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  1. #1
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    Warning!! Another Tandem Rack Question....

    Sorry, another tandem rack question. I just bought a new tandem and am going to haul it on my Honda Civic 4-dr sedan. I already have Yakima bars & 2 Yakima "Steelhead" bike racks mounted for my mountain and single road bikes.

    The LBS wants to sell me a new Yakima Sidewinder for $225, which seems like a great price. But I guess my question is: Why can't I just make an extension for one of my Steelheads? I understand the leverage & weight issues; the extended channel would have to be significantly more robust than the OEM channel. Why can I not just go to the steel yard and pick-up a piece of heavy gauge angle iron and bolt it to the existing channel? If I secure it with a couple of bolts and over-lap the channels for the majority of the OEM channel, I would think that would be sufficient.

    The weight of the Tandem is not significantly more than my Mountain bike; 32# vs. 36#

    I guess I'm just a cheap ******* who would rather spend the $225 on something else and not have that monstrous Sidewinder on the car.

    Thanks for any input.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    I don't pop in here often, but feel I need to respond.

    I don't know what you paid for your tandem, but at 36 lbs, it sounds like a premium tandem and worth a bit of hard earned cash. You made the investment in this tandem, why won't you spend the little extra to protect it while transporting? If your cobbled together rack fails, you will be lucky to just damage the Tandem and maybe your car also.

    Since we started riding Tandems in 1988, there has been ONE time when our tandem has not been on top of the car, and that is the day we brought it home. We had a mid-size wagon and if I took the front wheel off it would fit in with the seats down. That was the first and last time. That basic Yakima Tandem mount is now on it's 5th vehicle and still performs it's function quite well.

    Make the investment!

    Chris
    A Mess of old bikes...
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  3. #3
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    FWIW, I've never used a tandem-specific roof mount when car-topping our tandems... to include the 45lb off-road models. However, I've had the benefit of having a long roof line that allowed me to install a third cross bar. With the three bar configuration, a stand alone fork mount was put on the furthest forward cross bar mounted vertically vs. the normal horizontal installation to raise the bottom brackets for timing ring clearance at the second cross bar. The rear wheels sat in the standard rear wheel position of a Steelhead rack. I can't recall a time when I was overly concerned that the two-points of contact at the fork fork mount and the rear wheel tie-down was insufficient. Moreover, we used this same configuration to roof top three tandems on a road trip from Atlanta to New Orleans back in '02 without any issues.

    Now, all of that said, a quality tandem mount is a good investment. However, Yakima's approach to the mid-boom attachment point isn't the end all and never has been. Before dismissing a well-designed mount I would suggest looking at both the non-pivoting ATOC Bike Topper for tandems (this much less expensive than the Tandem Topper) and the Rocky Mounts Tandem Mount R4. Both mounts can be used with single bikes and tandems and incorporate features that make them easier to live with when they are mounted to your car but not being used.

    Parting shot: Sport racks are really cool. But, before they existed we strapped canoes, kayaks, and bikes to the tops of cars with little more than some padding and tie downs. Finding rack solutions that are adequate for tandems doesn't always require a huge investment and cost varies with convenience. If you don't need a pivoting roof mount you don't need a pivoting roof mount.

  4. #4
    Senior Member JTGraphics's Avatar
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    I have a Yakima Sidewinder if you can get one for $225 thats a great price.
    I have it on a little honda also, very easy to get it up on the roof.
    It may not be fancy but it gets me were I need to go.
    http://www.jtgraphics.net/cyclist_bicycles.htm

  5. #5
    Senior Member joe@vwvortex's Avatar
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    I have a sidewinder also. It installs in about 5 minutes - so I don't leave it on the car all the time. We use it on our Audi Avant. I like the fact that it attaches to the bike frame, not just the fork and rear wheel.
    Administrator and Contributing Editor - Vortex Media Group

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weaklink View Post
    Sorry, another tandem rack question. I just bought a new tandem and am going to haul it on my Honda Civic 4-dr sedan. I already have Yakima bars & 2 Yakima "Steelhead" bike racks mounted for my mountain and single road bikes.

    The LBS wants to sell me a new Yakima Sidewinder for $225, which seems like a great price. But I guess my question is: Why can't I just make an extension for one of my Steelheads? I understand the leverage & weight issues; the extended channel would have to be significantly more robust than the OEM channel. Why can I not just go to the steel yard and pick-up a piece of heavy gauge angle iron and bolt it to the existing channel? If I secure it with a couple of bolts and over-lap the channels for the majority of the OEM channel, I would think that would be sufficient.

    The weight of the Tandem is not significantly more than my Mountain bike; 32# vs. 36#

    I guess I'm just a cheap ******* who would rather spend the $225 on something else and not have that monstrous Sidewinder on the car.

    Thanks for any input.
    If you don't raise the fork mount part higher, your front bottom bracket will hit. I went with the Atoc which works on Thule or Yakima and doesn't look so funky and doesn't attach to the keel tube.
    Where are you located?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dvs cycles View Post
    If you don't raise the fork mount part higher, your front bottom bracket will hit.
    This is the main reason tandem mounts are different from extended single bike mounts.

    Our Thule tandem mount even has a normal skewer, so the twisting forces aren't any different as you point out.

    As an aside, we never use the pivoting feature, and if we could, we'd have bought the same thing without that feature included.

    Having said that, there seems to be only one other functional differences between the single and tandem mounts on our car. Since the tandem is so long, it's critical that the weight be distributed evenly between the front and rear bars. Our fork mount extends a bit in front of the bar. The long and very solid err "mid rail" will not flex and therefore will not flex around or down behind the rear bar. I imagine a piece of strong and rigid steel will perform the same function but you're still going to deal with a fork mount closer to the front bar.

    I would not get a mount that clamps anything to the frame of the bike. Just a personal preference after watching numerous bikes get damaged accidentally while in working in bike shops for 15 years.

    We have a 2002 Civic 4 door and have driven the tandem around for up to 5 hours a trip with no ill effect to the roof of the car. As nice as the bike is, the car represents a ten fold investment and therefore takes precedence over the bike. Our 15 passenger van also works but gets 10 mpg on a good day so we try and leave that at home.

    I weighed our tandem on the shop scale and it was 38 pounds unladen. Cannondale, essentially stock.

    If you feel that you can make it work (or make it work better) by all means go for it. If you're a tinkerer you'll probably end up with something better for your particular bike.

    good luck,
    cdr
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

  8. #8
    Senior Member joe@vwvortex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    I would not get a mount that clamps anything to the frame of the bike. Just a personal preference after watching numerous bikes get damaged accidentally while in working in bike shops for 15 years.

    I can't possibly see how you could damage the tandem on the Yakima Sidewinder unless you are a complete idiot. You can't possibly pull the slide-down heavily-padded clamps down tight enough onto the top of the boom tube to dent it or bend it in any way and the bottom is also rubber with no sharp areas to dent the tube. You have to be putting more stress on the fork dropout if the only other attachment point is 1" of the rear rim.
    Administrator and Contributing Editor - Vortex Media Group

  9. #9
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    OK, Thanks guys!! I got the Sidewinder.

    Thanks Guys, I bought the Sidewinder. I have not read anything bad from any owners. And $225 seems like a great deal. I can resell it for close to that if I do not like it.

    Thanks Again!!
    Last edited by Weaklink; 12-13-07 at 07:10 PM.
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  10. #10
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    Weaklink - <<I guess I'm just a cheap ******* who would rather spend the $225 on something else and not have that monstrous Sidewinder on the car.>>

    I have a rigid tandem rack which I have used for some years with our Cannondale until I contracted a shoulder problem which persuaded me to buy a Sidewinder. The rigid rack fits to Yakima round bars and you can have it for the cost of shipping. Send me a PM if you are interested.

  11. #11
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    I built my own that attaches to my Yakima rack.

    http://community.webshots.com/user/cyclesteve999

  12. #12
    fanatik Speedub.Nate's Avatar
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    I've already got Yakima Highroller upright racks on my Subaru, and want to make use of one for hauling our new tandem. With a 20mm through-axle fork on the way, I will not be up for regular wheel removal.

    What I am building now is fairly simple. It's an 82" long 2.5x1.5" rectangular tube, with two sections of round tubing extending out to support a wheel tray. This "tandem adapter" will sit off to the side of the High Roller, and the short wheel tray will be displaced to the inside, in-line with the extended centerline of bike.

    I paid $30 for the wheel tray, strap & mounting hardware (from Rocky Mounts), and have a material quote of another $50 for the steel for the rack. A local truck rack builder can do the welding and powder coating.

    I devised a funky adapter plate for the mid-beam mounting point, but looking at the photos Cycle Steve posted, it appears there is room for simplification. I can probably eliminate the square U-bolts and the troublesome slotted adapter plate, but I need to first ensure the whole tube assembly will have enough resistance against "rolling over," due to the offset load. (The rear wheel exerts a 20-pound force against the wheel tray, which is 5' ahead of the cross bar, otherwise unsupported.)

    My intention is to mount the bike without additional supports (just held by the front wheel mount and rear wheel tray/strap, as the Highroller does with solo bikes), but a vertical stabilizer bar of some sort would be relatively easy to rig up if an extra brace is warranted.

    The bikes sit backward on my roof, meaning our tandem's rear wheel will be pointed forward, suspended over the front end of the car.

    For now, all I have is this drawing. I'll follow up with photos once I complete it, which shouldn't be too much longer.

    Edit: My intent is to install this rack only when we take the tandem out, and remove it afterward. Not exactly something that will pop into place, but with only three U-bolts and a nut driver in hand, I figure it shouldn't take any more than 3-4 additional minutes to get it fixed into place, ready to use. Because it will sit outside of my rack's towers, I won't have to completely remove the U-bolts -- just loosen them enough to slide off.



    Last edited by Speedub.Nate; 12-14-07 at 06:58 AM.

  13. #13
    fanatik Speedub.Nate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclesteve View Post
    I built my own that attaches to my Yakima rack.

    http://community.webshots.com/user/cyclesteve999
    Steve,

    What size U-bolts did you end up using? Are they wide enough to slip easily over the endcaps of the Yakima cross bars during installation / removal?

  14. #14
    TWilkins
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    For you guys considering building your own extension/tray, consider using aluminum channel rather than steel. A friend and I built an additional tandem tray for his draftmaster rack using 3 inch channel with a 1 inch lip that worked really well and was quite a bit lighter than using steel. We chose that because we wanted to run two tandems in the 2 outside stations and didn't want the weight differential between the steel and the one original equipment tray we had to cause the rack to lean toward the heavy side all the time.

    Ended up costing $35 plus a couple of straps to do it, which was considerably less expensive than buying a new original equipment tray that would probably only be used a few times that we traveled together.
    Last edited by twilkins9076; 12-14-07 at 11:53 AM.
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  15. #15
    fanatik Speedub.Nate's Avatar
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    I decided on steel because I need a couple of welds, and would rather take my chances finding a qualified steel welder. Plus I don't want to take the risk of some sort of catastrophic due to my under-engineering. Pretty hard to beat steel tube for that.

    At 3' per foot, my tandem adapter ought to weigh around 21 pounds, plus U-bolts & wheel tray.

  16. #16
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    Speedub.Nate


    I don't know the ID of the U-bolts I used. They are 1/4" and they are too small to fit over the end caps, but they fit the round bars perfect. I remove the U-bolts place the square tubeing on the round bars, line up the plates and install the U-bolts. I use a wrench to tighten the nuts on the U-bolts. I would rather use a wing type nut but I don't think there is enough clearance to use a long enough wing to get enough leverage to get them tight enough. The picture shows a T-handle pin holding the swing arm in place. The pin did not hold the arm secure enough. I welded a nut on the bottom of the square tubeing and use a bolt to secure the swing arm. I don't like using the bolt because I use a socket and a rachet to tighten the bolt and one slip on the rachet and it bounces off the windshield. I am planning to thread the T-handle pin to use instead of the bolt. I did the welding myself and I could have used aluminum but the cost would have been more. So far, I have not had any problems. Good luck with yours.

    Steve

  17. #17
    Captain - 2nd in Command djsincla's Avatar
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    I have a very nice rear hitch rack made by Badger Cycling. Very solid. One end has a quick release mount for the front fork and the bike is suspended in the rack by a "G" clamp arrangement which holds the bike by the rear crank bolts. Pictures when I dig the rack out of my garage.

    Once upon a time a after a long day cycling and dinner at a restaurant, my wife and I proceeded to park our Jeep in the garage... with two Mountain Bikes in Yakama racks on top of the roof of the car. $3000 to repair the roof of the vehicle and I still have the two mountain bikes in my garage with damage to their frames where the Yakama racks were ripped away. I would never have thought bikes and racks could do so much damage to a vehicle.

  18. #18
    fanatik Speedub.Nate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djsincla View Post
    I would never have thought bikes and racks could do so much damage to a vehicle.
    One could argue the rack didn't do the damage....

    I know, I know, it's just a matter of time until it's my turn. Just sayin'.

  19. #19
    Captain - 2nd in Command djsincla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate View Post
    One could argue the rack didn't do the damage....

    I know, I know, it's just a matter of time until it's my turn. Just sayin'.
    Yes you are right I guess what I meant to say that given the low speed of the impact, I was surprised how much serious damage occurred. It's not like I was racing to get the vehicle into the garage.

  20. #20
    fanatik Speedub.Nate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djsincla View Post
    Yes you are right I guess what I meant to say that given the low speed of the impact, I was surprised how much serious damage occurred. It's not like I was racing to get the vehicle into the garage.
    I know what you mean. A friend hit the corner of a wood car port -- the type you see at apartment complexes -- with just the nose of his saddle. The saddle broke free, the bike itself was fine, but the top of his car was a mess and his back window shattered.

  21. #21
    fanatik Speedub.Nate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclesteve View Post
    Speedub.Nate


    I don't know the ID of the U-bolts I used. They are 1/4" and they are too small to fit over the end caps, but they fit the round bars perfect. I remove the U-bolts place the square tubeing on the round bars, line up the plates and install the U-bolts. I use a wrench to tighten the nuts on the U-bolts. I would rather use a wing type nut but I don't think there is enough clearance to use a long enough wing to get enough leverage to get them tight enough. The picture shows a T-handle pin holding the swing arm in place. The pin did not hold the arm secure enough. I welded a nut on the bottom of the square tubeing and use a bolt to secure the swing arm. I don't like using the bolt because I use a socket and a rachet to tighten the bolt and one slip on the rachet and it bounces off the windshield. I am planning to thread the T-handle pin to use instead of the bolt. I did the welding myself and I could have used aluminum but the cost would have been more. So far, I have not had any problems. Good luck with yours.

    Steve
    Thanks, Steve. There are a couple of outfits on-line that make custom U-bolts, and I may go that route. Their recommendation is that the inside diameter/width of the 'U' be 1/8" greater than the diameter of the cross bar, which is 1-1/8". I may upsize that to 1/4", just to more easily slip the U-bolt over the free end of the cross bar. It should speed up installation and prevent me from loosing any nuts or washers.

    I'm also a little concerned about pinching the cross bars by overtightening the U-bolts, and have considered shoving a short length of steel rod in the end of the cross bar as a reinforcement.

  22. #22
    fanatik Speedub.Nate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate View Post
    For now, all I have is this drawing.
    Follow-up: most of the parts are in for the "adapter" I'm building. I'm still awaiting U-Bolts and then will go to the fabricators.

    If you're interested in more details, visit this link: http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=365700

    Here's a photo of the mock-up:


  23. #23
    fanatik Speedub.Nate's Avatar
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    Six months later, it's finished! Basically an extended tray for a stock solo-bike rack, like Weaklink suggested at the start of this thread.

    In a few days, I'll post pictures of the finished product at the MTBR link in my previous post.

    Instead of photos today, I made a short video showing how easily it installs on my cross bars and how quickly it loads.

    I apologize in advance -- I couldn't do my final few shots on the video 'cause I filled up my memory card. But you all can put two and two together. This thing is pretty dang simple.

    BTW, the rack is a little wobbly side to side when I rock it (you'll notice at the end of the video clip -- I was a little surprised) because I forgot to re-install some spacers underneath the High Roller. Maybe that will be my excuse to reshoot this whole dang thing, just to correct that scary looking oversight.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYQTPrrh5B8

  24. #24
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    A little wobbly? I would be worried if that was my tandem. I hope it is much more sturdier. And yes, it would be a good excuse to reshoot if it is much more sturdier.

  25. #25
    fanatik Speedub.Nate's Avatar
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    Yeah, just a little. But that's the fault of the way I've got the Yakima High Roller is mounted, not the extension tray.

    At that front end, the flat bottom of the Highroller (thin steel plate) is resting across the metal loop that secures the cross bar to the tower, so the whole front end of the Yak is sort of sitting on side-to-side a teeter-totter without the spacers installed.

    Like I say, it surprised the hell out of me, too.

    Anyhow, I'm going to shoot some more video and edit some other stuff in. I'll be sure to fix that before I do.

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