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  1. #1
    go wake forest!!!! bandaidman's Avatar
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    cannondale tandems

    my wife would really like to get a tandem so we can spend more time together

    she being the practical one wants to get the cheapest one possible....i as usual want to spend way too much to get a "performance" one


    the new 2004 cannondale road tandem seems to be a good compromise

    seems to have good components .... and while still expensive at around $2k ... its a lot cheaper than a santana.

    is it a good tandem?

    my wife is not a big rider but is quite athletic and should do well.

    any other tandems we should look at in this range?

    thanks!!!

  2. #2
    Zin
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    I've been looking at the Co-motion bikes. They have a wide range and are made in Oregon. http://www.co-motion.com When we are ready to move up, we'll be going with Co-motion.

  3. #3
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Burley builds a nice Rumba road tandem or Samba mt. bike tandem for about $2,000 or under. Co-Motion's Primera is more upscale starting at about a thousand more.
    C'dale is stiffer, less forgiving to the stoker than the steel Burleys or Co-Mos, even with a shockpost, but that is the nature of aluminum.
    Have extensively ridden all 3 brands; Burley is biggest bang for the least $$; Co-Mo worth the x-tra $$ if you got 'em.

  4. #4
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bandaidman
    ...the new 2004 cannondale road tandem seems to be a good compromise. Any other tandems we should look at in this range?
    Cannondale's RT-1000 is one of the best price-performers when it comes to Aluminum tandems; no question about it. Aluminum gets a bad rap, and Cannondale in particular, but given most of the improvements they've made over the years the frames are fairly well refined and provide a very stiff, responsive ride. Any stoker comfort can be addressed on any tandem by using a good quality shock-post and/or slightly larger diameter tires. Go-fast wheels with rock-hard racing tires have the opposite effect.

    As for price, at $2450 ($2295 @Tandems East) w/Ultegra, disc-ready DT/Hugi hubs, Mavic A719 rims and some other nice bits it's a great buy. The equivalent bikes from Co-Motion would be the Speedster @ $3,620 (steel), Burley's would be the Paso Doble @ $4,099 (steel) or Rivazza @ $4,099 (Al), Trek's T2000 at $2,999 (Al), and so on....

    Others to consider:

    1. USED: To get the same level of components, you could look for a used C'dale RT3000, which is about the same level of components used on the '04 RT1000. The previous RT1000 was a 105 level bike. A used Co-Motion Speedster (steel), Santana Arriva (steel) or Sovereign (Al), or Burley Duet (steel). You can learn more about my rationale for buying used here: http://home.att.net/~thetandemlink/u...l#anchor948986

    2. NEW: Nothing with Ultegra at the prices Cannondale offers the RT1000 for.
    a. Co-Motion Primera (steel) - 105/XT level @ $2,850
    b. Burley Tosa (Al) - 105/XT level @ $2,449
    c. Burley Duet (steel) - 105/XT Level @ $2,499

    3. NEW: Tiagra/Deore Level
    a. Burley Rumba (steel) - $1,699
    b. Burley Tamburello (Al) - $1,999
    c. Trek T1000 (Al) - $1,999

    Obviously, the key is taking a test ride to figure out which bike you feel most comfortable on. Burley, Santana & Trek all use the same steering geometry (1.89"), whereas Cannondale uses a bit more trail (2") and Co-Motion uses the most steering trail (2.25") of any production builder. I always recommend taking several back-to-back test rides through the available brand range and then doing it again in reverse order to get the most accurate results. That can be tough as very few bike shops stock tandems. Regardless, you should at least take a representative model of the tandem you plan to buy for a test ride before-hand if at all possible, just to eliminate any major surprise. In general, everyone will find their first tandem rides a bit uncomfortable but most folks who succeed as tandem teams come up the learning curve rather quickly.

  5. #5
    go wake forest!!!! bandaidman's Avatar
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    thanks for the great replies

    i would love to buy a used one...no luck in over a year

    as far as test riding .... only decent tandem in stock in town is a few co-motions....they are very nice but about 4-5k...much more than i want to spend. i would like to test ride...but will probably not be an option


    i am getting differing opinions on frame material (al vs steel). i love steel...my road bike is steel ....but even the co-motion dealer said steel might have more flex than we want (even on the expensive models). the combined weight of my wife and i is about 320#.

    will an aluminum cannondale be too unforgiving for my wife...who is not a hard core biker by any means....thank you

  6. #6
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bandaidman
    thanks for the great replies

    i would love to buy a used one...no luck in over a year

    as far as test riding .... only decent tandem in stock in town is a few co-motions....they are very nice but about 4-5k...much more than i want to spend. i would like to test ride...but will probably not be an option


    i am getting differing opinions on frame material (al vs steel). i love steel...my road bike is steel ....but even the co-motion dealer said steel might have more flex than we want (even on the expensive models). the combined weight of my wife and i is about 320#.

    will an aluminum cannondale be too unforgiving for my wife...who is not a hard core biker by any means....thank you

    Steel can flex-- considerably-- but I should hope that a reputable Tandem Manufacturer will have this in hand. The weight of 320 will not cause a problem, we are around 420. I have a Dale MT2000, and this is used aggressively with a cheap suspension post for the stoker. Except for when it gets really lumpy, when the stoker would be out of the saddle in any case, this cheap post is pretty good. On sizing, Bear in mind that the stokers cockpit on a Tandem will come up short in comparison to a solo. Cannondale do make varying front to rear sizes, and our frame is a Large/ medium. I am 5'6" with inside leg of 29" and the small stoker cockpit felt too cramped.

    The Dale tandem will be fine. it is stiff, good suspension seat post will be better than my cheap one, but study the sizing to get it right. Do not go too small.

  7. #7
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bandaidman
    i am getting differing opinions on frame material (al vs steel). i love steel...my road bike is steel ....but even the co-motion dealer said steel might have more flex than we want (even on the expensive models). the combined weight of my wife and i is about 320#. will an aluminum cannondale be too unforgiving for my wife...who is not a hard core biker by any means
    If it was the late '80s and we were talking about Aluminum vs Steel, the comments would make a lot more sense. Fortunately, during the past 24 years a lot of things have changed. Cannondale's don't crack and fail as often as they used to (which is not to say they don't still have problems, but I can't recall any such failures being reported on tandems of late), and the days of the original "Cannonwhale" sized tubing that was the root of most evil was changed, most recently back in '99 when the tandem was competely redesigned based using the Cannondale Advanced Aluminum Design (CAAD) process. I owned a '98 MT3000 which was pre-CAAD, replete with the massive tubing and massive, smoothed-over welds. The '99 and up models are quite refined, still oversized and all, but they are very different machines from the predesessors that earned the bad rap. Don't get me wrong, an aluminum tandem still feels more stiff than a steel tandem and part of that is real, but part of that is because they're lighter and transmit noise and vibration differently than steel. Can you ride one all day? Yes, you can, but you may find you're more fatigued on a long ride. However, there are ways to mitigate that with your wheel and tire selection. However, if your plans will include racing and you're pedal mashers, aluminum may be your only real choice for maximum stiffness at the bottom brackets. Ti and Carbon also have their own uniquely different characteristics which make them very interesting alternatives to both steel and aluminum; however, they are somewhat cost prohibitive for all but the truly obsessed tandem team. Less I digress....

    Steel tandems, on the other hand, have gotten much stiffer than the early models. If you want to feel a really squirelly tandem find a Burley Zydeco double-diamond model (not the Mixte); that's what the best tandems felt like years ago. Since then, larger internal tubes have replaced the long skinny stays that appeared on Marathon and Tri-lateral style frames, new generations of stiffer, butted tubing have been brought to market and all-in-all, most recognizable brand-name tandems at even the entry levels (Zydeco notwithstanding), afford riders a very comfortable ride that is hardly "noodly" or seriously hampered by excessive "flex". Do steel frames still flex? Yes, but flex isn't necessarily bad if it's in the right places. Moreover, a lot of the "flex" issues are exaggerated when a couple take their first several tandem rides as they haven't yet had a chance to get acclimated to riding a tandem as a team. Moreover, often times the captains and/or stokers are not necessarily at the top of their bike riding skills which exacerbates the "wobbles" during early test rides. Once a team has a few miles under their belts and smooths out their riding technique, excessive flex quickly becomes that same "steel is real" quality that lets you finish a century or a two-week tour without feeling like you've been on a bike for 100 - 1,200 miles.

    Back to your Co-Motion dealer's comments, it doesn't matter how much you spend on a tandem, most of the different models share the same frames between the entry and premium model and merely come fitted with better components, wheels, paint, etc... as they go up in price. Now, to be fair, low-spoke count aero wheels running 700x25c tires at 120psi will provide a much more "lively" and harsh ride than the same frame fitted with a pair of 40h touring wheels laced 4x with 700x32c tires which will be limousine-like in comparison. So, there are some differences in how a tandem feels that are due to factors other than the frame which does bear a lot of attention. But, back to the frame, at the end of the day, if you strip off the components, forks, wheels, and paint a Speedster & a Supremo share the same frame. Same thing at Burley where you have a choice of one aluminum frame in three different trim levels. However, I must note that Santana does change the material for it's exotic level of tandems where Nivacrom, Titanium & now carbon & Ti are used.

    As for your weight, you're actually on the low side for the average tandem team. Now, if you're only 5' tall, your team weight might suggest something different about your physical condition, but rest assured that most tandems are designed to handle teams well in excess of your and your spouses stated weight. Conversely, if your stoker is taller than average, any tandem is going to be more of a handful than if you have a stoker of average or below average height. It's the height, more than just the weight and creates the sensation (well, it's actually more than a sensation) that a tandem is flexing along the long axis of it's top tube. The only thing that can mitigate this sensation is stoker discipline; they must learn to ride smoothly, without bouncing or rocking their hips, and must pre-announce any major upper body movements such as reaching for a water bottle or sitting up and stretching.

    Finally, to your wife's adaptability to the tandem. Here's the deal, any new stoker who is not used to logging a bunch of miles on rough roads will be put in a world of hurt on any tandem when they first start to ride. Part of it is due to sitting on top of the rear wheel as it goes over bumps that, if they were riding their own personal bike, they would steer around or stand as they went over to avoid taking a hit. Well, guess who needs to tell them far enough in advance that they need to stand? The captain. Thus, enter the shockpost or suspension seatpost: a captain's best friend for the new stoker or for teams who live in places where expansion joint tha-bump, tha-bump, tha-bump, and cracked and patched asphalt are the norm and not the exception. Frankly, I don't care what type of frame material you have, if your stoker isn't used to sitting on a bicycle seat and riding as hard or long as you are and you haven't mastered calling out bumps, they're going to have a sore tuckus and back after taking long rides on the tandem. Thus, the suspension seatpost could be a very important piece of equipment as your first start to ride. After acclimating -- and for seasoned riders who stoke -- the suspension post can end up being more trouble than it's worth IF it's not adjusted properly.

    Anyway, while I could write an entire chapter on breaking in stokers, let me cut to the chase: while there are some differences in the stiffness of aluminum vs steel tandems, most of the true harshness can be addressed with careful wheel selection and/or a suspension seatpost. If you plan to be hammerheads who set speed records, you'll most likely accept the more lively and harsh feel of racing wheels and eschew the addition weight of the shockpost. If you're just looking to get a start with tandems for recreation, fitness, time together, etc... then by all means make sure it's fitted to support those goals, e.g., skip the go-fast wheels, keep the suspension post, and stick with the stock tires or something similar in size to the stock tires and get some time in the saddle. You and yours will most likely adjust as quickly to the steel frame as you would an aluminum one. However, make sure that suspension post is set-up properly so that it doesn't become a source of discomfort for your stoker. Make sure the seat height is set when her riding weight is on the saddle so that it can be adjusted to the right height while she's on the bike. Make sure that it is stiff enough to provide a firm platform for pedalling and doesn't contribute to "bobbing". After all, it's a shock post, not an air-ride seat. It works best when dialed in to take the sting out of that big bump you forgot to call-out, but otherwise remains firmly in place so that your stoker can maintain an efficient pedal cadance and leg motion.

    In closing, there is probably more information than you wanted to know or care about in this reply as it touched briefly on several different issues. But, hopefully, it gives you an apprecation for some of the realities of tandems and tandeming. In the end, it will most likely be your wife's saddle that gives you more trouble than anything else -- aside from any bad riding habits you were unware of until she points them out to you -- and that's also a universal problem that is unrelated to the frame material.

    NOTE: For reference purposes, we started out on a steel road tandem with a shock post. Debbie had me remove the post after the first few weeks and has never used one since on our road tandems. Off-road is a different story; you NEED rear suspension on an off-road tandem, preferrably active rear suspension if you ever plan to ride technical single track.
    Last edited by livngood; 04-13-04 at 10:52 AM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bandaidman
    my wife would really like to get a tandem so we can spend more time together

    she being the practical one wants to get the cheapest one possible....i as usual want to spend way too much to get a "performance" one


    the new 2004 cannondale road tandem seems to be a good compromise

    seems to have good components .... and while still expensive at around $2k ... its a lot cheaper than a santana.

    is it a good tandem?

    my wife is not a big rider but is quite athletic and should do well.

    any other tandems we should look at in this range?

    thanks!!!

    I agree with livngood. There's too much hype surrounding upper-end tandems and their claimed ethereal qualities. Our shop sells all tandems brands noted on this thread and Cannondale, by far, has the best value bike. This includes ride quality. My shopmates own Co-motion Big Als and Burley Paso Dobles and they spend more time ranting about the cool factor than anyting else whereas I use terms like diminishing returns and marginal gains. My tandem on group rides has no trouble passing them on the straights, climbs, and turns because the bike is so stable.

    In fact, I've sold my '02 RT1000 to purchase the 2004 because IT IS such a great buy. And stiffness? For the captain it means it feels like a single. For the stoker on a rigid seatpost it certainly is too rough, but insert a Cane Creek Thudbuster instead of the traditional shock seatpost and you have something akin to a softride but better because there's practically no bob when pedalling.

    Finally, there's resale. I purchased my '04 new for $2400 and sold it recently for $1650 on ebay. Of course, I took the initial deprecatory hit and I'm also sure if I would have advertised locally, I could have sold it for more if I weren't so impatient. In your case, if you're lucky enough to find one used and find out you don't like it a year or two later only to sell it, your loss would be insignificant.

  9. #9
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pnassmac
    if you're lucky enough to find one used and find out you don't like it a year or two later only to sell it, your loss would be insignificant.
    Speaking of used tandems, there really are some good looking (at least on paper) used bikes up for sale, Cannondale and others: http://www.tandemmag.com/classified/

  10. #10
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    Having been through this myself last summer:

    One thing that I would emphasize is the importance of test rides. Last summer we rode a very nice Co-Motion (Aluminum I think) and a Burley Paso Doble (Steel). The feel of the Burley was much more stiff and lively. We test rode each again to be sure. We ended up with the Burley and love it. Others may prefer a more relaxed feel also. Each team will have their own likes and dislikes. For me anyway, thinking about it was not enough. Leave an entire afternoon to do this. We spent 3 hours in this process of evaluating the bikes.

    If you have time and need to cure insomnia, here is the thread from last summer:

    Will a new tandem be worth it?

    Buying a bike is fun and stressful at the same time..... I should know, I have way too many....

    I must admit that Cannondale looks to have hit a sweet spot with the 2004 road tandem. I wonder how it rides? Never mind....

    Enjoy,

    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by pnassmac
    ....
    My tandem on group rides has no trouble passing them on the straights, climbs, and turns because the bike is so stable. ...

    In fact, I've sold my '02 RT1000 to purchase the 2004 because IT IS such a great buy. And stiffness? For the captain it means it feels like a single....

    ...sold it recently for $1650 on ebay. Of course, I took the initial deprecatory hit and I'm also sure if I would have advertised locally, I could have sold it for more if I weren't so impatient. In your case, if you're lucky enough to find one used and find out you don't like it a year or two later only to sell it, your loss would be insignificant.
    My wife and I got a chance to ride the Cannondale and some other well respected brands at the Tandems East Expo recently. The Cannondale, for us at least, was significantly more stable than the others. We were on it for about 45 second when she (the stoker) said, "I like THIS one!"
    I was amazed by the difference too, but she said it before I said anything!

    It's really worth riding them first if possible.

    Anyway, when I saw Pnassmac's '02 Cannondale on Ebay, in the color (Orange) I always wanted, but was only available in '02, I could believe it! $1650 and worth every penny... I'm kind of glad he was a little impatient

  12. #12
    Senior Member johno's Avatar
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    My wife and I have been riding a Cannondale tandem for about a year. I have nothing but the highest regard for it. Smooth riding, not at all rough like some people say about aluminum. Not flexy, either, like a couple of the tandems we tried out. Given the fact that tandems in general tend to handle like a bus, the 'dale feels quite nimble. Also fairly light, which never hurts.

    The tandem really worked out well for both of us. On individual bikes, she was a lot slower than I, whereas on the tandem, we set a slightly faster pace than I normally ride on a single bike. You really get to know your spouse on a tandem.

    We ended up buying a used Suntour/Shimano equipped Cannondale for $1k. Very handsome in its metallic dark blue color. Been thinking about selling it and buying a larger framed Cannondale (I'm 6'3", really could stand a large frame in the front) , so if you live near KY and are still looking for a used tandem, drop me a line.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Has Cannondale changed away from that wedge-type eccentric on the newer models? That sure seems to me like a terrible answer to the question that nobody asked.

  14. #14
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Of course not.

  15. #15
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    Hi Guys

    My wife and i are also looking at purchasing our first ever tandem. I am the experienced cyclist amongst us whilst she is just beginning to learn to ride. I like what i am hearing about the C'Dale Tandem and am thinking seriously about purchasing one from the US. The tandem market here in Australia leaves something to be desired. I know that the C'Dale tandems are made of Aluminium but can anyone tell me what grade of Aluminium. Are they the same grade you find say on a Co-Mo Robusta? This tandem uses Easton 7005 grade as does many other good tandems. But i cannot find any info on the type of aluminium used on the C'dale.

    Also what tandem shops could you recommend in the U.S that would send to Australia?

    regards
    Jeff
    Brisbane, Australia

  16. #16
    SDS
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    I am a few years out of date in the tandem market, owing to momentarily having enough. Cannondales have been made out of 6061-T6 for a very long time now. It seems to me that it is possible to prefer the ride qualities of either the 6061-T6 (Cannondale only) or Easton 7005 tubesets, though I think most teams will prefer Easton 7005 (two tubesets available, a number of makers) most of the time. Really you should test ride both, primarily focusing on sprint qualities and bumpy road ride qualities and make up your mind what is best for you.

    There are a few people around who will insist that aluminum cannot be made into a tandem that is not intolerably stiff. This is not correct, and the general nature of the claim is by itself dubious. Among other things, just changing the weight of the team changes the perception of the ride characteristics.

  17. #17
    go wake forest!!!! bandaidman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
    Has Cannondale changed away from that wedge-type eccentric on the newer models? That sure seems to me like a terrible answer to the question that nobody asked.

    sorry...what is the question "no-one asks"??????

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    SDS
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    Ummmmm, "What would be a better way to lock an eccentric adjustment than the means already used?"?

    On the complex end, I love the Bushnell eccentric almost enough to think up excuses to tighten and loosen the allen adjustment bolt so I can see the sides of the clamshell adjustment go in and out and in and out and......oh, never mind.

    On the simple end, I find a setscrew adjustment to be entirely satisfactory, and if properly designed, quite light.

    The virtue of the Cannondale wedge-anchored eccentric escapes me. There seems to be a lot of difficulty with keeping it quiet, and a lot of people have had to seek technical advice to remove it.

  19. #19
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Our 5c-worth on eccentrics (inflation took care of 2c-worth!):
    We vote for the Bushnell eccentric: hi-tech/ very light/ simple to adjust. C'dale's is a real pain to adjust, something they should have changed years ago. Co-Mo and Burley are much simpler/straight forward.
    Fortunately eccentrics do not have to be adjusted that often.
    If you want REAL comfort for stoker, do not overlook the Softride beam. In your desired price range, a used would be possible.
    Good luck!

    Pedal on TWOgether!
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