Advertise on Bikeforums.net



User Tag List

Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: First Tandem!

  1. #1
    Mad Town Biker Murrays's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    974
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    First Tandem!

    My wife and I decided it was finally time to get a tandem! I just found this forum last night and was up till midnight reading lots of posts getting more excited about our purchase. I wanted to post my situation and a few questions-

    I remember thinking over a dozen years ago that I would get a tandem if I ever met a woman that liked cycling. A mutual friend invited my future wife to join us on the ’92 version of RAGBRAI and we’ve been biking together ever since including numerous centuries, a trip to Tuscany, some citizen races & eight RAGBRAI’s.

    In 2000, we had a beautiful daughter and I started thinking more seriously about a tandem; I can’t ride fast enough pulling the Burley and my wife doesn’t get a workout. A tandem will allow us to ride as a family with my daughter eventually taking the stoker seat.

    We’re both strong, light riders-riding together on our singles we can push a 19 mph average on a hilly loop and our combined weight will be around 270 lbs (I weigh a bit more than my wife). I’m leaning away from oversized aluminum and towards steel for the cushier ride.

    Because we don’t get much time away from our daughter, we’ve only got in one test ride on a Co-Motion Primera. I can’t say we were “hooked”, but we felt really smooth once we got rolling. I think we’re ready to buy a Co-Motion Speedster. http://www.co-motion.com/speedst.html I know we should get in more test rides, but it will be September before we get the bike if we shop around much more.

    More stats-I’m 5’5” and ride a 53cm LeMond Zurich and my wife is 5’4” and rides a 49cm Waterford. I believe the small Speedster would be a good fit. We live in Madison, WI with some good hills, but not much over a mile long.

    Now the questions:

    -Any complaints about the Speedster or Co-Motion in general? Are there any bikes I really should test ride before we settle on the Speedster?

    -I’ve seen some comments about Co-Motions having a “racier” trail. What does that mean? Any other geometry issues we should look out for?

    -How are the stock wheels on the Speedster (Hugi hubs, Velocity Dyad rims)? We’ve got a great shop in town for building wheels so I can get just about anything.

    -Bull horns vs. drop bars for the stoker-any comments?

    -Is the Wound-Up carbon fork worth the money?

    -Has anyone tried putting a Flight Deck wireless on the stoker bar? What other computer options work well for the stoker?

    -Any comments on the Thule vs. Yakima (or other) roof rack? We have a Volvo wagon and I’m a bit concerned with the overall length of the rack.

    -I’m convinced a suspension seat post is the way to go for the stoker. Will there be any problems attaching a Trail-A-Bike to a suspension seat post?

    -I’d like to upgrade to DuraAce shift levers from Ultegra since that’s what I have on my single. Any comments?

    -Should we even try the stock saddles (Co-Motion D2 Men's & Women's) or go with our single bike saddles from the start?


    -Finally, what’s your favorite color or fade?


    Sorry for the long post and thanks in advance for your comments!

    -murray

  2. #2
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Posts
    7,152
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Murrays
    -Any complaints about the Speedster or Co-Motion in general? Are there any bikes I really should test ride before we settle on the Speedster?
    -I’ve seen some comments about Co-Motions having a “racier” trail. What does that mean? Any other geometry issues we should look out for?
    -How are the stock wheels on the Speedster (Hugi hubs, Velocity Dyad rims)? We’ve got a great shop in town for building wheels so I can get just about anything.
    -Bull horns vs. drop bars for the stoker-any comments?
    -Is the Wound-Up carbon fork worth the money?
    -Has anyone tried putting a Flight Deck wireless on the stoker bar? What other computer options work well for the stoker?
    -Any comments on the Thule vs. Yakima (or other) roof rack? We have a Volvo wagon and I’m a bit concerned with the overall length of the rack.
    -I’m convinced a suspension seat post is the way to go for the stoker. Will there be any problems attaching a Trail-A-Bike to a suspension seat post?
    -I’d like to upgrade to DuraAce shift levers from Ultegra since that’s what I have on my single. Any comments?
    -Should we even try the stock saddles (Co-Motion D2 Men's & Women's) or go with our single bike saddles from the start?
    -Finally, what’s your favorite color or fade?
    Co-Motion makes what I consider to be the best performance-oriented production tandems (period). However, you might want to seek our a Burley, Trek, or Santana for a test ride just to retain some degree of objectivity

    IMHO, If you're a small, lightweight, performance oriented team you'll appreciate the the Co-Motion's handling characteristics a lot more than a taller, heavier team who is less aggressive and/or more interested in smelling the roses. Co-Motion uses ~2.125" of steering trail, which is on-par with most personal road racing bikes. This is in contrast with Santana, Burley, and Trek who use ~1.85". Cannondale is smack-dab in the middle with ~2.0" of trail. The shorter steering trail provides better low-speed control and stability as it is less responsive to lean-induced turns than the longer steering trail of the Co-Motion. In simple, practical terms, if your stoker moves around a lot the Co-Motion will feel "twitchier" than a Santana, Burley or Trek because with each weight shift the bike will learn left or right and, as a result, want to turn right or left MORESO than the others. Bottom Line: They're just different. Try examples of both and then decide.

    The newer Hugi hubs "seem" to be more durable than models produced several years back. Routine lubrication seems to be the key to reliability. That said, Co-Motion sells several hundred tandems each year and I have not heard of too many issues regarding the Hugi Hubs. Dyads are a great tandem rim. Not sexy, like the Deep-V, but better for larger diameter tires. The "best" hubs on the market are Phil Wood's FSC hubs and Chris King's; the Phil Wood hubs are heavier than most others but incredibly reliable and easy for owners to maintain and service. Chris King's are the Swiss Watches of hubs; a precise instrument that is incredible durable and very light; however, they have a "killer bee" sound when coasting that is bothersome to some folks and the amount of service you can perform is somewhat limited. Note: I'm not a fan of the newer "integrated wheelsets" like the Rolf Vector, Bontrager Race-Lites or Shimano/Santana Sweet 16, but that's just me.

    Drop-bars (period). Bull-horns were, IMHO, a cost-saving move on the part of a certain builder that others have followed suit with. Drops offer multiple hand positions (tops, elbows, against hoods, on-hoods, drops/bottom, drops/front) whereas bull-horns have only three: tops, elbows, horns.

    If you like the aesthetics, you'll appreciate the slightly reduced weight and associated "feel". Not to mention, you can use a dual-pivot caliper brake with the Wound-Up which, again IMHO, is a better choice for lightweight, go-fast teams. If you expect to use mud-guards in the winter linear pull brakes may still be the safe bet, depending on what size tires you plan to run,.

    There are only two wireless computers that will work on a stoker bar: Polar's S-Series (210 @ $180, 520 @ $250 / 720 @ $300) with a minor mod to the transmitter and the new Cateye dual wireless @ $150. On a small size tandem, the significantly less expensive wired-in Cateye and SigmaSports computer's can easily be run off the front wheel with one of their extra-long wire kits without splicing. You can also run them off the rear wheel, but a splice may be required: Sigma's computer wires are easy to splice some others are not. http://home.att.net/~thetandemlink/a.../computer.html

    ATOC Bike Topper - Tandem Length is one of the best models; rear tandem extension is removable. There is also a model called the Tandem Topper that has a pivoting head; it may or may not be worth the extra $$ for many teams. ATOC makes Thule's tandem racks. I'm a major shareholder (inventory wise) in Yakima but I just find the Sidewinder to be a bit of an eye-sore. That said, if you need the pivoting head and like the way it looks, it's a very good and stable design. Aesthetically, I preferred Yakima's older tandem mount.

    Let your stoker decide if they like the pogo-stick. For some, they're indespensible items but some stokers do not like the "variable ride height" as it interferes with their pedal stroke. Moverover, running a set of 40h 4x wheels with larger diameter tires often times can take the "sting" out of most road hazards and expansion joints. Just something to consider. As for the trail-a-bike, it all depends on how much of the seatpost is exposed above the rear seatpost collar and the underside of the seatpost mast; the elastomer-filled post isn't affected by clamp-on racks and what-not.

    DuraAce/Ultegra - Same functionality.

    Saddles are a personal thing. If you stick with the saddle brand/model used on your personal bike remember that they will most likely cause you some pain if you don't make a point of taking lots of butt breaks. Riding a tandem tends to cause most seasoned roadies to spend a lot more time in the saddle, particularly grinding out climbs that they would normally stand on riding a personal bike. Thus, what feels good for 60miles on your LeMond or Waterford may give you fits on the tandem. Butt Breaks are the key.

    Favorite colors and fades? The ones on our tandems, of course. Seriously, that's a very personal issue. Solids look great to some while other like flashy fades. We opted to have what most folks consider to be fairly conservative "classic-looking" three-color fades on our two road tandems.
    http://home.att.net/~mark.livingood/BikeViewer.html

    Final note: Be sure that you're properly sized for your LeMond; the Co-Motion has a 55.2cm top tube which is 1.2cm longer than your LeMond. For reference, I'm 5'8" with a 29.5" inseam and struggle even with a 54mm top tube on my personal bikes and tandems. I use fairly short 8.5cm - 10.0cm stems with about 3-5cm of saddle set-back, noting that I sit a bit further back on the tandems. Similar to the butt-break phenomenom, tandem riding can cause you to re-evaluate your riding posture given the higher "in the saddle time" that you accure. This causes some captains to run slightly shorter stems and use a slightly higher bar position. You'll want to be sure you have that extra room to play with. It's always a bit easier to put on a longer stem on a tandem that's a scootch short; it's another thing to fix one that's a scootch too long. Stand-over doesn't appear to be an issue as it's the same as your LeMond.

  3. #3
    Mad Town Biker Murrays's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    974
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Dyads are a great tandem rim. Not sexy, like the Deep-V, but better for larger diameter tires. The "best" hubs on the market are Phil Wood's FSC hubs and Chris King's; the Phil Wood hubs are heavier than most others but incredibly reliable and easy for owners to maintain and service.
    Thanks for the long response! The more I read about tandems, the more excited I get about our purchase! Like anything else, it’s difficult to nail your first purchase in an area you’re unfamiliar with, but I only want to buy one tandem and be happy with it.

    Regarding the wheels, I read about tire width on another thread and I’m thinking of starting out with 28 tires and maybe going to 25’s in the future. Would the Dyads accommodate these widths?

    If I do opt for different wheels, what spoke count would you recommend? As I stated, our total weight, including bike, would be around 310 lbs and I doubt we will do any loaded touring. We will be pulling our daughter in a Burley, though that doesn’t stress the wheels much. I’m thinking 36 spokes in front and 40 in back.

    Regarding the top tube fit, my LeMond may be a bit long for me, but I’m quite comfortable over centuries. From my measurements & specs, the LeMond TT is only 3/4cm shorter (54.5 vs. 55.2) and the seat tube is 1/4 degree taller than the Co-Motion. Putting the seat in the same position over the BB should effectively reduce the TT by another .4cm. Essentially, I think they’re within .5cm of each other.

    On the test ride, they put a shorter stem (not sure what length) on the Co-Motion and it actually felt a bit cramped. I’ll definitely investigate this more before I purchase.

    -murray

  4. #4
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Posts
    7,152
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Dyad will work with 25mm. 36h laced 3x is more than adequate for F&R wheels; also gives you more rim options than 40h. I believe Co-Motion charges $375 for custom sizing but has been known to offer it up as a free option if asked.

    1.2cm vs .7cm: Brain F--t.
    Last edited by livngood; 06-10-04 at 10:33 AM.

  5. #5
    Year-round cyclist
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Montréal (Québec)
    Posts
    3,023
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I have a Co-Motion Primera (Large / small : 23"-18") that I use with my 8-year-old daughter. With a light stoker, I appreciated the fact it handles just like my single. Not exactly racy, but with 700x37 tires, it's understandable. These tires seem large, but I tend to do loaded day rides (tools, lunch, sweaters...) and loaded touring, and we have quite a few potholes in our streets.

    We got the bike last December, and travelled some 650 km with it in the last 2 months. So far, after a short learning curve, I'm (we are) very satisfied.

    Regarding handlebar for the stoker:
    Depending on where you shop, you should be able to try both and your stoker will decide what she/he likes best. I think the real choice is between road bars and stoker bars, rather than bullhorn bars. My daughter preferred road bars, and an issue might be your relative height and the position she prefers. For instance, depending on relative leg length, the stoker bars might allow her hands to be higher than with road bars. But so would other bars with a high sweep (see handlebars in the Rivendell catalogue http://www.rivendellbicycles.com), or a 2-part stoker stem.
    Fortunately, changing the stoker stem is fairly easy, because there are no issues with brake levers, shifters...


    Brake issues:

    Depending on where you travel, you might eventually add a drag brake. Your 270-lb team with a 50-lb child + trailercycle + gear for a day ride may entice you to get a third brake.


    Regarding the future use of a trailercycle.

    The Addams Trail-a-Bike requires about 50 mm of seatpost exposed... under the springy part of the seatpost. With a small frame, I also don't know whether or not you can attach the Trail-a-Bike right next to the seatpost collar, or whether you need to attach it higher. I am also aware that with a very low frame, you may not even be able to have a rear rack.

    However, my experience with the Trail-a-Bike was with my single bike, a 25" frame. I scrapped it a year later, after 1800 km, because too much play developped in the universal joint.

    But if you want to cycle a lot, I would strongly suggest that you buy a Burley Piccolo. The Piccolo is attached to the main bike via a special rear rack (called Moose Rack and supplied with the bike), and it's light years ahead of others in terms of stability. Unless you simply think of rides around the park, the Piccolo will be much better on your nerves.

    One last caution. The Moose Rack is attached via eyelets near the dropouts. I don't think it would be compatible with a rear disk brake... at least the way it's attached on a Co-Motion (on the seatstay -- but double-check compatibility to make sure). I'm aware that one manufacturer attaches its disk brake to the chainstay instead, but can't remember who.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  6. #6
    SDS
    SDS is offline
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    702
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Since we're spending your money, how about an S&S coupled convertible double/triple (unless you plan more kids, in which case you will want another section to make double/triple/quad)? Two tandems with two kids, though, is a more flexible arrangement.

    Given your average speed and weight and fine taste in single bikes, try and test ride a Co-Motion with attention to the stoker fit especially. Make sure your wife can pedal in any position she desires (particularly head down seated and standing up and moving forward) without conflicting with your space. If she is even slightly doubtful, pay the extra money for custom fit and get a longer rear top tube (longer bottom bracket spacing). Mark Livingood and I both own custom tandems with long stoker compartments. Another reason for long fit is to switch stokers. Your wife is of average height for a woman, but that only means half the women and more than half the men are taller, so if she is absent, your options are opened up with a longer rear end. Put two guys on a tandem, and all your buddies on singles will cry a river.

    Think about that bike like you are going to stoke sometime. Captaining is not the sole province of men, and you and your wife are of nearly equal size.

    Drop bars with stoker dummy brake levers (or whatever you want to call those thingies but whatever you do, don't say "dummy stoker brake levers...."). If you get a longer stoker top tube, you can throw the "bars have to be wider than the captain's hips" requirement out the window, and fit the bars to the stoker like a single bike.

    Single bike saddles or better. If you don't stand up as often as Mark tells you to, you will trash your butt. I'm not sure of the mechanism (ex: partner wiggles bike laterally, which chews up where YOU sit), but tandems are hard on butts. The Selle Italia Lady Trans Am is very popular with women.

    I prefer a slightly higher handlebar position on a tandem. Piloting a tandem is not as effortless as a single, and being higher helps.

    I prefer child stoker kits to crank shorteners. The stoker kit is much narrower than the shorteners.

    I really like Flight Deck, but I can't figure out how it could be useful in a stoker position at the moment. The problem is the virtually derived cadence, which then requires input from the levers, and apparently it is impossible to wire two computers to one set of levers, so what is really needed for the stoker position is a repeater display that runs off the front computer, presently not available. I like splicing and soldering the wiring on Avocet 45tts. With large tandems (not your problem) it could be that no wiring harness is big enough. I routinely go wireless or splice the wiring on singles...

    Cadence data on both ends of the bike means you both can argue armed with facts.

    My strong preference for performance tandems (club riding, fast centuries) is double-pivot sidepull brakes. I have not tried disks, and I have only used v-brakes on mountain bike singles.

    There is a lot of pride in tandem ownership, which then imposes a requirement that it look good, which then means it has to be clean. And there is a lot of bike to clean. I dearly love my pearlized white, but it is the dickens to keep clean. Could be some other color would be better, but it is a standout in a crowd (so white it looks bigger), so I just keep wiping.....

  7. #7
    Mad Town Biker Murrays's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    974
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by SDS
    Mark Livingood and I both own custom tandems with long stoker compartments. Another reason for long fit is to switch stokers.
    What BB spacing do you guys have? It definately would be fun to lead my riding buddies on the Door County Century or some such ride.

    It might also be reasonable to shorten the captain top tube so my wife could try riding up front. I'll have to consider this.

    -murray

  8. #8
    Cat 6 Steve Katzman's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    My Bikes
    Scott CR-1, Serotta Legend, Serotta CR, Co-Motion Speedster tandem, Masi Nuevo Strada fixie
    Posts
    219
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Murrays
    Any complaints about the Speedster or Co-Motion in general? Are there any bikes I really should test ride before we settle on the Speedster?
    -murray
    My wife and I also ride a Co-Motion Speedster. I have nothing to say bad about the bike we have. We have a full Ultegra drivetrain. We have friends with the stock Race Face cranks and they do not like the way the finish has degraded with exposure to sweat. That is why we went with the Ultegra. We also have a small frame and although I am 5'8", the captains top tube was longer than I prefer. We put on a shorter stem to compensate.
    Quote Originally Posted by Murrays
    -I’ve seen some comments about Co-Motions having a “racier” trail. What does that mean? Any other geometry issues we should look out for?
    -murray
    Mark answered that one but I add that I prefer the feel of the Co-Mo over the slower steering feel of the Santana that we test rode. My wife and I, like you two are both roadies with lots of years riding single bikes.
    Quote Originally Posted by Murrays
    -How are the stock wheels on the Speedster (Hugi hubs, Velocity Dyad rims)? We’ve got a great shop in town for building wheels so I can get just about anything.
    -murray
    The stock wheels are fine but the Dyads are a bit wide to use with 25mm tires. So we ended up getting a second set of wheels with narrower rims and Phil Wood hubs. The 25mm Vredsteins ride much sportier than the stock 28mm Contis, which feel dead by comparison. Having a second set of wheels is good insurance in case you have a problem on a multi day rally.
    Quote Originally Posted by Murrays
    -Bull horns vs. drop bars for the stoker-any comments?
    -murray
    My wife tried both and prefers the cowhorn style. She never felt comfy on the drops or the pseudo hoods. They also give her more of a chance to stretch out a bit more on a stock frame. Its a personal thing though - try both if you can. If you can't it's not a big deal to change later.
    Quote Originally Posted by Murrays
    -Is the Wound-Up carbon fork worth the money?
    -murray
    We have a Wound-Up and I like it. However I never rode the exact same bike with a steel fork for comparison. On my singles I have made comparisons and the carbon fork wins every time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Murrays
    -Has anyone tried putting a Flight Deck wireless on the stoker bar? What other computer options work well for the stoker?
    -murray
    We have a wired stoker computer with a section of wire soldered in to increase the length, with the sensor on the rear wheel. No cadence for the stoker. I don't think a Flite Deck will work on the stoker bars, but it is great for the captain, who otherwise would not know what gears the bike is in.
    Quote Originally Posted by Murrays
    I’m convinced a suspension seat post is the way to go for the stoker. Will there be any problems attaching a Trail-A-Bike to a suspension seat post?
    -murray
    My wife loves the standard Rock Shock post. There may be other better ones out there but we haven't compared. Compared to no shock post it is a vast improvement for her. We have it adjusted so it does not move under normal pedalling - just when we hit a bump in the road.
    Quote Originally Posted by Murrays
    -I’d like to upgrade to DuraAce shift levers from Ultegra since that’s what I have on my single. Any comments?
    -murray
    There is next to no difference between shifters. I have D-A on my single and can't tell the difference at all.
    Quote Originally Posted by Murrays
    -Should we even try the stock saddles (Co-Motion D2 Men's & Women's) or go with our single bike saddles from the start?
    -murray
    Don't know, we started with the same saddles we have on our singles (Terry Fly and Butterfly). Works fine for me. My wife found hers to be uncomfortable, probably due to the fact that her position on the tandem is a little more upright. She uses a Specialized Dolce womans saddle now and likes it fine.
    Quote Originally Posted by Murrays
    -Finally, what’s your favorite color or fade?
    -murray
    Again very personal choice. We have the medium blue and we get lots of compliments on it.

    We got the S&S coupled version which makes packing the bike for travelling easier. We plan to use it for the first time in 3 weeks. (Bike is only 11 months old)

    Good luck and have fun. The selection process can be fun too!

  9. #9
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Posts
    7,152
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Murrays
    What BB spacing do you guys have?
    Captain to Stoker, C-T-C is 31" (~78.5cm)



    Quote Originally Posted by SDS
    Drop bars with stoker dummy brake levers (or whatever you want to call those thingies
    Stoker Pegs

  10. #10
    SDS
    SDS is offline
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    702
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    BB spacing is 37", but the seat tubes are not parallel. The rear is the standard 73 degrees, and the front is 75 degrees. I have some handicaps, and because of those it's a better fit than 73 degrees. Because of the diverging seat tubes, up where you use it the seatpost to seatpost spacing is indeed 38".

    Right now would be a good time to point out that my most frequent stoker is 5'11" (about 14" stoker stem), the smallest stoker who has fit so far is 5'7.5", and the tandem is intended to fit stokers up to 6'4", with a remaining 8" of virtual horizontal stoker stem dimension (the horizontal distance between the center of the stoker handlebars and the center of the captain seatpost). Yes, I really have been out with 6'4" and (est) 240lbs of stoker.

    I don't have Mark's experience with perfect fit for petite stokers. The closest I can come is by fitting 5'2" women on my Cannondale J/L (this works with a solid seatpost), with 22" horizontal-center-of-seatpost-to-center-of-handlebar fit, and an 8" horizontal stoker stem setting (they like that, it's qualitatively better), with the 30" horizontal BB spacing and parallel seat tubes. I think Mark is at 9", but he will have to tell us.
    Last edited by SDS; 06-10-04 at 04:31 PM.

  11. #11
    Cat 6 Steve Katzman's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    My Bikes
    Scott CR-1, Serotta Legend, Serotta CR, Co-Motion Speedster tandem, Masi Nuevo Strada fixie
    Posts
    219
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I enjoyed reading your post, but I think Murrays was asking about the distance between the captain's and stoker's bottom brackets, not dropout spacing.

  12. #12
    SDS
    SDS is offline
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    702
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Not getting enough sleep....fixed it. Mark, care to post links to your Erickson and Moby? Last time I tried, I failed.

  13. #13
    SDS
    SDS is offline
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    702
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    With luck this will work....below is a link to a picture of my long-stoker-compartment tandem, stored on Mark's server:

    http://home.att.net/~thetandemlink/p...llery/moby.jpg

    This started because I wanted a tandem that would fit stokers between a small-fit 5'10" and a large-fit (relative to size) 6'3" with no parts changes and generous spacing between captain and stoker. So the saddle and the handlebars had to adjust to the appropriate positions, which meant that the handlebars had to go forward five inches and also up the appropriate amount. This might have been an unreasonable request, but with a blank sheet of paper and preconceptions thrown out the window, many things are possible. The minimum fit so far with a shock-absorbing seatpost has been a stoker of 5'7.5".

    Initially I was told I could not put aerobars on the back because they would look "dorky." I decided I was going to have a memory problem with that instruction, and I ordered them and bolted them on. She could always decide she didn't like them after she had tried them and then tell me to take them off. A few minutes into the first ride the final authority on this matter had determined that aerobars are highly desirable on the back of a tandem. You can put your head down and take a nap and the sweat will not run into your eyes. It is reported that the clearance between the stoker's head and the captain's butt with the stoker laid out flat and low is about a foot. The captain never has to worry that standing or scooching back on the seat will "butt" the stoker in the face or helmet.

    This has proven to be an awesomely relaxing, mile-gobbling tandem. When the stoker drops onto the aerobars the drag drops noticeably, and the tandem gathers speed going downhill quickly. The stoker stem arrangement is highly adaptable and keeps the stem short and the leverage low, and of course separating the stem from the captain's seatpost keeps the stoker from having any chance of twisting the captain's saddle at all, which might otherwise be a problem with a 14" stem.... I've since switched the Dura-Ace double right stoker crank for a T.A. triple with 130/74 bolt circles and 28/39/53 chainrings. There are no hills to speak of in North Texas close to DFW (really....), so the 11-21 rear end stays on the bike. Occasionally the stoker complains that the 53 X 11 is not high enough with a tailwind, and we need a bigger gear....

    It could be that with a front quartering wind we have a little bit more drag because of the greater captain-stoker gap. We have not noticed this, and anyway the greater performance and improved ergonomics under all other circumstances completely outweighs any consideration of that. Stokers who have tried this tandem would rather have the exceptional fit on the back and go slower (but it is actually faster than the average tandem) than be pressed up against the captain and go faster. Fit is more important than performance.

    I have heard of one smart guy who used a 4" X 4" X 8' (?) to simulate a tandem top tube, propped up to the appropriate height, with a bunch of holes drilled in it at the proper angle, into which he inserted handlebar stems and seatposts, to simulate various captain-stoker spacings. When he and his partner were happy with the spacings, he ordered a custom tandem. Wood is a lot cheaper than the wrong-sized tandem.

    There seem to be a lot of people satisfied with off-the-rack tandems with 28-29" bottom bracket spacing. At least, I see few tandems with longer spacing. Few people, it seems, have considered that there is anything wrong with production tandems. But putting a 5'2" stoker on my Cannondale J/L with it's 30" BB spacing is an eye-opener for them. Just the extra inch or two really helps. They like the J/L a LOT. My question, boiled down to essence, would be, should stoker fit on a tandem be like the same person fit on a single, to the degree that all positions possible on the single are possible on the back of the tandem with a comfortable margin of space remaining to the captain? My answer is yes. So far, with a few exceptions, the answer from the industry is that production tandems will not be built like that, but custom dimension upgrade tandems may be.

    It could be that you will purchase an off-the-rack tandem. But if you find yourself paying the custom dimension upgrade fee for just a few inches more, my advice is that from the moment you find yourself deciding to pay the fee (very possibly the best-spent money you will ever spend), that at that moment you throw out all preconceptions about how tandems are "supposed" to fit. Hardly anything, it turns out, is as liberating as a blank sheet of paper.

    Single bike fit has been understood for perhaps a hundred years. The difference between single bike fit and tandem fit is that you not only have two sets of single bike dimensions to consider, but also the space between the riders. In the past weak tubesets kept tandems short, and currently making competitive weight is probably an issue for manufacturers (can't sell it if your tandem isn't as light as the other maker's, and less tubing weighs less, so make it short...), but modern tubesets and frame designs are stiff enough to open up the possibilities for tandem fit.

    So what is the right amount of space? It seems to me that you have to decide how you are going to use the back of the tandem. Depending on what the stoker wants to do, you need room to go parallel to the ground with margin between the stoker's helmet and the captain's butt, room for the stoker to stand up and move forward without the captain standing with space left between, and maybe room for aerobars. The average American woman is 5'4" (?), and the average man is 5'10" (?). A production tandem with a 28" rear top tube allows 22" single bike fit and the minimum (my opinion) 6" of stoker stem. A stoker over 5'2" is not fit well. A longer tandem opens up your options for guest stokers.

    How about looking-around space? Are stokers supposed to be able to see more than the fine detail of the weave of the captain's jersey, or the center of a Camelbak, a bare inch past their nose? Are they supposed to worry all the time about small motions of the captain that place portions of their face at risk? Should the captain feel frozen in place because he fears small motions up or back may injure the stoker? Look at photographs of tandems in perpendicular profile, and see what kind of spacing looks reasonable to you (if you can find anything like that). The farther away the captain is, the better the view of the stoker to the front quarters. A little bit of space helps a lot.

  14. #14
    Banned. galen_52657's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Towson, MD
    My Bikes
    2001 Look KG 241, 1989 Specialized Stump Jumper Comp, 1986 Gatane Performanc
    Posts
    4,020
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Any life in here?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •