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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 10-02-05, 01:27 PM   #1
Powerful Pete
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Hhhm, mid-range tandems

Hello there. I am an avid road rider who has [apparently] convinced the significant other to get into tandem-ing.

Which means that we are now in the market for a tandem, preferably one that will still make it possible for the children to attend college (excluding, that is, my need for ridiculously priced road bikes). So, just looking around, a few questions:

1. Looking at mid-range tandems ready to ride out of the box - which here in Europe is the 3,000 Euro-ish range (2,990 for a Cannondale, waiting for the price on the T2000, probably 500 Euro more).

2. I notice that the Cannondale has disc brakes, while the Trek does not - the C-dale seems to have a poorer component mix (mainly 105) while the Trek is better equipped with Ultegra stuff. Do I really need disc brakes? I am 90kg and the wife is 60kg-ish. We would work up to rolling hills riding.

3. Why all this Shimano stuff. I am Italian. I ride Campagnolo. Is this an issue?

4. Any specific negative or positive comments on either of these two tandems?

5. This week I will enquire with my local frame-makers (Vicini, Vetta etc) and will let you know what the local producers tell me!

Thanks for any and all info for a tandem wannabie/newbie!
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Old 10-02-05, 06:57 PM   #2
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1. What other brands are available to you?

2a. BRAKES: IMHO, if you're used to Campy components with the very nice differential brakes, you will be forever be dis-satisfied with the Trek's '05 stock Avid cantilever brakes. However, for '06 it would appear Trek has finally heard all the complaints and fitted Shimano's excellent long-reach R600 touring calipers: these should prove to be much better than the cantilevers, although still not as good as racing calipers. The discs, on the other hand, will amaze you once the brake pad get bedded-in: excellent modulation, far super stopping power, and very high heat tolerance. My personal bias for performance tandem brakes remains front caliper with rear mechanical Avid disc; the best of both worlds and the ability to retain at least one conventional wheel on the tandem in the event I need to cannibalize a front wheel to repair a rear when away from home.

2b. COMPONENTS: The '05 Trek mix was definitely better than the '05 Cannondale mix, but the cost -- at least in the US -- was also significantly higher: nearly 30% given the Cannondale's $2,299 (USD) MSRP vs. the Trek's T2000 at $3,299 (USD). Not sure what the '06 pricing will be but I suspect they will both be close to the '05 pricing from a marketing standpoint. However, in addition to the Bontrager wheels, the '06 Trek is also now spec'd with a Bontrager Satellite Plus Carbon Tandem fork... wowzer; that'd be a pretty sweet package for under $3,500... possibly their way of sending a message to Burley? Anyway, both component packages (notwithstanding the previous comment on '05 and previous Trek brakes) work very well. The 105 was a bit heavier and not as flashy, as is also the case with the Tru-Vativ vs. Ultegra cranks; however, durability is probably about the same as is basic function.... but neither will feel all that comfortable to you if you are a long time Campy user. It's worth noting that for '06, Cannondale WILL be using Ultegra Shifters. Wheelsets: Bontragers are nice, but like Mavic and Campagnolo's integrated wheelsets you're committed to Trek/Bontrager for replacement rims, spokes, and hub support. The C'dale's 40h DT/Swiss hubs are purportedly an improved version of the once problematic DT/Hugi hubs and should otherwise build up into a nice strong conventional wheelset. It's worth noting that Co-Motion is spec'ing a similar hub from DT/Swiss on it's standard tandem models that bear it's own brand... not sure to what extent there are any real internal differences.

3. Shimano = lower cost & higher margins and massive brand-name recognition with cross-over mountain bikers who have never heard of Campagnolo. Seriously, Shimano owns what must be 95% of the US road bike component market (maybe 50% of the very smal high-end market) and probably 85% of the off-road market, with SRAM getting the balance. Note: I'm a Campy buff and both of our road tandems and all three of our personal road bikes are outfitted with Campy (Centaur, Chorus, & Record).

4. Test ride and then decide. The Cannondale is a bit more stiff and the Trek may be a bit lighter. For '05 and '06, Trek gets my nod for color choices: red last year and anthricite grey this year. C'dale was a blue fade last year and is offered in either a solid Blue or solid Yellow in '06.

One last thought.... Given your personal road bike preferences for equipment, etc... it may be worthwhile to search out a second hand tandem as your first tandem just to see if the activity is something you and your S.O. will enjoy. If it turns out to be something you like, either upgrade the used frame with components more to your liking or have something built-up new that has the components you prefer, partially off-setting the cost with the sale of your first tandem.

Last edited by TandemGeek; 10-03-05 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 10-07-05, 12:47 PM   #3
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The heart of all bikes is the frame, and I can vouch for the Cannondale frames being good. All other components can and will be replaced as they wear out, and believe me, A tandem is no different to other bikes on the quality of parts fitted. Even top quality bikes have parts that have to be replaced.

On the disc brake side of things. Remember that a tandem is heavier than a solo, and even if you have good quality rim brakes Your blocks and hands will wear out quickly. There are other considerations that will come into the braking system. Rim brakes will wear out the rims, Rim brakes can and will overheat tyres and tubes with the possible consequence of popping a tyre when it overheats. A new problem that you will not hopefully discover and is quite rare but a distinct possibility if you are onto Alpine hill descending. Rim brakes do work, and most find them completely satisfactory so are not a real problem

Disc brakes are more effective though- a Couple of associated problems to think of such as it will not be possible to fit a drum brake for the long descents, and Disc brakes cannot be used as a drag brake on the long descents. On this type of descent, you will have to learn a different technique for slowing the bike, and that is to get up to speed, brake hard to bring speed down, release brakes until speed builds up again and then brake hard again. Can be disconcerting but stops calipers and discs overheating.

The only test though is the test ride. Find which bike suits your riding and pocket. You will soon find which bike suits you
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Old 10-19-05, 06:02 PM   #4
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I would take a serious look at Burley's tandems too. My fiancee and I tried out Trek and C-dale and ended up on a Burley Tosa, the midrange Al model, for $2200. It has a rear disc and front V-brake, which is a nice combination. I'm amazed at what Burley is able to cram into a bike at that price point. White Industries Hubs, XT derailleurs, 105 shifters, Truvativ cranks... it's really a nice setup.

Test ride as many as you can, and I wouldn't limit yourself to Trek and C-dale...

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Old 10-19-05, 09:26 PM   #5
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We just bought a '05 Trek less then a week ago. The Cannondale was the runner-up and what I thought we would have bought before we bought the Trek. Both fit us well. In the end, the Trek was just so smooth, both ride and shifting compared to the Cannondale, so that is what we ended up with. I really liked the disks on the Cannondale, but we'll likely add a drum to the Trek at some point. My wife also like rear drop bar and we both are very happy with the seats (and I almost always replace OEM seats). The '06 Trek price jumped to $3629 in the states (WOW!), I think the changes are the carbon fork, and new brakes, the brakes should only add a bit to the price, I'm not sure about the fork. Anyway I think both are good mid-level machines. If we had a local Burley dealer, we would have checked them out as well. Thought about a Santana, but for more money then the Trek, the component mix was weak. I'm a Campy fan as well, and love the 10 speed on my road bike, but the full Ultegra set on the Trek is very smooth. We had a quick ride Tuesday, and it felt great. Was faster with less effort then our Fuji tandem, and could have easily gone father then our normal little weekday route.

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Old 10-19-05, 10:07 PM   #6
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Second the motion of Burley's range of tandems. All the way from about $1700 for the Rumba road tandem to $5400 for the new '06 Piratella with full Campi and Rolf wheels, c/f fork, etc.
Co-Motion bikes are a great value but price starts at $3,000 to $8,000+ for full Campi set up on their racing machines.
Both Burley and Co-Motion have diisc equipped models available.
By the time you add shipping/import fees the price will be higher, of course.
Campi parts are less pricey in Rome . . .so why not order a tandem frameset and add your own Italian components? Multa bene?!
As was suggested, a good start for a first time tandem would be a used one.

Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 10-22-05, 01:39 PM   #7
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Perhaps someone planning a trip to Italy could "forget" "their" tandem in exchange for a few campy grupos. Only issue with the burley's is the oval botom tube cannot be made "foldable"

I haev a Burley Rock and Roll and love it. Id definatly suggest disc brakes, unless you are doing a lot of touring, (panniers could melt).
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Old 10-22-05, 03:25 PM   #8
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From a very satisfied 2005 Cannondale owner (so I'm biased).

The '06 Cannondale is priced at $2695 USD, the Trek is $3629. Both are excellent bikes. My wife and I own Trek road bikes, too, and like them a whole bunch! So, it isn't a brand loyality thing that we chose the C'Dale. As far as components go, the major differences are, the '06 Trek has a carbon fork, Ultregra cranks and Bontrager wheels. The Cannondale has superior brakes (in my opinion), and living in the mountains, I somewhat ruled out the Trek because of its rim brakes. Both have Ultregra brifters, SRAM 970 cassette, XT RD. C'Dale wheels are really quite good with Hugi tandem hubs and excellent Mavic rims. I would expect these wheels are a bit more durable than the Race lights on the Trek. The Trek has an Ultregra FD, vs. Cannondale's 105 (no biggie in my opinion). I'd say the C'Dale is a stronger bike, frame wheels, brakes, etc., and the Trek is probably a faster machine. So, if going fast is your main thing, and the $1,000 hit doesn't matter that much, and you don't plan on doing many long down hill runs, go for the Trek. If durability and better stopping are important, my vote is for the C'dale. At any rate, you'll get an excellent tandem with either choice. Send over those Euros and help us with our trade balance! OHB
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