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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 01-07-10, 10:34 AM   #1
DanRH
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How much is too much? For a bike that is...

I've had many bikes since I started riding seriously in '95. The most expensive was my Merlin Extralight with full Campy Record parts. I paid a tad over 5K for that bike. It seems to me the price of real nice bikes have gone down a bit. Of course, I see the occasional 7-8K Pinarello and high end Trek's go for that much.

BUT, my custom steel Independent Fabrications Crown Jewel frame was only $1800. Great bike BTW! And my favorite single I ride on is my Lemond steel Fillmore fixie. I paid $700 for that bike, new.

So, when we bought our daVinci Joint Venture 700 with Campy/SRAM parts, I paid $6600. I don't happen to think that was too much. I've seen Santana Beyonds go for over 12K. I know the Calfee's are pricey as well.

So, the question is, how much is too much? Or, how much did you spend for your tandem?
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Old 01-07-10, 11:40 AM   #2
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I have had to consider that lately.
My single bike is a somewhat old Trek 5500 which I have about $3000 invested into.
Several years ago I was riding more and felt it was time for an upgrade.
After test riding a number of bikes, none of them impressed me except for one.
That was a Time VXR and the frameset / fork was $4800 so I was looking at over $6000 for the bike.
I started looking for deals and found I could order one from the UK for around $3000.
Then I started hearing about Calfee tandems (mostly on this forum) and the more I read the more I became interested. I spoke over the phone with a few Calfee owners and that convinced me to go ahead even though the cost was high and I agonized over the "is it worth it" question for months. What made it even harder is the Santana we have is a pretty good bike. But in the end I decided it was not the last tandem I wanted to own. In about a month I will have the Calfee built and ultimately know if it was worth it. Right now my spreadsheet is showing around $8000 spent. Almost $500 of that is California sales tax which I initailly did not account for and came as a rude suprise. Many of the parts I shopped for on ebay and overseas and got substantial discounts, it would probably be over $10K if I paid full price. I am hoping I can get a decent price for the Santana when it goes up for sale. The Trek is going to have to serve me for a few more years while I get over the money spent on the Calfee. While the amount of money spent does not necessarily equate to how much you enjoy a bike, it sure can help. I have built a number of lower cost second bikes with steel and aluminum frames and sold them within a year because I just did not enjoy riding them
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Old 01-07-10, 12:01 PM   #3
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So, the question is, how much is too much?
The lesser of:
a) Any amount you can't afford.
b) Any amount that draws it into conflict with a higher priority in your life (which is really what most of us mean when we say we can't "afford" something).
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Or, how much did you spend for your tandem?
Something like $2 per km ridden so far, and falling. We may just have a little celebration when it drops below the IRS mileage rate for a car

Seriously, it's not hard to get a good estimate of the prices of people's bikes with a little research. New prices on tandems are published on the web, and there's not much flexibility. The total final price [after racks, pedals, bottle holders, fenders (if any), lights (if any), on-the-road toolkit, panniers/bar bag/bento box... and whatever I left out] is harder to get since we're mostly in denial about how much more we paid than we thought we were paying when we made the initial decision...
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Old 01-07-10, 12:19 PM   #4
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I think that you're asking the wrong question. The real question is: "How much are you willing to pay for fun?"

Park a $30,000 boat and trailer in your driveway, the neighbors might not even notice, and it'll probably still cost you $100.00 for fuel every time you take it out. That's a fairly hefty price per hour of fun.

Tell the same neighbors that you paid $5,000 for a bicycle that you still have to pedal and they'll think you've gone over the edge.
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Old 01-07-10, 12:28 PM   #5
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The cost per hour of enjoyment you get out of a bicycle, expensive or otherwise, is fabulous compared to many other types of recreation. And while touring or at least doing out-of-area rides are extremely enjoyable you can also have fun right out of your driveway. Can't (generally) do that with a boat. Also, I've got an expensive horse trailer sitting out back if anyone is interested.
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Old 01-07-10, 01:26 PM   #6
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I totally agree with you guys. I didn't blink an eye when I handed my card to the Bike shop. And BTW, that $6,600 figure was a TOTAL cost for the daVinci, including bottle cages and all the hangin's....

That's a great point about the boat. I'll have remember that one.
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Old 01-07-10, 01:31 PM   #7
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Tell the same neighbors that you paid $5,000 for a bicycle that you still have to pedal and they'll think you've gone over the edge.
I like the boat/bike analogy! I remember purchasing a new Bianchi road bike in 1985 for $1000, and many folks thought I was nuts. Some would even respond by saying "hell, if I wanna ride one of them there bikes, I can just go down to Wal-Mart and get just as good of a bike for 100 bucks!" Seriously, though, when considering all of the initial costs to obtain a suitable bike and accessories, nearly all of the fun afterwards comes for free. It really does come down to "how much are you willing to pay for fun?"
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Old 01-07-10, 01:37 PM   #8
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Our Robusta was $8300. With 2 sets of speedplays, belt drive, new stoker stem, new seats, Zipp wheels, ceramic bearings, we're getting close to $12,000.
For a fair accounting, though you'd have to back out the cost of some of the stock components (i.e. original seats, original stem, chain, timing rings.)

And the cost per mile should drop below $1 this year.
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Old 01-07-10, 02:03 PM   #9
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Dead on about the cost of enjoyment factor.

This discussion reminds me of a mechanic I knew. He lived next to his garage/shop in an 800 sf residence in need of paint. The shop had a public repairs section and HIS garage. His garage was home to a couple ferraris, porsches and 1 or 2 other exotics. I was 16 at the time and made a statement about I really wanted one of them. His reply was "If you want it you'll find a way to get it. Some people have $100,000 homes (1980) I just happen to have $100,000 cars." The cars didn't sit around collecting dust either. He'd take them out on nice days and one of them was used in competition at the 24 hours of Daytona on more than one occassion. The point being he spent what he felt appropriate and got immense enjoyment from his "toys".
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Old 01-07-10, 02:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WebsterBikeMan View Post
The lesser of:
a) Any amount you can't afford.
b) Any amount that draws it into conflict with a higher priority in your life (which is really what most of us mean when we say we can't "afford" something).

I agree. What OP wants to know is really subjective. What can be "too much to spend" for a hobby to an onlooker can be "just right" to the afficionado depending on his level of resources and unique cost/enjoyment benefit ratio.

In the end, philosophically any amount that you choose to spend and feel good about is not "too much". Anything that other people may think about your expenditure being too much (or too little) doesn't really matter as long as you feel good about it.

I spent $200 (delivered) on Amazon.com for my entry level Pacific Dualie and then promptly spent more than that amount accessorizing it (e.g. dual Wald folding baskets, Blackburn EX-1 rack, suspension seat posts, new seats, riser stoker handlebar, bells, mirrors, bar ends, extender, wireless computer, lights, LED pedals, bottle cages, trunk bags, panniers, etc).

Considering that we have five other bikes and also a sportbike, my wife initially thought that a tandem was a quixotic purchase. But now we enjoy it thoroughly for it's purpose. When/if I can afford to buy it, I'll order a Calfee DaVinci tandem.


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Old 01-07-10, 02:46 PM   #11
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"So, the question is, how much is too much? Or, how much did you spend for your tandem?"

I am starting to think regardless of what you spend on original tandem purchase, that cost of the bike will become insignificant if you bought the right one.
We started with a used comotion speedster, and upgraded a year later to a custom Calfee with couplers so our original equipment costs have been high.
However in the last year as result of tandeming I Have had the following expenses..........
Santana NZ Tour and air fair
Trip down the California coast plus rack and panniers
4 out of town trips for century rides
New gear to match (or compliment) stokers outfits
Sponsorship in 2 cycling teams (1 team 1 club)
My kids after watching me ride a single for 20 years and having no interest are now riding with us occasionally
Clothing, shoes, helmets etc for two kids (19 & 20 yrs old) fortunately they fit some of my singles
Multiple fancy lunches (instead of a power bar and drink at a gas station when riding with the guys)
Garmin 705 (she hates being lost )
Car Tandem racks
Racks and storage in garage for all this gear
Cycling eyewear for everyone
Booties, gloves, misc winter gear
Misc tandem art

All this and the question I keep asking myself is why didn't I do this a long time ago?, I'm having a ball
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Old 01-07-10, 03:45 PM   #12
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To us it also has to do with how much is the bike used. A couple of years ago we bought what we thought was a very good deal: a used Trek for my wife for less than $2,000 that bike has seen less than 500 miles of road... bad investment.
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Old 01-07-10, 03:50 PM   #13
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"Too much" is an amount set by my spouse and is strongly dependent on cash reserves, expected tax returns, and the amount of housework I have done lately.
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Old 01-07-10, 09:09 PM   #14
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Well, in absolute terms how much is too much is very dependent on individual circumstances. However, like hi-fi, there is an exponential aspect to the price of high end bicycles, i.e., you pay an extra $N for some improvement M, where N quickly outpaces M.

As an example, while I was happy to pay > $7500 for our da Vinci, the added cost (~1500) of the S+S couplers was really quite ridiculous IMHO. Also I doubt that a Trek Madone is twice as good as my Trek 5200 despite being more than twice the price.
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Old 01-07-10, 10:27 PM   #15
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My first real bike was in 1977. I purchased a customer built frame from a guy call Tom [Ritchey]. Built it up with Campy Super Record groupset and it cost me around $2,000. Took a lot of lawn mowing back then to build such a bike. 30 years later I was teaching my son to ride a bike and after about a year he finally got it. I soon realized that in order him to keep up with me we should get a Tandem. Purchased a used Kuwahara and after a few months of riding it, I decided it would be best for me to go thru it. After a complete rebuild, it is now a fully equipped Campy Record ride. That took about $3,500 [plus a lot of labor, free paint job from my local body shop]. After a couple of years of this I elected to build a newer bike. Now I have a S-Works Tarmac with a Super Record 11 groupset. That cost me about $4,500.00. Since I have not riden single bike that is less than 30 years old it was amazing how time has changed. I still have my Ritchey bike and I did not know at the time it he was going to make it big time. Was it worth it, yeah I think so. I have had rides with my Ritchey around Mount Fuji [Japan] when I was younger and through much of Washington state. I have had rides with my son that include the STP that I will alway treasure. I hope to enjoy my newest ride for some time.
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Old 01-07-10, 10:33 PM   #16
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Original price for a new tandem . . . then divided that by miles pedaled/enjoyed.
Our custom Assenmacher in 1977 cost us (a then pricely sum) $1,200. We put 64,000 miles on that tandem; cost per mile on original investment: $.01875. When we sold that Assenmacher, we got $1,000 for it!
Have owned 4 full custom tandems. Our Colin Laing was sold with 56,000 miles on it. Our Co-Motion sold with 57,000 miles on it.
Our current twicer, a custom Zona, now is just about 'broken in' with only 25,000+ miles on it. That breaks down to 40c a mile so far.
Buy the best you can afford, you'll likely not regret it!
Yes, extras, maintenance costs, trip cost could all be factored in . . .
However, are you enjoying riding TWOgether? Miles and smiles . . .
To us, that is pricele$$!
Pedal on!
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Old 01-08-10, 11:13 AM   #17
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Our custom Assenmacher in 1977 cost us (a then pricely sum) $1,200. We put 64,000 miles on that tandem; cost per mile on original investment: $.01875. When we sold that Assenmacher, we got $1,000 for it!
So, actually your net cost (excluding inflation and cost of tires and maintenance):

$1,200 - $1,000 = $200

$200 / 64,000 mile = $.003125!




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Old 01-08-10, 11:20 AM   #18
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So, the question is, how much is too much? Or, how much did you spend for your tandem?
Rather than wax philosophically about the definition of too much, for us it ended up being $2000, and, not surprisingly, we paid about $2000. After a futile used search we readjusted our expectations, it came down to what we wanted and what we could justify to ourselves as worth the dough. According to my in-laws we paid $1800 too much, but they think a big ride is 6 miles @ 6 MPH.
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Old 01-08-10, 11:34 AM   #19
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According to my in-laws we paid $1800 too much, but they think a big ride is 6 miles @ 6 MPH.

What your in-laws think (as non-bikers) is inapplicable and irrelevant to your own circumstances. They really don't know what they're talking about and therefore their cost/benefit opinion is flawed and baseless. You shouldn't pay it any mind.


Enjoy your tandem!

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Old 01-08-10, 08:14 PM   #20
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Ask you in-laws how many $$$ they've spent on health club memberships that don't get used! Or golf clubs? Etc. . . .
The more miles you pedal that tandem the le$$ the cost per mile. Therefore we do not mind spending $$$ on what we enjoy.
A great investment in our continued good health (and that from folks that are 77/74 an cancer survivors!).
Quality lasts!
Pedal on TWOgether into 2010!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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