Our 13-year-old Ryan Duplex recumbent tandem is starting to show its age (aren't we all?). It's been a great bike and over the thousands of miles we've had it, we've had to walk home only once (well, twice...but the second time was my fault, not the bike's) due to a mechanical problem. And even that was possibly due to a less-than-perfect repair job by someone who should have known better. We've certainly gotten our money's worth, and it's still quite rideable, but technology has advanced, and we're getting the itch to update our steel steed.
Here's what we're considering: a Gulfstream, manufactured by Longbikes, based in Englewood, Colorado. The Gulfstream looks similar to the Duplex for good reason. In 1999, Dick Ryan sold his company to Longbikes and they took over the manufacturing. (According to this article, Ryan repurchased the company, but I'm pretty sure it's not in active business.) Longbikes has tweaked the design and components to produce a bike with cleaner lines and to take advantage of technological advances such as disk brakes.
Another reason for upgrading is that the transport of the Duplex has grown increasingly problematic. We'll solve this issue by having two S&S couplings installed on the new bike which will allow us to easily (uh, I hope) break the bike into two halves, which will solve our transportation issues. (The photo above shows the two couplings on the main tubes, just behind the front seat.) We briefly considered the option of eight couplings, which allows the bike to be transported in two suitcases, but changed our minds when the president of Longbikes dissuaded us due to the excessive complexity of the manufacturing (and the additional $3,000 had a little to do with the change of heart!).
There are any number of different recumbent tandem designs, and some are no doubt faster and sportier-looking, but I can't imagine any of them offer a better combination of comfort and stability than this one.
While we haven't definitely decided to pull the trigger on this new acquisition, it's pretty appealing. And if we could work the timing so that we were able to drive to Colorado for a vacation and pick up the new bike on the way, that would be awesome. Some of our best vacation and cycling memories are of riding the Duplex around Summit County, CO.
So, stay tuned and we'll keep you up-to-date. We still have to jump the biggest hurdle: what color should the new bike be? For some odd reason, maroon seems to keeping bubbling to the top.