Apologies for the lengthy absence. A trip to Berlin has been the cause – more on that in a later post. However this is an article detailing my latest acquisition in cycling terms – a Circe Helios Tandem.
I have posted before on this subject, but at the time was only considering buying one, then having ordered one – but as of today, I am the proud owner of a two seated bicycle! And what a fine machine it is too.
I collected it from the workshop of Bike 2 Be in Longstanton, just a short guided bus way north of Cambridge. It struck me immediately what a high quality machine it is – and what a good service I have been provided with. After loading it into the car [this is an interesting proposition with a tandem, as you can imagine – but no matter with a Circe – the bars, seats and wheels are all quick release and it fits easily into an estate car; the mechanic claimed he had recently got one into a Honda Jazz…], I headed home to finish the build off and fit the pedals.
The end result is pictured left – I opted for two ‘extras’ – one being the Schwalbe Marathon tyres, the other being a twin kickstand which is really useful for loading and parking the bike without being forced to look for something solid enough to support a tandem each time I stop. The build quality is superb, as is the paint finish.
The thing that already strikes me is the sheer practicality of the Circe. Aside from the above mentioned transportability, the small frame height and the little wheels mean that my 9-year-old was able to find a comfortable position immediately, with a quick tweak of the qr seat post [which, incidentally, is telescopic, meaning that the stoker might be 5 years old, or a six-foot adult].
I opted for the sealed Shimano Alfine 8-speed hub gears, because I also run a Rohloff-equiped Thorn touring bike which has convinced me that hub gears are the way to go.
The Alfine, [soon to be replaced by a smart 11-speed version that just might give Herr Rohloff a run for his Euros], is typically bug-free, smooth and reliable. The range is fine for the tandem – I won’t be taking any hills at 31mph on this baby. It shifts smoothly, is totally silent [in contrast to the admittedly lovely ticking of the Rohloff], and is in every way perfect for this type of bike, especially one I get around to considering some touring on it….
You’ll also notice from the picture left that the rear dropouts feature some interesting work. Two beefy 6mm Allen bolts on each side hold an Alfine specific rear dropout, and a grub screw is used to pull the rear wheel back to tighten the chain.
Like the Thorn, this enables a dishless rear wheel build, important on a tandem where wheel strength is a priority. A shortish test ride has revealed this to be a great, and hopefully weatherproof solution.
The rear seat post now has a spare Carradice SQR block on it, meaning that I can swap by two Carradice bags over easily for longer rides.
So all in all, a great looking machine and one I can’t wait to get myself and my young stoker out onto the roads on!