Handbuilt Bicycle News

Bicycles

Santana

Matt Butterman

Saturday 27 February 2016

Santana: (At least) two for the road

Santana has been building tandems (nearly) exclusively since 1974. With over forty years of experience building tandems, there are few combinations of riders that their bikes won’t fit.

Santana: (At least) two for the road
Santana

Santana has been building tandems (nearly) exclusively since 1974 from their base in Laverne, Calif., about 30 miles east of Los Angeles. With over forty years of experience building tandems, there are few combinations of riders that their bikes won’t fit.

Leland Turner and Joy Armstrong are in product development for the brand when they are not racing mountain bikes on the pro circuit from their bases in Colorado and Hawaii. They told us that Santana builds triplets, quads, quints and hexes in addition to their storied duals, and related stories about a couple of unique fit challenges that Santana overcame through innovation and ingenuity.

There was the successful world record attempt for crossing Great Britain from the north of Scotland to the Channel coast on a hex (six-rider) bicycle that Santana built. While that sounds impressive enough, it should be mentioned that all six riders were well over six feet tall and about 200 lbs. each. The frame strength and componentry challenges were so significant that motorcycle parts were used to produce the rig.

Then there was the 6’4” husband-and-5’6” wife team who needed a tandem. Sounds reasonable, but there was a twist to the request. The husband had some arthritis issues that affected his bike handling skills to the extent that he needed his wife to be the pilot; opposite to the larger rider pilot/smaller rider stoker orientation that tandem builders typically build for.

Santana accommodates the extraordinary with custom geometry and parts options, but Turner said that many, if not most riders can use stock sizes due to the flexibility of fit that Santana’s tandem designs enable. They don’t chase frame design fads, and use a well-established dealer network and a detailed fit guide at their website to make it  happen.

Turner and Armstrong showed us the flagship of Santana’s line-up, the Beyond PHD, the world’s lightest production tandem frame. Using carbon tubes hand made in-house, diamond cutouts at the titanium lug junctions, and a layer of internally laid polymer Santana calls Bilaminate damping, the Beyond PHD turns rough, chip-seal pavement to silky-smooth bliss.

To complete the multi-rider experience, Santana offers events and tours in locations ranging from Oregon’s Columbia River to French Corsica and the Italian Amalfi Coast through their associated travel company, Santana Adventures.

Begin your own tandem experience by visiting www.santanatandem.com.