My sweetie and i have been looking for months, and we went through the various choices of tandem bikes online and in the valley. Originally we were going to save and see if we could eventually afford a co-motion, but we instead stuck with the KHS tandemania sport here: http://www.khsbicycles.com/08_tan_sport_07.htm
Would you consider it a bad choice for a first tandem bike? We've barely started tandem biking together, and we are trying to save money currently (we're getting married next year...so I suppose you could say the tandeming has brought us closer together either way). My concern is that it seems rather heavy in weight, and I am wondering if that will affect our long distance riding significantly.
Idaho is a fairly hilly state, so weight will definitely affect the ride going up
hill. This is essentially an entry level comfort styled tandem. It would
help to know what you consider long distance and how the bike style
compares with your singletons. On the flats the weight is less significant
but it will still slow you down, just not so much. The upright posture will
put even more of a premium on the seat/crotch matchup and saddles
acceptable on a singleton are not always satisfactory on a tandem.
You can tolerate a lot for 20-30miles, that becomes intolerable at 60-100
miles. A 12-34 7spd is going to have a big kerchunk! changing gears.
Remember too that 3-4 water bottles, a bag + tools, tubes, food and
wallet etc are going to add another 7-12# to the bike which narrows the
difference between more standard inexpensive (but 2-2.5x as much as
the $800 for the KHS) tandems which weigh 38-45# unencumbered and
Rans Rockst (Retro rocket) Rans Enduro Sport (Retro racket) Hase Kettweisel Tandem (redundent recumbent), Merin Bear Valley (The gopher).
You'll be fine.
The reason why you buy a tandem is bacause you have a partner that you want to bicycle with. You're comparative speed to somebody else isn't important because, even if you get dropped, you always have a partner to enjoy the ride with. While it's always good to have a nicer bike, a little additional weight really doesn't matter.
That bike is LOTS better than our first tandem. I put together a Twinn Schwinn, from salvaged parts, in 1976 and we rode it until we bought our first Santana in 1983. That makes 31 years of tandeming and, on Friday, we'll have 44 years of marriage. I think that both of those are pretty good.
Univega Via Montega, Nashbar Aluminum frame/105 roadbike
The upright/comfort style of the bike will have a far larger impact than weight, I would venture.
The more upright the bike, the more you're 'sitting' on the saddle instead of distributing your weight between saddle, pedals and handlebars. The more leaned over/'aggressive' positions are *much* more comfortable for people who ride regularly, and have developed the muscles for it.
If you ride several times a week for more than an hour, you will likely be happier with a more leaned over riding position. The multiple hand positions available with drop bars are another major factor.
If you ride only occasionally, tend to 'cruise' instead of riding quickly, or have any back or neck issues which preclude the more leaned over posture that a normal road bike dictates, a comfort style bike will be the ticket for you. Assuming it fits reasonably well, and the saddles agree with you, comfort bikes are fine for an hour at a time or so. Just don't expect that you'll be comfortable sitting on a big cushy bike seat for 6 hours just because it's called a 'comfort bike'.
When pricing out bikes, something to consider is the used market. $800-$1000 can get you a decent quality and condition used bike in the somewhere around 10 year old vintage. Anything newer than early 90s will be more likely to have standard parts which are still available, also often allowing some carefully selected upgrades to things like the drivetrain, brakes, wheels etc if the opportunity presents itself, or it becomes necessary due to worn out older components.
If you're comfortable wrenching on your own bike, or at least are familiar enough with the technology to evaluate the quality and condition of an older bike, used is definitely the way to go in your price range. If you can cultivate the help of a bike savvy friend who you trust, especially one with tandem experience, buying used can be a good idea even for someone new to the game. I know *I* certainly enjoy helping get friends onto bikes they'll enjoy, it's like shopping with other people's money.
All that being said, even 'low to middle' range bikes (anything above the 'department store' level) these days are pretty serviceable. The Tandemania Sport has several features which put it head and shoulders above the ultra-cheap tandems out there, and even above many older inexpensive tandems. It's got an eccentric bottom bracket for chain tensioning, middle of the road derailleur system (Deore), and linear pull brakes.
If you can hunt for a deal on a Tandemania Alite you might be able to find one for not much more than the MSRP on the Sport. Then again, you might be able to find a Sport out there for less than $800, too.
Yipes, you got bit of a dilema!
While the KHS will give you instant ownership it will be a bit on the hefty side for longer distances that you seen to be interested in. So what is a longer distance to you-2? 20, 40, 100 miles?
Younger legs may not notice the weight/hills as much either. And having just returned from 3 months in the beautiful state of Idaho (Twin Falls area) this summer, we did not have that many hills, but winds were rather more of an issue in the Snake River area. Have also ridden the Boise area and yes, going up to the bird sanctuary there is UP-hill!
Used would be a good way to go as has been suggested. But tandems are a bit scarce in the Gem state.
A used Burley, Co-Mo or other quality used 2-seater would fill the bill. If you decide on the KHS for now, you'll gain tandem experience/know-how and will be better informed when you go upscale a bit.
Wishing you luck in riding TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
We've been very happy with our Tandemania Comp, similar to the Sport but with cro-mo frame and several component upgrades. No longer sold but may be some used ones around. Very, very comfortable ride and stable at speed (downhill!). The Sport would be quite serviceable and fun, too, I'm sure.
Depends on what you're happy with. If you and your fiancee ride a bike that looks like this and are happy with it, then the tandem is probably right for you. Don't worry about the bike being a few lbs heavier than a $4000 bike - the rider makes the difference not the bike. For example I used to knock out 57 minute 40km time trials on a 24lb road bike with downtube shifters that I wouldn't even look at today.
However if you ride what looks like a racing bike costing >$500 I would hold off until you can afford a new more roadie-type tandem like the KHS Milano. Quite a few people on the board here have got / had one and they are more than adequate for most uses. You don't need carbon dura everything to go racing, touring or anything else. It is nice but not necessary.