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Thread: Tandem Computer

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    AWP
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    Tandem Computer

    I am looking for a good computer for a tandem. I have looked at the flight deck, but it seems a little pricey (although I just dropped a wad of cash on a new tandem...). I would prefer to have a computer that provides me with cadence.

    Any suggestions?

    Allen

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    Mad Town Biker Murrays's Avatar
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    I think you'll like the Flight Deck, the gear indicators are a very nice feature on a tandem.

    Some computers with cadence run one wire down and split near the crank for cadence and rear wheel sensors. Obviously, this won't work with a tandem. Make sure you check before purchase.

    -murray
    "I feel more now like I did than when I first got here"

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    LeMond Lives! Dusk's Avatar
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    I like mine. The Flight Deck does work totally off the front wheel and has virtual cadence.

    There is another Flight deck thread going in Road Cycling. More info about the Deck there.

    Cheers

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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    I think that Flight Deck computers really come into their own on a tandem. I like the gear indicator when riding our tandem. I also like the virtual cadence function. When coasting down a hill, I use the virtual cadence to give me a clue as to when to start pedaling again.

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    Senior Member johno's Avatar
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    I'm considering a rather pricey upgrade to my old Cannondale - going from 7 spd Suntour shifters to 9 spd STI, just so I can put a FlightDeck on. You don't absolutely have to know what gear you're in, but it sure would be nice. Yes, it has virtual cadence.

  6. #6
    SDS
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    You're going to hate this, but regardless of the price of a Flight Deck, it is the very best computer for a tandem and more than worth the premium over other computers, just has been said above.

    The reasons are that virtual cadence is superior to actual cadence, especially on a tandem, and the graphic gear display is what you need where you need it.

    When you are thundering down a hill at 50-plus, you will probably want to wait for the speed to decay before you try to pedal fast enough to catch the gear, and that's what virtual cadence tells you: how fast you would have to pedal to keep up with the gear you are in. This prevents all sorts of stupid-captain mistakes, and keeps stoker esteem high (can't have too much of that....).

    If you are in a tight pack, you have no business looking down, or way, way back on a tandem to see what gear you are in. To get a glance at the rear cassette you have to look nearly in the opposite direction from the one where you are going. Far too dangerous to be contemplated when you have a choice. Eat a pothole once and you will be kicking yourself for months.

    I like aerobars, and a forward-mounted Flight Deck on the aerobars does much to keep your eyes where they are supposed to be: up and looking around and down the road.

    My second-favorite computer is an Avocet 45TT. The relatively fat wires are easy to splice with a low-watt soldering iron, low-temperature electronics-type solder, and matching-diameter thin speaker wire from Radio Shack. On my Cannondale tandem I parallel-wired two computers to one set of sensors, and then added a Flight Deck, and then there was the HRM mount on the aerobars as well. Pretty good setup, but it didn't make us go any faster....black tandem with near-black Aerospoke wheels and black aerobars and a stack of electronics looked pretty bad at convenience stores out in the country. Black is the wrong color for a Texas summer, though. The new tandem is WHITE.

    My favorite location for an Avocet cadence sensor is on the bottom tube, positioned to detect the passage of a cadence magnet on the captain's right crank. I'd rather run the wheel magnet off the front wheel.

    On my newest tandem (Moby) I added an Avocet 45TT for the stoker, and I only have the Flight Deck for me. I ran both wires straight down the captain seat tube, and then spliced the speed sensor wire to go up the down tube, jump across to the fork crown, and down one leg for the sensor. Wireless Flight Deck is on the other leg.

    If you read the directions for the Shimano inline Optical Gear Indicators, they used to say that you have to cut the end off the used derailleur cable before you can withdraw it back through the orange bead. This is because the end is flattened and will rip out the right-sized hole in the bead. Inline OGIs are great if you can't get Flight Deck, but now that there is Flight Deck, they're not good for much.

  7. #7
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AWP
    I would prefer to have a computer that provides me with cadence.
    Flightdeck is definitely an option and most folks who have it like it. The only nits are:

    1. If you're prone to producing toxic sweat you'll want to flush out your levers with water after hot rides and also hit them with a shot of WD40 every once and a while. The acids folks who perspire a lot seem to corrode the sensors and screw-up the gear position indicators and, in turn, your virtual cadence.

    2. If you switch cassettes for different riding terrain or for specific events you'll have to re-program the computer for the different cassette cog combinations. Not sure why they haven't programmed in the most popular cassettes so that you can select from a menu, but after all it is Shimano....

    3. Oh yeah, the full function version only works with Shimano's STI levers.


    Other computers offering cadence that are also popular for use on tandems:

    Inexpensive - SigmaSport BC1600 @ $~25 + $8 cadence pick-up. You can hard wire it to your front wheel with the cadence wire running to the captain's cranks, or shell-out $25 more bucks and have a wireless front wheel pick-up (not really worth it if you use cadence). The SigmaSports have always been one of my favorites; BC1200, Targa, BC800, etc... The optional rear wheel speed sensor wire is also long enough to allow installation of a computer on the stoker's bars with the speed sensor wire running either to the front fork or to the rear seat stay with the pick-up mounted just under the brakes. The Avocet 45TT (~$54) has already been mentioned.

    Mid-Priced (what is the world coming to) - Cateye Dual Wireless CC-CD300DW @ $135. These are still new enough to be hit or miss on working correctly out of the box but, when they do work, they are pretty nice in that they truly are wireless BUT would only work if you gave it to your stoker. The problem with it is that the cadence and speed sensor use the same transmitter. Thus, you'd have to recruit your stoker as your trainer and use a more simple / less expensive computer up front.

    High-Priced - CycloSport CM434 (or something like that) which is the current version of the CM414 that I really enjoyed for about 2 years. Not cheap at $134 for the computer + $50 for cadence. But, lots of really cool functions like wireless speed pick-up, altimeter, inclinometer, rate of accent, resettable odometer, etc... There is also a $200 version called the CM436M that has more memory and comes with a computer interface kit & 3 computer training programs.

    Stratosphere - CycloSport HAC4 HRM/Cyclocompuer w/Cadence & computer interface / software ($419). Again, front wheel wireless pick-up with a wired-in cadence that can run to the captain's crank. A really great training device or intriguing device for folks who like gadgets and analyzing data. Polar S725i are also high-end HRM / Cyclocomputers w/Cadence & computer interface. ($325)


    Now, the higher-end models can all be found on Ebay for about 25% - 30% less than MSRP from legitimate dealers, e.g., Whatadeal, etc...
    Last edited by livngood; 08-25-04 at 07:53 PM.

  8. #8
    Stoked
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    I'm debating the same issue and haven't come to a conclusion yet, but here are my thoughts.

    My wife and I currently use Cat Eye MSC3DX HRM/Cycle computers. They've been great. They transfer from bike to bike (even store 2 wheel sizes), record HR, Speed, and Cadence data -- and are just generally a pretty decent product (been using them for over 3 years). Mounting kits are $15/20 ea. and there is a compatible rear-wheel-speedo mounting kit, so hopefully it will reach for the stoker.

    My problem is that I expect all this from a Flight-Deck compatible computer, and I don't see that it exists. I'm not at all inclined to add a Flight-Deck to my bike just so I can know what gear I'm in, and I'm equally (or less) excited about using a separate HRM.

    I find it pretty dissapointing that Shimano has (I assume, based on the lack of Flight-Deck compatible computers) patented the Flight-Deck compatible computer and not licensed the technology to competitors. This prevents me from getting the product I want.

    We'll probably wind up with the orange-ball gear indicator just because I don't feel like supporting Shimano's sub-standard product that could have been great.

  9. #9
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    I solved my quick-look gear position needs using farm-boy engineering...
    http://home.att.net/~mark.livingood/articles/gpis.html

  10. #10
    Stoked
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    I solved my quick-look gear position needs using farm-boy engineering.
    Thanks Mark!

    I think I like that trick. At least as clean as any orange-ball setup and probably better performing (no joints for cable housing flex, expansion, compression, etc.)

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    AWP
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    Thanks for all the great input. I willl let you know what I do. Perhaps I can submit this as a Christmas gift request.

    Allen

  12. #12
    Mad Town Biker Murrays's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SDS
    My second-favorite computer is an Avocet 45TT.
    Thanks! I thought I was the only one who liked Avocet I’ve been using them for 15 years, but you currently can’t find them anywhere. I called Avocet and they said they’re getting a shipment in September. I may just buy one or two for backups.


    Quote Originally Posted by livngood
    2. If you switch cassettes for different riding terrain or for specific events you'll have to re-program the computer for the different cassette cog combinations.
    With the new one’s (not sure which model), you should be able to program your cogs into different “bike numbers”. This will mess with your total odometer, but it will keep your from reprogramming the thing every time you switch cogs.

    -murray
    "I feel more now like I did than when I first got here"

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    Senior Member wsurfn's Avatar
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    Yes. Mine does this. I agree with you guys. I like my Avocet on my single. Love my Flight Deck on my tandem.

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