While it’s easy to look at tandems as quirky bikes for quirky people, Handsome Cycles’ founders have a heartfelt, wholesome reason for building their new bicycle for two. When one of the company’s co-founders (Jesse) was young his Dad hand-built not only tandem bikes, but also triple and quad bikes. These multi-rider bikes were taken to Vision Loss Resources in Minneapolis, where Jesse’s Dad would ride them with blind students.
Years later, Jesse decided to design a tandem bike that was particularly safe and easy to ride, especially for those who would not be able to ride a traditional bike. Handsome even named the bike in honor of its secondary rider – the word Pillion is the English term for the rear seat on a motorcycle, horse or bicycle.
The key feature that makes the Pillion safer is the double step-through frame. This makes getting on and off easier for both riders, and allows the bike to be held upright when you come to a stop. The Pillion’s capacity also isn’t limited to two people- If you want to move a whole family together, this tandem is ready to haul axle-mounted trailers, tag-a-long bikes, or front or rear child seats.
The Pillion’s frame is made from double-butted, heat-treated 4130 chromoly, and it’s mated to a chromoly fork. The bike rolls on 27.5” wheels with 47mm wide WTB Horizon tires, and the frame includes mounts for front/rear carrier racks, fenders and two water bottles for each rider.
The Pillion will be offered in two sizes- The 58/52cm model should fit captains between 5’11”-6’3” and stokers standing 5’4”-5’9”. The smaller 55/49cm size will accommodate captains from 5’8” to 6’ tall, and stokers between 5’1” and 5’6”. The rear stems for the stokers are also adjustable from 135-170mm in length.
The wheelbase for the larger frame stretches approx. 70” and the smaller version comes in at 68”. Standover heights are 26.5”/21.5” for the captain/stoker on the large frame, and 26”/21” for the smaller size.
The Pillion comes equipped with a Sturmey Archer 5-speed internal rear hub and rapid-fire shifter, but the rear dropout does have a derailleur mount so you can convert it to an 8-11 speed drivetrain if desired. The frame uses eccentric bottom brackets so you can tension the chain on an internal hub setup.
Initially, Handsome intended to spec Avid brakes on 160mm rotors (which were tested with over 400lbs of rider weight) but due to customer feedback they’ve decided to beef up the braking power with larger 180mm rotors and TRP’s Spyke mechanical disc brakes. Handsome says they stuck with mechanicals versus hydraulics due to the lower cost of maintenance and the ease of roadside repairs. To further reduce maintenance requirements the Pillion’s front hub, bottom brackets and headsets all use sealed bearings.
Handsome Cycles is launching this bike through Kickstarter in order to offer fans of their brand a heavily discounted price. Supporters can currently purchase a complete Pillion for as little as $1300 USD, which is nearly half off the bike’s eventual $2500 retail price.
Now here’s something really cool- Handsome is also taking donations through Kickstarter so anyone can chip in any amount of money which will go towards sending complete Pillion tandems to individuals, organizations or schools in the USA. Kudos to Handsome Cycles for coming up with this clever way to potentially allow those who can’t ride alone to experience some fun on two wheels!
The Pillion’s frame will be available in either powdercoated White or Matte Black, but if the campaign is successful more color options will be offered. Handsome expects to be shipping out the first finished tandems in April 2018. Check out the Pillion’s Kickstarter campaign page here (we were a little late on this one, as there’s less than 24 hours left).