We have been working with bike builder, Jay Borden, of Roulez Cycles in Lynn, MA, for the past year to create an adaptive tandem bike that was not only rideable for me, but was easier for us to transport. One of the biggest challenges of almost any adaptive bike is transport. Three-wheeled trikes do not fit on standard bike carriers. If you put them in the back of your truck, there is little or not room left to put any additional luggage you may need for your trip. Many of these bikes and/or tandems (often trikes) are very heavy, and awkward to lift into your vehicle.
We have struggled with all of these issues with our Sun foot-forward tandem. Otherwise, it was a great bike for us, but the loading and transport was going to result in an injury at some time, which would take the fun out of things, for sure!
My husband learned about S&S couplers, and thought, wouldn’t that be great to put these on our bike so we could split it in half and transport the bike with more ease, and fit inside our truck more securely. And so our quest began.
What we hoped would be a simple project turned into anything but simple. The couplers would not fit with our original bike, specifically because the Sun bike is made of aluminum, and the frame is not the same shape as the S&S couplers. We searched across the country to locate a bike builder who would build what we needed, a foot-forward tandem with a beach–cruiser style frame, that would allow for couplers to split the bike apart for transport. We need the beach cruiser frame for the low support bar, to aid my getting on the bike, with my limited mobility. We need the foot-forward pedals so I can keep my feet on the pedals, despite the paralysis in my right foot and ankle.
When we met Jay Borden of Roulez Cycles of Lynn, MA, we found the perfect match for what we needed. His skill, and willingness to work with us was what we needed to create a frame that was solid, safe, workable for me, and had the desired couplers to save my husband’s back from injury!
From the beginning, it was a partnership, which required a lot of communication. Jay was great throughout the process. From design, to fabrication, we checked in and watched as he worked to make our dream a reality.
The couplers introduced complexities we had not anticipated, and Jay worked with us to make sure everything pulled together to become a bike we could enjoy for many years to come. The e-assist added even more complexity, and eventually it all came together. (Technical post coming, but beyond me to detail here).
We (the royal “we,” meaning my husband) are now at the “testing” stage, putting on all the brake cables, shifter cables, e-assist connections and more to make sure everything works perfectly, before taking it all back off to be painted to protect the steel frame.
We had a perfect day, and loaded the bike sections into the truck. We are still working with the battery system ( a snafu with the battery), so no e-assist for this first ride. Thus we set off for the closest, relatively flat railtrail, which is in Blackstone, MA.
What fun watching the parts of the bike easily become one long tandem.
The S&S couplers worked perfectly. Yeah! The cables need some modifications, but that’s why we were doing this test phase.
The biggest roadblocks now in the past, we were ready to ride. Oh joy, to sail down the bike path, take in the views of the Blackstone River as we pedaled over bridge after bridge along this amazing railtrail.
We spotted lady slippers all along the path, and stopped for pictures at the Triad Bridge. Success!
Small details remain, plus protective painting to prevent rust, but we have a bike we can enjoy that fits into the back of our truck securely, with room to carry other needed items when we travel. The project has not been easy. It has been a labor of love, and our hope is that we will be able to enjoy this amazing bike for years to come. Many thanks, Jay, for your passion and determination to work with us. For us, happy trails, indeed!
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then.