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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 04-13-10, 10:40 AM   #1
arrowman
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Tandem Topper

My wife and I have a Toyota 4Runner which we use to tow our camper. We also like to take our dogs with us and they are kept in the back of the vehicle. If we want to take our tandem with us we will need some type of roof rack. We have a Tandem topper on order when our bike comes in but I am afraid our vehicle is to tall for the topper to work correctly. Does anyone have the topper on a 4Runner?
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Old 04-13-10, 10:55 AM   #2
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FWIW, it's also somewhat dependent on the frame and wheel size of your tandem. A small enduro frame with 26" wheels is a lot shorter from fork drop-out to rear wheel than an extra-large road frame with 700c wheels.

If someone doesn't reply with your exact same set-up, give Charlie Buchalter a call at ATOC (maker of the Tandem Topper & Thule's tandem mounts) and let him know of your concern.

Toll-Free: (800) 286-2021. Note: He's located in Washington State / Pacific Daylight Time.

ATOC is a very small business and Charlie usually is the one who picks up the phone and/or who will call you back.
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Old 04-13-10, 11:48 AM   #3
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^ If you've got a trailer hitch already, and its not too late, you might give some thought to the draft master. I think you may find easier to use, particularly with an SUV.
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Old 04-13-10, 12:12 PM   #4
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I have seen someone with a Tandem Topper use a milk crate to set the back wheel on because the vehicle was too tall (It was a Toyota, but I don't remember if it was 4Runner.) If you're not a tall person yourself, you may also need something to stand on in order to get the rear wheel into the tray. Be sure to mount the rack as far outboard as you can so that you don't have to reach so far. We have a Tandem Topper mounted on the driver's side of a Subaru Outback and have to open the window in order for the crankset to clear.

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Old 04-13-10, 05:47 PM   #5
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I have seen someone with a Tandem Topper use a milk crate to set the back wheel on because the vehicle was too tall (It was a Toyota, but I don't remember if it was 4Runner.) If you're not a tall person yourself, you may also need something to stand on in order to get the rear wheel into the tray. Be sure to mount the rack as far outboard as you can so that you don't have to reach so far. We have a Tandem Topper mounted on the driver's side of a Subaru Outback and have to open the window in order for the crankset to clear.
I had a small bucket I used when we had ours on the RAV-4
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Old 04-13-10, 08:49 PM   #6
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For our Rans Screamer, we use a Draftmaster on the back of our Subaru Forester and on the back of our Class B Roadtrek RV. Very easy to mount and so compatible with two very different vehicles. Mike
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Old 04-13-10, 08:51 PM   #7
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We have an atoc on top of a VW eurovan, and yes we use a milk carton, tandemgeek has good advice, call Charlie
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Old 04-13-10, 11:23 PM   #8
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^ If you've got a trailer hitch already, and its not too late, you might give some thought to the draft master. I think you may find easier to use, particularly with an SUV.
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For our Rans Screamer, we use a Draftmaster on the back of our Subaru Forester and on the back of our Class B Roadtrek RV. Very easy to mount and so compatible with two very different vehicles. Mike
Why are you recommending a hitch-mounted rack when arrowman expressly stated that he wants to take his tandem along when he is towing his camper?
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Old 04-14-10, 05:26 AM   #9
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Why are you recommending a hitch-mounted rack when arrowman expressly stated that he wants to take his tandem along when he is towing his camper?
Here's my suggestion...have a hitch installed on the back of the camper and go the Draftmaster route. Then you have a rack that makes loading your bike very easy, and that you can use either just with the 4-Runner or with the 4-Runner/camper combo. I got a Draftmaster for my wife for Christmas and we love it. We currently use it with her Prius and will be able to use it with the minivan or SUV we'll be getting in the next year or so. Yeah they are expensive, but will last forever and will work with any future car you purchase as long as you can install a trailer hitch.
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Old 04-14-10, 05:27 AM   #10
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Draftmaster

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Why are you recommending a hitch-mounted rack when arrowman expressly stated that he wants to take his tandem along when he is towing his camper?
Here's my suggestion...have a hitch installed on the back of the camper and go the Draftmaster route. Then you have a rack that makes loading your bike very easy, and that you can use either just with the 4-Runner or with the 4-Runner/camper combo. I got a Draftmaster for my wife for Christmas and we love it. We currently use it with her Prius and will be able to use it with the minivan or SUV we'll be getting in the next year or so. Yeah they are expensive, but will last forever and will work with any future car you purchase as long as you can install a trailer hitch.
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Old 04-14-10, 10:16 AM   #11
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Unfortunaltely our camper is an Ultralight and is not designed so that it can take a hitch on the rear. One of the first things I looked at when we were riding the "half bikes".
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Old 04-19-10, 09:22 PM   #12
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We just bought our Tandem a couple of weeks ago. We bought a tandem topper with it. We have a Toyota Sequoia. It is at least as tall as the 4-runner. It is too tall to keep the rear wheel on the ground, but my wife holds up the rear of the bike while I hook the fork to the topper. I will then move to the rear of the bike and she gets on the front to make sure the fork stays in line while I pivot the rear to roof. I step on the running board and lift the rear wheel onto the runner. It is really pretty easy to do. Believe me, she would let me know it it was difficult. I am 6 ft. and she 5'4".
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Old 04-20-10, 08:40 AM   #13
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We just bought our Tandem a couple of weeks ago. We bought a tandem topper with it. We have a Toyota Sequoia. It is at least as tall as the 4-runner. It is too tall to keep the rear wheel on the ground, but my wife holds up the rear of the bike while I hook the fork to the topper. I will then move to the rear of the bike and she gets on the front to make sure the fork stays in line while I pivot the rear to roof. I step on the running board and lift the rear wheel onto the runner. It is really pretty easy to do. Believe me, she would let me know it it was difficult. I am 6 ft. and she 5'4".
There is a strap that holds the fork straight that came with mine so she doesn't have to assist at the front also.
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Old 04-20-10, 12:25 PM   #14
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Thanks for the info. At least we know in advance what to expect when it comes to loading and unloading. Being a newbe it just dawned on me that we will need to be looking for end parking spaces when we attend club rides. I’m sure there will be plenty of other learning experiences. Still have 5 weeks till the expect arrival got to tell you the stationary bike is getting old.
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Old 04-20-10, 12:27 PM   #15
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Thanks for the info. At least we know in advance what to expect when it comes to loading and unloading. Being a newbe it just dawned on me that we will need to be looking for end parking spaces when we attend club rides. Iím sure there will be plenty of other learning experiences. Still have 5 weeks till the expect arrival got to tell you the stationary bike is getting old.
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Old 04-20-10, 05:09 PM   #16
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What's your location Arrowman?
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Old 04-23-10, 07:31 AM   #17
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We have a Rav4. I found that by mounting our Thule Tandem Carrier on the driver's side, with the fork pivot at the rear, with rear door open, the rear wheel of our Cannondale can be on the ground while I unclamp or clamp the fork. And because I'm 6'3, I can pull forward into any parking slot in the lot and pivot the bike over the car next to me and set it down behind the Rav4.
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Old 04-23-10, 08:26 AM   #18
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We have a Rav4. I found that by mounting our Thule Tandem Carrier on the driver's side, with the fork pivot at the rear, with rear door open, the rear wheel of our Cannondale can be on the ground while I unclamp or clamp the fork. And because I'm 6'3, I can pull forward into any parking slot in the lot and pivot the bike over the car next to me and set it down behind the Rav4.
Wish i had thought of that one when we had our Rav. Bought a Tacoma with a shell instead.
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Old 04-24-10, 09:46 PM   #19
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There is a strap that holds the fork straight that came with mine so she doesn't have to assist at the front also.
I'll have to check on that!
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Old 04-24-10, 11:28 PM   #20
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I'm not sure if the following applies to your 4runner. The load bars on our truck stand 6'11".

Does the 4runner have a swing-down tailgate? On my p/u with topper, I can 1)set the bike against the open tailgate 2)jump onto the tailgate 3)pick up the bike and roll the back tire down the roof 4)attach the front tire at the rear of the roof 5)jump on the vehicles rear wheel to attach the rear wheel
This technique works with any carrier, including single bike carriers.
OR
with our Yakima Sidewinder head swung out, 1)support the bike in a vertical position with my shoulder in the frame 2)reach up with my other arm to connect the fork 3)walk the bike to the rear and climb the rear wheel to attach to the rack
Step 2 would be easier with a second person.
The advantage of the Sidewinder is that the fork mount part swings out from the vehicle. This makes it easier to get the bike mounted inboard of the towers, which is how Yakima and Thule recommend the carriers are mounted. It's also easier to fasten the rear wheel (or boom tube) inboard while standing on the rear wheel. It's very difficult if the bike is directly overhead-outboard.
OR
Put a carrier on the front of the vehicle. Probably not good on a smaller vehicle like the 4runner.
OR
Mount a carrier to the front of the trailer, above the tanks, mounted to the tongue. This would probably require custom welding. There was a Canadian mfr. that made these for singles, but I don't have any current info.

Anything mounted on the rear of the trailer will get well shaken. Search the RV forums. I wouldn't put our Draftmaster there. It will also add invisible length to your rig.

Happy camping!
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Old 04-30-10, 12:10 AM   #21
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The Tandem Topper with the swivel front fork clamp works perfectly for a tandem with 700C wheels on a Subaru wagon. Look for the nylon strap that came with it to hold the handlebars straight. That way, you can load the tandem by yourself. I use a telescoping rod with rubber clamps on the ends called the Ultimate Support to hold the bars; it's way faster than attaching the/ straps. The only problem is unless you've got the rack mounted way to the outside, you'll have to open the front door so the front cranks/ring will clear. You can also use a Var or Park shop handlebar holder, but you need to velcro it on; it could fall off on the freeway. I've used my Tandem Topper for several years, am very happy with it. I bought it from Charlie himself at his house. Charlie uses the Draftmaster on his SUV.
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Old 06-06-10, 08:33 PM   #22
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Here's the pics of us loading our tandem on top of our 4Runner.







Last edited by arrowman; 06-09-10 at 03:55 PM.
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Old 06-07-10, 07:56 AM   #23
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First thing I noticed was you have your pedals 180 degrees out of phase. Then I noticed it's a DaVinci.
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Old 06-07-10, 10:03 AM   #24
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Yes we bunji the pedals to keep the craks from hitting the car. This was our first time loading the bike. Sorry the pics are so small. Not sure what happen to the size over night.
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Old 06-07-10, 10:25 AM   #25
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Yes we bunji the pedals to keep the craks from hitting the car. This was our first time loading the bike. Sorry the pics are so small. Not sure what happen to the size over night.
I used to bungie my pedals so they wouldn't spin at highway speed when we hauled the tandem on our Rav-4.
Things are much simpler now with a truck and shell.
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