Swallow "tandem to triplet conversion" and retrofit

Tim Diamond and family

A letter to S and S from Tim regarding this triplet:

The triplet was originally a Swallow custom tandem circa 1993. Pete Bird of Swallow converted it by dropping the rear seat tube, seat stays & chain stays off and adding the new section. This is stepped as we decided to get clearance for a suspension seat tube. The original plan was to have an extra lateral, either from the captains seat tube/top tube joint or from the middle joint. After a bit of experimentation Pete thought it would be stiff enough as an open design & it maked building a lot easier. It also means we can split the frame with just two couplers. We transport it on the back of our Ford Galaxy (I think you call them a mini-van), using a standard Pendle tow bar mounted bike rack. The normal sequence of events is as follows:

Dismantle the U+2 - remove the extended stem/towing bar, remove timing chain, remove back end of U+2 (a 15mm bolt at top of seat tube & a 5mm allen bolt behind bb)

Dismantle triplet - Undo cable splitters for rear brakes & gear cables, Remove kiddie crank pedal on left side, Remove rearmost crossover crank using self extracting bolt (this just makes it easier to unship the timing chain) Turn middle stokers bars through 90 degrees Remove rear end

The rear of the U+2 goes in the car, then the bike rack goes on the tow bar. The ftront section of the triplet goes on first, then the rear, then the front section of the U+2 & all tied on with toe straps (easier than bungies)

With the split behind the middle seat, the front section is about as long as a single & does not stick out either side of the car.

Disassembly takes about 30-45 minutes, in total, but most of that time is spent on the U+2. Reassembly is a bit quicker. Both require two people, mainly due to the weight & length of the beast.

Performance is difficult to judge, but it seems OK. We have riden the triplet with just me & my wife Jayne & it rides pretty much the same as the tandem did. With the boys & the U+2 it feels very solid, although if they wriggle about it very much affects steering. I have changed over from drops to straights to overcome this.

Without the couplers it would be impossible for us to transport the Beast. They are very easy to use & so far (4 disassembly & assemblies) have caused us no problems, including a couple of goes in the pouring rain.

Tim Diamond, PC Analyst, Preston Lancs, UK

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