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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 02-27-09, 05:02 PM   #1
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GASP! Newbie Question

Okay, like many, I hate the eternal newbie question about which bike to buy and this is NOT one of those threads.

Oh wait, it MAY be.

First of all, my wife and I are not newbies, We both rife Trek, Giant, and/or Fuji hybrids or road bikes amd I restore vintage steel, so I'm not exactly uninformed.


We have never ventured into the of tandem cycling and think we want to try it.

Now, my question:

Which brands are the tandem equivalent of department store bikes?

When considering a used tandem, is there anything outside of what a decent mechanic already knows (hybrids and road bikes) that I need to look out for?
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Old 02-27-09, 06:17 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Bearonabike View Post
Which brands are the tandem equivalent of department store bikes?
Pacific Dualie Tandem
Mongoose Wanderer Tandem
Kent Dual Drive Tandem
Lamborghini Viaggio Tandem
Micargi Tandem

Grand Concord Tandem

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Old 02-27-09, 07:22 PM   #3
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You guys should venture to a resort area nearby and rent a tandem for a day. May not be the best tandem to ride, but you two will get the idea of it is something you two would like to do.
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Old 02-27-09, 08:48 PM   #4
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there are even bike stores that rent tandems- for the all day test ride- ride as many as you can before putting down the bucks. Don't be afraid to buy used, as long as your mechanic or you can evaluate the bike. enjoy!
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Old 02-28-09, 07:36 PM   #5
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Many tandem dealers -- OK, tandem dealers do tend to be few and far between -- will rent one of their "fleet-grade" tandems to prospective buyers for a weekend, so you can get the feel of what a really good tandem rides like, plus some helpful hints and instruction about getting the most out of your first ride together. MBS Tandems in Mississauga just outside Toronto are very encouraging in this regard and have helped a great many couples in Ontario feel good about taking the plunge and buying a "divorce machine." Nothing they sell is the equivalent of a department store bike, and that applies I'm sure to just about all of the family-run tandem businesses.

The idea is to buy (or consider buying) a tandem that is as good as the single bikes you *both* currently ride. If it rides like a POS, you won't ride it.
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Old 03-04-09, 11:26 PM   #6
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Stay away from brands sold at W- or K-Mart, Target and most mailorder or website 'deals' . . . like Free shipping on our brand new sub-300 dollar bike for two.
Check out this forum for and talk with tandem owners.
Good luck!
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Old 03-10-09, 10:52 PM   #7
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Tandem Equivalent to Department Store Bikes

Micargi, or anything that weighs more than about 40 pounds. Perhaps you live somewhere flat, but here in northern California, older, or cheaper steel bikes can take quite an effort to pedal up a hill.

My recommendations: try Cannondale and Trek aluminum tandems. Or recent and more svelte Burleys and Santanas. These come up on Craigslist and eBay fairly often.

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Old 03-11-09, 05:45 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Bearonabike View Post
When considering a used tandem, is there anything outside of what a decent mechanic already knows (hybrids and road bikes) that I need to look out for?
This is the only one that seems to have gone unanswered....

1. Wheels need to be more robust to handle the added weight of two riders vice one. Cheap tandems don't use hubs designed for tandems which isn't a big deal if they never get used much or don't venture off the relatively flat bike trails. However, for serious riding look for real tandem hubs, recognizable spoke and rim parts and wheel build quality / spoke tension.

2. Frame stiffness: a tandem frame needs to have some give for stoker comfort but the less expensive steel-framed tandems can be real noodles, even if they're heavy. The less expensive aluminum tandems actually have fairly descent tubing but frame alignment can be off and the higher cost of aluminum frames is usually off-set by less expensive wheels and miscellaneous components.

3. Tandems are hard on headsets. Look out for indexed steering on older used tandems that had either 1" steerers or used loose bearing headsets.

4. Be mindful that not all tandems use conventional, easy to find parts. Some older tandems have cranksets and unusual tubing diameters that will limit your choice of other parts.

Bottom Line: If you bought your last family bikes at a department store and were happy, then a department store tandem is probably OK. However, serious cyclists looking for a tandem who intend to ride it at the same level as their single bikes need to buy tandems that are made for serious cyclists.
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Old 03-11-09, 06:06 AM   #9
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Space-coaster, huh? Well then, after exercising all the good advice below, if you still haven't found a tandem to rent or try, get in touch with me and head over to the sun coast and we'll set you up on our Fuji back-up tandem that seems to have come home to roost, (long story!).
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2005 Trek T2000 Tandem, 2003 Burley Tosa Tandem, Pacific Dualie beater tandem, and 6 singles including 2 fixies. - A LOCAL Cycling Forum
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Old 03-11-09, 05:30 PM   #10
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I wouldn't worry about weight. My burly weighs more than the magical 40 lb number given above, and I bet my new bilenky will too once I finish building it up. It just doesn't matter... (and remember a mid-range alu. + shimano 105 race bike often weighs 24 lbs....and 24 x 2 = 48).

I would advise against buying a decent older tandem and upgrading it to 9spd / new components. Most of these bikes ride just fine as-is, but will cost a lot and be a lot of trouble to convert them to new components. In many cases you would be better off buying a new bike.

My experience: I bought a 1990 burly duet, and gradually upgraded it to 9 speed. Never finished (never replaced the rear wheel). Good thing too, because it turned out all it needed was a couple of different chainrings and a set of bar end shifters to make it a great riding bike. Sure there is no indexing, but the wheels that came with it are much better than any of the cheap 9-spd wheelsets out there, and the gear ratios are really good.
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