Granite Tandem Design

What does it feel like to complete Race Across America? “3,067 miles, 180,000 feet of climbing over 7+ days,” was the response of Kyle Coon, a rider on Team Sea to See. We all kind of chuckled at the very literal response to the race announcer’s question, because there truly aren’t words to describe the grueling experience. Especially, moments after finishing this event. Words like “hard” and “exhausting” are about the best one can muster up.

transition

David and I woke up at 4 A.M. that morning in order to drive into Annapolis, MD to see Team Sea to See finish this monumental journey. Watching the sunrise as we drove over the Bay Bridge, I felt exhausted just from my early wake up call, but I had to keep telling myself not to say anything about that around the RAAM team and crew. I can usually feel the effects of one night’s interrupted sleep, but it’s nothing compared to the sleep deprivation accrued over a 7-day trans-America crossing.

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When Andy and Kami White sent a note in the middle of the winter, curious whether Granite Tandem Design could build them a custom gravel tandem for an upcoming bikepacking adventure, we didn’t hesitate getting started on this project.

Unpaved touring isn’t new, but the equipment used to traverse such terrain has evolved over the past 10 years. Particularly the luggage set up has gone from backpacks or rack and panniers to frame bags incorporated into the bicycle’s frame. The tire selection and gearing resembles a mountain bike, the position and handling is closer to a road bike. It’s a pleasant evolution in bicycle design. Depending on what you’re looking for, stock options may not hit all the items on one’s wish list. Andy and Kami’s wish list didn’t seem extraordinary to us, but we can say with some certainty the gravel bikepacking tandem that was born from that list, isn’t available at your local bike shop.

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Sometimes it’s easy to find your next bike that will take your further, faster, and climb higher effortlessly, but as we shopped around over the course of 3 years (we’re overly analytical) we just weren’t finding what we wanted. We wanted our travel bike to be our favorite bike AND our fast bike. We wanted to ride in tire eating mud AND fast tarmac. We wanted our bike to fit us perfectly AND accommodate our growing family. We looked at our options and we just weren’t satisfied, so we built our bike from scratch. We loved it so much, we built this company to offer the same experience to others. 

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Change is inevitable, and for the most part, a good thing. No matter the sport, as time passes technology influences the design of our equipment. Advancements are made in performance and durability. And, even the sport evolves over time. I know many people that remember when mountain bikes were introduced, then front shocks, followed by full-suspension. Each evolutionary step allowing riders to take on more terrain. Form follows function. That’s our philosophy. We strive to push those evolutionary steps forward with tandem design so that you can conquer your own frontier.

Our own frontier wasn’t necessarily gravel, hillclimb, travel and touring, family rides or racing, but all of those things. We wanted to create a tandem that didn’t compromise our diverse interests. We wanted to bring our favorite bike traveling, able to take on mixed-terrain, but not slow us down climbing. We realize not everyone has the exact wishlist as us and that’s why building each bike based on the individual riders’ interests is so important. You get exactly what you need to for your intended riding without the compromises.

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After our daughter’s birth, we could hardly wait to get out cycling with her. We dreamed of the day that we could share the joy of cycling as a family. Once she was sturdy enough, we went from snowy trails with skis, to road with trailer, then to bike seat. Now at the age of 3, we’re quickly realizing how fast kids grow out of gear. It’s hard to believe that one day not too long ago, I thought she’d be in her baby carrier forever. Clearly, that’s not the case.

We’re quickly approaching the point where the trailer and seat are becoming a bit snug and limited. There’s probably another year before she’s really outgrown either, but we know with our tandem we’ll have options.

When we decided to build our tandem this year, riding as a family was a huge consideration for us. We wanted everyone to be able to ride it. David 5′ ll”, Me (Emily) 5′ 3″ and Ada by the time she’s 4 — probably 3′ 6″. It was also important to us, that I be able to captain with Ada. Being able to reconfigure our riding will give us the freedom to ride together in variety of ways. And yes, perhaps one day we’ll build a triplet. But while our little one still fits in a trailer or seat, we’ll pack in as many outings on our Granite tandem as possible.

Here’s how our family has grown with gear (I’ll continue to update as we grow):

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