Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Tucson, AZ
Bikes: Custom Zona c/f tandem + Scott Plasma single
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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.
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!