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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 05-01-08, 04:02 PM   #1
Little-Acorn
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Has anyone tried one of these cheapo tandems?

These have been on Ebay, such as their current Item No. 180237593695.

It's the world-famous Caddie-up brand, which we all know and love (huh?). Steel frame, 21-spd, 26" alloy wheels, Shimano derailleurs, twist-grip shifters that I never liked very much. Ballooner whitewalls of all things. Shipped to your door in a big box, they say, partly dissasembled. Probably comes from Taiwan or some such place, though they say you can do local pickup in Houston. Probably costs around $200 new plus $115 shipping, which is less than the wheels alone on a good bike.

I'm not looking for a high-tech racer (obviously!), since I'm an out-of-shape fat guy who doesn't have the time or inclination to do what's necessary to become a real biker. Though I used to do centuries 30 years and 60 pounds ago - basically in another life. Now, just looking for a pleasure-bike to ride occasionally, me on the front, missus on the back, or maybe missus on the front if she gets brave. Slow, easy cruise around the neighborhood and park.

Has anyone ever tried one of these things? Is it a complete piece of junk that will fold up when it hits the first bump? Or is it an OK-for-easy-pleasure-rides-but-dont-even-think-of-racing-or-taking-steep-hills kind of bike? (I can't imagine it being much better than that, but I don't need better than that).

What say ye? Aside from "You get what you pay for", which is probably very true? What known faults? Lousy shifting? 40# tires? 100# weight? Please, do tell!

Ebay Item 180237593695, "Tandem Sport Bicycle"

Last edited by Little-Acorn; 05-01-08 at 04:16 PM.
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Old 05-01-08, 04:39 PM   #2
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I would say pony up a little bit more and go used from someone on craigslist.
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Old 05-01-08, 04:54 PM   #3
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You described as good as we can.
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Old 05-01-08, 05:07 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Little-Acorn View Post
These have been on Ebay, such as their current Item No. 180237593695.

What say ye? Aside from "You get what you pay for", which is probably very true? What known faults? Lousy shifting? 40# tires? 100# weight? Please, do tell!
Well .... OK! It is indeed a 60 pound piece of crap made from old gas pipe tubing that you will spend more time working on than riding. It is what's known as a BLO, a Bicycle-Like Object, and was never really intended to be ridden more than 100 miles in its entire lifetime. Five rides max on it and you'll probably never want to ride another bicycle again. Seriously.

Do yourself a favor, figuratively, physically AND financially. I saw several older quality tandems on eBay while I was looking with bids in the $600 range. The don't have the current-day drivetrains, but you already know how to shift down-tube shifters or bar-ends. One of these older, quality used bikes will do you MUCH better to begin with. On a decent enough bike, you might even decide to REALLY get back into it! So what's that worth?

And secondly, if you decide it's NOT for you, that $300 bike used will probably be worth $100, whereas the $600 used bike will still be worth $600. So you basically get to try it for free!

P.S. 60 pounds is nothing. It's no major impediment to cycling, and it's no major problem to lose it while cycling! Just start slow, and when it quits being fun today, go home so you'll ride tomorrow.

Onegun, card carrying member of Team OFFIS, (Old Fat Farts In Spandex).
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Old 05-01-08, 05:09 PM   #5
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I would say pony up a little bit more and go used from someone on craigslist.
Yes, that occurred to me, and there have been some OK ones there. But I thought I'd try to get a little information on these cheap-but-new-but-mostly-cheap tandems first.

Anybody know anything specific about them?
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Old 05-01-08, 05:12 PM   #6
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Well .... OK! It is indeed a 60 pound piece of crap made from old gas pipe tubing that you will spend more time working on than riding. It is what's known as a BLO, a Bicycle-Like Object, and was never really intended to be ridden more than 100 miles in its entire lifetime. Five rides max on it and you'll probably never want to ride another bicycle again. Seriously.

Do yourself a favor, figuratively, physically AND financially. I saw several older quality tandems on eBay while I was looking with bids in the $600 range. The don't have the current-day drivetrains, but you already know how to shift down-tube shifters or bar-ends. One of these older, quality used bikes will do you MUCH better to begin with. On a decent enough bike, you might even decide to REALLY get back into it! So what's that worth?

And secondly, if you decide it's NOT for you, that $300 bike used will probably be worth $100, whereas the $600 used bike will still be worth $600. So you basically get to try it for free!

P.S. 60 pounds is nothing. It's no major impediment to cycling, and it's no major problem to lose it while cycling! Just start slow, and when it quits being fun today, go home so you'll ride tomorrow.

Onegun, card carrying member of Team OFFIS, (Old Fat Farts In Spandex).
Onegun, great reply, thank you!

Have you ridden one of these, or at least laid hands on one?
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Old 05-01-08, 05:23 PM   #7
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Onegun is right on the money! Have not ridden that particular brand but have ridden the Micargi (retails around $600).
Instead of 'junk', you can call that one 'junque'.
One bike shop got in a brand new Micargi to work on and found that there was NO grease in any of the bearings along with a host of other issues (wheels, brakes). Cost the folks $300 to fix up that 600 buck tandem!
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Old 05-01-08, 05:56 PM   #8
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Have you ridden one of these, or at least laid hands on one?
Unfortunately, hundreds. All of these bikes are nothing more than early 70's department store tandems with flat bars and gears. See that little hangey-down thingy in the middle of the bike that the chain runs over? That's an idler wheel on a bracket, a cheap, antiquated way to tension the transfer chain, and it never did work! A single bump on that bracket, (which, due to its position on the bottom of the boom tube, seems to happen everytime you load or unload it), and the chain falls off 3 or 4 times a ride. And when you go to bend it back, you find yourself lying on the floor of your garage trying to site down the chainline to get it right.

BUT WAIT!! Don't grab that checkbook yet! There's more!

The Shimano derailleur and hanger they show clearly in the eBay ad is the lowest end piece of garbage I've seen lately, and I doubt it will even shift under the torque that two riders on a tandem can generate!

But don't worry about shifting because that will only make you go faster, and this thing undoubtedly WON'T STOP, either! The brakes they list are of such high quality that nobody even wants to claim them! They don't even have a name! And if you watch this or any other tandem list you will very quickly find out how important brakes are on a bike with double the rolling mass of a single!

So. It won't go, it won't stop, and it won't keep its chain on. Want more?

Seriously. Take everything you knew to be bad about cheap single bicycles, and quadruple it when you're talking tandems. Tandems, due to their better-than-doubled mass, descend like nobody's business, and it only takes that little neighborhood "whoopee!" hill to be going over 30 mph without even pedalling. Do you really want to even consider taking you wife on the back of one of these?
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Old 05-01-08, 06:16 PM   #9
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Do you really want to even consider taking you wife on the back of one of these?
Depends if you like her or not.
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Old 05-02-08, 03:48 AM   #10
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After Onegun's post, which I think is broadly correct, if you take the thing apart and rebuild it so that it has grease and is properly adjusted I think you will have an OK tandem for gentle riding round the neighbourhood. For some balance:

Don't be alarmed by the dangly chain tensioner thing, I suspect that if you treat it with care it will be fine, and at worst you could cut if off and either add a half link, use an MTB chain tensioner or a floating chainring (see Sheldon Brown's website) to keep things in line.

A well-adjusted low end shimano deraileur will shift 90% as well as a Dura Ace one at neighbourhood speeds - you may be surprised if you try it. It will be indexed and will be 5x better than the one I had on my ten speed racer when I was growing up.

Of course it will never be as good as a second hand $1000 dollar tandem you pick up for $200 on Craigslist but given the convenience of getting one tomorrow it's still a bike and will make you fitter if you ride it to the shops rather than going in the car.
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Old 05-02-08, 02:51 PM   #11
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Lots of good info. Thanks, all!

Would an early-80s Schwinn Twinn Sport 10-sp tandem be a good starter? They seem to be going for around $300-$400 in good condition. Heavy as tandems go (52# or so), but I'm not in a position to worry about an extra 10 or 20 on the bike.
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