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  1. #1
    Senior Member brockd15's Avatar
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    Opinions on first tandem

    I know these threads show up all the time and get old real quick to the regulars...so I'm gonna do another one.

    My wife and are looking at getting our first tandem to try it out and see how we like it. I've ridden/ride a lot but she hasn't. She'd like to do some longer rides with me (eventually leading to 1200k brevets, hopefully), but at this point I just don't see it happening on singles. That got me thinking about a tandem, which I think would greatly increase our chances of actually riding together.

    That being said, we're looking at some used tandems and have a couple prospects I'd like to get thoughts on from people with more experience than I.

    First up is an early 2000s Burley Duet for sale by an individual, with a mix of 105 and Deore I believe. It's a 9 speed with brifters and looks to be in very good shape. The asking price is $800...not sure about wiggle room on it, I haven't asked yet.




    The other bike is a mid to late 90s (just guessing, maybe early 90s?) Santana Arriva. It has bar end shifters, Deore XT, and is a 7 speed. It's at a bike shop and had an original price of about $980, but they'll take $660 for it, which means ~$715 with tax (they're holding it for me for now until my wife can come check it out). I think I'd eventually want to upgrade it to 9 speed. It's the blue one below (I also looked at the red Arriva next to it, which is older and has an asking price of $540, but it's too small).








    What do you think?

  2. #2
    Tandem guy
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    First and foremost, I'd look to be certain that the bike you're considering fits both you and your wife comfortably. If one or both of you aren't comfortable, it could mean disaster. Perhaps the second thing to consider (and this may well indeed be the first thing to consider) is whether or not the two of you are compatible on a tandem. Some folks just aren't cut out to be stokers, and while I've never experienced being in that position, I would probably fall into the category of someone who wouldn't care being a stoker. When my wife and I first considered the purchase of a tandem, we were fortunate enough to take our bike in question for a test ride, not only for the sake of comfort, but for the sake of compatibility, too. Fortunately, my wife felt very much at ease being the stoker from the very first ride, so we learned early on that we'd probably not have any problems.

    While I certainly can't help much in giving you any advice as to which of the two bikes to buy that you've presented here, and aside from proper fit, I'd be inclined to think in terms of what bike is most capable in terms of upgrading. In other words, I might ask questions such as "which bike has the potential to upgrade to a 10-speed without too many modifications?" Or, "which bike most accomodates any type of drive train upgrades that'll be best suited for our needs?" Or, how about components? Are they in good enough condition or to quality standards so that you won't want to swap them out later? In a nutshell, there are a lot of questions to be asked that most of us probably won't be able to answer without seeing the bikes or knowing about individual heights or frame sizes. If it were me, I'd ask my wife to ride both of them to see how they feel. While I've generally favored Santana tandems over Burleys, it's really going to be up to the two of you to decide whether or not one bike or the other works for you. You may even find that you'll want to check out other bikes as well. About the only advice I can really give is to be patient and to be sure you purchase a bike you fully feel comfortable with. Price and quality and features are all really subjective but, in the end, the important thing is that the two of you are going to enjoy the experience of riding a tandem. Hope this helps!
    Last edited by jim_pridx; 01-08-10 at 02:00 AM.

  3. #3
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    Never having ridden either bike I could not say, but the drive train of the Santana is obsolete, so on that score I would take the Duet. An upgrade of the Arriva drive train would be expensive. I have full 2003 Shimanno 105's on my road single and I am very pleased with them. Either bike however will do for your first bike, give them both a ride with your stoker and see which one feels better.

    I would not think too much whether or not the tandem will work for you, jump into it and start riding it, start with short pleasure rides, go out for a coffee or whatever your stoker desires, build up over time, don't rush it, one bad ride in the first few tries and you can loose your stoker. The tandem for us is a pleasure bike. Though pleasure does take us pretty darn far when we feel like it.
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  4. #4
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    If it fits and the color is OK, the Burley... by a landslide. But that's just my opinion based on the options you've presented us with.

  5. #5
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    You could go with either one. If you're hoping to make that the bike that will take you on the 1200 km brevets, it should probably be the Burley. If you're thinking of riding it for a season or more, and then replacing it, the Santana might do the job. Upgrades and replacements on the Santana will be harder. [search "Santana Proprietary".]

    As others have said, the fit is very important. And if it's a little thing like stem height/angle, the Santana will be harder to change (non-standard stem size). But if you can just ride it as is the Santana would save you some $$.

    If you're looking to ride long distances, the next challenge will be the search for the right saddle for her...

  6. #6
    Senior Member gpelpel's Avatar
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    Both seem to have the same size (medium) although the Santana could be a large, difficult to say from the photos. I would say that frame quality is equal for both. They are steel frames but the Burley could be lighter because of the age difference; total tandem weight is probably around 40 lbs for the Santana and less than 35 lbs for the Burley.

    Granted they fit you and your stoker the Burley seems to be a much better deal. Upgrading the Santana to 9 speed will cost you a new wheelset, a new cassette, and new brifters.

    Prices are fine for both but at $800, and may be less, the Burley is a 'GO FOR IT' deal.

  7. #7
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    The Burley for all the reasons already stated...the Santanna is a bit to dated and expensive to update. Good luck
    ....actually at those prices you have pretty low risk here....either bike will get you the answer to your question of if a tandem will work for you guys...then you can sell either for about the same money to upgrade or bailout.

    Bill J.

  8. #8
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Our first tandem was a Burley Duet, a few years older, and not as nice as the one you're considering.

    We got 14 good years of riding out of it.

    I would therefore second the Burley reccomendation.

    Assuming its in good shape, $800 is a reasonable price, even if you can't get the seller to move down any.
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  9. #9
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    It's been said several times, just not with dollar signs attached. So ....

    Tandem wheelsets, (in case you're not familiar), are far more expensive than single bike wheels. THEN you have the cost of the brifters, a new drive-side crank arm and rings, (probably have to change them due to spacing issues), a chain and cassette, and front and rear derailleurs.

    Buying it all new? Figure $1000 or more to change the Santana.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Stray8's Avatar
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    I'd choose the Burley simply because it already has the brifters and just looks nicer.

    Ditto on riding it first with your wife to see about fit and to see how well the 9 speed gearing works together.

    Good Luck!
    .

  11. #11
    Senior Member DCwom's Avatar
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    When compared to the cost of a new bike, $660 vs $800 is a wash in my mind, so I'd definitely go with the best fit, and given your wife/stoker is the "lesser" rider (based on miles, don't flame me) I would tend to compromise towards her comfort & fit, an unhappy stoker makes an unhappy team.

    As Burley owners we are partial to the Burley, but the name is not important if you don't ride it.

  12. #12
    I'd rather be riding DKMcK's Avatar
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    +1 on the Burley. If it fits, you can ride it as is, without any upgrades. If the tandem thing is a hit for you and your stoker, you can get many more years of service out of it or upgrade to a high $ Calfee or something. You could then get your money out of it or keep it as a backup and recruiting tool for other cycling friends.

    Keep us informed on what you eventually do!

  13. #13
    Senior Member brockd15's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the opinions. I've got a lot of parts on hand that I could use to upgrade the Santana, but there are still things I'd need, like a new rear wheel, or at least a new rear hub. The cost of upgrading is a small factor but not huge; I'd pick up parts as needed as I find deals and upgrade at some point down the road.

    I was able to take a look at the Burley today (didn't plan to until tomorrow) and it looks nice...better cosmetically than the Santana, and I do like that it doesn't need any upgrading. It seems like it might be a better fit for my wife (biggest factor of course), but we'll find out tomorrow. We're going to test ride each, but as of now I'm leaning towards the Burley. Turns out that the price can come down to be about the same as the Santana. The seller also has a couple of Selle Anatomicas that can be negotiated into the deal, so we'll test them out with that as well.

    All in all, it looks like the Burley might be the way to go.

  14. #14
    Tandem guy
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    Good deal! Be sure to let us know the outcome! Good luck!

  15. #15
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Burley built the biggest bang for the buck.
    Santana, while a good tandem, has always been over-priced. They also have too much 'unique to Santana' stuff': wider rear dropout spacing, over sized headsets, wheelsets, etc.
    Have ridden several thousand miles on Santanas and Burleys so do have some actual real-time riding in.
    Just our experience/opinion.
    Suggest you ride the Burley and see if you two are compatible. In a year or so, you'll be more tandem savvy and you can always upgrade or get a new tandem.
    Pedal on TWOgether into 2010!
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  16. #16
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    Don't listen to ANYONE here until you RIDE THE BIKES. A tandem is like a single bike in that you CAN feel a difference between the way frames feel. A beginning team can feel the difference. After you've ridden them both, then make a decision.

  17. #17
    Senior Member azbackpackr's Avatar
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    You said you wanted opinions, right? Here's mine:

    ''Daisy, daisy, give me your answer true,
    I'm half crazy all for the love of you'
    It won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a carriage,
    But I'll be d*mned if I'll be crammed on a bicycle built for two!!"

  18. #18
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    With all due respects to "Daisy, Daisy . . . "
    Been riding 32 years on tandems; married only 55 years; still getting in 100 miles a week in Tucson. Eagar, AZ is another story; been there in the summer on a tandem and got hailed on while climbing up to Sunnrise ski lodge!

  19. #19
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    Excuse me for asking. But how does somebody go from "not riding much" to 1200K (744 Miles).
    Is that all in one shot?
    I have done plenty of centuries but wouldn't even think of 1200K.

  20. #20
    Senior Member azbackpackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    With all due respects to "Daisy, Daisy . . . "
    Been riding 32 years on tandems; married only 55 years; still getting in 100 miles a week in Tucson. Eagar, AZ is another story; been there in the summer on a tandem and got hailed on while climbing up to Sunnrise ski lodge!
    I do a lot of solo mtn. biking and solo road biking, hiking and cross country skiing, and I am pretty used to not having someone else around when I'm out there. I have heard they make tandems where the weaker smaller (usually female--that would be ME) person is in the front. I can't imagine being in the back and not being able to steer. Oh, yes I can: the times I've ridden on a tandem and the times I've sat behind someone on a motorcycle...no thanks, not for me. I don't trust anyone that much!

  21. #21
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Rudy, you know better...

    Last edited by TandemGeek; 01-09-10 at 07:44 PM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member brockd15's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnbrown View Post
    Excuse me for asking. But how does somebody go from "not riding much" to 1200K (744 Miles).
    Is that all in one shot?
    I have done plenty of centuries but wouldn't even think of 1200K.
    Definitely not in one shot. That's the eventual goal, whether we'll get there or not, we'll see. The 1200k has been my goal for a while now, and she'd like to do it too, but right now I just really can't see it happening on singles. To be clear, I have no doubt she could do it, I just don't think she's into it enough to right now. I hope, and so does she, that getting some longer rides in (starting with 20-30 miles probably) on a tandem will do the trick.
    Last edited by brockd15; 01-09-10 at 08:01 PM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member brockd15's Avatar
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    The plan today was to ride both bikes and most likely end up with the Burley, as long as we liked the fit and feel. We rode the Santana first and I thought it felt good, but my wife didn't like it all. I think it had more to do with it being our first ever ride on a tandem and being a little shaky than the actual bike, but I can't convince her of that. We were already scheduled to go see the Burley so we headed that way, called to let the seller know we were coming, and were told somemone else was coming, who ended up buying it .

    So now we've got another we're looking at tomorrow, a mid 90's Burley Rumba with a Softride beam for the stoker. It's got an 8 speed STI drivetrain and looks to be in great shape and in the right size...and we'd save about $200 on it. We'll take a look at it tomorrow and see how it rides. My wife really likes the look of it, so we're on the right foot so far. If that doesn't work then I guess we'll just keep looking.


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