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  1. #1
    Bigbird BigBird2's Avatar
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    First Tandem: Which to choose:Santana Picante or Gary Fisher Genesis?

    We've been looking for a "first time" used tandem for awhile now, and there are two main conciderations for us, both of which are linked. First, my stoker/wife isn't sure she's going to be able to stay with tandeming physically - tho she enjoys riding her MTB on trails at a leisurly pace. Second, because of her uncertainty, I'm concerned about sinking in some big bucks on an activity that may or may not work out.

    With this in mind, I've narrowed down our choices to 2 bikes. One is a 1998 Santana Picante in excellent condition that I can have for @ $1750, depending on final transport costs. The other is a Gary Fisher Genesis MTB circa 1980-something, that looks to be in excellent shape and I may be able to get for @ $750. I've attached a couple of pics.

    I know the Santana would do us fine but I've been unable to find out much about the Gary Fisher. Is it as good a tandem as their single MTBs are? How does it compare to a Santana? Is the GF "too old"? I'm tempted to get the GF - and spend a lot less on our first bike - but I don't want to buy something that's poor quality or going to end up costing me a bundle to fix/repair. So, anyone know much about a Gary Fisher Genesis?
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    "Let's be careful out there." The Sarge, Hill Street Blues

  2. #2
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    I think they lowered the price on the Fisher to $650. That's the better 'value' for what you're looking for and you could probably work him down a bit. Add-in Greyhound shipping costs (probably the cheapest) and that's not too bad for a pretty classic, albeit heavy old-school mountain tandem.
    http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/da...378798380.html

    The brakes and shifters are old school but will work forever so long as you replace the cables and housing and everything else on the bike is solid stuff: Shimano XT, including the hubs and headset. Throw on some new brake pads and regrease all of the bearings and you're good to go. It's got some funky stuff like the U-Brake and Biopace rings, but they work just fine for most applications.

    As for the Santana, the price looks to be a little high but, more to the point, you could buy a brand new '09 Cannondale Street Tandem for the same money. Slap a set of knobbies on and your Street Tandem is now a Mountain tandem.

    http://www.cannondale.com/bikes/09/cusa/model-8ST.html

    Anyway, I guess I'm surprised you haven't been able to find any of the under $500 starter tandems in your neck of the woods, such as an older Cannondale Los Dos, Univega or similar. I'm not exactly sure what all cities covered by Craigslist are up there, but I would think there would be something out there closer to home that would save you the $100 and hassle of shipping a bike you bought sight unseen.

    Someone will be long a minute to also throw the big-box tandems into the mix, e.g., the $300 Pacific Dualies, Mongoose and other department store level tandems. Frankly, if you can do your own work on bicycles and give one a good going over to make sure everything is assembled, lubed and adjusted correctly they'll do just fine for light recreational use... well enough to decide if riding a tandem is something you'll enjoy. Only you can decide what will meet your expectations and be a good value for your money.

  3. #3
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    Anyway, I guess I'm surprised you haven't been able to find any of the under $500 starter tandems in your neck of the woods, such as an older Cannondale Los Dos, Univega or similar. I'm not exactly sure what all cities covered by Craigslist are up there, but I would think there would be something out there closer to home that would save you the $100 and hassle of shipping a bike you bought sight unseen.
    There is a Univega in Underhill (near Burlington VT - you could 'almost' ride it home) - for $575 (probably negotiable), and a Raleigh listed for $500 in Tonawanda (a suburb of Buffalo - drop in on your way by: we're near Rochester). No size details on either one (not sure whether they are of the 'one size fits none' variety.)

    However, based on your single bike choices, I'd guess you'd be happier with the Gary Fisher. That is one sweet bike. On the other hand, I looked a little harder at the geometry information listed, and it looks like a smallish bike. A 19 1/2" seat tube, where you rode a medium or a large, meaning 21 or 23. A "total top tube" of 48" - probably measured along the sloping top tube, although the standard measurement would be the horizontal equivalent. The Santana medium is 49" (measured the same way, if Gear To Go's web site is correct on that point). It seems to have a threadless stem, so you might get away with putting on a very long stem. Rich can help you out there. So you might be able to make it work with the seat post way up and a long stem. Looks like there's a good chance you can put on a longer stem without replacing the cables, as they have some slack.

  4. #4
    Bigbird BigBird2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WebsterBikeMan View Post

    However, based on your single bike choices, I'd guess you'd be happier with the Gary Fisher. That is one sweet bike. On the other hand, I looked a little harder at the geometry information listed, and it looks like a smallish bike. A 19 1/2" seat tube, where you rode a medium or a large, meaning 21 or 23. A "total top tube" of 48" - probably measured along the sloping top tube, although the standard measurement would be the horizontal equivalent. The Santana medium is 49" (measured the same way, if Gear To Go's web site is correct on that point). It seems to have a threadless stem, so you might get away with putting on a very long stem. Rich can help you out there. So you might be able to make it work with the seat post way up and a long stem. Looks like there's a good chance you can put on a longer stem without replacing the cables, as they have some slack.
    "A 19 1/2" seat tube" - my Gary Fisher Tassajara MTB has a 19 1/2" seat tube. The standover height of 31" seems right, as I have @ a 31-32" inseam. Rich suggested a "medium" for us in a new Santana, so the 48" top tube length of the Gary Fisher is pretty close to the medium Santana at 49". Anyway, I'm hoping the Genesis will be a good starter tandem. Most of our riding will be locally on rural back roads and easy bike trails, so I'm not concerned too much about speed and weight. Plan to just cruise along.
    "Let's be careful out there." The Sarge, Hill Street Blues

  5. #5
    Senior Member gpelpel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBird2 View Post
    We've been looking for a "first time" used tandem for awhile now, and there are two main conciderations for us, both of which are linked. First, my stoker/wife isn't sure she's going to be able to stay with tandeming physically - tho she enjoys riding her MTB on trails at a leisurly pace. Second, because of her uncertainty, I'm concerned about sinking in some big bucks on an activity that may or may not work out.
    We were in the same spot a few weeks ago before I found a used Santana. My wife likes going on trails at a leisurely pace but is not comfortable on the road. Riding together means I have to slow down or she has to push herself too hard. But we enjoy being together. The tandem solves most of these issues, we are riding every weekend now. Our tandem is a road bike but with 32mm tires we don't have any problem on smooth trails. A 26" wheel tandem such as the ones you are contemplating would be more versatile but, unless you do hard trails, is not a necessity.
    They call tandem great equalizers. I can confirm it, even when I do some hard time on climbs my stoker can still enjoy a leisurely pace without breaking a sweat. I have no doubt your wife will be able to keep up.

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBird2 View Post
    Second, because of her uncertainty, I'm concerned about sinking in some big bucks on an activity that may or may not work out.
    I found my 1993 Santana Visa at $500. It needed a bunch of cleaning, some touch-up paint, new tires and tubes, new bar tapes, new cables and housings, and new chains but it is very solid and all the mechanical components work great. You wil need to plan for some addtional expenses such as stronger brakes, different saddles, stems, rack, bags... Our total cost ended up being between $800 and $900 and the tandem looks and rides fantastic.

    Regarding the two tandem you are looking at I think they are a overprized. The Gary Fisher is old, I think I would look for newer units with a 1 1/8" fork and newer tubes that would be larger and lighter at the same time. Theses bikes will be stiffer. The Picante looks good but $1200 would be my max for it.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by gpelpel; 09-18-09 at 10:31 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member gpelpel's Avatar
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  7. #7
    Newbie but oldbie
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    ... Add-in Greyhound shipping costs (probably the cheapest) ...
    You should check into Aliant shipping, referenced in this thread. Might be cheaper still.

    Andy

  8. #8
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    Tom,

    As the owner of said Santana I'll impersonate the worst salesman ever and offer you my opinion.

    I wouldn't spend $1500+shipping on something I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy.
    I also wouldn't spend decent money on a bike that would end up costing more in the long run by the time I make it how I want it.

    As to the quality of the Santana versus other brands; I haven't ridden enough other brands to give an educated opinion on that. I'll leave that to the experts.

    You said "First, my stoker/wife isn't sure she's going to be able to stay with tandeming physically - tho she enjoys riding her MTB on trails at a leisurly pace. Second, because of her uncertainty, I'm concerned about sinking in some big bucks on an activity that may or may not work out."

    Because of that I'd shy away from both mine and the Gary Fisher. Go to the big box store buy a $400 tandem and spend a few weeks riding the trails with your wife. Sell it for $150-200 when you are done with it. If you both enjoy it, go out and buy the best bike you can afford, knowing a little more about what you want/don't want and what you need/don't need. If she doesn't like it you haven't lost much.

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