Second Life



My son standing in front of a new-to-us Burley Piccolo. He opens his eyes on the bike, honest.

Today was our maiden voyage on the Piccolo. I took the kids to a state park with a nice paved bike trail. One kid on the Piccolo, the other on a single bike. They took turns, though my son clearly prefers the stoker position to pedaling on his own. My daughter preferred the single, which is surprising because she usually protests having to do any pedaling on her own bike. I’m sure this will change 40 times over the next month.

The Piccolo is a marvel of engineering. It couples to its own rack (concealed by my son in the picture), and the coupler allows the extension to pivot around the rear axle of the main bike. The coupler is first-class, a lot nicer than similar third wheels that attach to the seat post. The Piccolo allows the kids to shift gears, or rest as needed. I may be imagining things, but I noticed when the kid in the back was pedaling as it seemed to contribute to forward motion. 

Riding with the kids made me flash-back to when I had a tandem. The feeling that your bike is suddenly twice as long as usual is unmistakeable, as is the uneasiness experienced in the front end when the person in the rear is wiggling around. My long-ago tandem skills returned pretty quickly: captain mounts first and stabilizes the bike for the stoker; call out hills and maneuvering; offer words of encouragement etcetera. It was a helluva lot of fun.

The Piccolo has granted the CoMotion a second life. Shortly after receiving my Seven, I began wondering about replacing the CoMo with a lightweight traditional road bike, perhaps something in carbon. Although the CoMo has served me well for many years, I never used it for what it was designed for: bike touring and camping. It was over-built to withstand the burden of camping gear and rugged roads; however, the most I’ve ever used it for is grocery shopping and commuting. Its total weight is considerably more than the Seven and, as such, I was beginning to hatch plans to sell it after the winter and roll the money into something lighter to compliment the Seven.

For the time being, however, the CoMo will be the front end of the pseudo tandem. Once you add the weight of the Piccolo and a second person, the CoMo’s weight is irrelevant. The third chainring is nice, too, as it allows me to spin furiously and keep pace with the slower moving kid on the single bike. The Piccolo has made me even more aware that the brakes on the CoMo are miserable and so I’ll be looking to upgrade them so I can stop the beast when going down hills. 

I’m looking forward to putting a few more miles on the old rig, at least til the kids grow tired of riding attached to their dad or the need for a real tandem emerges.


About robertkerner

Educator, registered nurse, attorney, inquisitive mind
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