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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 06-15-04, 11:34 AM   #1
markm109
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Bought our fist tandem this weekend.

Well, the wife and I purchased our first tandem over the weekend, a brand new 2004 Cannondale Road Tandem (they only make one model this year). Before I get the hard core Santana and Co-Motion fans going on me, I'll give my reasons, which I hope will help other newbees as well.

First off, I ride regularly about 5 times a week, currently average 20-25 miles per ride. My wife currently rides once or twice a month but wants to ride more for her health. If she could keep up with me she would ride more as well, thus the decision to add a tandem to the stable of his and hers mtb and my road bike. The decision for a tandem was made to allow us to ride together, enjoying each others company and exercise at the same time.

We test road a Santana Arriva SE, Trek T-2000, Rans Screamer, Longbikes Duplex and the Cannondale. We also looked at a used 1984 Santana Soverign and a 1991 Burley Duet, the only two used tandems we could find within a few hours drive of home. New Burleys and Co-Motions we examined but not ridden because our size was not available. We looked at everything we could first, then asked questions on this forum - thanks to everyone who provided comments on my previous two threads.

Our team is heavy for a tandem team, almost 500lbs, hence the need to exercise, and the need for a strong tandem. The steel tandems seemed very wobbly where the back end was going from side to side. The alum tandems didn't do that. The Trek tandem was the ZR9000 which in other threads was listed as not being very strong and the low spoke count wheels concerned us.

Also, being our first tandem and being married for almost 15 years, the uncertainty of communicating on a tandem (uh, I'm shifting now and (bump) there was a bump) along with how much use will it really get made us think hard on how much we really wanted to spend.

The recumbents were nice but very pricy. Since we are both accustomed to riding normal bikes, we decided being new to tandems and working as a team, it was too much to also learn how to ride a new style bike.

So we chose the Cannondale with the following reasoning:

Strength - the Cannondale didn't wobble when we rode it. The alum on the Cannondale, we were told, was thicker tubing and stronger, but heavier than the ZR9000. We're concerned with strenght - not weight. The Cannondale also had 40 spoke count Mavic wheels.

Price - the cannnondale at just over $2k was double what the used tandems were going for and 2/3'rds of the Trek and Arriva and less than 1/2 of the recumbents and decent Santana's / Co-Motions. We had to weigh the cost vs the use - we didn't know how much we were going to use it.

Components - The cannondale, while not top end components, does have a decent setup: Avid disc brakes, XT rear, 105 front, ultegra shifters - more than good enough for beginners. Other questionable components can be upgraded later if needed or perhaps some day get a better tandem.

We've taken two rides so far, one 6 miles and the second 15 miles. Both rides were fun, the second longer one was even better as we learn to ride together and communicate better. We're still working on the shifting - I don't always communicate when I am going to shift which isn't good because she doesn't let off and that leads to rough shifting. (I'm used to smooth shifting on my full ultegra road bike) But all in all, we're very happy with our new bike and look forward to many miles of peddling ahead of us.

Mark & Laura
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Old 06-15-04, 03:58 PM   #2
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Congratulations. I wanna see a picture.
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Old 06-15-04, 04:36 PM   #3
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We ride a Santana Arriva and are super happy with it. But the big thing is if it feels good buy it.
Have fun with it
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Old 06-15-04, 07:19 PM   #4
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Here she is - the new tandem. Cannondale calls it black with blue hyperlights but it looks blue. The black is a streak along the top of the tubes.

She's 39lbs without bags, peddles or water bottle holders.

Mark
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Old 06-15-04, 09:28 PM   #5
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Very nice and congrats. Keep us posted on your experiences with the new rig.

Also, don't sell your Cannondale's components short; from a functional standpoint they're about as good as anyone needs them to be. The higher grades of components may give others bragging rights (trust me on this, I've got a lot of bragging rights and its doesn't make us any better or faster), but at the end of the day the Ultegra and 105 stuff are first rate as well, just a few grams heavier than their DuraAce or Ultegra cousins. The only thing you might be particulary attentive to is seasonal lubrication of your rear hub's internals. Based on some comments I've heard or read from folks who have the new DT/Hugi hubs -- while they are far more reliable and durable than the "old" Hugi & Coda-branded Hugi hubs used by Cannondale in the '90's, the still seem to demand a certain degree of maintenance to ensure that reliability and longevity.

Finally, one thing to look at which may or may an optical illusion in the photo....

Your cranks appear to be about one tooth out of phase and lagging behind Laura's. You can easily check it by rotating the cranks so they run parallel with the boom tube (aka, keel, boob, or bottom tube) and making sure that your and Laura's pedals fall in line with the boom tube. If Laura's pedal is lower than yours when they are both in the pedal forward position then she will end up having the leading foot down on each crank rotation, which is not necessarily a good thing.

If this is the case, you might want to loosen the eccentric and rotate your cranks one or two teeth counter-clockwise to make sure that you end up with the leading foot on each crank rotation, particularly if you will encounter hills on your regular rides.

While there would only be a moment when Laura would be leading, once you multiply that by the number of crank revolutions you make as a team on an average ride it becomes enough to put a lot of additional workload on her that she may not be ready to handle. This could certainly impact the quality and enjoyment of her ride time.

It's a nit and folks who regularly ride out-of-phase will wonder why it's even an issue, but it's one of those little nuances of tandems that is worthy of attention, especially early-on as a new tandem team.
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