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Video Shawn Raymond's Tandem Bike is Shorter Than Yours (Video) 85

This isn't a "both peddlers are equal" bike. The person sitting in the rear seat is in the "control" position. Because of the wide handlebars, he or she can reach around the person in the front seat to steer. The person in the front seat can't really do much except enjoy the ride, or maybe lean back and whisper a sweet nothing or two if the person in the back seat is someone the front-seater loves. The bike is called the UnaTandem (turn music off in the lower left corner of the page), and Shawn Raymond tried to get Kickstarter funding for it back in 2012 but only raised $1651, which was quite a ways short of his $70,000 goal. So, with Kickstarter in the rear view mirror, Shawn is trying to do his own crowdfunding. Will this work? Can he get enough people to buy into his idea of a tandem bike that gives you the old "riding on the handlebars" feeling to get his company off the ground? Can he use his own money (assuming he has enough) to build and sell his tandem bikes without bringing in outside investors at all? And then there's the price problem. Shawn says he's looking at a retail price in the $850 range. That may not seem like a lot to some, but you can buy 10 Walmart bikes for that much. Or four or five bikes from specialty bicycle or sporting goods stores. Despite the high price, some will undoubtedly buy these short tandem bikes and like them. But will enough people buy enough of them to make this a viable business? Shawn obviously thinks so. (Alternate Video Link)

Shawn: My name is Shawn Raymond S-H-A-W-N R-A-Y-M-O-N-D. I created this bike, it’s a new type of a tandem bike, a small tandem bike. The front section is shorter. This is the first time this has been done. It looks like it’s maybe the first new utility patent on a bike in a hundred years.

Tim: It reminds me a lot of BMX bikes.

Shawn: Yeah. It’s the BMX forks, and these are BMX rims. These are 16” wheels and the tires are actually very high-end BMX tires. They go to 110 PSI. These little 16” wheels, you usually see them with kiddy bikes, but it turns out just the physics of anything—smaller things are stronger than larger things. If you had a giant hula hoop, it would be easy to crush down, whereas if that hula hoop was made out of the same material, say, this big around, it would take quite a bit to squish it. So these wheels are actually stronger than mountain bike wheels because they are smaller. And the rim material is exactly the same. These tires are made with the same casing as the professional BMX bikes.

Tim: Now why a small person bike?

Shawn: Okay. So the goal is to really allow you to have a short rider sit up front and see the same scenery that the back rider is seeing. If you had a tandem where the short rider sits in the back, and the bigger rider sits in the front, the rider in the back is looking at the back of the rider in front. So you’re looking off to the side, and you’re both not seeing the same scenery. So with this here, the short rider— the woman or the kids—they’ll be seeing in front of them, the guy is seeing in front, and you’re all talking about the same thing—you are seeing the same scenery. The short wheel base here, is what makes it handle good, and it enables the rider in the back to be able to hold on to the steering. The way this angle is —it comes up through here, and that’s why the steering wraps around the rider in the front.

Tim: Now is that an off-the-shelf component, that giant handlebar?

Shawn: Yeah. This is regular Beach Cruiser bars. And it’s easy enough to have them adjusted an inch longer or whatever.

Tim: What was the inspiration for having a two-person bike of this size?

Shawn: Well, really it’s kind of an observation of how you see people riding with another person. You see kids on the tagalong bike and they are bored, because they are way in the back, things falling over. I’ve seen people on regular long tandems, they don’t seem to be too happy. You know, if I look back at my own childhood, my dad used to ride me on the front of a bike here. And we used to wrap a towel around there to make it easier, but the towel would roll off. My dad said, “You know, why don’t they make a bike that will ride a kid upfront, instead of a baby but ride a kid upfront?” I was into bikes, and I was repairing them when I was seven, and I said, “I’ll make one, Dad.” And here I am.

Tim: Is this the first product you’ve manufactured?

Shawn: It is the first consumer product I’ve manufactured. I make high frequency printed circuit boards for the telecommunications industry and a lot of that stuff was used for pirate TV, for pirating HBO cable, HBO satellite transmission—so that was long ago.

Tim: You must be very proud?

Shawn: Yeah, I am proud of doing the pirate stuff, it was other people that sold the stuff pirate—I just made little parts for that industry. So this is you know, I am pretty proud of this bike. I am pretty proud of how the reaction is with people. You see the smiles getting bigger on the people when they come back—it’s a good feeling to know that people really love it.

Tim: Now it is a very nice machine but as I understand it from you earlier, it is not yet available for people to buy?

Shawn: Right.

Tim: When it is, how much would it cost, when will that be?

Shawn: Okay, so my goal is to stick with the consumer price range between $500 and $1000; 29% of the bike industry is between $500 and $990. Over $1000, it drops down to 3%. My competitors that sell long long unusual tandem bikes are at the $2000 to $2500 range. But I think that if I lower the price and bring it back down to the price range that people pay for a premium bike-shop bike, so I am going to offer it at $850. And the profit margin is a lot lower for me but I think I am going to make it back up in volume.

So it is a little bit of a gamble on my part, but I think that this is something that almost every family will ultimately want. I think it is something that we’re going to see, it is going to be common. And why not? It is a great way to spend time with people you love. You want me to go up for a ride? Oh, let me show you. You don’t have to ride with another person. You can steal it from mom and dad and when they are not looking The seat is all the way up. It would be a lot better if I put it down. But of course, it is set up with the distance here, it is here from here to here is the same length as a Beach Cruiser bike. So if you are riding it this way, it is just like any other Beach Cruiser.

Tim: It looks like a lot of fun.

Shawn: Yeah, it is.

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Shawn Raymond's Tandem Bike is Shorter Than Yours (Video)

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  • Slow "news" day?
  • It's too expensive for how goofy you're going to feel riding it. Also, small wheels may be strong, but they're going to need to be. Stuff that is a relatively minor obstacle for a larger wheel is going to outright stop this bicycle.

    • It's a small cost for the person in front enjoying the ride or the reacharound, though.
    • ...small wheels may be strong, but they're going to need to be. Stuff that is a relatively minor obstacle for a larger wheel is going to outright stop this bicycle.

      "Aw crap, someone spit out a sunflower seed shell! EVASIVE MANEUVERS!!!"

    • "Stuff that is a relatively minor obstacle for a larger wheel is going to outright stop this bicycle."

      Larger wheels do not make obstacles "easier", at least when it comes to anything you'll encounter while riding on paved or hardpack surfaces like this tandem is intended for.

      What matters is tire load, thickness, and inflation pressure.

      • Larger wheels do not make obstacles "easier", at least when it comes to anything you'll encounter while riding on paved or hardpack surfaces like this tandem is intended for.

        Balderdash. I've ridden a folding bike with slightly bigger wheels than this and found that to be false. And that's why we have 29ers now.

        • by mellon ( 7048 )

          29ers are great for clearing obstacles in the woods, but not so great on tight single track rides because the steering is slower. I have a Fuji Outland with 26" wheels and I've taken it over 18" logs without any trouble. You aren't going to take this offroad, so the fact that it can't clear a log isn't really a practical issue. Team riding on rough terrain would be an interesting exhibition sport, but the coordination required is way out of the league of the typical couple or parent/child combo this b

          • If nothing else, this bike simply isn't geared for offroad riding.

            To me, it's an issue of comfort. Minor perturbations in the pavement that are a minor obstacle to a normally-sized wheel are a major one to a smaller wheel, because of the size of the contact patch that crosses it. You can notice this effect with anything wheeled. It's easier to push my utility cart with wheelchair wheels over obstacles than my wheelbarrow. My F250 4x4 barely notices washboarding that makes even my 300SD vibrate like a bastard, because it's on 35s.

            • I should say, in part because of the size of the contact patch. There's also something there to do with the angle of the wheel where it meets the obstacle. The old school wheelchair wheels on my utility cart have solid tires, the contact patch isn't just narrow but short as well.

      • Larger wheels do not make obstacles "easier", at least when it comes to anything you'll encounter while riding on paved or hardpack surfaces like this tandem is intended for.

        The most obvious thing I can think of that you will encounter is a road-side kerb.
        The physics of the situation means that, if the impact point of your wheel on the obstacle you are trying to get over is greater than or equal to the radius of the front tyre, then you will need to take action (lifting the front end of the bike) to get over the obstacle. In practice, you will have to take action for objects that are smaller than the radius, because the force required to mount the obstacle increases dramaticall

        • by mellon ( 7048 )

          If you ride a racing bike up a curb without hopping it, you'll wind up with a snakebite flat, and possibly a bent rim. I suspect this bike would do better on a curb, although I still wouldn't do it. You can't hop a tandem unless you and your partner are a stunt team, regardless of wheel size.

    • I'm a fan of foldable bikes. Think: Dahon and/or Bike Friday. They solve one of the biggest problems with bikes in conjunction with an automotive culture: getting "stuck" with a bike that you rode to work but won't be driving home with.

      So, I've spent a lot of time on a 16" wheel on a Dahon Stowaway [] with performance tires, and a finely tuned internal 3-speed hub that made it into a surprisingly fast speed demon. I loved it - it was fast, casual, and convenient. Sadly, it was stolen.

      The small, 16" wheels are

      • And people tour on Bromptons []. I can load a lot more than expected on mine and it still handles pretty well with more than 40 pounds on its racks, including on slow hill climbs. I don't own a car, but a Brompton is really nice for air travel: I can fold it up, put it in its back, and put it into checked baggage with no extra fees. Once at the destination airport, I can unfold it and ride away without having to deal with trains, buses, or taxis. It does fit quite well in those, too.
    • by mellon ( 7048 )

      I have a Bike Friday Tikit [], which has 16" wheels. It does just fine on potholed dirt roads. You wouldn't want to ride it over a log, but you're not going to do that with a street bike either. One really interesting thing about the smaller wheels is that it's easier to recover if you lock them up—I've had two occasions where I did something on my tikit that would have resulted in a crash on a road bike, but I was able to save it on the tikit: once I locked up my front wheel on a patch of ice comi

  • by pecosdave ( 536896 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @05:02PM (#47249031) Homepage Journal

    they also don't go over small obstacles as easily, maintain momentum less well (for the same reason), and are decidedly much more dorky on a tandem than full sized wheels.

    • by mellon ( 7048 )

      My Bike Friday tikit (16" wheels) does really well on long rides. I haven't noticed any issues with momentum. Your body mass is most of the mass of the vehicle; changing the size of the wheels has very little effect on your momentum. And as I mentioned on another comment thread, it does fine on bumpy dirt roads, but yes, you definitely don't want to go single-tracking with it. Hardly a significant problem for the target audience.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What a terrible excuse for a website.

    I go there without javascript and they don't even show me a picture of the bike. I guess it is more important to them to have a pretty website than it is to maximize the number of customers. Not like they couldn't do both.

    • Yeah I'm sure they care about the exceptionally small number of people with noscript installed. Websites looking pretty will bring in a lot more customers than they will turn away by rejecting anti-javascript holy rollers.
  • The super-long rear seatpost will put incredible torque on the top tube joint and eventually break the frame.

    • I've seen this happen before. If it's a good enough weld with Chromoly it may not ever happen under 400 lbs of rider, but you're right, welds have been a reoccurring issue with low production run bikes in the past, not just Chinese, but even really high end names. There's just too many issues with this design. I could see it being fun for kids in a neighborhood, but I have trouble taking it seriously otherwise.

      • Re:Bad design (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @05:17PM (#47249149) Homepage

        I could see it being fun for kids in a neighborhood, but I have trouble taking it seriously otherwise.

        True. But I'll bet those kids could find a much more fun way to spend $850.

        • by nadaou ( 535365 )

          True. But I'll bet those kids could find a much more fun way to spend $850.

          Especially if they have been introduced to the teachings of Bender.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I could see it being fun for kids in a neighborhood, but I have trouble taking it seriously otherwise.

        Close to my assessment. This looks like the perfect bike for an overprotective parent. Stick the kid on the front seat, steer from the back seat (ok, also for habitual back seat drivers), and never let the kid out of your reach.

    • Bike Friday has been using essentially the same configuration on their foldables for quite some time without notable issues.

  • Blame autocorrect?
  • Irritatingly, laptops have speakers built in; worse, phones have to have speakers on. But I still like my desktop and the certainty I get from having a physical switch. I don't care what games you play to try to subvert my settings: I am not going to have to hunt down your noisy tab.

    • Here linux is superior thanks to having the volume control as a separate panel applet, not a tiny icon hidden in the tray like Windows does. And the volume can be changed with the scroll wheel whether you open the slider or not.
      I have an amp at near 100% volume and never touch it.

    • My wireless keyboard has a audio mute button and a rocker switch for volume control. Most laptops have dedicated function key-pairs for mute and volume control.

      Even the video footage of the bike demo had me reaching for my keyboard volume button.

  • Wow, that bike looks really horrible to ride. My knees hurt just from watching the video. It looks like a collapsable commuter bike stretched out a bit.I really don't see the appeal.
    • The only advantage I can see to it is that it's small enough to work as a one-person bicycle. Various transit systems won't let you bring tandem bikes on trains, the racks on busses are too small for them, and tandem racks can be a nuisance.

      That said, I agree. I wouldn't want to ride one for any kind of distance...

  • I never thought I'd ever see a guy being pleased because his was smaller!

    • by hurfy ( 735314 )

      At least until one hits a pothole with those little wheels and he discovers that extended handlebar post :O

      Cute idea. Him saying 1st utility patent on a bike in 100 years or however he phrased sounded cheeky and turned me off.
      $850 makes it very uncute tho, no wonder no one was interested in 'investing' last time.

  • by nukenerd ( 172703 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @05:32PM (#47249283)
    That's some claim - probably refers to it's small turning circle (why would I care?). But that incredible fork angle (looks about 45 deg) means that the front end will be falling as you steer from straight-ahead (assuming he has given the front wheel some caster) which means a gravitational tendency to steer away from the straight ahead, made worse by the relatively low gyroscopic stability of small wheels. Conventional fork geometry evolved the way it is for good reason, but I guess he had to compromise to get the rider's positions to where they are.

    Still, as I guess these things will never get further than the seaside promenade or the pavement (US sidewalk) I suppose it does not matter
  • There are already quite many bikes of the concept tandem-with-captain in the rear. Several quite successfull ones, too.

    There are several home-built tandems with individual handlebars, like this one I saw in Amsterdam : []

    Also this child seat for the Brompton folding bike works quite like the original post : []

    Last but not least, the german Hase Pino semi-recumbent bike. The captain sit in the rear in an upright position, the stoker is seate

  • Shawn Raymond's Tandem Bike is Shorter Than Yours

    How do you know? I could have an even shorter tandem. You don't know me. You don't know what I've got in my garage. Get off my lawn!

  • as smaller wheels may be stronger but you kinda need rotating mass to help stabilize, and move the pedal strike out of the picture. $850 is a great price for a well made tandem. It's overall a step above simply brazing together most of two standard diamond frames.
  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @05:47PM (#47249395) Homepage

    No /. commenter will ever have the ability to use a tandem, regardless of whether they want to.
    For multiple reasons.

  • by Joe Tennies ( 564856 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @05:51PM (#47249433) Homepage

    Yes, you can get a cheap as crap bike at Walmart for that price, but that's the bottom of the barrel bike from them. A sporting goods store is barely any better than a department store. I don't know what you consider a specialty bike store, but I'd expect that they carry Trek, Giant, and Raleigh. $850 is a mid level fitness Trek (FX 7.4 to be exact). Trek's only tandem is 1$200. Raleigh's is $930. Giant doesn't even have one. Heck, look here: []

    • You're absolutely right; but, people who buy Wal-mart bikes either aren't bike people; or, know they're getting a throw-away and live with it. A $79 bike will be heavy, poorly built, uncomfortable (because one size fits all, right?), the cheap derailleurs will not work reliably, the free hub and cassette will fail fairly early on. To add another price-point, you can pick up a low end bike from a local bike shop for about $450.
  • This isn't a "both peddlers are equal" bike.

    Peddlers are never equal. Whoever makes the most sales is best.

  • God ya, start it up at FULL FUCKING VOLUME!
  • Stupid idea... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kiphat ( 809902 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @05:59PM (#47249511)
    I really dig bikes! Road, Mountain, CC, tandem, whatever.. I will never buy this bike. In all honesty there's a reason he didn't make his goal because it's a stupid idea. This _might make it as a boardwalk exclusive as a rental for $5/hour. But that's about it.
  • So is it better to pedal with your knees way out to the side, or have someone's knees constantly hitting your butt?
  • So with the two riders so close to each other, if you hit a bump or have to stop suddenly, the rear rider's head may hit the back of the front rider's helmet.

    If you're in the back, you might want to wear a mouth guard...

  • by Slugster ( 635830 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:14PM (#47250101)
    It is very presumptuous to claim one has invented a "new" bicycle just by rehashing normal parts. Millions of amateur inventors in every country in the world have been doing the same thing for 100+ years. Fans of vintage bicycles will tend to say that 'Everything ride-able--and a lot more things not--has already been done; I just can't find the picture'.

    Vintage tandem bicycles that allowed a smaller rider in front were typically called "kangaroo" tandems.
    I don't remember anything *exactly* like this, but I know I've seen a few that were very similar except for the handlebar arrangement.... -and I don't consider myself to be that great of a fan of vintage cycling. The vintage examples I recall vaguely had a more-complicated arrangement, which leads me to suspect that simpler ones were probably tried.
  • Like EVERYBODY else, I'm not sure why this was posted in Slashdot... but maybe you'll give my three-person unicycle Kickstarter a mention? At the moment it is simply a concept drawing... I'm hoping to raise $5 million and would probably deliver a working production bike after I've exhausted the funds at my design facility in the Caribbean.

  • by dr2chase ( 653338 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:34PM (#47250243) Homepage

    There's way too many people who think that big wheels have a stabilizing effect. They don't. See [] .
    They do suck more at potholes, but they are also much stronger (as wheels) though the load carrying capacity of the tire is reduced (i.e, a 29x2.35 *tire* can carry more weight than a 20x2.35 tire).

    $850 would be an aggressive price for a small run bike. I know what I am talking about here, I own a small run bike (a cargo bike), it's larger, but the frame alone was $1000 retail, and they're pretty much all like that. Most niche market bikes cost more than $1000, and while this one has not so much tubing, it has just as many welds, and it pays the tandem tax (more drive train, second seat, and lots of parts are extra beefy for the increased power and load -- I also own a tandem.)

    I share the concerns about the fork angle, but you'd really want to ride one to figure out if it works or not.

    The stoker not able to see the road is a problem for some stokers, so I think this is an interesting thing. I wouldn't buy it without riding it first.

    • i'd say i'm not entirely sure what you're trying to link to. I'd also say that big wheels have a bigger moment arm or whatever than small wheels and wheels contain angular momentum when up to speed. All wheels in motion make use of that gyroscopic effect, so if it starts upright it's going to want to stay upright. what you're suggesting is that gyroscopes with more momentum aren't better resisting changing orientation than gyroscopes with less momentum.

      now, is your argument that it contributes nothing, o

      • Click through, read the link. They've done experiments with counter-rotating wheels to cancel any gyro effects, and people ride the bikes just fine. So, negligible. As good as nothing, compared to all the other noise in the system.

        And if you have ever captained a tandem, you'll know damn well it is all about "noise in the system".

        • in that case, yay. but that's not actually what you said. you actually leave the point you're trying to make rather ambiguous.

          next time, if it's negligible, say something like what you just said to me. that they did experiments and found that the stabilizing effect of increasing wheel radius is negligible in maintaining balance.

          what you actually said was basically. "no, you're wrong, linky linky"

          a little explanation goes a long way.

  • TLDR version: "Big Box Store" bikes are not a metric for what a bicycle "costs", and cheap bicycles have high operating expenditures. Why not spend more on capital expenditures (the purchase), take less trips to the bike store for repairs, and have a nicer bicycle to boot?

    BBSBs are the bane of every bike mechanic, because 1)their owners have extremely unrealistic expectations in terms of cost of labor and parts (ie: "I paid $75 for this thing, you want $50 to replace this whosamahwhasis?") 2)the components

  • It's a terribly ugly bike - and seems it would be awkward to ride. I have no idea how this made it to Slashdot (seems to be a recurring theme). Please stop using this to drum up funds for some dudes crappy ideas who already failed horribly on kickstarter, years ago..because their product sucks.
  • As a "real" tandem person (see here []), I must say this thing looks like a toy to me. Of course, it is also far less expensive than the bikes made by serious [] tandem [] bike [] companies, who often make bikes with derailer and brake systems that alone cost as much as this monstrosity.

    We've had our tandem going 60-70mph (down mountain roads). There's no way I would trust this thing for such riding. Maybe it is OK for some gentle cruises, but that's it. And furthermore, there's a far better design [] for front-stoke

  • For a front-passenger bike, try a Bilenky ViewPoint: [] or a Hase Pino []
  • This is terrible and stupid.

    Why the hell is this on Slashdot?

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.