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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 05-19-08, 11:35 AM   #1
Eboo
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Two tandem newbs buying their first rig...

Hello! I have been obsessively pouring over the tandem forum over the past few weeks, trying to learn as much as I can about buying one's first tandem. My boyfriend and I (another forumite, polara426sh) have a date with a Santana Elan tomorrow night. We're both terribly unexperienced in the world of tandem pricing, but we think that for the upgrades to the bike (Phil Wood hubs and brackets) and the fact that the sizing is perfect for our needs, the pricetag isn't unreasonable (even a downright bargain).

Are we missing something? Is there anything especially important we should ask about during our test ride? I believe this particular Elan is from the early 90's, late 80's, but not entirely sure. Thank you for any information/flogging/reality checks you can impart upon us!

(also, matching jerseys make you go faster, right??? )

-Eboo, future stoker-extraordinaire
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Old 05-19-08, 11:39 AM   #2
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Congrats. I must resist the urge to make bad jokes in here, as this is not Foo.
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Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 05-19-08, 12:54 PM   #3
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Of course a lot depends on condition, but I'd put the value of that well below $1200. Quick search revealed a number of Santana Elans listed for $750-900, (and presumably ultimately sold for less.)

It's a bike that's likely just short of 20 years old. 7 speed shifting is pretty dated. Lots of things may need replacing (chains, cassettes, bearings.)

If it's in great shape, I'd offer $750. Poor shape I'd start at $500.

And if TandemGeek doesn't post, I'd PM him for an opinion.
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Old 05-19-08, 01:01 PM   #4
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I assume you meant late 80s/early 90s...someone else on this board might be able to help you with decoding the serial number, if you're curious about when the bike was built (or you could call Santana, if you're extra curious).

I don't know what used tandems usually go for out your way, but this seems expensive for a 20 year old Elan; I paid $500 for my first tandem a few years ago (a mid 80s Elan). [Mine was not a very good fit, and I immediately spent a couple of hundred bucks upgrading it].

Other thoughts:

1) Wow, out of phase cranks seem popular lately.
2) Does that fork look hand painted to anyone else?
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Old 05-20-08, 11:08 AM   #5
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Thanks for the input, merlin and 72 (you were right...I totally meant late 80's, early 90's)...based on your help and observations, we're going to make an offer around $800, depending on the initial condition of the bike.

Thanks again so very much for insight. Hopefully, if all goes well, we'll be posting up pictures of her soon (and we can tell you if that fork is hand painted )
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Old 05-20-08, 12:37 PM   #6
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... but we think that for the upgrades to the bike (Phil Wood hubs and brackets) and the fact that the sizing is perfect for our needs, the pricetag isn't unreasonable (even a downright bargain).
Don't be overly distracted by the Phil Wood components; it's a really old tandem with what appears to be some really old components, and a marginal-looking re-paint/powder coating job. As someone else suggested, $500 - $600 would probably be more in the ballpark assuming everything works and no upgrades will be needed.

If you have $1,200 to spend I'd be looking for a second hand 2005 or newer KHS Tandemania Milano or Cannondale RT as your first tandem. They'll have contemporary 9 speed components, robust wheels, better brakes and weigh about 10 lbs less than something like a mid to late 80's vintage Santana or anything from the early 90's.
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Old 05-21-08, 09:47 PM   #7
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Eboo,
We just bought a 1994 Burley Bossa Nova 3 weeks ago from the original purchaser and it is in great shape. Really like new. Paid $1000 for it, yakima rack and kid crank included. It was a great buy and just needed updated seats ($120), new pedals ($110) and a simple tune-up. (Looking for a bit more gearing for climbing as the 54/44/28 & 12/28 needs just a bit) My wife of 19 years is a great partner on the bike just as in life. You will test your patience and get to know each other much better. My wife likes it because it is like driving in the Prius with me as she can watch the landscape while we ride. Wow! She must really trust me. Have a great time.

We are looking at an upgrade for next summer. $$$$$
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Old 05-22-08, 05:28 PM   #8
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Well, we didn't end up purchasing the Elan. It wasn't in great shape, as several of you noticed, and the owner was pretty reluctant to come down on the price. The frame was also a touch too big for the captain.

We have an appointment on Wednesday with Gear-To-Go Tandems in Elmira, NY. Going to get fitted, and since our budget allows it, try to get a newer model like TandemGeek suggested. Hopefully we'll have more to report and pictures to post next week! Thanks for all the help thus far; I'm sure I'll be back with questions soon
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Old 05-22-08, 08:38 PM   #9
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A bit on the optimistic side asking 1200 bucks!
Some plusses on the bike: fillet brazing, Phil hubs & BBS, Pederson brakes + a drum.
Depending how many miles on the bike itself, would not go over $700.
At that price it would be a very good deal for a first time tandem.
However, that's just our opinion.
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Old 05-22-08, 08:42 PM   #10
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i think you made a good decision to pass, particularly given the fit issue. Keep at it., you'll find a good option.
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Old 05-22-08, 08:50 PM   #11
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To go faster then you can with matching jerseys get a HPV fairing type jersey. Two head holes and four arm holes or sleeves in-line. Like the fabric fairing people buy for some recumbents. Big reduction in drag.
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Old 06-05-08, 12:20 PM   #12
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So, an update! We traveled down to GearToGo Tandems for a bunch of test rides. So...much...fun! We fell in love with all the Santana bikes. The Co-Motions just seemed to be too twitchy for our tastes, but maybe that will change as we get some practice/miles in. We settled on the steel framed Santana Arriva SE with 40 spoked wheels and are SO excited to pick it up! Here is a teaser shot of it down in the shop.



(the color is truest under the seatstay...the flash washed out the green quite a bit)

We are going to be working on it a little bit more ourselves. While we think the black handlebar tape and saddles looks great with the green, we want to try something a little more original (mayhaps Brooks brown??) I will post more pictures after we pick it up on Monday and play around with the final colors.
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Old 06-05-08, 12:59 PM   #13
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Sweet! I'm green with envy (pardon the non-pun). New? Used? I like the idea of the Brooks. (I know little about tandems, but the front and rear cranks seem a bit out of synch?)

Enjoy!
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Old 06-05-08, 01:57 PM   #14
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Everyone should have a green bike! It's a new Santana, and we borrowed the idea of green and brown from a fellow, green bike owning fellow, x136.

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The colors are just green, silver/chrome, and honey. A darker brown would likely also work well.
I think we'll go with a darker brown. The cranks do look out of synch; I believe our mechanic is still building it up for us. We'll have a final fitting on Monday
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Old 06-06-08, 07:54 AM   #15
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When you have the chance, can you talk a little more about how/why you went from shopping used to buying new, and any other bikes you tried out at Tandems East? Burleys? C'dales? Co-Mos? As a future captain merveilleux, I'd be interested in your shopping experience.

Thanks!
David
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Old 06-06-08, 11:09 AM   #16
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When you have the chance, can you talk a little more about how/why you went from shopping used to buying new, and any other bikes you tried out at Tandems East? Burleys? C'dales? Co-Mos? As a future captain merveilleux, I'd be interested in your shopping experience.

Thanks!
David
Sure!

We started throwing the tandem idea around late this past winter. When we started reading this forum for advice, we saw two general suggestions for buying your first tandem: get an older, well-maintained rig to start with, to see if you like it, or go ahead and invest in a good introductory model, knowing that the resale value of the bike will be quite good if you don't commit to tandeming.

Originally, we were going to go with option 1. However, the tandems that were were looking at in our area, and the one we went to test ride, didn't excite us or fit us very well. We are both experienced road cyclists and have quite a few "half bikes" between the two of us, so our expectations for a tandem were quite high. That's when we decided to bite the bullet and go visit Rich at Gear-To-Go Tandems just south of us.

Aaaaand we were hooked. The new Arriva that we tested out was pretty amazing. We had no problems committing, even though we didn't originally set out to invest that much in a rig. We are sure that this is going to be our exclusive ride this summer; we are also investing in a BOB trailer to go on extended camping trips.

Oh, and as to the other bikes at the shop: we also checked out CoMotion, but we just liked the feel and handle of the Santana more. Less twitchy. As we get more experiences, perhaps we will want a more responsive bike, but for now, we are in absolute LOVE with our Green Machine
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Old 06-07-08, 12:35 PM   #17
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Congrats!! We just got a Santana Sovereign SE ( Aluminum Frame ) in the same color.


We love it. Glad now we spent the extra and got a new one with a new one.

We did the silver bottle racks and white bottles. ( it get hot where we ride ) We are thinking about going to white bar tape. Will keep a eye on the thread and see what you do with the saddles.
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Old 06-07-08, 01:58 PM   #18
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Wow, that captain's saddle is seriously down in front. Are you actually comfortable on that?
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Old 06-07-08, 06:36 PM   #19
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You know, believe it or not on that saddle it is. I am taking the bike back to the shop next week to get some things changed, one of the things are the saddles. The bike shop said we could swap them out if we didn’t like them. I just could not get comfortable on this saddle. I kept making adjustment until….there you have it. I know it looks funky but it works.
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Old 06-08-08, 10:20 PM   #20
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I'm interested in your thoughts going forward.... My wife and I started on a Santana...loved the bike...the only problem was taking it on the airplane as it was not coupled. We did ship it around the country for some bike tours and spent a pretty penny on that...Eventually we decided we liked touring a lot so we sold it and got a coupled CoMotion... I appreciate your saying it felt twitchy...it felt twitchier than the Santana for about the first 3 rides...then it felt just fine...a very responsive frame but VERY stable at high speed... (not to say that the Santana wasn't---I'm a rider who loves high speed and my wife prefers slower and absolutely stable) anyway.... we love our CoMotion for the travel opportunities... we've taken it to Washington and New Zealand so far and have had great experiences with it... Hope you enjoy your bike as much! By the way, that is a great paint color!!

Have fun

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