Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Grand Prairie, TX
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The J/L is the way to go if the front end can be made to fit satisfactorily, because according to the 2006 Cannondale catalog you get an extra inch of horizontal stoker rear top tube with the J/L over the X/M (29.1" v. 28.1"). The horizontal front top tube on the J/L is 24.6", about .8" or 2cm longer than the X/M (which would be the stem length difference--you would go 2cm shorter on the J/L) and even if that is slightly longer than you are accustomed to, my inclination would be to use a shorter front stem and get the J/L.
I have different views on the relative fit flexibility of the front and rear ends of a tandem. For riders that are at least large enough to fit the tandem vertically, the problem can be one of lack of sufficient horizontal space, and in that case the space on the front end is only limited by the length of the handlebar stem that can be obtained, with any additional captain size only cantilevered farther forward.
On the back the space that is available has hard endpoints. Given that a particular saddle setback is best, that end is set, and of course at the other end there is the captain, blocking farther forward movement. This is definitely different from the open-ended captain position.
What you are after on the back of the tandem is the ability to use it as much as possible like the stoker's single bike, and one of the most length-dependent requirements is the ability to stand up and naturally move forward as a stoker would on a single bike. I can guess that if you measure horizontally between the center of your stoker's seatpost and the center of the handlebars, you will get about 23", leaving 5" of horizontal stoker stem with the X/M and 6" with the J/L. Your stoker will be happier with 6".
Last edited by SDS; 02-17-07 at 02:21 AM.