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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 04-08-08, 08:51 PM   #1
jagladden
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Old Conti Ultra 2000's

We recently purchased a "new" Burley Duet softride; new in the sense that it had been sitting in stock at an LBS for probably at least three years. The dealer was ready to sell so we got it at a very attractive price.

The bike came with 700x28 Continental Ultra 2000's which are therefore a least three years old, and could be older. I have heard rumors that Conti's of this generation had cotton casings that were prone to catastrophic failure, particularly if well aged. So I'm wondering if I should promptly replace these tires.

On my commuter road bike (Gunnar Crosshairs), which accumulates about 6K miles a year, I have been running Specialized Armadillos for many years. These are extremely robust in my experience. I'm told that classier tires ride a lot smoother, but I've been riding on the Armadillo's so long that I lack a basis of comparison. I must say that, riding as the captain, the Duet seems a lot smoother over the bumps than my Crosshairs, but that's not much of a basis for comparing tires.

Any thoughts? Should I get rid if the old Ultras ASAP? If I put on Armadillos will the ride noticeably deteriorate? If so, what is a reasonably robust and flat resistant alternative?
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Old 04-08-08, 11:20 PM   #2
zonatandem
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You get a smoother ride as captain on a tandem as your butt is not sitting over the rear wheel . . . but is sitting in the middle of that long frame!
If the Conti sidewalls look good (no UV damage) they should be rideable.
We use Maxxis Re-Fuse tires on our tandem. They have good flat protection and ride great at 120 psi.
Congrats on scoring a great deal on a Burley!
Enjoy the ride TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 04-09-08, 01:32 AM   #3
sch
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My thought is that a single crash can result in at least a few days off work all the
way to weeks off with permanent damage to body parts. Tires are not so much
that peace of mind is worth $80-100 for a nice new pair of 28mm tires. Change them.
Be safe.
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Old 04-09-08, 05:06 AM   #4
TandemGeek
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Originally Posted by jagladden View Post
Any thoughts? Should I get rid if the old Ultras ASAP? If I put on Armadillos will the ride noticeably deteriorate? If so, what is a reasonably robust and flat resistant alternative?
It's too hard to "guess" on what is a very safety-critical question as the condition of the tires is something that would warrant a careful inspection to render anything even close to an informed opinion.

For example, if the tandem had been stored hanging from the ceiling for 3 years in the back of the shop where it wasn't sitting exposed to UV light all day and they still feel supple, they may be just fine. However, if the tandem was left sitting with those tires under-inflated or flat for any period of time with resultant sidewall damage, or if it was sitting in the front window of the shop getting 12 hours of UV light each day, they'd be toast.

Therefore, it's really on you to decide if you know enough about those tires based on your own inspection to continue with their use. If you did decide to use them, at least on a limited basis, I'd make a point of giving them a thorough inspection after each use to see if there are any indications of casing deformation, sidewall distress, or compound cracking. At the first hint of a problem, toss them and put on something new.

If it was me, when in doubt about tires I replace them.

As for what tires to use if and when you do replace them, if you're happy with Armadillos on your regular ride, then try them on your tandem. If they feel OK, then use the same tire or perhaps a larger diameter model as warranted for your combined team weight.

Last edited by TandemGeek; 04-09-08 at 12:38 PM.
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Old 04-09-08, 07:24 AM   #5
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I doubt I would use them on a tandem.I've had sidewall failures on Contis and they say those problems are in the past,but they are still in my head.

I've had 2 rapid deflations on the front of a tandem,and its not fun.I would compare it to hitting ice on a single.In both cases we were going straight and level and I was barely able to keep it up. I had both feet on the ground,grinding my shoes.

I bought a used bike that came with armadillos,and I thought the ride compared to riding on the rim with no tire. No they didn't flat,but I didn't even want to get on the bike.

I would consider using up the Contis by using them 1 at a time on the rear of your Gunnar. A rear flat on a single is the best flat scenario,and you dont have that wasteful feeling of throwing them out.

dan
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Old 04-09-08, 12:28 PM   #6
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Keep them for turbo training. Always fit the best tyres you can.

1. Compared with dental work or a new pair of shorts and your stoker's confidence in you, x2 tyres are cheap

2. Also think about your peace of mind. Not just in avoiding accidents but giving you confidence to corner better or know that there is a small extra margin available when you overcook it in a corner.
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Old 04-09-08, 11:02 PM   #7
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mrfish,

Thanks for your reply. I would still welcome a suggestion as to what the "best tyres" are. Assuming for the moment that price isn't really the issue, what's your idea of a good compromise between handling and puncture resistance? This is a recreational (non-racing) team the weighs in around 310 and will
typically do rides that don't exceed 60 miles.

jagladden

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Originally Posted by mrfish View Post
Keep them for turbo training. Always fit the best tyres you can.

1. Compared with dental work or a new pair of shorts and your stoker's confidence in you, x2 tyres are cheap

2. Also think about your peace of mind. Not just in avoiding accidents but giving you confidence to corner better or know that there is a small extra margin available when you overcook it in a corner.
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Old 04-10-08, 07:17 AM   #8
DBC Steve
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mrfish,

Thanks for your reply. I would still welcome a suggestion as to what the "best tyres" are.

jagladden
There are many threads on this subject, and just about as many personal opinions. We have Conti Gatorskins on our tandem and both touring bikes, with no problems and good mileage and rolling resistance. Suggest you search the tandem and touring forums -- you'll get hundreds of other opinions on the best tires to use. There was a recent tandem thread -- or part of a thread -- on this subject, and a tandem friend wrote of Gatorskin problems and raved about Specialized Armadillos. Sometimes you just need to buy and try.
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Old 04-10-08, 09:52 AM   #9
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The failure mode that I had many years ago was that the sidewall would get damaged by scuffs, ozone and UV. This allowed moisture into the threads. The moisture would travel down the threads to the steel bead and it would rust. This resulted in a hug blowout when the rust cut through the sidewall threads. With a thinner sidewall I changed the tires every year. They did not have high mileage because my wife and I had different work schedules and the tandem wasn't ridden often.

Our team weighs close to 400 pounds. We run with higher pressure than most teams. I look for tires with a high pressure rating.

I think that a thicker sidewall offers more protection from damage.

I think that a thicker sidewall and higher pressure offers better lateral stability for cornering.

Yes, a thicker sidewall makes for a harsher ride but the five cross spokes and the Thudbuster compensates.

And don't forget the Kevlar belts for protection from glass and other hazards.
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