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True North Titanium Tandem - the build begins

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True North Titanium Tandem - the build begins

Old 04-03-19, 01:41 PM
  #1  
bikeinxs
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True North Titanium Tandem - the build begins

In February my wife and I ordered a custom tandem from Hugh Black of True North Cycles. Parts have been arriving at my house for the last few weeks but today I picked the frame up from Hugh at his shop just outside of Guelph, Ontario.

Since we still have snow on the ground in Ottawa I have a bit of time to put it all together and hope to be on the road before the end of the month. Here's a pick of the frame still on the workstand in his shop.

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Old 04-03-19, 01:52 PM
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That looks GREAT! I've been watching his builds as we might want a Titanium someday. Someone else in this group has one of his builds. What drivetrain are you using? It has a very interesting rear dropouts.
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Old 04-03-19, 06:07 PM
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hi all. Here's a photo of our 2015 True North. Awesome bike. We had it built up with 650B wheels to allow for 42 mm tires. This is the best all-rounder we've ever had. Note to Steve: are you the folks who bought our yellow speedster?
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Old 04-04-19, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul J View Post
That looks GREAT! I've been watching his builds as we might want a Titanium someday. Someone else in this group has one of his builds. What drivetrain are you using? It has a very interesting rear dropouts.
Thanks. It will be a Di2 double with a gates timing belt. I'll post pics as it comes together.
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Old 04-04-19, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by jfarwell View Post
Note to Steve: are you the folks who bought our yellow speedster?
Yes we are! We have put about 30,000 km on it and it's been an awesome bike. We find ourselves riding more and more gravel and the brakes/tire size are just too limiting for our riding style. Sadly the Speedster will be looking for a new home once the new bike is on the road.
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Old 04-04-19, 08:48 PM
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Nice to know that a tandem builder is so close to our doorsteps. I hope building it will be a lot of fun, same as riding it!
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Old 04-17-19, 02:12 AM
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Schweet! Looks almost exactly like my Ti Tandem frame!
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Old 04-20-19, 06:38 PM
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I'm still waiting on a couple of parts so this is going slowly. I did pick up my lovely Woven Precision wheels today. The bike will probably look faster standing still than it will while we are riding!

The decals shift from blue to purple just like the anodizing on the frame.

45 mm deep carbon rims with White Industries hubs. 38 mm tubeless Compass tires.

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Old 04-21-19, 07:04 PM
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This looks similar to what out next tandem will be so I'm also following with great interest. We also will have the S&S couplers in the same location so the tandem will pack into S&S cases as we fly with our tandem regularly. I am thinking of using the paragon machine works sliding dropouts so we have the option of Rohloff hub if we ever decided we wanted to do something crazy like the bike dreams Andes Trail tour. Tyre clearance for 700 x 42 or 650B x 50 with 12mm through axles. Looking at the Sram Force AXS system as it allows mix and match of mountain rear derailleur and road front derailleur. Looking forward to seeing your tandem all finished,
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Old 05-11-19, 07:55 PM
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So I expected to provide more updates more frequently. Had a couple of delays while some final parts were sorted out but the bike is now on the road. Did a quick shakedown yesterday and will start the more comprehensive road testing Sunday.

The frame is custom titanium from Hugh Black of True North Cycles. The fit up and sizing was exactly as expected, I don't think we'll have to tweak the positions at all. The finish is very good and everything went together very easily (once I had the right parts). From the time we started thinking about getting a new tandem to having the frame in hand was less than three months so I'm super happy with the speed of the process. We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted and I think we went through 5 design iterations.

The drivetrain is Di2 11 speed with 50-34 up front and 11-34 in the rear on these 700c Woven carbon wheels with Compass 38 mm tires. I have another set of 650B wheels with 48 mm Gravel King SK tires and a 11-42 cassette. Both pairs of wheels are set up tubeless. I bought a Wolf Tooth road link but it looks like the derailleur will handle a 42 just fine so I may not need it. I already love the XT gear display. Brakes are hydraulic.

I had some challenges getting the right length axles for the Middleburn Cranks but now that that's sorted they look good.

Carbon bars front and rear and a carbon Cobble Gobbler seat post on the back for Sue. Aluminum seat post for the captain. Enve cross fork.

The bike weighs in at 29.4 pounds without pedals and 31 pounds all ready to ride with the 700c wheels. Of course once we load up 6 water bottles it really doesn't matter.




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Old 05-12-19, 08:16 AM
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I am dying of envy. Love to see your tandem in person in Ottawa.
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Old 05-12-19, 03:36 PM
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Great thing... Have fun

A well thought out bike, very nice, I hope you'll both love the rides.
The rear dropouts look very filigree but I'm positive that your builder
is in the know. Did you decide for the straightforward design of the excenter clamping?
Probably to save some grams? How did the bike ride on the first tours?
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Old 05-12-19, 06:56 PM
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We did 130 km on the bike today in some brisk winds. It worked very well except that we need to sort out better bottle cages for the two horizontal bottles. Very smooth and fast. Di2 was flawless and now I don't know how I ever got by without the XTR display. The deep section rims were a bit squirrelly at first in the strong cross winds but by the end of the ride I didn't even notice. We've gone from 28 mm tires on our old Speedster to the tubeless 38's on this bike and that made a huge difference on gravel and rougher roads. We have a gravel enduro coming up in a couple of weeks so I'll be posting some photos with the fat wheels soon.
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Old 05-12-19, 06:57 PM
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The dropouts look slender by comparison but they are actually quite beefy. Not sure what you mean by excenter clamping?
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Old 05-13-19, 03:25 AM
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Very nice bike! 🙂👍 Are You going to put on Fenders?

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Old 05-13-19, 06:32 AM
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Great thing...

Concerning the dropouts I was thinking aloud because my frame-dealer was not sure whether our dropouts could take the reaction forces of the Rohloff-Hub. What?(Couldn't believe it.) No problems so far (after 3000km, partly packed).

Excuse my English concerning the bottom bracket (I'm no native English speaker). I was wondering about the design (with the slotted bearing shell) of the eccentric bottom bracket. I haven't seen this technical solution in rather high price frames. But, on the other hand, this external clamping could save some weight compared to internal solutions and it was probably chosen because of that. Plus the Gates doesn't need re-tightening very often (if at all...).

Again, great bike. Hope your stoker loves it too. When we are riding I take every coffee-stop I'm asked for. Just to keep the mood up :-)
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Old 05-13-19, 06:51 AM
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I left the details of the eccentric to my framebuilder. For me it seems very simple and I expect it to be very reliable.

No fenders planned at this point. Probably next year we'll start doing some loaded touring and then the configuration will change rather significantly with racks and fenders.
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Old 05-13-19, 01:36 PM
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Wouldn't that water bottle under the Stokers top tube be in the way of her legs?
Very nice looking bike.
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Old 05-13-19, 02:24 PM
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Is your Di2 Ultegra, XTR or XT? If Ultregra, did I understand correctly that it will shift the 42 tooth cog without the Wolf Tooth road link? I ask because I have Di2 Ultegra and I'm concerned that 50-34 chainring and the 11-34 rear is not geared low enough for steep hills. That is a great looking tandem and I'm sure it will serve you well. I also like you XT gear display. Many thanks.
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Old 05-13-19, 04:41 PM
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It's an RD8050 long cage ultegra derailleur. It's not supposed to support the 42 but at least on my workstand it seemed to be fine. I'll be testing those wheels out in a couple of weeks so I'll confirm. Note that they just released a new gravel specific drivetrain that will definitely work.
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Old 05-13-19, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Dean V View Post
Wouldn't that water bottle under the Stokers top tube be in the way of her legs?
Very nice looking bike.
No issues at all with clearance. Thanks.
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Old 05-13-19, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by bikeinxs View Post
It's an RD8050 long cage ultegra derailleur. It's not supposed to support the 42 but at least on my workstand it seemed to be fine. I'll be testing those wheels out in a couple of weeks so I'll confirm. Note that they just released a new gravel specific drivetrain that will definitely work.
Thank you for your response and I will watch for your response on the 42. I saw that Shimano released a gravel specific drivetrain. The problem is I got the bike last fall, I wish it would have been out last year. Enjoy your new tandem.
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Old 05-19-19, 11:13 AM
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Okay that is seriously gorgeous. I need a tandem in my life again!
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Old 05-19-19, 05:28 PM
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We've got 300 km on the bike with the 700c Woven wheels and it's been spectacular. Comfortable, fast, and the shifting and braking is light years ahead of our old bike with caliper brakes and Ultegra cable shifting. It climbs and descends well and we're getting quite comfortable with it. Tomorrow we'll try the bike in beast mode on some real dirt roads with the second set of wheels. This is a set of 650B velocity wheels with 48 mm Gravel King SK tires and an 11-42 cassette on the back. I was super happy that the only adjustment I had to make to fit the wheels was to back out the B adjustment screw to suit the larger rear cog. I know the photo looks pretty tight but it's about 4 mm clearance to the rear stays. The fork could probably take a 60 mm tire.



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Old 05-20-19, 10:51 AM
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We did a bigger ride and some hills with the 11-42 cassette with no issues at all. I suppose my derailleur hangar could be a bit different than yours.

One way to check would be to see how much adjustment you still have on your B screw. For the 42 I have it in all the way and for the 34 it's at about midpoint of adjustment.
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