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  1. #1
    Senior Member markm109's Avatar
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    First tandem - 1991 Burley Duet or 1984 Santana Soverign???

    Hi, my wife and I both enjoy riding and are considering purchasing a tandem. Since we don't know if we will enjoy tandem riding long term (requires a lot of communications and accepting directions from stoker) and can't currently afford a new tandem or recumbent tandem, we have looked around for used.

    I have found two used tandems with in a few hours drive of our home. This first is a 1991 Burley Duet that looks like new. It seems to be all original and very low hours on it. They are selling it because they don't use it. They are asking $800. The second is a 1984 Santana Soverign that had most of its parts upgraded / replaced in 1999. This bike has much more useage. They are selling it because they bought a RANS Screamer - they can't stand the hand and neck pain anymore. They are asking $1000/firm for this one.

    My questions are these: First do I need to be concerned about frame fatigue on the 1984 since it seems to be heavily used? I know Santana is supposed to be better quality but would the Burley being 7 years newer offset the quality difference? Are the prices they are asking reasonable? I know new Sanatana bikes are around $5,000. Should I just wait a year until I can afford a new or newer one? What about recumbent - seems like many people are talking about the RANS Screamer - should I go recumbent?

    Any advice / suggestions / additional items I should consider would be of great benefit. Thanks.

    Mark

  2. #2
    Minnesota biker
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    We bought a lower end tandem because we wanted to make sure that we would like it. My wife does not ride much over 20 miles at a time on her own but with the tandem she will ride all day.

    I wish we would have bought a better bike. We love it and ride at least once a week. She know takes the kids out with it.

    This does not answer questions about specific bikes, but I would buy the most bike that you can afford. I can not imagine you not liking riding a tandem.

  3. #3
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    These are both steel tandems so fatigue shouldn't be an issue.

    As for quality, Santana is just better at marketing; overall quality at the respective price points is very consistent across all brands of production tandems and factory customer service is also quite good across all brands. The dealer-end of the transaction is where most problems occur as some dealers are tandem-savvy while others are not.

    As for the differences since '84, frame weight would be a major difference as the tubesets in '91 would have been more refined and a bit lighter and then there is the issue of rear spacing. Has the '84 Santana had it's rear drop-outs respaced to accommodate a larger cassette? If so, how much were they spread, how was it done (cold-set), who did it? Both of these tandems will be fairly short in the stoker compartment, the '84 Santana probably being the shortest of the two given its age.

    Of course, the biggest issue is, which of the two tandems would fit you the best and how do they ride? The key is, you'll need to test ride a few tandems before you can form an opinion as to what constitutes 'better to you' when comparing different tandems. At this point, taking a single test ride on and then buying the first tandem you encounter is like getting married after the first date you ever had (not that there's anything wrong with that). Seriously, you CAN test ride a single tandem as your first tandem and make an objective decision that it is "good enough". However, bear in mind that it's just your first tandem; a trainer if you will. I think that's the track you're on and that's a good one. But, make sure that whatever you buy: a) fits properly, b) had good tires and a well-maintained drivetrain, c) shifts and handles well, and d) looks good to your partner and is acceptable to you.

    As for the price, these bikes are beyond fully depreciated so the asking price is highly subjective. I would think $600 for the Burley or the Santana would be reasonable offers and negotiate to $700: they are OLD tandems. The newer (brand new and used) models they are competing with are significantly lighter, use 9 speed drivetrains, have integrated shifting, better brakes, lighter/stronger/better wheelsets, and better re-sale values. If you'd like to run some used tandem prices against a fair market value tool I've created one that you can access here: http://home.att.net/~thetandemlink/usedhome.html

    Can't tell you what to do about upright vs. 'bent. I have not reached a point in my cycling life where a 'bent is an attractive option beyond the techno-geek factor; I love bicycle technology.

    Regarding new tandem prices, while there are new tandems that sell for $5k there are also quite a few exceptional models that sell for under $2k. You can also put yourself on top-of-the-line Trek & Cannondale road tandems for $3,300. Here is a link to a post where I provided a few of the entry level tandem brand/models & pricing:

    cannondale tandems

    Since you mentioned Santana, here is their MSRP line-up (Note: Co-Motion's pricing is very similar and covers the same price points):

    Best Value Chromoly: $2,995
    Premium Chromoly: $3,895
    Best Value Aluminum: $3,695
    Premium Aluminum: $4,595
    Competition Chomoly $5,495
    Competition Alum: $5,995

    Burley is the value-leader in tandems.

    Entry level chromoly/Rumba: $1,699
    Entry level Alum/Tamburello: $1,999
    Mid-level chromoly/Duet: $2,449
    Mid-level Alum/Tosa: $2,449
    High-end chromoly/Paso Doble: $4,099
    High-end Alum/Rivazza: $4,099


    Just some food for thought. By all means, if you've got the tandem bug act on it now. If tandeming becomes "your thing" you'll easily amortize your investment many times over relative to the quality time spent together. Moreover, if you consider what else you might acquire for recreational purposes instead of a tandem, e.g., boat, RV, trips to Home Depot each weekend, the tandem can really end up being a bargain.
    Last edited by livngood; 05-27-04 at 07:30 AM.

  4. #4
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    In many ways you've got apples and apples. I think Burley is more like a Chevy, Santana is more like a, hmmmmmm, a Volvo, but the upgrades may offset the age difference.). So I agree -- it's all about fit and comfort. If you're not driving to Lesotho it might be worth a drive to test them. The frames will last longer than you will, but depending on the upgrades on the Santana, that might tip the balance. You will have more snob-appeal on the Santana, if that matters to you. :-)

    FYI, we paid $700 for a 1996 Trek T200. It's an undervalued, overbuilt (heavy, but rock solid) "Chevy" and we are having an absolute ball on ours. The power relationship issues (stoker to captain) have not surfaced (and it's not because they don't in other contexts!) and we get to talk while we ride. I don't care how evenly matched you are, it's tough to hang together on singles (close enough to talk). The bicycle has been theraputic. And while we love tandeming, I don't think either one of us has the itch to go plunk down a massive pile of clams to ride something new with a 10 speed cassette and Pentium Johnson rods (though you'll want to make sure the bike has regular Johnson rods). :-)

    pbs

    Quote Originally Posted by markm109
    Hi, my wife and I both enjoy riding and are considering purchasing a tandem. Since we don't know if we will enjoy tandem riding long term (requires a lot of communications and accepting directions from stoker) and can't currently afford a new tandem or recumbent tandem, we have looked around for used.

    I have found two used tandems with in a few hours drive of our home. This first is a 1991 Burley Duet that looks like new. It seems to be all original and very low hours on it. They are selling it because they don't use it. They are asking $800. The second is a 1984 Santana Soverign that had most of its parts upgraded / replaced in 1999. This bike has much more useage. They are selling it because they bought a RANS Screamer - they can't stand the hand and neck pain anymore. They are asking $1000/firm for this one.

    My questions are these: First do I need to be concerned about frame fatigue on the 1984 since it seems to be heavily used? I know Santana is supposed to be better quality but would the Burley being 7 years newer offset the quality difference? Are the prices they are asking reasonable? I know new Sanatana bikes are around $5,000. Should I just wait a year until I can afford a new or newer one? What about recumbent - seems like many people are talking about the RANS Screamer - should I go recumbent?

    Any advice / suggestions / additional items I should consider would be of great benefit. Thanks.

    Mark

  5. #5
    SDS
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    1. How tall is your wife? You can run out of space on the back of a production tandem pretty easily.

    2. What parts are on these bikes? I really like 9-speed STI, preferably with Flight Deck computer, but you can get by with less. If the Santana has been upgraded to that level, the price is justified by the parts.

    It seems to me that you can go at this two ways: 1) Buy one of the bikes, preferably the Santana with STI on the remote chance that the fillet-brazed beauty (I like welded bikes) will one day have some collector value, and consider it a paid-for test ride until you can afford a custom if you need it for the space in back, or 2) buy a new tandem now or later at about the $2000 price point. In my opinion, if you get STI 9-speed and good fit on an aluminum frame, the rest of the story is the motors (what kind of shape you are in).

    Upright tandems are a better mix with upright bikes, tandems or not, than recumbents. The uprights climb much better, and I have never been comfortable in a pack that included a recumbent. If you are going to be riding with upright bikes on weekend club rides, particularly on rolling terrain with a lot of turns, you need an upright tandem. I hate to express any bias against any kind of bicycle, but this is one case where I'd rather be honest than worry about what you think of me.

    It wouldn't hurt to call Santana and see if there is any kind of warranty still working on that Sovereign. Burley too.

    I don't know much about Burleys, but I do know that even as early as 1984 Santana was using a really nice tandem-specific (Ishiwata back then?) tubeset with oversized chainstays and fork blades.

    If you buy a tandem, and find that your wife has irremediable fit problems that she blames on tandems in general, WRITE BACK. There are a few people here who have become tandem stoker fit experts by the empirical method.

  6. #6
    Senior Member johno's Avatar
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    My wife and I bought an seldom ridden early 90's Cannondale, and have no regrets. Cost us $1k, but well worth it. The 'dale frame has a lot of room for the stoker, no flex so it's quite stable, and at around 35 pounds, the weight isn't overwhelming. I'm a fair cyclist, my wife is pretty much a beginner, but we cook along at 18-20mph for our typical 25 mile circuit.

    About the only thing I'd change on this tandem is the shifters - bar end right now, I'd like to put STI on it so I can add a FlightDeck with gear indicator. The captain can't just glance down and see what gear it's in - all that is several feet behind you now.

    I find that my wife doesn't tend to back seat drive much. She's sitting back there enjoying the scenery while I'm concerned with keeping this big tank headed in the right direction. A tandem is not nearly as agile as a single rider cycle, so you need to think ahead a bit more. But I don't regret the purchase for a moment. She loves going riding and not getting left behind, I love that she's out riding at all.

  7. #7
    Senior Member markm109's Avatar
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    We want to try a tandem before we buy it so it is limiting us to the local area, up to 3 hours drive. There's not much for sale in the area that I can find right now except for these pretty old units. Since the Santana is 20 years old and a previous post said Burley wasn't much good in 1991, we decided not to get either bike. We test rode '04 Santana Arriva SE and '04 Trek T2000, both priced at $3k. We liked the stiff feel of the Trek better. Another store has an '04 Cannondale on order in our size and should be in late next week so we can test that one as well. The Cannondale is only $2,250 with almost as nice setup as the Trek. From what I heard, the Cannondale has a stronger frame than the Trek and 40 spoke wheels vs. racelite of the Trek (we're a 500lb team).

    We also tried two recumbents, a Longbikes Duplex and a Rans Screamer. The wife liked the comfort of the Screamer but I had some leg pain having my legs up in the air like that. And those bikes are over $4k, well beyond what I wanted to pay to go out riding with the wife now and then.

    I rode over 300 miles last month on my bikes (road, mtb) while my wife was lucky if she had 20. So I question the value of spending so much on a bike that I don't know how much use it will get. The search goes on for a good quality tandem only a few years old in the $1k range. (I keep telling my wife they don't exist).

    Mark

  8. #8
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SDS
    It wouldn't hurt to call Santana and see if there is any kind of warranty still working on that Sovereign. Burley too.
    I believe the only tandem producer who offers a transferrable warranty on their tandems is Co-Motion. All others limit warranty protection to the original owner. However, that said, there are quite a few folks who have been given warranty-like coverage on tandems purchased from the original owner when the problem was a relatively common defect, e.g., paint durability, etc...

  9. #9
    SDS
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    Johno,

    I upgraded my early '90's Cannondale tandem (bought as a frameset and built up because that was the only way C'dale sold them back then) by replacing the wire-spoke 140mm DO spacing Phil Wood 7-speed freewheel-type hub wheels with Aerospoke 140mm DO spacing 9-speed freehub/cassette-type hub wheels. And STI, and Flight Deck.....we thought it was a great tandem, though that higher rear BB (only on the pre-'98s?) is a little strange.

    It could be that now you can buy reliable 9-speed 140mm DO spacing wheels, by using various new wheel design strategies that were not available back then (Bontrager, Santana/Shimano, etc.), but it occurred to me one day in the past that because Aerospoke wheels do not depend on hub flange spacing for their strength, it might be that they made reliable 140mm DO spacing 9-speed wheels, so I called them up and asked and ordered some. Noooo more constant truing, no more broken spokes, just great riding. And the bike looked baaad, with the black frame and black wheels and black aerobars (all of which got hot in August! hot aerobars and frame are a bad idea), and the HRM and the Flight Deck, and the parallel-wired Avocet 45tts (which replaced the original Avocet Altimeter 50s when they wore out), front and back with all the electronics in front forward-mounted, nestled between the aerobars. Nice....

    The reason for considering a new tandem to supplement the Cannondale was size. With a regular stoker of 5'11", and a preference on my part for generous fit for myself, I wanted something larger than a J/L Cannondale. The C'dale is now a dedicated medium/small (shorter than 5'7.5") stoker tandem, where before I would switch seatposts and cranks to fit different-sized stokers.

  10. #10
    Senior Member johno's Avatar
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    Interesting --- in anticipation of going to 9 spd, I purchased a set of tandem wheels, 8-9 freehub on the back, and 145mm spacing on the rear. I've been planning on getting a wheel pro to take the axle down to 140mm (plenty of spacers on the axle, so it should be possible) as soon as I get the shifters and cables - darn STI shifters are pricey! No, one does not stretch the rear stays on an aluminum frame, even 5mm. I'm just glad we didn't get one of the 165mm tandems Cannondale made in the mid 90's.

    I've also been considering selling the 'dale and buying a larger one, as it's a medium in front and I'm 6'2" and would really like a large, but as near as I can figure, that would cost at least $1500 extra, assuming I can find a local buyer. I do like the Cannondale frame - tight handling, stable, smooth, and bags of room for the stoker.

  11. #11
    El Diablo 2Rodies's Avatar
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    I upgraded my early '90's Cannondale tandem (bought as a frameset and built up because that was the only way C'dale sold them back then) by replacing the wire-spoke 140mm DO spacing Phil Wood 7-speed freewheel-type hub wheels with Aerospoke 140mm DO spacing 9-speed freehub/cassette-type hub wheels. And STI, and Flight Deck.....we thought it was a great tandem, though that higher rear BB (only on the pre-'98s?) is a little strange.



    I just bought an early 90's Duet and would like to upgrade to the STI shifters also. The bike has the 140mm spacing, I visited the Aerospoke website and could not find a tandem rear wheel. What was the model of wheel that you bought and if you don't mind me asking how much was the wheel upgrade?

    Thanks in advance,
    Michael

  12. #12
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    2Rodies:

    We did test riding an a Cannondale prototype 2 years before they introduced the C'dale tandem.
    The engineers/designers reasoning at that time was that a higher rear bottom bracket would allow a shorter stoker to see over the captain's shoulder. Well pilot was 5'7" and stoker 4'11"! No way did that help with stoker's over the shoulder viewing!
    One of our suggestions was to sell the tandem fully equipped instead of as a frameset only. It took C'dale management several years before they decided to go that route. And they never agressively have pushed their tandem line.
    The heat-treated oversize aluminum stiffness of the frame was overcome by the introduction of suspension seatpost for stoker, which made that position much more tolerable. Very few stokers on the C'dales ride without suspension now.

    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/Zona tandem

  13. #13
    SDS
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    "I just bought an early 90's Duet and would like to upgrade to the STI shifters also. The bike has the 140mm spacing, I visited the Aerospoke website and could not find a tandem rear wheel. What was the model of wheel that you bought and if you don't mind me asking how much was the wheel upgrade?"

    I'm sorry to tell you that as of just a week or two ago, Aerospoke stopped making 700C tandem Aerospoke wheels. Difficulties with quality control and insufficient sales were cited as the reasons.

    A set of Aerospoke tandem wheels, front and back, were $600, with individual prices being about $325 for the rear and $275 for the front respectively. This was only a tiny bit more than quality wire-spoke wheels, but they required no maintenance, never broke a spoke, and could be exchanged for a new wheel under any circumstances (totally trashed in crash, etc.) with just $150. Marvelous wheels at a marvelous price, I thought.

    I will eventually be posting inquiries here and elsewhere with regard to what else can be stuffed into 140mm and accept a 9-speed cassette and be reliable. I am going to ask if a Bontrager wheel will fit. Those are built to 145mm, but if it is possible to lose 2.5mm per side by removing or machining spacers, that would work without redishing.

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