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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 11-23-15, 10:04 AM   #1
BNB
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Component advice

I’m looking for information / advice on components for our new Co-motion Primera tandem (on order). The most important to us are brakes and bottom brackets in terms of potentially annoying noises.

The first line under the component is the Co-motion Primera ($3800); the second line is the Co-motion Macchiato ($9300); the third line is our Cannondale T2 ($3300 at REI).

Our LBS swapped out the Shimano brakes for Avid BB7 and we’ve had good luck with those. Our Cannondale FSA Gossamer rear bottom bracket failed and was replaced and the front bb is noisy/creaky. Light wheels would be nice. We are a 260 pound team.

Component
Co-motion Primera
Co-motion Macchiato
Cannondale T2

Brakes
Avid BB7 w/ 200mm Rotors
TRP Spyre w/ 180mm Rotor
Shimano R515 mechnical disc, 180/203mm

Headset
FSA Orbit
Chris King Inset 2, for Tapered Steerer
Tange Custom 1.5"

Cranks
TruVativ Elita Tandem Cranks
FSA SL-K Tandem Cranks
FSA Gossamer

Wheels
Velocity Dyad Rims; Co-Motion A-20 Tandem Hubs, 36h or 40h
DT 540 Disc hubs; Velocity Dyad Rims (Co-motion Speedster)
DT Swiss Tandem, 36-hole, DT Swiss Tandem

Last edited by BNB; 11-23-15 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 11-23-15, 02:46 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by BNB View Post
I’m looking for information / advice on components for our new Co-motion Primera tandem (on order). The most important to us are brakes and bottom brackets in terms of potentially annoying noises.

The first line under the component is the Co-motion Primera ($3800); the second line is the Co-motion Macchiato ($9300); the third line is our Cannondale T2 ($3300 at REI).

Our LBS swapped out the Shimano brakes for Avid BB7 and we’ve had good luck with those. Our Cannondale FSA Gossamer rear bottom bracket failed and was replaced and the front bb is noisy/creaky. Light wheels would be nice. We are a 260 pound team.

Component
Co-motion Primera
Co-motion Macchiato
Cannondale T2

Brakes
Avid BB7 w/ 200mm Rotors
TRP Spyre w/ 180mm Rotor
Shimano R515 mechnical disc, 180/203mm

Headset
FSA Orbit
Chris King Inset 2, for Tapered Steerer
Tange Custom 1.5"

Cranks
TruVativ Elita Tandem Cranks
FSA SL-K Tandem Cranks
FSA Gossamer

Wheels
Velocity Dyad Rims; Co-Motion A-20 Tandem Hubs, 36h or 40h
DT 540 Disc hubs; Velocity Dyad Rims (Co-motion Speedster)
DT Swiss Tandem, 36-hole, DT Swiss Tandem
Brakes: We use just road caliper brakes (Mavic SSC), never felt the need for the extra complication and weight of disc brakes. But I understand if you are doing loaded touring you may want disc brakes. We weigh 250 lbs and have done some light CC touring.

Headset: Can't beat Chris King, worth the money many times over.

Cranks: We have Gossamer's on the rear and after 4 years no problems, the bearings are still good. SL-K are just a more expensive version and from my understanding actually weigh more than Gossamers. Crankset choices for tandems are really limited. Other options are Lightning (light, but expensive, large Q-factor), DaVinci (lots of options, reasonable price but use old style square taper BB)

Wheels: I build all my own wheels and have been for some time, I like White Industries hubs.
My current wheelset uses White Industries Mi6 hubs, Kinlin rims from Bike Hub Store C31W on from and C31OC on rear.
These only go up to 32 holes but since the rear rim has an offset reducing the dish of the wheel its stronger than a 36 spoke wheel using a conventional rim.
These rims are quite wide and deep making them strong and allowing a lower tire pressure.
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Old 11-23-15, 05:17 PM   #3
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Headset: Can't beat Chris King, worth the money many times over.

Cranks: We have Gossamer's on the rear and after 4 years no problems, the bearings are still good. SL-K are just a more expensive version and from my understanding actually weigh more than Gossamers. Crankset choices for tandems are really limited. Other options are Lightning (light, but expensive, large Q-factor), DaVinci (lots of options, reasonable price but use old style square taper BB)

Wheels: I build all my own wheels
Thanks for your input. I am not a bike mechanic so haven't done much work; I did build a wheel once many years ago. Fun thing to do. Not sure why our Gossamers are giving trouble. We had a ton of noise and LBS said the rear BB was shot (wished I'd asked exactly what he meant by that). The front stopped creaking initially but is starting to creak again after ~3 weeks having been worked on.

I like the Cannondale disc brakes. It is not unusual for us to climb - and descend - 15-20% grades. Some are long descents where I'd be pretty nervous about rims heating up; Palomar Mtn tomorrow, for example!
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Old 11-23-15, 05:28 PM   #4
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Thanks for your input. I am not a bike mechanic so haven't done much work; I did build a wheel once many years ago. Fun thing to do. Not sure why our Gossamers are giving trouble. We had a ton of noise and LBS said the rear BB was shot (wished I'd asked exactly what he meant by that). The front stopped creaking initially but is starting to creak again after ~3 weeks having been worked on.

I like the Cannondale disc brakes. It is not unusual for us to climb - and descend - 15-20% grades. Some are long descents where I'd be pretty nervous about rims heating up; Palomar Mtn tomorrow, for example!
FSA is known for inconsistent quality, the BB bearing can easily be replaced with another brand of your choice.
I didn't like the wide Q-factor of the Gossamer on the front, so I replaced it with a standard Shimano Ultegra crankset with the left and right sides swapped.
I had to have helicoils installed where the pedals thread in to reverse the threads. This probably won't work if plan to use a Gates belt drive but works fine with a chain. With the rear you are pretty much stuck with wider Q-factor. Been up and down Palomar Mtn a number of times, never on the tandem though I don't think my wife would go for that.
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Old 11-23-15, 05:32 PM   #5
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Been tandeming 40+ years.
Our advice: buy the best you can afford.
Chris King headset, FSA c/f cranks, Topolino wheels, Shim der., barend shifters, Tektro (rear) and D/A (front) brakes.
Keep it simple; no fancy/faulty electronics, no discs. Tried 'em, not dependable.
Our present Zona tandem is our 5th one. It currently has 45,000 miles on it.
Pedal on!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 11-23-15, 09:51 PM   #6
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FSA is known for inconsistent quality, the BB bearing can easily be replaced with another brand of your choice.
I didn't like the wide Q-factor of the Gossamer on the front, so I replaced it with a standard Shimano Ultegra crankset with the left and right sides swapped.
I had to have helicoils installed where the pedals thread in to reverse the threads. This probably won't work if plan to use a Gates belt drive but works fine with a chain. With the rear you are pretty much stuck with wider Q-factor. Been up and down Palomar Mtn a number of times, never on the tandem though I don't think my wife would go for that.
Lots to learn in the details. Weird that Gossamer is not reliable.

Hill climbing is our thing on singles and tandem. Montezuma Grade 2 weeks ago, Palomar tomorrow - much steeper stuff for shorter distance frequently. Good brakes critical.
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Old 11-24-15, 01:38 AM   #7
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I like the Cannondale disc brakes. It is not unusual for us to climb - and descend - 15-20% grades. Some are long descents where I'd be pretty nervous about rims heating up; Palomar Mtn tomorrow, for example!
We use the Chris King headset but it's not a cost-effective upgrade over Cane Creek or FSA. A better upgrade would be TRP Hy/Rd brake over the BB7 or Shimano R515. The Hy/Rd uses dual hydraulic pistons, which are more powerful and self-centering.

My understanding is that the punishing Mt. Washington has an average grade of 12%, with a 50-yard section of 22%. Would be nice to have full hydraulic brakes when the average grade is 15-20%.
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Old 11-24-15, 06:32 AM   #8
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We use the Chris King headset but it's not a cost-effective upgrade over Cane Creek or FSA. A better upgrade would be TRP Hy/Rd brake over the BB7 or Shimano R515. The Hy/Rd uses dual hydraulic pistons, which are more powerful and self-centering.

My understanding is that the punishing Mt. Washington has an average grade of 12%, with a 50-yard section of 22%. Would be nice to have full hydraulic brakes when the average grade is 15-20%.
My avatar is at the peak of Mt Washington after that brutal race; there are extended 18% sections. Then there's the wind; 45mph gusts the day I did it. That race requires no brakes as they don't allow you to descend; you have to get a car ride down. Some racers strip their bikes down to a couple low gears, no brakes for a lighter bike. I'm trying to talk my husband into climbing Mt Washington on the tandem to no avail. Way off topic but here's my post about that legendary race: https://bethsrecipes.wordpress.com/2...ugust-16-2014/

I love the hydraulic disc brakes on my mountain bike and wonder how many people put them on tandems. My guess is not many as not many tandems do big hillclimbing.

Just reading reviews on TRP hydraulic brakes - great reviews but cable stretch seems to be an issue causing brake levers to reach handlebars. Seems that would be more of an issue on the tandem with such long cables. ?? Do you ride hydraulic brakes on your tandem?

What about the FSA orbit headset? Anyone with experience with this?

Last edited by BNB; 11-24-15 at 06:54 AM.
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Old 11-24-15, 09:30 AM   #9
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My avatar is at the peak of Mt Washington after that brutal race; there are extended 18% sections. Then there's the wind; 45mph gusts the day I did it. That race requires no brakes as they don't allow you to descend; you have to get a car ride down. Some racers strip their bikes down to a couple low gears, no brakes for a lighter bike. I'm trying to talk my husband into climbing Mt Washington on the tandem to no avail. Way off topic but here's my post about that legendary race: https://bethsrecipes.wordpress.com/2...ugust-16-2014/

I love the hydraulic disc brakes on my mountain bike and wonder how many people put them on tandems. My guess is not many as not many tandems do big hillclimbing.

Just reading reviews on TRP hydraulic brakes - great reviews but cable stretch seems to be an issue causing brake levers to reach handlebars. Seems that would be more of an issue on the tandem with such long cables. ?? Do you ride hydraulic brakes on your tandem?

What about the FSA orbit headset? Anyone with experience with this?
Congratulations on finishing Mt Washington! I might be able to talk my stoker into doing it if we were closer and she lost her mind Coincidentally, we sold our Co-Motion to a couple on the East coast. Their daughter and son-in-law finished Mt Washington twice on their racing tandem. Can't remember if they rode a Cannondale or Calfee but they're a nationally ranked tandem team.

Cable stretch is not be an issue with TRP Hy/Rd (or any brake) if you use high quality cable and compression-less housing. We use Nokon housing on our Calfee and the Hy/Rd feel close to a full-hydraulic brake. It's a significant improvement over a mechanical brake like the BB7 because it's so easy to dial-in and it's quiet! The Shimano RS685 hydraulic brake would be an ideal choice. It's powerful, requires less hand pressure, and will allow the use of 180mm rotors. It's the same as the R785 but it's packaged with mechanical shifters.

The FSA Orbit should be fine. The cartridge bearings are durable and easily replaced. Frankly, we just use the Chris King because of the bling factor. Allocate your budget to powerful brakes and light wheels if you want to go fast.
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Old 11-24-15, 04:32 PM   #10
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Congratulations on finishing Mt Washington! I might be able to talk my stoker into doing it if we were closer and she lost her mind Coincidentally, we sold our Co-Motion to a couple on the East coast. Their daughter and son-in-law finished Mt Washington twice on their racing tandem. Can't remember if they rode a Cannondale or Calfee but they're a nationally ranked tandem team.

Cable stretch is not be an issue with TRP Hy/Rd (or any brake) if you use high quality cable and compression-less housing. We use Nokon housing on our Calfee and the Hy/Rd feel close to a full-hydraulic brake. It's a significant improvement over a mechanical brake like the BB7 because it's so easy to dial-in and it's quiet! The Shimano RS685 hydraulic brake would be an ideal choice. It's powerful, requires less hand pressure, and will allow the use of 180mm rotors. It's the same as the R785 but it's packaged with mechanical shifters.

The FSA Orbit should be fine. The cartridge bearings are durable and easily replaced. Frankly, we just use the Chris King because of the bling factor. Allocate your budget to powerful brakes and light wheels if you want to go fast.
Amazing about the two that did Mt Wash on their tandem!

I definitely would have been happier on the descent today if I'd had hydraulic brakes! I was cold and my hands hurt having to brake for 14 miles (we started at the casino). I am convinced about getting the more powerful brakes.

Thanks for the good info.
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Old 11-24-15, 08:47 PM   #11
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Amazing about the two that did Mt Wash on their tandem!

I definitely would have been happier on the descent today if I'd had hydraulic brakes! I was cold and my hands hurt having to brake for 14 miles (we started at the casino). I am convinced about getting the more powerful brakes.

Thanks for the good info.
The Meurig/Nicholas team did the 2014 climb in 1:16. Since weather is always a factor, it's impressive that they placed 79 out of 517 riders.

There's nothing like strong brakes if you like to go fast!
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