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Thread: Blowout!

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    Blowout!

    My wife and I had our Raleigh Companion out for our first longish ride today...23 miles. At about 20 miles, we had a blowout on the rear wheel...we have about 100 miles on the bike so far. I found a 1/8" slit on the tube with two parallel lines that didn't cut through. We changed the tube and made it a 1/2 mile or so and the new tube blew out.

    We walked the last two miles, with a stop at Taco Bell and a little park to eat the burritos

    Inspecting the tire (a Kenda 26" K-shield), I couldn't find anything puncturing through it, but the cord was showing through the rubber near the bead about 1/2 way around on one side and the tire looked a little wiggly when we put the new tube in and inflated it.

    The first tube was inflated to the max. 65 lbs...we inflated the spare tube to 45 lbs. just to go easy on the tire that looked like it was failing (and did!).

    To what degree is this kind of failure a tandem problem? Our combined weight is about 360 lbs, which shouldn't be a huge load. All our riding has been on roads or bike paths. Did we just get a dud tire?

    -Dan

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    Hej på dej!! Eurastus's Avatar
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    Sounds like the tire might have been improperly mounted, though that's hard to tell without seeing it. It could be that the tire itself is defective, though that doesn't happen often. Additionally, check to make sure your brake pads are properly adjusted and do not ride on the tire, that might account for the cord showing near the bead. Lastly, check to make sure the rim strip that covers the nipple holes inside the rim is properly mounted.

    It's hard to diagnose this without seeing anything, though...
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    Quote Originally Posted by tornadobass
    To what degree is this kind of failure a tandem problem? Our combined weight is about 360 lbs, which shouldn't be a huge load. All our riding has been on roads or bike paths. Did we just get a dud tire?
    Your blow-out "sounds" like an isolated problem. As already noted, it would appear that something was amiss with: a) how the tire was mounted (e.g., pinched tube that took a while to fail), b) improperly placed rim strip, c) improperly seated tire bead, d) a tire or tube defect, or e) something was rubbing on the tire (brake pad?) that wore through the sidewall.

    As for the secondary flats, if you had a tire blow-out at the sidewall it's quite possible that the tire (assuming it wasn't damaged to begin with) was damaged by the blow-out which prevented it from getting a proper bead seat. This would lead to subsequent blow-outs as the tube would have pushed outward against the weakened bead and eventually gotten either pinched or "ulcerated" as it unseated the tire.

    Have a good mechanic check the rim, check for proper brake alignment, and install a new tire and I suspect this particular problem will be solved.

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    Thanks for the suggestions. We checked the rim strip and inside of the tire...both were okay. I was wondering about the tire being damaged by the blowout, but we stopped almost right away when it happened. I guess that takes it to a problem with the initial installation or a failure of the tire...the tire was up to pressure when we started the ride.

    The scary part is that a few minutes earlier, we'd been coasting down a hill and hit 30 mph...the fastest we'd gone yet (commented another rider, "Oh, you mean in that 25 zone?).

    Anyhow, this sounds less like a tandem problem and more of a general biking problem.

    Dan

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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=tornadobass
    Inspecting the tire (a Kenda 26" K-shield), I couldn't find anything puncturing through it, but the cord was showing through the rubber near the bead about 1/2 way around on one side and the tire looked a little wiggly when we put the new tube in and inflated it.-Dan[/QUOTE]

    "A little wiggly" says to me that either the tire wasn't properly seated or that it has a cut cord. Neither problem is exclusive to tandems.

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    Was the damage on the second tube in the same spot, and similar in appearance, as the first? Did the damage on the first tube correspond, in position, with the damage on the tire? Hint: Always mount the tire with the label at the valve hole, and mark the tube somehow so you know which way it's oriented; this makes finding corresponding damage between tire and tube much easier.

    If the second blowout damage is similar to the first, I'd suspect something in the tire or on the rim. It's possible, though, that the second blowout was simply a snake-bite from being underinflated. I'd seriously consider some better tires that can handle higher pressure, say, 75 psi.

    Neither blowout is specifically attributable to it being a tandem, but yes, it was possibly a factor. Underinflation is much more likely to cause snake-bite blowouts on a tandem, because of the weight, than on a single bike.

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    Good suggestions...I was too discouraged to actually check the second tube when we got back.

    On the first flat, I had four other bike club members watching me change the tire, my first ride with the club...just wanted to get it over with...but should have checked for the rim-tire-tube matchup. I'll do that next time.

    I'm confused about the snakebite part, because I'd inflated the tire to its maximum 65 lbs when we started the ride. Unless maybe our combined team weight was more than the tire could handle.

    I took the bike in for its first checkup today...they're putting on a new Specialized tire that can handle 80 lbs.

    Dan

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    We bought a Raleigh tandem a few year ago and the Kenda rear tire didn't last 20 mi. True my wife and aren't thin but it should have lasted. I replaced both tires w/ some Chen-shing tires that look like they belong on a m/c.By the way I was in Marquette Mi. on a sunday so not alot of choices. Noel

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    Quote Originally Posted by tornadobass
    Good suggestions...I was too discouraged to actually check the second tube when we got back.

    On the first flat, I had four other bike club members watching me change the tire, my first ride with the club...just wanted to get it over with...but should have checked for the rim-tire-tube matchup. I'll do that next time.

    I'm confused about the snakebite part, because I'd inflated the tire to its maximum 65 lbs when we started the ride. Unless maybe our combined team weight was more than the tire could handle.

    I took the bike in for its first checkup today...they're putting on a new Specialized tire that can handle 80 lbs.

    Dan
    My snakebite thought was only about the second blowout. As for your fellow club members, if they're a good club, they shoulda had the patience to let you check the tire and rim. Shoot, they shoulda suggested it. This woulda given them time to find a nearby watering hole while you worked .

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    Quote Originally Posted by madpogue
    My snakebite thought was only about the second blowout. As for your fellow club members, if they're a good club, they shoulda had the patience to let you check the tire and rim. Shoot, they shoulda suggested it. This woulda given them time to find a nearby watering hole while you worked .
    I should have mentioned...the club folks were helpful and patient, without staring over my shoulder while I was working. They even offered the tip about checking the tube, tire, and rim while still aligned...but too late. It was mostly my nervousness at being a newbie and having a bike problem on a first club ride...while they talked about the 100s and 1000s of miles they ride...we'd just hit our first 100 on the tandem.

    BTW, we also started thinking about tandem etiquette while on group rides with singles. Matching their pace up and down hills isn't natural.

    About the Kenda tire not lasting 20 miles...ours made it to about 100 Certainly, we should expect more before the tire starts coming apart. Perhaps they were put on the Companion with the idea that a kid would be in the stoker position most of the time, cutting back on the weight sitting on the rear tire.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tornadobass
    I should have mentioned...the club folks were helpful and patient, without staring over my shoulder while I was working. They even offered the tip about checking the tube, tire, and rim while still aligned...but too late. It was mostly my nervousness at being a newbie and having a bike problem on a first club ride...while they talked about the 100s and 1000s of miles they ride...we'd just hit our first 100 on the tandem.
    Fah, don't feel intimidated! Remember, they all started out with their first hundred. 'Course, they were probably just as nervous as you.


    BTW, we also started thinking about tandem etiquette while on group rides with singles. Matching their pace up and down hills isn't natural.
    Yeah, I've noticed this even when riding with friends on singles. We usu. end up riding rail-trails in "mixed company", so it's less of an issue. My sister and some old friends in Detroit have their own little "tandem group ride", where almost everybody's on a tandem, so the pacing is more to the tandems' liking.


    About the Kenda tire not lasting 20 miles...ours made it to about 100 Certainly, we should expect more before the tire starts coming apart. Perhaps they were put on the Companion with the idea that a kid would be in the stoker position most of the time, cutting back on the weight sitting on the rear tire.
    My impression is that the Companion is really just a tandemized version of one of their comfort bikes. It's got 36-spoke wheels, and the tires are pretty common comfort bike tires. They probably didn't put a whole lot of thought into the size/weight of the stoker; I'm guessing they were marketing it to couples who might do one or two 5-10 mile jaunts a week, and the occasional ride downtown to the malt shop. It sounds like you're planning on some more serious street/group riding with this bike, so yeah, a tire upgrade is definitely in order. It'd be interesting to hear your impressions of this bike down the road.

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    My own worst nightmare
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    Correction, maybe. I've found one spec page (at villagecyclesport.com) that claims it has 40-spoke wheels. But the photo clearly shows 36-ers. Hmmm...

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    The Raleigh web page describes the wheels as "Alex DM-18 Double Wall 36h" so I guess your take is correct...it's toward a tandemized comfort bike. BTW, the description of the '03 model says, "Alex DM18 Double Wall Alloy w/ Machined Side 40h" so maybe both answers are correct?

    We picked this bike because we were looking toward shorter, more comfortable rides and it had more going for it than the cruiser-style bikes. It's probably a correct observation that it was designed for the casual rider who wanted more than an old Schwinn. I don't expect that we'll be taking on century rides, but I'm not ruling out medium distances yet...our 20 miler went better than expected, except for the uphills

    Let's hope that it's only the tires weren't up to snuff...the rest of the bike seems to have decent components for its price point.

    I'll report back about the bike in another 100 miles.

    Dan

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    Well, having only a 36-spoke rear, you may find yourself breaking a spoke occasionally. Our tandem is a mid-'90s Schwinn (DoubleTime); it's similar to yours in that it's a tandemized version of the hybrid (Cross-something) of the time. Previous owner must've trashed and replaced the rear wheel, because the front is a 48-spoker, but the rear is only 36. We break a spoke probably twice or more a season. Of course, it's always on the cassette side, so carrying spare spokes is off the menu, unless I decide to carry the cassette tool as well. I forget the name, but somebody makes an emergency spoke made from a shoelace-y looking string of kevlar (there's a recent post about it somewhere on this site).

    Otherwise, the components on this bike should be up to what you're going to dish at them. If you were doing long descents, you would probably want a drum brake. But we find that decent V-brakes (I had to upgrade from cantis, given the vintage of our bike) stop our tandem quite smartly, even when loaded down, and even in the rain.

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    Okay...a spoke finally broke. We were out on a ride in the hilly countryside and heard a "ping" while heading downhill. We had almost 600 miles on the bike at that point. A club member helped us remove the broken spoke...it broke at the hub end. A spoke on the opposite side of the rim broke on the way back, too. Both were replaced by the LBS and we're back in action.

    So, does this mean that other spokes will soon be breaking or is the wheel stabilized for now?

    -Dan

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    Quote Originally Posted by tornadobass
    Okay...a spoke finally broke. We were out on a ride in the hilly countryside and heard a "ping" while heading downhill. We had almost 600 miles on the bike at that point. A club member helped us remove the broken spoke...it broke at the hub end. A spoke on the opposite side of the rim broke on the way back, too. Both were replaced by the LBS and we're back in action.

    So, does this mean that other spokes will soon be breaking or is the wheel stabilized for now?

    -Dan
    My bet is that you'll be popping more spokes with that rear wheel. Sorry, but that's the reality.

    The solution is a 40 hole Rhyno-lite rim laced onto a Shimano tandem hub. The more rigid Rhyno-lite rim might be OK with only 36 spokes, but if that doesn't work you'll be back to replacing everything so the extra cost of buying a 40 hole hub the first time around looks like good insurance to me. I didn't take the time to cost out the parts but plan on spending between $120.00 and $150.00 including labor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
    My bet is that you'll be popping more spokes with that rear wheel. Sorry, but that's the reality.
    Would this be because the remaining spokes might be weakened, or just because of the nature of a 36 hole wheel?

    -Dan

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    It seems to me that I read in a review of this bike somewhere that this particular Kenda tire had some serious durablility issues. I'm pretty sure that your Raleigh dealer will make things right on this.

    Doc

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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tornadobass
    Would this be because the remaining spokes might be weakened, or just because of the nature of a 36 hole wheel?

    -Dan
    I think that when a wheel starts breaking spokes, several things happen, all bad. The first spokes break because the spoke tension is inadequate or uneven. With every rotation, the wheel tries to load and unload each spoke. That causes the ones with the least tension to repeatedly flex at the elbow. Do that enough times and it breaks.

    When an average mechanic replaces a spoke, he'll true the wheel which puts it back exactly where it was before - a wheel that's about to break a spoke. Meanwhile, all of the other spokes are merrily spinning along, trying to figure out which is the next weakest and the process repeats itself.

    Replacing a low end rim with a more rigid one, like a Rhyno-lite, results in less spoke unloading and less elbow flex. Also, in most cases, a hand built wheel will have greater and more even tension. Finally, spoke count is one area where, if everything else is equal, more is more.

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    If the wheel was built and maintained perfectly from the beginning, then all the spokes have aged at the same rate and all of the right-angle bends next to the spoke head are fatigued, and they are all ready to come off.

    If the wheel was built imperfectly with uneven spoke tensions, then a lot of the more highly stressed right-angle bends are fatigued and ready to come off.

    Either way the wheel needs to be rebuilt with all new spokes, true with even spoke tension, or replaced.

    "BTW, we also started thinking about tandem etiquette while on group rides with singles. Matching their pace up and down hills isn't natural."

    Actually, a tandem with two strong guys on it can outclimb a single. The power to weight ratio is equal, but the tandem enjoys an aerodynamic advantage to lower speeds than you think. And that's why a tandem finished first on the Davis Double Century 5 times in a row (?), and occasionally a tandem finishes first at the Markleeville Death Ride.

    Of course a tandem's power-to-weight ratio is equal to the average of the two riders, and so with a man and a woman on board you may climb slower than a guy on a single bike.

    Going downhill you have the frontal area of one more person and only a little bit more drag, so tandems do go steaming downhill, and good club riders should not only have helped pull and push you uphill (which evens out the workload without having them roll up a big lead), but also then have cleared space on the inside edge of the lane and gently slid into the draft behind you in an orderly fashion. Working with a tandem is very rewarding, even if it is no faster or even a little bit slower.

    Most of the clubs I ride with now have tandems riding with them regularly, and they do know how to do all of these things, and they do them, because next time it might be them on the tandem with a spouse, etc., and they will want the help and the space.

    You can't really MAKE people do this, but bored racers trapped on a sluggish club ride flail about looking for ways to get some work in, and it doesn't take but a few seconds for them to start thinking about pushing the big boat uphill, and if your wife is willing, a few seconds after that they will be pushing.

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    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Yes, as others have already noted you will "most likely" be breaking additional spokes until such time as that wheel is rebuilt.


    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
    I didn't take the time to cost out the parts but plan on spending between $120.00 and $150.00 including labor.
    Sanity check. No offense, but we're talking about a $600 - $700 tandem.

    A Shimano HF08 tandem cassette hub will retail for between $128 - $150. A Rhyno Lite 26" 40h rim will retail between $40 - $50. A set of spokes will run you between .50 - $1/ea ($20 - $40) depending on the brand/butting/quality. A quality wheel build will usually cost about $20. So, you're looking at $200+ for a good quality rear wheel assuming the low-side and no sales tax. I don't see that as a prudent investment.

    I would check and see what the LBS that sold you the tandem would offer as a solution for your faulty wheel. At 360lbs, a 26" 36h wheel should be more than adequate for you in terms of it's inherent strength and a properly built wheel shouldn't have spoke breakage under normal use for many, many, many, many thousands of miles if at all [For goodness sake, we have 36h wheels on our off road tandem and slam it into rocks, tree roots and jump it off waterbars without the wheel going out of true]. Admittedly, at the price point you most likely didn't get a bicycle with a high-quality set of wheels that were checked by the dealer for proper tension. So, again, I'd put it back on the dealer to make a recommendation AND I'd remind him about that new tire you had to buy when the first tire blew off your tandem shortly after taking delivery.

    If he says he'll only replace the broken spoke(s) I'd push back and suggest that you'd accept that only if he's willing to come and pick you, your wife and your tandem up when (not if) the next spoke breaks. So, to answer his logical follow-up question, i.e., so what do you think we should do.... the answer would be "rebuild the wheel with new spokes, make sure it's properly tensioned and that the spokes are distressed". If there isn't any warranty coverage for the repair (which isn't all that unlikely - frame may be 5 year or lifetime but wheels are components... I don't know), cut a deal to meet him in the middle by offering to pay for the spokes at his cost and pay the extra $$ for a set of double butted spokes: they're worth it as they make for a more durable wheel (again, assuming the wheel is built properly).

    Remember what you have and why you bought it. Keep your sunk cost on this bike to a mininum and if tandeming has turned out to be your thing, start thinking about that next tandem and save your money for it instead of new wheels.
    Last edited by livngood; 09-13-04 at 06:49 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by livngood
    Remember what you have and why you bought it. Keep your sunk cost on this bike to a mininum and if tandeming has turned out to be your thing, start thinking about that next tandem and save your money for it instead of new wheels.
    Well let me ask you this, Mark. If it was your bike and you were having the wheel rebuilt as you have suggested, would you keep that same spaghetti rim? What's the point?

    Finally, regardless of what you paid for the bike, if you're afraid to ride it it has exactly zero utility. Actually negative utility because you still have to store the thing. It looks to me like the wisest and most cost effective thing is to do whatever it takes to make it into a fun machine again.
    Last edited by Retro Grouch; 09-12-04 at 02:41 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
    Well let me ask you this, Mark. If it was your bike and you were having the wheel rebuilt as you have suggested, would you keep that same spaghetti rim? What's the point?
    Yes, I would and I'm not sure I'd characterize the Alex DM18 as a spaghetti rim. The Alex DM18 is basically a knock-off of the same heavy-duty, double-wall ATB rim design used on the Rhyno Lite, Rhyno Lite XL, and a whole bunch of other heavy-duty rims.

    http://www.alexrims.com/rims/ma_dm18.htm
    http://www.sun-ringle.com/ShowRoom/M.../rhynomtb.html

    It does not use eyelets, but is instead a bit thicker which yields about the same spoke hole strength with a higher overall rim weight.

    Back to the wheel rebuild, if I have been following Dan's updates on their Companion the only thing I've read is that they blew-out a rear tire (none since) and have now experienced a couple broken spokes. Root cause for broken spokes is usually an improperly built, i.e., tensioned and distressed (or pre-stressed if you prefer) wheel. The only glaring exception is when the hub and spokes aren't a good fit, as was the case a few years back when DT released an unannounced change in their spoke bend specs. that wreaked havoc with wheel builders all over the place, present company included. http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/DTspokes.htm

    So, left with what I know from Dan's posts, I would only recommend fixing what needs to be fixed. A set of double-butted wheelsmith spokes would be a vast improvement over the generic straight 14g stainless steel spokes that came on the wheel.


    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
    Finally, regardless of what you paid for the bike, if you're afraid to ride it it has exactly zero utility. Actually negative utility because you still have to store the thing. It looks to me like the wisest and most cost effective thing is to do whatever it takes to make it into a fun machine again.
    Who's afraid to ride the thing? I didn't read that Dan was "afraid" to ride the bike, only that he was concerned regarding the likelihood of future spoke breakage; a reasonable thing to ask about if you've just had a few spokes break. \I'm sure you've ridden long enough to experience a few spoke breakages even on more expensive wheelsets for any one of a variety of reasons. In fact, Santana earned a bad wrap for excessive spoke breakage in the mid to late-90's when Wheelsmith first started to build their OEM 40h wheels. I know I did field repairs on quite a few and rebuilt 3 of them for friends. So, I think your argument is a slippery slope and no, I think the most cost effective thing for Dan and his wife to do is to take a step back and look at how they are using their tandem and to decide if it's something that they will continue to do as often as they have. If so, rather than spending a few hundred dollars upgrading the tandem that has served them well thus far, it may be time to start setting aside money for a new tandem fund.

    In the mean time, have the Companion's wheel bearings checked for proper lubrication and axle tightness, same thing with the headset and bottom brackets as those are also things that tend to need attention when you put as many miles on a relatively new bike. Preventative maintenance -- along with getting the rear wheel rebuilt and, at the same time, having the front wheel re-tensioned to preclude problems with it -- will help Dan and his wife cointinue to amortize their original investment without overimproving their Companion.
    Last edited by livngood; 09-13-04 at 06:52 AM.

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    I think it's time to pop in again.

    Thanks for all the ideas...there's a lot to learn. We've just about reached 600 miles on the bike so far, including one day of RAGBRAI. This is way more than I'd expected when I took my little royalty check down to the LBS in search of a Mother's Day present. Looking back, I wish we'd been able to spend a bit more then, but my wife still is thrilled with what we can do on this bike that she wouldn't otherwise. We see bits of improvement from ride-to-ride, but it's still slower going than when I'm out on my old road bike.

    The LBS I've been working with has been helpful and cooperative. They replaced the failed tire with a better one and they replaced a bottom bracket that was clicking. Right before RAGBRAI, I put on a set of Specialized Nimbus Armadillo 26 x 1.5" tires that run at 100 lbs. That's been the only real upgrade so far...the rest has been basic add-on stuff. If tandem riding sticks, I think we'll be looking for a better tandem. I'd rather not put a bunch of money into this bike to make it into another bike.

    This time, I didn't push the shop about covering the spoke replacement...I thought that was closer to normal wear and tear, but it looks like it isn't. If any more spokes break, I will push for them to cover a rebuild.

    BTW, thanks for the reminder to keep up on maintenance. I've been cleaning the chain, lubing the moving parts, and I've tried to keep the timing chain tight. But I'm sure the wheel bearings could use some attention by the end of the season.

  25. #25
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Spoke breakage and tire failures with so little miles on 'em we would not consider 'fair wear and tare'. . . but then again you did not sink a ton of money in this tandem and you cannot expect top quality/durability at this price.
    Kenda tires have not been our favorites as they did not last long in the 700x23 version. An inexpensive tire that has some wear issues.
    The bike shop seems to have served you OK; but would not sink a lots of $$ in this bike as you will not recapture that when you decide to sell it. It does give you, however, an introduction into tandeming and your next 2-seater will reflect that.
    Good luck and enjoy riding TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/Zona tandem
    . . .

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