When we travel on our tandem in difficult places, like Tibet, and SE Asia, keeping the bike clean is the last thing I’m thinking about at the end of a hard day: food, a place to get horizontal and sleep are first priority, maybe changing money, buying food for the next day, trying to understand your host, the market vendors; all this before sunset since it’s often cold then, or sometimes not the best time for a gringo to be wandering the streets. So this is often when the derailleuer looks like after 3 or 4 thousand miles.
You find the darndest things when you remove a bottom bracket from the frame sometimes. This is what we brought home from Tibet and Southeast Asia. No matter how much grease you use, eventually dirt and grit find their way into your frame. We’ve brought home teaspoons of soil from Australia, Asia twice, and I’m sure we’ll bring some back from South America. If we could just stick to nice paved roads we wouldn’t have this problem, and not so much fun either.
As you can see this hub had some major abuse on our last adventure, in particular pushing for twenty kilometers while lost for two days on an old branch of the Hoh Chi Minh trail in Laos. At least it didn’t run over a bombie and blow us all up; these part would have been really scattered then. After cleaning, I forgot to take a photo, the parts were clean and smooth again, ready for another go at some more mountains, this time the Andes, and probably a bunch of bad dirt roads. That’s why I paid big bucks ($150 or so a long time ago) for a great hub (not a sponsor, we have no sponsors) The hub body has over 18,000 miles on it, and we are on the second set of paws and springs. Not a bad deal.
I am beginning to dismantle Zippy, world touring tandem, in preparation for our next self supported tour, this time South America. Before each tour, I completely dismantle Zippy for three reasons: to find our which parts need replacing so I can order them and fix the worn parts, catch any impending failures of frame, rims or drive-train, and to re-familiarize myself with every part. Since many of the places we tour are hundreds of miles from a proper bike shop, I have to be able to fix pretty much anything. Anyone who owns a tandem will tell you tandems need more attention than single bikes; I might have to rebuild the hub somewhere in the high Andes, or the middle of the Amazon basin, while being munched on by ants and mosquitoes and critters we’ve never seen before.