Gallery: Anton’s Bike Friday Tandem + Burley Piccolo

Anton's Tandem

[Anton sent us these photos and write-up about his Bike Friday Tandem + Burley Piccolo. —ed.]

My two girls turned six and four years old this year, and had outgrown their bike-mounted child seats. Both my wife and I had ridden them in rear-mounted child seats on our own bikes since they were two years old, but it was time to come up with a cycling transportation solution that would take us into the next few years. Neither of my kids ride a bike on their own yet, and even if they did, it would be at least another 4-6 years before they’re ready to cycle in the busy urban streets of our Boston area neighborhood. We wanted the kids to be able to have an active role in cycling despite not being old enough to cycle on their own.

Anton's Tandem

The solution for us was a Bike Friday Family Tandem and a Burley Piccolo trailercycle. The BF tandem has telescoping seat tubes that allow for a broad range of rider heights, from 3’6″ to 6′. My six year old stoker is just 45″ tall and fits, provided we use crank shorteners which shorten the cranks from the standard 170mm to 120mm. The Burley Piccolo is a trailercycle that, unlike most trailercycles on the market which use a wobbly seat post coupling device, uses a proprietary roller bearing hitch which couples to a proprietary rack. This coupling provides a completely wobble-free attachment and places the point of attachment above the rear axle, which maximizes stability and effectively turns any bike into a tandem, or a tandem into a triple.

Anton's Tandem

Another thing I love about our modular combination of BF tandem + Burley Piccolo is that we can switch the Piccolo back and forth between the tandem and my wife’s bike, depending on our daily transportation needs. For example, during the week, we ride our kids to school. I ride my six year old on the tandem while my wife rides our four year old on the Piccolo attached to her bike (both her bike and the BF tandem have a Burley rack, and switching between the two bikes takes less than one minute). After drop off, my wifes rides home with the empty Piccolo, while I continue on to work solo on the tandem. The BF tandem is light enough (about 45 lbs) and sprightly enough that it feels like an ordinary bike (albeit one with a wide turning radius), and is surprisingly easy to ride around the city– with or without a stoker. On weekends I can hitch the Piccolo to the BF and take the kids on a ride out of the city. The flexibility is awesome, the company is fun, and everyone gets some exercise.

We purchased the Bike Friday second-hand, and I immediately did a few worthwhile upgrades: stronger V-brakes, a new drivetrain, lights and fenders with extra long mudflaps for all-weather riding. My next upgrade is going to be dynamo lighting.

The Burley Piccolo is no longer made, but after an exhaustive nationwide Craigslist search, we managed to find one second-hand. The only upgrade I’ve done is the addition of a fender!

So far the kids love the setup, and I hope it provides a sustainable transportation solution for the coming years. When the kids eventually outgrow the tandem (or begin to think it’s uncool), we’ll raise up the stoker seatpost and my wife and I will rediscover the joy of tandem cycling all over again.

BF family tandem specs:

  • Frame and fork: chromoly, oversized tubing, powder coated
  • Wheels: 20″ Sun AT18 rims with Schwable Marathons, 20×1.75″
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XTR rear derailleur, Shimano 105 front derailleur, 2×8 wide-range gearing
  • Brakes: Shimano Deore V-brakes
  • Lighting: Cateye HL-EL530 on custom-made fork mount, Planet Bike Blinky 5
  • Fenders: Planet Bike Recumbant, 20″, with custom mud-flaps
  • Total weight: ~45 lbs
  • Country of manufacture: USA

Burley Piccolo specs:

  • Frame material: chromoly
  • Wheel: 20″ Weinmann with Kenda 20×1.5″ tire
  • Drivetrain: Shimano SIS, 6-speed
  • Fender: Planet Bike Recumbant, 20″
  • Total weight: ~17 lbs
  • Country of manufacture: USA

11 Responses to “Gallery: Anton’s Bike Friday Tandem + Burley Piccolo”

  • Don says:

    Outstanding! Well done. Even based on memories alone, your daughters will benefit from your diligence for years to come.

  • Adam says:

    Great job. Your extra efforts will certainly help them grow to a greater appreciation of cycling. My sons are starting to go on longer rides with me on their own bikes in urban areas. Its scary taking that next step.

  • Jonathan says:

    I always admire your bike taste and knowledge Anton.

    As a local who gets to see Anton’s whole family wheel by, I love seeing this fantastic 3 wheeled train roll past with smiling parents and giggling kids. I’m very happy to attest to its awesomeness!

    Happy New Year by the way!

    Hope to see you soon, your Belmont St neighbor

  • Joel says:

    Not only are they both made in the USA they were both made in Eugene, OR. Nice setup!

  • RDW says:

    Anton, great story and a couple of very happy looking kids you’ve got there! I’ve been admiring BF bikes from afar for a while now, very cool. If you don’t mind what will probably sound like a stupid question – what are you using to extend the mudflaps on your fenders and how did you attach it? I have similar PB fenders on a bike and had been thinking about trying to either replace or alter the almost useless little mudflap on the front.

  • somervillebikes says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    Jonathan: smiling parents and giggling kids? Is that how we look from a distance? :-)

    Joel: Yes, both bikes hand-made in Eugene Oregon. I knew about the hand-built aspect, but I didn’t realize until after purchasing these bikes that Bike Fridays were designed by a former Burley Cooperative designer; the connection with family cycling now seems obvious.

    RDW: To extend the mudflaps, I cut pieces of black plastic stiffener that was the packaging backbone of a Bontrager bungee net! I simply glued it to the PB mudflap. Initially, the glue came loose after a week, so then I lightly sanded the surfaces before re-gluing and it’s held up since then. PB also sells replacement mudflaps, and I think you can purchase their nicer, longer Cascadia mudflaps in various widths to fit their various models of fenders.

  • kanishka new england says:

    amazing. people might end up referring to this someday

  • Dolan Halbrook says:

    I recently picked up a secondhand FTT and fitted it for my 4.5 year old son. He loved his first ride to school on it this morning as official “stokid”; so much better than the trail-a-bike we were using. Thanks for the inspiration… we’re looking forward to many more rides to come. Glad to see you’re still enjoying yours.

  • Dolan Halbrook says:

    One thing to note is that I had to do a slight bit of hacking to get my 41.5″ son to fit on the back. First of all I found a used Nitto Promenade bar to use as a stoker bar — that provided enough reach for him to easily get the bars without having to get an extending stoker stem, and it wasn’t too wide either. Secondly I cut about an inch and a half off the bottom of his seatpost, allowing it to go even lower. Finally I added some crank shorteners. All in all he fits back there just fine now.

  • voyage says:

    Hey, way to go, Dolan!

    There’s a predictable attempt at taxonomy here:

    “Carrying Your Stuff: Cargo Bicycles”

    But kids aren’t stuff…

  • Lee says:

    Hi Anton, your bike configuration impressed me a lot and I’ve just bought the same bikes, Bike Friday Tandem + Piccolo.
    I’ve found that I don’t have the long steel shown in your picture that attaches the moose rack to the Bike Friday. Could I ask how you got it? Was it part of Piccolo? I got a used one and am just wondering if I missed that part.

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