I am knew here. I "found" this site a week or so ago. [I bet you did not know it was missing ] I have been doing some back reading to get a feel for the place and who was here. One thing I have have found disapointing is the Santana bashing. I myself find it rather unprofessional, unnessisary and at times somewhat juvenile.
For example in my recent thread on zero gravity brakes... tandemgeek starts going off on Santana sales "stuff". How was that relevant to my question?
I stated I had DuraAce brakes and I was looking for feedback on zero gravity stuff. In this case the Santana bashing does not serve any purpose.
Yes I do own a couple of Santana's. Yet I think I would be bothered even if I did not. I currently own 3 tandems. I have owned 2 others..and have "experience" to many others.
My first tandem was a Franklin. [handmade from Ohio?] I bought it used in the mid 80's. Yet I am not sure it had ever seen the road. It was beautiful bike [but definately old school]. For financial reasons I had to let it go.
In the early 90's I had a boss [at a bike shop] that had promised me a raise... and did not follow through. he felt bad and to make it up...offered to buy me a tandem [great boss] At that time who was known for building good tandems? I knew Santana's reputation... but really did not know a lot about some of the others out at that time.
We ended up getting the new aluminum version of the Sovereign. We absolutely loved it.
A couple of years later... we wanted to try tandeming off road... but was not sure.. how we would do... or like it. My sales person at Santana assured me that the rio would be better than any non Santana bike for what I wanted to do.
It was not. It was a great bike.. in some ways.. but for technicle off road it was horrible. a couple of issues.. I would not own a single mountain bike with a BB so low.. and the biggest tires I could fit were 1.95 spec. ground controls. These tires at max pressure were still bottoming out... and they would pick up small stones in the tread.. hit the bottom of the fork...and momentarily cause the wheel to lock up [it would be just for a split second.. but it was very unnerving]
I expressed this to them... and ended up talking to Bill...he offered to take the bike back and build and build me what I wanted.
Because I did not know exactly what would work.. for bb bracket height for example.. Bill did not recomend anything other than what they used.. I ended up searching elseware.
Through a friend a custom builder offered to build me a bike cheaper for the feedback I could give. Again not knowing what was best...I wanted someone who had experience... so I kept searching. I ended up with Jeff Shugg in Calgary. He knew my terrain... and raced tandems offroad himself. We did a lot of talking and came up with a design that was perfect.
A couple of years ago I was looking to upgrade the Sovereign.. I did not know of Calfee or Paketa.. the only other one that was really on "my" list was co-motion. I have never even seen one before much less ridden one. I decided to play it safe.. and go with someone I know. Santana.
I was at first looking and their performance aluminum bikes... they mentioned if I was not buying it that day.. that they had a new scandium bike coming out.. so to wait before deciding. Then I was looking at maybe the Ti... I was told to either stay with the scandium.... or go to the ti/carbon.
When asking questions like "why are you not using the new 31.8 handle bars"... I was told they still had a lot of the other sized stems to use up first.. very direct and honest.
Would I have like the co-motion better... perhaps. I had no way to know.. and at this time I did not want to gamble on that big a purchase. I like Santana's yet know there are other great products out there. I know Bill is very opinionated.. and I do not agree with all that he says. Yet there are things about them I like.
Freehub bodies...Santana talks about the need for tandem specific ones... and many builders used single bike parts.[a few years back] Maybe many people have used them with no troubles... I perfer the better ones. Someone that I ride off road with .. they have a cannondale ... they were breaking a freehub body at least once a season. I have yet to have one fail.
My sovereign [I know road use is more gentle] is 16 years old.. and has 10's of thousands of miles.. I was just replacing some tired ti spokes and showed the hub and freehub [edco] to a co-worker.. they felt better than most new ones do.. they were incredible.
I like Santana but obviously am not a blind follower. while I find openly discussing the pros and cons of different "way" to me the needless bashing is a turn off.