Sunday, 13 October 2013

Co-motion Java Rohloff detail review

First, Dwan - thanks for your design work and for your part in bringing such great bikes to the world through Co-motion.

Geometry is nailed.  I feel like I'm sitting on one of my race bikes.  This thing feels as good as all the best qualities of steel, in a tight, responsive, could ride anything package.  It's an absolute treat.  Given the spec isn't weight weenie, I'm actually surprised how this thing feels of reasonable weight and not like a tank.

These Velocity rims, the 36 spokes, the big chromoly fork up through the rigid Thomson cockpit setup just feels confidence inspiring.  The hydraulic front brake, and likely in time a hydraulic rear brake (need to custom create one with meters of hose) stop immeasurably better than my prior one.  If you can't feel front wheel flex under a tandem load with a 200mm rotor and a disc brake, you've got a sturdy wheel.

The belt drives will hopefully display durability over time, but the first impressions of a silent ride, and such a direct feel of power transfer, completely defy that this comes from linked drivetrain and a gearing system meters behind me.  The Rohloff is thus far perfect, I have high hopes for its longevity given my prior use of them, but it just initially feels so well suited to the task of a tandem.  And the perfectly symmetrical rear spoke angles you can feel right off the bat on how strong of a rear wheel this yields.  

British racing green was the paint shop feasible approximation of the green we used on our wedding invitations.

Now that's a drivetrain... in theory those are 10,000km belts, and a Rohloff Speedhub is a 100,000km device.  The rear wheel looks great with the symmetric spokes.  14 speeds of durable utility.  Shimano Cranks, Chris King bottom brackets.

Long belt drive shot.  They're installed with quite a bit of tension, I think the rule is 10lb of weight at the center is supposed to deflect it only a centimeter.  It's taught.  Slicing them is the primary risk.  The Shimano cranks are subtle beauty.  Our only issue on the maiden voyage, outside my arm being weak and getting sore, was Cindy's non-drive side crank fixing bolts weren't actually tight.  Easy fix.

Here's bit of the closeup.  Note the ring that appears to the right side in the picture - you can see it's the center track style of ring and belt to keep everything aligned.  Each bottom bracket shell is oversized to take an eccentric BB of Co-motion's design, then the Chris King bottom bracket.  The cable guides for the shifter and brake line are partially visible showing the zip tie approach behind the coupler.

Schmidt dynamo hub, with new improved wiring where a conductor plate is put inside the dropout, so there's no need to plug it in/out when removing the wheel.  Slick.

Schmidt eDeluxe light and beauty Co-motion nickel head badge.  Invisible in this shot Chris King headset.  Oversized head tube is compatible with new larger diameter suspension forks.
The amazement of moving electrons continues with the plug USB charger plug in the stem for whatever you might mount up front or carry in the waterproof Ortlieb handle bar bag (not pictured).  Phone, GPS, etc.

Part of why I went flat bar was the ease of superior braking options vs drop bars.  200mm rotors and hydraulic brakes with various cooling features.  As discussed early on in the design process, and from my experience with the old tandem - Avid cable pull disc brakes work.  Do you settle for 'the work' or do you pursue something that excels?  As anyone who has ridden one knows, the stopping power of current generation Shimano hydraulic product is exponentially different from the cable pull Avids, and with say a 300lb all in "unit", that matters.  Co-motion - your stainless dropouts are works of art.

Beautiful stainless steel dropouts in the rear again, the Rohloff specific disc in quick release option, and for now a set of Avid mechanical discs.  Shimano doesn't stock brakes with meters upon meters of hydraulic line, so it'll be a bit of a work in process to get some bulk hydraulic line.  

Awesome bikes should find adventure in far flung places.  S&S couplers rule, I've been a fan and supporter for nearing a decade.  I've gone with 2 rather than 4, and plan to take the normal S&S case as a wheel box, and divide the frame in two and use an Evoc or similar case.  Behind the couplers, cables are zip tied in so we just cut a couple of those rather than doing dividers.  This is the top tube one pictured.  The downtube one is gigantic!

Hand made in Eugene, Oregon.

Java co-pilot, Co-motion nickel badge.
Thomson bars front and back, Ergon grips with integrated bar ends (Cindy's en route), Thomson stem up front.  Aiming for long duration between service interval parts.  Cindy has a Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost as the pilot can unweight even minimally for bumps that the stoker is oblivious to (pilot calls out large ones, but isn't in tune enough to call out everything).


  1. Wow, that is a work of art. Can't wait to see it out on the roads!

  2. Did you order customer geometry? It looks bigger than the stock "L" size. How tall are you and your stoker?

  3. About 6 (smidge under) and about 5'8". Custom but mostly as we were already going custom with the couplers.

  4. How's the bike after a couple of years?

  5. How's your bike and part selection after a couple of years?

  6. I'd say:
    - solid
    - fun
    - enjoyable
    - quality

    If one were to re do it the only thing I'd ask of co- motion is to figure in more rear tire width clearance for the chain stays.

  7. What is the maximum you tried to put on the rear tire?

  8. 2.1. That's all that fits. And only by a smidge, if you get gravel or pebbles in the tread it'll run the frame. It's a design flaw, their should be more clearance.