Dear world renowned tandem enthusiasts…
I am writing to report in on my fist impressions of tandem riding… in a nutshell: fast and fun! I am enjoying the KHS Milano with only a minor complaint which I will address later and ask for advice.
First, this thing flies! I have ridden with 2 stokers, one a complete novice, the other an ex-racer. With both, the sprung rear post was jettisoned in favor of a ridged post. Neither had any complaints as far as comfort or ride characteristics were concerned. The first stoker, having never taken a 2 hour bike ride before in her life had some female soreness issues, but from what I have read lately from others, this is common and not really related to the ride of the bike, more to conditioning and/or the type of saddle.
With the first stoker, who was also my test-ride buddy, we stay seated all the time. We tried standing once or twice but wondered off course. But, yesterday evening’s riding with the second stoker (ex-racer) who is lighter and smaller, we stood together on several hills, actually honking a large gear over several ‘sprinter’s hills’. We even found we could rock the bike slightly together as on a single, though I found it best to try to keep the steering strait as opposed to wagging the steering as on a single.
I cannot say with any certainty what my average speed was with the second stoker, as I don’t have a computer, I would guess around 20 mph, but suffice to say that on the flat-to-rolling terrain, I was in the 53-12 or 13 the whole time! The 12 was easily spun out on the slightest down hills. I can see an 11 is necessary. We climbed one steep grade using the low gear (30-26) but were in the middle ring for many climbs.
My only complaint would be with the chain-ring shifting. The bike has Shimano 8 speed 105 derailleur and brake-shift levers. It would seem that there is no ability to trim the front derailleur which leads to chain rub in some gear combinations and I am not cross-chaining. I noticed this on the initial test ride, but thought is was an adjustment issue. However, after trying several different adjustments, it would seem that without the ability to trim the front derailleur, chain rub cannot be adjusted out in every chain ring. Being a Campy guy, I am appealing to the Shimano peeps for input!
I have attached a photo of the new rig. A close look will reveal the saddle is mounted on an adaptor that moves it back an inch or so. This is necessary to obtain the same saddle for-aft position as on my road single, and would be necessary on any tandem with a steeper-than 72.5 degree seat tube (just about all of them???). The Milano is 73 degrees. I also have a Look adjustable stem installed until I decide on a final bar position. One thing I have discovered is this bike has plenty of top-tube length, effectively being longer than my 59 cm (c-c) Look KG-241 single. The fact that the head angle and seat angle are one degree different helps in the top-tube actual length, as the bar and seat get farther apart as they are raised. In the photo, the bike is set up for me at 6’4” and a 5’3” stoker, so you can see it will fit a lot of riders. The photo has been resized for uploading, hence may be blured a bit.