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  1. #1
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    Da Vinci Joint Venture, Soliciting Opinions

    Spring is just around the corner and my wife and I are planning to purchase a new tandem. We have a Burley Samba which we have used with great joy for the last three years. It is a fine hybrid tandem and we plan on keeping it and continuing to use it, but we now want a road tandem as well and we are considering a da Vinci Joint Venture.

    So far we have taken two very short rides on a da Vinci and found it a nice experience. We can appreciate that we will have to communicate more often than we do now on the Burley when stopping and shifting, but otherwise we saw no other difficulty to adjusting to the da Vinci.

    We would like to solicit your opinion of the da Vinci Joint Venture tandem. Specifically, we are wondering if the independent coasting system is really worth the additional costs? What other features of the da Vinci stand out in your mind as worthwhile? Are the components used in the Joint Venture significantly different from the entry level Grand Junction to justify the additional costs? What is your opinion of the S&S Couplers and travel case versus just using just acquiring an elongated Bike Pro USA Tandem Case for transportation? And lastly, what are the pros and cons of 26 inch versus 700c wheels?

    Your feedback is welcomed. Thank you

  2. #2
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    I'd try the search, plenty of threads regarding the da Vinci's.

    A few posts about them:
    da Vinci 1
    da Vinci 2
    da Vinci 3
    da Vinci 4

  3. #3
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    We've ridden with 2 teams that had Da Vinci's. One was a man ridding with his 75 year old father as a stoker, and one was a Man riding with his teenage nephew who wasn't a cyclist.

    The ICS system can be an advantage for situations like this with mixed abilities.

    However, if you're already an experienced tandem team, and don't have an issue pedaling with a cadence that works for both of you, I would not see the need for ICS.

    ICS has to add weight, expense, and complexity. So if you don't have an issue that needs addressed by ICS, I would avoid the weight, the expense and the complexity myself.

    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

  4. #4
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Is the independent coasting system really worth the additional costs?

    Merlin addressed part of that. Teams that have it say they love it and daVinci only claims one customer has ever come back to request the independent coasting / variable phasing feature be locked out. Kinda your call there partner.

    Are the components used in the Joint Venture significantly different from the entry level Grand Junction to justify the additional costs?

    Only if you can tell and appreciate the difference in the reduced weight and/or finish quality of those parts. Seriously, the biggest difference is the actual cost basis of the components and frame that daVinici must use to set its retail price. They are very up front when it comes to the frame, citing from their Website: "da Vinci Designs has finally partnered with the best steel frame fabricator in Taiwan and made the commitment to a production run, so we can bring you a more affordable tandem with all the benefits of the ICS drivetrain. The Grand Junction also uses the same high quality Reynolds tubing used in our Denver-built tandems. If you've been looking at a da Vinci tandem, but the price has held you back, the Grand Junction is the bike for you."

    Having seen a Grand Junction up close and personal, I can say without hesitation that the quality is really exceptional. Of course, it got that way because Todd & Brian spent an inordinate amount of time on site at their fabricator's facility in Taiwan working with them to get that level of fit and finish for their frames. However, when you buy a Joint Venture you're getting something that is more close to a custom frame as it's hand-made to order in Colorado by the folks at daVinci. Component value is what it is. The more expensive components are in most cases simply made lighter using more expensive materials and look better due to added finishing steps or, again, more expensive materials and processes. Beyond that, performance of these components will have more to do with their adjustment, the operator's technique and the engines than anything else.


    What is your opinion of the S&S Couplers and travel case versus just using just acquiring an elongated Bike Pro USA Tandem Case for transportation?

    The added value of S&S couplers has been greatly diminished over the past 7 years as air carriers have reduced weight limits and added fees for luggage that previouly was checked for free. So, if you're looking to recoup your investment in couplers on baggage fees just know that it would take a heck of a lot of travel to do that given the added cost of the couplers and cases. You can do the math, just divide the $2,400 cost premium of couplers and cases by what you think you'd have to pay for travellling with two large checked pieces of luggage vs. the current excess baggage fees for oversized containers / bikes. In otherwords, if you assume it would cost $100 per leg of a journey, you'd have to take 12 round trip flights to amortize that cost.

    However, and unless you plan to ride your tandem to and from your points of departure as one intrepid traveler we know does, what an S&S tandem still affords a traveller is far more flexibility and ease in their travel plans and with ground transportation to, from and in between points of departure. After all, a full-size tandem boxed for travel is a behemoth that requires a large vehicle and/or roof portage. Not all shuttle buses are large enough to accommodate them and never mind a taxi or average size rental car being large enough. So, if nothing else, S&S tandems continue to offer travelers ease of travel with their tandem via any mode of transportation. And, if someone throws out the B.S. argument regarding the cases being an issue, remember that there's nothing that prevents someone from packing an S&S tandem in disposal, reinforced cardboard boxes, e.g., bike boxes provided by airlines work just fine too.


    And lastly, what are the pros and cons of 26 inch versus 700c wheels?

    daVinci actually covers it in a very nice and succinct way on their Website:

    Why 26" Wheels for the Road?
    da Vinci Designs tandems are built to use 26” wheels for three reasons:

    • 26” wheels are stronger than 700c wheels. Since tandems carry more weight than single bikes, they are ideal for running 26” wheels.
    • 26” wheels have less inertia and weigh less than a comparably designed 700c wheel. Therefore, they accelerate more quickly, climb better and are fast.
    • 26” wheels offer a versatile tire selection, from narrow road tires to aggressive mountain bike tires.


    If you're looking for a lot more techno-babble on the subject, Bill McCready of Santana Tandems, Inc. wrote a very detailed piece back in the mid-90's that you can find here: http://www.gtgtandems.com/tech/700-26.html

    In general, it's my belief 26" wheels are a better all around wheel than 700c "racing wheels". However, 700c have pretty much become the defacto wheel size for most road-going bikes and debating the pros and cons isn't really worth the effort any more than Campy vs. Shimano, In-Phase vs. Out, etc. The latter is particularly true nowadays as wheels are stronger and lighter than they once were, road-specific 26" tire selection in the US is a mere shadow of what it once was, and I suspect even in Europe 700c tires, tubes, and wheel components are fairly common in most places.

    Personally, if you can look past the 'image' issues that equate 700c wheels to lightweight racing bicycles and the status quo, 26" wheels make a lot of sense in much the same way many average cyclists are discovering "compact drive" (i.e., 50t x 36t and 48t x 34t chainring combos on 110mm cranks) are more practical than the ubiquitous 53t x 42t OEM set-ups that came on their road bikes.

    The only real downside to 26" wheels if perhaps finding high-quality super-narrow 26" road racing tires and tubes if that's what you're committed to using. While the wider 26" touring tires are always availble, those narrow racing jobs require that plan ahead and be prepared to be fully self-sufficient by carrying sufficient spare tubes or patches and at least one spare tire as most shops nor your fellow riders will have anything like that. Moreover, when touring it would make sense to not only have an extra tire on your tandem but to also keep one or two more in your luggage "just in case".
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 03-02-09 at 11:10 AM.

  5. #5
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    As to the S&S coupler issue, we've flown with a noncoupled tandem in the US, and overseas. Dealing with the Airline, other than paying the fee is not much of a problem.

    As TG points out, getting the bike in the huge case around in taxis, rental cars, trains, shuttles is a bit more of a problem. We've always been able to manage, but its definitely an aggravation. ( In Paris, we had to get 2 taxis from the airport to the train station. One for us, and one for the bike.)

    If a primary use of the bike is going to be to use it for trips with air travel involved, I'd strongly consider the couplers.

    When we spec'd our new tandem, we decided that we'd put up with the hassels once or twice a year in exchange for the weight, and cost savings of not going with the couplers.

    I think it comes down to your wallet, your intended uses, and your priorities.

    If you go with an uncoupled tandem, a US Pro Tandem race case that will roll down to a little bit smaller size when empty is a good idea.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

  6. #6
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    If you are going to fly with your tandem the S&S are nice and is money well spent. The beg thing for the Da Vinci is the "Unprecedented range of gears Four chain rings and eight rear sprockets mean 32 gears that range from 18 to 140 gear-inches. No other tandem gives you that many gears or that kind of range."

    This as a touring tandem set up with S&S couplers 18 to 140 gear-inches WOW!
    Life is good O^o

  7. #7
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    +1 on the huge selection of gears on a daVinci; also the smoothest front shifting setup.
    ICS has a small leaning curve.
    S&S is great if you plan to fly the tandem multiple types a year; however with airlines charging for almost everything lately that cost $aving may soon be a thing of the past.
    26 vs 700c? We personally use 700c but daVinci has some great 26-inch rims and there is a big selection in tires out there but not necessarily in 26" slick racing ones.
    All in all, they build a great tandem.
    Just our experience/opinion.
    Pedal on 2-gether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    We have both a 700C tandem and a 26" tandem. If the roads are rough we ride the 26" (1.5" width) wheeled tandem and if we are trying to keep up with a group we ride the 700C tandem. We have not tried the narrower 26" tires but the 1.5" tires last longer than the 700C tires. If speed is more important than comfort go with 700C but if comfort is more important than speed go with 26".
    Sheldon and Martha

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post

    What is your opinion of the S&S Couplers and travel case versus just using just acquiring an elongated Bike Pro USA Tandem Case for transportation?


    The added value of S&S couplers has been greatly diminished over the past 7 years as air carriers have reduced weight limits and added fees for luggage that previouly was checked for free. So, if you're looking to recoup your investment in couplers on baggage fees just know that it would take a heck of a lot of travel to do that given the added cost of the couplers and cases. You can do the math, just divide the $2,400 cost premium of couplers and cases by what you think you'd have to pay for travellling with two large checked pieces of luggage vs. the current excess baggage fees for oversized containers / bikes. In otherwords, if you assume it would cost $100 per leg of a journey, you'd have to take 12 round trip flights to amortize that cost.
    S&S couplers are now looking a lot better -- at least on Delta which is now charging $300 per international leg and $175 per domestic leg for a "non-motorized touring or racing bicycles with single seats". I wonder what they are now charging for a tandem. Of course, golf bags still count as checked baggage.
    Last edited by rmac; 03-05-09 at 08:36 PM.

  10. #10
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    We have a Joint Venture and love it. My stoker and I are at two different cycling levels and the ICS makes riding much more enjoyable. We had a Burley Rumba before the DaVinci and it was a great bike as well.

    ICS is also great if you have health issues that requires the stoker to rest more frquently (E.G. asma).

    As far as differences between the "Global" and the "Joint" beside the quality that TG pointed out, I think the "global" comes with a triple and "Joint" comes with the Davinci "Quad" .. Good luck with your choice.
    Mike Frank
    Mikefranktroymi@sbcglobal.net

  11. #11
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    Thanks for all the valuable feedback.

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