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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 09-07-07, 08:04 AM   #1
Xanti Andia
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comparative advantages of an upright tandem vs. a recumbent or semirecumbent

I am opening a thread here inspired by the previous Bilenky/Viewpoint thread to discuss the comparative advantages of an upright tandem vs. a recumbent or semirecumbent. Never having ridden a recumbent I'd like to get impressions from those that have ridden both.

I have been following the trip of a spanish/japanese couple who are taking 10 years (!) to travel the world on a tendem. http://www.acercandoelmundo.com/. They should get to the US next year.
They started off with an Spanish Orbea upright tandem (I've never seen one, and it is not listed in the Orbea site), which they rode from Tierra del Fuego to Brazil (8,000 Km) and then replaced their ride for a Brazilian made tandem recumbent http://www.zohrer.com.br/.

The Orbea had a descent brake failure (rim brakes on a fully loaded descent!), they wanted to be more comfortable in a recumbent, and wanted to be able to switch stoker and pilot roles. They now have both rim and disk brakes.

All in all it seems like a recumbent is the deal for a long trip, but I ask how come they are not taking over the world. I am sure my stoker would like a recumbent, but she is complaining about the number of bikes in our underground parking spot.
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Old 09-07-07, 11:20 PM   #2
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We have both. Our "Double Vision" is very comfortable on long trips, although the load carrying ability is not very high. We rode it pretty exclusively for several years. It is heavy and slow when climbing. The Vision company went out of business, so getting replacement parts (if needed) is a concern. Our riding lately has been mostly 20-80 miles with riding successive days rare, so the upright has been used more frequently. We just purchased another wedgie and love it.
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Old 09-08-07, 01:50 PM   #3
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We started with a Cannondale, added a Rans Screamer and currently have only a Co-Motion upright. The Screamer was a great bike, but I found all the negatives of tandems and recumbents were magnified. The hills were more difficult, it was harder to manage in city riding with tight turns, and it was more difficult to transport. Still, I loved the recumbent on the open road. The Screamer would be a great touring bike.
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Old 09-08-07, 09:09 PM   #4
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Bents:
Pros: several choices (US, Germany, Australia, China, etc). F-A-S-T on long/steep downhills. Lounge-chair like seating. Lower wind resistance. Most have extremely low gearing. Low-to-the-ground to get feet down. Available in 2 or 3-wheeled versions. Some builders will customize. Some bents have S&S fittings for better portability. Available in steel, alu, ti. Bumps not as harsh for stoker on a non-wedgie seat.

Viewpoint types have a short wheelbase; upright and reclined seat; can be easily ridden solo. Viewpoint-style ideal for both stoker/pilot seeing scenery up ahead and easy conversing. Great for stoker snapping photos while riding. Limited availability.

Cons: heavy (most in 50-lbs range). Full bents are very l-o-n-g and hard to transport. Very low visibility in traffic, even with a tall flag. Sluggish on uphills. Odd parts/seats/pulleys/racks/bags. Complex/long chains. Many 'bents run 2 different size wheels necessitating carrying 2 different sized spare tubes.
Computer, bottle, rack and pannier setups can be a bit problematic, but solvable for extra-$$. Low-to-the-ground puts you closer to tailpipe (fumes)/bumper height of cars.


Upright tandems:
Pros: Fairly good availability in price range from under $300 (China-sourced) to $13,000+. Road, mountain bike, enduro and off-road models and multi-seats (up to 6) being produced. Available in many sizes + custom. Built in steel, alu, ti, carbon fiber and even bamboo.
Light weight (down to 20-lbs tandems for racing. Many sub-30 lbs. tandems are being mass produced).
Most brands use standardized parts. Wheel sizes: 20", 26", 700c. Large selection of upgrades, from c/f forks to suspension seatposts to independent pedaling systems to S&S and folding tandems.
Cons: still not too many real tandem dealers/shops. Some folks do not like riding a 'wedgie' saddle. Bumps can be harsher for stoker if there is no suspension seatpost/saddle. Rear spacing not fully standardized.

No doubt, have missed some pros/cons, but the above came to mind . . .
With all these choices, we still can't please everyone!

Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy andKay/zonatandem
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Old 09-10-07, 10:29 AM   #5
Xanti Andia
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Forum activity has burried this thread, and much of the pertinent discussion remained in the Bilenky/Viewpoint thread:

bilenky/viewpoint

Seems to me the the Viewpoint upright/recumbent combination can get some of the best from both worlds. I'll try one when I get a chance.

Having some trouble getting enough tandem riding time, stoker often comes up with some very good reasons not to ride, none of which are wedgie related, most of the good reasons are time for our children and friends. If I were to sugest that a semi-recumbent is the required as 4th bike I'd be hanged.
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Old 09-11-07, 05:29 AM   #6
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Having ridden regular DF tandems for years, I do prefer the semi-recumbent tandem that I currently own.

Semi-recumbent tandem like the Hase Pino take up less storage space, able to get on public transportation if need to, and my stoker and I could swap seating if one gets tired of upright riding position, no need to turn your head and shout to communicate between riders, stoker can see the road ahead just as much (if not more) than the captn.

I havn't tried a full-on recumbent tandem, but from what I could see of the available models, they seem to be rather long in length and more difficult to transport/store and other cons similar to regular DF tandems.
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Old 09-11-07, 09:40 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
Cons: Full bents are very l-o-n-g and hard to transport.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cat0020 View Post
they seem to be rather long in length and more difficult to transport/store
Just to add a "pro" to the "con" list...
Our Greenspeed is easily transported on a very expensive($60) Hollywood folding trunk rack attached to our humongous SUV!

The Burley folds and stows in the trunk.

As for storing it, I have rigged an electric winch to hoist it into the ceiling of the garage. It's hanging over my head as I type this.
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