[ Home ]     [ 1st Visit ]     [ Tandem Display ]    [ Accessories ]    [ Parts ]    [ Close-Outs ]    [ Ordering Info ]    [ About Us ]    [ Links ]    


An assistant is often very useful during this procedure!


1) Spread one or two large blankets on the ground

2) Open the Airliner Safe Case slowly working the foam down out of the lid as it will tend to stick up inside.

3) Remove ALL parts and lay out orderly on the blanket. Leave room for the frame area so you can lay these pieces in such a way as to facilitate assembly.

4) Your S&S tandem probably came with a tube of Dupont Teflon Bearing Grease or Dupont manufactured FinishLine Krytox Bearing Gel, both approved by S&S Machine, the manufacturers of the couplers. Open the syringe valve by rotating it so the hole lines up with the needle like area. Coat the threads of each coupler. One coupler has a plastic cap at the stoker crank. Remove it now. The grease or gel does not need to be oozing out but enough to coat the surface.

5) With the help of your assistant, assemble the pieces of the frame with your fingers a thread or two. Do NOT tighten them with your hands or with a tool at this point. If you have a disc brake, your hydraulic line must be routed properly prior to connecting the pieces.

Everything should go together smoothly. Turn the collar of the coupler clockwise as if it were the nut in the bolt and nut relationship to install/put together or tighten.

Make note of the stoker top tube position as the brake cable fitting stop must be in line with the one on the captain tube. If it is not, rotate it until it is.

Position the lateral tube so the water bottle braze-ons are close to the stoker bottom bracket. In other words and looking at it from the other direction, one end of the tube will not have any braze-ons close to the coupler. Install it so this end void of braze-ons is towards the front of the bike. Also make sure the braze-ons are facing up as you don't want to mount your water bottles facing off to the side!

There is no way to mix the tubes. The two lower tubes are identical (unless you have a disc brake) and the top tube and lateral tube are different.

Now tighten all couplers by hand. Wiggle the tubes to prevent them from being in a bind and to insure maximum hand tightness.

6) Install the quick releases in the two wheel hubs, air the tires and install the wheels. Quick release operation is critical to wheel security and rider safety. They are cam operated levers and the squeezing action of the cam is what secures the wheel to the frame/fork. NEVER use the quick release like a bolt whereby the handle is rotated and tightened in such a manner.

Proper quick release tension is attained by flipping the lever/closing the quick release and feeling for the point of initial resistance. You should feel resistance at about the 90 degree mark where the lever is sticking out perpendicular to the bike or in line with the axle. Test the tension by folding it over. It should be tight enough to require a folding effort with your hand but not so tight as to be super forceful. One can damage a quick release from having it too tight!

7) Using the special S&S spanner tool, tighten each coupler. It is best to put a rag around the handle of the tool to make it easier on your hand and so you may attain something near 70 pounds of pressure, which is a lot! Make certain the tool is held straight and perpendicular to the tube to prevent slippage. When tightening the coupler, simultaneously pull up on the tube off-setting the downward pressure of the spanner wrench. The counter active force you apply by pulling up will prevent the coupler from going into a bind. If it goes into a bind, it will feel tight when in fact it is not. Have your assistant hold the bike all of which will help to control any slippage that may occur and prevent finish damage. I doubt the average person could ever over tighten these couplers with the given 6" long spanner wrench. Make them good and tight and recheck after your rides. Once you are confident they are remaining tight, you may reduce the frequency of your checks. It is advisable to learn your tandem, riding conditions and all the particulars that go with it.

8) Install the front brake arm on the fork. Make sure the protruding spring in inserts the uppermost hole, the position generally used. Install the retaining bolt and tighten. Do not over tighten this bolt as it is not necessary. It needs a good one handed twist with a typical Y or 3 way Park wrench. You won't over tighten it with one hand.

9) Unwrap the protective chain cover from the rear portion of the frame.

10) Install the cranks. Take proper care to get the final drive chain around the appropriate ring. Incidentally, never shift the shift levers without cable tension involved. Pull on the cable as you do so if it is necessary.

Caution: There is a certain feel necessary to detect proper alignment of the crankarm with the splines on the bottom bracket axle. One must thread the bolt in carefully with fingers or a wrench with no force. It is best to rotate the bottom bracket axle as you do this until you feel catching and dragging. Back up the bolt just a little. You should now have detectable side to side play (as in pushing it on and pushing it off). While pushing it on and simultaneously rotating the axle you should feel the splines line up and the crank arm actually shift onto the axle a little bit. If you are reasonably certain it has lined up, take your wrench and turn the bolt clockwise and you should visibly see the crank arm move down the axle while applying little force to the wrench. It should move on over 1/8" which is a lot in terms of wrench rotations before it seats home and bottoms out. If it does not move on, it is not lined up. DO NOT tighten as spline damage may occur depending upon the circumstances of the position.

Alternative crank install procedure: Assuming the feel did not come through or you need to make absolutely sure, remove the retaining rings from all four cranks and the bolts. Make note of the washer placement. There should a plastic one between the ring and the bolt and a steel one between the bolt and the crank.

Push each crank on while rotating it and the spindle seeking proper engagement. You should discernibly note it sliding on some. With the aid of a flashlight, look and see if the splines are lined up with the reliefs in the crankarm.

Tighten the cranks: Once you are certain everything is lined up properly, tighten them with an Allen wrench. They need to be good and tight so a good health shove a 12 inch wrench will do if you get the leverage right. If using the little short wrench provided with your tandem, use a rag to protect your hand and go at it. You will not be able to over tighten these.

Learn your tandem. Put a wrench on everything now and then especially as parts seat in when it is new. It is a very good idea to check these and the couplers fairly frequently initially.

11) Lubricate the pedal threads with grease and install. The pedals on the right side of the bike as you ride it are turned clockwise to tighten and those on the left side are turned counter clockwise. If using an Allen wrench or 3 way Y shaped Park tool on the pedals crank them on as tight as you can given the tool. If the bike is used by a heavy or jumbo team that mashes gears, use a regular foot long pedal wrench and torque down good and tight to prevent pedal wallering (is that a word?) in the hole. If the tandem is to be assembled and disassembled very frequently, use common sense here and do not unnecessarily stress the threads by reaching maximum torque with a long pedal wrench.

12) Install the captain handlebar, rotate the stem back around as you are doing so. Align with your previous position marks and snug up the two front handlebar clamp bolts. Leaving the stem loose on the steerer tube, install the top cap, tighten good and snug and back off until loose. Tighten slowly with the wrench while checking fork bearing play. Do so with the wheel between your legs and grasping the top the steerer tube and rock for and aft. The idea here is to get the play out of the bearings only.

13) Align and tighten the captain handlebar. Tighten each bolt by alternating. DO NOT tighten one bolt all the way and then do the other. Work back and forth to evenly dissipate the stress. Make it good and tight with a one hand twist using the 3 way Y shaped Park tool. Do the same with the front handlebar clamp.

14) Install the seats/seatpost assemblies after applying grease to the post. Align to your reference points made during disassembly. Tighten using one hand with a good solid twist of the wrist using the Park 3 way Y shaped wrench. We don't need to get to horsy here and distort the frame or crack a seatpost collar.

15) Install the stoker handlebar and tighten as previously discussed.

16) Uncoil all the cables and route them as follows:


Route the rear derailleur cable from the right shifter over to the left side of the head tube and install the adjusting barrel using the far left insertion point.

Route the front derailleur cable from the left shifter over to the right side of the bike and install the adjusting barrel using the far right insertion point.

Route the drum brake cable to the remaining center adjusting barrel position.


From the adjusting barrels near the head tube, ALL cables run parallel down to the captain crank guides.

At this point, slide the respective cables through the slots and position the Teflon tubes. They probably won't stay put so it can be done later.


From the captain crank guides, the left cable (rear derailleur) crosses over to the far right guide under the stoker bottom bracket.

The center cable (Arai brake) crosses over the far left guide under the stoker bottom bracket.

The right cable (front derailleur) crosses over to the center guide under the stoker bottom bracket.

Crossing of the cables is not a problem. By routing the cables this way, we end up with sweeping bends at the front of the bike and less cable stiction with the housing, better shifting, etc.

Connect the cable splitters and grease the threads as we want to avoid seizing!

17) Install the timing chain making sure your pedal arrangement is in the preferred position, i.e., in phase or out of phase. Most folks run the cranks in identical positions. More than likely you can install the chain by simply rolling the cranks backwards and the chain will glide on UNLESS the chain is too tight. If it is too tight, the adjustable captain eccentric will need to be loosened. As a side note, I have never seen a chainring damaged from rolling a chain on using this method... ...use your own judgement.

18) Test the shifting, braking, etc.

19) Rethink through all of the steps and try to recall if anything that was to be secured got skipped.

20) Go for a ride!

 If shifting problems appear to be grossly off in adjustment, examine each fitting area to make sure nothing is hung up. Particularly look under the boot on the rear derailleur!

Shifting problems still persist? See our rear Derailleur adjustment article under [Mechanical Tips].

 This is a rough draft, less rough than before! ....additions and corrections are appreciated.

       [ Home ]     [ 1st Visit ]     [ Tandem Display ]    [ Accessories ]    [ Parts ]    [ Close-Outs ]    [ Ordering Info ]    [ About Us ]    [ Links ]