Each year before taking the tandem away for our annual cycle tour, it always seems prudent to give it the once-over and to replace various parts.  So far (and for the tour starting in about a week), I have done the following:

  • Fitted new front pannier racks – I’ve gone for the thoroughly excellent but rather hard to fit (at least to our tandem’s braze-ons) Tubus steel racks.  Very elegant looking.
  • Fitted new tyres.  Unfortunately I bought the wrong width (35mm instead of 32mm), so I had to take them off again!  We’ve switched to Schwalbe Marathon Plus, which seem to be the closest to virtually invulnerable tyres we’ve ever used.

I know that doesn’t sound too much thus far, but today’s schedule includes:

  • Remove crossover chain, clean chainrings, and replace with new chain.  DONE
  • Remove rear drive chain and discard DONE; clean rear deraileur DONE
  • Remove and clean right rear crankarm and rings.  Unfortunately stuck on.  I’ve squirted it with PlusGas and I’m having a coffee break while it acts!  DONE
  • Clean up the front derailleur  DONE – it needs a bit unsticking so it can shift the chain onto the granny ring
  • Replace the rear tyre  DONE
  • Replace the 9 speed cassette  DONE (but see below)
  • Fit the new chain  DONE (hit a snag when I inadvertently catapulted the powerlinks onto the grass and lost one of them…)
  • Get the gears properly indexed.  This is a slight issue as the bike inexplicably loves to hop directly from the third biggest cog to the biggest, missing one out.  Would be good to have this sorted before we’re grovelling up some ginormous hill with a fully loaded tandem.  DONE, but needs road testing
  • Retape the bars.  The bar tape has got very mucky and in various places has started to unwind.  Going to do this last thing.

* I’ve replaced a 9 speed 11-32 cassette with an 11-28.  Coupled with a 26 tooth granny ring this still offers a very low gear, but will it be low enough?  It seems to avoid the skipping the cog problem though.

We’re also sorting our packing lists for food and equipment, particularly relating to the camping gear we carry  – though as we get older we find ourselves camping less frequently (mind you it’s a reassurance against failing to find a B&B).