I have spent the better part of the past week absorbing all the information I can on tandems and researching the market pretty hard.
I have been been bicycling on and off for most of my life. I am 44 and in pretty good bicycling shape save for a bit of a bum left knee. My girlfriend is a rank newbie. She does pretty good on her comfort bike and can pretty easily put an hour in the saddle at slower speeds. Am I correct in assuming that the tandem will be an equalizer. Arbitrarily meaning that if I were a 60 on a scale of 1-100 and she were a 20 would we together make a 40? I hope it makes sense to pose the question that way. We get along fabulously and really enjoy our time riding together. I am hoping with the tandem, we can increase her saddle time and increase our speed without unduly taxing the above referenced bum knee. I am 5'11" with a 33" inseam and she is 5'6" with a comparatively short inseam.
We took a test spin on the only tandem I was able to find in my neck of the woods...a Trek Cruiseliner. I was relatively underwhelmed with the bike, but did feel we had potential. She enjoyed it and seems excited about getting a tandem. I have called nearly every shop withing a 250 mile radius and can't find any that stock tandems. There is a place in Birmingham AL that has over 50 in stock. She will not ride drop bars and I can go either way. I know for sure I don't want to go on the cheap. I can appreciate good quality equipment. I am equally sure, because I have so many passtimes, that I will not become a tandem addict. I enjoy hunting, fishing, kayaking, gardening, motorcycling and a number of other activities that will preclude me from spending a lot of time on a tandem. For that reason, I cant justify a high end tandem.
I am considering a Trek T900, a Cannondale Street Tandem, two KHS models, and some new Burleys that can be had for around 1500. I have looked hard at all the classifieds I can, and there is little that ever pops up in the Southeast. I know where there is a Cannondale Street tandem (500 miles away) brand new for 1199, or I can have my LBS order one for 1699. I'd immediately switch to narrower tires and a comfort saddle for both of us. The Trek might be a little too low end. It doesn't have the extra down tube that so many tandems have. It is tempting, but I am leary of our combined 325 pounds on that frame. The KHS bikes fall in between the Trek and Cannondale in price.
What are your opinions on the above bikes, and should I be looking at any others in the same price range? What else might an aspiring tandemist need to consider. Thanks in advance.