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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 05-20-15, 09:51 AM   #1
corrado33
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Seeing lots of old tandems for ~$150, isn't that really cheap?

I live in the middle of nowhere. I've noticed quite a few tandems in towns around me that are priced at ~$150-$200. That seems really cheap for tandems, even for old style cruiser tandems. Am I right, or is this just how much these old tandems go for?

For example, this bike...



is listed for $115... Seems too cheap...
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Old 05-20-15, 11:42 AM   #2
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These things are $300-400 new from Amazon, Wayfair, Walmart etc.
I think there's a review of them on this forum somewhere. I recall it's about what you'd expect for that price range. It's not a great bike but it's an economical cruiser, especially if you're comfortable doing basic stuff like gear+brake adjustments, maybe a little wheel truing or repacking bearings.

The price is gonna be a result of supply + demand and I suspect people think it'd be fun + buy one + then get bored, move to a smaller place, want the space in the garage or whatever, and the used market in tandems is probably real thin so they sell low, especially if the seller is on a fixed time schedule. If you're interested I'd suggest you go see + ride a couple of them. If they're meeting your needs + you're comfortable with what you're seeing + getting, I don't think you'll go wrong to buy one + have some fun. You'd get some money back when selling it if you don't like it or want to upgrade later, and at $100-150 the risk is pretty low.
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Old 05-20-15, 01:23 PM   #3
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I looked at the reviews of the current incarnation of this bike on Amazon (where it's $352). It's funny that the content of both the positive and negative reviews is about the same, it's only the attitude of the authors that makes the qualitative difference in ratings. Either way, they often have to true the rear wheel out of the box and replace it soon after, the bearings need service before it can be used, pedals are missing, fenders are missing, the freewheel has chipped teeth out of the box or very soon after, the paint is chipped or the RD is bent from shipping, tires blew off at first inflation - all the usual Walmart BSO problems.

I think for $150 you should save your money, and for $350 new you should save up yet another $150 and find a 20yo Trek or KHS or Burley, of which there seem to be plenty.
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Old 05-20-15, 03:31 PM   #4
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. . . and quite a few have NO grease at all on the bearings even brand new . . .
Buyer beware!
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Old 05-20-15, 04:01 PM   #5
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Boat anchor!
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Old 05-20-15, 05:04 PM   #6
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I actually bought one of those off Ebay when we first started tandeming.
That year my wife was thinking about backing out of our annual Houston-Austin MS150.
She only agreed to go when I brought up the idea of a tandem bike.

On the very first ride after getting it home, the stoker pedal fell off. On the second, the timing chain broke.
I knew just enough about bikes to tune it up for the 180 miles the following weekend.
The chain fell off a couple of more times along the way, but we managed to make it to Austin without sagging.
After about six months I ended up throwing the thing away. I didn't want anyone to deal with the hassle of maintaining it and none of the parts were worth salvaging.

Looking back I don't regret buying it at all. We did have a lot of fun when we had it. We were hooked on tandeming and have since moved on to better bikes. It also taught me a lot about tandem bike mechanics.

So, for the price of a good diner and a bottle of wine or a ski lift ticket, it is not a bad deal for those wanting to try tandeming and have no access to a rental or borrowed bike. Those with previous experience may want to pass.

CJ
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Old 05-20-15, 05:08 PM   #7
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I've got a Pacific Duallie that is similar brand with similar reviews. I also have a Da Vinci Joint Venture. No question that the da Vinci is a much better bike and worth the money. The Pacific is still a very rideable bike, though a little heavy on the hills. We use it for rides up to 25 miles and is comfortable and handles well. When I got it I checked all the bearings and trued the wheels. I also changed the tires because I don't like knobbies. I had to spend some extra time getting the screws to stay tight for the bottom bracket adjustment. For the price, it is a bargain if you can and will check it out and do the maintenance. If I had one more grandchild, I would certainly look at one of these for $150. I would check it out carefully.
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Old 05-20-15, 11:41 PM   #8
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OP: Fact is that the quality of tandems at all the price points has increased dramatically and consistently over the last 30-40 years. This has resulted in the lower end bikes being ones that are actually reasonably decent bikes and those at the higher end being simply incredible / unbelievable. Many bargains are also to be had in the used tandem market...check out some of the Burley and Santana tandems selling barely used on eBay for sub $1,000.
And I haven't met a used bike yet that could not be dramatically improved by a visit to a good wheel person for a professional true and tension, so save about $75 back to handle that and a bit more to have a full regrease and adjustment.

So read a lot to get smart enough to shop well, put on your helmets, and enjoy the spoils.

/K
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Old 05-21-15, 01:29 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
I live in the middle of nowhere. I've noticed quite a few tandems in towns around me that are priced at ~$150-$200. That seems really cheap for tandems, even for old style cruiser tandems. Am I right, or is this just how much these old tandems go for?

For example, this bike...



is listed for $115... Seems too cheap...
that bike sold for 199 when new
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Old 05-22-15, 09:31 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
I think for $150 you should save your money, and for $350 new you should save up yet another $150 and find a 20yo Trek or KHS or Burley, of which there seem to be plenty.
I disagree, and I picked your post to quote primarily because I know that you are shopping, and if this is your mindset I maybe can save you some pain. A lot of the "Walmart BSO" headaches can be eliminated by getting the bike shipped unassembled from the Walmart warehouse, to your house. If you don't have the chops to assemble it you also don't have the chops to care for 20 y.o. Trek's or Burley's. Not saying you don't, just saying. Whatever else their faults might be, what the Kents, Merkins or Pacific Bikes have over the Trek's or Burley's or KHS's that you mentioned by name, is that they are current. They will have seven (eight?) speed freewheels, index shifting, triple cranks, V-brakes, aluminum wheels... ... these things are not guaranteed on a 20 year old bike, nor will wrenching on them be much fun because some of the adjustments that you now make with 5, 6, or 7mm Allen wrenches will have to be done with box or crescent wrenches and phillips head screwdrivers. I just can't recommend it.

Then there is this: for 99% of the tandem riding community the bike is a fun and unique way to do the recreational biking thing. How many tandems get used more than 10x in a given season? How many get used beyond the first season? For a first tandem purchase you should get the cheapest bike you can find. That would be a used BSO. Next step up from that is a NEW BSO. That's the route we went because our situation is unique. We are a car free couple and my stoker is blind. She isn't going to decide the tandem thing isn't for her anymore. It was actually her idea. We ride our tandem every single day, for commuting, shopping, errands... everywhere normal people use a car.

We have long since added a much nicer tandem to the stable which gets the 10x/yr treatment. In fact it didn't get ridden at all last year. But we were out on a tandem just about every day last year. Our BSO is 6 years old and going strong. Of course it has been heavily modified in that time. Because I can. I wouldn't pay to re-pack bearings (or replace them with cartridge bearings) nor would I recommend anyone else do so for a BSO, but if you can do your own work, a BSO represents very good value. FWIW.

H
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Old 05-22-15, 01:09 PM   #11
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Mid-late 90s name brand tandems are probably the sweet spot for used starter tandems. They already have modern features like 7-8 speed cassettes, index shifting and V-brakes, while retaining nice older features like auxiliary rear drum brakes and eccentric bottom brackets for timing chain adjustment instead of idler wheels. Our starter tandem was 1999 KHS for $400 which included good saddles, clipless pedals and Bontrager Hardcase tires, all items lacking on a $400 Amazon special. Our upgrade tandem is a mid 90s Santana which also has an 8 speed cassette and indexed shifting and is way more tandem than we could buy new or even 5 years old. A good KHS, Cannondale, Nashbar, Burley or Miyata from the turn of the century is a better bet than a BSO no matter how much you tinker.
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Old 05-22-15, 09:23 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
I disagree, and I picked your post to quote primarily because I know that you are shopping, and if this is your mindset I maybe can save you some pain. A lot of the "Walmart BSO" headaches can be eliminated by getting the bike shipped unassembled from the Walmart warehouse, to your house. If you don't have the chops to assemble it you also don't have the chops to care for 20 y.o. Trek's or Burley's. Not saying you don't, just saying. Whatever else their faults might be, what the Kents, Merkins or Pacific Bikes have over the Trek's or Burley's or KHS's that you mentioned by name, is that they are current. They will have seven (eight?) speed freewheels, index shifting, triple cranks, V-brakes, aluminum wheels... ... these things are not guaranteed on a 20 year old bike, nor will wrenching on them be much fun because some of the adjustments that you now make with 5, 6, or 7mm Allen wrenches will have to be done with box or crescent wrenches and phillips head screwdrivers. I just can't recommend it.
Thank you for thinking of me, I do appreciate it. I have reasons beyond simple prejudice to want a higher quality bike. First and foremost is that my wife and I would make a heavy team and would be towing the baby trailer with us from the very start. I want a very solid MTB frame and a drum brake and a true tandem-rated rear wheel with a freehub. Such a bike is almost certainly going to be from the mid-90's and have 8-speed or higher indexing, and likely would have a very easy conversion to V brakes, if it doesn't already have them. Such a Burley popped in the Reno area this week for $350 to make me regret I'm not buying yet. The second major reason I want a bike with better features is that, even if it doesn't work with my wife, I can save it a year or two and put a kidback on it, and it looks like that will be easier with a better bike.

(...Merkins?)
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Old 05-22-15, 10:59 PM   #13
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You can buy cheap tools at the Dollar store or you can buy more expensive tools at Sears.
Yup, they generally look the same, but quality lasts!
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Old 05-24-15, 11:45 AM   #14
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Cheap is why Asia has so much stuff made there . and less is made in the West. Profits..
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Old 05-24-15, 12:23 PM   #15
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I do not think that I would want to put the life of my wife/significant other/child on the back of a bicycle that was built and assembled using the "cheapest parts" available in the market place. I am confident that the person/people buying the parts for these cheap bikes scour the world in order to get the cheapest price on every part that goes into these $350 tandems. Our seat posts and stems cost that much or more. If all you are going to do is putter around the neighborhood at 5-10 mph they might be OK but if you take one out on the road and ride it hard you could potentially have issues.

Buying a used USA designed and built tandem, designed and built by people who actually ride them makes more sense to me. Our first entrance back into tandem riding was a 20 year old Santana that we bought for $600 and then spent another $600 on updates. It was reliable, safe and solid. We have since upgraded to a Calfee after proving that we did want to ride tandem. The bike is now 4 years old and we have ridden it over 20,000 smiles.
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