Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Grand Prairie, TX
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
A number of people have complained about handling issues with Softride Beams on tandems--they say that lateral wiggles of the beam, while going straight or especially while initiating a turn, perturb the directed course of the bike. You can imagine that if you initiate a turn, and the beam flexes laterally (due to the inertia of the stoker) and then rebounds back, that this will cause the bike to tip/oscillate left/right. The other complaint that you hear, is that the beam is only efficient at one particular cadence, which may not be your preference, and is certainly not a circumstance well suited to spirited pack riding or going up and down rollers at a brisk pace.
Some teams insist on a Softride Beam, and dismiss the handling and cadence issues as immaterial. In rare circumstances they can be unbeatable because they suspend the riders. Alex Stieda and his stoker once won a criterium in a tandem stage race with two Softride Beams on a tandem, by going faster through the rough turns than unsuspended tandems could go.
My opinion is that the disadvantages of a Softride Beam on the back of a general-use tandem, in comparison with a shock-absorbing seatpost, vastly outweigh the advantages, and present a significant handicap. It's hard enough to keep up with a mostly male club ride with a mixed team, if there are any hills at all. There's no point in giving up any more performance.
Higher pressure or smaller tires should feel less wobbly.
I would be inclined to get a tandem that I expected to upgrade in a year or so, preferably 700C if it is to be used on the road. You need the tire diameter to get the needed gearing.
The advantage of planning to upgrade in a year is that it allows the timely opportunity to make modifications that you then know you desire--like greater bottom bracket spacing to give the stoker more room. It's not good to buy the expensive super-tandem the first time, only to find that it doesn't fit the way you want it to fit.