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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 03-31-10, 04:40 PM   #1
busboy
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First purchase: New "old" or really used

Hi all,
We're planning to do Ride the Rockies on a tandem: our first. Prelim: captain is mid '50's, in good physical shape but not some Cat 4 racer, and stoker, well, I'm enthusiastic :-). Only ridden a cruiser tandem around town. We know we're in for it, but would like to try.
So: we went to our only tandem dealer (and we are ALL about buying local) and were set on getting a new but old stock 2008 Co-Motion Primera with disc brakes (lots and lots of steeps on RTR) for $3400. Seemed attractive because of the 10 speed cassette: we'll need it!
Wasn't built up, so had to stew for a bit. Now we're reconsidering: a 2010 is $4000 with disc brakes, seems to also have a 10 speed cassette?
Or do we go non-local and get a Cannondale R2 and not lose on the value of an older frame.
OR do we buy a much older Burley Samba for considerably less?
I realize a lot of this is personal, however, input we're looking for:
Does a discount of just $600 seem reasonable for a 2 year old (albeit brand new) Co-Motion? Frame doesn't seem to have changed much, thought cassette had but maybe we're mistaken: need to clarify with dealer.
Would a Cannondale hold up on a RTR tour?
Reasonable to expect if we hate it, could we sell the Co-Motion for a loss of not much more than $600-700? Can't seem to find any comparables out there...

Thanks for any opinions you can give us. We love the idea, love biking as avid recreationists, but money is tight for us right now, this would be a pretty significant investment.
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Old 03-31-10, 07:50 PM   #2
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We will be at RtR this year as well!!! Now then, about your question, talk about "Pandora's Box..." here's my two cents worth: RENT a road tandem. Ride it a weekend - a few hours, with hills, stop lights, the works. Get a sense of if you both enjoy spending this much time on the thing. For example, near us we have a shop that rents Trek T2000's (Los Altos, CA). If your weekend goes well, I advise buying used. That was the advice we were given on this forum in 2005 and it worked well for us. There are many stories of couples purchasing new tandems and after the first big trip it sits until it is sold. And BOY did we covet the new Co-Motion that year. We took a breath, walked out of the shop, and looked for used. We found a mint '97 Burley Duet for $1,600 - included: Avocet 25 computer, Aria drum brake, Custom Sun CRT1611 rims, VIAN HB-HF07 hubs, Jaand Mountain Expedition panniers and Moose racks. We sort of assumed we'd sell and upgrade if we got hooked, but we have grown so attached to our Burley that it looks like we will ride it until the seat tubes snap in half. There are so many +/- riding single vs tandem in a ride like RtR. Our toughest one is saddle pain - as you don't as easily/frequently unweight your butt on a tandem, especially new riders. We are gaining skill at alternating standing while pedaling which is making a big difference. If it's in reasonable shape, a Burley or Cannondale will be more than adequate. The Samba used to come with 26" wheels which I would avoid for a road bike. Good luck. Looking forward to what you decide, see you at RtR.
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Old 03-31-10, 08:40 PM   #3
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We agree with TM, Judy and I have changed what we think is important in a tandem several times in our first year of riding, glad we started used, just be sure it fits well
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Old 03-31-10, 10:09 PM   #4
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Can't advise you on which bike to get, but +1 on renting one for a day. Also, the price for the CoMotion is good and if you're going to keep it, the resale value isn't an issue.
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Old 04-01-10, 07:33 AM   #5
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You've already ridden a cruiser tandem around town. You know you like riding. I'd surmise, still from the first paragraph, that you're pretty confident you'll like riding tandem.

Given all that, you might not need to follow the advice about renting.

The advice to buy a used bike is pretty much standard fare around here. The caveat in your case is that you ought to have at least a month, preferably two, together on the bike before doing a tour of the magnitude of RTR. So you might want to give up on the used market by the end of the month, if you don't find anything.

The second thing is that on a ride of this length, the aluminum frame of the Cannondale could be brutal.

Allow an extra $100 or so for the thudbuster to replace the stock stoker seatpost, regardless.
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Old 04-01-10, 11:16 AM   #6
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Hmmm. Let's take a quick trip down Reality Road here. You've got roughly two months until RTR 2010. Whatever you buy, you need to buy it TODAY!! You're talking about doing a week's worth of 75+ mile average days on this bike, and apparently neither of you has ever ridden a road tandem before. Even experienced tandem teams don't just buy a tandem, get on it and ride off into the sunset.

For instance, TandemGeek bought a new bike a while back. He wrote extensively about the process of "dialing it in" that he went thru, and in about a YEAR he was finally happy with the result! Granted, in some respects TG is like the old story of the Princess and the Pea, so your dial-in process won't be anything like that. But, it's not something you can do in a couple of weeks and be done with, either!

Another piece of anecdotal evidence is my own search for a new saddle last year. It took 6 months of swapping out makes, models and widths of saddles from two different shops that offer that service before I found one that I could ride. Keep in mind that this is after 35+ years of cycling experience, so I already had a pretty good idea of what I liked and didn't like in a saddle before I started the search.

And when I say "one I could ride", what I mean is one I could ride 100 miles and still be able to get back on the saddle the next day! And that's what you'll need to find as well. Any saddle will take you 20 miles. But to ride 100 mile days back to back you need to find the RIGHT saddle.

And that is just ONE of the issues you'll need to deal with to get your tandem set up to ride RTR. So whatever you buy, you need to buy it now! Personally, I would not consider spending $1000 to go on a 500+ ride on a machine I didn't have at least 500 miles on, nor a ride that featured back-to-back long mileage days without experiencing that first as well!

Finally, although I find your goals "lofty" in comparison to your experience level, I'm not trying to discourage you. What you're attempting to do CAN be done. But again, you need to get started immediately!

As for WHAT to buy ... here's my free advice, (and you know what they say about that)! Scratch the C'dale .. it's a harsher ride, and you're going to need comfort. Between what's left, (ASSUMING correct fit of ALL these bikes), I'd look at the Burley first. If you buy it right and find that tandems are not for you, it won't cost you a dime. You can sell it after the ride for exactly what you paid for it, (sans personal saddles and pedals, of course). If tandems ARE for you, the Burley would also make a great second bike when you upgrade to something better!

On the other hand, if you're the kind who wants to go first class if they go at all, then get one of the Co-Mo's. I don't see any real reason to pick one over the other unless the 2010 would have to be ordered. Then I'd definitely go for the 2008, which your dealer would undoubtedly appreciate anyway.

But again, FIT is always first priority, even over and above your need to get it TODAY!

Hope some of this helps.
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Old 04-02-10, 08:31 AM   #7
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Totally agree with Onegun. You can't hold up the decision if you are planning such an adventure in such a short period. If you have ridden single bikes for some time that should shorten the "dial-in" period. Not too many people are as demanding (I mean that in a good way) as TG when it comes to every aspect of his tandem, for some close enough is good enough. As Onegun said FIT is priority one. Riding long multi-day rides is tough especially with climbing. My daughter and I attempted the Assault on Marion on our Cannondale and if it wasn't for her encouragement on one of the later climbs I would have given up and I was nearly in tears. I slept for two days after that ride and did not get back on the bike for nearly a week, I can't imagine doing multiple days of similar rides, and we were in pretty good shape.

With respect to NOS Primera vs. new Burley vs. Cannondale, really the decision should be based on FIT first then available finances. Once the bike shop discounted the 2008 you are really not going to lose a substantial percentage of its value once you own it so that should not be the primary concern.
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Old 04-02-10, 10:19 AM   #8
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Hmmm. Let's take a quick trip down Reality Road here. You've got roughly two months until RTR 2010. Whatever you buy, you need to buy it TODAY!! You're talking about doing a week's worth of 75+ mile average days on this bike, and apparently neither of you has ever ridden a road tandem before. Even experienced tandem teams don't just buy a tandem, get on it and ride off into the sunset. ...
I don't know about that... It's really not rocket science. Here's my experience with tandems. A friend of mine owned a tandem. She is a very experienced ultra distance rider and she wanted someone to ride with her on her tandem. Our first ride was a century, then we did the Auburn Century, 140 miles with something like 16,000ft of climbing. We did a couple other rides before we did the Furnace Creek 508 on her tandem. A friend of mine who I did RAAM (Race Across America) with wanted to do RAAM on tandems so I order my own. It was finished being built one week before RAAM last year. My stoker was supposed to an experienced stoker. She lived across the US from me so we didn't get a chance to ride together before the race. We actually didn't even get to ride together during the race either because one of our teammates stoker quit the day before the race. We ended up shifting stokers around and my stoker took the place of the missing stoker and we recruited a replacement stoker (who had never been a stoker before)from the crew. Our first ride together was less than 24hrs before the race on a bike that was less than a week old! That's the story in a nutshell (lots of details left out but you get the jist of it). Needless to say it worked out just fine and we finished the 3050 mile race in 6 days, 10hrs with no problems with or on the bike at all. Second place overall! Not too bad.

Now, I wouldn't recommend doing it that way but it does illustrate that it can be done. I'm just and infant in tandem experience compared to some of the people on this forum.

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Old 04-02-10, 02:49 PM   #9
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I don't know about that... It's really not rocket science.
Homeyba, you're a RAAM competitor. Your stoker was a mega-century rider. Look at the OP's comments about themselves: "captain is mid '50's, in good physical shape but not some Cat 4 racer, and stoker, well, I'm enthusiastic". What's that tell you?

Besides, I said it COULD be done. But they DO need to get busy! The bike is not the ONLY thing that needs to get "dialed in", but I figured they'd discover that for themselves.
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Old 04-02-10, 03:11 PM   #10
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Thanks for all opinions (and anymomre that come down the line!): anyone want to sell?

Glad to hear the varying opinions: we're just not gear heads (for bikes that is). We do routinely do 50-75 mile rides (me on a 15 year old hybrid that's got to weigh 40 pounds) and husband on a converted single speed mid '80's Raleigh road bike. But yes, we're aware that time is of the essence. We'll be the pluggers at the end of the day and June 16th, my husband's 57th bday, will be a true test: TWO passes that day.
But we're both in reasonably good shape (just average I'd assume by Colorado's standards) so we're hoping it will go ok. And if not, well, we call friends, they pick us up, and we only do 4 of the 7 days, spending the other 3 winding our way home :-)

Glad to hear about the Cannondale and the harshness of the ride. We'll cross that off. Would love to go used, and we keep looking, may bite on a Burley that's pretty dang old, or buy the new co-motion because of time constraints.

I'm ALL about the thud-buster. The softbeams looked interesting to me but from the forums, they seem pretty heavy, and we don't need any additional weight...

And believe me, we have considered going single on RTR, however, sometimes we let a stupid decision force us into a new activity, this one is pretty low risk!

THANKS truly, for all the opinions (and future ones) and if we can buy any of your bikes, please, let us know! We know this isn't going to be perfect, but we're both fairly laid back. My main hope is for good weather: whether my behind is screaming or not, if it's sunny in Colorado, it's hard to be grumpy when you're outside (and pushing a tandem up a 4000 foot pass)....

(and we'll be renting one this weekend, problem is, won't be the bike we ultimately buy, limited selection of those darn things out there!)

As for other participants of RTR: say hi to us as you pass us on Red Mountain Pass: we'll be hard to miss ;-)

One last question: we both have saddles we love on our single bikes, I've been considering putting those on the tandem: is it typical to be able to transfer them somewhat ok or is the ride so dramatically different that we shouldn't even attempt?
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Old 04-02-10, 05:11 PM   #11
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Homeyba, you're a RAAM competitor. Your stoker was a mega-century rider. Look at the OP's comments about themselves: "captain is mid '50's, in good physical shape but not some Cat 4 racer, and stoker, well, I'm enthusiastic". What's that tell you?

Besides, I said it COULD be done. But they DO need to get busy! The bike is not the ONLY thing that needs to get "dialed in", but I figured they'd discover that for themselves...
I've done RAAM yes but as I said, I'm a relative infant in regards to tandem experience. Probably the only thing that the RAAM experience imparts that made the tandem experience better is that during a RAAM you have to be very flexible, you need to be able to adjust to things on the fly. You are not only dealing with your own needs but the needs of your stoker. If you are too set in your ways you will fail.

I didn't mean to dis-agree with you (sorry if it came across that way), I would agree that the OP needs to get busy. I was just trying emphasize that it can be done on the fly with decent results.
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Old 04-02-10, 05:50 PM   #12
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One last question: we both have saddles we love on our single bikes, I've been considering putting those on the tandem: is it typical to be able to transfer them somewhat ok or is the ride so dramatically different that we shouldn't even attempt?
You should not have any issue moving the saddle. Where there usually are issues is that you find a saddle you like and when you want to buy another one the company doesn't make them any more. I usually buy saddles in pairs sometimes I even have two extras as I don't need my old butt training a new saddle how to fit
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Old 04-03-10, 06:58 AM   #13
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OK, now this sheds an entirely different lite on things. When you said you were "enthusiastic", I, (and I'm sure many others), read that as "I've never ridden over 20 miles in my life!"

With this info I feel a lot more confident in saying that you can make it. But you still need miles on the bike you're going to ride ... time to adjust the bike to you and for you to adjust to the bike.

+1 on WheresWaldo's comments on finding/buying saddles. Once I found my "current day" saddle, I outfitted all 5 of my bikes with them and have two spares. The saddle I found after that six month search was an NOS, (new, old stock), Bontrager Race Lite Lux. I liked it. But when I went to get them for my other bikes, it already had gone out of production! So I had to buy all the ones I could find off eBay!

As for transferring your saddles, it depends. Are both of you coming from more upright bikes ... say with flat or mountain bars and a fairly upright riding position? If so, going to a road tandem with drop bars you may find that your old saddles were too wide and chaff you when you're more forward leaning. You'll just have to give them a try.

And while we're on the subject of getting the bike dialed in, if your local shop offers a fitting service, take advantage of it if you can. Getting yourself set up on the bike correctly, (or very close to it), from the beginning is going to be of utmost importance to you two.

Good luck with it all!
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Old 04-04-10, 01:05 PM   #14
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Two-hour tandem rides were okay on the same saddles as on our singles, BUT my a-- kills me if it's much longer. We just aren't that great at standing/unweighting. We put relatively inexpensive male and female Terry's (softer and less "nose" than our San Marcos) on the tandem and do just fine for 7-9 hour rides. I thought being such an "experienced" single roadie for 30+ years, dialing in my body, bike and saddle to eliminate back and butt pain, why, I'd have no problem with this issue on a tandem... WRONG-O REINDEER BREATH. It's been a whole new ballgame.
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Old 04-04-10, 06:43 PM   #15
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I thought being such an "experienced" single roadie for 30+ years, dialing in my body, bike and saddle to eliminate back and butt pain, why, I'd have no problem with this issue on a tandem... WRONG-O REINDEER BREATH. It's been a whole new ballgame.
hehe! REINDEER BREATH??!!

But you are correct, Thigh Master, for probably 50% of the teams out there. Half get to ride the same saddle on all their bikes, and half have to find a different saddle for their tandems. Now if we could just figure out WHO belongs to WHICH half in advance, we could steer a lot more people in the right direction from the onset.

But as everyone who knows anything about bicycles will always tell you, "Saddles are such a personal thing ... "
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Old 04-09-10, 04:54 PM   #16
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Busboy, I was reviewing some RtR factoids and it made me think of your team. What did you decide? Purchase a tandem for RtR???
By the way, here are the daily numbers for RtR:
Day Miles Total Elevation gain
1 46.5 2,570'
2 83.5 6,385'
3 66.5 3,235'
4 72.5 6,000'
5 85.5 3,180'
6 90.0 3,900'
7 80.0 1,600'
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