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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 09-20-06, 06:58 PM   #1
aflynn
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First Tamdem: Burley or Fuji?? Help!

I am in need of some advice and hope someone has the knowledge to share.

My family is shopping for a tandem for my 10 yo son and me to keep up with husband. I have looked for a good quality used tandem but haven't found anything.

My options thus far are:

1) A 2006 Fuji Absolute that has been very gently used. It retails for $1300 but I can get it for $800.

2) A 2002 Burley San Marino that has been unsold in a shop for the last 4 years. It is currently priced at $1850 but I can get it for $1650. My concern is that the frame is slightly too big for me while straddling the bike at a stop. This seems like a lot of money for an almost-fit. (I am 5'3" and my son is 4'3" and the bike is a medium/small. It fits him perfect and he can grow with it until he is too embarrassed to ride with his mom.)

Obviously I don't know too much about the technical components of tandems. I do know that it is important to get a good quality machine that will hold up with age and maintain its value. I have talked to several bike shops in the last month but most of them don't have staff knowledgable about tandems and I am concerned that the two shops that do have knowledgable staff may want to unload their stale product on me. My ignorance makes me a little suspicious!

Also, I haven't been able to find much information on San Marinos on the internet but am wondering why they stopped making them after 2002.

I am very new to this forum so I apologize in advance for any etiquette errors!
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Old 09-20-06, 07:29 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aflynn
(I am 5'3" and my son is 4'3" and the bike is a medium/small. It fits him perfect and he can grow with it until he is too embarrassed to ride with his mom.) !
Here is my .02. A medium Burley HAS to be to big for you at 5'3" unless your all legs and arms and no torso.
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Old 09-20-06, 07:32 PM   #3
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Rule #1 of bike shopping (IMO): buy one that fits.
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Old 09-20-06, 08:54 PM   #4
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In 2002 Burley introduced its first Aluminum tandem frames. Interestingly enough, the frames were actually produced for Burley by Trek for most of the year. Toward the end of the 2002 model year, Burley and Trek parted ways and Burley began to produce its aluminum tandems in house with their own spec. tubing.

Anyway, the San Marino was Burley's entry level aluminum tandem model, spec'd with the same components as the steel framed Rumba tandem. The mid-level aluminum Burley was the Tosa (same components as the steel framed Duet) with the Rivazza (same components as the steel framed Paso Doble) at the high end. All three aluminum models used the exact same frames but were fitted with different levels of components.

My "guess" is that the San Marino just didn't make sense, didn' sell well, and was also a near zero margin / loss leader in the new aluminum tandem line-up. Burley had 9 different tandem models in '02 (10 if you count the Zydeco mixte and non-mixte as two different models vs. one) and the mid-level price point of $2000 was pretty crowded. So, it would appear that they decided to forego the entry-level aluminum tandem, i.e., the San Marino.

As for how the San Marino stacks up against the Fuji, if the San Marino is too big it's not a bargain at any price and as others have already noted, it is clearly too big. Now, if it did fit -- both your stature and your budget -- and was a comfortable bike to ride it would be a good choice but I'd probably press my luck and offer something lower than $1,650. Even though it's an '02 8 speed model, the components -- and in particular the wheels -- are of a higher grade than what Fuji has fitted to the Absolute. Trek sells a similar "family tandem" model called the T900 that's got an MSRP around $900. I think the component mix is perhaps a tad better than the Fuji and otherwise worth considering just so you're not locked into the either or buying decision on the questionably ill fitting Burley or the Fuji ATB/family tandem model. Raleigh also offers an entry level tandem that is in the same classification / component grade as the Trek T900 and Fuji Absolute... also worth a look.

Last edited by TandemGeek; 09-21-06 at 06:38 AM.
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Old 09-20-06, 09:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aflynn
My family is shopping for a tandem for my 10 yo son and me to keep up with husband.
Unless you are a stronger rider than your husband......May I suggest that your husband rides the tandem with your 10 year old and you ride a single? Or better yet... get a triple!!
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Old 09-20-06, 11:38 PM   #6
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Size does matter

Price, spec., history of tubing and bike company; all of this doesn't matter one bit if a bike or tandem doesn't fit you well. You'll regret the purchase every time you get on the bike if it doesn't fit like your favorite pair of cycling shoes or shorts. The medium Burley for someone your size, is way too big.

I don't' care if you have the longest legs or arms in the world, it still won't fit. Most of the time there is some small degree of error, or fudge factor, when trying to size over the Internet. If I was a gambling fool, I'd put a big chunk of money down that the Burley wouldn't be a good fit for you. Any reputable IBD, of course, can confirm this for you (whether they have experience with tandems or not). Both bikes you're looking at are priced right, just not maybe sized right.
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Old 09-21-06, 04:51 AM   #7
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The Fuji Absolute is a great entry level bike (if it fits). That is what we started on and still have it for riding around with the kids etc... I think they did a very nice job on the AL frame, but components are what you would find on a $600 road bike (very entry level). You'll like the Fuji, go for it.

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Old 09-21-06, 06:38 AM   #8
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Or, you could check out one of these:



A small would fit and they can be had for around $1000 new if you look around.
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Old 09-21-06, 08:54 AM   #9
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If it doesn't fit you it's not a bargain. However, if you can stand over it comfortably, then it may be that you it can be adjusted to you by changing the stem. Before you buy it, I'd see if you can get it set up so it fits you well. Also, I'd bet you can get the shop to come off the price more, given that Burley is going out of the tandem business, and rightly or wrongly its got to effect the market for the existing inventory.
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Old 09-21-06, 11:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeschwine
Price, spec., history of tubing and bike company; all of this doesn't matter one bit if a bike or tandem doesn't fit you well.
No, it doesn't. However, since you never know who else may be reading a thread like this who might also be interested in a deal on a NOS tandem it sometimes makes sense to provide the additional details when someone invites the answer with a question.

Again, I think it's been clearly conveyed by all who have responded that a Medium Burley -- or any other medium size tandem -- WILL NOT FIT someone of small stature and that this particular tandem is TOO BIG.

In fact, I'm 5'8" with a 30" inseam and a Medium size Burley (56cm seat tube w/57cm top tube and 31.9" standover height) is too big for me; the Small size Burley (54cm seat tube w/56cm top tube and 31.1" standover height) is even too big. In fact, a 54cm top tube with a 100mm stem is the max length for my torso and arm length.... For further context, my wife is 5'2" with about a 28.5" inseam and her single bike is a custom-sized 700c Ritchey with a 48cm seat tube and 49cm top tube.

Always remember that standover height for a captain on a tandem is critical with 1" - 2" of clearance between the crotch and top tube as the target when standing over the bike while wearing cycling shoes. And, while shorter stems can be fitted to shorten the "effective" top tube length of a tandem, sliding the saddle too far forward -- as some local bike shop (LBS) or independent bike dealer (IBD) sales folks are occasionally inclined to do -- is something to keep your eyes open for as an indicator that a bike or tandem is too big.

Last edited by TandemGeek; 09-21-06 at 10:07 PM.
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Old 09-21-06, 11:48 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TandemGeek
Always remember that standover height for a captain on a tandem is critical with 1" - 2" of clearance
Critical indeed! Since the captain must hold the bike, feet spread for stability while the stoker backpedals, stand-over height is more of an issue than on a single. I would say aim for 3" clearance.

It's a lot easier to get a smallish frame to fit than a to-large frame.
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Old 09-21-06, 06:13 PM   #12
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Thanks for the advice. I'll definitely stay away from the medium Burley but will keep looking.
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Old 09-21-06, 09:36 PM   #13
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+1 on the med burley frame being too big. i'm 5'11" and i ride a small (54 seat, 56 top) burley duet. the top tube is longer than on my primary road bike (55 seat, 55.5 top)
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Old 09-22-06, 03:21 PM   #14
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Yeah don't go bigger! Everything is controled by you even supproting the bike at a stop. Like they said. spread yor legs, reest on toptube and you can support both riders easily. Not going to be able to do that with a frame too big!

A 4 yo bike with only $200 off? Shop around some more!

I got a "brand new" Burley Duet reg $2100 for $1850 back in 98 when we bought ours.

I got a brand new, last years model brand newCannondale $1850 for $1100.

Few months ago, A brand new carbon Fiber Pilot 5.2 regular $2799 for $1799. last years model, still brand new!

$250 off new model........$750 off last years model......$1000 of last years model!

You're getting $200 off a 4 year old model, that's a RIP!
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Old 09-22-06, 05:12 PM   #15
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I would start checking the Fuji dealers as well. Every year around this time Fuji starts clearing out the year's inventory. We bought our Fuji Absolute last year in early october for $900. Get a brand new one for $100 more than the used one and you can make sure to get the size you want (plus LBS tuneups etc)

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Old 09-22-06, 10:28 PM   #16
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A bike that doesn't fit you is not a good idea.
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