Tandem Cycling - what to look for in a used tandem?
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07-29-03, 04:03 PM
I am interested in acquiring a tandem. before I drop serious cash I am thinking about getting a used one to try out with my girlfriend to see if we both like it. I found someone selling a 1987 Santana Tadem. I dont know the model name/number or have any pics. I am told it is light blue and has a mix of components including deore xt front der, sora rear der, and scott cantilever brakes. comes with mtb style bars and racks. Apparently this puppy sold for just under $1500 when new. Of course I will check it over but I know very little about tandems. Does Santana make quality stuff that I should consider buying one that is over 15 years old? What are signs of a quality tandem? what should I look for to make sure it is a safe ride? BTW seller is asking $500 which seems decent. Any thoughts? Thanks.
07-29-03, 05:09 PM
Santana makes good tandems, $500 for a 15 year old tandem is not out of line if it is in good shape. If the owner will let you pull the seat posts and look inside the frame for rust. You will most likely find some light rust after 15 years, light rust is ok.
Check the drivetrain and wheels are they in good shape, tandems are very hard on drivetrains and wheels.
Then check the fit, it has to fit both of you.
07-29-03, 06:24 PM
Santana made great tandems back in 1987, much as they do today. The frameset was probably made using Columbus tandem-specific tubeset per Santana's specs. The bike would have started life as a 6 or 7 speed so it sounds like it may have seen some upgrades along the way, perhaps even being respaced depending on what size rear hub/cassette are now on the bike. Again, not a big deal if the work was done properly and the current components are all in good working order, e.g., wheels are true, spin free and everything else works.
Bottom Line: Sounds OK if it's in fair condition with normal cosmetic wear and tear for a bike that's 15 years old. However, don't expect it to be any more light, stiff or "crisp" than any other 15 year old bike (tandem or otherwise) with regard to your expectations and/or what you may be used to if you're riding a newer, premium quality 9 speed road or mountain bike. Like all other bikes, technology continues to improve and a newer 9 speed road tandem will "feel" far more crisp, stiff and responsive than the older model. If you don't think that will significantly influence how much you and yours enjoy your first tandemming experience go for it. Otherwise, you might want to test ride this tandem and then a new model before making out a check for $500. Again, sounds like a very fair price -- but only if this is a tandem that you'll enjoy owning and riding.
More first time tandem shopper info is available here:
You've received great advice. I can only add that your approach is sound. If the bike is in good working condition, then $500 is a reasonable price. Also consider that the risks of buying a tandem like this are low. If it turns out that tandems are not for you, then you can sell it and get back most of your investment. This is much more difficult to do with new.
Also, consider that the most important issue is the frame. If the frame is good and the fit is good, issues with components are simple and usually inexpensive to fix.
Hope you end up enjoying tandeming as much as we do.
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