Golden Saddle Rides: A Carbon Fiber Calfee Tandem Project
Words by Thomas “Woody” Wood, photos by John Watson
An old friend and accomplice in many of past ventures into the cycling world approached me a couple of months ago about a rather “large” project he was embarking on. At the time he was getting ready for another crack at a national championship on the velodrome. His schedule had cleared up after a very successful run of coaching our women’s olympic track cycling team to two silver medals in London. With the mind a little more free to roam, and a very fast wife to be, he wanted to do a full custom Calfee tandem. Ben had already chosen Calfee for its reputation and known ability to deliver a quality product that would meet his race ready standards. The bike had to be versatile. He wanted it to be a time trial bike and a road race bike. With the intention of racing both at Masters “old man” National Championships next year.
We both started doing some research on parts for the bike. He wanted lightweight and strong. Holding to the old aphorism by Keith Bontrager “light. strong. cheap. Pick two”. We had our work cut out for us. First was the drivetrain. Gates Belt drive and Shimano Ultegra DI2 would be a solid performer. Since the bike is a standard threaded english BB with and eccentric in the captain’s chair. Finding a modern light carbon crankset was a bit of a chore. Luckily Calfee had a couple sets of FSA SLK-SL cranks left and we were set in that department.
A big bike like a tandem requires good brakes. We went with Shimano road hydraulic disk. Once I was able to source a rear 203 IS disk adapter we were good to go. Since they are running an Enve road disc fork in front most of the braking power will have to come from the rear. Hence the larger rear disc.
Next was the cockpit. They were looking for versatility with the bar setup. So they went with the 3T Zefiro LTD option, It has a removable aero extension for use both as a TT bar and a straight road bar. And since we were using DI2 you can just unplug the climbing shifter that will be glued to the extension (the photo shows zipties), making for a quick and easy change.
Seatposts are FSA K-Force Light with internal battery holders.
For wheels we wanted durable. We have had a lot of success with the H+SON Archetype rims laced to DT Swiss 240s. The bike is thru axle and 142mm in the rear. A simple way to stiffen up the bike just a little.
All said and done this tandem is one hell of a machine. I took a couple of laps around the block on it and I must say it was one snappy bike. Out of the saddle accelerations were controlled and rather fun!
Cheers to the fun projects!