Tandem, resurrected

A few years ago I was blessed with the opportunity (or cursed if you see multiple bike syndrome as a problem) to take a tandem off of a friends hands for free. A mid 80s (I think) Burley Rock N Roll tandem. Old school all steel!

The catch? It had been wrecked. Frame was straight, but it needed handlebars, cranks and chainrings, a new timing chain, wheels were tacoed and a few other random parts.

My goal was to fix it up and install a “child stoker” kit so the little ones could ride with me.

What is such a kit? It is composed of another bottom bracket in a housing that bolts to the stoker seat tube, two more chainrings, connector chain for the whole contraption to attach to the main stoker cranks, an extended stem for a shorter reach and kid-friendly (shorter) cranks.

Well great, just order one up from Burley, right?

Well, no.  Burley doesn’t even make bicycles anymore.  Sometimes this kit shows up on ebay as a whole, sometimes in pieces.

Thankfully I was able to score the “most” unique part of the kit from biding my time on ebay – the bottom bracket.  After that, I was able to re-create the kit with other various pieces and parts.

My own DIY child stoker kit parts list:

  • Burley Child Stoker crank bottom bracket and shell (ebay).  Even this could be fabricated on your own with a square taper BB, a BB shell from a wrecked steel bike and some cutting / welding work
  • “Standard” tandem cranks of any length (I got a used set from ebay)
  • Tandems East Original crank shorteners (ebay)
  • Control Tech Stoker Tandem Bike Stem – extends from 215mm to 255mm (Amazon)
    • However – this was not available in a size that would fit the Burley’s “Captain” seatpost (26.6mm).  So I ordered the 29.8mm (seatpost size) x 25.4mm (handlebar size) version.  On top of all that, the shims weren’t available to span the range from my seatpost to the stem, so I also had to order another seatpost too!  What I ended up with:
  • Chainrings (two) at 110BCD and somewhere close to 40T.  It didn’t matter what # teeth as long as both were the same.  I think I found two 38T rings at the local used bike shop (Lucky Bikes – link below)
  • 7/8/9 speed chain with a Powerlink.  You’ll need to adjust the length based on the chosen location of the bottom bracket.
  • Chainring bolts long enough to “double up” chainrings on the stoker crank (see image below).  A spacer might be needed based on your setup for timing chain clearance


Wanting to have the bike ride-able while there is still good weather left in the year, I turned to Lucky Bikes to do all the repair work.  Kip and crew did a great job fixing the beast up.  Rebuilt wheels (one needed a new axle), cassette swapped out to Hyperglide, new handlebars and cork tape, new Michelin tires…  etc…

Once those guys were done I installed my DIY child stoker kit and … Voila!




Ready for fun family rides!


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