About three months ago and while in a pace line, a friend and fellow rider broke his handlebar. We were going under 25 MPH but since he was on the drops, when the handlebars broke his chest hit the stem and he and the rider behind him went down. He broke his collar bone and has not returned to the road since. After this incident there was a lot of talk about the need of replacing the handlebars at least every two years. We felt confident since our Santana tandem was less than a year old.
Well, yesterday, while standing on a moderate climb, I found myself holding to a loose piece of pipe on the left side of the bars. Thanks to the quick reaction of my stoker and the very slow speed we were traveling at, we did not go down. We were 20 miles away from our truck and the nearest town. We searched for a piece of wood or something that we could stick inside the pipe. Then my stoker suggested using the pump. We moved the broken area to the middle of the stem, took the tape out of the handlebars and with it braced the bars with the pump. It felt so sturdy that we continued our planned ride but instead of 100 miles we only did 80.
Yesterday we wrote to the handlebar manufacturer to ask if they would replace it. But we were thinking that maybe we want to go with something a little sturdier. How common is for handlebars to brake on tandems? Any suggestions as to how we could minimize the possibility of a problem?