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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 09-16-04, 07:07 PM   #1
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Brand popularity

My wife and I attended the Midwest Tandem Rally over Labor Day weekend. One interesting thing that the organizers did was to publish the brands of bikes used by the participating teams. Of the 477 teams who registered in time to be listed in the booklet, 44 different manufacturers were mentioned. The big hitters were:
Santana 126
Cannondale 53
Comotion 49
Burley 40
Trek 28
Rans 19
Vision 14
The rest of the manufacturers were mentioned fewer than 10 times each including 24 manufacturers who were each mentioned once.
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Old 09-16-04, 08:59 PM   #2
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That's about right for the MTR participant demographic...

'03 Captain's Age Data
Age = X Axis / No. = Y Axis

Last edited by livngood; 09-16-04 at 11:26 PM.
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Old 09-16-04, 10:12 PM   #3
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Regional rallies tend to go with certain brands as 'favorite'. Should also take into account how many years manufacturer has been in business, volume, reputation, dealerships, etc.
And because a certain builder does not have many tandems out there, that does not mean he's not a good tandem builder. Volume alone does not make a good/reputable business.
Wallmart sells lots of product, does that make it the best?
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Old 09-16-04, 11:19 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by zonatandem
Regional rallies tend to go with certain brands as 'favorite'. Should also take into account how many years manufacturer has been in business, volume, reputation, dealerships, etc.
Exactly....

Having conducted surveys of brand ownership as well as survey's of tandem owner demographics the only constant is that this type of data remains interesting. Some readers will recall that similar data was posted out for last year's October '03 Southern Tandem Rally in Tallahassee, FL, as well as a combination of data from the Tennessee and Georgia Tandem Rallies in May '02 as part of a thread I entitled, "Trivial Tandem Stats for '04."

Trivial Tandem Stats for '04

The data from this year's Tennessee & Georgia Tandem Rallies was a bit different for Burley & Cannondale compared to last, but the rest of the numbers were pretty close, even though a healthy percentage of the attendees were different.

'02 - '03 GTR + TTR
23 = 26 = Co-Motion
21 = 25 = Santana
11 = 18 = Cannondale
06 = 09 = Burley
05 = 06 = Erickson
04 = 05 = Bushnell
04 = 05 = Meridian
03 = 03 = Trek
02 = 02 = Calfee
02 = 02 = Litespeed
02 = 02 = Rodriguez
02 = 01 = Rans Recumbent
01 = 01 = Ibis
01 = 01 = Bilenky
01 = 01 = Borthwick
01 = 01 = Dawes
01 = 01 = Osell
01 = 01 = Raleigh
01 = 01 = Vision Recumbent
01 = xx = KHS

I suspect if we are provided with similar data from this year's Southern Tandem Rally being held at Charlotte, North Carolina in November the data will be a bit different from what we saw last year due to the geographic and seasonal weather shift.

'03 STR - FLA
39 = Santana
24 = Co-Motion
10 = Cannondale
08 = Burley
06 = Trek

So, yes, it's interesting but that's about it. What would make it more interesting would be marrying up the owner's ages, how many years of experience, the brand owned, the year that they purchased that tandem, and do they or don't they belong to an Internet discussion forum. With those 5 pieces of data you could start to do some VERY interesting analysis.

Last edited by livngood; 09-16-04 at 11:31 PM.
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Old 09-17-04, 06:51 AM   #5
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Interesting to see that the average captain's age is in the low 50s. We're both 51 and it's good to see all the captains (and I assume stokers) ranging commonly up into their late 50s and even their 60s. I guess we'll have something to do for the next decade
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Old 09-17-04, 07:46 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by tornadobass
Interesting to see that the average captain's age is in the low 50s. We're both 51 and it's good to see all the captains (and I assume stokers) ranging commonly up into their late 50s and even their 60s. I guess we'll have something to do for the next decade
Actually, the average was exactly your same age of 51. And, I'm guessing Rudy will tell you that you have well over 2.5 decades to go...
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Old 09-17-04, 10:48 AM   #7
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Believe it or not, a bunch of PhDs conducted a study of the Midwest Tandem Rally back in 1999. If you are new to tandeming and want to get a "feel" for this event the report does a fair job of representing MTR regulars in terms of statistics regarding riding habits and the like. If nothing else, the summary may be worth 5 minutes of your time and it will help you see how you may stack up against the 452 people who responded to this survey and the conclusions drawn from their inputs.

http://www.prr.msu.edu/miteim/econimpact/tandem.pdf
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Old 09-17-04, 10:48 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by livngood
Actually, the average was exactly your same age of 51. And, I'm guessing Rudy will tell you that you have well over 2.5 decades to go...
That's good news...although my wife is hoping for even longer!
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Old 09-17-04, 06:45 PM   #9
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This just in.... Projected attendance is now posted to the STR Web site along with tandem make & model data. It's worthwhile to note that STR '03 in Tallahassee had 130 teams in attendance while STR '04 is only listing '79

'03 - '04 STR
39 = 25 = Santana
24 = 10 = Co-Motion
10 = 06 = Cannondale
08 = 06 = Burley
05 = 06 = Meridian
06 = 05 = Trek
xx = 03 = Calfee
xx = 03 = Rans Recumbent
xx = 03 = Erickson
xx = 02 = daVinci
xx = 02 = Bushnell
xx = 01 = Bike Friday
xx = 01 = Bruni
xx = 01 = Fisher
xx = 01 = Kuwahara
xx = 01 = Litespeed
xx = 01 = Raleigh
xx = 01 = Rodriquez
xx = 01 = Seven
xx = 01 = Spectrum
xx = 01 = Sun Recumbent

As for tandem vintage demograhics...

No. & Year
01 = 1987 (Kuwahara)
01 = 1989
01 = 1990
01 = 1991
01 = 1992
03 = 1993
04 = 1994
03 = 1995
01 = 1997
07 = 1998
06 = 1999
10 = 2000 (Santana's big year w/5 of 25)
06 = 2001
13 = 2002 (Co-Motion's big year w/5 of 10)
15 = 2003 (Mode)
05 = 2004

Last edited by livngood; 09-17-04 at 06:52 PM.
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Old 09-18-04, 06:42 AM   #10
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Mark,

Do you have a way to calculate the change in the percentage of recumbent tandems at such events? My gut feeling is that they peaked a couple of years ago and are declining in popularity, but that's just based upon observations on the road so I could be wrong. The same thing happened with alsop beam bikes. Five years ago or so they were reasonably common but I don't remember seeing any at MTR this year.
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Old 09-18-04, 08:20 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
Do you have a way to calculate the change in the percentage of recumbent tandems at such events? My gut feeling is that they peaked a couple of years ago and are declining in popularity, but that's just based upon observations on the road so I could be wrong. The same thing happened with alsop beam bikes. Five years ago or so they were reasonably common but I don't remember seeing any at MTR this year.
Not really, as I don't believe the various rally organizers have been collecting that type of information up and until recently. I say that based only upon personal experience. For example, we've only attended one MTR which is why I had the registration book from which I could manually tally and report the captain demograhics (yes, what a PIA). However, it didn't list the brand-name demograhics separately nor as a data item in the MTR registrant list. Moreover, looking back on the materials we have received, this data was also not incldued in previous SWTR or ETR registrant lists which leads me to believe it was not collected on the registration forms or, if it was, it was not tallied and published.

The reason I have had some data to play with is because of my own recent brand-name surveys and because of our good friend Roger Strauss -- a by the numbers kind of guy -- who started collecting and reporting brand name tandem demograhics as part of the rally registration process with the first Georgia Tandem Rally in '99. He incorporated it into the Registrant List handed out with the registration package that rally attendees received upon sign-in under the premise that it's often times easier to figure out who you were riding with after a ride or to find someone if you know what brand, model and color of tandem they were riding. That practice has carried over to more the recent Southern Tandem Rallies and to the two-year old Tennessee Tandem Rally... which is why I have those numbers to play with, i.e., we attend all three.

With that all said, my intuitive sense about the popularity of recumbents parallels yours. '98 seemed to be the peak of the tandem recumbent movement where you had Ryan, Rans, Vision, and perhaps even Bike-E as the major domestic players with several smaller builders in the game as well. Since then, Vision and Bike-E have gone belly-up, and Ryan sold out to Longbikes at the height of the market -- much to Greg Peek's chagrin. Vision and Bike-E most likely were done in by product quality issues that led to some pretty damaging formal recalls and/or bad PR and dismal sales thereafter. Rans somehow survived a 4000 unit recall back in '01 and remains a popular tandem 'bent maker. Ryan's sell-out to Longbikes has created a brand-name recognition issue where Longbikes continues to struggle to make a name for itself in both the tandem and recumbent business. It's a shame too, as Longbike's engineering and product quality are perhaps some of the best in the US. Thankfully, Longbikes continues to stay alive because the owner -- Peek -- doesn't rely on it for his sole source of revenue and has several other businesses plus deep pockets from previous endeavors and patents. So, back on track here, I think the life and death of the tandem 'bent producers can be used as a barometer of their marketability and popularity.

As for the future, I think the ones you see on the road today are the ones you'll continue to see in the future. And, like brands, the numbers that you see at events will also vary with the age of the teams, the regional conditions, in turn dealer presence to support that market, i.e., 'bents are more likely to be popular in relatively flat regions of the US and nearly invisible in more challenging terrain. Also, like the Softride beam-equipped tandems that Burley first introduced way back when, there is a loyal following of happy owners who will continue to stick with what works. Because of them and that 'bent presence (more so than the beams which are fading away) there will always be a market for bikes like the Rans Screamer & Longbikes Gulfsteam LWB and Jetstream SWB Models for couples where one or both riders can't cope with the fit issues posed by uprights or because the just prefer the ride or qwerkiness of a 'bent. Personally, while I'd love to have a couple 'bents to play with, I'm predisposed to prefer the fit and ride qualities of an upright. It's like motorcycles, I'm just a sportbike/GT kind of guy who can't get comfortable on a cruiser and who just feels (and looks) plain rediculous on a custom or chopper. However, if I or Debbie ever encountered a physical limitation that eliminated riding an upright as an option, we'd most certainly move over to a 'bent rather than give up on cycling.

Last edited by livngood; 09-18-04 at 08:29 AM.
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Old 09-18-04, 12:00 PM   #12
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Howdy from Tucson!

Age 51??? Got kids that old!
Just kidding; it's funny, although we are now 'older' there are always folks out there older than us. Yes, and some do ride 'in-tandem.'
Our heroes are Jack and Dorothy Bieler, of Tucson. For Dorothy's 80th birthday they bought a new Co-Motion (2 years ago) to replace their custom Colian tandem.
They promptly went out and rode a 60 miler to celebrate the occasion!
A couple years ago they gave up doing off-roading on a mt. bike tandem as Dorothy said: "I'm tired of picking cactus out of my butt!" So, her solutuion was to buy an off-road single!
Those two are our heros!
Having said that, it's always nice to have you 'younger folks' discover the joys of riding TWOgether!
Pedal on!
Rudy & Kay/Zona tandem
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Old 09-18-04, 04:00 PM   #13
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Howdy from Tucson!

Age 51??? Got kids that old!
Just kidding; it's funny, although we are now 'older' there are always folks out there older than us. Yes, and some do ride 'in-tandem.'
One observation that I have made in the Uk is that on the road, there seem to be 2 age groups for tandem riders. Older persons, around 50+, or the younger family groups with Mum and dad in their 30's and kids up to the age of around 12.
However on the Mountain Bike route, the age seems to be around 30, mainly couples, and extremely fit riders. I did a 100 mile off road event earlier in the year, and of the 350 bikes doing it 2 were tandems. Full offroad beasties with teams that obviously had the stamina, and expertise to attempt an event like this as they both finished. The other team were a couple, M+F and in their late 20's and boy could they shift up hill. Then there was us, the geriatrick on the back, aged 57, and the fit youngster on the front aged 40. Both teams finished in the same time, as they crossed the line together, but the two teams only met up in the last few miles of the event. Funny thing was that it was the "older" team that seemed to be fitter at the end of the ride, as although they were slower up hills, boy could they shift on the flat, and the pilot had put his brain away for the Downhills. My problem is that ALL the offroad tandem riders that I come across are a lot younger than my 40 year old co-rider, and no-one will believe that Our Tandem can be ridden as hard as it is untill they try to stay with us.
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Old 09-18-04, 07:17 PM   #14
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Howdy from Tucson!
What's with that rain in Tucson today?!? I was trying to watch the Arizona/Wisconsin game and it was delayed due to strong storms. I thought Tucson was a desert

-murray
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Old 09-18-04, 07:36 PM   #15
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Did the equivalent of rain dance, Murray (cleaned up the tandem!) and lo and behold Javier, a Mexican illegal storm, snuck accross the border and we've got RAIN!
Hated to give up our early (6 a.m.) planned clubride but with only 5 and 1/2 inches of rain since January, we could use it. We refer to it here in the desert as 'liquid sunshine!' Prediction for more of the stuff Sunday and maybe Monday. Oh well, the tandem needed a rest!
Had just gotten a set of carbon fiber prototype stoker handrests to try out . . . guess stoker will give her evaluation at a later date!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/Zona tandem
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