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  1. #1
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    Best Way to Transport a Tandem

    My wife and I just picked up an $80 tandem from a friend. After about 60 seconds we realized it wasn't going to work for us. (My wife is 5'9" and her knees hit the stoker's handlebars.) We had hoped we would be able to use this tandem for a couple of months before we figured out what we wanted out of a tandem. (Neither one of us is a cyclist but we are looking for a pastime we can enjoy together and get in better shape. So we are complete tandem newbies.)

    We have found a very helpful local bike shop (I assume that is what the LBS I see in other posts means ) the owner and a number of other folks that work there ride tandems. We are going to buy a Trek T900. (OK, don't fall off your tandem laughing.) We really believe this bike will be sufficient for our low end entertainment/exercise for a few years. It fits us, and is within our budget.

    After all that, the real question we have is: What is the "best" rack for a tandem and two singles (the kids bikes) to transport to and from rides, and bike paths. We are looking at Thule roof rack for our Ford Windstar, or a Draftmaster. We would appreciate your opinions and experiences as to what would be best cost-wise and convenience-wise.

    Thank you in advance for sharing your years of experience with us.

    Ron and Meg

  2. #2
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Tandem Team Ron & Meg!
    The tandem 'may fit' inside the Windstar; take off front wheel, load tandem in back wheel first and it 'may' fit between the seats. Alternative: take off both tandem wheels and load frame inside the Windstar. A regular bike rack could then be used to haul the kids bikes.
    A tandem rack + double bike rack may cost as much as the Trek T900!
    Enjoy the ride!

    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  3. #3
    SDS
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    Of the two, certainly the Draftmaster is very nice. The disadvantage is that if somebody runs into you from the rear, the bikes are right there. Getting tandems on and off the roof of a van can be a big job, though some of the modern mounts make it easy by letting you first lock up the front fork, and then raise up the back end.

    I recommend that you read the thread "Test Ride Suggestions", presently found not too far down this page.

  4. #4
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    We use a Draftmaster. It's perfect for us. We've done the bike in the van thing, but sooner or later one of those long greasy chains is going to leave you with an unwanted souvenir that is hard to remove. We've also trailered behind the car. Shakes the bike to pieces, not fun to back up and we've been dinged at expensive ferry crossings for two vehicles; double the fare. The Draftmaster will take the tandem and two singles with ease. Just my two cents worth.

  5. #5
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    We use a Hollywood hitch mount rack on our Caravan. The tandem is just about as wide as the mirrors. We can also fit the two kid's bikes on the same rack.

  6. #6
    Banned. galen_52657's Avatar
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    I have the Thule rack bars with BikeTopper tandem holder. It is a bit of a chore hoising 43 lbs up on the roof, but all that time in the gym has to be good for something. I can fit the tandem inside my Grand Voyager if I take out the back 2 rows of seats.

    Funniest thing when we met up with the CRABS tandem riders - 5 out of 5 teams had Honda Minivan with seats that fold into the floor and carried their tandems on the inside......

  7. #7
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    Thank you all for your input. We are still looking, might be getting something other than the Trek, but we are excited, and frustrated. The more we learn, the more we know, the more we know, the more questions we have. SIGH.

  8. #8
    Senior Member bockwho's Avatar
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    for the price of some of these racks you could almost buy a small longbed p/u and install a few biketights

    and then you have a beater p/u to haul stuff around of course then you have added insurace and if parking is a issue where you live.


    I think I have a great idea for my wrangler .. take the top off attach a biketight to the roll bar and weld up a rear support out the trailer hitch should be about a foot longer depending if I leave the rear tire on or not. oh and only riding on days when the top can be off .. that not a issue for the tandem I have no intentions of getting my partner out in the rain.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Nachoman's Avatar
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    I just throw my tandem on a standard rear bike rack. It is hardly much wider than my car. and it is certainly less wide than many of the beast vehicles out on the road.
    .
    .

    Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.

  10. #10
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    Thank you for all you suggestions.

    Ron

  11. #11
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    My wife and I started on a 'free' Schwinn Tandem that was given to us by a friend, and restored my me and my nehew. Didn't take long to figure out those old beasts are HEAVY. Gave us good ideas of what to look for, though- we ended up with a T-900 Trek like you are looking at, and couldn't be happier- of course our riding is all done on rail trails, or bike paths that do not involve a lot of climbing. Before you buy, I'd say get a good idea of where you plan to ride and look at what other people there are happy with. Also you can't be too careful about getting the proper fit, so a good shop is very important- we bought ours at High Point Bike and Hobby, and the nice folks there spent AT LEAST 4 hours making sure it fit my wife perfectly. That is the most important thing. Obviously, if you want to go fast, ride on public roads, etc. you'd be well advised to go for a bike suited for such things. Spend the money on quality, you'll forget what you paid, but not what you got...

    Ride safe. Ramius.

  12. #12
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    NewbieIATandem...

    If you haven't yet bought a bike, we're in Iowa City and selling our Raleigh Companion. It's a good starter bike that we had a lot of fun on for nearly 900 miles over the past year or so (even a day of RAGBRAI).

    We're riding on the roads more than the trail riding I initially expected, so we've just moved to a road tandem and need to sell the Raleigh.

  13. #13
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    My GF purchased a Chevy Venture (knowing she was going to buy a tandem, in fact, took a friends to the test drive to ensure the fit). We travel with it inside. Another local tandem couple own a windstar, their tandem rides inside also.
    Its all downhill from somewhere.

  14. #14
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    Thank you all again for your responses. We did finally get a Thule Roof Rack for the Ford Windstar and Rocky Mounts Lariats for the kid's bikes, and a Rocky Mounts Tandem Mount for the T900. So far so good.

    We have had the tandem and both kid's bikes in the van to get them back from the bike shop, but that was one trip we did not have the kids along for. Three hours of the kids whining about mom and dad getting fitted and outfitted for their new hobby, no thank you. We wish we maybe had a full size conversion van where we could take out the rear seat, slide the tandem between the middle seats, and put the two half bikes behind the middle seats, but I guess we are stuck doing the tandem overhead weight lift body builder for a while...

  15. #15
    Older Than Dirt
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    A small stepladder and some way to hang the tandem half way up make the going much easier. I fabricated some clamp on extensions for the cross bars so I can load ours onto the roof of my Buick Rendezvous with some degree of ease. I also got a hunk of rubber runner and cut it to fit around the towers to protect the paint on the car when I'm loading or unloading. Next time, I will buy a lower car.

    Doc
    Say Ya to da Yoop, eh!

  16. #16
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    We can carry our custom ariZona tandem inside a '97 Honda Accord station wagon.
    3 choices:
    1** Do not take off any wheels. Load tandem in back wheel first. Let front wheel stick out beyond the tail end of wagon. Put some padding on the tandem and pull rear hatch shut with a bungee cord.
    2** Take off front wheel only. Load tandem in backwards again. Put front wheel in the wagon and shut the hatch.
    3** Take off both wheels, put in the frame and lay both wheels inside. Shut the hatch.
    Depending where and how far we are taveling with the tandem, we have used all 3 methods.
    Our tandem is custom built and has a very short wheelbase: 63 1/2 inches, compared to the more standard production size of about 69 inches. Your results may be different, but give it a try.
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  17. #17
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    We're thinking of taking our Burley tandem out to Oregon from Iowa this summer. Our minivan has a hitch rack and we'll have the kids along so can't get the tandem inside.

    Anybody done that long of a trip with a tandem hanging off the back?

  18. #18
    Older Than Dirt
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    Yes, my wife's cousin and her husband have done this with their Santana by removing both wheels. This brings the length into more "normal" parameters.

    Good luck,
    Doc
    Say Ya to da Yoop, eh!

  19. #19
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    You can also leave on both wheels; have done so on a front rack on an old VW Squareback back in the 70s.
    As long as you are aware that you have a tandem back there that sticks out a bit past the width of your mini van you could even leave on the wheels. But do tie the wheels down with a bungee or they'll be spinning from the wind drag!

  20. #20
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem
    As long as you are aware that you have a tandem back there that sticks out a bit past the width of your mini van you could even leave on the wheels.
    Not necessarily.... It would be best to check the DMV / vehicle safety regulations / statutes for your home state and any state you intend to travel through before assuming you can operate your passenger vehicle with any cargo extending beyond the fender lines.

    For example, Iowa has a prohibition on passenger vehicles carrying loads that extend beyond the left fender lines and limits the right side of passenger vehicles from having any load that extends more than 6" beyond the right fender line.

  21. #21
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    Thanks for the tips, especially about Iowa law. I've left the wheels on with my Companion, but our new Burley Rumba softride sits off to one side. I'm thinking of taking the wheels off for that.

    Dan

  22. #22
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    Most important is that you want to be active together. All other challenges can be dealt with. This is what motivated us and we are now 64.
    We own a C'Dale and mount it to the rear of our full size sedan. No one in Iowa stopped us. I guess they have other problems. We do take both wheels off. The bike does stay within the distance between both side mirrors. This may not meet the letter of the law but seems common sense.

    Top mount is hard work and we were not willing to go with a pick up truck.
    Hope this helps.

  23. #23
    Cycle for life... woodcycl's Avatar
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    I may be in the market for some "way" to transport a new tandem.

    How much does the Draftmaster cost? The website only shows the prices for the Tandem Topper, not the Draftmaster.

    I have a 2001 Nissan Pathfinder (SUV). So, it looks like the options are:

    1. Draftmaster by ATOC (I think it is abour $450 ...WOW)
    2. Tandem Topper by ATOC (minimum $365)
    3. Regular folding bike rack ($50+)(not as stable; more risky)
    4. Hollywood Boomer 2 hitch mount ($200)
    5. Rocky Mount Tandem Mount ($150 to $200)
    6. Buy a Honda Minivan ($25k+)

    Any other options? Does #5 Rocky Mount Tandem Mount come with all the hardware, etc. to attach to my existing Yakima Roof rack?

    Looks like #3 is the cheapest, but riskiest. #4 and #5 are the next best. What a shame it is SO darn expensive.
    -\Brian
    06' Cannondale Six13 TeamOne
    06' Cannondale Prophet 3 "Lefty"
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    05' Cannondale Road Tandem

  24. #24
    Senior Member phinney's Avatar
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    An inexpensive or used utility trailer is another possibility. Doesn't sound like a trailer would cost any more, and maybe less, than many of the tandem racks. Trailers come in handy for other things too.

  25. #25
    Stoked
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    If you've already got a Yakima rack, perhaps something similar to my post here (How can I Transport a tandem on an 02' Volvo V70?) is your best option.

    IMHO this setup runs circles around a Sidewinder. Don't know about the Rockey Mount, etc.

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