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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 03-21-11, 03:08 PM   #1
mycoatl
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Used Tandem Shopping Advice

My wife and I are in the market for our first tandem. We're willing to spend $1000 - $1500 for something decent, but don't want to spend $3000 + for something custom. Maybe we'll splurge for our next tandem if we like it.

For now, we're looking at a used Santana touring tandem from the mid-80s that appears to have low miles. I'm comfortable wrenching on a bike and looking for wear and tear on components, but I was wondering if there are any special considerations when evaluating the condition of a tandem. Any particularly expensive replacement components on a tandem other than the cranks? What about the drum brake?

Also, I'm curious what you'd recommend for captain / stoker assignments for my wife and I. She's taller than I am, but I'm heavier: her - 6'1" ~ 200; me - 5'10" ~ 265. With her height, I was thinking she should be captain (and she would enjoy being in charge) ;-). Any reason to reconsider this arrangement?

Thanks!
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Old 03-21-11, 03:48 PM   #2
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If you are looking for value in used tandems, it is helpful to make a comparision to what you'd get in a new tandem. The value leader in new tandems is the Cannondale Road Tandem 2, which lists for $3495, and you might be able to get for just under $3000. You might be able to find used examples for lesser still.

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Old 03-21-11, 04:17 PM   #3
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My wife and I are in the market for our first tandem. We're willing to spend $1000 - $1500 for something decent, but don't want to spend $3000 + for something custom. Maybe we'll splurge for our next tandem if we like it.
Look for a used [deleted] Cannondale RT1000, RT2000 or RT3000 in one of the larger sizes. It should fall into your target budget and will serve you better for your respective and collective sizes vs. the Santana. [deleted]

To know what size (XL/L or L/M) we'd need to know your inseams vs. height as there's a good chance that you both may be able to captain or stoke the same tandem.

Ultimately, the person who feels more comfortable piloting the tandem is the one who should be captain. Technique and team work can go a long way towards nulling out any handling issues that could come from size differences.

Last edited by TandemGeek; 03-21-11 at 08:05 PM. Reason: Brain Fart on frame sizing.
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Old 03-21-11, 05:37 PM   #4
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A used C'dale, Co-Motion, Burley would be a good option to the 'tana.
Looks you you could swap pilot/stoker positions . . .
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Old 03-21-11, 07:21 PM   #5
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Look for a used pre-1999 Cannondale RT1000, RT2000 or RT3000 in one of the larger sizes. It should fall into your target budget and will serve you better for your respective and collective sizes vs. the Santana. The reason I say a pre-1999 model is because the stoker compartments were far more generous than they were between 1999 and 2008. They finally came to their senses and went back to longer stoker compartments in 2009.

To know what size (XL/L or L/M) we'd need to know your inseams vs. height as there's a good chance that you both may be able to captain or stoke the same tandem.

Ultimately, the person who feels more comfortable piloting the tandem is the one who should be captain. Technique and team work can go a long way towards nulling out any handling issues that could come from size differences.
I don't think it accurate to call the models you specify "far more generous" in the stoker department. The difference is after all only around 3cm. Sure the extra length is nice but I wouldn't rule out RT's from 99-08 because of it. Most teams don't even use a very short stoker stem to utilize all the length they have.
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Old 03-21-11, 08:02 PM   #6
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I don't think it accurate to call the models you specify "far more generous" in the stoker department. The difference is after all only around 3cm.
I actually agree with you. I was thinking about the M/S and L/S when I wrote my first posting, where they were shortened down to 27.1" My bad.
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Old 03-22-11, 09:45 AM   #7
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Assuming you two are of average proportions, it may well be easier to find a bike that fits with her as captain. Typically, women's inseams are longer than those of men of the same height. And she's taller. But the length of the stoker compartment will matter, as one made to fit the average woman will have less length for its height than you would want.

As for expenses of adjusting a bike to fit - expect to need to replace one or both stems. The stoker stem may be adequately adjustable, but if the bike is large enough, the captain's stem will probably be too long. For a female captain, and a stock frame, you're likely best off going one size down (in the captain's compartment) with a high rise stem (or longer steerer tube, if you're replacing the fork) and the seat post cranked way up. So you can figure at least a stem. On an older bike, replacing the stem may mean retaping the bars, and replacing the cables (so they're long enough). A Santana stem is $79 at Gear to Go, higher at Precision Tandems. Plus shipping in both cases.

So unless it fits from the get-go, assume at least $100 just to get it to fit.

With the other brands, there's a much larger selection of stems, so the price may not be as high. But you may still wind up needing longer cables, which means retaping.

As for expensive replacement components: tandem rated wheels come more dear than equivalent range wheels for singles. The drum brake is getting harder to replace, as there are fewer and fewer around, but you shouldn't have to replace it either. They last a very long time. If it doesn't seem to be working, you can open it up and figure out why.

Most of us with V-brakes or cantilevers like to put on top-end brake shoes.

Tires, chains are a consumable. If it's been ridden too long without changing the chain, you're into a new cassette, and if ridden way too long, new chain rings. But those are both the same as on singles, just faster-wearing.
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Old 03-22-11, 09:53 AM   #8
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If you are considering a Santana, you should be able to get something a bit newer in your price range; probably at least into the mid '90's. If you look at Arrivas (not visas) of this period, you should be able to get an 8 speed cassette, with 145 mm dropout spacing. This will allow you to expand to 9 speed for minimal investment. Try to stay away form the 7 speed freewheel. If it has an Arai drum brake, they are pretty much bulletproof and can be removed if not needed. They are no longer being made and can be sold to help defray your cost!
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Old 03-22-11, 01:47 PM   #9
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Thanks for the advice, everyone; it is invaluable. The C-Dales look like they might be a good fit for our needs. However, I looked at the sizes online, and it looks like they come in a L/S or a Jumbo/Medium. I'm thinking we would either need a L/M or a Jumbo/L, but I'll try to find some to test ride. FYI, my wife usually rides a 59 or 61 frame, and I usually ride a 56.
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Old 03-22-11, 02:26 PM   #10
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As alluded to in my earlier faux pax on frame sizing, Cannondale changed the sizing on its tandems back in 2009.

I had to go and look them up to be sure and still haven't found the old sizing tables, but...

New sizes are: Jumbo/Medium, XLarge/Small, Large/Small and Medium/Small

Pre-1999 - 2008 sizes were: Jumbo/Large, XLarge/Medium, XLarge/Small, Large/Small & Medium/Small.

Note: That's also why the Small (27.1") stoker compartments were on my mind, as they did seem to invade more than 1/2 of the frame sizes.
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Old 04-05-11, 08:47 AM   #11
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Just wanted to follow up on this thread and say that your advice was spot on. Last night we picked up a 23/21 1998 Cannondale RT1000 for $900. It's a great fit for us, and the stoker compartment is much larger than that of the Santana Nuovo Sport and Co-Motion Primera we test rode. Thanks again for the advice on what to look for--you made my craigslist shopping experience much less painful! And now we have $ left over to upgrade a few things.
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Old 04-05-11, 09:17 AM   #12
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Thanks for the follow up on your thread...it is always nice to know how these selections work out.
Congrats on your new ride....you can never go wrong with a C'dale. For that price, if you ever decide to sell, you can ride it for years and probably still get all your money. Have fun.

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Old 04-05-11, 10:53 AM   #13
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Last night we picked up a 23/21 1998 Cannondale RT1000 for $900.
Hey, I've got one of those too; same size, same year even! (Mine is green). :thumbsup:
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Old 04-05-11, 01:57 PM   #14
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Just wanted to follow up on this thread and say that your advice was spot on. Last night we picked up a 23/21 1998 Cannondale RT1000 for $900. ... And now we have $ left over to upgrade a few things.
Wow, that's a lot of tandem for $900.

Please don't keep your upgrade plans a secret! My vote for your spending would be a carbon fork.
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Old 04-05-11, 02:40 PM   #15
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If you are considering a Santana, you should be able to get something a bit newer in your price range; probably at least into the mid '90's. If you look at Arrivas (not visas) of this period, you should be able to get an 8 speed cassette, with 145 mm dropout spacing. This will allow you to expand to 9 speed for minimal investment. Try to stay away form the 7 speed freewheel. If it has an Arai drum brake, they are pretty much bulletproof and can be removed if not needed. They are no longer being made and can be sold to help defray your cost!
I don't believe Santana ever used 145mm spacing. They did 140mm back in the late 80s, maybe into 1990-91, but then switched to 160mm.
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Old 04-05-11, 03:07 PM   #16
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I don't believe Santana ever used 145mm spacing. They did 140mm back in the late 80s, maybe into 1990-91, but then switched to 160mm.
Agreed. Santana started out with 140mm in 1976 and stayed with that until they introduced 160mm rear-spacing on their tandems in 1992.
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Old 04-08-11, 07:24 PM   #17
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We went through the same thing as you. First we bought a used Raleigh coupe tandem that was nicely equipped with shimano 105. It had maybe ten miles on it and we got it for $560. New it was around $1500. Have seen several used since and they sell on eBay for five to seven hundred. It is a great bike for the price and usually sells cheap because this model is not well known. The Raleigh is particularly flexible for rider size. We sold it last year for a hundred more than we paid for it. Bought a used comotion cappuccino on eBay that was about 8 years old and an excellent bike. We paid $1600 for it. I see a couple comotions sell on eBay every month going for $1500 to $2000. If you set up an bay search to email you when comotion tandem appears you will have your bike at your price within a month or two. Also search crags list for similar bikes at similar prices. The Raleigh was a great bike for the price we paid but after three years we yearned for better quality and went for the comotion as out ultimate ride. We used both bikes for loaded touring and recreational riding with no problems.
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