Tandem Cycling - a tandem for when the captain is shorter than the stoker?
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01-03-04, 01:29 AM
We currently own a Burley Samba which we're trying to sell. It's a beautiful bike, no doubt about that, but we didn't put enough research into buying it. It just plain doesn't fit us. No amount of adjustment and changing out seats and handlebars can change the fact that it's just too big for the 5'5" captain (me) and too small for the 5'10" stoker (him). It's just painful to ride for both of us for anything other than short trips around town.
I know it's the usual thing for the taller of two people to be captain, but we have numerous good reasons for me to be captain (among other things, i outweigh him...) We've tried him as captain, me as stoker and it just works better the other way.
Only, since deciding to sell the tandem, we haven't ridden it at all and gosh darn it, I miss tandeming. Of course, I don't miss the pain in my wrists and crotch. Assuming we can sell the burley, I want to get another tandem ASAP.
My stoker thinks a recumbent tandem is the way to go. I'm not sure what I think about this. We both have single Burley swb recumbents and though it's 'bent heresy to say this, I prefer my wedgie. I'm finding it hard to see that all of the issues I have with my 'bent (lower to the ground making me feel like I'm less visible to cars, more complex drivetrain, other things) wouldn't be more than doubly compounded in a 'bent tandem.
I see us on something upright, possibly even skirting into comfort bike/cruiser type geometry. We're never going to do long rides on the tandem, nor are we particularly concerned about going fast. The sort of ride I see us doing most often on the tandem is twenty miles rt into the city on the weekend. We're talking more recreational riding than anything, just for the joy of riding together (it's really much more fun than riding single, even when in pain).
But my main concern is that we don't get another very expensive mistake.
Does anyone know of a bike shop in the Chicago metro area that actually stocks tandems so we could test ride before we buy? Failing that, are there any tandem makers that don't automatically assume that the captain is tons taller than the stoker?
Well..I think you are going to need a custom frameset tandem. Fact is, the market is small, and catering to the very small minority for which the shorter person rides in front can't be profitably done.
Your other choice, already excluded, is to trade places. Weight up high actually matters more than total weight.
Given that you are going to stay in your places, you need a small, affordable custom builder. Your best choice might be Dennis Bushnell.
5'10" is far off the top of the scale for stoker size. As long as you are getting a custom anyway, you may as well get a tandem that really fits, so you should get very long bottom bracket spacing, in the neighborhood of 35-44"
Mark Livingood's custom Erickson is built with 31" BB spacing for his 5'2" stoker (his wife, Debbie). Given that her single bike horizontal center-of-seatpost-to-center-of-handlebar spacing is 22" for a 9" stoker stem, and your stoker's same dimension is 26" (guess), that suggests BB spacing of 35".
I bought a custom to fit stokers up to 6'4", with 38" between the seat tubes, and added aerobars to use with smaller stokers. This tandem has been a remarkable success.
For a tandem with the tall person in back, the aerobars would definitely have to entirely clear the saddle, so you might need 44" BB spacing.
You can find a picture of Mark's tandem in the last post in the "stoker bars" thread, and a link to mine in the same post.
There are a few experts on tandem fit here, and more at tandem@hobbes. You will find that most any question is welcomed. I would start with a blank sheet of paper, and think about all of the possibilities. I would recommend a tandem with reduced trail (about 1.80") for slow handling to help with the size difference.
01-04-04, 09:50 AM
My stoker thinks a recumbent tandem is the way to go. I'm not sure what I think about this. We both have single Burley swb recumbents and though it's 'bent heresy to say this, I prefer my wedgie.
A 'bent tandem would definitely be a good choice given that the terrain in the Chicago area is 'bent and tandem-friendly (former resident/routine visitor to Arlington Heights from '73 - '87).
There is a very active tandem group in the Chicago area, CATs (Chicago Area Tandem Enthusiasts). http://pages.prodigy.net/waterstreet/CATS/main.htm The team that is putting together the 2004 CATs Prairre State Tandem Rally are very enthusiastic 'bent tandem owners (a Double Vision as I recall). In addition to checking out the CATs, you might want to drop a note to the '04 rally organizer, Roman or Paula. Their Email is listed at the bottom of the rally Web site: http://www.geocities.com/mykidsrsaints/ I'm sure they could give you some first-hand experience with regard to your 'bent concerns and also fill you in on which shops they've found to be the best for catering to tandem and tandem 'bent needs.
However, if you are more inclined to want a wedgie and your stoker prefers a 'bent, there is another solution: James Weaver's Counterpoint Opus IV, sold under license as the:
a) Harmony from Angletech (scroll down to the bottom of the page)
b) ViewPoint from Bilenky http://www.bilenky.com/viewpnt.html
Finally, as Scott suggested, you could have a custom upright tandem fabricated to meet your individual sizing requirements. I would suggest a builder like Dennis Bushnell of Seattle, WA, as someone to contact. Dennis is one of the most innovative and resourceful frame fabricators in the business who has and can create just about any bike or tandem to suit any need. You can read more about Dennis at S&S Machine's Web site: http://www.SandSmachine.com/bp_bushn.htm or Email him at Bushcycles@aol.com
Incidently, Dennis was the original fabricator for James Weaver's Counterpoints and still builds them for companies in the UK as well as AngleTech's Harmony. Bilenky builds the ViewPoint in house.
Does anyone know of a bike shop in the Chicago metro area that actually stocks tandems so we could test ride before we buy?
In addition to checking with Roman and/or Paula, the places I would contact to see what they have on the floor are:
* The Bike Rack (Hal Honeyman), St. Charles, IL
* Village Cycle Sport Elk Grove Village, IL
Nearest, tandems-specialty dealer to you
* Precision Tandems, (Mark & Susan Johnson) Shawnee, KS
01-04-04, 04:42 PM
No personal interest or knowledge regarding the bike or owner, but I thought I'd pass along the info that just popped up on Tandem@hobbes given how timely it is. (Note: You could always have the front 1/2 repainted.)
Pearl Pink Bilenky Viewpoint for Sale
As a Tandem@Hobbes subscriber you will appreciate this bike, so this is a T@H exclusive for the time being. For photos and more info call or email Janika at (207) 861-3982 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hardly ridden (less than 25 miles), a concept touring & day/night all-weather Viewpoint Tandem. 18" Cro-Mo frame with a 19" top tube has a head tube extension which will accommodate a captain from 4'8" to around 5'8". Telescoping front boom accommodates almost any size stoker. This bike was built recently to display at bike shows (but never was) and is totally loaded: RANS carbon fenders, taillight and double Lumotec headlights powered by a Schmidt SON dynamo, custom front Bilenky rack and custom-modified rear Tubus rack, Avid 203mm rotor disc brakes front and rear, Shimano UN-72 BBs, Chris King and FSA headsets, Dia-Compe 287V brake levers and auxiliary Pauls Cyclocross levers, Ritchey Biomax handlebars, Salsa stem and Salsa Shaft seatpost, modified Sugino XD 110/74 crank, 53/39/26 x 12-34 XT 9-spd (20-115 gear inches), XT rear and stoker derailleurs, Dura-Ace triple front derailleur, 9-speed Dura-Ace barcon shifters, stoker Mangito bar-ends, Sun Rhyno-lite rims (26" R, 20" F), rear XT hub, SON dynamo front hub, Kenda Kwest R tire and Odyssey Groundworks F tire, stainless water bottle cages, Zefal HPX2 frame pump.
There is nothing this bike doesn't have, except a captain's saddle and pedals for both captain and stoker (we can provide if you prefer). Bilenky designed, built, and assembled, ready for nearly any terrain or ability level.
Minimum bid $3500 plus packing & shipping, this bike would retail for at least $5000 as equipped.
Janika Eckert (email@example.com)
01-04-04, 10:39 PM
Howdy from Tucson!
Having ridden (way back when) on a Counterpoint, in both pilot and stoker position, this tandem could be an answer to your dilemma! The Viewpoint, with some good improvements over the original Counterpoint, of course would give you later technology.
Neat thing on the View/Counterpoint is: stoker is up front. pilot in the rear. Pilot can whisper 'sweet nothings' into stoker's ear . . . no other tandem offers that sort of romantic arrangement. Good luck!
Pedal on TWOgether,
Rudy & Kay
01-08-04, 10:19 AM
[QUOTE=livngood]No personal interest or knowledge regarding the bike or owner, but I thought I'd pass along the info that just popped up on Tandem@hobbes given how timely it is. (Note: You could always have the front 1/2 repainted.)
Pearl Pink Bilenky Viewpoint for Sale
Photos now available....
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