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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 03-06-09, 12:13 PM   #1
osurxbiker
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Do we need a custom tandem

I am trying to figure out if my wife and I would benefit from a custom tandem. We currently have a 2001 M/S RT 1000. I am 5' 4.5" 135-140 with a 28" inseam, she is 5'5" 125. I can not get the tandem to fit like my single. I ride a 2003 48cm Specialized Allez with 100mm stem (the stem is set to -16 degrees, so it is level with the ground). First, the top tube felt too long, so I was originally riding with a 70-80mm stem to make the reach right, but it still didn't feel great because the steering axis was too far out in front of me. I ideally would have a TT length of 52cm, not 54.5. In addition to the feeling too long, because of the long head tube and the tandem length fork (longer axle to fork crown) the front of the bike felt very tall (riding on the drops was still higher than ride on the brake hoods on my single). My solution to this was to purchase a nashbar 40 degree rise stem and flip it upside down. This looks very weird and makes things a little bit better, but still not great.

As far as the stoker compartment goes, Kayla says that she is comfortable on the back half of the tandem. She does not ride a single, except for on the trainer in the winter for exercise. I think that she could probably be more comfortable on the bike (her usual complaints when we were able to ride outside were related to arm/shoulder tiredness/soreness). Moving the handlebars up may help with this, but we are limited by the height of my seat (her handlebars are level or a little bit lower than her seat height).

I can provide a picture of the setup when I get home.

We don't plan on doing any kind of loaded touring (Kayla says that vacations all come with a bed, hot and cold running water and preferably a restaurant dinner). Our ideal ride length is 40-100 miles and all that we carry is water and food. My big question is, staying with a 700C tandem, is there a non-custom tandem that would fit right? I have only ridden the cdale and wonder if there are tandems that really do fell like a single (nimble, quick line adjustments in a corner). This is probably opening up a can of worms, but if we do need to go custom to get something that really fits right, what company would you recommend. We live in Essex Jct VT.

~Joe
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Old 03-06-09, 01:36 PM   #2
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Well, without taking ALL the fun out of your homework, I would suggest going to TandemGeek's site and look for a stocking dealer near you. Here's the link to start:
http://www.thetandemlink.com/dealers.html

As an example, I took a look at Gear-To-Go's site and found several Santana and Co-Mo's in small/small, which is what I suspect will fit you guys better. Link:
http://www.gtgtandems.com/pictures.html But there are several stocking dealers in your general area of the country.

In the meantime, your stoker is not limited on handlebar height by your saddle position. There are many "work-arounds" out there that will allow her bars to exceed the height of your saddle. Again, talking to a bona-fide tandem shop will be of benefit.
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Old 03-06-09, 05:54 PM   #3
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Ditto on the advice of Onegun. Does sound like the frame is a tad large for the captain.
If you have the $$ for a custom tandem that is always another great option.
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Old 03-06-09, 06:04 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by osurxbiker View Post
My big question is, staying with a 700C tandem, is there a non-custom tandem that would fit right?
With your inseam issues, probably not: not if you're really serious about your cycling.

I would also consider a 26" road tandem even if you went custom. Also, don't be put off by custom... if you shop carefully and don't go nuts on the components and farkle you can score a custom-sized tandem for not a lot more than a stock-sized premium tandem.

Let me also pimp my site by offering up this link:
http://www.thetandemlink.com/article...omtandems.html
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Old 03-06-09, 08:01 PM   #5
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Also, don't be put off by custom... if you shop carefully and don't go nuts on the components and farkle you can score a custom-sized tandem for not a lot more than a stock-sized premium tandem.
That was our conclusion as well. Some builders have a substantial premium for custom geometry, but others have none or next to none. If you want to work directly with the builder Bilenky in Philadelphia is less than a day's drive. The other two custom tandem builders in the North East listed on TheTandemLink don't really appear to be doing that any more (Serotta doesn't hint at tandems on their site, but maybe they do; Ted Wojcik Custom Bicycles has a web site that appears to be for sale.) My experience with Bilenky was a beautiful job, and very flexible regarding design choices, but it was a loooong wait. Don't know whether their queue is shorter now. Also, with it having been winter, part of it was giving them a long leash as it were.

Oops. Do a google search for "Ted Wojcik Custom Bicycles" and you get a legit website, it's the link in TheTandemLink that's wrong. Given that they are a small custom shop, they don't really need to mention tandems on the web site. And it's NH, which could be a fair bit closer than Philadelphia, depending on where, and which roads connect. But they might not have any of the right tubing in stock, so it could take just as long...
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Old 03-06-09, 08:16 PM   #6
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I kinda figured that to do it right we would end up with something custom....It's all my parents fault. My dad is 5'3" and my mom is 5'0"

~Joe
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Old 03-06-09, 09:56 PM   #7
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custom co-motion

We got a custom sized co-motion last summer. Best investment ever. It was a $400 upcharge. I wanted to get 700c wheels, and my pant inseam is 27". I don't remember my x-seam offhand.
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Old 03-06-09, 11:49 PM   #8
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Co-Motion Periscope is available in 700c or 26"wheel sizes and are extremely versatile fit wise, including optional *adjustable* pilot stem.
Just another choice . . .
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 03-07-09, 10:21 AM   #9
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The other two custom tandem builders in the North East listed on TheTandemLink don't really appear to be doing that any more (Serotta doesn't hint at tandems on their site, but maybe they do; Oops. Do a google search for "Ted Wojcik Custom Bicycles" and you get a legit website, it's the link in TheTandemLink that's wrong.
Thanks for the update on Ted's site; the link is now updated to his new site. As for Serotta, they built a couple for customers who were simply dead-set on having Serotta tandems to compliment their Serotta singles. However, even the folks at Serotta have told customers in the past that tandems just aren't their thing and if they really want a great racing tandem to go to the folks who design and build performance and racing tandems as their stock and trade.

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Co-Motion Periscope is available in 700c or 26"wheel sizes and are extremely versatile fit wise, including optional *adjustable* pilot stem.
Good Call! Didn't even think about that. A Small-Size 26" Periscope would be just about a perfect fit for your desired spec., e.g., 28.5" inseam and 52cm top tube. You're just a bit shy of the 700c spec and, again, 26" really is a very flexible / practical wheel size for tandems. Darn shame consumers (myself included) get so fixated on what the racing folks use and feel compelled to emulate that instead of considering the other options. http://www.co-motion.com/tandem_bike...tml#framespecs

These Periscopes have actually turned out to be sleeper race bikes as well. Although not originally envisioned to be anything other than a more up-to-date design approach to the Bike Friday family tandem, folks quickly discovered that their compact frames were very light and very stiff and, well, once you slap all of the other go-fast goodies on one you have a racing tandem, thus was born the Periscope Hammerhead, analogous to the Robusta racing tandem. The Torpedo's are slightly de-tuned and less expensive versions, analogous to the Roadster.

Definitely worth a look for cost and spec comparison against a custom Co-Motion and customs by other builders.
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Old 03-13-09, 09:23 PM   #10
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I am strongly considering a custom co-mo. My question is to do a custom hammerhead, or a speedster? I do not have the opportunity to ride one that fits "right" because of my size and there are no dealers within a couple hours of here. Most of the hardware is similar between these two bikes.

How is the ride different between these two frames? The speedster looks more traditional, which I like, but is there any significant advantage to this frame shape versus the periscope frame shape? It is similar to the differance between a compact geometry vs standard geometry half-bike. Is there any good reason to pick one frame type over the other?

~Joe
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Old 03-14-09, 06:19 AM   #11
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Osurxbiker wrote "I am strongly considering a custom co-mo. My question is to do a custom hammerhead, or a speedster?"

Call Co-Motion and talk to them. We have two Co-Motions and they were helpful when we ordered both of them. Better yet, fly to Eugene and see them in person, they give a great tour.

Sheldon and Martha
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Old 03-14-09, 07:51 AM   #12
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I am strongly considering a custom co-mo. My question is to do a custom hammerhead, or a speedster?
It's a shame you're not closer to the D.C. area, as there are two different tandem specialty dealers holding open houses over the next two weekends. In fact, Co-Motion Co-Owner Dwan Shepard will be on-hand all day Saturday, Mar. 29 along with Rolf Dietrich of Rolf Wheels at the Tandems East Expo. It looks to be about a 7hr drive but if they had a few bikes in stock in your size, it might make for a worthwhile weekend trip: Make arrangements to take a Periscope out for the Saturday AM optional loop ride from the Expo site -- it's just about dead flat except for the overpasses and one or two other slight grades -- and then spend the rest of Saturday enjoying the guest speakers and bending their ears. It's a unique learning and social experience if you're into bikes and bike technology. Use Sunday to check out more bikes and do more test rides and make a weekend of it.

Anyway, short of that as Sheldon suggests just give the folks at Co-Motion a call and discuss your needs and interests with them. They'll shoot straight with you since they're more interested in putting you on the right tandem vs. what they might have in stock or even selling you too much bike.

Last edited by TandemGeek; 09-23-09 at 05:56 PM.
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