I don’t want to tread-jack this, so here is my initial review of the Landshark carbon tandem. So this is probably going to come off as a bit of a fanboy/fangirl post - sorry in advance. Please keep in mind that prior to the Landshark, the tandem we have the most experience with is a 2002(ish) Burley Duet with a stoker softride beam. The Burley purchase (less than $1000) was designed mostly as a starter: a cheap way to see if we wanted stick with tandems and buy something nicer. Thus far we have about 500 miles on the new bike. We are a 300 pound team.
The frame: It is very nice. As one would expect out of higher end carbon, it is both stiff and comfortable. I would say that it handles very much like a nice single road race bike. Yes, that means that it is quite twitchy compared to a Santana (to pick a not-quite-random example), but it a feeling that I am fond of. It is longer and bigger, but it is as close to a racing single as I imagine is possible. The frame is custom geometry to fit our measurements and I feel that this shows in the handling and overall feeling of the bike. The frame is quite stiff, so much so that my stoker said she could feel my movements on the bike much more than on the Burley. This took some getting used to for both of us as the Burley just kind of flexed without providing the immediate feedback. The frame is very light, competitive with or lighter than the Calfee Dragonfly or Co-Motion Macchiato. The total bike weight is 25.35 pounds with Ultegra Di2, 1600 gram +/- wheels, Lightning cranks, and R785 disc brakes, including pedals and computers.
A couple drawbacks: The frame 135 mm rear hub spacing and the 142 thru-axle is not an option with Landshark. This would have been a nice addition, but it I haven’t had any problems with the rear wheel yet. The combination of the eccentric, which is BSA, and the PF30 means that the captain’s spider is slightly inboard of the stoker left spider, requiring chainring spacers for the captain’s chainring. It’s not really a big deal, but a minor annoyance when trying to get the belt precisely lined up. Digital calipers are a big help when doing this.
We test road several tandems before going with the Landshark in order of preference: Calfee Tetra, closely followed by Co-motion Carrera and further by a Robusta and a Santana (a Sovereign I think, though I don’t remember for sure). It was kind of leap of faith to buy a bike this expensive without getting a test ride. I expected it to be most like the Calfee of the bikes that we tested. I think that that is right. While it was a while ago and we have comparatively little experience with the Calfee, I would say that the Landshark handles better. However, that feeling can probably attributed to two things: better fit (the Calfee we rode was a bit on the big side) and the fact I really want to like it because we did just spend a whole bunch of money on it.
The final decision to go with Landshark came down to liking John Slawta’s work. It was also nice that it comes with things (custom geometry, paint, tubing and ‘cable’ routing) that are optional extras with most brands. The bike in the pictures is mostly stock, with the two upgrades being the wheels and the R785 brakes (stock build was HED Ardennes wheels and TRP Hy-Rd brakes).
Di2 and Discs (sounds like recent thread): Di2 the best shifting there is. I highly recommend it, though it does take some getting used to. The front and rear derailleur move at different rates, since the front has farther to move. Executing a smooth double shift takes a bit of practice, but no more than a standard mechanical setup. The 11 speed systems allow for press and hold feature that will go through as many gears as you like, which is very convenient.
The Shimano R785 hydraulics discs (180 mm rotors) provide good power and modulation. Really the best thing about this that I can say is that they are similar - modulation, power, lever feel, etc - to the XT mountain bike disc brake (this is not a coincidence as they share a caliper), which I think are fantastic. The levers are bigger than standard shimano STI levers, so they might be somewhat uncomfortable for someone with small hands.
A couple weeks ago we went down a 4 mile decent that averages 9%, with pitches at 18-20%, and several hairpin turns that have an advisory of 10 or 15 mph without any brake fade or other adverse effects. Granted, we descend fairly aggressively and only brake into corners to the extent necessary. I really like that the brake is isolated from the rim, especially since I have personally witnessed a carbon clincher explode (not mine, a guy two bikes in front of me) from braking heat build up and that is not something I have any interest in risking on a tandem. The discs give me less pause about using carbon rims in the hills.
That is quite a lot of words, looking back on it. There you go, I will post additional updates as we have more time on the bike.