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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 12-09-09, 06:08 PM   #1
pel
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comments please from titanium tandem riders/owners - should we do it??

We would appreciate any feedback on titanium tandems - we are about to make a decision to purchase a DaVinci.

We have heard that titanium can be whippy/noodly especially when loaded for fully equipped touring (40kg which includes the trailer). We plan to do a lot of touring - on and off planes, trains, cars and thought the titanium would be a more practical option than a painted bike. We understand the steel weight difference is about 2 1/2 lbs/just over a kg. Do the titanium benefits outweigh (no pun intended) the slight flex??
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Old 12-10-09, 02:00 PM   #2
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Why not the carbon DaVinci? Durability concerns?
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Old 12-10-09, 04:25 PM   #3
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We would appreciate any feedback on titanium tandems - we are about to make a decision to purchase a DaVinci.

We have heard that titanium can be whippy/noodly especially when loaded for fully equipped touring (40kg which includes the trailer). We plan to do a lot of touring - on and off planes, trains, cars and thought the titanium would be a more practical option than a painted bike. We understand the steel weight difference is about 2 1/2 lbs/just over a kg. Do the titanium benefits outweigh (no pun intended) the slight flex??
We have a "new-to-us" ti Santana - it's '95 vintage and replaced a custom steel which we rode from '87-08.

We're a fairly light team (275 lbs) and by comparison, the old steel bike with ovalized top, direct lateral, and boom tubes, was very stiff laterally. It also weighed 10+lbs more than the Santana which came with lighter Sweet-16 wheels, fsa carbon cranks, fork and handlebars. Comfort differences for both captain and stoker are beyond comparison - the Santana is so comfortable, stoker no longer uses a suspension seatpost (although some would attribute that to other factors like carbon fork & handlebars etc). The proprietary Anchotech butted titanium tubes spec'd by Santana are MUCH larger diameter than anything I've seen used by other ti manufacturers (Moots, Merlin, Lightspeed, Lemond, Serotta), although other suppliers may now offering tubes with similar specs.

In terms of handling, the Santana is NOT whippy at speed and tracks even better than the steel frame in fast mountain descents with extreme side winds. But it is also not quite as stiff laterally as the ovalized steel frame during extremely abrupt side-to-side "emergency" maneuvers at slow speeds. We haven't done any fully loaded touring, but did a supported Ride the Rockies last summer, and it was fantastic over the various roads surfaces we encountered, including dirt and gravel.

Agree that an unpainted ti bike would be very practical for travel, although powder coating is pretty durable these days. And if the bike was coupled, you could get a section resprayed much easier/cheaper if needed. If you're near Colorado, Todd at Davinci has steel demos as well as a personal titanium tandem in the shop - he's a very friendly guy and would be terrific in helping you sort out your decision.
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Old 12-10-09, 04:39 PM   #4
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Da Vinci mentioned that Ti is more durable for our purposes
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Old 12-10-09, 04:43 PM   #5
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We have a "new-to-us" ti Santana - it's '95 vintage and replaced a custom steel which we rode from '87-08.

We're a fairly light team (275 lbs) and by comparison, the old steel bike with ovalized top, direct lateral, and boom tubes, was very stiff laterally. It also weighed 10+lbs more than the Santana which came with lighter Sweet-16 wheels, fsa carbon cranks, fork and handlebars. Comfort differences for both captain and stoker are beyond comparison - the Santana is so comfortable, stoker no longer uses a suspension seatpost (although some would attribute that to other factors like carbon fork & handlebars etc). The proprietary Anchotech butted titanium tubes spec'd by Santana are MUCH larger diameter than anything I've seen used by other ti manufacturers (Moots, Merlin, Lightspeed, Lemond, Serotta), although other suppliers may now offering tubes with similar specs.

In terms of handling, the Santana is NOT whippy at speed and tracks even better than the steel frame in fast mountain descents with extreme side winds. But it is also not quite as stiff laterally as the ovalized steel frame during extremely abrupt side-to-side "emergency" maneuvers at slow speeds. We haven't done any fully loaded touring, but did a supported Ride the Rockies last summer, and it was fantastic over the various roads surfaces we encountered, including dirt and gravel.

Agree that an unpainted ti bike would be very practical for travel, although powder coating is pretty durable these days. And if the bike was coupled, you could get a section resprayed much easier/cheaper if needed. If you're near Colorado, Todd at Davinci has steel demos as well as a personal titanium tandem in the shop - he's a very friendly guy and would be terrific in helping you sort out your decision.
Great response Coloroadie - looks like we will have to review Santana again - found the Beyond a bit too pricey.
Thanks again
Will keep you posted
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Old 12-10-09, 06:31 PM   #6
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Our personal preference is full carbon fiber. However we don't do loaded touring any more.
Have ridden Satana Ti and the Beyond . . . also Serotta Ti tandem. Also ridden daVinci (but not their Ti).
You indicate using a trailer, which would eliminate heavy panniers that may not be loaded properly and affect handling in some situations,
If you plan to do lotsa touring, the daVinci gearing system would be the ultimate; and Ti would avoid scrapes and paint issues; S&S would get the tandem into even small planes, cabs, etc. Todd is easy to work with and builds one heck of a great tandem.
It's just a question of $$$ to get what you want.
Just our input . . .
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 12-11-09, 09:21 AM   #7
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........
You indicate using a trailer, which would eliminate heavy panniers that may not be loaded properly and affect handling in some situations,
.....
Just to clarify, I think you were saying that a trailer could substitute for panniers. You could still ride with a trailer and panniers if desired.
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Old 12-11-09, 12:08 PM   #8
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Our personal preference is full carbon fiber. However we don't do loaded touring any more.
Have ridden Satana Ti and the Beyond . . . also Serotta Ti tandem. Also ridden daVinci (but not their Ti).
You indicate using a trailer, which would eliminate heavy panniers that may not be loaded properly and affect handling in some situations,
If you plan to do lotsa touring, the daVinci gearing system would be the ultimate; and Ti would avoid scrapes and paint issues; S&S would get the tandem into even small planes, cabs, etc. Todd is easy to work with and builds one heck of a great tandem.
It's just a question of $$$ to get what you want.
Just our input . . .
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
This is a really good point - the Davinci gearing range is without peer, although the independent pedaling system seems to have both fans and critics. To their credit, the pedaling system can be reversibly "locked" and Todd and crew are among the most friendly and helpful people you could deal with.

Also want to emphasize that my comment about powder coating was intended as a practical and durable option for ANY metal bike ... another thought is that you may want pay close attention to clearances for touring sized tires, fenders, trailer mount and disc brake if that's how you intend to use the bike.

Finally, it may be interesting to get a set of panniers and/or trailer first, fill it with YOUR typical load, and then go find some bikes to test ride so you can collect data about your needs/preferences before making a big $$ decision.
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Old 12-11-09, 08:11 PM   #9
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Sure, if using a trailer, panniers/other bags can still be utilized.
Front panniers tend to affect handling more than rear panniers especially if the load is not properly balanced.
All sort of combos are possible: trailer/front-rear panniers/ trunk rack bag/ handlebar bag/triangle frame bag.
Can't see the need for that much of a load, but then have never hauled tents/cookgear.
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Old 12-12-09, 04:28 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
Our personal preference is full carbon fiber. However we don't do loaded touring any more.
Have ridden Satana Ti and the Beyond . . . also Serotta Ti tandem. Also ridden daVinci (but not their Ti).
You indicate using a trailer, which would eliminate heavy panniers that may not be loaded properly and affect handling in some situations,
If you plan to do lotsa touring, the daVinci gearing system would be the ultimate; and Ti would avoid scrapes and paint issues; S&S would get the tandem into even small planes, cabs, etc. Todd is easy to work with and builds one heck of a great tandem.
It's just a question of $$$ to get what you want.
Just our input . . .
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
Dear Rudy and Kay
I posted a thank you to you yesterday - it must have gone astray.
Appreciate your objective comment even though your preference is for carbon fibre. You are a ledgend on this forum and a great asset to all who draw on your wisdom.

Your observations on the gearing (we tend to struggle up hill, rest at the top and race down hill to try and flatten the next hill), the Ti and the couplers are reassuring.

We aim to tour for 7mths in Europe and will therefore have to cater for three seasons carrying full camping gear and maps. Would like to drop the trailer and gain 5.5 kg but it just does not seem possible. So we will have the same set up as for our 2006 tour namely trailer, two rear panniers, an Orlieb bag across the rear panniers and a handle bar bag. We found that the trailer seemed to stabilise the whole Cannondale mountain tandem rig and sat behind us like shadow.

Regards
Pierre and Eleanor

Last edited by pel; 12-12-09 at 04:32 AM. Reason: no edits
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Old 12-14-09, 10:17 AM   #11
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We have had our Ti Litespeed tandem for almost 10 years now. I wouldn't go with any other material for a bike that will be seeing lots of travel. Our bike is not coupled so it travels in a BikePro bag. It is still much easier packing knowing that there is no paint to worry about. This would be true much more so with a coupled frame where the pieces are squeezed into much tighter quarters.

Don't worry that a ti bike won't be stiff enough. This is much more a factor of design than material. Our Litespeed has fairly large diameter tubes on it and is much stiffer than our previous steel tandem.
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Old 12-15-09, 07:01 AM   #12
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We have had our Ti Litespeed tandem for almost 10 years now. I wouldn't go with any other material for a bike that will be seeing lots of travel. Our bike is not coupled so it travels in a BikePro bag. It is still much easier packing knowing that there is no paint to worry about. This would be true much more so with a coupled frame where the pieces are squeezed into much tighter quarters.

Don't worry that a ti bike won't be stiff enough. This is much more a factor of design than material. Our Litespeed has fairly large diameter tubes on it and is much stiffer than our previous steel tandem.
thanks tandemracer - reassuring!
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Old 12-18-09, 11:35 AM   #13
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As an option, you might take a look at some of the higher end aluminum CoMotion bikes. They are very light (lighter than the Santana Beyond) at a lower price point, available with Couplers, and free of the corrosion issues you might have with steel. We bought our Machiatto a few years ago and absolutley love it. Although I doubt it can be ordered with couplers, other aluminum models can. I think you can buy their bikes with a clear coat finish only. Somehow, the CoMotion Aluminum Bikes are lighter. That being said, my single bike is a Litespeed thatt I've had for 11 years. That frame is abslolutely bullet proof.
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Old 12-18-09, 12:00 PM   #14
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As an option, you might take a look at some of the higher end aluminum CoMotion bikes. They are very light (lighter than the Santana Beyond) at a lower price point, available with Couplers, and free of the corrosion issues you might have with steel. We bought our Machiatto a few years ago and absolutley love it. Although I doubt it can be ordered with couplers, other aluminum models can. I think you can buy their bikes with a clear coat finish only. Somehow, the CoMotion Aluminum Bikes are lighter. That being said, my single bike is a Litespeed thatt I've had for 11 years. That frame is abslolutely bullet proof.
According to Santana's website a Beyond frame weighs 5.5 lbs. I really doubt that a Comotion aluminium frame weighs less than that.

"Utilizing two breakthrough technologies licensed from VyaTek Sports, Santana’s revolutionary Beyond welded carbon tandem frame weighs in at 5.5 pounds. The Beyond is not only 15–40% lighter than previous tandem frames built from carbon, titanium, or aluminum, it also establishes new standards for stiffness and comfort."

I also thought that Santana was the only builder of aluminium coupled tandems. Am I wrong about this?
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Old 12-18-09, 01:48 PM   #15
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According to Santana's website a Beyond frame weighs 5.5 lbs. I really doubt that a Comotion aluminium frame weighs less than that. I also thought that Santana was the only builder of aluminium coupled tandems. Am I wrong about this?
An equally small Co-Motion Machiatto will be on par for frame-only weight with a Santana Beyond and some of the other uber-light frames. However, once built-up to Santana's OEM specs the Santana typically gains more weight than what gram-counting uber-tandem buyer will end up hand-selecting parts the way they typically do, e.g., Beyonds will typically come in around 30lbs without pedals, per the last Santana literature I read.

As for coupled tandems, Santana is the only company that has elected to offer an aluminum frame option and worked with S&S Machine to develop the coupler lugs and bonding method needed for aluminum tubing. The couplers have always been available to any other builder from S&S without a cost premium but in talking with most other builders, they simply don't see the very slight benefit offered by aluminum tubing as a discriminator for their buyers.
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Old 12-18-09, 03:22 PM   #16
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We bought our TeamTi700 in early spring 2001, after a couple years on a 1999 Trek T200. We have put 36,000 miles on it so far. My stoker has also got rid of her suspension seat post.

The Ti finish still looks great. There are a few scratches, but they can hardly be seen. The decals do have cracks in them. We have found the titanium to be much less noodly than the Trek.

We have done several week long tours with a B.O.B. trailer (everything but the food and cooking). There are times when we have to look back and make sure we still have the trailer there (except for going up hill when we notice the weight). We used rear panniers with the trailer once in the fall, and found little difference with how the bike handled. If you think front panniers may be needed, stick with the chromed cromoly fork. Since you are going to Europe, I'd get a set of 40 spokes wheels also.

Carbon Fiber bikes are great and I'd love to have a Beyond. But for the type of trip you are looking at, I'd stick with titanium. Carbon Fiber frames can be fragile when something happens to them beyond what they were designed for. Something like being struck buy an object, or the bike falling over and hitting something. I have a friend who cracked a Kestral frame in the bike shop when he fell off a set of rollers he was using to test the fit.

Rick
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Old 12-18-09, 06:31 PM   #17
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.....

Your observations on the gearing (we tend to struggle up hill, rest at the top and race down hill to try and flatten the next hill), the Ti and the couplers are reassuring.

We aim to tour for 7mths in Europe and will therefore have to cater for three seasons carrying full camping gear and maps. Would like to drop the trailer and gain 5.5 kg but it just does not seem possible. So we will have the same set up as for our 2006 tour namely trailer, two rear panniers, an Orlieb bag across the rear panniers and a handle bar bag. We found that the trailer seemed to stabilise the whole Cannondale mountain tandem rig and sat behind us like shadow. ...
Wow, given these load requirements, i'd be far less concerned about weight (especially on frame) and more concerned about stability, durability and repairability on the road ... my priorities would be wheel size & build, tires, proper fittings and clearances for rack, trailer, drag or disc brakes, and fenders for all-weather riding comfort.

Just wondering - aside from the lack of couplers, how well did your Cannondale serve your needs on the last tour?
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