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  1. #1
    'possum killer chuckfox's Avatar
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    Opinions on Burley Samba

    We are considering getting into family tandeming and would like anyone's experiences with the Burley Samba. I would like to be able to ride with my 10 yr old daughter--she rides a 17" framed mountain bike so I think she is plenty big enough to be a stoker on a medium Samba. What I'm thinking about doing is purchasing a stock Samba, but swapping the knobby tires to 1.5" slicks for road use and keeping the knobbys for the crushed rock trails we like to ride on. We will also probably tow a Bob trailer or take little sis on a trailer bike. Any advice on the Samba or other options-preferably in the Burley line since that's what my LBS sells.

    I should mention that my ultimate motivation for the tandem is to ride RAGBRAI this July with my 10 yr old daughter. A week across Iowa in July with my daughter--that would be a blast!

  2. #2
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckfox
    We are considering getting into family tandeming and would like anyone's experiences with the Burley Samba. I would like to be able to ride with my 10 yr old daughter--she rides a 17" framed mountain bike so I think she is plenty big enough to be a stoker on a medium Samba. What I'm thinking about doing is purchasing a stock Samba, but swapping the knobby tires to 1.5" slicks for road use and keeping the knobbys for the crushed rock trails we like to ride on. We will also probably tow a Bob trailer or take little sis on a trailer bike. Any advice on the Samba or other options-preferably in the Burley line since that's what my LBS sells.

    I should mention that my ultimate motivation for the tandem is to ride RAGBRAI this July with my 10 yr old daughter. A week across Iowa in July with my daughter--that would be a blast!
    Great bike. Rode one over 50 miles as a test ride. However this one had the Allsop beam. Being a road rider and spoiled on drop bars, 50 miles was enough with upright bars.
    Your idea of slix would be a definite improvement for road riding; adding a set of barend extension for pilot will give more hand choice positions.
    That Burley is the biggest bang for the buck . . . and have fun on RAGBRAI!
    Pedal on TWOgether
    Rudy & Kay/Tucson AZ

  3. #3
    'possum killer chuckfox's Avatar
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    Thanks, zonatandem. It looks like a good value to me as well, but being unfamiliar with tandems I want to make sure it doesn't have any major shortcomings that I might regret. It's still a big investment so I want to make sure I get the right bike. The LBS will let me try it out for a weekend so I may take them up on that. I appreciate the bar ends idea that would work well. I guess my biggest concern is that my stoker might lose her enthusiasm--it's a little tough to judge the seriousness of a 10 year old.

    Thanks for the advice!

  4. #4
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    The Samba/Rumba is the best value available in a new, US-made tandem (period). It has no peer at that price point. The quality and rideability of the frame, along with somewhat better componentry, is what sets this tandem apart from the less expensive, one-size fits all Zydeco. Bike Friday (aka, Green Gear) offers an entry-level "family" tandem that is very competitive on price and quality; however, the 24" wheel and compact frame design is not nearly as flexible as the more conventional Samba frame.

    The "enduro" model is also an ideal choice for an entry-level family tandem. As you note, by merely switching from slicks to knobbies, you can confidently take on just about any type of road surface. The Rumba is better suited to entry-level adults or families who are experienced road riders who will not be venturing off of the asphalt and the Zydeco has a market but it's rather narrow.

    There was an entry-level Cannondale MT-800 that has since been discontinued that was probably the next closest, US-made best-value tandem at about $1,975. The 2002/3 model was aluminum vs. steel and had a tad better grade of components but was otherwise a comparable product. There were earlier models of the MT-800 in the late 90's that were a bit less expensive and had a lower grade of components. Any of these tandems found for sale as used are usually a very good value.

    There are a number of tandems on the market that are made in Asia and sold under the Schwinn, Raleigh, and KHS brand-names that offer mid to high-end models similarly equipped and less expensive than the Burley; however, they can't compete with the Burley on quality, customer support, or resale value. They also offer some very inexpensive models that fit a market niche for purely neighborhood recreational use and tight family budgets.

    Back to the Samba, aat that price point, the only other options that would be more attractive would be a used tandem like an MT800 as mentioned above, or perhaps an older Co-Motion Mocha or Burley Bosa Nova, or Santana enduro. However, you need to be certain that the bike being sold is in good condition, has not been abused, will meet your needs, and is priced fairly. These can be hard to find and often times require a leap of faith if they are long-distance transactions. Below is an example of what you can find at http://www.tandemmag.com/classified

    FOR SALE 04/11/04: 1998 Cannondale MT900 Los Dos Tandem Size 22/20 (Medium), Color: Tangerine(orange) Used as a beginner tandem for my wife and I. Tires: 26x1.25 road tires. Mileage: 6000 miles all road. Price: $700.00 OBO
    Roger D. Cadie
    Home Phone: 815-547-7526
    rdeankd@xta.com
    Last edited by livngood; 04-23-04 at 01:21 AM.

  5. #5
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    Chuckfox,

    Sounds like a great plan! I am originally from Iowa and have ridden ragbrai three times though never on a tandem. Any of the tandems already mentioned are definitely ragbrai'able however, I'd suggest buying the smallest slicks you can find for the samba, like 26 x 1.25. The less rolling resistance the better on a 500 mile weeklong ride! As for your daughters' enthusiasm level, I'd hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Meaning if your 10yr old is sick of it by Wednesday, have someone in queue to pick up your tandem/daughter and bring you your single. Even if that where to happen, you would still have an amazing time on ragbrai. Stop by Tom's Turkey and have a drumstick for me!

  6. #6
    'possum killer chuckfox's Avatar
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    livngood,

    Thanks for the great information--I was concerned there might be something else out there that I should be aware of, but you've convinced me that the Samba is unique and will fit the bill for us.
    My wife and I are going to go for a test ride at lunchtime today.

    JBinDC,

    Thank you for the RAGBRAI info. I hate to admit it, but I've lived in Iowa all but 4 of my 40 years and I have never ridden RAGBRAI. This is going to be my year. I appreciate your advice on my daughter. I like the pickup plan--of course, I won't tell her about it!

  7. #7
    Mercrudgeon Bikedud's Avatar
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    I have the Dale MT900 and have done basically what you are thinking about doing. I purchased the Dale a few years ago, similiar situation, the only tandems available at my local bike shop were the two Cannondale models. I use 1.5" slicks for road work, handlebar extensions for more hand position options, and I've made a few other minor improvements to make it quite capable and comfortable. Ive ridden my friends Samba many miles it's a little heavier, with a slightly more supple ride and it's equally as capable as my mt900. It should serve you very well.

    I have done several cross-state rides with one of the children as stoker. My son's first ride was at eight and my daughter's was at nine years old, they both had a great time. They are much too busy now (middle and high school) but I have a three year old at home who is already riding in a trailer. It won't be long.

    Good luck with your adventure.
    The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.
    Somerset Maugham

  8. #8
    'possum killer chuckfox's Avatar
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    Thanks, Bikedud and everyone who gave me advice on this decision. Well we gave the Samba a test ride and...we bought it. I am really looking forward to some quality family time and father/daughter bonding time with this bike. My wife loved it, so I know I have at least one stoker that is committed to tandeming. The kids haven't seen it yet. The bike shop is making a few changes for us--we are swapping the stoker saddle, adding bar ends for the captain and changing the tires to 1.5" slicks. I will pick it up tonight on my way home from work!

    So I guess we are the newest newbies to the world of tandeming.

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