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  1. #1
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    Why are we having so many maintenance issues?

    Ok, so we got our tandem in July, not knowing exactly what we were getting ourselves into. Though my boyfriend is very experienced with single bikes, I have never rode a bike in my life. Loved the tandem instantly, so we bought the one we could afford ( raleigh companion 2008 model).
    We have put alot of miles on it, and have had at least 10 times as many problems since July than Eric has ever had ever on any of his bikes combined.
    First, about 250 miles on less than one month in, the chain is very loose, so we take it in to the bike shop we got it from. It's the front bottom bracket that has come loose, so they tighten it. About a hundred miles later, same deal. And again and again about 3 times. They finally order us a new, and better bracket cause the original was apparently faulty. This one is better, but still it comes loose, and the right pedal keeps unscrewing itself.
    Another problem; we broke a back spoke about 500 miles on the bike. Popped the tire. Got new and improved rear tire.
    Now the front wheel starts getting warped like, all twisted. The rubber has worn on on spot along the edge.
    Now another back spoke has broken!
    And not to mention the gear derailuer thing is bent like and the chain is rubbing on it at I think 3rd gear... And the bike mechanics at the shop say its fine, but its not...ahh!
    I don't want to give up on it, but is it lost cause? what do we need to do to get the dang thing to last more than 200 miles without needing to be taken apart, it is putting a hamper on our biking goals and our fun

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    Right pedal unscrewing sounds like you have a left pedal on the right-hand side.
    Out of curiousity what brand tandem do you have?
    Does the mechanic working on your bike have over a decade of bike shop experience or is he a guy who has owned a lot of bikes? Either way it might be time to try a different shop for maintenance. Sometimes free will cost you more.

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    We usually do not have problems requiring fixing except due to wear, flat tires, and crashes. How much does your bf spend on his single bikes compared to the tandem? Are they of the same quality?

  4. #4
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murf524 View Post
    Right pedal unscrewing sounds like you have a left pedal on the right-hand side.
    Out of curiousity what brand tandem do you have?
    She said Raleigh Companion 2008.

    According to the specs, the Raleigh companion does have a tandem crankset. The only way you can get a left pedal on the right side is if you have a left crank arm on the right, which would imply something was substituted on the captain's crank set - like a non-tandem crank set flipped.

    Tires look reasonable, according to the spec - I'm looking at 2009 as that's what I can find.

    The slippage causing the chain to come loose would actually be the eccentric; hopefully this will be fixed on this go-around. If not, you can put in some anti-slip compound, but then it's hard to adjust in future.

    Spokes breaking would normally indicate one of three things: 1) not tandem grade parts - can't say much about the rims, as Weinmann doesn't have a description of them. Should be adequate for light use, though; 2) not built well - most likely culprint; 3) too much weight for the choice of wheels - this is a matter of combined bike and team weight. I would expect Raleigh to have designed them to handle something like the 95th percentile team weight in the comfort bike market.

    So that leaves two things: badly built wheels, and where are you riding this? If you're riding on particularly rough terrain, that would be a factor. Getting down to the question of badly built wheels, the spokes should have even and high tension. Higher than on a single. It is easy to get a feel for that by just squeezing together pairs of adjacent spokes on this bike and on any bike with a well-built wheel.

    Also, inadequate and unequal spoke tension fits well with the front wheel trouble.

    As for the rear derailleur, if it's really bent and the bike shop does not agree, you need a different shop.

  5. #5
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    Sounds like a lot of your problems are due to the bike just being low end and not very high quality.
    If you really do want to continue tandeming and also progress in speed and distance and can afford it I would suggest selling the one you have on Craig's List and upgrading to something better. Cannondale, KHS and Trek make some tandems that are reasonably priced. Santana and Comotion have a wide range of tandems but will tend to be more expensive. You could also save a lot of money by looking for a used tandem here:

    http://www.tandemmag.com/classified/

  6. #6
    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemMad View Post
    The rubber has worn on on spot along the edge.
    Do you mean that the rubber on the tire is wearing on the side? If so, it seems that the brake pads are misadjusted and are hitting the tire; better check that ASAP or you're going to have a catastrophic blow-out!

    Quote Originally Posted by TandemMad View Post
    And not to mention the gear derailuer thing is bent like and the chain is rubbing on it at I think 3rd gear... And the bike mechanics at the shop say its fine, but its not...ahh!
    When you say "gear" derailleur, do you mean "rear" derailleur? And what do you mean by "3rd gear"? If you are really referring to the front derailleur, the chain is rubbing on it and the shop says if's fine, it may be that the captain is just not trimming it properly.

    If you are breaking spokes, I would take the wheels to a competent wheel-builder to have them tensioned and trued properly.

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    If you are breaking spokes, I would take the wheels to a competent wheel-builder to have them tensioned and trued properly.[/QUOTE]

    It be could be the wheels were not designed to handle the load and no amount of truing / tensioning will help. Still, a wheel builder would be able to correct this by rebuilding with the proper components.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemMad View Post
    I don't want to give up on it, but is it lost cause? what do we need to do to get the dang thing to last more than 200 miles without needing to be taken apart, it is putting a hamper on our biking goals and our fun
    Here is a link to Raliegh America's all-purpose Warranty: http://www.bicyclecenterofseattle.co...r_Warranty.pdf

    What you describe as problems should be covered under the terms of the warranty IF the dealer you purchased the bike from is an authorized Raleigh dealer: unbranded parts for one-year, others per the manufacturers warranty which are also typically one year. I would also push-back on any labor charges as all of these problems should have been prevented by proper assembly and check-out before delivery. They should have also asked that you bring the bike back for a free one-month / 100 mile check-up as SOP for Raleigh-type bikes.


    So.... that said:

    I would tell your boy friend to keep his hands off the bike and, instead, take it back to the dealer and clearly outline the problems and request that they pursue replacement of the wheels and tires under warranty as they both sound faulty.

    Repairing the broken spokes will not do any good; the wheel was probably not checked for proper tension before it was delivered and you will continue to experience spoke breakage in the future; it's just the nature of a poorly built wheel. Well-built wheels are reliable, poorly built ones break spokes... lots of spokes.

    As for the tires, if they or the wheel were faulty they should be replaced by Raleigh or your dealer under warranty.

    Same story on the eccentric bottom bracket, crank/pedal issue, and bent front derailleur: replacement should be covered under warranty.

    The eccentric is not high-tech: they either don't know (a) how an eccentric bottom bracket works, (b) how to use a torque wrench or, (c) the eccentric bottom brackets are not properly sized for the frame: pretty straight forward.

    As for the pedal, assuming the crank arms are threaded correctly I would suspect the pedal bearings are binding and they too should be replaced under warranty. I say replaced only because that's a heck of a lot cheaper for both Raleigh and the dealer vs. the time it would take to try and fix the pedal.

    Finally, it sounds like your front derailleur was never adjusted correctly and/or has simply moved. If the FD isn't damaged, it's a 1 minute job to adjust it correctly. So, like the eccentric, if the shop can't get that corrected they either need to get a replacement part or figure out how to install front derailleurs.

    Now, bear in mind, we're all troubleshooting bindfolded and with our hands tied behind our backs here. So, this is just gut-instinct stuff. However, as a new-bike buyer you do have recourse under warranty. If your LBS is not helping you get that warranty coverage and is an authorized dealer for Raleigh, then I would ask for the local Raleigh reps name and phone number and ask him to make things right. Given all that's honked up on the bike, I'd actually ask that they exchange your existing bike for a complete replacement as that's clearly the least expensive option for the LBS and a drop in the bucket for Raleigh. However, once again you'll be dependent upon the bike shop for doing that mechanical pre-delivery inspection which, from all indications, they may have botched on the first go-round.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. Even a Raleigh Companion should be good enough to deliver at least a year of relatively problem-free operation for all but the most demanding use. Brake squeal and the like plague all bikes, but the stuff you're having problems with can and should be corrected and at minimal or no cost to you. Be clear with the LBS that you're not looking to cover labor for rebuilding anything that's faulty or that should have been caught and fixed or replaced at the time of delivery. After all, you can quickly rack up a pretty good repair bill even at a bike shop if they charge book labor vs. actual time for some of the things you're having problems with.

    P.S. These are the types of things that often suck the enthusiam for tandeming right out of a couple. This also underscores the value of having a good LBS with mechanics that know how to work on tandems, regardless of their price point.

  9. #9
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    I can understand your frustration. Fifteen years ago I was so disgusted with the tandem's mechanical problems that I considered giving up tandem riding. Your Raleigh should be capable of many trouble free miles with the exception of the wheels. As you have found out, breaking spokes can be a problem on a tandem and your wheels are probably are not up to the task. If you replace the wheels go to a competent wheel builder who can advise you on a tandem wheel set. Tandems do wear things out faster than a single. Twice the number of people on a tandem and four times the maintenance.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnbrown View Post
    If you really do want to continue tandeming and also progress in speed and distance and can afford it I would suggest selling the one you have on Craig's List and upgrading to something better. Cannondale, KHS and Trek make some tandems that are reasonably priced. Santana and Comotion have a wide range of tandems but will tend to be more expensive. You could also save a lot of money by looking for a used tandem here:
    Trek may sell a resonably priced tandem, but not in the same league as Cannondale, for sure, probably KHS as well. In the past, they did--you can probably find a decent used Trek tandem out there--, but the current Cruiseliner and T900 offerings are the equivalents of a cruiser and cheap hybrid, rather than any kind of real quality touring or performance offering.

    Sorry about threadjack. Agree with others that shop should cover issues under warranty, but if shop help is inexperienced, particularly with tandems, they may not even know what the issues are to look for them. Maybe find a shop with more tandem specific experience in the area? Should be at least a mechanic or two who has worked on a few tandems before.
    I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.

  11. #11
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    TandemMad, I hear your frustration, and I don't blame you. You've received some very good suggestions so far, but ......

    What I would recommend you do is to take the tandem to a competent TANDEM shop. Bike shop mechanics that don't deal with tandems regularly simply aren't aware of their special requirements. That doesn't make them incompetent, just uninformed. It's like taking your Toyota to a Chevy dealer.

    Once there, have the tandem (friendly) shop make a list of everything that is wrong, especially potential warranty issues. (You will probably have to pay them for their time to do this.) If, as TandemGeek suggests, a complete replacement is mandated, you'll have back-up documentation to support that.

    If not, examine their list, and considering their previous efforts, decide which of the repairs you now trust the original shop to do. Take your bike back to the shop with the "push back" attitude TandemGeek suggested, and get the warranty stuff and whatever else you determine them capable of doing fixed.

    Naturally, in the future you'll want to deal with the tandem friendly shop when it's a tandem issue.

    If you'd like to tell the list what city you live in, I'm sure someone here can recommend a competent tandem (friendly) shop within a reasonable distance.
    BICYCLE - [bahy-si-kuhl] - Noun :> A medical device used to correct the common geriatric condition of OFS, (Old, Fat & Slow), in a manner that does not induce brain-decaying boredom like walking or running.

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  12. #12
    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnbrown View Post
    It be could be the wheels were not designed to handle the load and no amount of truing / tensioning will help. Still, a wheel builder would be able to correct this by rebuilding with the proper components.
    How stupid of me. I'm glad that you set me straight; I assumed that a tandem would have wheels designed to handle the load of two people.

  13. #13
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swc7916 View Post
    How stupid of me. I'm glad that you set me straight; I assumed that a tandem would have wheels designed to handle the load of two people.
    Did I detect a note of sarcasm there? Fact is there are MANY inexpensive tandems out there sold with wheels that, IMHO, are not safe to ride around the block on.

    All of the "department store quality" tandems, i.e., the $500 and under class bikes, fall into that category. But then again, they were never made to ride. It was assumed from the onset that the bike would be ridden less than 200 miles, and then left to collect dust in the garage.
    BICYCLE - [bahy-si-kuhl] - Noun :> A medical device used to correct the common geriatric condition of OFS, (Old, Fat & Slow), in a manner that does not induce brain-decaying boredom like walking or running.

    2005 Trek T2000 Tandem, 2003 Burley Tosa Tandem, Pacific Dualie beater tandem, and 6 singles including 2 fixies.

    TampaBayCycling.com - A LOCAL Cycling Forum
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by swc7916 View Post
    How stupid of me. I'm glad that you set me straight; I assumed that a tandem would have wheels designed to handle the load of two people.
    I was just making a suggestion that might help solve the OPs problem.
    It may or may not be valid.

  15. #15
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onegun View Post
    Did I detect a note of sarcasm there? Fact is there are MANY inexpensive tandems out there sold with wheels that, IMHO, are not safe to ride around the block on.

    All of the "department store quality" tandems, i.e., the $500 and under class bikes, fall into that category. But then again, they were never made to ride. It was assumed from the onset that the bike would be ridden less than 200 miles, and then left to collect dust in the garage.
    The Raleigh Companion is priced about the same as the KHS Tandemania "Sport", and has largely similar componentry. A notch above "department store quality" and at the low end of what will show up in actual bike shops. While I wouldn't recommend any bike in this category for hard riding, I would expect any of them, properly maintained, to be good for many "neighbourhood" rides.

    I found it hard to get information on the specific model of rim and hub, but I have no reason NOT to believe that, properly built, those wheels will be fine for most teams on relatively level, smooth terrain and speeds below 20 mph.
    Last edited by WebsterBikeMan; 10-29-09 at 10:42 AM. Reason: Corrected sense of final sentence.

  16. #16
    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onegun View Post
    Did I detect a note of sarcasm there? Fact is there are MANY inexpensive tandems out there sold with wheels that, IMHO, are not safe to ride around the block on.

    All of the "department store quality" tandems, i.e., the $500 and under class bikes, fall into that category. But then again, they were never made to ride. It was assumed from the onset that the bike would be ridden less than 200 miles, and then left to collect dust in the garage.
    Yes, you did detect a note of sarcasm. I was quoted, then corrected, and I took offence by it.

    I agree that "department store quality" bikes are junk, but then I have seen people complete STP on such bikes.

    And yes, I expect inexpensive tandems to have wheels of poor quality but what makes them unusable is not necessarily their cheap components; I suspect that poor build quality is the main culprit. As long as the wheels have enough spokes and a strong enough rim, tensioning and truing them properly should make them usable and reasonably reliable. Rebuild cheap wheels with quality components? This suggestion strikes me as unreasonable; which components of the original wheels would you keep?

  17. #17
    Senior Member Stray8's Avatar
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    Interesting how differently a thread proceeds for a post regarding recurrent problem(s) on different tandems. TG's post is the most helpful to the OP amongst several good ones.


    .

  18. #18
    Senior Member DCwom's Avatar
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    Just my 2 cents.
    You say you've put about 500 miles on the bike so far, this I would say puts you into the "beyond recreational rider" class. We faced the same dilemma about buying what we could afford this past spring. We looked at the recreational tandems (not sure what the Raleigh is) and knew we wouldn't be happy with a bike of lesser quality than our current "rec quality" LBS single bikes, so we had to readjust the definition of "what we could afford" (we justified it as a 25 year anniversary gift to ourselves). We shopped for used tandems, but in the end our patience ran out and we bought a new bike from a dedicated tandem dealer (TandemsEast in NJ). We are very pleased with our decision to get a good quality bike in both reliability and performance.

    If you can't resolve the reliability issues with your Raleigh I would encourage you to not give up on tandem riding because it sounds like you are a successful tandem team, not every couple can ride these things.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by swc7916 View Post
    Yes, you did detect a note of sarcasm. I was quoted, then corrected, and I took offence by it.

    I agree that "department store quality" bikes are junk, but then I have seen people complete STP on such bikes.

    And yes, I expect inexpensive tandems to have wheels of poor quality but what makes them unusable is not necessarily their cheap components; I suspect that poor build quality is the main culprit. As long as the wheels have enough spokes and a strong enough rim, tensioning and truing them properly should make them usable and reasonably reliable. Rebuild cheap wheels with quality components? This suggestion strikes me as unreasonable; which components of the original wheels would you keep?
    On offense was intended and I apologize for how I worded my statement, it does sound condescending.
    I have been building my own wheels for 10 years. The wheels on my tandem have never broken a spoke or needed truing. I am not sure what wheel components the Raleigh uses, but it probably does not use DT, Wheelsmith or other quality spokes. It could that the spokes are not good enough to handle proper tensioning without breaking, the same may be true of the rims. So if re-tensioning the wheel did not work, I would replace the spokes and the rims. The parts would cost about $150 and labor around $100.

  20. #20
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    I suggested new wheels because the tandem mechanic at our LBS, which does a large tandem business, said that Raleigh makes a capable tandem but if it is ridden many miles the rear wheel should be replaced. It sounds like the front wheel is already toast. I rode with a couple this fall on a Raleigh tandem and they are serious riders and have put a few thousand miles on their Raleigh. Don't know about their wheels.

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    I have this same tandem, albeit a much older model (probably a 2001). Ours was very inexpensive, I think we picked it up for around $499 from our local bike shop at the end of the season. We rode the bike probably 300 miles the first year we had it but then it got put away as our daughter was born and we got away from biking for 4 years or so. When we pulled it back out to start riding, and we got more serious about riding tandem, I started replacing parts.

    The wheels that came on the bike were a joke...they were very cheap 36 hole mtn. bike wheels. We never had spokes break but the bearings were extremely rough and quickly started to get worse. The wheels were replaced with a $200 (on sale, with a 20% off sale) set of shimano tandem hubs laced to 48-hole double eyeleted rims from an online retailer. I did have to spread the rear triangle about 5mm to get these to fit but now I can go with either 145mm or 135mm spacing. These wheels were bulletproof and are still hanging in the garage as backups. The original tires were also bad and only lasted that first 300 miles or so and were replaced with 1.5" slicks of a couple different brands before we finally spent the $$ for Schwalbes of some sort (which were also bulletproof).

    Since those original replacements, I've swapped pretty much everything else on the bike out as I've found deals on stuff. I think the only original parts are the two bottom brackets, the derailleurs, the rear cassette, the shifters, and the brake levers. The shifting on this bike has always been amazingly crisp. We're now sporting a generic set of 32 spoke mtn bike wheels with XT hubs and some generic Mavic rims and 1.25 Conti Gatorskins since my stoker weighs 50lbs soaking wet.

    This is now my 8 year-old daughter's and my tandem (think cheap periscope) and we put around 1200 miles on it this summer including the Seagull Century. Other than being pretty heavy, which can be a real pain when climbing the hills around where we live in the Shenandoah Valley, it's really a pretty decent bike for us. I'm even thinking about having the frame powder coated this winter.

    I think the bottom line is the bike as you bought it has some pretty low end parts on it, just a small step above a department store bike. I would definitely pursue the of the remedies recommended above with the LBS you bought the bike from, but if you like it and it is comfortable, don't be afraid to spend some money on upgrades.

    Roland
    Last edited by Roland Owens; 10-29-09 at 08:05 PM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Have ridden (but not extensively) the Raleigh Companion.
    The components are low-level and the wheels definitely are not quality or rated for more than casual tandem usage.
    It is a low priced introductory twicer a notch above the department store quality.
    However, the dealer should make necessary repairs/replacements under warranty.
    Because a bike shop sells an occasional tandem that does not mean they and their mechanics are tandem savvy.
    Get a hold of the Raleigh rep and persue it from there.
    In the meantime, don't give up on tandeming.
    Most of us started out with less than stellar 2-seaters and worked our way up.
    Our first tandem practically ate spokes and we destroyed at least a couple rear hubs . . . that was 35 years ago.
    Pedal on!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

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    Thank you everybody for your wonderful suggestions, they are all very helpful. We suspected that the wheels were not of very good quality or built poorly.I kinda knew the bike in general wasn't the highest quality, but figured it ought to last at least a thusand miles without major issues. We now have about 1100 on it and way to many issues. We will not give up on tandeming though, not ever. So we are faced with some descisions.
    The dealer we got the bike from (erik's bike shop) doesn't cover any wheel parts in th waranty (something we apparently missed in the fine print) but they did cover the eccentric bracket when that needed replacing ( the new one isn't even perfect). I do definetly belive they are incompitant when it comes to tandems, only one mechanic there knows anything, and not much at that. So we will start tommorrow by calling a raleigh rep and start from there. Though I am tempted to sell this one and buy a higher end bike. I didn't know I'd like this tandeming so much and I want a good bike that we can go real fast on for long distances, without replacing almost every part on the dang thing. We'd like to enter competions and go long distnace camping and touring next season and don't need endless problems. By the way, we are from Madison Wisconsin
    Thanks again

  24. #24
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemMad View Post
    By the way, we are from Madison Wisconsin. Thanks again
    The suggestion to try calling Raleigh may be a good one, but it may also be a dead end. Here's a few more suggestions just in case:

    A. Create a new post on here titled "Tandem Friendly Shops in Madison Wisconsin?" Someone on here probably knows where to steer you. That would be my first choice.

    B. Get familiar with TandemGeek's site, The Tandem Link. The links page has two things you need right now ... his "Tandem Dealers" category and his "Tandem Clubs" list.

    Under dealers he lists "Williamson Bikes and Fitness" in Madison, and their website lists Cannondale, Co-Motion and Trek tandems, so they are at the very least passingly familiar. (I'd still take the direct referral, "Option A" first).

    The second thing you need is his "Tandem Clubs" directory. It shows the "Couples on Wheels" tandem club, (yeah, CoWs!), in Madison as well. These other tandem riders will be a wealth of information, know where there are local "tandem friendly" shops, rides, rallies, etc. If they're like most tandem enthusiasts, they will also be knowledgable on things mechanical, have used parts laying around to donate or for sale cheap, etc. But far and away their biggest value is to give you other tandem teams with which to ride and interact.

    Finally, just to put the idea out there, don't sell the Raleigh, just buy a better tandem. Granted it's problematic right now, but eventually you'll round up or figure out everything necessary to make it a servicable bike. Meanwhile, someone in your house will become a passable tandem mechanic by messing with it. Someone outside your house, (actually, MANY someones!), will ask you how you like tandeming, and you can offer to let them try it without risking your "go fast" bike. You'll also have a back-up bike to protect you against Murphy's Law, for use on nasty days when you don't want to risk your good bike, for use on nasty roads or trails when you don't want to risk your good wheels, etc.

    Hope some of this helps.
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    2005 Trek T2000 Tandem, 2003 Burley Tosa Tandem, Pacific Dualie beater tandem, and 6 singles including 2 fixies.

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemMad View Post
    I didn't know I'd like this tandeming so much and I want a good bike that we can go real fast on for long distances, without replacing almost every part on the dang thing. We'd like to enter competions and go long distnace camping and touring next season and don't need endless problems. By the way, we are from Madison Wisconsin
    Thanks again
    After reading that you I can almost guarantee that your tandeming enjoyment would be greatly increased with a better bike. If you can afford it at some point I would suggest considering a Comotion or Santana. You can probably find somewhere to test ride one if you are willing to travel to a shop that carries them. Also there are events known as tandem rallies where these and other companies have tandems you can test ride. If you look at their web sites it may list what tandem rallies they will be at. My wife and I have been tandeming for over 25 years and we have a really nice tandem, but I recently decided to buy an even better one because I know it will our last one and we enjoy it so much.

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