I'm new to the forum. Been riding tandems for ~20 years. We're on our 4th Santana - a mid- 1990s Team - Nivacrom w/a mix of Dura-Ace (no triple) and XTR. It's been a great bike but we're looking to modernize.
Currently considering a Co-Motion Supremo or Robusta and I'm curious if anyone has experience with either or both and might be able to offer some opinions. Al vs. steel, that sort of thing.
We're a sub-300 lb team and do mostly hard training rides, fast-ish centuries, etc. so loaded touring is not a concern.
I've talked with Co-Mo and I've been very impressed with them to date. And all the owners I've run into seem very pleased with the product and company. So I'm leaning heavly toward Co-Mo but would really appreciate some feedback.
Can anyone shed some light on the Supremo and/or Robusta?
I like aluminum and long stoker compartments. Given the available tubesets, aluminum makes for a better performance tandem that sprints without flexing as excessively as steel does, and is more efficient the rest of the time as well, with a laterally stiffer bottom tube that allows more of the captain's effort to get to the rear wheel. And it won't rust if you ding the paint.
Together we weigh 333lbs.
How long to make your stoker compartment only matters after you have committed to paying the custom dimension surcharge. After you have done that there are various philosophies that argue for fulfilling various requirements. Having ordered and ridden such a tandem, I am convinced that having room for stoker single bike fit and aerobars set for use by the most frequent stoker, is the way to go. The comfort and ergonomics of the extra space is wonderful, but the unexpected benefit is the drop in drag that occurs when the stoker is on the aerobars. The bike tends to pick up speed on downhills even faster than tandems usually do. There is a small weight penalty with the additional length, but my question is, compared to what? If all production tandems are too short, it is no surprise that a "normal-sized" tandem weighs more. You would never consider shortening a production tandem ten inches to get the weight down, so why consider the small amount of additional weight of ten well-considered inches excessive?
The best thing to do is to test-ride a steel and an aluminum Co-Motion, and to try to isolate the characteristics of the materials that will matter to you. I would compare the sprint and ride quality characteristics of both materials, and if the aluminum ride was tolerable on rougher roads, I would pick that over steel. Keep in mind that the Cannondale 6061-T6 tubeset has a stiffer ride than the thinner (Easton?) 7005 tubeset. Which aluminum tubeset you are testing can influence your perceptions. I think the older Co-Motion Big Al aluminum tandems might have used a stiffer tubeset than the newer Co-Motion aluminum tandems.
The Supremo ($5,530) and Robusta ($6,565) are essentially the same frames used for the Speedster ($3,620) and the Roadster ($4,650) but with Wound-up Carbon forks, Rolf Vigor paired spoke wheelset, higher-end and lighter weight components which is what constitutes the ~$1,900 price differences between these models and shaves off several lbs. It's also worthwhile to note that the Supremo & Robusta come with rear brake fitments for caliper and disc brakes and no fittings for an Arai drum brake. The Speedster and Roadster use brake bosses for canti or linear pull brakes (aka. V-brakes) and have the necessary cable guides and pac-man for an Arai drum brake + the disc brake mount.
They have been designed to yield the same handling characteristics and very similar frame feel. The Aluminum models are 1.7lbs lighter, sounds different, costs $1,000 more but are otherwise not much different with regard to deflection/flex/stiffness from the Steel models.
If you think you'll do any travelling, the Supremo can be built-up with S&S couplers for an additional $1,200 which is $200 more than the uncoupled Aluminum model. Of course, the weight also goes up as a different tubeset is used + the weight of the couplers.
Thus, it comes down to four decisions:
1. Do all of the choices fit your budget?
2. Do you want couplers? If so, you would need to go with a steel frame.
3. Do you think you'll need or want the option of an Arai drum brake? If so, the stock Supremo and Robusta may or may not meet your needs.
4. Do you have a preference for steel or aluminum and the 1.7lb weight difference?
Note: Cost data taken from Co-Motion's October '03 price sheet.
Your preference: steel or alu?
The renown 'harsher' ride of alu is mitigated by a carbon fork and seatposts, so that almost becomes a non-issue. IF stoker is still unhappy, a suspension seatpost then becomes an option.
'Steel' is already a most comfy ride for a tandem (but not quite as nice as full carbon fiber) and add the c/f fork and seatpost and its darn near a plush ride for the stoker.
Steel or alu is not as much an issue for the pilot who has the best seat on the tandem . . . in the middle of the frame. So your stoker's input is vital.
If weight is an issue, the alu is lighter but pricier. At the weight difference, pound for pound an new Porsche is cheaper than a new tandem!
You control the purse stings and know what you can afford.
Have ridden both bikes (but not extensively) and either one would be a great choice. Both are go-fast type tandems. You will find the handling of the Co-Mo a bit quicker than a Santana, but that's not a bad thing!
Obviously you have been riding tandem long enough to know what you want/need.
Co-Motion's reputation is well earned/deserved. Have been dealing with them since 1992.
Our recently retired Co-Mo Custom is up for sale . . . it has only 57,000+ miles on it and lots of good miles left! 'nuf said!
Our current ride is a full custom c/f ariZona tandem with 5,000+ miles on the odo.
Pedal n TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/Zona tandem