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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 04-14-04, 08:14 AM   #1
rick hellard
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racing wheels

Hi all.

I'm new to tandem riding and have the intention to race as well as do some time trials.

I have a disc wheel and tri-spoke for a single bike, but am unsure if they are strong enough for a tandem. My stoker and I weigh a total of 300 lbs.

Are regular 36 hole wheels okay to use in road races?

Any ideas?
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Old 04-14-04, 10:07 AM   #2
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The only composite spoked wheels that are rated/approved/whathaveyou for tandems are the Aerospoke wheels. However, you could certainly contact the manufacturer of your other wheels and find out if they would have any issues with the wheels being used for a 350lb tandem team. I can anticipate what the answer might be, but you might just want to ask to "scratch that itch".

As for component wheelsets, properly-built, 36h wheels are more than adequate for your team weight. If fact, If you use a deep section rim you could probably even go with a 32h or 28h front wheel if you were so inclined.

There are, of course, a whole slew of paired, low-spoke count wheels now on the market for tandems. If you have a tandem with 160mm rear spacing Santana & Shimano have teamed up to offer what they call the "Sweet 16" wheelset which is based on Shimano's 1st generation paired-spoke wheel design. If you have 145mm rear spacing Bontrager offers a tandem version of it's RaceLite wheels and Rolf has released the Rolf Prima Vigor Tandem paired spoke wheel that is offered as an option or OEM wheelset on Burley and Co-Motion's go-fast tandems. These things retail in the $750 - $850 / pair range.
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Old 04-14-04, 02:08 PM   #3
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We use Chris King hubs, Velocity Aerohead rims, DT revolution DB spokes. Front wheel 32H, rear 36H. Have about 3500 miles on wheelset. No problems. We weigh 250 as a team, tandem sub-30 lbs. At ages 71/69 we do NOT race anymore.
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Old 04-14-04, 06:41 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick hellard
Hi all.

I'm new to tandem riding and have the intention to race as well as do some time trials.

I have a disc wheel and tri-spoke for a single bike, but am unsure if they are strong enough for a tandem. My stoker and I weigh a total of 300 lbs.

Are regular 36 hole wheels okay to use in road races?

Any ideas?
Most likely the rear wheel won't work because the dropout spacing will be wrong.
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Old 04-14-04, 08:20 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
Most likely the rear wheel won't work because the dropout spacing will be wrong.
True, it's not likely that the 130mm road bike wheel would fit "as is". However, some of the folks who race tandems, e.g., time trials, crits, US Masters Nat'l, etc... have been doing all kinds of things with axles and frames to allow fitment of race-only wheelsets.

For example, one of the couples we ride with (275lb team) had Litespeed re-space their Taliani to 135mm and had a machine shop fabricate spacers that allow them to run 130mm Record road hubs with Campy Montreal rims as one of their go-fast wheelsets. http://www.bicycletech.com/images/ca...e_extender.jpg
http://www.bicycletech.com/images/campy_hub_135mm.jpg

They run stock, 135mm Chris King MTB hubs w/Velocity Deep V's as their "daily drivers".

The same has been done with Mavic Ksyrium wheelsets that many of the Calfee Tetra Tandem owners seem to covet, well, at least initially. Of course, running "racing wheels" can sometimes bite you. There was a very strong team who went to compete in PBP who neglected to think about the road surface before heading overseas with their very new and very cool Shimano/Santana Sweet 16 wheelset. The super-harsh conditions on the cobbles were too much for the Sweet 16's and a spoke failure under those conditions ended their journey when the wheel folded and took their rear derailleur with it. In retrospect, they failed to consider the greater need for durability and reliability at that event which really was better suited for their everyday, 40h wheelset.

Anyway, while you -- "RG" -- are most certainly correct in that wheel spacing could be an issue, when there is a will and a desire to run something unique on a tandem, there's probably a frame builder or machine shop around somewhere who can make it happen. Obviously, respacing aluminum frames is cost prohibitive whereas a 145mm steel frame can most likely be cold set to 135mm without too much trouble. However, if you have a 160mm rear spaced tandem you can -- as they say in New Jersey -- fagetaboutit.

Last edited by TandemGeek; 10-10-07 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 04-23-04, 01:57 PM   #6
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Hi

We started our tandem "career" with Campagnola Atlanta 36 spoke aero rims. They are not made anymore but are immensely strong but not the lightest on the market. I had and longer quick release axle turned out of cro-moly and have Shimano RX 600 hubs on the wheelset. The deep V rim is ideally suited for "lesser" spoked tandem wheels. By the way I managed to procure two almost new Atlanta rims and will be building a wheelset for us again.

Keep those wheels spinning

Big H
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Old 11-24-04, 04:54 PM   #7
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Its abviously been a while since your original post, but I thought I should write as we are getting into Tandem racing, as well.

We are looking at getting a set of Corima 4-Spoke aero wheels for the tandem. We ride a Seven tandem with full Campy and 130mm axle spacing (for road bike compatibility). We looked all over for a set of wheels that are "tandem friendly" and found the Corima wheels: www.corima.com

The "HM" 4-Spokes state that they are strong enough for track racing and for tandems. They also have a disc wheel available that is also tandem friendly - make sure you get the "C+" model, however.
Yes, they are as expensive as hell, but we're already into the tandem for several grand, so what's two more? Besides, if you're willing to commit to racing, you are, by default, committed to spending a few extra bucks to give yourself as much of a mechanical advantage as possible.

We have friends who ride a HED H3 tri-spoke as their front wheel, but resort to a 38-hole Mavic CXP-33 or Velocity Deep-V wheel for the rear.

Hope the racing is going (went) well.
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Old 01-01-05, 04:41 PM   #8
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VERY INTERESTING...Bill at Santana just told me that some Shimano/Santana "Sweet 16's" that experienced spoke failure at BPB had no effect on their performance and ablitity to ride/finish. He sold me... I bought a pair and had to find out a lot about these wheels the hard way. I would emphatically not recommend these wheels and I'm concerned about the disparity of information here since I spend a lot of money with these people. Integrity is something I value. Contact me privately if you would like some details.
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Old 11-16-06, 10:59 AM   #9
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Ksyrium

There has been some discussion regarding Ksyrium wheels on a tandem. Nothing specific though. I am assuming that they are referring to Ksyrium Elite or lower models. No mention of Ksyrium SL's on a tandem. And, yes, I have 130mm spacing. We are just over 300 lbs. Has anyone used or is using SL's on their tandem?
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Old 11-16-06, 11:08 AM   #10
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As you likely know, front wheel makes a bigger difference than the rear. I'd bet you can use the trispoke on the front without problem, even though its not rated for such use. Antoher option would be a clydesdale version Zipp 404 for the front.

Personally, I wouldn't bother with a disc on the rear. Even on a single bike, a rear disc makes less difference than a front deep dish or tri spoke. On a tandem, the rear wheel is already in the dirty air behind 2 riders, not jsut one. Without any empirical data, I'm doubting a rear disc is going to make much differnece over a Sweet 16 or Rolf racing wheel. Given the spacing problems, I think you'd be spending a lot of money for very limited return to put a disc on a tandem.

If your racing at the national level, the marginal difference might be worth it. (or if you just have lots of money you want to part with) However, our local tandem stars, finished 3rd at Nationals in the mixed tandem TT on conventional wheels.

And by the way if your talking road races, as oppossed to TT's you cant use the disc and the tri spoke anyway.
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Old 11-16-06, 02:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TandemGeek
For example, one of the couples we ride with (275lb team) had Litespeed re-space their Taliani to 135mm and had a machine shop fabricate spacers that allow them to run 130mm Record road hubs with Campy Montreal rims as one of their go-fast wheelsets.
That's funny. I have a pair of Campy Montreal wheels built on Record hubs that I use for bad weather training wheels on my single bike. They are definitely very tough wheels, but it would certainly never have occured to me to adapt them for the tandem! I think I'd be a bit nervous.
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Old 11-16-06, 07:47 PM   #12
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a tandem team that shows up to one of our big group traing rides (150+ riders) uses front and rear specialized tri-spokes (now sold as hed3s) and has for years with no apparent problems

or go with these from precision tandems website:

ZIPP-WALKER WHEELSETS
Zipp 808 & White Industries Hubs build by Dave Walker $1,900.00
Weight for 700C 1132g R, 915gg F = 2047g/set
Front and Rear 145mm set without q.r.
Lighter than 2006 model Sweet 16 wheels!
Special Order
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Old 11-16-06, 11:25 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickturbo
There has been some discussion regarding Ksyrium wheels on a tandem. Nothing specific though. I am assuming that they are referring to Ksyrium Elite or lower models. No mention of Ksyrium SL's on a tandem. And, yes, I have 130mm spacing. We are just over 300 lbs. Has anyone used or is using SL's on their tandem?
We rode Ksyrium SLs with 130 mm spacing for about 3 years and 5000 miles before the rear started breaking spokes and the rim cracked. They were great before that except in the first month the front broke spokes and needed to be re-built. After being rebuilt, we did not have any trouble until the recent failures on the rear. We weigh about 290.
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Old 11-17-06, 05:49 AM   #14
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running 36 spoke wheels in a race? They make tandem racing wheels for a reason. 36 spokes generate as much aerodynamic drag on a double as a single. NO to 36 spokes. I have bontrager tandem racing wheels I like for training. If I was going to race again, I think I'd go the route of others with a reasonable team weight and run a pair of Mavic Ksyriums. If yer 3 spokers are Specialized, they were VERY stout. The disk??? Maybe if it's a HED, as they're heavy as hell. Not if it's a Zipp.

COntact the Mfg for better details.
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Old 11-20-06, 05:45 AM   #15
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What you ride will depend on what racing you're planning to do. Flat time trials are very different from road races or etape type rides with other riders, downhills and corners. Apart from aerodynamics and weight there are some other factors to consider:
  • Braking - what do the wheels brake like in the dry or in the rain?
  • Wear - Will your investment last? For example, do their brake tracks wear out quickly if covered in grit?
  • Robustness - is it likely that the wheels will fail? If they do, will the failure be controllable, and will it impact just the result of the ride or your safe completion of the ride? How easy is repair?
  • Aerodynamics - is the wheel aerodynamic or not? I think you can sum up the aero test results in 3 factors: Most important is rim depth, then comes rim shape with toroidal rims being better in cross winds and finally fewer spokes being the least important factor. One should also ask whether you're going to Hawaii, Lanzarote or the Netherlands. Whether you need to ride in strong side winds and how good a bike handler you are should influence your choice of wheel.
  • Weight - very much at the bottom of the list as differences are small in comparison to the system weight.
  • Rigidity / Comfort trade off - I don't buy this argument. In my view more rigid wheels allow the bike to handle better and if you want more comfort you should deflate your tyres by 5psi and get a new pair of shorts.

So for flat, short distance time trials I think you're right in choosing a deep rim carbon front and a rear disc. A rear disc cover also sounds a good idea and in my experience they work very well for very little cost if they are allowed in the races you're planning. For general competition and training use, the relatively unexotic Vectors or Bontragers would be my choice. For something a bit more exotic I would rebuild something like a Mavic Cosmic or Cosmos rim (reputedly bombproof and widely used by Belgians for cobbled racing) onto a wider rear hub. Final alternative would be some specially made Lightweights. They would win any my tandem is cooler than yours contest.

In my view, a straight from the packet Kysrium isn't the right wheel for a tandem. The rim is not exactly aerodynamic and despite roadie beliefs they aren't much lighter than a good set of handbuilt wheels.

I don't understand why anyone would get a custom tandem in 130mm spacing unless they are going to run a disc 100% of the time since the literature on wheel strength being related to spoke bracing angle is quite clear. Rebuilding a wheel onto a wider rear hub is very cheap in comparison to broken spokes, ruined rides and possibly ripped clothing.
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Old 11-20-06, 03:19 PM   #16
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This is interesting as I just got a road bike with high-end wheels (Ksyrium ES) and I was wondering if I could use them on my tandem (or at least the front, as the rear has a different cassette 10 vs 7 or 8). Looks like it's a bad idea, even if it would fit. I don't want to risk cracking or damaging a $500 wheel!
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Old 11-21-06, 12:45 AM   #17
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130mm Spacing

I am interested in a Co-Motion Robusta Tandem that a friend has for sale. It's a 2004 and has 130mm spacing. He says to accomodate any road wheel, besides, he claims wheels nowadays are much stronger than years past. It comes with Shimano Dura Ace 7801's, which are strong wheels. I have a pair of Ksyrium SL's and was just wondering how they would fair. After reading the feedback, it's a thumbs down on the SL's. The Robusta is 7 lbs lighter than my Santana Arriva and much stiffer. The Robusta is a racing tandem while the Arriva is basically for touring. Both my wife and I prefer the geometry of the Robusta. For approximately twice the price of a new Arriva, the Robusta had better make "us" float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. Does that sound better! Yes Yes!

Last edited by rickturbo; 11-23-06 at 12:45 AM.
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Old 11-21-06, 10:21 PM   #18
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For 2007 Topolino is coming out with a tandem wheelset with 145mm rear spacing. Weight is in the 1400 gram range for the wheelset. Price not yet established (probably around $1,000).
Calfee modified a regular road set of Topolinos to fit one of his tandems. Logged thousands of miles with different teams and no problems. Rear wheel has 18 spokes on drive side and 12 on non-drive side; front wheel 24 spokes. Oh yes, hub and spokes are c/f.
Have a set on my single bike with over 3,000 miles on 'em. Have run front wheel on our tandem: no issues. Great riding wheels and NO problems.
We have no financial interest in Topolino; just a very pleased/impressed customer.

Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 11-22-06, 07:26 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickturbo
For approximately twice the price of a new Arriva, the Robusta had better make me a super-fast-demon-of-speed racer.
Fixed your typo above for you...
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Old 11-26-06, 09:51 PM   #20
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Best wheels

Hello,

Zipp 404's carbon, Reynolds Stratus, Head Alps etc.. all will do, You will see them on the racing tandems in Co-Motion Stage Race. Those tandems will use them in Very Hilly stages with bad rosd surface & very fast speed, they will do criterium race with fast tight turns albows to albows! and Time Trial, where those fast wheels will excel most!

We used pair in the Washington Tandem Team Time Trial ( four tandems ) 52km where we avr 29m/hr ! and composite wheels were awsome plus.

I build some nice set of tandems wheels, like pair King hubs/Velocity Aero Head rims 32/36 hole and weight is the same as Rolf Vigor Prima, They might not be as Aero as Rolfs but super complient ride with 32/36 spokes ( more & longer spokes ) nicer ride!

On final note if you not going over 300Lbs and have nice smooth roads where you ride & $$$ than fancy carbon wheels are way to go.Problem will be with swaping flat tires if you go with saw ups, but you can go with clinchers now days.

I have pair of Rolf Prima's for fast rides and for descenting long passes ( deeper rims surface will despite more heat! ) and we have set of Kings/Velocity wheels for all around road surface riding.

My 2 cents!
Les Korcala
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