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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 03-22-10, 08:49 PM   #1
tdbmd
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Recommendation for first time tandem

What companies make a good starter tandem? I am a recerational cyclist, and my wife is a pleasure rider right now. She is a pretty good runner, but some recent back problems have made it necessary to find a different sport for fitness. The problem is that she is 6' tall while I am 5'8". Are any tandems set up like that? Thanks for any insights.
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Old 03-23-10, 06:52 AM   #2
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Sizing should be doable. It will restrict your range of choices. The used market will be a little tough, but with patience you may be able to find something there. At your heights you will have the choice of who stokes and who captains. You might be able to trade off by just changing the seat height if the optimal distance to the bars isn't too different. Much would depend on how much of your respective heights are in your legs.

So the question becomes what defines a good starter tandem? And this partially depends on the kind of riding you intend to do.

Given you mention back problems, an upright position is probably but not certainly a bad idea, so you should be looking at something with drops. The curved back acts as a (better) shock absorber. Independent of what bike you get, a good suspension seat post for her is likely a requirement.

So brands?

Santana, Co-motion are the biggies, and the bottom of their line may qualify, depending on your budget. Bottom to mid-range versions, used also. Watch out for the size of the stoker compartment on the Santanas.

Further down, without venturing into the "department store" category, the KHS Tandemania Milano might work, but I'm not sure their large is going to be large enough. Cannondale Road Tandem 3, comes in "Jumbo/Medium" which might work. The geometry is on their site.

For $2100 you can get a custom sized Hokitika from Tandems East. Or $300 less if one of their stock sizes fits. This is actually a better price than the Cannondale. If your location is "North east" rather than "Nebraska" you might be able to get down to Tandems East for a test ride and/or fitting.
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Old 03-23-10, 10:38 AM   #3
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Thanks for the insights. We probably won't be doing any serious long rides, at least at first. I envision some 15-20 miles rides. So, I don't want to wrap a ton of money up in things right off the bat, but understand that you get what you pay for to a great degree with bikes. Thanks again.
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Old 03-23-10, 11:29 AM   #4
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So, I don't want to wrap a ton of money up in things right off the bat, but understand that you get what you pay for to a great degree with bikes.
This is where the used market, and a lot of patience, come in.
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Old 03-23-10, 12:10 PM   #5
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. The problem is that she is 6' tall while I am 5'8". Are any tandems set up like that? Thanks for any insights.
I'm 5"8" stoker is 5'11' we started with a medium comotion speedster, thudbuster 350mm seat post and adptors to raise the bars in back. Have since upgraded to a custom Calfee to improve stand over ht for captain. You might also look at a como preiscope. I will try to post some pics this evening or look me up in pictures of tandem couples.
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Old 03-23-10, 01:49 PM   #6
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Do you know the basics and are you handy with a wrench? Since you're recreational riders and don't want to tie up a lot into the bike, you can consider the $330 Mongoose Wanderer off of Amazon. This is only a department store quality bike, so don't expect too much, but at least it's on the decent end of that class.

However, the big caveat is that this one-size-fits-few bike is sized for slightly-less-than-average sized riders. I'm 5'9" and my gf is 5'4" and it already feels a wee bit on the small side, but you can swap stems and seatposts, which I'm not going to do because it's close enough for us... and it's a $330 bike. If I were to guess, this bike would be perfect for a 5'7" captain and a 5'2" stoker. The rear cockpit is only 24.5" long, which I think is 4" shorter than most.

The wheels will arrive out of true, the brakes will need adjusting, the hub bearings will be too tight, the timing chain will be too loose, and the derailleurs will be way off. If you can button up everything yourself, the bike is quite rideable for recreation. Everything on the bike strikes me as being cheap (steel seatposts and handlebars, quill stem, stamped chainrings, plastic pedals and seat), but nothing on it strikes me as being disposable (once properly adjusted).

It's got 21-speed SRAM Grip Shift, an eccentric bottom bracket, 7-speed freewheel with axle nuts in the rear, but 135mm rear dropout spacing so you can swap in any modern MTB wheelset.

My only other experiences with tandems are with a couple of early '90s steel Burley rentals and an old Schwinn beach cruiser and I'll vouch for the Mongoose being better than all of those. The old Burleys are fine bikes, but their lives as rentals really wear them out.
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Old 03-23-10, 02:07 PM   #7
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However, the big caveat is that this one-size-fits-few bike is sized for slightly-less-than-average sized riders.
Which is one of the primary reasons I didn't suggest this route...
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The problem is that she is 6' tall while I am 5'8".
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Old 03-24-10, 11:00 PM   #8
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Back problems? Don't rule out the tandem recumbents! As for recreational riding, the Sun tandem recumbent should fill your budget, I just saw one in Dallas go for under $500 within the past week. There are used Vision recumbents that are reasonably priced and, with the under seat steering, lower to the ground and easier to start and less concerns about spills
while you're learning.
There are tandem recumbent specific websites for you to read, learn and contact for more information.

Good luck!

Leo H.
Sun Valley, NV
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Old 03-25-10, 03:35 PM   #9
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Thanks. I don't have any experience with the recumbents, but have heard that they are easier on the back. Is Sun a good maker for them? Thank again to everyone for all the information.
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Old 03-25-10, 10:19 PM   #10
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Yes Sun is a major 'bent manufacturer and so is RANS. Both of them currently make tandems and they are 2 of the more common used models you'll run across. Vision and Longbikes (I think) are 2 other manufacturers with bikes still available in good condition and those 2 offer under seat steering designs. The Sun and RANS versions are above seat steering.

You might sign up on Bentrideronline.com. They have a tandem section there you could ask more questions of those folks. It's a very good knowledge base to draw upon, even if you choose not to follow that path.

Leo H.
Sun Valley, NV

ps there are other designs, but the numbers of available models to try out would make them a 'jump in the deep end' decision on your part. Worst case scenario though, you'd get your money back reselling it with an oddball, it'd just take a matter of time. Good resale value more often than not.

Last edited by Leo H.; 03-25-10 at 10:21 PM. Reason: postscript
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