Astonishingly, two weeks after I placed the order for the new tandem, I received an email notifying me that it had been built and was ready for dispatch. I say ‘astonishingly’ because I’d been led to believe it would take about 6 weeks for delivery. And so I took delivery of an enormous and unwieldy box.

A huge box!

Inside the box, the tandem was expertly packed with loads of foam pipe lagging. The padded envelopes protect the saddles (Brooks B17, Narrow at the front, Standard at rear). The pedals and stoker bars weren’t fitted, and the handlebars were turned.

Loads of pipe lagging!

The pedals and stoker bars weren’t fitted, and the handlebars were turned.

Packing material removed!

Once I’d removed the packing material, it was time to sort out the saddle heights and fit the pedals and stoker bars. At this point, it started looking pretty good.

Almost set!

Of course, this wasn’t the final set-up: the saddles and handlebars needed to be set to a more appropriate level. You can also see the unfeasible amount of steerer tube projecting up from the head tube in the general direction of my head and chest when I’m riding the bike! Sometime over the next few days I’ll decide how much steerer to lop off. You can also see the three S&S couplings that allow the frame to be taken apart into two sections for transport, and the large disc for one of the rear brakes. The disc brake is a hydraulic Hope Evo V4, and the other two brakes are Shimano V-brakes. Note that the front brake is located behind the fork crown. Because this beast uses a 14-speed Rohloff Speedhub, both chains can be on the same side of the bike. Thorn refer to this as having a ‘clean’ and a ‘dirty’ side! It also makes the chain routes a bit more straightforward and presumably easier to keep clean. This is the first double marathon frame I’ve had – both our other tandems are single marathon frames, where a single bracing tube extends from the head tube to the rear dropouts. Aside from looking a bit like a five bar gate, double marathon frames are supposed to be particularly stiff, which is a consideration when touring. There is a profusion of controls on the front handlebars: the right brake lever pulls the front V-brake, while the left lever applies the hydraulic disc brake. Between the two main brake levers are a small lever on the left (looks like a bar-end gear lever) that operates the rear V-brake and the twist-shift control for the Rohloff hub.

At the moment, there’s an astonishingly long steerer tube just waiting to be sawn off. It’s so long that I didn’t want to do a long test ride, but we did do about 4 miles. General impressions are of a very comfortable ride for both riders, and the Rohloff hub worked well, very quiets except for one or two gears (and I’m led to believe these will bed in). Actually, the only worry remaining is whether the rear wheel really does have enough spokes for loaded touring, but on that count, time will tell, I guess.