Originally Posted by nivekdodge
I thought these didn't stop you very well? But Tandem Geek since I have your attention , why don't they? Bad design or not design to do that or insuficient brake surfaces?
They did what they were designed to do quite well....
A Schwinn Twinn was and is a very heavy recreational tandem along the lines of most recreational bikes being offered to the public back when families actually rode bikes together as a form of recreation and kids rode bikes to school. Lightweight racing and touring bikes were custom-made machines produced, for the most part, in Europe, e.g., Jack Taylor
and Rene Herse
and custom Paramounts from Schwinn.
Recreational bikes were simple, heavy, durable machines with coaster brakes or, for tandems, a larger drum brake and the occasional disc brake that gave it more heat capacity to deal with the greater load + the addition of a front rim brake for the same reason. You will also find tandems of that era fitted with front drum brakes as well.
For it's intended purpose -- think a couple wearing street clothes with penny loafers and a picnic basket on the rear rack or shorts and sneakers -- these brake configurations allowed them to stop just fine at normal cruising speeds and to keep their maximum speed in check on steeper descents, much the same way as an Arai drum does for contemporary tandems.
Therefore, for anyone who wasn't bombing a hill at 30 mph and then expecting to be able to grab a fist full of brake lever and bring their tandem to a quick stop, these older brake configurations were fine. If, however, you did intend to make epic journeys or were a club racer then you didn't buy one of these bikes. Instead, you had a lightweight racing or touring machine built at far greater expense that usually had better quality dual cantilever brakes and/or lightweight drum brakes sometimes front & rear.
The same is actually true today as retro-cruisers and the like are coming back into vogue... bikes that allow folks to have fun with minimal muss, fuss and expense: you buy a bike and you ride it. No silly pants, no special shoes, no special shirts and certainly not a helmet. That's what made cycling accessible, affordable and attractive... Nowadays, even weekend warriors head out easily wearing $500 worth of cycling apparel which is about 2x- 5x as much as these tandems cost new back in the 1960's and 70's. In fact, the Schwinn tandems of the late 60's and 70's were less expensive than the earlier Schwinn Town & Country tandems of the 50's and early 60's.... reflecting the economies of scale that came from baby boomers and their parents taking to the street on bicycles here in the states.
1960's Town & Country (below the Varsity)
Late 60's / 70's Schwinn Twinn