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Thread: Tandem touring

  1. #1
    GLA
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    Tandem touring

    We're just trying to plan an overseas holiday for next year and would like to go tandem touring (either in Europe or the USA). As we live in Australia any trip is going to involve air flight. Our tandem does not have S&S couplers. From the experience of people on the list, would that make this just too difficult?

    I imagine we can get the tandem to the main international airport at the destination without too much drama, but that's were I think the drama would start - getting too and from the start of our touring

    Any thoughts?

    thanks

  2. #2
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    We are planning to tour in Europe, flying from the US next year with an uncoupled tandem, so we are also interested in this subject. We have friends in the arrival area, however, and expect to be met by private car, or hopefully, van. I think being met by a hotel van with assurances of being able to store the case, etc., while you are gone would be something to shoot for. We are planning on building a very light wood hard case of 5mm ply. We looked into shipping and the expense appears prohibitive. Choice of airline w/r to baggage costs, if possible, will also be important.

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    pel
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    We took our uncoupled Cannondale 2006 Mountain tandem to Europe in 2006. No major dramas as long as you arrive at the airports 3-4 hours before time to cater for hassle. We flew into and out of Amsterdam. Simply order a large cab - tell them what size you need. Travelled on trains and a bus with some difficulty but were able to get on. In any event you would generally not uncouple for trains and busses unless absolutely necessary. 6500 kms. Happy to provide more info. We are planning another trip next year but this time coupled.

    Definitely give uncoupled a go if that is your only option - it is workable. Good luck

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    Senior Member foamy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    We are planning on building a very light wood hard case of 5mm ply. We looked into shipping and the expense appears prohibitive.
    What, exactly, is prohibitive?

    I've been turning over getting a tandem and trying Europe in a couple of years and since I don't like couplers, I was thinking along those lines you mentioned. The price of not having to hassle with a bike at an airport would seem to be worth it to me—but then, I haven't priced it out yet.

    Also, the price of couplers (particularly for a tandem) seems to be damned expensive—especially for something I'm not over keen on (aesthetics). At what point is one or the other (shipping or couplers) worth it?
    Last edited by foamy; 12-08-09 at 01:13 PM.
    None.

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    Prohibitive = about the cost of airfare for another person.

    The last time we went to Paris with our uncoupled tandem we built a version of a softcase - smaller and lighter, with an aluminium frame to accommodate the bike frame and a few parts. The wheels and anything heavy went into a wheel case. At the time, the trick was to get the weight of each baggage item to be under 50 lbs. With an uncoupled tandem you can't do much about the baggage size, but you can part out the weight among your other baggage. All our bags were under 50lbs, but we still had to pay a bicycle fee of 150 Euros or Dollars, I can't remember which. While the case turned out well and it was kind of fun to put together, it is probably cheaper to buy something off the shelf and pay the overweight charge. Your results may vary.

    One of the first things we did after arriving home from this trip was purchase a coupled tandem. We decided we were going again, but not with THAT bike!

    A coupled tandem can go places an uncoupled tandem can't and for that reason alone couplers can be worth the cost. Couplers look great to me every time I hang my bike in the spaces for singles on the train. Remember, it is not just the plane that you will have trouble with when touring. It is every transfer. Want to tour the California Coast? Just pop on the Pacific Surfliner with a coupled tandem. No couplers, well that's a problem. Want to tour Europe? Most trains will allow bagged bikes the size of singles - no couplers - that's a problem.

    A coupled tandem allows for more flexibility when touring, and isn't that what touring is all about?

    I am very pleased with my coupled tandem and will never again purchase a tandem without couplers. Then again, like pel said above, if it is your only way to go then don't let that stop you from going.

  6. #6
    Senior Member foamy's Avatar
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    ^ ^ ^ Great reply. Thanks very much.

    The price of another person seems about right.

    I'm going to have to seriously consider couplers now. Your experience carries a lot of weight. Thanks again.
    None.

  7. #7
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by foamy View Post
    What, exactly, is prohibitive?

    I've been turning over getting a tandem and trying Europe in a couple of years and since I don't like couplers, I was thinking along those lines you mentioned. The price of not having to hassle with a bike at an airport would seem to be worth it to me—but then, I haven't priced it out yet.

    Also, the price of couplers (particularly for a tandem) seems to be damned expensive—especially for something I'm not over keen on (aesthetics). At what point is one or the other (shipping or couplers) worth it?
    $1800?

  8. #8
    Senior Member foamy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    $1800?
    Whoa! Got your drift now, friend. Questions answered. Couplers it is.
    None.

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    British Airways used to carry bikes free of charge in addition to normal baggage allowance. I don't know if they still do, but they did last year when we took our uncoupled Trek T2000 from Tampa to London. When I called to find out if they still carried bikes FOC they said yes , but when I told them it was big bike and gave the dimensions they told me it would have to go cargo. Anyway, I made a big bike box from two regular bike boxes obtained free from my LBS and put the dismantled tandem in it and decided to risk taking it as checked baggage. We got to Tampa airport in plenty of time in case of complications, gave all our bags and the tandem to a porter who took it to check-in. The clerk said "Take that to oversized baggage check-in," which the ported did and the next we saw of it was in London Gatwick before the rest of our bags. We rented a minivan to get to our destination adn when I unpacked the bike I found only one minor scratch on the frame due to my lack of packing at that point. We took the bike to France via UK train to Dover, the European Bike Express www.bike-express.co.uk to Beaune and back from Orleans to Dover.

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