My partner and I are beginning to shop around and research tandems for next summer. We both have individual road and mountain bikes. We have some differences in strength and interest (I like road and trail equally, she likes trail better because there are no cars). So we thought a tandem would be a good way of coming together across that gulf. Here's the thing, I am 5'4 and she is 5'2. I would be the captain, she would be the stoker. The bikes I've chosen to look at and test ride (at some point) are:
Burley Paso Doble
Burley Rock ‘n Roll
I know that's a long list and a range of types and price and we will narrow it down for sure, but can all you tandem-philes suggest which ones I should focus on given our respective sizes. Thanks in advance.
Co-Motion Periscope 18/11 (Short) - Captain Standover = 26.7" / Top Tube 20.25". While somewhat unconventional, it's the smallest "full-size" tandem out there in a stock tandem. ($2,995) This may be the best value / best fit of the bunch. New this past year, but they are VERY popular from what I've heard second-hand.
Co-Motion Mocha 18/15 (Small) - Captain Standover = 27.4" / Top Tube 21.25". About the smallest out there in a conventional full-size, stock tandem. ($3,600 - Custom Sizing ~$360, but may be negotiable)
Cannondale MT M/S - Captain Standover = 28.2" / Top Tube 22". About the next smallest ($2,250). The best value by far, but the fit looks to be an issue.
Burley Rock 'n Roll 19/15 (Small) - Captain Standover = 29.6" / Top Tube 22.6". Not all that small ($2,149)
Burley Samba 19/15 (Small) - Captain Standover = 29.6" / Top Tube 22.6". Not all that small ($1,499)
Custom-made frame from someone like Bushnell @ $1,600 - $1,800 + Build Kit @ $1,500 - $2,800 depending on how exotic you want to get with your components.
Any of these bikes can be set up for Road, Enduro, or Off-Road with minor component and/or tire & wheel adjustments.
And I thought we had a problem finding a suitable stock tandem. I'm 5-8 and my wife is 4-10. We are getting a NOS Cannondale MT800 in M-S size as that will fit us and is on the high end of the price range we set.
That being said, I can tell you from experience in trial rides that the Burley frames are too big for compact riders. We looked around for a Trek T800 which would be a possibility for you, but I think there is only one in the entire world ;o). A dealer finally located one in a California warehouse, but we had already committed to the Cannondale by that time.
I suspect that you may be looking at custom sizing. Dealing with one of the sevral tandem specialists would be a very good idea.
You guys are really helping us....keep the information coming. I was hoping a Burley was a possibility because I have one of their road bikes and I LOVE it, but it sounds like the Burley's won't work. As far as stock bikes go it sounds like the Periscope and the Mocha are the best bet. Am I correct in thinking that the Mocha is slightly more versatile...better for road biking, crushed limestone trails, centuries, etc.?
Am I correct in thinking that the Mocha is slightly more versatile...better for road biking, crushed limestone trails, centuries, etc.?
Actually, I would say the frames are nearly an even match in that they share very similar geometry (head & Captain's seat tube angles, fork rake), use the same heat treated, butted tubing, and wheelsets (Hugi hubs w/Velocity Deep-V rims). The Periscope gains some stiffness by having the very short rear seat tube and steeply sloped top tube which off-sets the elimination of the internal tube that you see on the Mocha and the seat tube "masts" probably off-set any weight advantage that the Periscope's shorter frame might have less the internal tube... so, again, probably a wash. The stoker's seat tube "appears" to be much steeper than the Captain's despite what the specs show and may create an issue with obtaining proper saddle set-back for adults; however, an off-set seat post would easily remedy that.
All of the other differences are in the components. The Periscope is marketed as a road bike with more economical cranks, shifters, and derailleurs than the Mocha in road bike configuration (105 vs Ultegra, XT vs XTR, FSA vs RaceFace, Avid SD5 vs Avid SD7, etc...). The Mocha off-road configuration gives you the option of either Enduro (drop-bar/Ultegra STI) or MTB XC (flat-bar/RapidFire) but is otherwise uses the same components as the road version, including the cranks/chainrings. Both road bikes come with the same 26 x 1.25mm tires whereas the off-road has a slightly more aggressive and wider tire.... but tires are easy to change to suit riding conditions.
The drive trains are essentially geared the same all three configurations:
The Periscope is fitted with an 11x32t cassette & 53/42/30 chainrings.
The Mochas (both versions) use 11x34t cassette & 54/44/32 chainrings.
So, at the end of the day, the only real difference would be any unique handling characteristics detected during a test ride (which would probably be small and quickly assimilated) and the lower standover height and shorter captain's top tube on the 18/11 "short" model and the 1" shorter stoker compartment on the Periscope (27.5" vs 28.5" on the Mocha). Well, and the aesthetics. Ultimately, the Periscope is really designed for use by very short teams or adults who plan to ride with a growing child or children of different ages, hence the 18 "Long" with it's 22.5" captain's top tube and the adjustable seat masts. The Mocha is a conventional tandem that was designed to be smaller than the models produced by Co-Motion's peers. If you "fit" on the small-size Mocha, would prefer the higher-grade components, and the extra $$ for those higher-grade components, that may be a good choice. It's an excellent tandem. Of course, there aren't any dogs in the brands or models you've listed, so a proper fit seems to be the real dependent variable in your decision.