It takes two to tango
For some time now, I have experienced a nagging feeling that a ‘solo’ bicycle is not enough. Blame the constant, ‘more, more, more’ attitude that seems to pervade society; it seems that these days everything has to be bigger, better, faster than before, and that anything you already possess must by its very definition be inadequate. But, on closer consideration, I think that my discontent has a more practical cause.
Having cycled since I was a slip of a lad, I have encouraged my daughter to do the same and at nine she is now a pretty competent cyclist. Now clearly, it would be somewhat unfair of me to expect her to accompany me on her child’s mountainbike as I notch up 60 or 70 miles around the rolling East Anglian countryside, and not wishing to put her off for life, I concur. But it has struck me that there is another way. Being a Thorn rider, it has not escaped my notice that said bike manufacturer has its roots largely in the building of fine tandems. And this set me thinking.
Some months ago, I posted on the Tandem Club of Great Britain’s website, in the ‘Tandems Wanted’ section. I was testing the water, realising as I did that Thorn, for example, produce limited runs of what they call ‘Kiddie Back’ tandems – these being conventional tandems, but with the rear (or ‘Stoker’) position being made small enough for a child to ride. I had a few emails from people wanting to sell such a bike, and I also monitored Ebay as well, but I found that prices were too high, or the kiddie back was too small for my growing daughter.
In the past couple of months, therefore, I have laid the idea to rest. I was thinking that I ought to wait until she was tall enough to be able to manage an adult tandem…..but that’s years away! Then, as I was flicking through the back pages of The Comic, I happened upon an advertisement that, if I were a literate and coffee swigging New Yorker, gave me pause. The advert had been placed by a company who, it transpires, are roughly Cambridge based. Circe Cycles, if you don’t mind.
Now this company produces tandem bikes, but with a difference. Their base model, the Helios Duo, is like all their other models based upon a very clever template. Recognising that there are two key disadvantages with bikes that allow you company, those being storage and transport, Circe have used the ‘small wheel’ bicycle from the 70’s as a starting point, meaning that with 20″ wheels and a very flexible frame design, the bike can be dismantled for transport (they claim it breaks down to the size of a fully assembled ‘normal’ bike), and its handlebars swivel round to allow narrower areas to be used to store it.
You’ll probably see from the picture above what attracted me to the Duo, this being the ability to drop[ the stoker seat to allow a child to ride it, while at the same time allowing it to be raised in order for an adult to ride the same bike with no modification (I have someone in mind).
In a very cool, lateral thinking andf Dutch kind of way, the bike also comes ready for certain accessories to be fitted, such as the Brut, another ‘flavour’ of Helios. As the company’s website says of this model,:
The Brut is the freight and child carrying Helios. It comes with the durable and weather protected 8 sp Shimano Alfine hub gear and is equipped as standard with the dedicated rack conversion. To turn it into a conventional tandem, just add stoker bars and rear seat post and saddle.
The Brut takes on the same idea as the Surly Big Dummy, but with a tandem twist to it. This is true multipurpose biking – think Xtracycle combined with the added usability of a bike that carries two. You could do the week’s shopping on it, and then go out for a ride – and depending on your location, no car needed!
The Helios range, which comes with deraillleur or (my preference) the Shimano Alfine hub gear, starts at around £1000, which I reckon seems a reasonable price for such a flexible machine.
And with that, I shall start saving. Which unhappily means that the 21.5″ iMac slips down the list once again…