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  1. #1
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    Tandem bike suggestion

    Hi all, I am new to biking and in need of suggestion on what kind of tandem bike to look for. I would like to take long trips with it camping style. How fast the bike can go is not important to me, but comfort for long rides is, as well as its ability to carry a load. Also, I will be riding with my 14 year old daughter, so I am not sure if any special considerations are needed due to that. I have read a lot of info on frame sizes, gearing, break systems, suspensions, etc. and now at a point where I am not sure what else to read and yet I am very confused. I went to a local bike shop, but they weren’t too much help. Also, I found out that prices range from $300 to $6000 and could not understand how the value was established in order to understand what price range I need to be in to get what I am looking for. I do not have a lot of money to spend, but buying something that will not accomplish what I am looking for will be a waste of money as well. Please help.

    P.S. In one of the posts here I found a bike Lamborghini Viaggio ( http://www.amazon.com/Tonino-Lamborg.../dp/B000R7DND2 ). Some people said that it was a good bike, while others said that it is better to buy a used bike of a better brand. I could not see a clear explanation as to why, so if somebody can help on this point I would greatly appreciate it.

  2. #2
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    There are better tandem experts but I got here first. A $300 tandem is likely to be heavy, not fit as well, and break more easily. Not a good choice for a tour. Around a park maybe. A $6000 bike is for a committed pair of tandem enthusiasts going across the country. While the Santana company does push their bikes fairly hard at least they mail out a lot of info. Burley and many others will be posted shortly. Does she still have a lot of growing to do? Then either a less expensive starter tandem and a better one later if she still enjoys it or a bike that is a bit large for the stoker and adjust bars and seat posts to match. Find a shop that specializes in tandems and try there even if you two have to do an long weekend trip. Zonatandem should weight in soon.
    Last edited by ken cummings; 01-12-09 at 09:01 PM. Reason: typo
    This space open

  3. #3
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    If you happen to be in the Northeast, Wheelworks of Belmont, MA has a first rate tandem department. If you are from somewhere else, call Santana and they will give you the names of shops where you can test ride in your area. Just know that your area might have a radius of 300 or more miles. Tandems are rare in comparison to singles. Also, they are expensive, so they are a commitment. Have your daughter come with you to look at bikes. She'll need to be happy with it as well, or she won't ride it. Best of luck!

  4. #4
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    Rent, borrow, or steal a tandem for a weekend. Make sure your daughter is up to it. Plan on spending near $1,000 for a used bike worth taking on a long tour.

  5. #5
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Tandems are scarce. Bike shops that stock tandems are even scarcer! New tandems can run the gamut of $300 to $13,000.
    Depending where you live, budget and size requirements this forum could be a help/guiide in finding a tandem for longer rides/touring with daughter.
    The $300+ tandems sold on the internet and in big box stores are lotsa hype/flash for little cash . . . but not reliable and frankly a wasted investment.
    With a budget (yes, we all been there!) a used tandem is the most likely prospect.
    While new tandems come in a variety of frame materials/componentry, in the used market in the $1,000 range you will find alloyed steel and aluminum tandems.
    Some brand names to look for used: Burley, Bilenky, Cannondale, Follis, Bike Friday, Ibis, Jack Taylor, Kuwahara, Motobecane, Meridian, Osell, Peugeot, Rodriguez, Roland, Santana, Sterling, Trek among others.
    Fit is primary concern, followed by age/conditon and affordability.
    We wish you luck in your quest!
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  6. #6
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    ""Rent, borrow, or steal a tandem for a weekend. Make sure your daughter is up to it. Plan on spending near $1,000 for a used bike worth taking on a long tour.""

    +1.... maybe $1000 to $1500

    Bill J.

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    Thank you for all your info… Can you offer an opinion on the following:
    Option 1: Get the $500 aluminum frame new bike with entry level components, then upgrade breaks, saddles, derailleur, etc investing another $500, but having new bike with new components
    Option 2: Get a used bike with components being used and start investing into the bike to keep it going and/or change some parts such as handles, saddles to fit my needs.
    Please understand I am trying to get legitimate feedback and not defend a cheap bike. Unfortunately I do not know enough about bikes to understand this difference. What I do not want to do is to buy an M3 BMW where I can buy 330ci BMW with sports package (basically the same car, minus minor technical specifications that only make a difference if you are on the race track) for 15 K cheaper. I hope this analogy explains better what I am asking. I am not looking for a performance bike, just a dependable bike that will allow me slowly but surely take my daughter on camping trips. And also I am not concerned with the resale value. Any info will be greatly appreciated.

  8. #8
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    Option 2. Try to get something "not old", which means less than 10 years.

    Where are you located? Getting some local advice is probably a good idea.

  9. #9
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Suggest the used tandem; ride it 'as is' for 3 months or a thousand miles, before deciding to upgrade unless something is really worn out or problematic.
    Not having owned a tandem we believe a 3 month testing ride will get you at least a bit knowledgeable in what you want/like. Upgrading immediately with new components can be costly (got a thousand bucks for a set of nice wheels?) . . .and you'll still have an older tandem.
    Many used tandems have few miles on them and have been sitting for a spell in the garage.
    'Older components' does not mean they don't function properly.
    Have sold our previous tandems with rather high mileage on them (50,000+ miles) but they were in excellent condition and, with by then, older componentry.
    A 20 year old well taken care of BMW is not very upgradeable but still a nice machine!
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  10. #10
    Bikaholic blamp28's Avatar
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    I understand exactly what you are asking. I was faced with the same decision one year ago. My choice, and my advice to you is to look for a decent name brand used bike in the $1000 - $1200 range. In my case, I bought a mid 90s Santana rather than the type of entry level bike you are looking at. This bike rides and fits better and will last longer than the entry level bike even though I bought it well after it's 10th birthday.

    Like single bikes, tandems come in a variety of models to fit varying needs. I don't own any huffy bikes but to draw a comparison, A huffy would not be a bad choice to ride around the block with the kids or to church a few blocks on an occaisional basis. The limited service life of the lower quality components would probably not be a factor due to the limited use. Now, if a friend asks for advice selecting a mountainbike because he wants to start riding a few times a week in light to intermediate cross country trails, I would only advise the Huffy/Wallmart Schwinn as a starter if he allready owns it but once he knows he is serious, he will need a better frame,wheelset,components - everything. The entrylevel stuff will work but will require lots of wrench time to keep the bike servicable. This is the same for the tandem you are looking at. The lower level tandems may work fine for arround town rides or even the occaisional longer ride but I would not take it touring. You would be spending the savings on service calls IMHO. These tandems are best suited for people who are not sure if they will ever use them. If you are certain to use it as you have posted, your needs will be far better served by spending a little more on a decent bike.

    To use your BMW analogy, you are not really comparing an M3 to a 330ci. You are comparing an M3 to a 86 Olds Cutlass Ciera with a fake wing and a cherry bomb muffler trying to be an M3 "like" automobile.
    Trek Fuel XC MTB, Giant OCR Road Bike, Rans Screamer - Tandem

  11. #11
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    blamp28, thank you very much. I was looking exactly for this kind of information and the analogy to Olds is great. I have owned enough cars and boats to fully appreciate the comparison. So now with this new understanding, what are reasonable bike brands and models I should look for to fit my touring/camping needs with a budget of 1000 to 1200? I live near Harrisburg, PA and so far did not find any bike shop that has good tandem experience.

  12. #12
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Trek, Canondale, and Burley would be a good start. You should be able to find a relatively new tandem in good shape from any of those 3 at the $1000 price point.

    Santana, and Co-Motion are also two very respected tandem builders. But it might be a lttle more difficult to find either for $1000, unless your willing to go for something a bit older, more used.

  13. #13
    Bikaholic blamp28's Avatar
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    This shop looks like one with decent selection and experience. They are 100 miles away. Make a nice trip out of it and try some bikes out. You will probably learn a lot. Communicate with the owner so he knows you are coming and get some real on hands info before you decide. They do not list used bikes on the web site but may well have trade ins.

    http://www.tandemseast.com/frames/
    Trek Fuel XC MTB, Giant OCR Road Bike, Rans Screamer - Tandem

  14. #14
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    I strongly recommend a 90's C'dale, Trek, Burley, Santana, or Comotion ($1000-$1500). Find one in sound mechanical condition, that fits, and just ride it and enjoy. Don't even thing about upgrades for 3+ months while you are learning and adapting to tandem riding. Once you both know that you love it, and think you need something better, then go through the cost benefit review of up-grade vs new. The good news will be, if you want to go new, you should be able to recoup almost all (if not all) of your original investment because good name, well maintained used Tandems sell well. On the other hand, if you want to go the upgrade route you will have a solid frame to build upon with many components that you probably will not even want to upgrade. Good luck..have fun.

    Bill J


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    Thank you all again for your input. I have one more question. Is there a check list of items to look for/check when buying a used bike from an individual or may be instruction on how/what to check to make sure that the bike is sound and does not have any major issues. Also, what can be major issues with a used bike? As I mentioned before I am somewhat new to biking. Any info on this subject will be greatly appreciated.

  16. #16
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Mel and Barb K at TandemsEast are great folks to deal with and they have a large selection of tandems; they've been in business for 20 years and know their stuff.
    Have ridden with both of them when they were here in AZ visiting. Great folks!
    Tel 'em Rudy and Kay said 'Hi' when you see 'em!
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by blamp28 View Post
    This shop looks like one with decent selection and experience. They are 100 miles away. Make a nice trip out of it and try some bikes out. You will probably learn a lot. Communicate with the owner so he knows you are coming and get some real on hands info before you decide. They do not list used bikes on the web site but may well have trade ins.

    http://www.tandemseast.com/frames/
    Or about 90 miles away there is Mt Airy Bikes with about 100 used tandems on their website:

    http://www.bike123.com/used_bikes/us...27%25%2C%25%27

  18. #18
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    Information for first time tandem buyers! Look here> http://www.thetandemlink.com/tandems.html

    I hope this helps.

    Ciao,
    o^^o
    Life is good O^o

  19. #19
    Senior Member Stray8's Avatar
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    http://easternshore.craigslist.org/bik/987867136.html

    Santana 21-speed tandem bicycle - $800 (Salisbury, MD)

    Reply to: sale-987867136@craigslist.org [?]
    Date: 2009-01-10, 4:51PM EST



    Santana Visa model, purchased new, ~ $2200, from Larry Black's Mount Airy bicycle shop in Fall 1995. Well maintained, always kept in closed garage, ridden for well under 2000 total miles. Set up for touring with (removable) plastic fenders, rear bike rack, and cycling computers for both captain and stoker. Stoker has rattrap pedals, captain has Shimano 323 rattrap/SPD pedals. Santana's frame size for this tandem was M, chosen for a 5'10" captain and a 5'4" stoker, but adjustable over a reasonable size range.

    • Location: Salisbury, MD


    • Not my ad. Just sharing.



    • .

  20. #20
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    If I was in your situation I would be looking at a late 90's Dale or Burley. If you are new to biking, it would be very difficult for you to see non-obvious mechanical problems. Try to buy it from a reputable source or from some you can trust or take it to a bike shop before closing the deal. Other than that the most important thing is fit.

  21. #21
    Junior Member sid1707's Avatar
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    I bought one of those $300 road bike tandems from Amazon and I will be honest I love it. You definitely get what you pay for, meaning all the components are very low end, but that doesn't mean they don't work. My bike does everything it's supposed to do. I am however upgrading little by little. I plan to sink about another $500 in upgrades the most expensive of which will be the wheelset. I really think this is the way to go if you are just starting out.

    If you don't like it you're only out a few hundred bucks. If you find you really like it you can either upgrade the componets or get a more expensive bike. I like to tinker so I'm upgrading. If you go the $300 bike route I would definitely suggest having a good mechanic adjust everything so it works right and adding QBP travel agents to the brakes. I've been a competative single rider for years so I do most of all my own adjustmets/repairs and did all the adjustments myself on this bike. I'm really happy with how it turned out. By the way I was surprise to find that the bike only weighs 35lbs. and the aluminum frame feels very solid.

    If you want anymore info on the $300 tandem please feel free to contact me.

    Sid

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by sid1707 View Post
    I bought one of those $300 road bike tandems from Amazon and I will be honest I love it.

    By the way I was surprise to find that the bike only weighs 35lbs. and the aluminum frame feels very solid.
    The bike weighs 35 lbs! That's amazing. Cannondales weigh much more than that. The frame must be really light. With lighter wheels and components the weight of the bike should approach 30 lbs.

  23. #23
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    We just bought our first tandem and hope to take it for a ride this weekend. Its a 2002 Burley Rock and Roll with the SoftRide stoker platform. With 26" tires, 8 speeds and straight bars, we think it is a good starter tandem. We paid about $1200 for it in excellent condition.
    Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.....Milton Friedman

  24. #24
    Senior Member embankmentlb's Avatar
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    Most tandem specific parts are heavier than the department store bike equivalent. That is probably why those $350 tandems are lighter than $6500 tandems. Well, that & misplaced optimism.

  25. #25
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sid1707 View Post
    I bought one of those $300 road bike tandems from Amazon and I will be honest I love it. You definitely get what you pay for, meaning all the components are very low end, but that doesn't mean they don't work. My bike does everything it's supposed to do. I am however upgrading little by little. I plan to sink about another $500 in upgrades the most expensive of which will be the wheelset. I really think this is the way to go if you are just starting out.

    If you don't like it you're only out a few hundred bucks. If you find you really like it you can either upgrade the componets or get a more expensive bike. I like to tinker so I'm upgrading. If you go the $300 bike route I would definitely suggest having a good mechanic adjust everything so it works right and adding QBP travel agents to the brakes. I've been a competative single rider for years so I do most of all my own adjustmets/repairs and did all the adjustments myself on this bike. I'm really happy with how it turned out. By the way I was surprise to find that the bike only weighs 35lbs. and the aluminum frame feels very solid.

    If you want anymore info on the $300 tandem please feel free to contact me.

    Sid
    In the road forum, we call posters like this shills. Note the highlighted portion and the 5 posts.

    If you upgrade a $300 tandme with $500 worth of parts you're left with an $800 tandme with a lousy frame and still a lot of crappy parts.

    I'll take a used Burley Duet in the $500-1000 range any day over a $300 tandem with upgrades.

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