I spied a Co-Motion Java Tandem on the floor at Bike World here in Des Moines a few years back, and it stuck in my mind that I needed this dirty hot rod in my life someday. It sat there on the floor waiting for me for more than a year and a half, patiently poised to spring into action when the day came that I could rescue her from that top floor perch.
If you are unfamiliar with the Java, this is the “Fargo” of the Co-Motion tandem line, a 29″ wheel, drop bar handmade rocket designed for road, gravel, and off road touring. It’s a true beast that is equipped with Shimano Ultegra 3×10 shifting, DT Swiss/Velocity wheels, and 2.2″ knobby Geax tires that together can take you pretty much anywhere you could want to travel. One day it happened. She came home with me. It was a glorious day, I took an Uber to the shop and rode this fresh tandem solo back to my house near the State Capitol. It was quite a rush.
There were some modifications made, such as a Luxos light system, new Son28 hub/Velocity Cliffhanger front wheel (Hand built by Ed at Beaverdale Bikes, my go-to for custom wheel builds, touring supplies, and dyno hub stuff here in Des Moines), Surly front and rear racks, a bar swap for Salsa Cowbell bars in the captain cockpit, saddles, and my then-favorite WTB Nano 2.1 tires. It was dressed to kill (some gravel). My then-stoker and I put some miles on this beast, then we ended up with a Salsa Powderkeg (which has since gone on to another home and some great use by her new team), and the Java kind of took over a spot in the garage. Life happened, stoker and captain parted ways, and the Java has been taking up that very spot in said garage for over a year. I’ve since poached the saddles off the bike, the bar tape has been abused and become ragged, the light system was moved over to my Big Dummy, it’s a sad state of affairs for such a fine hand-crafted steed.
2017 has seen some more personal changes, and I’ve found a new rocking stoker who is pretty stoked on giving the Java some attention. It’s refreshing to find someone who is willing to give tandem riding a shot, as it’s definitely not for everyone (I mean, staring at someone’s back for hours on end without any real control of the bike you are riding doesn’t sound fun to me, either), and also someone who is the proper size for the small stoker station (this really helps haha). I’ve gathered Selle Anatomica and Terry saddles, flat pedals for the stoker position, pulled out a set of Schwalbe Big Apples from the tire archive for some trail/road riding, and I’ve dusted off the old Arkel GT-54’s. This week will see some tune up action, bar re-wrapping, new parts installed, tires and light system swapped. Weather permitting, we will be giving the old Java a test run in two weeks, and hopefully all goes well. I have a few bikes that have been collecting dust, but none have given me the feels like watching this one lean and become unclean.
I will post updates and pictures of the Java once I bust her out and the modifications underway.
Ride your bike.