Hiding the Stoker's Computer Wires

Mark Livingood, T@H Post
 

We're running the Sigma Sports BC1200's on our and have been able to somewhat hide the wiring from view. Now, it helps if you have a dark colored frame to hide the black signal wires & zip ties but, through the creative use of colored plastic (aka. electrical) tape & clear zip ties, you can also camouflage wires on even a white frame as I'm doing that a little bit on this tandem and a single bike. (NOTE: If I could find a good source for long strips of the right size black & colored shrink-wrap I'd use that instead of the tape.)

It helps if you use narrow tape so I just trim down standard tape down with a lengthwise Exacto knife cut performed with the tape applied to a clean linoleum work surface. When it comes to applying the tape to the wires, it is best done to those segments of wire where you know you'll need it (which means a loose pre-fit check of the wire routing) before you mount the computer. I apply the tape to the wires by laying them side-by-side on the tape lengthwise and then folding the "sides" of the tape over the wires. If done carefully, it looks really slick and makes wire routing very easy since the thicker, dual wire bundle tends to be mold-able. Avoid "stretching" the tape when you fold it over the wires; stretched tape will eventually shrink back to its original size and leave gunky adhesive to collect dirt.

Mounting & routing:

The stoker's speed sensor is mounted on the left rear seat stay along the brake arch and the cadence sensor is located on the left rear chain stay with the pick-up mounted to the left crank arm. A significant amount of additional wire must be added to the cadence wire & some must be added to the speed wire.

The cadence signal wire comes off of the handlebars and is routed down the stoker stem (which is black) with the wheel speed signal wire as previously described to the captain's seat post and then down to the underside of the stoker's top tube.

I use one black zip tie at the handlebar end of the stokers stem to hold the wires tight to the bar (so there's no pulling on the mounting head), then: 1) wrap it three times around the stem; 2) once around the captain's seat post to set it up for; 3) a final wrap around the seat post clamp before it; 4) ducks under the top tube. If you allow for enough wraps (again, I'm using three), it provides you some "accordion" slack for minor stem length & height adjustments. On our Santana I routed the wires between the brake cable & the top tube just aft of the braze-on guide and there was sufficient room to avoid contact. The new tandem has an internally routed brake cable so it's not an issue.

Because the front 2/5's of the tandem are white, I switched from black to white plastic tape as the wires came down the seat post -- they are almost invisible from 5 feet away against the top tube. To hold the wires to the underside of the top tube I once again use narrow strips of colored plastic tape; however, at this point the signal wires are no longer wrapped together in the plastic tape -- they'd be too bulky. You could probably use some of the clear "frame saver tape" instead of the plastic tape but our top tube is ovalized making the plastic tape easier to hide.

Installation Technique tip: I find it easiest to mount the tandem upside down in the work stand to run the wires on the underside of the top tube. It makes laying "down" the wire a snap.

 

You'll want to be sure the wires lay absolutely flat as you tape then down to maximize their invisibility. Anyway, there's no need for a zip tie at either end of the top tube. The tape does a great job of holding the wires in place and, because it's completely covered over the length of the wire run, there are no wires to get "caught" or "pulled". The only time you can normally "see" the tape is when the bike is on its side or on top of the car for transport. In upright riding mode it's just about gone from view. At the stoker's seat post the wires merely pop out for about 4cm and then get wrapped around the left seat stay to "tighten-up" that end of the installation.

At this point I go back and tighten-up the wires at the stoker's stem with a second zip tie applied at the bottom end of the stem. The routing of the speed sensor is complete at this point. A couple of zip ties hold the cadence sensor wire: 1) taut at the top of the seat stay, 2) under the brake, 3) at the bottom of the stay next to the drop-out, 4) on the chain stay at the drop-out and, 5) then at the sensor mounting location. By cinching down the zip ties the wire stays nice and tight against the stays and by routing them along the undersides of the stays they pretty much stay out of sight AND harms way. Just something to consider. It takes a little bit of time to do the installation this way; however, since those wires will be a permanent part of the tandem for a long time it's well worth the investment.