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  1. #1
    bike rider
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    daVinci Independent Coasting System - Yes/No?

    My spouse and I are very close to buying a daVinci, with S&S couplers. The appeal is the ICS, independent coasting system. On the surface this sounds like a swell concept. We have test ridden a daVinci once, and a number of other typical tandems. Our tandem riding intentions are simple touring, maybe a social century. No racing. Hills, but no mountain climbs.
    Is ICS a drug? Is it a crutch? Is it the lazy way?
    Does it detract from smooth power flow to the cogs (wheels) when the cranks are out of synch?
    Does it make it easier for either rider to slough off their part in applying power (doing work)?
    Is ICS just one more thing to deal with when packing/unpacking, and is it just one more item that can malfunction?
    If it is a good concept, why so few daVincis in the ownership polls?
    The captain is a road and mtb racer who will have to learn to relax and go for a nice ride.
    The stoker is happy to lay back and view the scenery.
    Thanks for your input.

  2. #2
    Hej på dej!! Eurastus's Avatar
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    Make sure you read this first: Recent da Vinci Thread. This will give you quite a few of my opinions as a da Vinci owner.

    Now, on to your specific questions:

    Is ICS a drug? Is it a crutch? Is it the lazy way?
    Does it make it easier for either rider to slough off their part in applying power (doing work)?

    Yes, in a way ICS is a crutch. You don't have to both be pedaling at the same time, if you don't want to. I find this very desireable as a captain who loves to spin and all my stokers are either very small, or very inexperienced. Lazy way? Definately NOT!! Well, not for the captain, that is; I suppose it can be for the stoker. ICS obviously allow the stoker to coast anytime they want, and for me and mine, that's entirely too often sometimes . They always seem to make it halfway up the hill then give out, leaving me to grind us the rest of the way up. On the other hand, it allows for either rider to take "butt-breaks" whenever they want--the other rider just pedals on.
    I just finished a metric century (62 miles) with my daughter on the back. I was totally exhausted at the end...much more so than I was after a conventional century (100 miles) that I did on my single-bike a month ago. My stoker, on the other hand, was rather fresh. ICS allowed her to not pull her own load. On the other hand, she enjoyed the ride very much. Notice how wide her smile is in the attached photo. Since I got the tandem to have fun with the kids (and occasionally the wife as stoker), the ICS helps in this regard very much...it's just that I have to take up the slack. Under the circumstances, I don't mind. I believe that a conventional tandem drivetrain requires much more coordinated work from both riders. For us, though, it's just the ticket.

    Does it detract from smooth power flow to the cogs (wheels) when the cranks are out of synch?

    No...actually, when the cranks are out of phase (OOP), the powerflow is much smoother than when in phase (IP). This is a long-debated option even for a conventional drivetrain. You can set up those OOP as well, but with ICS you can be OOP one minute and IP the next. It's not that hard to do, but does take a few minutes of practice. I understand OOP is harder to ride out of the saddle than IP, but we don't do that very often at all.

    Is ICS just one more thing to deal with when packing/unpacking, and is it just one more item that can malfunction?

    I find the smaller chainrings to be a great feature when I'm moving the tandem in and out of our van. They're so small that they don't get hung up on the bumper, for example, nor do I get anywhere near as much grease cast about on clothes, car, kids, etc. For those da Vincis mounted with S&S couplers, the ICS system is part of the rear triangle. I shouldn't think it's be any more hassle than any other S&S tandem. But it's not just one more thing to malfunction, but actually several. There's two freewheels, bearings, four cogs, etc. all wrapped up in that ICS unit. However, it's not that hard to work on; I've had mine apart twice since I bought it to clean up the dirt, etc. Not that big of a deal. I expect the ICS system does add some weight, but my bike is still 35 lbs., which is OK by me.

    If it is a good concept, why so few daVincis in the ownership polls?

    There's so few because, in my opinion, there are relatively few made compared to Co-Motion, Burley, and Santana, and they're rather expensive as well. It's very hard to justify one as a beginning tandem unless you get a very good deal (as I did) or buy it used. Problem is, that very few used ones come on the market. Those that buy 'em, keep 'em.

    I can tell you that I'm already saving my pennies for my next tandem...and it'll be another da Vinci.
    Last edited by Eurastus; 09-08-04 at 05:55 PM.
    '72 Crescent Professional 320 w/full Campy Record (Nostalgia bike)
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  3. #3
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Not an owner but an acquaintance of Todd's, a few owners, and someone who appreciates the pros and cons of ICS....

    Is ICS a drug? Is it a crutch? Is it the lazy way?

    It's just different approach to conventional wisdom that offers teams a whole suite of options not found on any other upright tandem, i.e., independent coasting, riding in-phase or out-of-phase at will by any margin, wider gear ranges, and the ability for off-road stokers to manage pedal position around obstacles independent of the captain's pedal position.

    For cyclists who have stokers that ride at a different level, i.e., stokids, a new-to-cycling partner, or a physically challenged individual, the ICS can actually be a benefit to the captain in that they are relieved from the burden of pushing the stoker's pedals around should the stoker find they can't maintain the same cadence, need to soft pedal or otherwise grow tired. We have one couple that we ride with now and again with a daVinci where he is a racer and she is an enthusiastic passenger. In fact, their daVinci has been nicknamed the Titanium Rickshaw (those who receive the Tandem Club of America's bi-monthly "Doubletalk" will find an article about a recent trip they took to France with two other couples we ride with) as it's not gone unnoticed that Mark is often times spinning a noticably faster cadence than Betsy who we joke that has yet to break a sweat climbing a hill with Mark. In his case, he just gets stronger and faster on his 1/2 bike so it all works out.


    Does it detract from smooth power flow to the cogs (wheels) when the cranks are out of synch?

    Actually, it can be argued that riding out of phase will improve and smooth out the flow of power in many riding situations.


    Does it make it easier for either rider to slough off their part in applying power (doing work)?

    Yes and no. As noted above, while either of the two riders can opt to soft pedal or coast, unlike a conventional tandem, the loss of their propulsion is better than gaining their resistance. Anyone who has ridden a tandem long enough (captain or stoker) can relate to how bad it can get when a partner bonks and you end up pushing their feet around.


    Is ICS just one more thing to deal with when packing/unpacking, and is it just one more item that can malfunction?

    It's definitely a bit more complex and not something any bike shop can deal with if it develops a problem. However, it's actually pretty basic stuff once you look at each piece by itself: a list of the individual components that make up the ICS assembly are the at the bottom of this page: http://www.davincitandems.com/vdint.html

    From the packing / unpacking standpoint, no one who owns an S&S that I've spoken with (3 couples) has noted any real difference between break down or assembly complexity vs. a conventional bike. I believe the whole jack-shaft/crank assembly stays connected to the rear triangle so at the worst you would have one extra chain to remove if you pull all four crank arms to pack. Of course, pulling cranks with the keyed extractor bolts is a no-brainer. I have them on all of our tandems and think nothing about popping the cranks off for maintenance, etc.. as needed. It takes like 10 seconds to pull one off or to put one back on.

    If it is a good concept, why so few daVincis in the ownership polls?

    Most of them are probably out riding insteading of responding to polls. Seriously though, custom tandems are a very, very small market and given daVinci's unique and unconventional designs, they pulled a very respectable marketshare in the big scheme of things. By big scheme of things, as an example of what's hidden by survey's and list membership, there have been fewer than 400 Ventana full suspension off-road tandems built and sold since they were first introduced in the mid-90's and about as many Erickson tandems. Ventana's were disproportionately represented in the survey because one of the lists the survey was posted to is an off-road tandem enthusiasts list where the hottest ride available is the Ventana; thus 18 hits. Ericksons also have a pretty good cult following (we have two of the 10 and know the other 8 owners). There are far more Rodriquez and Bushnell tandems than either Ventana or Erickson, and Calfee can barely keep up with production demand for it's $9k carbon tandems which have skyrocketed in popularity but still number around 200 units produced to date. So, take "popularity" and representation with a grain of salt. What's probably more important is the owner satisfaction and loyalty of daVinci owners.


    The captain is a road and mtb racer who will have to learn to relax and go for a nice ride.

    Nothing wrong with that... It's quite theraputic.


    The stoker is happy to lay back and view the scenery.

    Nothing wrong with that either.


    Oh yea, if you want you can always fit a pair of fixed-gear cogs in-lieu of the freewheel single-speed hubs to eliminate the ICS part of ICS, but retain all the other good stuff, i.e., massive gear range, short gear shifts, higher ground clearance, daVinci quality, and chic ride.
    Last edited by livngood; 09-08-04 at 05:15 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Todd S. of daVinci fame has a great and innovative product.
    Happened to have ridden one of his first tandems years ago when Todd showed up to ride El Tour de Tucson.
    But being long time tandemers the idea of independent coasting did not appeal to us. Which is not to say that this is an unappealing feature.
    Many folk, especially newer tandem riders, stokids, and capt/stoker with great variance in pedal style/cadence that can not agree on a compromise pace will greatly benefit with the ICS system.
    Gear selection was phenomenal (4 'chainrings' instead of 3) and the smoothest front derailleur shifting as we recall, were all even spaced jumps.
    Todd also designs/produces some fine tandem specific components, including in-line cable connectors, cranks, and rims to name a few. And his custom and regular paint jobs are outstanding!
    daVinci fits perfectly into the tandem scene and offers us afficionados another great choice.
    If any or all of these daVinci features fit into your needs, go for it!
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/Zona tandem

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