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  1. #1
    Senior Member cod.peace's Avatar
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    What to look for on a used Santana?

    I have a lead on a used Santana tandem. I believe it's a Cilantro, probably 10-12 years old. Is there anything in particular to look out for on one of these bikes? From what little I know of tandems it seems Santana does some unique things like use 1 1/4" steerer.
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    Nothing really special to Santanas that you should be aware of, IMO. Yes, they do use a 1-1/4 threadless steerer tube/headset, and wider 160mm rear spacing. If it's a very old one, circa 1989 +/-, it may have 140mm rear spacing and a 1-1/4" threaded steerer. No big problem with the 140mm spacing, as you can easily flex it out to fit a 145mm rear wheel, but you might have trouble finding replacement stems for the threaded steerer if needed.

    Also, when looking at the condition and thinking of price, don't underestimate the cost of fixing small things like chains. A decent new chain runs $25-40, and you might need a new timing chain as well, for example.

  3. #3
    Used to be Conspiratemus
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    Don't be so sure about "easily" flexing out the rear end on a Santana tandem. Our 1989 Targa has very stiff chainstays made from Columbus fork blades that our frame artisan was unable to budge even with his muscular assistant wielding the tools in his torture chamber. A few years later we had a new brake bridge brazed in so as to mount caliper brakes. With both the brake bridge and the chain stay bridge cut out he was able to spread the dropouts 10 millimetres but he sweated hard with it. Said it was the toughest cold set he'd ever done.
    "I did not know that!" -- J. Carson

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    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cod.peace View Post
    Is there anything in particular to look out for on one of these bikes?
    Yes, sellers who have come to believe a their beloved tandem doesn't depreciate at about the same rate as every other quality tandem of similar vintage.

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    Heed TG's advice. There are a lot of old Santanas around-and for a good reason. They are good bikes made with good steel and they last. Like any other bike, make sure the frame isn't bent or cracked, the fork is in good shape, headset smooth, etc. The unique things on Santanas aren't to be worried about. Most good tandem shops carry the stuff you'll need and if not, you can call Santana directly.

  6. #6
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    And be aware that if it doesn't fit, changing out the stem is not all that hard, but it needs to be a Santana-specific stem, as nobody (so far as I know) else makes them in that size.

    Of course it can get harder if it's the sort where you have to thread the bars through rather than just unclamping them. In that case you're looking at new tape and potentially new cables.

    The message being that fit matters. To the extent that it can be adjusted you could easily be into $100 just getting the fit right. More if you want a different width bars.

  7. #7
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Stem availability is not as good as standard 1 1/8th but Syntace does make a stem that works and has a nicer finish than some Santana stems. There stems are made 1 1/4 and come with a shim to fit 1 1/8th. As long as you need a relatively common size threadless stems will not be a problem. If it has a threaded steerer you may need to buy an adapter to change the stem. Nitto sells one that claims to allow for use of 1 1/8th threadless stems.

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    Used to be Conspiratemus
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    Yes, sellers who have come to believe a their beloved tandem doesn't depreciate at about the same rate as every other quality tandem of similar vintage.
    Good point. That's why we repainted the Targa and tarted it up a bit as a second, "spare" tandem rather than trying to sell it for the outrageous sum that it would have taken to make us part with it.
    "I did not know that!" -- J. Carson

  9. #9
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    What to look for on a Santana tandem?

    My answer to that question is to understand what a tandem is, and specifically what a Santana tandem is. A tandem, at its essence IS its frame, so much more so than this is true for a single.

    If the choice is to buy a Santana tandem used because of the branding, or the name, I would encourage you to reconsider this approach. For a first tandem any good aluminum tandem, properly sized, is going to give a better experience than any steel tandem, of any maker, hands down. Santana is all about marketing and hyperbole. Few tandemists ever really test ride multiple other options steel/aluminum/titanium/carbon in other manufacturers before buying. It usually is test ride the one tandem in the shop, and buy it.

    Categorically, I think any tandem purchaser should pass on ANY steel tandem.

    I think the best buy on a first tandem is a Cannondale, which will give the team so much more tandem than a Santana steel tandem, and at any comparable price points. If you can find a good fitting aluminum Co-Motion or magnesium Paketa at your Santana price point, I'd recommend those over the Cannondale. I'd recommend Calfee/Co-Motion/Paketa over Santana, and every time, if the price point didn't dictate buying used.

    If one had to buy a Santana, in my book, it had better be Aluminum/Ti/Carbon, and the team would have to understand what they were getting into in terms of comparable frame flex to other makers.

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    Just noticed what appears to be a great deal on a used Santana in the LA area...
    http://losangeles.craigslist.org/lgb...261482369.html if I could convince my wife to keep a 3rd tandem it would no longer be for sale. At this price point I think even mtnbke would agree this Santana should be purchased by someone looking for a tandem if it fits.

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    I based that comment on "easily" flexing our 1989/90 Santana Rio, 140mm spaced, to accommodate a modern 145mm rear wheel. Was easy to do by hand.

    Quote Originally Posted by conspiratemus1 View Post
    Don't be so sure about "easily" flexing out the rear end on a Santana tandem. Our 1989 Targa has very stiff chainstays made from Columbus fork blades that our frame artisan was unable to budge even with his muscular assistant wielding the tools in his torture chamber. A few years later we had a new brake bridge brazed in so as to mount caliper brakes. With both the brake bridge and the chain stay bridge cut out he was able to spread the dropouts 10 millimetres but he sweated hard with it. Said it was the toughest cold set he'd ever done.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbke View Post
    Categorically, I think any tandem purchaser should pass on ANY steel tandem.
    That's a strange comment. I won't address the Santana comments, as it's your opinion, and others differ (and it's been covered before). But the steel comment makes no sense to me.

    The best bike for any tandem purchaser is the one that works best for their needs. I've owned steel and aluminum tandems from Santana, Co-Motion, and Burley, and have been riding tandem since 1994. All were good for their various intended uses. My current tandem and triplet are steel. On occasion I use their S&S coupler feature and pack them up for traveling. IMO, steel bikes (or Ti) are the way to go for travel bikes that you are going to tour on, as they are much more dent-resistant than aluminum bikes, for example.

    Our steel triplet carries a lot of weight without flexing or other problems.

    I agree that a Cannondale tandem makes a great starter (or long-term) tandem, and has good value for the money.

    All the tandems you listed can have vastly different riding characteristics, depending on the model and material. A Calfee will ride much different than a Co-Mo than a Paketa. A similarly spec'd and priced Santana will have different characteristics than a Co-Motion, due to their different frame design concepts. Personally, for what I use them for now, I prefer the way Santanas handle over Co-Motions (and I've owned both).

    For the original poster, buy the tandem that fits your bodies, your wallets, and your intended use. Most any name-brand tandem will serve you well at the beginning.
    Last edited by briwasson; 03-15-11 at 08:11 AM.

  13. #13
    I'm in shape! A round one spacerconrad's Avatar
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    What to look for on a Santana tandem?
    --- A cute stoker. Duh.

    Seriously, my wife and I were very strong riders (fast recreational, and I rode with cat 3s on their training rides). We rode several tandems of different materials and price points at RBM, north of Dallas, before deciding that our Santana Arriva was the best bang for the buck. It was far superior to the heavier, cheaper models, and while the lighter (and FAR more expensive ones) felt more lively, we just decided it wasn't enough to go into debt for.
    After 6 years, we're still very happy with our purple Santana, and have never had any problems with frame flex. As for replacing parts, we haven't really had to replace more than a chain and a few brake pads.
    I would like to get it repainted, and maybe swap out the current seats for Brooks saddles, and maybe some matching bar tape. That'd be sharp.
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    I have to agree with briwassen, that there are as many opinions out there as there are a......'s, but its all about what works best for you. And, when trying to buy a used first bike for a reasonable price, fit trumps almost everything else.
    I WILL comment on the Santana references, however. Mr. Mtnbke, are you saying that anyone who buys, or has bought a steel Santana is a moron? I think that you have offended an awful lot of tandemists! You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I think that you expressed it in a very arrogant manner. If a Magnesium Paketa happened to come on the market for the same price as a 10 or 12 year old Santana Cilantro, I guess I would probably consider it--let's get real here, codpeace was asking for some simple advice about a particular purchase that he was considering. Most of the advice given was right-on, so why must we confound the issue?

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    Quote Originally Posted by briwasson View Post
    I based that comment on "easily" flexing our 1989/90 Santana Rio, 140mm spaced, to accommodate a modern 145mm rear wheel. Was easy to do by hand.
    Gotta go with the conspirator on this one. I just completely rebuilt an '87 Arriva - wheels, down tubes to lever controls, new tranny, the works. The new hub is 145 so the rear had to be re-spaced from 140 to 145. I took the frame to my favorite bike shop in Indianapolis - the owner has a lot of frame experience. We started with the frame in a stand with two strong guys pulling on the stays. Nothing. We wound up with the frame on the floor with two guys holding the beast down and third pulling up with the stay setting tool. After a real struggle we got the required 2.5mm per side. Don't forget, after the frame has been spread slightly past 5mm, the dropouts have to be bent back to parallel or the wheel won't lock in properly. There are very expensive tools for this operation that most bike shops do not have. Like they say on the funny video shows - Do Not Try This At Home! - best left to frame pros.
    Last edited by triplechainring; 04-19-11 at 08:09 PM. Reason: number error

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    As already noted - fit is everything. Don't forget to check to make sure there is room in the rear compartment for the stoker. Older tandems are frequently really short in the back. Our Arriva has a 63cm rear top tube - my wife is a couple of tics short of 5'4" and even with hammer adjustments we barely got her fit in there. Always remember, if your stoker ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

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    [QUOTE=briwasson;12341695]. . . but you might have trouble finding replacement stems for the threaded steerer if needed.

    The best solution I found was to buy a Soma Quill Riser - Universal Cycles stocks them. This is the old wedge system stem on the bottom - machined to accept a modern clamp on stem on top. Being able to remove the bars easily is also a great advantage when going through initial fitting stages.

  18. #18
    Senior Member mkane77g's Avatar
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    Categorically, I think any tandem purchaser should pass on ANY steel tandem.

    [/QUOTE]We are on our 4th tandem, the newest made with the magical material, steel!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbke View Post
    For a first tandem any good aluminum tandem, properly sized, is going to give a better experience than any steel tandem, of any maker, hands down.

    Categorically, I think any tandem purchaser should pass on ANY steel tandem.
    Those are pretty stong statements and it seems a couple of posters in this thread may not agree. I am always eager to learn from those more expereinced than me. Would you mind explaining why you feel this way?

    I don't want to hi-jack the thread, but I think the answer might be helpful for the OP as well.

  20. #20
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    I have had both steel and aluminum tandems. My preference is a steel tandem, if fact I sold the aluminum tandem and kept the two steel tandems. The aluminum tandem was less than two pounds lighter yet our average speeds were the same and we climbed hills in the same gear. My stoker/wife and I thought that the steel tandem was less harsh on rough roads. Steel has more durability from dents and the chain lodging against the frame.

  21. #21
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Don't get a steel tandem??????
    We do have some tandem experience: over 230,000 moiles of riding TWOgether since 1975.
    Have ridden over 30 brands/models and various designs of tandems from steel to alu to ti to carbon fiber, including several thousand miles on various Santanas.
    Did test riding on one of the 2 original Cannondale prototypes for 3 months back in the 1980s (2 years before they produced a tandem) for the C'dale folks.
    While C'dales are stiff/non-flex machines and a decent price, there are other factors to consider, including the harsher ride on heat treated aluminum.
    Have owned 4 steel tandems (Follis, Assenmacher, Colin Laing and Co-Motion) and currently riding a carbon fiber Zona (with only 33,000+ miles on the odo).
    If the 'tana fits, is mechanically fine and the price is right, would not hesitate to keep that bike in condieration.
    Having said that, we have never had the desire to own either a Santana or a Cannondale.
    Pedal on TWOgether!
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleDiamonDog View Post
    Those are pretty stong statements and it seems a couple of posters in this thread may not agree. I am always eager to learn from those more expereinced than me. Would you mind explaining why you feel this way?

    I don't want to hi-jack the thread, but I think the answer might be helpful for the OP as well.
    It's just an opinion -- if you want to discuss steel vs. aluminum, it would be better in another thread. Now I do agree that Cannondales are a good value in the tandem world...
    I don't even use the offensive term "Fred." -- Sheldon "All Cyclists Are My Friends" Brown (1944-2008)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phantoj View Post
    It's just an opinion -- if you want to discuss steel vs. aluminum, it would be better in another thread. ...
    Good point Phantoj. I just thought that anyone making such a broad, and in my opinion absurd, claim might be eager to explain his thinking.

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