Picture of Iron Tandem - Bicycle/Recycle Project
This instructable explains how to save two old bicycles from the grave to create one immortal tandem bicycle.  

I had always fancied building something for fun and actually dedicating a bit of time to a project rather than just the odd quick fix here and there.  With a charity bike ride looming a couple of months away it seemed like a great idea to try to build a tandem and enter it just for fun.  A few friends and I had entered the event the previous year dressed as glam rockers and it got a good response so we decided to repeat it this year.  (Hence why this tandem has a bit of a Gothic look to it!)

I had never ridden a tandem before and didn't really know what I was aiming for so I looked online at some different frame designs to gain some inspiration.  I decided that I didn't want my bike to look like two bikes - I wanted it to look like a genuine tandem frame.  I also learned that having a decent spacing between the driver and passenger was essential to ensure that the passenger could actually see some scenery and not feel too cramped on the back.  Throughout this instructable I refer to the driver as the 'captain' and the passenger as the 'admiral' because this is proper tandem lingo dontcha know!

This bike cost very little to build as most of the existing components were cleaned up and reused.  The only parts bought new were bearings, chains and cables.  The only really specialist tools I used were a bicycle chain tool (cheap) and a MIG welder (err, not so cheap)

Tools you will need:
- A pair of grips
- A pair of pliers and cutters
- Allen keys and spanners (various sizes depending on your donor bikes)
- Hammer/Mallet (for persuading stubborn bike parts to come off)
- Screwdrivers
- Sandpaper
- G-clamps or large magnets (for holding the frames together when welding)
- Angle grinder (with cutting disc and grinding disc if possible)
- Metal hole cutters (you could use a hacksaw and then file the tubing to shape but this takes a LOT of time)
- A pillar drill (a pillar drill is ideal in order to cut the angles more accurately but a similar result can be achieved using a hand drill and a jig)
- Bicycle chain tool
- A MIG welder - or gas/TIG if you have one available!
- Some wood to make up a frame jig prior to welding
- Spray paint (primer and colour)

Other things you will need:
- Some old bikes! (Free)
- Piece of mild steel tube (from scrap metal yard £10 / $17)
- Paint (£25 / $40)
- Bearings and cables (£10 / $17)
- Chains (£7 / $11 each)

Kuffar9 months ago

Nice build. I'm glad to see others are re-cycling those old bikes.

I built one of these about 25 years ago. My wife and I decided to buy a 10 speed tandem, only problem was the $500.00 price tag. I picked up a couple of 10 speed bikes, with lug frames and cotterless crank sets. These bikes are higher end stuff.

I split the headstock on the rear frame. And attached it to the forward frame. I eyeballed the alignment. I did have one small problem. I had wanted to put a larger frame in the front, and small to the rear, for my wife. The way the frames were damaged, I had to reverse the sizes. Since my wife can't ride a bike, I'm on the smaller frame. But, for a freebee, who cares. The thing handled well, was very soft on bumps. There was enough spring in the frame to absorb, all kinds of rough pavement. We never had any problem with breaks. I didn't weld the frame. It is all brazed construction.

We had several people stop us, to inquire about the bike. I finally broke down and put a name on the diagonal. "Re-cycle". I had a few riders, ask us where they could get one. They were always surprised to learn that I had built it. I'll post a picture.

We haven't ridden ours in quite a while. It's out in the barn. I'll post a picture. But you have to not laugh. I paid $.29 for the paint. It's powder blue.

Mr.Sanchez1 year ago
I love Metal too.
stewkingjr1 year ago
If the grips don't slide on easily, lube with hairspray instead of soap or plain water. It dries quickly enough and won't slip once dry
rint1 year ago
iron maaaaaaaaaaiden
hagaar1 year ago
Nice project for a good cause! Well done.
manudel1 year ago
Where did you buy the bicycle parts? Could you suggest me a cheap bicycle-parts website?
Thanks and nice work!!
many_methods (author)  manudel1 year ago
Hi and thanks for your comment. I use Chain Reaction Cycles online. eBay is also good for used parts and parts for older bikes. Good luck!
Good job, and lovely pix, though some presented at odd angles. I enjoyed your instructable. Lots of good tips.
or the grips you should use dilute soap solution, dishwashing soap works just fine. Once it dries they're stuck on. I've used this method for years and years.

Also you can keep all the chains on one side if you tie the two cranks together with a fixed chain around the two smaller front chain rings.

See Brad's DIY tandem here at Atomic Zombie: http://www.atomiczombie.com/Tutorial%20-%20Simple%20MTB%20Tandem%20-%20Page%201.aspx
Kevanf11 year ago
I don't know if it would work but you could always try warming the handlebar grips with a hot air gun (or hair drier). It may just expand them enough for them to slip on easier. Another thing. Have you considered brazing the tubes together? Much less chance of distortion and a braze is certainly plenty strong enough. I had a fair few bikes with frames that were brazed in my teens.
kjlpdx1 year ago
at first glance I thought this was titled "Iran Tandem" :-) while you haven't had any problems, I'd question some of your very important welds, the penetration doesn't seem very good. when the welding bead looks like caulking there is little strength and it is just laying on top. nice job on this article.
icarus1241 year ago
Saw the logo on your bike pic and immediately started doing the intro to " The Trooper "..... good job and up the irons
Honus1 year ago
Nice! MIG is fine for thicker walled tubing- I've done it plenty of times and it works best on the less expensive bikes that use high tensile steel tubes. It's the more expensive bikes that use the thin walled chromoly with short butted sections on the tube ends and for those TIG is the way to go.