Tandem Cycling - Which tandems should we compare?
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-Local Club Time Trial
-Fast Road Rides and charity rides
-Loaded Touring (last priority)
-Willing to spend a few thousand (maybe more) for the right bike
My wife and I are new to looking at the tandem side of cycling and I'm looking through Co-motions, Santana, Cannondale, da Vinci, Trek etc sites and am not sure which models will work for both a self-supported tour and for recording some screaming times in the our local time trial ride. Not sure if it matters much, but I'm 6'4" and she's 5'7", probably 370lbs as a team. Thanks!
09-15-07, 06:35 PM
Suggest Co-Motion Periscope (lots of height adjustability) with 700c wheels and possible c/f fork. $3,000+.
Or, be on the lookout for a used tandem from the brands you listed (Le$$).
You're basdically looking for a 'do-it-all' tandem . . . you'll need to compromise somewhere!
Touring: needs beefier frame, all the braze-ons, 3rd brake + racks for panniers front and rear. TT superlight bike/components without gee-gaws. Fast road/charity rides: Light tandem, some gee-gaws (water bottles, 'puter' maybe rack for daypack**.
Minimal new: $3,000 up to $10,000+ for superlight TT tandem. Used: $2,000 - up.
Your wallet will be the decider!
Interesting problem: Key questions are as Zona said,
1) How much you want to / have to spend?
2) What sort of level of bike you'd be happy with groupset / quality wise?
I'll lay out the options as I see them to get you started. Perhaps if you can also guide us with the following data I and others will be able to give more detailed advice.
1) How is / are your ride single bikes specced?
2) What size are the bikes?
3) What are your position measurements, in particular, how long is stoker's top tube and stem?
4) How do you like going downhill fast? How would you rate your skills?
The Co-Motion and Santana or custom tandems will do all that you need. Price starts at $3200 for a basic Primera. Basically as you pay more you get upgrades in the parts and frame material. Advantage is that the Co-Mos handle very well, are all sufficiently rigid and have a long-enough (28.5") stoker compartment so that most stokers will be happy. Parts even on the low end models are good enough that a strong team will smoke a slower team and can be upgraded, though this will cost more than buying the bike you want at the start. Disadvantage is that the lower end models are a bit basic spec compared to the carbon Dura Ace bike you may be used to, and are also heavier than some of the more expensive models. Other disadvantage is that holding back on the options requires some restraint. As you get towards the top of the range you get more racing-oriented bikes that are more for credit card touring than loaded touring.
I'd say in general that Santanas seem to be a bit more touring oriented by design than the Co-Mos, which means slower handling and some quirks; in particular they use a proprietary rear wheel spacing of 160mm, which gives a longer bottom brackets and only allows Santana spec rear wheels to be used. The longer bottom bracket isn't a problem for most, but if you're riding a Campag record 145mm Q-factor crankset on a single bike, you may feel a bit like a cowboy on one of these. Price is similar to the Co-Mos
The Trek T1000 / 2000 is a nice 'racy but not race only tandem for an reasonable price' at $2200 / $3300. Comparing them with an aluminium frame and similarly equipped Co-Mo it probably has slightly slower handling and a shorter stoker compartment and is a bit more mass produced rather than semi-custom. Not sure about how the weight compares. Difference between the bikes is all in the components and fork, basically the better parts cost a lot more than $1100 to buy separately, even at ebay bargain prices so are a bargain if you ever plan to upgrade. Note that the racy-looking wheels on the T2000 are actually bombproof as well as being pretty light. Top marks in Tandemgeek's reliability survey for pre-built wheels. Stoker compartment length is 28" - 28.3" depending on size.
Final mid range option is the Cannondale tandem at $2600. In a nutshell it's a Trek T2000 with only minor differences in componentry which are 1) it uses disc brakes and aluminium fork 2) frame is stiffer and heavier and a bit slower steering 3) no racy wheels 4) flat rather than drop stoker bars. Fit is a little bit different, with either a 28 or 29" stoker seat tube depending on size. Main difference is the brakes though.
Below the Trek T1000 there are only a few options that are long ride / raceworth, and these tend to be more solid, with lower grade components. One to look at is the KHS Milano at $1600, which is on the face of it similar to the Trek, but with 5% lower performance parts for almost 30% less money. Biggest compromise is the stoker compartment length of 27" and the fact (based on geometry chart) that it only comes in one size which is definitely too small for both you and the stoker.
Broadly, get the bike that can fit your stoker and you without too much compromise. Anything else will frustrate you. For example my wife is 5'6" and rides a 50cm men's frame with an 8cm stem. Her position on a M Trek is 2cm shorter than her road bike, and could perhaps be stretched a bit more, but would end up with her face rather close to my rear. You and your stoker then need to weigh up $ saving versus possible need to change her position. After that you can choose between more or less racy, and go from budget to expensive. In my view the Cannondale RT1000 is probably the best all-round bike in this price range, while the Trek T2000 is best if you want a more racing oriented bike.
Final note: When you compare geometry charts for the tandem, remember that the front b/b rotates to tightent the timing chain, meaning the captain's saddle may need to go further forward on the seat post than on a similar-measuring single bike. Secondly don't just compare head tube length to check that the captain's handle bar height can be accommodated since tandems generally have taller forks to take bigger tyres than road racing single bikes. Don't get caught out - take a test ride or several.
Investment disclosure: :)
I bought a Trek T2000 as it seemed excellent value for money and was discounted in a local shop. Other locally available alternatives around that price were a bit touring oriented for us and we're never going loaded touring. Ours (2005 version) has room and braze-ons for rack, mudguards, drum brake etc, but the newer ones seem (based on close up photo of frame) not do all this as the fork and probably also the rear stays only to have mudguard holes but not bolt-on rack fittings. However there are numerous solutions to accomodate this - from P-clips on the frame, other custom frame fittings to front fork mounted rack fittings. I'm very happy with it, and am just in the process of changing to a carbon fork and adding a rear disc brake as I didn't like the cantilevers it came with.
The Trek T2000 looks like an excellent value, and component-wise, it's where I'd like to be, though I fear the L size would be too small for me. I'd be happy to spend the $3600 it retails at.
Currently, I have an XTR equipped Fisher Sugar and she an XT equipped Sugar GS, we both have Ultegra/XTR mix C'dale T2000 tourers and I have an Ultegra equipped Madone. My T2000 is a 63cm model, and my Madone is a slightly too small, but large as they make 62cm.
Anxious to test ride, but need to find out what to compare first so I know what to call around looking for. It's a lengthy, toll-ridden drive into Chicago from here in the "downstate", so I have to be organized in planning what to look at.
The 2006 Cannondale catalog shows that the horizontal front top tube length for the J/L (Jumbo/Large)tandem frame is 24.6". If you think the Trek isn't quite big enough, the Cannondale should do the job.
If you are looking at Co-Motions, keep in mind that their surcharge for a custom dimension frame is only $300 or so, perhaps the best investment at that price that you will ever make. If you get bottom bracket spacing in the neighborhood of 35" or so (measure by installing Profile Airstrykes on single bike and setting the length according to preference), then you can install aerobars on the back of the tandem, which are very useful for setting screaming time trial times and for all-around club riding. It also means that every now and then there is room for a full size guy on the back, which can put a healthy dose of fear into anybody trying to keep your rear wheel.
09-17-07, 08:32 PM
Our first serious tandem was a second hand, hardly used T-2000.
It was the bike that really got us hooked on tandem riding. We rode it about 2-1/2 years, usually 40- 62 miles every Sat./ Sun. We sold it when we had a new coupled custom bike built.
We only had to change out both seats and stems to get a reasonably good fit on the Trek. If you're looking at buying one new from a dealer, they should be able to tell you if they can get it sized to fit close enough from the start.
If they don't do a comprehensive measurement and fit, keep shopping.
If they can put you on a T-2000 that they'll guarantee fits both of you, it's a great bike for the bucks.
09-18-07, 02:08 AM
Fully agree with the Trek T2000 ... first Tandem, had it just over a year and loving it.
Got the same 2005 model as MrFish. Since we don't really do any touring - seriously thinking about the 2008 model with all the carbon components etc. (Fork, Cranks, Fast Wheels). The alternative is to wait another year and save up for a nice custom job.
09-18-07, 06:01 AM
We have the Trek T2000 & love it! We actually have 2 of them a 2003 & 2005. We bought the 2003 from the LBS & paid about $2,800 & got the 2005 this past spring (new, leftover) for $2,500, plus the cost to upgrade the brakes & clipless pedals. Both are size large. The captain is 6', stoker 5'4". I'm sure there's enough adjustment room for that size to fit you, but LBS should be able to tell you for sure.
OK, so a mid to high end component set is right for you, but the real issue is sizing. I'm assuming here that you want the same position on the tandem as you have on the Cannondale.
In a nutshell the relative position of the bottom bracket, seat and bars are what matters, so you need to check that first the bike is long enough, then whether it's the right height. First check is to do a back of the envelope calculation, but to do it properly you should really do a scale drawing of your single bike position then overlay it on a similar drawing of the frame you are considering.
Step 1: Cockpit length
To compare frames all you should also adjust the top tube length for any difference in the seat tube angle. But since the T2000s both share the same seat tube angle, no correction is needed.
The T2000 Cannondale touring bike in 63cm has a top tube of 59.7cm with seat tube angle 72.5 degrees. The large T2000 tandem has a top tube is 57.5cm with seat tube angle 72.5 degrees. This means you'd need a 2cm longer stem on the tandem to get the same reach.
In my opinion having a long stem on the tandem matters much less than on a single bike because weight distribution isn'd changed as much. Problem will be if you're already on a 14cm stem that 16cm stems simply don't exist. What stem do you use at the moment on the Cannondale?
Step 2: Bar height / standover
The idea is to get a frame size that uses a reasonable number of spacers (in my view less than 2cm ideally, never more than 4cm) to set the stem and bar height and also get a bike you can straddle. The Trek has a 14.5cm head tube, and fork which uses a long drop brake caliper I think. Measure your cannondale's head tube and see how it compares, then adjust if the fork height is different (most likely similar or slightly longer as it's a tourer not a road racing bike). You will need to make up any difference with spacers or an angled stem. I'd guess (as the cannondale geometry doesn't list head tube length) that you would need more spacers on the tandem as the T2000 probably has a longer head tube than the Trek. That means that if you're running 2cm of spacers on the T2000 you will struggle to get the bars high enough.
My hunch is that the T2000 is about 2cm smaller than a custom-sized bike would be, but it may be possible to get it to fit you, particularly if your position is on the short and low side.
Your homework - check what you would need to do to fit the Trek and Cannondale. Then call your favourite shops and see whether you can get test rides. If so, tell them your and your stoker's measurements and the stem length, # spacers you think you need. They should then be able to set up the bikes for you to test ride. I think it will come down to whether you like the Cannondales' fit, stronger brake system but worse componentry versus probably a worse fit and better components on the Trek. If you like the Trek components but can't fit either, then I'm afraid more money and a custom Co-Mo Calfee or simliar is the answer.
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