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  1. #1
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    Thoughts on new tandem

    Hi all! I'm a long time cyclist but new to BikeForums. I just ordered a new tandem, and the forum I usually hang out on doesn't have a tandem section, so I found this one to chat as the wife and I get used to this new form of recreation I ride both road and MTB, racing both and train 200+ miles per week. My wife is nervous about riding around traffic, but enjoys bike paths and easy trails, so for the last few months my 2 recovery rides a week have been on the trail with her. We've rented tandems a couple times and really enjoyed them, so I finally broke down and bought one.

    I was hoping to find a bike that could work well on road and light trails, and I prefer road bars & shifters for comfort. I found this bike: Click Here online, and it looks like a pretty good deal to me on paper, but I'd like comments from some experienced tandemers.

    Our first public appearance is scheduled for early September for a bike tour of wineries near Paw Paw, MI. Hopefully that will give us time to get comfortable with it. We rented one last month for a day and instantly fell into synch with calling out shifts, bumps, & stops. By the end of the day she was standing to hammer hills. It was a blast, I hope this bike works as smoothly as the comfort rental!

  2. #2
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Have ridden 30 some odd brands/models of tandems in 32+ years of tandeming . . . but never a Lamborghini!
    Looks 'good' on paper, proof will be in riding. And Lamborghini has nothing to do with the car brand . . . just using the name and flashy graphics. At $500 and 'free' shipping it's a typical made in mainland China machine, all the way around. WallMart sells one even cheaper, as does Sears. You get what you pay for.
    Let us know how well you 'love' it after your (St. Julian Winery?) tour in PawPaw.
    A better (but pricier @ $3,000+)) choice would have been one of the 26" wheeled Co-Motion Periscope models that can handle roads/trails, with better frame/componentry + lifetime warranty to original buyer.
    Would have been better to check out this forum BEFORE ordering, instead of after the fact.
    Sorry, but that's our experience/opinion.
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

    Attached Sears tandem . . . a couple hundred $$ less than a Lamborghini (Note: stoker bars 'expertly' assembled backwards).
    Attached Images Attached Images

  3. #3
    SDS
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    Your reported experience suggests your stoker is relatively small. The biggest disadvantage of out-of-the-box budget tandems is the short stoker (front to back, basically the captain is too close to the stoker) compartment, which will limit stoker positions if it fits at all. The good news is that you have only dropped $500, which is a very cheap way to find out what you like and do not like about tandems, all issues that likely can be addressed with a custom tandem the second time you buy. Lots of people have spent much more money the first time to learn that lesson.

  4. #4
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    First, welcome to the tandem forum and sorry that the first response to your first post as a new member to Bife Forums is similar to walking into a buzz saw. The beauty of an inexpensive tandem is that you can see how you like it and upgrade / replace as required. I am sure you knew as an experienced cyclist / racer what good equipment costs and took that into consideration for your stated purpose and goal. Many of us have spent many thousands of dollars on our tandems equipped similar to the finest racing bikes to match the quality of our single bikes and others have chosen much less expensive solutions but all have had a lot of fun. Once again welcome.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  5. #5
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    Hermes, thanks for the kind words and welcome.

    SDS, you are right, I'm 6'3" and my stoker is 5'7", fit is my main worry about this bike, but all the cheap tandems seem to be one size fits all, and we're looking to test the waters without a huge investment.

    Zonatandem, I saw that bike and many others that were similar. First, it's out of stock, as is the target counterpart that is actually a little nicer with a disc brake on the front. Second, I really dislike grip shifts, and am not a fan of straight bars unless I'm bouncing around alot on the trails. What got me about this bike were the sizing for 700c tires, the Sora brifters, and the aluminum as opposed to chromo frame. The spec is really closer to the KHS or Fuji bikes in the $1500 range. The "Lambo" does have a lifetime warranty on the frame, and 1 year on all other components. I know the brand is just a label on another Chinese/Taiwanese frame, I'm not worried about brand. For that matter my race bike is a "Motobecane" but certainly not the French classic.

  6. #6
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    If you race, and ride 200 miles plus per week, you presumably have at least a decent single bike.

    You will hate that tandem. Think of it this way, would you ride a $250 single bike? And because of complexities of tandems, and limited markets, a $500 tandem Will not be as good a bike as $250 single bike.

    Also The stresses on tandems are more than on single bikes, thus componets tend to break and wear out. Cheap componets tend to wear and break out even faster.

    Do yourself a favor and save your money. Either 1) up your budget to buy something new, or 2) look for something used at the same price point.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
    If you race, and ride 200 miles plus per week, you presumably have at least a decent single bike.

    You will hate that tandem. Think of it this way, would you ride a $250 single bike? And because of complexities of tandems, and limited markets, a $500 tandem Will not be as good a bike as $250 single bike.

    Also The stresses on tandems are more than on single bikes, thus componets tend to break and wear out. Cheap componets tend to wear and break out even faster.

    Do yourself a favor and save your money. Either 1) up your budget to buy something new, or 2) look for something used at the same price point.

    +1 I bought a used Santana Sovereign for $700. It was older, but had been updated with a modern 8-speed Shimano LX drivtrain and a new cassette-based wheelset with XT hubs. There are a lot of good deals on used tandems out there.

  8. #8
    Senior Member hr2510's Avatar
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    GEEEEZ What a SNOBISH crowd! Congratulations on the new tandem!! Here's wishing you two the BEST of FUN with it! I guess some folks have their nose too high in the air to see you bought a tandem for fun and NOT for competition or to keep up with the Jones. I bet they forgot or refuse to admit a single speed/coaster brake bike (even tandem)used to take them anywhere they wanted to go just fine and they had fun on it
    • Mike
    • 1989 Specialized Hardrock
    • 2007 Kent Tandem

  9. #9
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Not being snobs and no intention of flaming the buyer, we did give our opinion . . . and it is exactly that: an honest opinion.
    Imetis rides/trains 200 miles a week, we bet it's not on a wallymart single and must know the reliability/value of a good frame/components.
    Agree, that at $500 he does not have much to loose if they don't like the Lambo tandem, and it can always be re-sold.
    Co-Motion Periscope is also availabe in 700c or 26" wheel size and flat or drop bars. The Periscope frame has the ultimate in adjustability. Have fit a captain at 6'3'' and also a captain at 5'3" on that same tandem. How? Adjustable/flipable pilot stem (adjusts back/forth like some of the old track stems) and lots of spacers that can be utitlized for proper stem height. The seatposts feature a 'seatpost within a seatpost' extension (hence the Persicope moniker) for great height adjustabolity. Check out their website. Or as another poster suggested, find a quality used tandem as they did.
    In the meantime, have a sip of that St.Julian wine for us in PawPaw . . . they used to make a combo of champagne/cranberry wine about 30 years ago . . . great stuff!
    In the meantime . . .
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  10. #10
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    I think it is possible to get a lot of quality and rideability in a new tandem without spending anywhere close to $3k. OTOH it is possible to get a tandem that will fulfill the essence of tandem riding and serve as a grocery getter and second bike to loan to visiting friends for impromtu double tandem rides for a lot less than $500.00. For the September tour I think a quality rental is in order if the purchase of a Fuji Absolute, Raleigh Coupe or KHS Tandemania is too budget breaking to consider. In the meantime the Wal-Mart Kent or Mantis tandem and a number of other sub $300.00 tandems can serve as entry level iron that will not perform discernably different from the Lambo.

    H

  11. #11
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    We ride a 1994 Burley Duet (which was before Burley raised the price and content of the Duet) so I can't afford to put my nose too high in the air. But in my opinon, there is a point below which a tandem becomes so cheap that it is likely not up to the stresses that will be put on it by anything more than a 5 mile ride around the neighborhood, and the bike will be so flexy that it will not feel secure, particularly to a new team that is not yet fully in synch.

    The downside of a too cheap tandem is the ride quality, handling, and mechanical breakdowns may turn off a new team from tandems all together.

    Admittedly $500 is not that much to put at risk, and the Lambo may serve as a nice introduction. I would suggest to the OP that if it doesn't meet expectations, try another bike, but don't right off tandeming.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for all the great replies, though I am now second guessing my order. Nothing to do but wait for it to arrive and see.

    I was tottally against this level of bike, until we rented a Reflex tandem in England a few weeks ago, which is very similar (likely same bike with different name) to the matrix, and it was surprisingly smooth and fun to ride. This frame looks identical, and it has the same shimano tourney drivetrain. Anyway, this seems to be a very new model and I found no reviews. I know I'm taking a chance, I'll let you know how it pans out.

  13. #13
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by imetis
    ... it looks like a pretty good deal to me on paper, but I'd like comments from some experienced tandemers.
    I'm reminded of this kid who went flying past me on the Santa Ana River trail some 25 years ago... me on my 14 speed Raleigh Prestige in full kit with my Diettos clipped into my SunTour Superbe Pro quill pedals and he on a beat-to-heck banana yellow Schwinn Varsity in cut-offs and a T-shirt with tennis shoes stomping away on platform pedals. It's not always about the bike... but an old Schwinn was still a pretty solid bike on the flats.

    Here's the deal: The information you provided regarding your cycling background suggests you have at least a working knowledge of both the economics of cycling and hierarchy of component quality. Therefore, so long as you manage your expectations around the entry-level nature of this particular bike and give it a thorough going over -- to include checking the headset/bottom bracket/wheel bearings for proper lubrication and adjustment, the wheels for trueness and spoke tension, the drive train for proper alignment, set-up (e.g., chain length / timing chain tension), and lubrication of the drive train as well as the installation and alignment of the brakes -- it should allow you and your wife to determine if tandeming will be something you'll enjoy for the long-haul.

    However, I wouldn't want to put too many hard miles on a tandem at this price level as you and your stoker will quickly outgrow it's capabilities and that could limit or even diminish your enjoyment and performance as the inherent weaknesses of some of the low-end parts will show themselves.

    Keep us posted on your progress.

  14. #14
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Mark makes a good point of going over the new Lambo when you get it.
    One couple purchased a $300-range 'imported' 2-seater and was having some real issues . . . shifting/braking/wobbly wheels, etc. LBS checked it over and fixed things up as well as could be expected . . . discovered none of the bearing surfaces showed any sign of grease/lubricant!
    We were in Duluth, MN a couple years ago riding our tandem when we caught up with a couple on a just-out-of-the shop shiny red Schwinn tandem. Looked beautiful . . . but stokers pedal fell apart right there on their maiden voyage. The whole things was just pressed together and not all all fixable/salvagable.
    Suggested to them to return it to shop right away.
    Got a similar story to Mark's 'it's not always about the bike': in the mid-70s a kid on a Schwinn Continetal beating out a fellow on a Cinelli regularly . . . while Schwinn then built heavy bikes, they did have good Schwinn-approved parts!

  15. #15
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    Just get out on it with your misses. Enjoy riding together. If you both love love love tandeming, then sell this and get a super one one day. This one will be fine to get you out there.

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    Enjoy your tandem. Keep in mind it is not a top of the line .

    Enjoy your tandem. Keep in mind you are riding with the one you love.

    Enjoy you tandem.
    NewbieIATandem
    Big Team on Trek T900

  17. #17
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem
    Got a similar story to Mark's 'it's not always about the bike': in the mid-70s a kid on a Schwinn Continetal beating out a fellow on a Cinelli regularly . . . while Schwinn then built heavy bikes, they did have good Schwinn-approved parts!
    The Huret derailleur on my Continental (my first adult bike) may have been Schwinn-Approved but it sure was crappy!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek
    I'm reminded of this kid who went flying past me on the Santa Ana River trail some 25 years ago... me on my 14 speed Raleigh Prestige in full kit with my Diettos clipped into my SunTour Superbe Pro quill pedals and he on a beat-to-heck banana yellow Schwinn Varsity in cut-offs and a T-shirt with tennis shoes stomping away on platform pedals. It's not always about the bike...

    I was that kid!


    Just kidding. But I do quite regularly beat road bikers with my singlespeed MTB transformed into a light commuter (by way of Schwalbe Big Apple tires and slightly higher gearing). The roadies have an edge on the flats, but Helsinki is hilly enough that I outpedal them on the way up. And, I have neither cycling pants nor jerseys these days, much less cycling shoes.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek
    a beat-to-heck banana yellow Schwinn Varsity in cut-offs and a T-shirt with tennis shoes stomping away on platform pedals. It's not always about the bike... but an old Schwinn was still a pretty solid bike on the flats.

    Yeah, that was me too back in high school. I regularly put in 50+ mile days on my (red) Schwinn Varsity wearing cut offs and combat boots

    I still commute on an old bike ('83 Trek 520) converted to fixie, and wear baggy clothes and chuck taylors. Few things in life have been able to put a smile on my face like riding a bike, in any form, in any clothing. Sometimes you just needs to go out and play.

  20. #20
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    Just ride it and see what happens.
    Make decisions based on what happens.

    We started with a tandem that was mostly wrong, but it taught us many things we needed to know.

  21. #21
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    Similar, our first tandem wasn't for us. The main thing was the stoker compartment was tiny. My stoker is 5'8", we couldn't get it adjusted so her knees weren't hitting her handlebars. The seats put our rears to sleep in about a block. But is was enough to have us say, "Heck yes we want to tandem." So we did some more shopping and got the tandem of our dreams.

    You might find your tandem is perfect for your needs. You might find your tandem isn't what you expected, just keep in mind you are not buying a tandem to race, you are buying a tandem because you want to ride together. If it meets your needs, great, if not you can determine if it is the tandem that is not working out, or if it is the two of you that just aren't taking to tandeming. If both you and the wife love tandeming, you can work out issues of what tandem/components.

    Enjoy your tandem.
    NewbieIATandem
    Big Team on Trek T900

  22. #22
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hr2510
    GEEEEZ What a SNOBISH crowd! Congratulations on the new tandem!! Here's wishing you two the BEST of FUN with it! I guess some folks have their nose too high in the air to see you bought a tandem for fun and NOT for competition or to keep up with the Jones. I bet they forgot or refuse to admit a single speed/coaster brake bike (even tandem)used to take them anywhere they wanted to go just fine and they had fun on it
    I never know how to respond to posts like this so I usually don't. I don't want to be negative or discouraging but I can't really visualize an accomplished rider being very happy with a noodly frame and a 7-speed freewheel.

  23. #23
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    Imetis, good luck on the new tandem. I think it would be good for everyone on this forum if you update uw with a report after you have had a couple of weeks to try it out. You have enough cycling experience that you could let us know what you do or don't like about it and why. - Let us know!

  24. #24
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    I'll definitely post a review after a few rides. I'm anxiously watching the tracking now. I can say that it drop shipped from Kent International, so that confirms the expectations on general level of the bike. Part of me wishes I had gone with the Mongoose or similar for half the price, but with 1/2 bikes there's a huge difference between $100 bikes and $250 bikes, so I'm hoping to see the same quality increase between $250 and $500 tandems. I'll have it some time this week and let you know how it looks.

  25. #25
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    I got the tandem yesterday. Overall about what I expected. The frame looks & feels solid. It's lighter than a lot of department store singles, so I'm happy with that. Assembly took longer than a quality bike would have, the headset was rediculously overtightened, the derailuers took a while to adjust, and one of the tubes was pinched and blew the tire off the rim on first fill. That said, within a couple hours I have a bike that rides very smoothly, and feels fast. I expect these derailuers, brakes and wheels will need more periodic adjustment, but for now everything is smooth and good.

    The stoker complained that the ride is harsher than the MTB tandem we rode a few weeks ago, so I'm going to experiment with tires, pressures, and probably buy a suspension seatpost for her. Even with that we're both excited to get back out again tonight.

    Objectively speaking (if that's possible after purchase) there isn't much difference between this bike or the $250 MTB style tandems commonly available. The frame and drivetrain are identical, and the wheels are of similar quality (i.e. not good). The advice to spend 1/2 the money was sound, but if someone is willing to pay more for the only bargain road style tandem, I think this is worth the money.

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