Wife and I tried out a couple of used bikes today. This is our first tandem outing since a one-dayrental in 2004. Burley Duet with Softride felt wobbly in handling (700x28 tires) compared to the KHS Tandemania (26x1.95). Would 35's on the Duet make a difference in handling? Can I go bigger than that? Fit was comparable, on both I need the handlebars higher. My wife was endlessly pleased with both and says it my call. She was aware of my wobbliness on the Duet but I think time in the saddle would cure it. A big difference in price but I think we would be upgrading the KHS in a year whereas the Duet could last us a very long time.
your opinions are appreciated.
Hopefully someone with more knowledge will respond. We've been riding so long that I can't remember what it was like. We started on 27" 1 3/4 tires I think and when low on air they were sure wobbly. I would think twice about the 26" tires unless you plan to off-road. Theses will be mighty slow on the road. You will certainly gain stability with experience and I would think 700x28's would be plenty stable.
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.
Thanks for all your feedback.I solo'd the KHS, then Duet. We paired on the Duet first. That sequence, given our inexperience, played some role in the wobble. I think the relatively narrow roadie drop bars also play a role. I'm much more often wobbling at lower speed on my 1/2 road bike than the other bikes with 56-62cm bar configurations. I've been back on a bike for 4 years but a road bike only 4 months.
Tend to disagree about issues with Softride vs regular suspension seatpost.
The only issue we had with Softride on a couple Burleys is when climbing at a high cadence, the stoker started bouncing a bit and felt she was not being as effective as without the beam. Clicked cog into one harder gear and the bounce ceased.
She tried several suspension seatposts and preferred the Softride.
Having said that we have never used rear, or front, suspension on any of our personal tandems.
The tandem feeling wobbly is probably due to inexperience . . . time/miles will cure that.
Wider tires would make a difference, but give yourself some time with the 28s. We now run 25s but for decades ran 23s. Handlebar width is easy to change . . . install wider bars.
Just our opinion/experience.
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem