What sets Rick Jorgensen apart from other bicycle designers is his deep understanding of a bicycle frame as a structure, and his willingness to design whatever works best to meet structural requirements.
Jorgensen has deep knowledge of, and love for, the traditions of bicycle design and craftsmanship. At the same time, he has the fresh viewpoint of an expert structural engineer (his resume in large bridge design and repair is nationally famous in that field). And his craftsmanship is easily equal to that of the best fabled custom framebuilders of Europe, Japan, and the U.S. (When he took on the hobby of antique aircraft restoration, he already had the superb metal working skills to make that transition easy.)
Where I saw Jorgensen’s combination of academic expertise and craftsmanship was in the design of his Tango tandems. He is now embarking on the construction of single-seat touring bikes, and I expect great things there too.
A Tango tandem built by Jorgensen has unusual capabilities. The ones I’ve ridden, and I’ve ridden dozens, were specifically designed for additional stiffness, above and beyond that of other “good and stiff tandems” available. Aggressive, hard-charging riders will find a Tango feels more reassuring and secure than a tandem built to win the gram-counting derby.
A quarter century ago, Jorgensen was one of the first builders, if not absolutely the first, to use computer programs to model the rigidity of a tandem frame. The computer allowed Jorgensen to calculate the benefits he would gain from different designs, including the unconventional — and very successful — “Uptube” design.
Jorgensen will be the first to tell you that not every tandem team needs a Tango. The Sunday-in-the-park crowd doesn’t ride hard enough to take advantage of the difference. But if you want a more rigid tandem, if you want the ultimate reassuring sure-footedness when cornering, when hammering a bumpy road, when sprinting all out . . . that’s when a Tango feels like no other tandem.
I haven’t yet ridden any of Jorgensen’s single-seat touring bikes. I’ve only ridden his two- and four-seaters. I can assure you the single-seat touring bikes will be a delight, though. After more than a quarter century of knowing the man behind the bikes, I have every confidence.
Author, The Tandem Scoop and Cycling for Fitness
Technical Editor, Adventure Cyclist Magazine
Tandem rider since 1980; touring cyclist since 1971
(N.B. John was also Editor of Bike Tech, technical editor of BikeReport, and the best writer Bicycling magazine ever had.)