Tandem Cycling - Help finding a first tandem
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05-01-06, 11:38 PM
All- did some searches and have a lot of good information to start. Now I am hoping for some more specific info. I am looking for a first tandem for me and the wife. here are our stats:
me 5'11" her 5'8"
combined weight ~300lbs
weekend rides and hopefully move up to centuries and the like- no racing/competition, no offroad
current rides: a 'dale r900 w/veloce and lemond poprad and she rides a trek wsd 1500
so I guess the questions are road or mtn? new or used? steel or alum? any recs on good stores in the DC/NoVa area? any good used tandems out there I should know about? I can justify spending $1000 for a used tandem or $1500 for a new one and not the other way around, if that makes any sense. 10 year old cannondale tandems seem to fetch ~$1000 on ebay. not sure if a low end santana or burley (rumba or samba) would be better money spent. how do they compare? btw, I know if i spend closer to $2000 the wealth of possibilities increases. however, I am on an inputs=outputs budget meaning that I already had to sell my yeti, bianchi single speed and my commuter to get this far. Don't make me sell my poprad. thanks.
05-02-06, 05:08 AM
Tandem Specialty Dealer: Larry Black of Mt. Airy & College Park Cyclery [http://www.bike123.com]
They usually have quite a few used tandems on hand as well as new inventory. Good place to do your homework, get some tips, see a variety of different tandems including best value types like KHS, BEFORE making a purchasing decision.
More on first time tandem buying here: http://www.thetandemlink.com/tandems
05-02-06, 06:39 AM
Larry' shop has more tandems hanging around (literally - they are hanging off the ceiling!) than you are likeley to find any place else. He also has a good selection of 'budget' tandems both used and new. In addition to KHS he had a bunch of older Trek steel-framed tandems built up both with drop bars and flat bars. Try the link Mark provided and you should be able to find a list of tandems currently in the shop.
05-02-06, 07:33 AM
Agree on the above. If you have time and want to try more, plan on a trip to NJ to visit Mel's at Tandem's East,www.tandemseast.com. They will probably have some inventory that Larry does not have and vice versa.
My guess is you could get something very nice used for that budget. Good luck.
05-02-06, 11:52 AM
Just went thru this process and I’ll give you my two sense. First, dropping three (count ‘em three) rides just to ride with the wife? Eeeeeee……. If I had that choice, it would take a day or two to figure out……… (Just kidding Mom!)
I’ll probably start an indignant firestorm here, but what the heck. When I was looking earlier this year, someone in the know told me not to buy any frame built before ’98 or ’99 – the materials and technology since then have come that far. And I can believe this because on a whim on a trip in CA in ’93 or ’94, I bought a used ’90 steelie by a very big tandem name for $900 and rode it twice before I (tried) to sell it in disgust. In my opinion, it was a miserable noodle and not worth the powder to blow it to hell. [Back then, geezers like me were not into tandeming yet and the market was buyer controlled. Now that us geezers are into it, the situation is reversed and the bikes are seller controlled (and overpriced in my opinion). It’ll switch around again in about 5 – 10 years when we decide that we really need overpriced recumbents, or we drool too much.]
This year, after the wife begged me to stay near her on our bike rides, we purposefully test drove everything we could find so that I could be convinced that what happened in the early 90’s, would not happen again. So we rode the new Dale’s and were ready to drop around $2000 on one despite its ill fit for us and desparate need for a carbon fork. And then we started driving some new Burleys, Co-mos, and Santanas and our search got, shall we say, complicated.
I discovered that the used market is pretty thin and that demand was driving up used prices to levels that I couldn’t stomach for equipment that had hard use. Remember, good used parts are outrageously expensive. I tried E-Bay, but lost interest after waiting 200 days for an auction to end, only to find out that an outrageous, unspecified “reserve price” wasn’t met or that the frame had “some minor dents”. We finally wound up with a new Burley.
Ride before you buy.
Get the latest frame model you can.
Find the widow who put Dad’s tandem up for sale as soon as his cold, dead hands were pried from it (and can’t wait for it to be gone).
Call the big three regional tandem dealers in the US and tell them what you want and what you can spend. They will work with you, if they have the used inventory.
05-02-06, 12:30 PM
thanks for all the advice. i will contact larry shortly.
rjberner- agree with you on the prices in the used tandem market. if only i was able to get those prices on my used half bikes. the hardest pill to swallow was the commuter. Had fenders, generator light and internal 7spd hub. Only problem was I never once commuted to work by bike as I take the train every day. and don't get me started on the yeti...i better love riding a tandem. :)
05-02-06, 07:31 PM
in opposition to rj's bad luck with ebay, i got really lucky. it did take me about 6 to 8 months of checking every few days and knowing what size i wanted. i ended up with a 2002? burley duet with a shimano flight deck computer, rock shox seat post, rear rack and an arai drum brake for $910 plus about $150 to ship it. it was nearly new with a few scraches and paint chips but nothing major. so keep your eyes open 'cuz the deals are out there.
i agree w/ rj on getting a newer tandem as well. when i was looking some of the old tandems had 27" wheels and old crappy drive trains that would be really expensive to update and by that time you would be close enough to the price of a new one.
05-02-06, 08:57 PM
You might want to try looking around at bike rental places. I just bought an old schwinn cruiser tandem for really really cheap. Its not performace oriented at all and needs a little work, but thats OK with me. BTW I live in Breckenridge CO and a lot of the ski shops do bikes in the summer so its probably a little easier for me to pick up a used tandem...;)
05-02-06, 11:17 PM
I can't say enough good things about the quality of technical advice on this forum. However I think when it comes to this one issue: advising the about to be tandemist, there could be some lessons learned by the sages. I urge the o.p. to test ride a Raleigh Coupe or hell buy one sight unseen. It is right in your price range. It will be a better bike than the two of you will know what to do with and will be NEW. The 2005/2006 Coupes have nice stiff aluminum frames and 9sp rear clusters. Disk brakes f/r. Are you going to find any of that on a seven year old Santana? You should be able to do a fair amount of swapping out customization before taking possession so you can go home with the tandem you want. Drop bars, different seats, better pedals. All for no extra charge. Try doing that with a classified ad seller. I'm sorry with bikes like the Coupe by Raleigh and similar rides from Fuji and KHS, the only reason to buy an older tandem from the specialty builders would be to get a bike for much less than the grand or so that the entry-level tandems cost new. Since that isn't going to happen soon its a no brainer for me.
05-02-06, 11:47 PM
A nice shape, low mileage used tandem can be a better deal/ride than a brand-new budget tandem, even with economy no-name disc brakes. Do suggest lots of test riding so you can compare; price and fancy decals are not prerequisites for a good handling ride-for-two. The heart of any bike is its frame, and an economy steel or alu bike will have trouble competing with an older, but quality frame, even without the latest geegaw componentry.
Remember this is your first tandem . . . within 2 years you'll be riding something different/better!
Larry and Mel would be the ideal places to test ride and shop/compare before investing.
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
05-03-06, 09:06 PM
I would not discount what Leisesturm has to say. Back in the day, there were good tandems (for their time) and there were junk tandems, not much in between. Raleigh/KHS/Fuji entry level tandems have 700c wheels (not 27 inch), STI shifting, sealed bearing bottom brackets and a lot of name-brand components where it counts (hubs, derailleurs, shifters) and decent frames with lifetime warranties. These bikes weigh in at 40-42 lbs which is right in the ballpark with older Santana steel framed tandems. I bet I could get my KHS Milano large size under 40 lbs just by switching out the 48 spoke wheels for a set of Sweet 16's (but the wheels might be worth more than the bike!!!). You might get lucking and pick up a Cannondale or Burley used for a decent price as they cost less new. But if you find a $1000 Santana, it is going to be 10 years old or older with barcons, a 7 speed freewheel and most likely 27'' wheels. And the old Santana frame is not going to be any stiffer than today's entry-level frame.
Not that it matters, but I can crush 95% of the tandem teams I have ever ridden with riding a $900 bike with an inexperienced and not-terribly-athletic stoker. If I had a better bike we would only be marginally faster and no more comfortable.
05-04-06, 08:50 AM
the only reason to buy an older tandem from the specialty builders would be to get a bike for much less than the grand or so that the entry-level tandems cost new. Since that isn't going to happen soon its a no brainer for me.
Last weekend I got a used Burley Samba for $500 off Craigslist...
It needs some updating, but I like to do my own wrenching anyway. It's rideable as it is right now though...
$50 in parts will get it in perfect working order. $500 in upgrades will fine-tune it to where it will fit my long-term needs.
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