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  1. #1
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Tandems on over 50

    Most of you realise that I ride a Tandem and that is my main ride. Still have to keep a solo for when we cannot get out together but How many other 50+ers have Tandems. They keep getting the odd mention and it almost seems as if people are afraid to mention them.

    I know there is a Tandem forum but I am talking about us on this forum.

    Brief history --- I got a Tandem in 2002 when I had not recovered mentally from Prostate Cancer. Thought was that with a strong rider- I would be able to keep up with the group. That was wrong- but eventually I found Stuart. We got on well together and have been riding ever since. We mainly do offroad so the Cannondale MT2000 has been modified to suit with Big Brakes- Strong wheels and Downhill forks. It is not a cheap bike to maintain but luckily I am an accomplished Mechanic and manage to do all the maintenance myself.

    I realise that a Tandem may not be everyones cup of tea as they are expensive to buy- expensive to maintain, are heavy- don't go up hills easily- Brakes don't work and the steering is not that good. Only thing is they are fantastic to ride.

    So many others on here have Tandems and What do they think of them?

    Incidentally the two attachments were taken around the same part of the South Downs Way. The clean one was in 2004
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    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  2. #2
    Cycling Anarchist Trsnrtr's Avatar
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    I took my bride for a 50 miler on Saturday. We've been tandeming since '83 but it's not our main ride. My wife is an avid single bike rider also.

    Dennis
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    My wife and I have been riding tandems together since 1976. We're on our 4th one. I'll let you know as soon as we figure out whether we like it or not.

  4. #4
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    Have been 'offered' a tandem

    My neighbor across the street has a Gary Fisher tandem that he claims they don't ride because he's too short & she's too tall. He's offered to let me & my wife try it. Since reading your posts I'm inspired to go get it out of his garage, make it road-ready & take it for a spin. His tandem is a 'classic' according to my neighbor, whatever that may mean...probably that they've owned it 20 years & he doesn't want to sell it.

    If the tandem venture is successful for us, I may get to upgrade my solo bike since the issue of me outpacing my love on our solo rides will no longer be a question in her mind.

    thanks for the inspiration!
    centexwoody
    They're beautiful handsome machines that translate energy into joy.

  5. #5
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by centexwoody
    My neighbor across the street has a Gary Fisher tandem that he claims they don't ride because he's too short & she's too tall. He's offered to let me & my wife try it. Since reading your posts I'm inspired to go get it out of his garage, make it road-ready & take it for a spin. His tandem is a 'classic' according to my neighbor, whatever that may mean...probably that they've owned it 20 years & he doesn't want to sell it.

    If the tandem venture is successful for us, I may get to upgrade my solo bike since the issue of me outpacing my love on our solo rides will no longer be a question in her mind.

    thanks for the inspiration!

    Partner riding, nearly said Husband and wife bit that is no longer PC, is one of the reasons to ride Tandems- Little tip- Take the tandem out solo initially until you are comfortable and then take the stoker. Try a flat area- no crossroads- plenty of room to stop, and carry the band aid with you. These things bite if you are not carefull. Only on starting and stopping so take care.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  6. #6
    Last one to the top... Little Darwin's Avatar
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    No tandem partner for me at the moment...

    However, I am curious about the suspension fork on a tandem. Does it use a beefed up spring? Specific to a tandem?
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

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  7. #7
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgregory57
    No tandem partner for me at the moment...

    However, I am curious about the suspension fork on a tandem. Does it use a beefed up spring? Specific to a tandem?
    Most road tandems do not use suspension and a lot of offroad versions- if they are only used on trails use a rigid fork. However- A true offroad machine does use front suspension and there are Tandem specific forks around that will take the extra weight of a Tandem and will offer varying amounts of Suspension. Initially I used a Marzocchi Freeride drop off fork with the heaviest springs available- However when I went disc brake- I was getting too much flex on these so looked at a Triple crown fork- as used on the downhill bikes and even went for Rockshox Boxers. These still required the strongest spring available and spacers to take up the sag induced by the weight of the Tandem. So far- I have not been proved wrong on my choice of forks- although according to some - I should have got the Tandem forks at double the price and half the movement.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    good advice & I'll try to be more PC about my riding 'partner' - as for testing it solo, it hadn't occured to me & I certainly wouldn't want to ruin the opportunity by not knowing how the thing handles before we share the ride...I don't mind the bruises & scrapes but my 'partner' most assuredly would.
    centexwoody
    They're beautiful handsome machines that translate energy into joy.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    I have a tandem. It's an entry level Santana from the 80's, an Elan. It's been upgraded several times, replacement cranks, wheels, shifters,etc. My wife and I rode it for the first several years, then she grew tired of cycling. I ride it with various friends, and the group I ride with uses it for the "rehab" bike. At any given time one of us has just begun recovery from some sort of operation or injury, usually bike related, but not always. I usually become the capt. and the rehabee becomes the stoker. I also find it a challenging bike to ride solo during the week when others can't ride. A 40 or 50 miler on the tandem without a partner is a great training tool for fast weekend group rides.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    My wife and I ride our tandem, usually more than our half bikes. It all depends upon whether or not we're conditioning ourselves for an upcoming event. For example, my wife did a women's only century on Saturday, so we've both been on our singles for the last couple weeks so she could get fine-tuned for her century. In about 3 weeks we'll be attending the N.W. Tandem Rally up in Oregon, so we'll probably start riding the tandem most of the time. Although, this morning we both rode our halfs because it was easier than dragging out the big "T".

    If we had to choose only one bike to ride, assuming it was during rides with her, it would be the tandem--hands down. We enjoy eachother's company, we stay together, we look out for one another and communicate better, and she scratches my back. Besides, the damn things are fast (except up hills)!! They take a little bit of getting used to, but they're great fun.

  11. #11
    Wheezing Geezer Bud Bent's Avatar
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    My wife and I have put in 3400 miles on our EZ Tandem, which is a recumbent tandem, in the last 12 months. Since my other total miles in the last 12 months is less than that, I guess I'd have to call it my primary bike now.

    It is a slow, heavy bike, but we certainly love riding it.
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    They told me it's ok to post mileage over in the commuting forum, so you'll probably find me there these days.

  12. #12
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    My wife and I have two tandems, an older C-dale MT1000 and a new Trek T2000. We took to tandem cycling like ducks to water and enjoy every minute of our rides. We bought the Cannondale because our cycling levels were so extreme that we could not enjoy riding together on single bikes. My wife was new to cycling at the time and I was training with CAT3 riders. This was the only way we could enjoy cycling together. It worked from the first ride with no band aids needed.

    As far as the weight of the tandem, the Cannondale is a bit heavy and, although a mountain bike, is set up with drop bars and racks for touring. The 26" wheels make a better platform for loading our gear. The Trek is a light weight at 34 pounds and, with a carbon fiber fork and race lite wheels, is not well suited for touring. However, it is a very light and fast bike for group and training rides. In fact, we frustrate a few folks who hold to the old theory that tandems are slow and can't climb hills.

    I tell people that riding a tandem is like diner with friends. It's not what you put on the table that makes the meal but who is seated at the chairs. The same is true with tandems ... it who's on the other saddle that make the experience great.

  13. #13
    Senior Moment Litespeed's Avatar
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    My husband and I have a tandem, had it for about 3 years now. Can't remember how we even decided to get into the tandem thing. I do remember him telling me it would be less stressful and I would actually be able to keep up. It look some getting use to (a lot, I should say) but now we really enjoy it. I'm getting better a little at a time. We only ride it on Saturday's because the rest of the week so full of other things we do.

  14. #14
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    My wife and I started biking about 15 years ago with single bikes. It became a stress point because we use bikes as a form of exercise rather than recreation. For me that means 50 to 100 miles/day at close to 20 MPH. For her it meant 30 miles/day at 12 MPH. Touring was no fun at all because she constantly tried to cut the daily distance.
    So we found Tandem bikes. First we rented with good results and bought a Cannondale Aluminum frame with hydraulic brakes. I seem to remember over $3,000. We are doing 50 miles/day for exercise at breakneck speeds and tour up to 100 miles/day. We have a lot of enjoyment on the bike and the consequential wining and dining and socializing.
    I would recommend it to anyone and I am puzzled why not more people do it?
    Only down side: The season is short around here and Florida is a long drive. Not easy to ship or fly with a Tandem. Perhaps, some day, we will just have to buy another Tandem for Florida.
    BTW, yes, cost of maintaining and upgrading of a Tandem is not cheap. I just put up $1,000 for new brakes and gears with Shimano XL shifters. They are worth it.

  15. #15
    Senior Member
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    Stapfam...there are meetings once a week for tandem owners, it starts with.....

    "Hi...my name is Mono...and I own a tandem"

    Just joking of course. Actually the bride and I are considering buying the Trek crusier tandem as a starter.

  16. #16
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    Experimental ride on a Gary Fisher Gemini

    My neighbor dragged out their GF Gemini from ca. 1988 or 89 last night & my 'partner' & I took it for a short spin. It is steel, has had conventional seatposts put on it, the handlebars changed out, the tires are Specialized slicks on front & some fancier version on rear so would no longer work as an MTB in present state. Looks like it has 18 speeds (too dark in the garage to tell much). Ergonomically must be adjusted for us every which way from Sunday. Neighbor claims it has a 'biocycle' crank on it that is elliptical - never heard of such a thing except on stationary exercise bikes.

    Only problem is that I couldn't even take it over to my garage across the street last night since there is NO ROOM and my 'partner' declared that it could be moved as soon as I found a place for it. Maybe I need to build a bike shed...or discard the lawnmower, hire a service & just hang bikes in the garage. Only 2 out of the existing 5 bikes ever get any use. Do people hang their tandems? This is a steel bike weighing over 45 lbs I would guess so hoisting it overhead to hang by the tires is not likely.

    If he gives it to us then I can afford to have it serviced. He claims they could ride 35 mph through the Scottish countryside.
    centexwoody
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  17. #17
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by centexwoody
    My neighbor dragged out their GF Gemini from ca. 1988 or 89 last night & my 'partner' & I took it for a short spin. It is steel, has had conventional seatposts put on it, the handlebars changed out, the tires are Specialized slicks on front & some fancier version on rear so would no longer work as an MTB in present state. Looks like it has 18 speeds (too dark in the garage to tell much). Ergonomically must be adjusted for us every which way from Sunday. Neighbor claims it has a 'biocycle' crank on it that is elliptical - never heard of such a thing except on stationary exercise bikes.

    Only problem is that I couldn't even take it over to my garage across the street last night since there is NO ROOM and my 'partner' declared that it could be moved as soon as I found a place for it. Maybe I need to build a bike shed...or discard the lawnmower, hire a service & just hang bikes in the garage. Only 2 out of the existing 5 bikes ever get any use. Do people hang their tandems? This is a steel bike weighing over 45 lbs I would guess so hoisting it overhead to hang by the tires is not likely.

    If he gives it to us then I can afford to have it serviced. He claims they could ride 35 mph through the Scottish countryside.

    This does sound Like a typical Tandem that people have sitting in a garage-not used anymore and crying out for a new home. The changes that have been made over the years have obviously been to set it up for one pairs riding style so if you get the chance to aquire it for a long term loan or buy cheap- go for it. Couple of points though- treat this as an old bike that has to be looked after. Check it over but things like wheels do have to be in A.1 Condition. These tandems take a lot of weight and an older tired wheel with a bit out of true or loose spokes will not do you any favours. Other points to look at are tyres, brake blocks and chains. The Biocycle rings were about when I started riding- In theory they should have made pedalling easier, but in practice it didn't. Nothing wrong with them so if they are in good condition- no sense in changing them.

    As to where to keep it. This is a joint venture with you and the Wife, sorry- "Partner". You will have to pay the bills and maintain it and the better looking one in the family will have to help keep it clean and hold the tools while you maintain it. Remember--Joint venture. I cannot think of a better place- providing it is large enough- Than to keep it in the kitchen. Sinks nice and handy for degreasing parts as you strip and rebuild. Fridge is handier for the refreshments required and where else can a woman be happy- other than on the back of a Tandem, than in her own kitchen?

    You have found one problem with a Tandem- They are big and heavy. If the rafters of the garage will take it- then they can be stored upside down by the wheels, but is you have surplus bikes- store them there instead and save a hernia from trying to lift it that high.

    Edit- As you may be able to tell- my wife does ride a bike but refuses to even sit on the tandem- She sees the state of me when i come back from a ride and my riding partners don't help when they tell her what speed the Tandem did- offroad and what track it was. The Tandem is banned from the house so that is why I have the Bike shed.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  18. #18
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    Back in the 1970's when I started racing I'd go out for the odd ride with my then-wife. I found it quite stressful to ride as slowly as she did, so around 1980 I bought the steel Kuwahara tandem. It had the 145mm rear spacing and the Arai drum brake, which I subsequenty removed when I cold-set the dropouts to accommodate standard 130mm wheels. We went out on a few rides, took it with us to Colorado Springs one year, flying it wasn't a problem. After we had kids, we got a trailer, and soon kiddy cranks for the kid stoker. The tandem sat around for a while, and I got it after the divorce.

    Now I ride it quite a bit. My girlfriend likes cycling, but she is by no means fast. But she loves riding the back of the tandem. I find I can go as fast as I need to train, especially up hills, and she doesn't have to strain to keep up.

    Last weekend we did a ride around Vancouver and North Vancouver. We were passed by a group of club cyclists and we followed them as the road wound around a gentle turn and then up a short hill. Two strong guys took off up the hill. I was content to follow the others, but they seemed to be going a bit slow up the hill, so I called back to the stoker for a bit of turbo. We accelerated smartly up the hill, then gained good speed on the descent. We chased the first two guys for a couple of kilometers at around 40 kmh before we caught them and sat on (I wasn't about to continue at race tempo). I was really impressed with the power coming from my usually non-competitive stoker, and I think the other riders were surprised to be passed by a tandem (crewed by slightly older riders) up a hill, even if it wasn't too steep. My current project is to do all the rides in the two books, "Bicycling the Backroads Around Northwest Washington" and "Bicycling the Backroads Around Puget Sound." We'll probably start doing Southwest Washington next, but these two books contain around 90 rides, so it may take a while.

    - L.

  19. #19
    Third World Layabout crtreedude's Avatar
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    Sounds like our story is like so many others - my wife and I have very different paces. When I am riding a lot, I love to just get up to my limit and hold it there - zipping right long. She can't even dream of keeping up. Also, because at the time she was having some knee issues - she could only ride for a short time (10 minutes) but really needed to do something.

    We rented a tandem once on a whim because I thought it might be a good way to equalize us - and it was great (not a great tandem by any stretch!) we rode for 2 hours together!

    We immediately bought a Cannondale Tandem and we love it - not much maintence - except replacing tires and chains. (I broke the chains twice before I learned to go slower)

    The do say that Tandems are a good test of your relationship. I like speed and my wife says it is a little unnerving to be behind me ripping down a hill. I try to keep it a little slower, but the tandem is very stabile, so at times it is hard for me to know how fast we are going.

    My daughter, who hikes and used to run track, got on the tandem with me as a stoker and I was the one nearly afraid on how fast we where going!

  20. #20
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    My stoker girlfriend, as I said, is not competitive, and even though she had a bad downhill crash on her single during a multi-day group ride down the Oregon coast, she loves doing fast descents on the back of the tandem.

    The fastest we've gone is 84 kmh down the north side of Bluette Pass (between Ellensburg and Leavenworth, WA). This is on the newer Bluette Pass road, which is much busier, but smoother with gentler turns than the quiet, twisty old road (which we also went over, but due to the steepness and tight turns, I had to take it easy on the descent, even stopping once to cool the rim brakes). Down the new road, from the summit you can coast for at least 15 kilometers, not even touching the brakes. You just hope like hell the front tire doesn't blow...

    - L.

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