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  1. #1
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    Looking for advice on entry level tandem

    A little history:

    I'm a triathlete and my wife is a beach cruiser. We both like biking but had a really hard time going for rides together on separate bikes. We rented tandems a couple times on vacation and REALLY liked it. So much so that we bought a used Raleigh SC AL Tandem last summer. We rode it about 10 times and really enjoyed it until we found out the frame has a crack all the way through the bottom of the front BB. The original owner doesn't have the receipt anymore so there's no warranty. We're not sure if we bought it cracked or if we broke it from a fall. Either way, it's not safe to ride anymore so we're looking for a new tandem.

    We're a little weary of buying used after the last experience but I've had good luck with used bikes in the past and I know enough bike maintenance to do a basic tune up. We don't have much money to spend on a tandem so our budget is around $500-$800. I'm 5'10" and my wife is 5'7". I'm more interested in 700c road frames so we can cover more ground with the same effort but it still needs to be comfortable for my wife and she prefers to sit more upright so at the very least I'll need to put on a raised handlebar so she can sit comfortably.

    I've been tempted to get a Giordano Viaggio on Amazon with the knowledge that I'd have to do some immediate upgrades before we ride and then make additional upgrades over the years until it's a little more respectable.

    I've also been keeping my eye on craig's list and a 1997 Cannondale RT2000 just popped up for $750, which seems like a good deal. It was definitely a better bike than the Viaggio when it was new but it's nearly 20 years old so it may need upgrades of its own.

    So I'm looking for advice... should I start with the Viaggio, pick up the RT2000, or hold off for a better CL deal that's also less than $800?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Where do you live? I was speaking with some people in SoCal who had some 10 year old Santanas for around the $900 mark. I did also spend quite a bit of time looking for tandems in that price point and it was kind of tough. We wound up spending $975 on a 2005-ish Santana that was in great condition. The same guy also had some other tandems for sale but they were a bit pricier.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by tegnamo View Post
    Where do you live? I was speaking with some people in SoCal who had some 10 year old Santanas for around the $900 mark. I did also spend quite a bit of time looking for tandems in that price point and it was kind of tough. We wound up spending $975 on a 2005-ish Santana that was in great condition. The same guy also had some other tandems for sale but they were a bit pricier.
    Minneapolis, the SoCal of MN

  4. #4
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    I'd be taking a very close look at this one:
    Tandem Bicycle

    Others worth checking out:
    Burley Tandem 22" front 19.5" rear
    Univega Tandem Bike - 24 speed - maybe
    Tandem Cannondale r2000
    Burley Samba Tandem Bike
    Nigel
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Team Fab's Avatar
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    Also look at Trek T1000's.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by nfmisso View Post
    I'd be taking a very close look at this one:
    Tandem Bicycle

    Others worth checking out:
    Burley Tandem 22" front 19.5" rear
    Univega Tandem Bike - 24 speed - maybe
    Tandem Cannondale r2000
    Burley Samba Tandem Bike
    Thanks! The one I was looking at is the "Tandem Cannondale r2000" - he means RT2000. I just saw bigger pictures and the right chain stay has a large dent in it... unless that's somehow the design of the frame.

    For that first one you suggested, are Roland tandems any good?

  7. #7
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    Actually, I think cannondale tandems might all have that dent in the chain stay to make room for the pedal. I'm seeing it on other bikes on google images. It's kind of bizarre.

  8. #8
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darth_mallen View Post
    .......

    For that first one you suggested, are Roland tandems any good?
    If it fits you and your riding partner, and you like the way it rides, and everything is serviceable (check thoroughly), then it is good. If it doesn't, then it is not. The picture shows a flat rear tire, so more opportunity to negotiate.

    They are considered to be about the same as Nashbar's cro-mo tandem of similar vintage (might even be the same factory in Taiwan...).

    We like our Trek T50, and have spent far more on upgrades than we spent originally on the bike a couple of years ago. The Trek T50, T100 and T200 share the same frame, which has a large oval boom tube, one of the keys to it stiffness.
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  9. #9
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    KHS makes a good cheap tandem, although most of theirs are flat bar hybrids.

  10. #10
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Roland is basically a cheaper Taiwan copy of a Burley.
    Your best deals (if they fit) would be C'dale or the Burleys.
    Good luck!

  11. #11
    Senior Member MNBikeCommuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darth_mallen View Post
    Actually, I think cannondale tandems might all have that dent in the chain stay to make room for the pedal. I'm seeing it on other bikes on google images. It's kind of bizarre.
    Yes, you figured it out correctly. :-) I was trying to track down the RT2000 in bikepedia without success, curious about the components. This one has a quill stem but the specs I was seeing was saying 1 1/8" threadless. My guess is that this one is an 8-spd, which would be very usable. I'd also guess that the bike hasn't been used all that much with respect to component life, so there'd be little chance of needing any immediate upgrades. The frame quality makes the bike very upgradeable for future desires. I've got an '01 RT1000 with 18k miles on it and original components, so I'm a little biased toward the Cannondale. I'd say go check it out. If you don't have a bell, that'd be the first accessory I'd add. It makes riding the Greenway and Cedar and Kenilworth and other trails a little easier. :-) (Most of my daughter's and my riding are on the road, but every once in a while we join the "lessers" out on the trail until we get our fill of erratic traffic. :-)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNBikeCommuter View Post
    Yes, you figured it out correctly. :-) I was trying to track down the RT2000 in bikepedia without success, curious about the components. This one has a quill stem but the specs I was seeing was saying 1 1/8" threadless. My guess is that this one is an 8-spd, which would be very usable. I'd also guess that the bike hasn't been used all that much with respect to component life, so there'd be little chance of needing any immediate upgrades. The frame quality makes the bike very upgradeable for future desires. I've got an '01 RT1000 with 18k miles on it and original components, so I'm a little biased toward the Cannondale. I'd say go check it out. If you don't have a bell, that'd be the first accessory I'd add. It makes riding the Greenway and Cedar and Kenilworth and other trails a little easier. :-) (Most of my daughter's and my riding are on the road, but every once in a while we join the "lessers" out on the trail until we get our fill of erratic traffic. :-)
    Thanks for the info! I'm most excited about the RT2000, we're going to test ride it this weekend to see how it feels. The owner said it has "XTR shifters, shimano cranks, Suntiur dérailleur, built by Terry Osell" which makes me think it may be a custom build on the Cannondale frame.

    Very true on the bell! Other bikers have been very gracious to give us room for wide tandem turns in the past. We mostly stick to the trails (so many!). If we start touring I think we'd stick to some of the trail-to-trail systems. We're pros at straight and flat, haha.

  13. #13
    Senior Member MNBikeCommuter's Avatar
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    If Terry built it, I'd just write out a check and enjoy it. :-) He had a bike shop in St. Anthony (if I'm remembering my 'burb boundaries) until he retired shortly after we got our '01 RT1000 from him. If I remember the story correctly, he was the only dealer Cannondale would ship bare frames to for painting. He made and sold recumbents too. If "built by Terry Osell," I'm guessing he also spec'd the components for it rather than going with Cannondale's offerings for the year.

  14. #14
    mje
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    Quote Originally Posted by darth_mallen View Post
    Actually, I think cannondale tandems might all have that dent in the chain stay to make room for the pedal. I'm seeing it on other bikes on google images. It's kind of bizarre.
    FWIW, I have a 2000 RT3000 that has no dent in the chain stay.

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    I would look for a used Santana or CoMotion. Maybe consider upping your price point if possible, you won't regret it.
    I had a Santana that I bought new $5000 and sold it for $2000, it was in great shape with some upgrades.
    Probably could have got $2500 if I held out longer.
    Cannondale's aren't bad tandems but can have a harsher ride due the large aluminum tubes, some people like that they are super stiff.
    We rented one on vacation several times and compared to our Santana which was also aluminum was noticeably a rougher ride.
    Here are few, not sure if they are your size:

    http://eauclaire.craigslist.org/bik/4972152979.html

    http://northernwi.craigslist.org/bik/4976662432.html

    http://waterloo.craigslist.org/bik/4974380441.html
    Last edited by jnbrown; 04-24-15 at 12:30 PM.

  16. #16
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    Thanks jnbrown! We have a test ride set up for today on the Cannondale and we'll definitely keep the stiffness in mind try to "feel out" whether it will be too harsh. I'll check out the Santana's if this one doesn't work out.

  17. #17
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    cannondale tandem.jpg

    Update - we went with the Cannondale! It fit us great and the ride didn't feel too rough - I asked my wife to really check for that especially. We took it out for a ride and dang it's fast compared to our previous 2002 Raleigh SC AL Tandem (mt. bike style). I need to put a new battery in the computer so I can see the speed, but it felt like at least 5 mph faster at the same effort as the previous bike.

    The seller was a nice guy too. He and his wife got a tandem divorce a few years ago and haven't ridden it since. The bike really was built by Terry Osell from the frame up. Terry is a local guy who used to be a frame builder and put together a lot of tandems years ago. Now he works for Head. It rides and shifts great. The only maintenance I need to do is tighten the brake cables and front derailleur a tiny bit.

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    Congrats on the new tandem. if your wife eventually finds the ride is too rough there are many good shock absorber seat posts.
    Some of them are new and I don't know much about them, I saw somebody posted a positive review on the body float post.
    The saddle can make a difference too. Recently changed my wife's saddle from a Terry Butterfly to a Selle Italia Diva and she likes it better.
    If it rides fine as is then no need to invest money in those things.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnbrown View Post
    Congrats on the new tandem. if your wife eventually finds the ride is too rough there are many good shock absorber seat posts.
    Some of them are new and I don't know much about them, I saw somebody posted a positive review on the body float post.
    The saddle can make a difference too. Recently changed my wife's saddle from a Terry Butterfly to a Selle Italia Diva and she likes it better.
    If it rides fine as is then no need to invest money in those things.
    She already has a comfy seat and seat post shock, maybe that's why it doesn't feel rough

  20. #20
    Senior Member MNBikeCommuter's Avatar
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    Hey, congrats, and glad it worked out! It should be a good bike for you, and maybe it'll be the catalyst for your wife to upgrade her beach cruiser mentality. :-)

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNBikeCommuter View Post
    Hey, congrats, and glad it worked out! It should be a good bike for you, and maybe it'll be the catalyst for your wife to upgrade her beach cruiser mentality. :-)
    Equally important is for the OP to "downgrade" his triathlete mentality. In my experience, quite often the issues with new-to-tandem couples spring from unrealistic expectations from the more experienced partner, not the less experienced one -- although it's often painted that way ("she didn't like it"). Don't think you will go out and do long rides right away. Start small, with local rail-trails or less traveled roads. Ride to a nice lunch at a restaurant or some other interesting destination. You need to "sell" the entire experience, not just the new ability to go out and ride farther and faster.

  22. #22
    Senior Member kingston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by briwasson View Post
    Equally important is for the OP to "downgrade" his triathlete mentality. In my experience, quite often the issues with new-to-tandem couples spring from unrealistic expectations from the more experienced partner, not the less experienced one -- although it's often painted that way ("she didn't like it"). Don't think you will go out and do long rides right away. Start small, with local rail-trails or less traveled roads. Ride to a nice lunch at a restaurant or some other interesting destination. You need to "sell" the entire experience, not just the new ability to go out and ride farther and faster.
    This sounds like great advice. I picked up this 20 year old santana fusion today (was $1000 a fair price?) and rode with my wife 8 miles to Jimmy John's for lunch and 8 miles back. I ride 3-4 times a week, but today was her first time on a bike in recent memory. She didn't hate it but wants me to replace the drop bars with bosco bars so she can sit up straight.

    Last edited by kingston; 06-21-15 at 04:25 PM. Reason: correct typo

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