Santana CilantroTandem Retrofit by Bilenky

The frame after retrofitting

Thoughts on conversion vs. buying new (and selling the old)?

"We put our 91 Santana Cilantro tandem up for sale - listing it on the tandem@hobbes list, in Tandem Mag and in DoubleTalk. A couple of folks were interested, but most were looking for a bike under $1000. We took it to GEAR '96, the National Rally in Dayton, OH and the '96 ETR. The interest was there, but people didn't want flat bars with bar-ends.
We did the math:
Value of Cilantro vs what we could sell it for vs what it would cost for a NEW bike with couplers. Buying a new bike would be significantly more expensive than cutting up the one we have. BUT it is scary to cut up a perfectly good bike.
(We've been planning to do the Adventure Cycling Continental Divide Trail and WANTED a Mountain Tandem with S&S couplers.)
Santana will cut up their bikes & make them S & S bikes for about $1500 (if I remember correctly) - simply send the bike to California and they'll send you back the desired new configuration.
We live in Massachusetts, and didn't want our bike to travel soooo far in a cardboard box. Then we found out that Bilenky (in Philadelphia PA) would cut up our old friend and put in S& S couplers. They were very encouraging, and we communicated by e-mail back & forth. We could drive 5 hours to Philadelphia and convey the newly painted frame back in our Van. Any scratches would be our fault - not that of a shipping company.
Their price was a tad less than Santana's, but by the time we upgraded to a fancier paint job, had them add new Santana decals, had the stems painted to match the frame, and had extra bottle braze-ons added, we paid a wee bit more. To test their sense of humor we sent Bilenky a Santana Frame in a Co-Motion Box.


What a Beautiful Job! The oval bottom tube has been replaced by a round one. On one side of that tube is a Santana decal, and on the other side is a Bilenky Decal - see, they DO have a sense of humor. The paint job (by Fresh Frame of Philadelphia) is fantastic! I feel that we made a good decision. The ride and handling are unchanged. The bike looks like new, and only weighs 2 pounds more...just wait til we add 4 panniers of gear, a tent, sleeping bag, and thermarest pads. Whew - what an adventure!"

Sally Peters and Bob Kowaleski, cyclists, Easthampton, MA (on a Santana Cilantro retrofit by Bilenky)

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