The Tech Pages

In these pages you will find a description of the bike and gear we used. I like to think that we have a highly refined system. If you have suggestions, comments or questions, please direct them to me. billy@rompfamily.com -- Note that this email address is no longer functioning; to reach Billy please contact him at billyromp@gmail.com

The Bike

Our four-seat bicycle was made by Santana Cycles of La Verne California, the world's premier maker of tandem bicycles. Bill McReady started Santana Cycles after being disappointed with the tandems available in the 1970s. Now the acknowledged leader in the world of tandem bicycles, Santana nearly single-handedly developed most of the design features present on modern tandems. Their story is worth looking into, and their catalog of products and tours is definitely worth getting.

The Quad was made by Santana in 1993 from specially- drawn chrome-moly steel tubing, joined with a process called fillet brazing which produces smooth, graceful joints. Engineered to be strong yet light, the frame employs "direct lateral" bracing, providing strength much like the bracing on an old-fashioned highway bridge. The bike weighs eighty pounds, by far the heaviest in our fleet but, divided by four, 20 pounds is very reasonable. The frame size is 50cm (19") in the captain's front position, decreasing to 35.5cm (14") in the rearmost position.


Here are some equipment specifications:

Wheels: Hadley Racing hubs, 160mm rear axle, 100mm front, Sun Rhino rims, 48 Wheelsmith spokes, 2.0mm, Velox rim tape, no-name presta tubes and Specialized Nimbus 26x1.5" tires. We run the tires at 120 psi and had one puncture in 4500 miles. We got about 1800 miles from a pair. We couldn't be happier with these tires. The rear wheel was built by Santana, the front by Billy Romp.

Brakes: The rim brakes are Shimano LX V-brakes, inexpensive 1997 models with no paralell-push mechanism, using stock pads. I use QBP Travel Agent cable travel multipliers on them with drop-bar levers. In addition to the rim brakes, I am testing for Formula and Santana their stock hydraulic disc rear brake with the new larger-diameter disc and a special master cylinder which mounts on the down tube and is operated by a regular brake lever and cable. This brake has a soft feel at the lever, but a powerful effect. In conjunction with the rim brakes, we have abundant braking power for our 700 pounds, even in the mountains. The only limitation is heat dissipatation. On a long, winding downhill, we need to stop occasionally to cool the brakes. Although we haven't experienced brake fade due to overheating, we have burned our fingertips on the rim and disc!

I'm using Shimano 600 STI 8-speed brake/shift levers. The cable set-up is like so: the right brake lever operates the disc brake in the rear, and the left brake lever operates the front rim brake. The rear rim brake is operated by the left SHIFT lever, which allows me to control both rim brakes with my left hand. Since the shift lever is ratcheted, it allows me to use the rear rim brake as a parking brake, a handy feature since parking this beast is often challenging.

Drivetrain: We use Sugino XD cranksets, with standard 36 tooth tandem synchronizing chainrings, connected with three Shimano HG 90 chains on the left side of the bike. I use Craig Links on these chains and have had no problems. The captains crankset has 175mm arms, the others are 170mm. Henry's crankset (the drive crankset) has additional pedal holes drilled and tapped at 162mm and 156mm, compliments of Tom at Midtown Machine in Colchester, VT. He used the 156mm length until Park City, Utah, then switched to 162mm.

The bottom brackets are sealed units, supplied by Santana, and I don't know the make or model. The three front ones are set into Santana's simple, reliable eccentric bottom brackets, which rotate to adjust the synchronizing chain.

The drive crankset has four chainrings: 54, 44, and 32 tooth Sugino aluminum alloy rings, and a 20-tooth Avid stainless steel chainring on an Avid Micro-Adaptor. The Shimano XTR eight-speed 12-32 cassette is driven by a Sachs off-road chain with a Sachs Link (I can't remember the model name!!) These gears give us a low that enables us to climb anything, even overloaded as we are, at 2.5 to 3.0 mph. We routinely wish for a higher gear, since we spin the 54-12 out at about 37 or 38 mph, and many descents are made at 40 mph plus. Our fastest was 49.9 mph.

The right STI shifter operates the Shimano XTR rear derailleur normally. The left STI shifter is connected to the rear rim brake, so I use a Shimano handlebar-end- control shift lever to operate the XTR front derailleur. This derailleur has plenty of range to shift across four chainrings, but the lever will not pull enough cable to shift reliably(nor does any lever that I know of). So I have mounted a cable travel multiplier (from a QBP Travel Agent designed for brakes) on the bottom of one of the bottom brackets, and it turns the lever's 1.5 cm of cable travel into 2.25 cm at the derailleur. This setup shifts extremely well front and rear. In fact, we haven't dropped the chain or had a mis-shift on the entire tour so far, and because it is a quad we are shifting under some kind of load almost all the time, hundreds of times per day. I couldn't be happier with the shifting.

Other equipment: We use Shimano SPD 535 pedals. Terry Precision Bicycles had provided us with very comfortable saddles, three different models with cut-out sections to relieve pressure. They are leather, made in Italy, and the captain's saddle has titanium rails. Profile cork tape covers Nitto-made Santana handlebars, 44cm, medium-drop, except for the captain's bars which are Modolo Anatomic 46cm deep drop. Stoker's bars have Dia-Compe dummy brake levers and are held up by Control Tech black aluminum adjustable stoker's stems. The captain's stem is a no-name chrome-moly unit with an 11cm extension and a 40 degree rise. The 1&1/4" headset is an inexpensive Tange, which I replaced 1000 miles into the trip.

Accessories: Each rider has an Avocet 45tt computer, all connected to the same front-wheel pick-up, with the wire running under white electrical tape along the top tube. They have performed reliably at first, but each of them failed at some point. We replaced them when we could, but in the Yukon we were without a working cyclocomputer. A collection of white waterbottle cages of different manufacture, ten in all, hold Cannondale 28-oz bottles (it takes more than 2 gallons to fill them up). Black Jandd Expedition racks look great front and rear, but both required modification to fit the custom fork and tiny rear triangle. A Blackburn road pump replaces our color-matched Silca Impero, which broke in Virginia. It performs much better than the Silca, although we don't use it much, having had no flats. I usually pump the tires at a bike shop and they don't require attention in between.

Trailer: We have owned several trailers, and the Burley D'Lite is our favorite. Even overloaded as it was, it performed well. The tires lasted until Alaska, and were replaced with cool BMX slicks. The stock hitch wouldn't work with our disc brake, so we modified their quick-release skewer hitch to fit our quad, and it worked fine.

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