Instructables
Picture of Restoring vintage tandem bicycle

A customer of my bicycle shop brought in this vintage tandem that they wanted restoring and I thought the project would make a good Instructable.

The new owner of the tandem used to go on regular holidays as a child to the same place in Belgium and would borrow this tandem and cycle around the area with his brother.

On returning to the same place for a holiday over thirty years later he discovered the tandem unused from when he last visited and decided to bring it back to England and get it working again.

This isn't a restoration in the sense that everything is going to be original and vintage, but instead we're going to update the tandem and just get it working as a great bicycle to have some fun on.

 
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Step 1: See what you've got!

The first step of anything like this is to see what you're dealing with.

This project was made a little more difficult because another mechanic had started to strip the tandem and then given up. So I was initially presented with the frame, a couple of odd wheels and a box of bits.

Luckily the major unique parts of a tandem, the bottom brackets and cranksets, were still on the frame untouched.

At some point in the history of this bicycle it had had a pretty brutal red paint job, which was flaking and starting to peel in places. So a full strip and repaint is going to be necessary, but before we get to that stage we need to make sure the basics are going to work.

qajaqer991 month ago

Yes most interesting and many thanx.

Who was the frame maker? French??

We have two Santana tandems, both built in 1978. I also have a 5 speed rear hub and think I might build a rear wheel for one of them using it. Anyone have information on how to calculate what is called GEAR (Chainwheel teeth/Freewheel teeth x wheel diameter) ? being there are no teeth to count in the rear?? TIA

PS Bill Mcready, who built Santana's, has a rule which solves tandem team problems: "The stoker can do no wrong!" Works wonders for marriages, too!!

Hilarious. Love your philosophy.

El_Gato1 month ago
Hi, thanks for sharing. my winter project will be my family heritage tandem, also 30s or even earlier, but I think I have more original parts like he hubs for example. will ytry and go for a more original look, but the hints here will certainly be useful.
Mine is a Baronia from Bielefeld Germany.
LynxSys1 month ago

That's a really lovely restoration, and it's very interesting to hear about what parts can and can't be had anymore. I'd also never seen hub brakes before (maybe they're less common in the United States?), so that was quite interesting!

jongscx LynxSys1 month ago

I'm willing to bet you have seen a hub brake before, if you've ever seen an old cruiser or kid's bike with the "pedal backwards to slow down" brake.

For a front wheel, a cable-actuated hub brake would be rather heavy, so most people have a disk brake instead. It serves the purpose of moving the braking surface from 2 inches above the roadway and is much cheaper. I'm willing to bet he used a hub here because a) you're not (probably) gonna go down trails/over jumps in a tandem and 2) a disk would kinda ruin the aesthetic of the bike. Am I close @Andytompkins?

andytompkins (author)  jongscx1 month ago

My main reason with going for the hub brake front wheel was I already had the rear wheel with the hub brake and gears in the hub, so getting a match for the front made the most sense, always looks good to have matching wheels.

I do like these hub brakes, pretty good stopping power and very low maintenance. They also worked well for this build because as I mentioned all you need to do to get them to work is securely attach the braking arm to the frame somehow, and luckily they still make the clips in lots of different sizes, which was useful for this build because the tubing was some crazy sizes.

LynxSys jongscx1 month ago

That's true, I am familiar with coaster brakes. I would guess you're
right about the aesthetics, but there are some practical issues too. A
bike that old wouldn't have any attachment points for a disk brake
caliper, and the adaptors available to attach a caliper directly to the
frame may or may not be a good idea (I have no experience with
them). Also, he would have had to find or build wheels that could accept
the brake disks.

An interesting aside (and possible endorsement of one type of hub brake): In looking up hub brakes, I
discovered that many cities with bike share programs use drum brakes
because they're so rugged.

jongscx1 month ago

Just nit-picking because I thought it was funny. Step 7 has the hub "braking arm" labeled as "breaking arm"...

andytompkins (author)  jongscx1 month ago

Whoops! Thanks for pointing that out, edited the 'ible...

gpracchia1 month ago

Nice ! Great Project.

palinuro1 month ago

Lovely old bike and a job jolly well done!

BikeHacker1 month ago

Awesome job!

Very interesting project. Thanks for documenting it for us.