Looking for the ultimate adventure bike? I’m not talking about some new carbon, fat-tire gravel bike fad. Instead, putting a modern touch on one of the original adventure bikes – an S&S-coupled touring tandem – Co-Motion has created a beautifully practical, trouble-free modern gearbox mixed-surface touring bike for two, that can still pack down into suitcases to fly around the world.

Co-Motion Java Pinion-gearbox travel touring tandem

Co-Motion Java Pinion tandem, internal Pinion gearbox, Gates Carbon belt-drive, S&S couplers, custom steel Adventure travel touring tandem bike

We actually got a look at Co-Motion’s first off-road drop bar build of their Pinion-tandem concept back at NAHBS this spring. But now the American-made bike builders had to cart their bike across the Atlantic to Eurobike, so it needed an easier travel upgrade, via brazed-in S&S couplers.

The base Java tandem itself is a versatile machine, developed to fit high-volume road or trail tires up to at least 700x50mm/29×2″. We’ve also seen Co-Motion build them up with even beefier mountain bike tires (up to 27.5×2.6″) for more off-road dropbar touring. The Boost-spaced bike gets regular rack & fender mounts and a healthy dose of cage mount braze-ons. Plus, when you are building a tandem setup like this, custom options always open up.

Co-Motion Java Pinion tandem, internal Pinion gearbox, Gates Carbon belt-drive, S&S couplers, custom steel Adventure travel touring tandem bikeThe heart of the new Pinion-powered Java steel touring bike is the made-in-Germany P.18, 18-speed internal gearbox. For a bike built to travel the world, this virtually eliminates the need for any drivetrain maintenance, and makes for quiet operation.

Co-Motion bolts the Pinion into the middle of the bike between the two cranks for even weight distribution.

Co-Motion Java Pinion tandem, internal Pinion gearbox, Gates Carbon belt-drive, S&S couplers, custom steel Adventure travel touring tandem bike

Then, both the front and rear cranksets under the captain & stoker spin in eccentric bottom brackets that allow for the tensioning of the belts. The front BB tensions from the captain’s crank back to the Pinion.

Co-Motion Java Pinion tandem, internal Pinion gearbox, Gates Carbon belt-drive, S&S couplers, custom steel Adventure travel touring tandem bikeNext, the rear BB tensions the non-driveside belt that connects the stoker up to the captain.

Co-Motion Java Pinion tandem, internal Pinion gearbox, Gates Carbon belt-drive, S&S couplers, custom steel Adventure travel touring tandem bike

Finally, a long driveside Gates CDX belt connects the output gear of the Pinion back to the rear wheel where a sliding stainless steel dropout tensions the last one.

The entire thing gets four stainless S&S couplers that allow the bike to be broken down into front, middle & rear sections for transit, plus a pair of Ritchey daVinci Designs Easy-Split In-line cable Separators for the Pinion cables and a brake splitter for the rear disc brake. The whole thing can be completely disassembled & packed down into two large suitcases for air travel (which requires retensioning belts) or the front triangle can be disconnected in less than a minute to make it easy to get into a car for shorter trips without touching the belts

How much does it cost?

Co-Motion Java Pinion tandem, internal Pinion gearbox, Gates Carbon belt-drive, S&S couplers, custom steel Adventure travel touring tandem bike

If you have to ask, this is probably not the bike for you. But around $11,000 for this bike with some options added on already seems like an almost reasonable price for the ultimate steel travel bike, right? If you think about it, there are plenty of more expensive super-bikes out there that won’t last half as long as this thing. And two people ride it, so right there you get to divide the price in half again. Basic options without the couplers start under $9000, but it will cost at least $10,500 if you want to take it on an airplane.

The good news is that Co-Motion is happy to get down to working on building one for you right now. The Java is a standard tandem in their line-up, and Pinions, Belt-drive, stainless dropouts, and polished S&S co-pilot couplers are all part of the standard options you can configure on their website. It also appears that the 27.5″/650b mixed-surface Mocha & 700c road Speedster tandems are also now available with a Pinion setup, possibly even for a bit less.

Co-Motion.com

11 COMMENTS

    • There are very few bike parts that are officially ‘tandem approved’, including basic items like tires, chains, etc. The last time I asked Shimano (around 2014), Di2 gearing is also not officially ‘tandem approved’, but the advantages of having it on a tandem are far greater than on a single bike. The point is that tandem cyclists are used to using parts that are not ‘tandem approved’ and we know that the tandem market isn’t big enough to make any component manufacturers care about that. Most of the time you just have to make do with frame tubes and a fork that are properly designed for tandem use and for the rest you must choose solid, well-built components regardless of whether the manufacturer has declared them to be ‘tandem approved’ or not.

  1. Trek100 is the best deal price/performance. Strong,light,comfortable,rear top tube is amazing low(a kid can ride in the back), 27 speed (12-36/22-32-44 tuned up).Chain easy to stretch, Low rider/rear rack holes, 3 effective brakes (low mantenance),bombproof rims (in 3000 km zero problems/200 kgrs in total on the Rims), amazingly inexpensive

  2. Id be wanting a bit more stopping power than those brakes, maybe a V4 on a 210mm disc on the front the rear maybe ok, they do a splitter for hydro lines so I don’t see why you wouldn’t want a big powerful brake on the bake also. This loaded with the two people would be a lot of weight to slow down

    • I was riding the last six years on a tandem with a rear roller brake and a TRP Spyre calipers@160mm rotor at front. Altogether (with a bike) we weighted c.a. 160kg/350lb, and I found the combo insufficient only occasionally.

      Recently we have switched to a Lapierre X2 with the front/rear hydraulic brakes paired with 203mm rotors. They offer the obvious advantages (modulation, one-finger control) but put the braking onus entirely on the tires now…

      PS
      What part of the Pinion gearbox forces such a complicated three-belt transmission?

  3. My wife and I have the Co-Motion, Java co-pilot with the 14 speed Rohloff hub. It’s a great bike and only requires two belts instead of three. I see two downsides to the Rohloff. #1 When downshifting we must soft pedal more than is required on a traditional derailleur bike. How does the pinion bike compare? #2 The Rohloff gears are low enough for us to tackle most hills but we spin out at around 28mph. I wish those 14 gears were spaced a little farther apart. Since the pinion setup is 18 speeds I am guessing this is no t problem.

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