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  1. #1
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    Hello

    Hi folks,

    I just wanted to introduce myself and solicit opinions on our upcoming purchase of a tandem.

    My wife and I have been married for over 20 years, and are looking for an acitivity that we can share. She rides horses (dressage); I ride adventure motorcycles and do some enduro racing. No overlap there - it ain't gonna happen! Obviously there lots of things we could do together, but we both enjoy biking and so we've been thinking for some time about getting a tandem.

    We've tried out a loaner and actually had time for two rides. Loved it, both of us. We anticipated the coordination and communcation problems so that was not an issue. I was amazed at how much easier it was to keep up our speed. That was very cool.

    The issue now is deciding what type of bike to buy and this is where I'm looking for some feedback. I'm not sure how much my wife will warm to the idea of road rides - she much prefers the relative safety of bike trails. We're working through that but it's probably going to take some time. While I, on the other hand, dream of long, even multi-day tours.

    I'd love to support my local dealer, and/or get something higher-end (that's what I generally do) but mainly due to the uncertainty about how and how much we'd use the bike I don't want to put too much money into it. At least, not until we've clarified our interests. So my strategy would be to keep the price relatively low and get something that's fun and rewarding to ride locally on the quiet roads around our rural location. And hopefully do some club rides if things work out.

    I've identified a few used bikes out on the market, and for one reason or another feel drawn to the Trek T2000 and the Cannondale RT3000. Both seem like reasonably responsive bikes with a good set of components, and with used prices within budget (say $1500).

    However, as I anticipate possibly taking the next step, ie. outfitting for touring, I wonder if either bike would be the right platform for that, and I'm looking for comfirmation that, beyond lightweight credit-card touring, we'd be looking at a different bike at some point. That's doable, if it's justified... By the way, we both like speed, and I'm not sure whether it's better to start with a racier bike and beef it up as necessary, or start with a more robust bike to begin with.

    Back to the Trek and Cdales: I also have much more confidence in disk brakes - coming from higher-end mountain bikes which is where I've done most of my cycling over the past 5 years, I'm sold on their benefits in all conditions. And with my wife's safety very much in mind, I feel a lot better about the stopping power of disks. So with either the Trek or the older Cdale, I think I want to add disk up front at least. Does this make any sense?

    I also wonder how important a drum brake would be, and whether I should hold out for a drum-compatible bike. We're in a hilly area (Ozarks) and while it's not Colorado and we don't have immediate plans to load the bike up, it doesn't seem like a terrible idea to have the drum. We're 320 lbs together and should drop another 10 or 15 before long.

    Interested in hearing everyone's thoughts.

  2. #2
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum.

    Riding a couple of times to determine that you can get along on a tandem is a great way to get started. After 20 years together, you can probably tell from those two rides whether it will work out. What remains then is how and where you'll be riding.

    First up is fit. If the bike doesn't fit you (both), you won't ride it nearly as much as if it does. And you'll tire more easily. So depending on how far from average you are, you may or may not find it easy to get what you're looking for on the used market (which is repeatedly recommended as the best way to start out). Give it a try, and be prepared to at the very least, swap out your stem to get the fit dialed in better.

    Now you asked a few specific questions, and the first is whether the Cannondale or Trek is up for loaded touring. These are both aluminum frames, which means, among other things, that you had better figure on a good suspension seatpost for her. In both cases, your best bet for touring is to tow a BOB trailer. CF forks aren't really all that good for mounting low-riders; and looking on the wheels of that Trek, they really don't intend it for that sort of use. You might be able to mount fenders on one or the other, but it isn't really clear (and those are a great idea if you plan to tour). Ideally for loaded touring you'd use a frame with a touring geometry - longer chainstays, longer wheelbase, less "twitchy"/"responsive".

    As for disk brakes, that's one that you'll see arguments up and down till the cows come home. Adding a front to either one of these does mean replacing the fork. While it's hard to find an argument against disks for mountain biking, on roads, the argument is generally based on performance when wet, which gets countered with suggestions to use high end shoes like SwissStop greens or KoolStop Salmons. Disks add a little weight, and fail in a different way if overheated. Not overheating a rim is a matter of some combination of using a drum and avoiding using your rim brakes as drag brakes. Your choice, but done right, it won't be cheap to add a disk to a bike not originally built for one.

    As for the drum, someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think they're all drum-compatible. Some have a brazed on mount, but you can also use a clamp-on mount. If you want to put on a drum, it becomes a matter of finding one, as they're no longer in production, although the theory is that they'll be in stock for some time to come. The time you most want a drum is when you have a load and you're going down a descent with switchbacks or a low speed limit that you feel compelled to obey - or not break too badly. It has less to do with whether you're in Colorado, than which roads you choose. In the Ozarks there will be hills that are long enough and steep enough that you can break 50 mph if tucked (esp. with a load), but there will be others that if you did that you'd run into trouble in the switchbacks. Without a load, and with some care, you should be able to manage without a drum. There are many on this forum who have. The worst that can happen is you need to stop part way down to let your brakes cool. [Worst still is that you need to but choose not to, and your rims overheat to the point of blowing a front tire. But you have some control over that].

  3. #3
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    We're a similar couple with similar interests. We purchased a used Co-Motion Speedster with rim brakes and a carbon fork. Perfect for us. I looked for over a year to find this bike. Found it here:
    http://www.tandemmag.com/classified/

    Stoker was almost killed in a truck/bike accident years ago and can't ride her single on the road now, but is OK on the roads as stoker. I think she likes me.

    We are gearing up for an unsupported tour this year. We plan to go UL, only using rear panniers with light frame and stoker bar bags, so the carbon fork is OK.

    Our experience with rim brakes is that they are fine if you are careful. Meaning that if they start to fade, stop immediately and let the rims cool. Mostly not a problem, but very steep descents with tight turns are a problem.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    We're a similar couple with similar interests. We purchased a used Co-Motion Speedster with rim brakes and a carbon fork. Perfect for us. I looked for over a year to find this bike. Found it here:
    http://www.tandemmag.com/classified/

    Stoker was almost killed in a truck/bike accident years ago and can't ride her single on the road now, but is OK on the roads as stoker. I think she likes me.

    We are gearing up for an unsupported tour this year. We plan to go UL, only using rear panniers with light frame and stoker bar bags, so the carbon fork is OK.

    Our experience with rim brakes is that they are fine if you are careful. Meaning that if they start to fade, stop immediately and let the rims cool. Mostly not a problem, but very steep descents with tight turns are a problem.
    I'm glad to hear that your stoker is still riding.

    Thanks for the pointer to the classifieds - I had missed those in my scouring of the internet.

  5. #5
    Riding Heaven's Highwayson the grand tour
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    We have both a stock '07 T2000 and an old school C'dale that has been updated with pretty current componentry throughout. Both are great tandems and real values for the money. You can not go wrong with either. We have done a little Credit Card touring with both with the usual one week sized panniers and rear rack on both, plus fenders on the C'dale with no issues in the least.
    Mostly we ride the hills and valleys of central California with regular trips into the Sierra. We do not have discs nor a drum on either tandem and have been happy with the stock brakes on the Trek and with the V'brakes and Canti's that we've had on the C'dale. We are a 305 pound team excluding the bike.

    Dependig on the surfaces you will be riding you may want to give tire size limitation some consideration. Specifically, on pavement... we run 28's which both bikes handle well of coures. But for our rare rides on limestone "Rail Trails, dirt roads or any non paved surfaces, I run 32's or 35's but can only get those on the Cannondale. I don't know what the tire clearances are on the RT 3000 frame so you may want to think about it if you will ride off pavement.

    The stock Trek is a real nice package for the money with Ultegra components, carbon fork and Bontrager wheels and weighs about 35 pounds while our older updated C'dale is now about 39 pounds. We like the Trek for faster flatter rides and the C'dale (despite its' weight) for hilly, technical more challenging roads.

    If you are looking at either in the $1500 range I don't see how you could possibly be disappointed for what you intend....if you ended up hating it, not using it enough or wanting to up grade, you should easily be able to sell it at no loss.
    (fwiw..I would not sell either of ours for anything near $1500 )

    Welcome to the forum and good luck on your choice.

    Bill J.

  6. #6
    I'd rather be riding DKMcK's Avatar
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    IndyTim, depending on the age and model of the used C'dales you're looking at, it may already have disc brakes. One more thing you may not have picked up on, you cannot have both drum and disc on the rear wheel. If you want a drum drag brake, you will have to go with a rim brake.

  7. #7
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Been tandeming for over 33 years.
    Have ridden as high as 9,200 elevation. Have done long/fast/ twisty descents. Have done 50+ mph on less twisty descents..
    All with only rim brakes.

    Have used centerpulls, U-brake, V-brakes, cantis at one time or another on our tandems; been able to stop as needed.
    Have test ridden discs and have used drum . . . both are fine but we stick with rim brakes cause they work just fine for us.
    Just our experience.
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the feedback everyone. It looks like we'll put this on hold for the time being, save a few more pennies and get the bike we really want in the spring.

  9. #9
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    We recently began riding a tandem after many years off bikes. We have different levels of fitness. In addition there is a significant size difference between us. We discovered that getting the right bike was more important than getting the right price. We tried several bikes and decided on a DaVinci. Davinci focuses primarily on the tandem market. It has the independent coasting system which allows us to ride at our individual paces. We also have taken advantage of the paved bike trails in parks. Because of the length of the bike we are reluctant to go through dirt or gravel. It handles much different than a regular bike off road. Enjoy your new hobby!

  10. #10
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    I met the leader of our local tandem club when I happened to be in my LBS a couple days ago. He's a great guy, and without even trying he convinced me that my wife and I are missing on too much fun without a tandem. So I'm looking again. I'm thinking that a good quality used bike in the $2000 range would be a good entry point. There seem to be some nice deals at that price, and while that's a decent chunk of change we wouldn't be in so deep that we'd have serious regrets if it didn't work for both of us. (read between lines there -- I"m really hoping my stoker's enthusiasm continues!)

    I've got a line on a couple of nice bikes that should fit us, a very clean '99 CoMo Speedster and a nice '03 Sovereign SE. I realize we're talking aluminum vs steel here and I don't know enough to have a preference yet. I "know" in theory but don't have the seat time to know what I want. (All of my personal bikes are aluminum and my wife didn't complain about harshness when we test rode a C'dale RT2, but we only rode for maybe 6 miles.)

    I would appreciate feedback on the two bikes should anyone care to comment. I live in a rural area where there are no used tandems to my knowledge, and only a couple new ones in the stores. Plus I don't like test riding at a dealer unless there is a reasonable chance I'd buy the bike. I'd prefer to test the bikes I'm considering but I don't think that's going to be practical.

    Speedster Pros
    - I like Co-Motion better than Santana. I just do.
    - Should be quicker handling. I like that.
    - It's steel. More repairable and there's a warranty on the frame anyway. Plus the steel absorbs more vibration.
    - It's in better shape (both are in at least good shape, but this bike is like new)
    - It's got a Terry stoker seat and shock absorbing post. Both of these are parts I would buy if the bike didn't have them already.

    Sovereign SE Pros
    - It's aluminum and should be lighter, and I really like the look of the brushed finish.
    - The components are economy-class but they're all upgradeable and I like doing that.
    - Is a splined crank/bb a good thing, or is this a cost-saving measure?
    - It's cheaper than the Speedster by $400-500.

    For some reason I feel that the Co-Motion is the better bike in terms of quality/reliability and "rideability". I'm worried that the SE version of the Sovereign isn't quite "up to snuff" in some way. Should I be? As long as the bike is well-maintained, it's going to work just fine, isn't it?

  11. #11
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    I have an '05 Co-Motion Supremo (same steel frame as the Speedster) with the Wound Up carbon fork. I did have an '08 Santana Sovereign SE with a steel fork. I sold the Santana last fall. The Co-Motion weighed 2 pounds more but the difference in weight was not noticeable. Our average speeds were the same and we climbed hills with the same gearing. The difference in speed was too close to call. The steel Co-Motion had a more forgiving and comfortable ride particularly on rides over 50 miles. The different forks may be part of the reason for the difference. The SE components are a lower speck but they worked well. Our SE had 10 speed and the derailleur hanger was easy to bend which then affected the shifting. Also, think about fit and color when making your decision.

  12. #12
    Senior Member DCwom's Avatar
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    Our experiance:

    We ride an aluminum Burley without a shock absorbing stoker seat post; no complaints so far. For me the biggest advantage of aluminum is loading the bike into the van. Given its length and the propensity for the stoker bars to get in the way the lighter the better it is to wrestle with.

    We just came off of our 1st multiday credit card tour, where we carried a single overnight change of clothes in small panniers and can easily see why people use a BOB with tandems; you quickly run out of space with two riders. As for the road riding thing, we are like your stoker, and are shy of roads, although we have recently been riding more & more miles of open road simply because riding trails can get boring (not enough trails/same trails all the time). We use a red Planet Bike flasher when on the road, even in the noon sunshine. If your stoker isn't fashion conscience, they can wear a day-glow safety vest like highway workers, although an extra layer in the summer isn't particularly welcomed.

  13. #13
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Just a quick note about sizing: a shock absorbing stoker seat post is a personal choice, Thudbuster being very popular, but you might want to lean toward a frame that would accept such a seat post. I don't recall the exact measurement, but the Thudbuster LT probably requires 4" or so of exposed seat post (check their website) and the Al frame as mentioned above is likely to be stiffer.

    Regarding weight I can't speak to the exact tandems you're looking at, but in today's tandems you'll only find a 1.5-2 lb difference between steel and Aluminum, using daVinci as an example. For my wife and I that's only about 0.5%. Nonetheless, when I retire we're getting a CF tandem, no rear rack, etc. 'cause we'll need all the advantage we can afford just to get up the hills around here.
    Rick T
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