Santana has always placed a premium on lateral frame stiffness as we believe it’s the foundation of a tandem that handles confidently and transfers the captain’s power to the rear wheel. Our previous Classic frame used 73mm mountain bike width bottom brackets so we could use a wider bottom tube than any other builder. When the industry introduced the 83mm wide BB386 bottom bracket we recognized an opportunity to use even larger tubing. A giant oval bottom tube was paired with larger diameter seat, top, and downtubes. The massive increase in stiffness meant we could thin the tube walls and eliminate the lateral tube while still having a frame 5% stiffer than the Classic. This means the Reveal frames are nearly 2lbs lighter than the models they replaced and our lowest price Scandium tubed model is lighter than any other builder’s carbon frames! While we were making such radical changes to our frame design we also adopted industry standard 1 1/2″ – 1 1/8″ tapered forks and 31.6mm seatposts so owners can run any stem or seatpost they like. Due to the new 30mm aluminum axles our BB386 tandem crankset (available in aluminum or carbon) is 1/2lb lighter than the previous version and uses common PF30 bottom brackets. As a final upgrade we replaced the frame’s barrell adjusters with a system that slips in and out so packing the bike in a case won’t mess with your derailleur and brake settings.
FRAME DESIGN: FUNCTION VS. FAD
No matter what tandem you buy, it is easy to upgrade various parts. The essential performance of a tandem, however, is determined by its frame, its one permanent element. In a world of rapidly evolving components, the superior long-term investment is the tandem with the best frame.
Because the most expensive elements of frame design are invisible—customers can’t “see” metallurgy, tubing thickness or double-butting—frame designers will always find it easier (and more profitable) to substitute easy-to-spot frame features, which can be mischaracterized as performance enhancements.
In the ’70s, when Santana started building tandems, the fad employed by most builders was long pairs of skinny lateral tubes that wrapped around one or both seat-tubes. While builders claimed these outrigger stays provided an additional dimension of stiffness and performance, what they really added was weight and vertical harshness.
Through the ’80s the rage among custom builders was oval top tubes. While these inexpensive plain-gauge tubes looked high-tech, the resulting tandems were simply a half-pound heavier.
In the early ’90s many builders embraced an “uptube” design with a tube running backwards from the captain’s bottom bracket to the stoker’s seatpost. While this design seems laughably naive now, for a couple of years even some magazine editors were fooled.
How did Santana avoid these now-embarrassing fad designs? It’s really rather simple. By building and testing prototypes we can separate fad from function. From year to year Santana’s bikes may not have had the trendiest look—but then we’ve never worried about being hip. We have, however, always sought to create a bike that gives the consummate tandem ride. You’ll notice that the features we tout have a real-world relevance, even if, as in the case of double-butted tubes, you can’t see the difference. Our aim is to refine our design so that a few years from now you don’t feel duped by claims that cannot survive the test of time.