This may be a first: a triplet tandem with Gates Carbon Drive. Blog reader Edward Tasch sent us these images. The little dude in the middle is clearly enjoying the rush. “The bike rides great and is amazingly tight and responsive,” Tasch tells us. Build weight is 42 lbs. “Very stiff and shifting is remarkably precise.” The 7005 aluminum frame was designed by Mark Johnson of Precision Tandems and built by Dan Towle’s team at Rod Cycle in Seattle.
In Russian, the word “paketa” means “rocket.” Colorado bike maker Paketa Bicycles builds bikes that will indeed rocket you down the road. Paketa’s secret sauce for speed is its super light frame material–magnesium. Mg, as it is known on the periodic table of the elements, has been called the lightest useful metal and it’s best-known use may be in in high-end “Mag” wheels for cars.
“Magnesium is the lightest structural metal currently available in the world,” says Paketa engineer Dave Walker. “It’s 34 percent lighter by volume than aluminum and 50 percent lighter than titanium.” Magnesium also offers excellent fatigue resistance, fights denting and buckling, and has the highest known vibration-damping capacity of any structural metal, Walker says. “The result is a much smoother ride than any other material out there.”
From 2001 to 2004 the company imported magnesium frames built in Moscow. Since then, however, every frame has been hand-built in Colorado by the Broomfield-based company. Paketa makes all form of bikes, from mountain to road racing rigs, but it may be best known for its tandems, which are highly prized in the world of tandem racing due to their light weight.
To lighten its bikes even more, Paketa uses Gates Carbon Drive tandem timing belts, which are far lighter than chains. “We recommend Carbon Drive on all our tandems for the light weight, quietness, cleanliness, and ease-of-maintenance. Every single tandem we’ve sold in the past two-plus years has been delivered with Carbon Drive. Our customers feel just like we do: Carbon Drive is the perfect complement to Paketa’s high-performance tandems.”
Paketa will be exhibiting at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Denver in February and plans to enter the Gates Carbon Drive innovative belt drive bike design contest. Come check out Paketa’s belt drive rockets at NAHBS. And if you’re a custom builder exhibiting at NAHBS, sign up for the contest for the chance to win more than $11,000 in cash and prizes.
Charlie and Pat Jenkins during the Race Across the West
Whether it’s long-distance randonneuring or ultra-distance racing, Pat and Charlie Jenkins of Denison, Texas, have found marital bliss on tandem bikes. In fact, they like riding their Calfee tandem so much that they have all but given up riding solo. Since 2008, they have logged at least 10,000 miles by tandem annually. They set the tandem course record in the 500-mile Tejas 500 and set a course record for tandems in the 2009 Race Across America (RAAM).
Before embarking on the transcontinental RAAM in 2009, the Jenkins bought a Gates Carbon Drive for their tandem. They were pleased by the 360 grams of weight savings they got from replacing the chain and chainrings. But it was on their first ride, a 100-miler, that the couple noticed “a huge improvement in power transfer.” Here is Charlie describing that first ride:
“No more than a mile or two in, the belt really got my attention. With the old chain drive, we would stand to power up a hill and it would feel like there was a pause before the power would transfer to the wheel. With the belt drive, the lag time we experienced in the chain drive was gone. We were immediately impressed.”
Fast-forward to 2011. The Jenkins, who initially hoped to get 5,000 to 10,000 miles from their belt, were still using the same belt, 25,000 miles later. “We never dreamed we would get 25,000,” Charlie says. Charlie and Pat ride hard in all weather conditions and are accustomed to wearing out bike parts, so the longevity of Gates Carbon Drive has been a bonus. They installed a new belt in 2011 just to be safe, and packed the old one away as a back up. “The old belt still has plenty of miles left in it.”
What’s next for the tandem couple? They recently became interested in endurance gravel road racing, where competitors pedal 100 to 300 miles on dirt and gravel roads. To make things interesting they are getting a new custom belt-drive Calfee bamboo “gravel grinder” tandem. “We are incredibly pleased with Gates Carbon Drive,” Charlie says. “It’s clean, quiet, lightweight, durable and reliable.” And, as the Jenkins illustrate, it helps keep happily married couples rolling down the road, strong as ever.