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  1. #1
    half man - half sheep Doggus's Avatar
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    The wife and I are thinking about getting a tandem (again). We almost got one 2 1/2 years ago but I balked, didn't think my wife would be totally committed to riding it OFTEN. This time I think it's a done deal, she wants it worse than I do . She loves to travel around the country...she really loves the idea of taking off for tandem rallies.

    So I'm acutely aware of the fact that there are complaints about people joining the board and asking for opinions and then vaporizing. I'll try not to do that. Been lurking for several months...joined a few weeks ago. I think this is the same site I used to research last time I was in the hunt for bike. Of course, no bike - no reason to hang around and bore everyone. Hopefully we bite this time.

    The business - we have around $2000 - $2500 budgeted for the bike. What should we test ride? The bike shop has told us we are an XL - L. We're not real sure if we want a road tandem or mountain tandem. We don't plan any offroad type stuff but there are rough'er' trails around here that would be fun. I was thinking a stockier tandem like the cannondales would be good to put slicks on for the road and then switch to mountain bike type tires for the more gravely trails we have here.

    We have a 15 mile loop to test the bikes on so we can eliminate a lot of the variables and concentrate on which bike feels best to us, we just need some recommendations in the price range.

    Thanks!
    Doggus


    --- edit ---
    I'm 6'2", wife 5'11".
    Last edited by Doggus; 04-30-05 at 01:34 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Doggus:
    Besides the C'dale, take a look at what Burley offers.
    Road tandems in your $$ range: Aluminum framed, Tamburello @ about $1800; Tosa @ $2000. Cro-Moly: Duet and Rumba (same price range).
    If you want on-off road capability, the 26" wheeled Samba is a great value @ $1500 or the Rock 'n Roll @ $2,000.
    Another thing to consider, if you will not be doing any single-track stuff, is a road tandem with heftier tires for an occasional dirt road riding.
    As you suggested a 26" wheeled tandem would work by switching out tires for on- or off-roading.

    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  3. #3
    half man - half sheep Doggus's Avatar
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    Zonatandem - Do most 'casual' riders stay away from the aluminum frames because of the stiffness of aluminum? I'm thinking those type of bikes would be better for racing etc.. not for the long haul rides. Aluminum is lighter and seems to be cheaper but I've read on this forum about buying aluminum framed bikes - get a chiropractor. Right???

  4. #4
    SDS
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    Feel free to vaporize. Advice 'round hereabouts is free and does not imply any kind of long-term relationship.....we do like to know how things work out though. We'd rather you stayed.

    My advice in two lines is:

    1) Go test-ride some Cannondales and Treks while not thinking about the price, and

    2) Call up Dennis Bushnell. You need a custom frameset.

    You describe your wife as "L". Production tandem framesets top out at no larger than a stoker height of 5'4", for a long-term relationship.

    Here's why:

    Tandem fit consists of the stoker fit, and the captain fit, and the space in between. Given that you can get the proper relationship between the bars, saddles and crank spindles, you have the correct fit on both ends, but you still need the space in between, most rigorously defined as center-to-center horizontal bottom bracket spacing less the stoker single bike horizontal fit, but given that the seat tubes are parallel, horizontal rear top tube spacing should be the same as bottom bracket spacing.

    So you start with the stoker's single bike horizontal fit, defined as the horizontal distance between the center of the seatpost and the center of the handlebars, and subtract that from the bottom bracket spacing, and what remains will be the horizontal stoker stem length. I think the bare, bare minimum is six inches. Some stokers will know that is not enough (more of them should...). Eight inches is a lot better, and it just gets better from there. Until you have room for aerobars set for the most frequent stoker, you have not reached the point of diminishing returns.

    So for a 5'2" stoker with a 22" horizontal single bike fit, the absolute and rather unsatisfactory minimum is a horizontal top tube of 28".

    If, however, you think that any position that your stoker might adopt on a single bike should be possible on the back of a tandem, you will need more space.

    These issues are covered well in other threads. Searching on "Bushnell" in the Tandem Forum turned up two pages of threads. A good place to start might be "5'10" Stoker With Long Arms and Burley Tandems."

    The purpose of test-riding the production tandems will be to convince yourselves that a custom will be the way to go. You will have to ask yourselves if the stoker should be able to stand up with complete freedom to move forward naturally while doing so, whether the stoker should be able to go completely prone while on the drops, without interference from your bottom or fear of getting "butted", and whether the stoker should be able to see more than the fine detail of the fabric in the center of the back of your jersey. I suggest you try sitting on the back with some big guy on the front, and see how little space you have. Even if you were only as tall as your wife, you have very little space in which to move and modify your fit, a condition you would never accept on your single.

    Mark Livingood and I have both been around the block a few times on this subject, with considerable personal experience. We both have custom tandems, built to conform to different ideas of how stokers should use the back of the bike, both longer than production tandems. We will have to wait for his opinion, and certainly it would be useful to know your wife's height.

    Dennis Bushnell builds everything from scratch, so his custom premium is relatively small. I have no knowledge of his current pricing, but I have seen a few of his bikes, and I would be willing to purchase from him.

    Given your size, I would prefer a custom aluminum frameset. It will likely be cheaper to buy a whole bike, than to purchase a frameset and then build it up.

    If I get time, I will try to come back and add pictures.

  5. #5
    half man - half sheep Doggus's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies. I'll have to read them 4-5 times to let them soak in good and make sure I understand.

    FYI, I am 6'2" and my wife is 5'11" soaking wet.


    oh...and BTW SDS I live in Allen. Not too far away.
    Last edited by Doggus; 04-30-05 at 01:01 PM.

  6. #6
    SDS
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    Yeah, I just noticed that. I'm an idjit....We have to get together so you can do a test ride. I am not very computer literate today, so it seems I will not be posting pictures. Try going to "The Tandem Link" (Mark's website) and looking in the archives at the entry for September 9, 2002 (not sure). Dee Ann is 5'11", but note that the stoker saddle is crammed all the way back.

    RBM is the best place to shop for tandems, but you might want to try a C'dale dealer too. I have to go out the door and run some errands in a minute, but I think I'll send you a PM.

  7. #7
    half man - half sheep Doggus's Avatar
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    Nope, no idjit....I added all that to my profile once i noticed where you were from.

  8. #8
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doggus
    We're not real sure if we want a road tandem or mountain tandem. We don't plan any offroad type stuff but there are rough'er' trails around here that would be fun. I was thinking a stockier tandem like the cannondales would be good to put slicks on for the road and then switch to mountain bike type tires for the more gravely trails we have here.

    We have a 15 mile loop to test the bikes on so we can eliminate a lot of the variables and concentrate on which bike feels best to us, we just need some recommendations in the price range.

    Thanks!
    Doggus


    --- edit ---
    I'm 6'2", wife 5'11".

    I can vouch for the Cannondale Mt range. If used for true off road then there are certain upgrades that can be recommended, but for mainly road use, with the occasional forays onto good trails, then this type of bike in standard form is completely suitable. I do use mine aggressively offroad, but for the occasional road rides that we do, all I do is change to the slick tyres, and this is ready to blast.
    Possible let down on the MT bike used on the road would be the Lower gearing used on the crankset, but initially this gearing would be OK if you will encounter any hills on your road rides. In any case, alternative sprockets are available as your fitness improves, and requirements for speed become evident.

    With regard to the stiffness of aluminium, Yes they are stiff but there are advantages and disadvantages of all materials used in bike manufacture, Alluminium is stiff so a stoker suspension seat post is almost a requirement. As the standard frame comes with rigid forks, a Suspension post can also be fitted for the pilot if the saddle gets too much of a problem.

    I run a Cannondale and cannot fault it. I dare say that all the owners of the other makes will give just as much praise to their manufacturer, so if given the chance, try the various frames before you buy

  9. #9
    half man - half sheep Doggus's Avatar
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    Well...so far, there's not a Burley in sight to ride. Wheels-in-Motion had a couple to look at. No way they would have come close to fitting. Not sure how we're gonna get to test ride a Burley tandem unless we find someone with the size we need. Did find a Trek and Comotion that we may take out. Problem with these two....the LBS requires a $100 non-refundable deposit. Deposit will be applied to the purchase of a bike. Kind of locks you into buying from them.

  10. #10
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    Maybe you could contact someone in the DATES tandem club for a test ride of their tandem. They are on the web at http://www.doubledates.com

  11. #11
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    If you look at a "road" tandem, check what tire size it accepts with fenders. My Co-Motion Primera accepts 700x37 tires with fenders, but the front wheel is a bit of a tight fit.
    With 700x37 slicks, you will still be fairly fast, but you will also be comfortable on pothole-infested streets and trails made with crushed stones. Since we use ours for touring and long rides in the city, I felt that was the best setup for our needs.

    Sizewise, my tandem is a large-small (23"-18"), but Co-Motion also offers 23-21", which would be better suited to your needs. My stoker will be 9 in a month, but judging from stem length, I think your wife could be comfortable on a 23"-21", but you will have to check. There are a few ways to make the cockpit fit a large stoker:

    - Use a bent or 2-step stem. One idea is this : http://www.richardcmoeur.com/tandem.html
    - Use stoker bars, so her hands are on each side of your rear end and she is slightly more UP than you are.

    BTW, it's nice to be able to use a suspended seatpost for the stoker. As for fitting, a lot depends if she is all legs, all arms or all torso... or maybe YOU are the one stoking, in which case it depends on YOUR proportions.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  12. #12
    dangerous with tools halfbiked's Avatar
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    We're 6'4 and 5'7. We bought a used Cannondale RT last year, I believe its an XL-L. We test rode Cannondales, a Raleigh and a Burly, though the burly was more of a 'comfort bike' than road bike. We tried no mountain bikes. On one test ride we did about 40 miles on a mostly crushed limestone path, which went fine. For gravel a mountain tire would be preferable.

    My advice: try as many as you can. We had some serious sticker shock at the dealer that sells Burly and Co-motion stuff. We were set on a new Raleigh or Cannondale until we found the used one in our size.

  13. #13
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Alu has a bit of a bad rep; but stiffness cuts both ways.
    Pilot usually has no issue with alu's stiffness as he sits in middle of the frame. Stoker seated to the rear, over wheel. That's why many stokers want a suspension
    seatpost of a softride beemer.
    Try as many tandems as you can and tell the dealer who wants a $100 non-refundable deposit to stuff it . . . see someone else!
    A custom sized bike would be well out of your stated price range, but keep eyes peeled for a nice used one.
    Have ridden 30+ makes/brands of tandems: steel, alu, ti and carbon fiber. Buy the best that you can afford. We have the opposite problem of U-2: pilot 5'7", stoker 4' 10 3/4". By necessity, we have to go custom

    Pedal n TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

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