There has been a great deal written about our tandem, by me and others, which is now almost at the end of its 100-day money-back guarantee period.
In spite of the hub problem in Scotland, I am very peased with it. It’s not built for speed, which suits us, but a very solid kind of ride: no “twitchiness” and feels very reliable on downhills and corners. Having said that, we have had it over 46mph on a downhill but gravity was the cause, not our fast pedalling.
I was already familiar with Rohloff hubs as I have one on my solo machine. Occasionally I feel as though we ought to have one gear higher than we have – it’s not that uncommon for us to be bowling along on the flat in top gear doing about 25 mph – but that would sacrifice the bottom gear, which we need, even in Essex.
The S & S couplings are fantastic. It’s easy to dismantle the bike in about 2 minutes for putting on trains, but usually takes a little longer to re-assemble as the frame tubes have to be lined up. I haven’t tried doing this on my own, but I would think that it would be very hard with just two hands.
We thought we would miss the drum brake – we had one on our Claud – but the rim brakes on the tungsten rims are superb. Terrific stopping power, and the ear-splitting squealing that they emitted when new has now gone.
We equipped ours with Carradice panniers – front, rear, bar bag & kit-bag – and it easily carried everything we needed for our Scottish trip. Whether we would have had the hub flange break if we had been less heavily-laden I don’t know, but the alternative would have been a Y-frame trailer, assuming that you can fit one to a Rohloff hub. I haven’t researched that, but the handling even with the amount of luggage we had was excellent, and I would be reluctant to sacrifice that.
I am prepared to accept that the problem we had is very rare, but I still think it shouldn’t happen. I think that there is little doubt that our combined weight, the luggage and some of the terrain we crossed is getting close to the edge of what is reasonable, but having said that a hub should not break before a spoke does. If Rohloff’s estimate is correct that this only affects 1 in 1000 hubs, then if it happens again to us it will be 1 in a million.
I definitely think that the Panaracer Pasela tyres were not up to the job. Andy Blance, Thorn’s “main man” when it comes to frames and technical matters, sounded more surprised with our tyre problems than he did with the hub problem. PPs may be OK for a lightly-built crew, but Schwalbe Marathon Pluses are the heavy-duty choice in my book.