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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 09-01-04, 10:27 AM   #1
Roadmaster39
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Newbie Looking For Advice

Hi all,

I've been lurking here for several weeks and have learned a lot. Now I'm hoping some of you knowledgable folks can guide me in the right direction.

About 5 years ago on a whim and knowing absolutely nothing about tandeming I bought a used Santana. My wife and I rode it once and put it away. In the intervening years we have had two children; a son who is 3 and a daughter who will be 2 at the end of the year. A couple months ago I decided to dig the old tandem out as I thought it would be a fun way for our family to spend time together and get some exersize. I took the bike over to my local LBS for a tune up and we've been riding weekly since.

I've been contemplating something newer and have read the enthusiasm some of you have for your particular brand. Santana isn't frequently among them for some reason. Another issue is that I don't think there is a bike shop in the Los Angeles area that sells multiple brands. Bicycle John's in Burbank tuned up my bike and sells Santana. I've also heard of Bud's but I think they're Santana as well. There are a few Cannondale dealers around as well.

Anway, the first part of my question is whether it would be worthwhile to completely "overhaul" my current bike with all new components or get a new tandem. I don't know what model the bike is. I believe it to be early or mid '80s. It has Ishiwata tubing and is fillet brazed. I believe all the components are original. One of my cheif complaints is that gear selection is not crisp. I have a mid priced mountain bike with grip mounted shifters and it's easy to click into another gear. I like that. Also, judging from what I've been able to pick up here I think the bike might be too big for us. I can stand over the top tube with my legs splayed while my wife gets set-up, but she can't stand over her top tube flat footed. I'm 5'-9" and my wife is 5'-0".

The second part of my question involves cycling with my kids and how it might affect selecting a new ride. I've read almost everything posted on the internet regarding cycling with children but I still don't know which way to go. Currently we have a Bell trailer that we bought at Costco. It works well.

Of course I've thought it would be cool to have a Santana Cabrio quad, but I'm not sure I'm ready to spend $10k and even if I was, are my children way too young? As someone else mentioned, the thought of falling down with the two kids on the bike gives me the creeps. On the other hand, are they going to quickly be getting bored of riding in the trailer making it difficult for us to take family rides?

So, I know this is a lot of rambling and very much appreciate any input folks may have to help me guide my decision process.

Cheers,

Erik
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Old 09-01-04, 03:18 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadmaster39
I've been contemplating something newer and have read the enthusiasm some of you have for your particular brand.
Santana isn't frequently among them for some reason.

Luck of the draw or perhaps an editorial on personality types and forum membership? Seriously, up and to recently, Santana has been the big dog in tandems. At present I think the best way to put it is they are still one of the top two...

I don't think there is a bike shop in the Los Angeles area that sells multiple brands.

Bud's is owned by Bill McCready, owner and president of Santana. Great place to go for tandem test rides and the new Santanas are quite different from yours. When I last visited the shop many moons ago they often times had demo and rental bikes for sale at a discount and also had trade-in models for sale. As for finding tandem dealers who may carry different or multiple brands, you might want to start by using Burley and/or Co-Motion's Web-based dealer locators. I believe there are quite a few Burley dealers around LA, but you may come up short on Co-Motion. Your closest tandem-speciality dealer is near Sacramento: Gold Country Tandems.

Anway, the first part of my question is whether it would be worthwhile to completely "overhaul" my current bike with all new components or get a new tandem.

Your frame is "good" but new ones are a lot lighter, stiffer, and have roomier stoker compartments. If all you're planning on doing is family fun rides and/or possibly adding a stokid-crank set-up to the back, I'd probably limit the upgrades to a new chain and cassette (is it 6, 7 or 8 speed?) and see what that does for you. If you start getting into integrated shifters, the rear wheel spacing could become a limiting factor and the cost of a new hub, STI levers, etc. drive your project cost up pretty fast. If you combine that with a plan to become very active cyclists, a second used tandem or new entry level model might be a better place to spend your money (See below). If you're not constrained by budget, the coupled tandem designs do afford a lot of flexibilty.

I can stand over the top tube with my legs splayed while my wife gets set-up, but she can't stand over her top tube flat footed. I'm 5'-9" and my wife is 5'-0".

If you can stand over the bike and still have room in the crotch, that's a good thing. For the stoker, it's not as important if you use what Santana's Bill McCready coined "The Proper Method" for starting and stopping. Basically, your stoker can treat the tandem like a horse: saddle-up and keep your feet on the pedals until the tandem comes to a complete stop before disembarking.

The second part of my question involves cycling with my kids and how it might affect selecting a new ride.

You have a few choices:
Tandem for you & the Mrs. with the trailer.
Tandem for you and one Stokid and the other in the trailer with the Mrs. on her own bike.
Tandem for you and one Stokid with the other on a trail-a-bike & the Mrs. on her own bike.
Tandem for you and the Mrs. with a Tandem Trail-a-bike.
Two tandems where you and the Mrs. Captain one stokid-each.
A cabrio-type of tandem that your family can grow into (Ca-Ching). Of course, the Cabrio would give you the flexibility to work all the configurations already talked about, and then morph to triplet with trail-a-bike or trailer, and finally to quad configuration. The reverse would hold true on the back-end as the kids move on to ride their own bikes or loose interest in hanging around with Mom & Dad. I have a pretty detailed article on multi-seat tandems at this URL that may be of interest: http://home.att.net/~thetandemlink/Triplets.html

As for falling over with a family on a big bike, it wouldn't be the first time and it shouldn't be terminal if everyone's wearing helmets. Remember, statistically speaking your family is at far greater risk of harm riding in the family car. Kids in trailers... most of them sleep. Seriously, while kids all have different temperments, I would note that it's not at all unusal for kids to ride in trailers through 4 years of age. Yes, there are exceptions like Mark Johnson's girls who were "velcro strapped" to a seatback or pearched out back on a bonus stokid position. The point being, you figure out what works for you and go with it until you need to adapt your approach for the growing kids.

Last edited by livngood; 09-01-04 at 03:24 PM.
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Old 09-01-04, 03:42 PM   #3
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There's nothing wrong with Santanas in comparison with other brands as long as you can tolerate 160mm dropout spacing, which, given that all other things are equal, results in about 7mm wider crank spacing. I wouldn't turn down a free one or a cheap one so I would have it as a loaner. Price being equal, though, I might go elsewhere. And price is not equal. Santanas tend to be more expensive.

Given that your Santana is early '80's and fillet-brazed, it sounds like a top-of-the-line Sovereign, with those yummy large fork blades and the "baseball bat" oversize chainstays.

Mark Johnson at Precision Tandems knows a lot about taking small children out to ride tandems. Owing to some incorrect assumptions about the route one day, his 2.5 yr. old daughter ended doing all of a metric century with only one break for a nap. Your kids might not tolerate that quite as well, but the point is they are almost in the window for tandem riding. If you don't already know how child stoker kits work, it's time to find out.

I REALLY want to drag around a whole pack of people on a quad, but two tandems is much cheaper and much more flexible. One parent and one child per tandem, and you are ready to conspire to dominate the cycling world.....people are starting to report success, assembling and riding Chuck's Bikes triplets (frameset $795?) on tandem@hobbes. A triple has the advantage of keeping both kids busy while the other parent gets things done (!). You might start with a child stoker kit and a trailer to keep both kids where one parent can keep an eye on them, and the separation might keep rivalry from degenerating into something that will keep you from riding.

Look for a STI shifters and a 9-speed rear end. The gearing that normally comes on a new tandem will probably be just right for towing a trailer. The Flight Deck computer with its graphic gear display is a good upgrade. I don't live where there are hills or pull kids in a trailer or luggage, so our rear end is normally an 11-21.

I am a little divided on material for you. I really like aluminum, but for a knockaround tandem that will see hard use with a child stoker kit and a lot of kicks into the top tube by careless young people stepping aboard I am a little more inclined to recommend steel. I still think it is about a draw for you, though for spirited adult riding my favorite is the Easton 7000 tubesets, with the Cannondale 6061-T6 preferred for large teams and even strong medium teams who want a bike that will really sprint. I find steel to be far too flexible to sprint well. It is not the materials that are limited, though, as much as it is the tubesets: by the time a steel tubeset was made strong enough to sprint, it would be too heavy to sell (but not to ride!).

Given that an overhaul to upgrade might go $1000 (?), and a new Trek/Burley can be had for $1850 (?), I am inclined to get a new tandem.

I'd rather you got two correctly sized tandems, but a tandem for a 5' captain may not be a mass market item in the United States. I hesitate to recommend Bike Friday (?), but that might be the way to go.
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Old 09-01-04, 05:05 PM   #4
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Thanks for the thoughtful input guys. I dread spending a lot of money on a new bike only to realize later that I made the wrong decision. I have some hard thinking to do.

SDS, what's this Chuck's bikes thing you're refering to? I've been following the tandem@hobbes threads for a couple weeks and haven't found any mention of it.

Thanks again,

Erik
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Old 09-01-04, 05:40 PM   #5
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Re: Chuck's Bikes & The Triplet....

Mark Johnson's experience with one:
http://search.bikelist.org/getmsg.as...10302.0340.eml

Mike Breaux's experience....
Part 1: http://search.bikelist.org/getmsg.as...10402.0202.eml
Part 2: http://search.bikelist.org/getmsg.as...10403.0116.eml
Part 3: http://search.bikelist.org/getmsg.as...10403.0232.eml
Update: http://search.bikelist.org/getmsg.as...10405.0119.eml

And of course, a link to the current Triplet offering from Chucks:
http://www.chucksbikes.com/store/indexfr046.htm
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Old 09-02-04, 08:24 AM   #6
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Just as a follow-on to the observation regarding brand popularity, I conducted a tandem ownership poll earlier this year and you can see the results here:

http://home.att.net/~thetandemlink/S...esults_04.html

This is a summary of the results:

All tolled, it would appear as though 425 individuals responded to the poll (Someone didn't answer question #1 who answered question #2 which is the give-away). If you tally the total number of tandems owned reflected by the responses to question #1 (737) and compare it to the detailed data regarding specific brand ownership (595) you'll find the latter is 142 tandems short. There are a number of reasons that the numbers don't align which I won't go into; it suffices to say, this IS an unscientific survey and thus the results are merely "interesting" at best and certainly inconclusive.

Interesting numbers:

- 38% of the respondents own more than 1 tandem.

- A whopping 5.2% of the respondents own 4 tandems.

- 18% of the respondents own off-road tandems.

- Nearly 5% of the respondents own triplets

- Over 8.2% of the respondents own recumbents

- 12.1% of the respondents own a "take-a-part" tandem.

- Co-Motion ownership among respondents is the highest -- by a wide margin -- which may have more to do with owner-demograhics than actual brand ownership, i.e., there are clearly more Santana tandems in the world than Co-Motion tandems so perhaps not as many Santana owners own computers or have any interest in using their computers to participate in Internet-based discussion forums. Then again, perhaps this represents a paradigm shift in tandem ownership among enthusiasts.

Anyway, there you have it. Make of it what you will.
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Old 09-03-04, 11:07 PM   #7
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Howdy from Tucson!
Upgrading can be costly. Co-Motion sells a unique tandem model called the Periscope (about $3,000) that could handle either the male or female in your team to captain it.
Trailer or trail a bike (even a tandem trail a bike) are options for the kids. And when they get old enough they can stoke on the Periscope as it will handle folks on the back seat from 3 1/2 ft to 6 ft. 2 in!
Just a suggestion. Good luck!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/Zona tandem
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Old 09-13-04, 12:03 PM   #8
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I wanted to check in and thank everyone for their advise. We bought a new Santana Sovereign on Saturday from Bicycle John's in Burbank, CA. The bike was stock except for a carbon fiber fork. It had a small scratch in the top tube so John knocked off what I thought was a significant amount of money and we bit.

We test rode the Sovereign first and then test rode the Arriva. Everyone in the shop said the Arriva would have a much plusher ride; it was plusher but not night and day. Perhaps the carbon fork mitigated some of the difference? We test rode the Sovereign a second time and ultimatley like it better price independent, although we got it for about the same price as the Arriva.

Yesterday we took our first ride with our two kids in tow in the trailer. We got to the place where we would normally turn around and just kept going! It's amazing what a difference 20 years of improvment in tandem technology make. The icing on the cake though was that for once my wife agreed we made a good purchase!

Cheers,

Erik
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Old 09-13-04, 12:19 PM   #9
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So, Erik, my man...

Think you could get your wife to have a little talk with mine? I could use a little of that same sentiment round the ol' 'rastus house lately...

A new tandem and single bike in the past year have just tapped out my bike fund for the forseeable future, says she...

I hope not...
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Old 09-14-04, 03:05 AM   #10
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Lots of good answers above. But there is one aspect you haven't mentioned: are both of you riding singles? Is she as strong/fast as you, faster or slower? If both of you ride, then there are plenty of solutions.

For now, a 2-child trailer (Chariot or Burley or someother large one) should satisty the 2 kids until they are 3, 4 or maybe even 5 (though he would get bored), depending on their size. The trailer may be towed behind your tandem, a new one or one of the single bikes. That would leave you 1 or 2 years to decide if you want to cycle a lot or only 3-4 miles per year.

Then, you could either fit a child stoker kit to the tandem and ride that tandem with your son, while your spouse would ride the single. The trailer would be used for the remaining child (attached to whoever is the strongest). Then either get a second tandem or a Piccolo trailercycle... or a triplet or a quad if you ride a lot.

As for your current (old) Santana tandem vs a new one, I think you should compare and decide. New tandems feature 27 speed drivetrain vs 18 or 21, but for local rides, it might not make that much of a difference. They also have a longer rear compartment, but this is not an issue for children. The other improvements are hard to quantify and only you will know. Still, if you get the trailer and start riding first, you'll see if you want to invest more.
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Old 09-14-04, 10:47 AM   #11
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Eurastus, just take a page out of my book; nag her until she caves!

Michael, thanks for the input. We don't ride singles and I'd say we're fairly evenly matched as we're both newbies. As I indicated in my later post we purchased a new tandem and are going to stick with the trailer for the forseable future. If things work out perhaps we'll move to two tandems with child stoker setups.

Thanks again folks.

Erik
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