Readers’ Rides: Laura and Tree’s Retrotec Tandem Mountain Bike Named “Joy”

Apologies for the delay in delivering this week’s Readers’ Rides, but as you can see, it’s a special one. Tandems are often called “relationship accelerators,” particularly when it comes to tandem mountain bikes! Laura and Tree had Curtis from Retrotec Cycles build them something special… so let’s get to it.

In 2020 Tree, aka Patrick Miller, commissioned Curtis Inglis of Retrotec Cycles to build a steel, fully rigid tandem mountain bike that would actually fit both of us. The end result is a colorful tandem named “Joy,” which not only showcases Curtis’s craftsmanship and modern mountain biking technology, it’s also transformed into a symbol of Laura and Tree’s compatibility and their love.

We gave Curtis a little direction on the frame design. Other than that, we both wanted to be comfortable. He could intuit the rest and produced the world’s best-riding tandem, perfectly suited for its riders. It is surprisingly lightweight for its size. We are both tall riders (the captain, Tree, is 2.05 meters, and the stoker, Laura, is whatever 6’2” is in meters).

It’s hard to explain how ginormous this thing is– longer than a king-sized bed or 5 paces from end to end. As we’ll explain later, it’s so big it’s basically sentient. Despite (or maybe because of?) its size, it’s fully capable of whatever we throw at it, and usually, we are limited only by high-siding. Joy’s gear range is nearly perfect for us.

It’s super speedy on the flats and descents and super slow climbing (which is more of a reflection of its riders than its build). When this thing is pushed into a corner at speed it basically creates its own gravitational pull on the objects around it, imposing bends in the trail due to its planetary mass. We’ve rallied singletrack, done long haul road and gavel miles, raced it, “raced” it, done grocery runs, used it as an around-town commuter, and toured on it.

The paint on both the bike and the Pass & Stow front rack was done by Tony Baumann of Made Rad by Tony. Tree and Tony worked together while they were both at Specialized, and it has been a longtime dream of ours to have bikes bearing his artistry. Sparkly was non-negotiable for both of us. Laura’s color choices were shades of pink and fuschia (as further inspired by Michelle Obama’s plum-colored outfit at Biden’s inauguration in 2020); Tree likes yellow and orange. Beyond that, we told Tony he should “do the rad shit” and he beyond delivered. Shit was made rad and we love it.

The entire bike is an invitation to start a conversation, but the paint job is truly the conduit to connecting with strangers. It drops barriers and invites comments. Kids love it. Randoms will comment on the bike in a way that is actually a comment on their own relationships, which makes for a fascinating social experiment. A person on the side of the road once said as we passed her, “I would never trust my husband like that.” (Oh, really?)

Tree’s job as captain takes on many more roles than just piloting the bike, which is a feat. He also needs to act as Laura’ eyes, and to do this he shouts out changes in the terrain that may be approaching. He also calls out gear shifts and largely determines our cadence (with Laura’s input). As stoker, Laura found early on with tandem riding that she became bored without the visual or mental stimulation that usually comes with riding your own bike. To shift from active to passive rider, Laura occupies herself with jobs besides just pedaling and hanging on for dear life: handing out snacks, signaling, vibe curation via music selection, and whale watching. When you see a spout, shout it out.

And now for the philosophical part: to some extent our tandem is more special than an engagement ring as a sign of commitment because it’s something we both enjoy together. As Laura explained to her mother before we got “actually” engaged: you really can’t get more serious than a custom tandem touring mountain bike. It represents a promise of future adventure together, an investment in our relationship, and an insurance policy for staying in communication with and listening to each other.

It’s for these reasons we wanted to showcase the tandem in our wedding later this Spring. It became only natural for the tandem to get its own mini photo shoot during our engagement portrait session. The bike will factor heavily into our wedding day, including riding it in a 4-mile, slow-rolling bicycle parade from the ceremony to the reception venues along with our wedding guests. The tandem has become our wedding oracle: the entire event is planned around it. When we are asked one of the hundreds of super detailed questions people ask you when planning a wedding, we usually don’t know how to answer. So we ask the tandem and it makes the choices for us. It knows. Joy is the answer.

Bike Specs:

2020 Retrotec Tandem Frame/Fork: Retrotec Custom Material: Steel
Paint: Made Rad by Tony Wheel base:


Size: 69cm
Saddle height: 90cm
Seatpost: Specialized S-Sworks 30.9
Saddle: S-Works Romin 155
Seatpost Clamp: KCNC twin seat post clamp (great for keeping post straight if the stoker pulling on it) Stem: Joystick Binary 50mm
Handlebar: Whiskey Winston
Cranks: xx1 175mm
Pedals: Wolftooth Flats
Grips: Wolftooth foams
Bottle cages: Specialized
Anything cage: tailfin
Bell: Knog


Size: 59cm
Seatpost: Thudbuster
Saddle: Specialized Mimic Clamp: Wolftooth
Stem: Co-Motion
Handlebar: Whiskey Winston Cranks: xx1 175mm
Pedals: Wolf Tooth flats
Grips: Wolf Tooth with hidden bar end tools Bottle cage: Specialized
Bell: Spur


Rack: Pass and Stow
Headset: Chris King
Rims: EN933 with +100 grams
Tires: Specialized 29 x 2.6
Hubs: 32h Dt Swiss 350
Spokes: Sapim Race
Nipples: Brass
Brakes: SRAM code with coupler for rear hose Rotors: 220mm centerline
Drivetrain: Sram 12speed
Cassette: thirteen 9-52t
Chain: Sram Eagle qty: 3
Chainring: 34t drive, 36t timing
Handlebar Bags: Roadrunner Bags Burrito Supreme

Photos by: Olivia Smartt, @oliviasmartt (who actually TOOK Curtis Inglis to PROM!!! How wild is that!!)
Tie dye by: Emmy Lou Farr, @emmyloufarr



We’d like to thank all of you who submitted Readers Rides builds to be shared here at The Radavist. The response has been incredible and we have so many to share over the next few months. Feel free to submit your bike, listing details, components, and other information. You can also include a portrait of yourself with your bike and your Instagram account! Please, shoot landscape-orientation photos, not portrait. Thanks!