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On Building Our New Co-Motion Tandem Together, From the Ground Up


March 2023

We’re down to the finishing touches on the tandem before it’s ready to roll – I figure the weekend after next we’ll be rolling on our custom fitted gravel/road Co-Motion Kalapuya.

One of the more enjoyable surprises in this venture was to see my wife jump in and take an integral role in working with me to pick the pieces and parts we wanted to customize. It was my wife’s idea to get a second set of wheels so we could swap between road and gravel wheels. Now, I’ve made much of that here, but she jumped in with both feet to so much more.

My wife laid down the gauntlet on getting a Thudbuster seat post. She also picked the brake rotors (!). We picked the paint, the decals, and tires together. We even picked the cassettes for the road wheels together (though I took point on the geeky aspects of that choice).

My Trek 5200 was the bike I built from the ground up, our new Co-Motion Kalapuya is the bike my wife and I built from the ground up. It’s the bike we’re taking everywhere and we chose all of the important components together.

There are still a few details to work out – we’re riding tubeless for the 45mm gravel tires, but we’ve got tubes for the road. Now, this is an interesting choice for a couple of reasons. First, the 45s will seal quicker because they’ll be run at a lower pressure (guessing between 50 and 60psi, but we’ll dial that in as needed for the conditions). We picked Bontrager 32mm R3 TLR everyday road tires, so we could go tubeless. Those will be run around 80psi, though, and with the higher pressure, I don’t want to spray our bike with a bunch of liquid latex goop if we get a poke in the tire. On the other hand, I don’t want to stop to fix flats, either, so we’re still kicking this one around.

The road tire choice had a lot behind it as well. We were looking at some Pirelli all condition 35s. The puncture protection was outstanding, but the rolling resistance was three times greater that of the faster road tires. The last thing I want is to feel like we’re pedaling through mud while we’re trying to keep up with the A Group. We chose the Bontrager tires because, while they were a little slower than the high end tires, they offered decent grip in wet conditions and fair flat protection… and they’re tubeless ready so if we decide want to switch to tubeless, we can. The capper was we picked them up at our new Trek store along with a few other tidbits. There’s no question we’ll support the new owners of our local shop.

So that’s where we sit. We’ll pick the bike up some time next week and then it’s just a matter of waiting on the weather to improve. It’s not fit for man nor beast outside at the moment…



  1. The Omil says:

    For the benefit of the non tandem riders, what’s the thinking behind the belt between the two cranks, rather than a chain?

    • bgddyjim says:

      Quieter, lighter and the belt doesn’t stretch like a chain so you don’t have to faff with the eccentric bottom bracket all the time. And it’s lighter by A LOT. That’s a big chain.

  2. I haven’t ridden enough miles or had enough punctures (that I know of) on road tubeless to form a concrete opinion, but I like it so far. It definitely doesn’t seal as quickly at higher pressures though.

    I’d say give it a go! A little sealant spray and not even noticing is better than having to pull out of the paceline and change a tube. You can always convert back to tubes later if you don’t get on with tubeless.

  3. Dave Talsma says:

    I mounted my first road tubeless tires on Saturday, a little messy but went rather easy. The hardest part is keeping the sealant in the tire while trying to get the tire seated. I think a air compressor is a must to do it.

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