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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 05-16-10, 05:33 PM   #1
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Advice on getting started tandeming

I'm a reasonably good solo rider, had done little cycling for some years but this spring I got back in again. I'm 61, in good shape. Did 45 miles yesterday on a '73 Raleigh Gran Sport with no ill effects, to give you an idea of where I'm coming from. My wife has a great bike of her own but has ridden it only on a trainer for some years. She has some possible issues related to various injuries, so we aren't sure how much biking she can do. More to the point, she drives a car very little and is uncomfortable in traffic, so getting her back on her bike on the road may be a problem. But she wants to come with me. So yesterday and again today she asked about a tandem. Since I'd be the captain it would relieve her of much of the fear of responsibility.

Neither of us has ever ridden a tandem. What sort of things should I know about first before even thinking about it? Can one be rented, tried out before someone springs big bucks in an experiment?

Totally at sea on this issue...
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Old 05-16-10, 05:52 PM   #2
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Yes, renting or borrowing a tandem is a quick intro without having to spend big $$.
Tandems East (www.Tandemseast.com) in NJ, Mt. Airy Bicycles (www.bike123.com) in MD , Gear To Go Tandems(www.gtgtandems.com) in Elmira NY are nearest/biggest/most knowlegeable tandem dealers anywhere near Boston.
Some shops may stock an occasional tandem or let you order from a catalog, but that does not make them a 'tandem shop'.
Riding 'in tandem' would be a great solution for you two! Been doing that for 33+ years so far . . .
Pedal on TWOgether!
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Old 05-16-10, 06:19 PM   #3
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Just today completed a total of 350 miles on a new tandem. I use to ride some, never serious. My wife never rode, didn't like the single bike. To nervous in traffic. We do a lot of other things together so I pushed for tandem riding. We are just now feeling comfortable and getting use to the bike. It is NOT the same as taking off on you single! ). Starting, stopping, communication, not pushing her to far to fast are all things you will need to work on. For us it's been worth the effort and $$. Distance and avg mph is picking up. We are heading out for our first three day tandem group event this weekend, and have several event rides in the schedule. I'd say absolutely go for it. Be prepared to invest some time, be patient and have fun. Keep us posted on your progress.
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Old 05-16-10, 06:28 PM   #4
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Right in your area is a shop called Belmont Wheelworks. When I bought my tandem there, they had about 30 tandems built up in the showroom. I don't know if they still have that many, as I got my bike there 10 years ago. However, according to their website, there is still a guy there named Doug MacKenzie who helped us out from A to Z. Make an appointment and they will spend the time with you to get you all the info you need. Good luck!
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Old 05-16-10, 06:40 PM   #5
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Right in your area is a shop called Belmont Wheelworks....
Thanks all for the ideas. Yes, I know Wheelworks. They are 5 minutes by bike, 2 minutes by car from me. I've tended to go elsewhere for stuff for my vintage Raleigh because they are focused more on newer technology (didn't have a good collection of 27" tires, for example) and they can be expensive. But they are supposed to know their stuff.
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Old 05-17-10, 08:58 PM   #6
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... Gear To Go Tandems(www.gtgtandems.com) in Elmira NY ...
Make that Saranac Lake (as of this year)
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Old 05-17-10, 09:02 PM   #7
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Neither of us has ever ridden a tandem. What sort of things should I know about first before even thinking about it?

Totally at sea on this issue...
Santana's website has some good reading material (not entirely free of marketing ). Also Mark Livingood's site (google Tandem Link). Gear to Go's site has some, mostly copied from elsewhere. And as I recall, so does Sheldon Brown's.
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Old 05-17-10, 09:40 PM   #8
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Santana's website has some good reading material...
I will check them out. I spent some time at Belmont Wheelworks this afternoon talking to one of their tandem guys. Quite fascinating. They carry Co-Motion and Santana, but the guy recommended a Co-motion in general over Santana because of their different design goals, and he had a preference for a particular model, the Speedster. So I checked out the Co-Motion website. Interest stuff, not entirely free of marketing too! They recommended doing lots of homework, research, test riding.

One thing he was firm about, entry-level tandems are sub-optimal enough that most people want to upgrade within a year. That means spending some pretty big bucks, though with the price of CF solo bikes maybe it isn't so much after all. As he put it, the various want-ads are littered with used entry-level tandems. So maybe I know the answer to this but I'll ask anyway. Is it possible to find a decent tandem for less than, say, $3000?
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Old 05-17-10, 09:52 PM   #9
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Yes!
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Old 05-17-10, 10:47 PM   #10
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Is it possible to find a decent tandem for less than, say, $3000?
A Cannondale Road Tandem 2 has an aluminum frame, FSA crank, Ultegra STI 10-speed, dual Avids, an MSRP of $3199, and can be found for $2999.99 So, yeah, a 'dale is both decent and <$3k.

The Co-Motion closest to the Cannondale Road 2 spec is the Roadster, with an MSRP of $6206.

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Old 05-18-10, 06:12 AM   #11
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Add to that the Hokitika from Tandems East. More than one model for <3000.

In addition, the used market in such names as Santana and Co-Motion (and less frequently Rodriguez, Bilenky, and the list goes on, and on...) often has bikes available in that price range. That takes patience, as getting the one with the right fit is a matter of when and where.
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Old 05-21-10, 12:20 PM   #12
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Second question, prompted by my wife, of course:

How does one transport a tandem (other than by riding it)? I can take the front wheel off my solo bike and put the bike in the back of the Caravan. Don't know how easy that would be with a tandem. We have a roof rack for carrying a canoe, but getting a tandem frame up there might be tougher than hoisting up the canoe.
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Old 05-21-10, 12:48 PM   #13
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Second question, prompted by my wife, of course:

How does one transport a tandem (other than by riding it)? I can take the front wheel off my solo bike and put the bike in the back of the Caravan. Don't know how easy that would be with a tandem. We have a roof rack for carrying a canoe, but getting a tandem frame up there might be tougher than hoisting up the canoe.
We use an ATOC tandem topper on our Sienna Minivan, it takes two people to put it on top.
Alternatively you can remove one rear and middle seat and put it inside the Caravan.

I think your best option under $3000 is a used CoMo, Santana or Similar. Look for one with updated components, or priced low enough so you can update it yourself.
Check Craig's list, ebay, Tandem magazine classifieds.
It's great that your wife is motivated to try a tandem, that is a good sign you will both enjoy it.
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Old 05-21-10, 12:58 PM   #14
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the best thing to do is spend inordinate amounts of time doing tons of research until your brain explodes, then say the hell with it and just go buy a bike that's ready made or, if custom, give the builder a budget and say call me when it's done.

oh yes, then there's the actual riding part....
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Old 05-21-10, 01:09 PM   #15
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How does one transport a tandem (other than by riding it)? I can take the front wheel off my solo bike and put the bike in the back of the Caravan. Don't know how easy that would be with a tandem.
Caravan, as in Dodge Caravan? With a minivan you're in tandem transport nirvana, as there should be both sufficient length and height with the front wheel removed.

Combine with Saris rack, which keeps the bikes quite stable, and the Weathertech mat to keep the sync chain from staining the carpet. Having the tandem upright and safely ensconced inside behind tinted glass is really nice. More info on this thread.

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Old 05-21-10, 01:32 PM   #16
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We use an ATOC tandem topper on our Sienna Minivan, it takes two people to put it on top.
Alternatively you can remove one rear and middle seat and put it inside the Caravan.
I am able to this single handed with the same setup (Sienna and ATOC). I have the rotating fork mount ATOC though, I am not sure if yours is the fixed or rotating version. It is not pretty when I do it and I have to have everything staged correctly. Opening the passenger door works best. With the fork in the mount the rear wheel is about 2" off the ground.

Two folks that are in synch would be much easier.
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Old 05-21-10, 01:43 PM   #17
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I use an ATOC on our Jetta station wagon. The height is such that I can just lift the tandem into the rack without the pivot. If I had a minivan I might carry one or two of the very small plastic steps which should make it possible to get the tandem up there with or without using the pivot. There are some very cool looking rear hitch mounts that have the tandem almost vertical. Someone with experience might want to comment on these.
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Old 05-21-10, 02:21 PM   #18
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Awesome! (We use the Caravan to carry music gear and the canoe. Maybe a tandem will find its way in too.) Thanks, everyone.
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Old 05-21-10, 06:04 PM   #19
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Just loaded up our '97 Honda Accord Station Wagon with the following inside:
One tandem (wheels, pedals, pilot seatpost/stoker stem removed). One single racing bike (pedals removed).
Suitcases and stuff for a 3 months vacation 1,000 miles away in northern Utah.
A minivan should work just fine!
Pedal on TWOgether!
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Old 05-22-10, 03:06 PM   #20
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Back to the entry level question. Santana and Co-Motions entry level tandems are quite good as compared to some of the other brands. Cannondale is a pretty good bargain if you're looking at the components that come with it.
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Old 05-22-10, 08:13 PM   #21
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Back when we first test drove tandems the difference we found between Santana and CoMotion was like the difference between a Cadillac and a BMW. The Santana was very stable, but steered big. The CoMotion handled more like a single, but felt a little flexier. We preferred the CoMotion, but it's certainly a personal preference thing. Try them both.
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Old 05-23-10, 06:54 AM   #22
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How does one transport a tandem (other than by riding it)? I can take the front wheel off my solo bike and put the bike in the back of the Caravan. Don't know how easy that would be with a tandem. We have a roof rack for carrying a canoe, but getting a tandem frame up there might be tougher than hoisting up the canoe.
What kind of seats do you have in your Caravan?

The common arrangement is to carry the tandem inside the car using a fork mount on a piece of plywood or something. If you have a newer car with the cool stowaway seats, I think it will fit with the back seat folded. If you have bench seats, the two rear seats will probably have to come out but a tandem will fit inside even the short wheelbase version.
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Old 05-23-10, 05:13 PM   #23
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What kind of seats do you have in your Caravan?
We have four captain's chairs, plus two more in the back which are almost never installed. The second row seats come out without too much trouble but they are rather heavy so they stay installed most of the time. There is a slot between the seats, both the front and the second row. I never tried to see if my solo bike with the front wheel removed would fit vertically. My first reaction would be to say that it won't but then I've never tried it!
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