Sunday, June 29, 2014

Introducing..... (drumroll please).... Mr. Burley (or the tandem to be named later)

Still working on the name, but this is one winter project finally ready for prime time!  It was actually the week before Thanksgiving that I noticed a tempting price on a Burley Bossa Nova tandem, black, set up in the road style.  Erika and I ventured out into a cold and rainy night to Springfield to go check it out.  The previous owner had a garage full of amazing bikes and was getting rid of the Burley as it was a seldom used 'back up' tandem.  The fit seemed close enough and a quick solo ride in the rain (Erika was to smart for this) and we had bought ourselves a fancy road style tandem.

My plan was to attack a full rebuild over the course of Jan-Feb-Mar and emerge phoenix-like in the spring with a very new-to-us and customized build.  Needless to say this didn't materialize.  We did get out for an odd warm day, I think it was in December.  Our destination was Port City Brewery which we had already visited via tandem and it was a really successful trip until I decided to push our luck and try to go home a new way, one fateful wrong turn and we ended up on a potholed 6 lane intermediate street (Rt 236 for the locals) near Landmark Mall.  It was harrowing w/ the road condition, speed of traffic and we ended up hitting a big hole and blowing out the rear tire.  Unpatchable and with no 27 1/4" tubes handy we had to phone our friend Sara for a humiliating but much needed emergency pick up.

Between the early misadventure, the incredibly persistent cold and wet winter and a plethora of other projects I never got around to tuning up the tandem though I did acquire some parts slowly and ended up disassembling the cockpits as I mused about the build.  I was also intimidated by a couple new-to-me systems on the bike, namely; eccentric bottom brackets, internal cable routing and a hub drag brake.  In the end, Sheldon Brown and youtube came to my assistance and I got the bike together as you see here.  I'll let the photo's and captions take you through it but here are some highlights of the build;

1993 (?) Burley Bossa Nova Tandem (not positive, but based on some bikepedia entries and the original build kit this seems pretty likely plus or minus a year)
27 1/4", 48H Wheels, Continental Gatorskins (32mm) (original and likely to be replaced by 700C rims)
Suntour XC Brakes and drive train (I replaced the 6 speed indexed barcon shifters w/ the old power ratchet barcons because the locking bolt for the indexed units was stripped out pretty bad)
Front cockpit - Nitto Moustache Bars (original), Shimano aero levers, suntour barcon friction shifters, newbaum's over inner tubes, Nitto Tallux stem
Stoker cockpit - Ritchey(?) Moustache bars off of the '93 XO-3 (MTB width) with Diacompe dummy levers, newbaum's over inner tubes, Nitto Technomic stem
Sakae tandem crank set (original)
Jagwire XL Racer cables
(2) Brooks Flyer sprung saddles (honey)
Baggage - Carradice large saddle wedge (courtesy of @dailyrandonneur) as a bar bag, Berthoud Saddle wedge in the rear, and a Truce small saddle wedge in the middle... room for improvement here but this setup gets us on the road for now!

Future projects:
700C wheelset (I'd love to be able to get 38mm tires on this bike but need to do some measurements/dry fittings)
Fenders (waiting for final wheelset)
Dyno lighting?  Possibly along w/ the wheelset - sensing a theme?
Front rack - I've got a sweet Bruce Gordon Mountain front rack courtesy of @OceanAirCycles that needs some work to get it mounted.
Rear rack - Erika's seat height makes it a challenge, possibly a Nitto R-14 will work
Frame bag - the frame 'cell' below Erika is huge and seems like a great spot for a big frame bag... might be useful

'Before' - Pretty much a stock Suntour XC groupset, Sakae cranks and handlebars
'After'  Great ride today to Mt Vernon on the MV Trail.  The bike was setup for that trip, our longest to date at ~27miles.

Dual Moustache Bars!  The Captain cockpit is the traditional downward configuration and the stoker bars are set up upward giving Erika a slightly more upright option.  I'll need to come back and trim the shift cable housing at some point but I left them intentionally long for now.

Bossa Nova.  The frame finishing seems like quality TIG welding work, the top and diagatube are ovalized OS tubes, the down tube is standard round OS tubing

Stoker-eye view.  The old XO-3 M-Bar's are distinctly different in shape than the current (now former) M-Bar with a longer and more pronounced straight section coming back to the bar ends and more compact 'hooks'.  So far Erika likes using the dummy levers for a stretched out posture.

Newbaum's cotton bartape over a single layer of recycled inner tube, It's not as gorgeous as cotton tape right on the bars but it makes for a bit more squish and I like the end thickness.

The internal cable routing for the two shift cables and the  drag brake was intimidating but I needn't have worried.  The  down tube passes under both BB's giving the cables unimpeded routing straight to the 'tailpipe' exit and cable routing literally couldn't have been easier.

Rear brakes crowded by the Berthoud saddle wedge that came with my Purple-Luki purchase

SIX SPEED!  With a new wheelset we'll go to 8 speed friction in all likelihood but for now the 6 speed freewheel is more than adequate.  The cassette and chain, drivetrain in general is extremely clean.

Sakae cranks are strong and clean looking  We've stayed in the middle ring *48T* I think for all of our riding so far.

Front hub, 48T is alot! :)

You may have seen these before on the blog, new home... and likely permanent home.  With the jagwire cables all adjusted nicely the right shifter worked flawlessly today.

Nice short reach Technomic stem for the stoker

Diacompe dummy levers, hoods a bit worse for wear.  They came off the XO-3 and have stayed with the bars.

True Temper Chromoly....

Burley, mimial but cool looking graphics. You get a bit of apeak here at the nut for easy fender mounting and the odd (to me) top tube bend into a Y yoke for the rear 'fork'  Also note the bolt for fender mounting.

The Phil hub drag brake, currently disconnected but I've read up on hooking it to a thumb friction shifter and putting it on the stokers bars.  That may be what we do.  It was hooked in via a cool dual cable through the right side suntour brake lever, either the cables or that lever was weak though as there was very little braking power either in the rear canti brake or this drag brake in the initial configuration.

Showing you tire clearance and the unicrown fork,  I think 700cx38's will fit don't you?!?

Same here in the chainstays and chainbridge, plenty of clearance.

The rear 'fork' may have the tightest clearance though even that is pretty darn good.


  1. Have your found a suitable rear hub for your prospective replacement wheelset? I have a old Burley with probably the same rear hub; we burn through freewheels every two years, and just broke the rear axle; I would love to have more options.

    1. I measured the dropouts on mine to be 138mm. The rear stays are extremely rigid, I tried putting a big clamp on the dropouts and started squeezing, but the welded on dropouts starting bending significantly so I stopped. The post measurement was also 138mm. I'm going to space mine out to 138. It's really hard to get it in the frame right now.

      I think you could get by with a 135mm rear hub, but a longer one would be better. Just cut down the axle a bit, respace, and redish the wheel.

  2. I purchased a 93 Bossa Nova frame, it is odd in many ways.

    1. The Eccentric and press fit bottom brackets, front and rear. I was able to find a set at Tandems East
    2. Rear brake cable hanger. It was missing from the frame, only thing there was a conical brazed bit with an M5 interior thread. I used a stripped aluminum crank arm as base material, hacksawed a chunk out, cut, filed, and sanded it to an "L" shape, then drilled and tapped it to make my own hanger.
    3. The inner routing of the derailleur and drag brake cables. I just ran them back raw through the "tail pipe". I can't believe that's the way to do it, as they will "saw" through the bottom brackets over time. What bit am I missing here? Or do you use a long piece of teflon tubing?

    38's? I'm running SOMA 700X38 C-lines right now, no clearance issues, but fenders would be iffy.

  3. kj50000 - Not yet but I have been keeping an eye on ebay and other places for a nice White Industries or Phil hub. Not sure I'll go that fancy, if new there is a Shimano 'HF08' hub that I think would work.

    gugie - Thanks for the comments and confirmation about 700x38's fitting, very good to know! I'm not using in cable teflon tubing inside the 'tail pipe' myself. I wondered what kind of chaffing might happen as well but at least looking at the old cable I replaced there wasn't any out of the ordinary wear. The bend where the down tube meets the first BB would be my concern but so far so good.

    1. Tony, I forgot to tell you what a beautiful build you did, nice and clean with just the right splash of color. I have some Resurrectio decals coming my way. From your other posts I'm pretty sure you know the source. Nice collection of Retro Grouch singles, BTW!

      I have an Arai drab brake, not yet installed. I am concerned about getting all of those cables crossed up inside the tail pipe. Glad to see someone with a "proof of concept" doing well.

      Please note that I appear to have an aftermarket front fork. The person I purchased the frame, wheels, headset and brake from did not tell me that and had powder coated everything to match, then given up on the project. The 1 1/8" steerer was about 8 threads too short. It took me 7 calls to different bike shops in the Portland area (shout out to City Bicycles) to find someone with the right die that was willing to use it to cut new threads-$25/inch, cheaper than a new fork.

      I'd be interested to see a picture of the cables coming out of the tailpipe (it's now the official term), also if you could post one of the rear brake cable hanger? I'd like to see if what I came up with matches or not.

      Another Retro Grouch, and proud of it