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  1. #1
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    Best Tandem Upgrade

    My wife and I have a 2002 Burley San Marino. It has an aluminium frame and steel fork with Truvativ cranks, XT rd, 105 fd, 105 brifters, tektro v-brakes, Zak2000 rims, shimano hubs.
    Basically, I'm looking to spend some money (about $300-400) on it but would like to do so in a way that has the most benefit to the ride and performance.
    My first thought was wheels and then a carbon fork (I realize that I can't do both with my current budget). Is this the right approach, and if so what brand/model suggestions do you have? If not, what other tandem-related upgrade suggestions do you have?

  2. #2
    Cat 6 Steve Katzman's Avatar
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    It depends on your goals. Are you trying to make the bike, lighter, faster, more comfy, more attractive etc.?

    Wheels are usually a good place to start if speed is your goal. An aero rim with enough (but not too many) spokes would help. For your budget getting "boutique" type wheels is not in the cards, unless you find a good used pair. However a well built conventional build should be. It depends on what wheels you have now (not familiar with ZAK2000 rims) as to whether this would be an upgrade or not.

    Carbon forks might add a bit more comfort, remove some weight, and maybe improve handling, but new ones that are tandem-rated are again a bit over your budget. Maybe a slightly used one.

    Other comfort items may be: Stoker suspension seat post, Gel bar tape

    Utility items: Fenders, kickstand, rack(s), Arai drum brake, Trunk pack

    Appearance items: New paint job, Matching helmets, shoes, jerseys etc.

    Keep in mind that throwing money at your bike will not necessarily add to your speed or riding enjoyment. Maybe a weekend away for you and your stoker at a B&B or hotel would be a better way to part with $3-400. Or maybe attend a tandem rally. Just a suggestion. It's fun to spend other peoples money.
    There are 10 kinds of people ... those that understand binary and those that don't.

  3. #3
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Improvements to the motors usually seem to yield the best results over the long haul....

    But for "bling" factor and with your budget, a carbon fork is easily in the realm of possibilities. It will shave weight, improve handling (so long as you go with something that has less than the stock rake), and if you opt for non-canti model can improve your front braking when mated with a nice DuraAce dual pivot or Campy Chorus/Record differential caliper brake.

  4. #4
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    C/f fork for pilot or suspension seatpost for stoker?
    Or sneak away for a weekend ride and some pampering for Mother's Day?
    Some nice matching tandem jerseys/shorts?

    Doing it TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/Zonatandem

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    K&M
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    I'd go for the carbon fork. I can't think of anything else you could do with that budget that would do so much to reduce weight and increase comfort (not to mention improving handling on rough pavement).

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    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Help us out a bit more, and tell us what you don't like about your tandem, or think needs some improving. I got my wife a suspension post, new seat, HRM, and a little pink kitty sticker for her bars, and that's all it took to keep her happy. Leaves plenty left over for quite a few nice bottles of wine/picnics at the beach.

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    Thank you for the advice. To answer Expatriate's question - there really isn't anything I don't like about the bike - I just want to like it more. This is my first tandem, so can only compare to my road bikes in terms of potential upgrades.
    To answer Steve's question - I want it to be faster, just as comfortable and possibly more attractive.
    The wheels feel heavy (and definitely don't have that "bling factor") but I'm not sure that I need to spend ~$700 on the Bontrager wheels I am seeing on eBay. So am curious to see if anyone has any other suggestions.
    We are a light team - about 290 lbs - what spoke count/tire width could we get away with?
    Suspension seat post is an idea - however, the wife didn't like the one she tried and isn't complaining (too much) with a standard post.
    How about new tires - I have 700x28 Conti 2000 on the front and a MetroCity something on the back.
    Finally what c/f fork is in my price range? Most of the replies said that I could get one within my budget.
    Again, thanks for all the advice.

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    Your wife did not like the suspension seat post, huh? You must have excellent eye sight and you must allways call: BUMP! when needed. Find a bumpy loop and have her do it with the standard post once and with the suspension post once. I think that she will change her mind.

  9. #9
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    We are a team about 20 lbs lighter. On our Co-Mo tandem we have Mavic rims, Phil hubs and 36 spokes front and rear.
    On our ariZona c/f tandem we have Velocity rims, Chris King hubs and DT Revolution spokes. 32H front, 36H rear.
    We like running the Maxxis Detonator tires, 700 x 25, front and rear.
    Also have had luck with some Michelins, Contis, Performance GT (cheap tire, rolls nice and lasts long). Have run as narrow as 23c tires front and rear in the past.
    Last 'problem' tires we had were the Kenda Koncept; lasted about 800 miles. Both tires developed waves; looked like casing just deteriorated.
    Hope this helps.

    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  10. #10
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MootsRoadie
    We are a light team - about 290 lbs - what spoke count/tire width could we get away with?
    36h front & rear or 32h front & 36h rear would be more than adequate if properly built. For added stiffness, a little aero, and some bling go with deep section Velocity or Mavic rims. To keep cost & weight down, consider looking for a deal on some White Ind. Racer-X hubs; very light and reasonably priced. We've been running a set of Racer-X/Velocity Deep-V's for two seasons on one of our road tandems and they have proven to be a very nice wheelset. Not super-light, but lighter than the low spoke count, paired spoke tandem wheelsets from Shimano, Bontrager & Rolf and certainly more user-friendly in the event the need to be repaired.


    Quote Originally Posted by MootsRoadie
    How about new tires - I have 700x28 Conti 2000 on the front and a MetroCity something on the back.
    At 290lbs, if you have smooth roads a lightweight 25mm racing tire would do just fine and would certainly be your lowest cost upgrade at $60 - $80 for a pair of Vredestein Fortezzas, Michelin Axial Pros, Conti 3000s, or similar offerings from Vittoria, Ritchey, etc... The higher psi + lower weight would most certainly improve the bike's acceleration but you'll pay for that improved performance in less tread wear life. Frankly, I don't mind the 1,500 mile installment plan that we've been on with our 23mm & 25mm Vredestein Fortezzas since '98. Great performance and handling.


    Quote Originally Posted by MootsRoadie
    Finally what c/f fork is in my price range? Most of the replies said that I could get one within my budget.
    Well, within your budget assuming that you used the standard 25% - 50% tandem fudge factor, e.g., when shopping for a $2k tandem expect to spend $2,500 - $3,000, etc... There are some low-cost, off/house brand-name carbon fork options out there that others may suggest which may be more than adequate, but if you check out some of the tandem speciality dealers (www.precisiontandems.com, tandemseast.com, gtgtandems.com, etc..) you'll find True Temper Alpha Q X2s starting at $450 (very light but some qwerks to deal with & you'll need to get a caliper brake for it -- no bosses) and other carbon forks from Reynolds & Wound-Up, in the $480, $495, $525 range, and Burley's own custom-spec Alpha Q CX with canit brake bosses for $585 (I think).

  11. #11
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    I'd take the wheels over a new fork. Hang around this forum long enough, and someone will point you in the direction of a sweet deal.

  12. #12
    Cat 6 Steve Katzman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MootsRoadie
    ...The wheels feel heavy (and definitely don't have that "bling factor") but I'm not sure that I need to spend ~$700 on the Bontrager wheels I am seeing on eBay. So am curious to see if anyone has any other suggestions.
    We are a light team - about 290 lbs - what spoke count/tire width could we get away with?...
    I agree with TandemGeek and personally endorse his suggestions for a conventionally built wheel with 32 spoke front and 36 spoke rear, using Velocity Deep V or Velocity Fusion rims with a White Ind. hub set using double butted spokes. If you can get a deal on Phil Wood or Chris King hubs, so much the better.

    I also agree with the Vredstein Fortezza 25mm tires. I went from 28mm Conti Gatorskins to 25mm Fortezzas and I definitely noticed a nice improvement in quickness.

    Like I said above, I don't think you can get a Tandem approved carbon fork within your budget unless you can get one used or a super deal. However I think you can get more bang (not bling) for your buck with a new lighter weight aero wheelset than a carbon fork anyway.
    There are 10 kinds of people ... those that understand binary and those that don't.

  13. #13
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    Thank you again for the prompt and detailed responses. I'll have to see if I can pull some new wheels together by the first weekend in June for our first tandem rally - the Prairie State in Decatur, IL.
    My wife (and stoker)'s birthday is coming up - I'm sure that she would really appreciate and new set of wheels - and maybe I'll take Cornucopia's advice and throw in a suspension seat post for good measure. Although if any of you have ever ventured up Sheridan Road in the Northern suburbs of Chicago, you'll know we don't have the smoothest of roads here in the midwest.

    Oh by the way, for her, matching jersey's are a BIG no-no.

  14. #14
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MootsRoadie
    I'll have to see if I can pull some new wheels together by the first weekend in June for our first tandem rally
    You might want to drop a note to Alex@MTBTandems.com to see what kind of a deal he could cut you on a set of White Ind hubs w/Velocity Deep-V or Aerohead rims... Even though he's primarily an off-road tandem specialty dealer, he uses White Ind. & Velocity as suppliers. Moreover, Alex uses the services of John Kovachi for wheel building. As already mentioned, we're running around on a set of White Ind / Velocity Deep-V's that Alex / John built for our road tandem and the build was excellent.

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