for years.
Getting rid of the FD is a big bonus of the right side drive. Because of the way the frame is constructed I can only use the derailleur that came with the frame, which doens't work very well.
Thanks for the tip! Didn't know that.
I picked up a donor bike yesterday. I was only planning on using the cranks, bottom bracket, rear derailleur, chain and cassette. However, seeing as all the parts are in such great shape, I am now seriously considering using the shifters (which would mean changing the bars) and the wheels as well.
Any insights on the wheels? From what I've read these are know for being pretty much bombproof, except for the DT Hugi hubs (know for cracking?).
Not sure I'd trust such a low spoke count on a tandem tbh, despite the deep rim. Purely anecdotal about the hubs: we recently cracked the flange of a dt hügi rear on our tandem (36 spoke).
That’s a very nice donor bike. CK and everything.. Rolf wheels are some of the only ones approved for tandem riding, so you could use those, but IMO the current ones look better.
I regards to gear, you’ll get a very high gear if you swap the group. You can’t stand up and cycle on a tandem, so you need spiny gears. Look into a 1x setup with a wide mtb cassette on the rear and a trigger shifter.
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