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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 07-06-11, 04:16 PM   #1
flatbiker
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experience with triplets?

In order to stop the fighting between my daughters, I will have to upgrade from my beloved Cannondale MT2000 (aluminum frame, suspension fork, 26" wheels, front disc brake, kiddie crank) to a triplet. A not so local dealer has a 10 year old Santana Cabrio steel triplet in store (500km on the clock) which he is willing to part with at 30% under current list price. I test drove it (unfortunately not with my wife) and I am not totally convinced - too twitchy and seemed to flex much more than my tandem.

Is this an issue with the Santana geometry, with the setup (drop handlebars), with steel vs aluminum, my stoker for the test drive, or just that's how triplets are?
Is there anyone with experience how Co-Motion triplets compare?

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Old 07-06-11, 05:18 PM   #2
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You might al also try tandem@hobbes mailing list, and crazyguyonabike journals - then send a message via the guest book.
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Old 07-06-11, 06:29 PM   #3
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We own a Cabrio with couplers. It also works as our traveling tandem. The bigger/less experienced stokers will make it feel very "Twitchy" I bet with your wife and a small kid would feel much better. In general, the triplet is much harder on the captain than a tandem. We have done hilly centuries with our grown daughters and one time stokers and it is a chore. Short/flat rides are a lot of fun. I have never ridden any other triplets but if I had to guess, I would say that the Santana would be more stable than the Co-Mo.
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Old 07-06-11, 07:23 PM   #4
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I've got about as much experience with tripletts as anybody.

My daughter's 3 boys will be 11 in October. My son's 3 girls will be 2 in August.
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Old 07-06-11, 10:01 PM   #5
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Suggestion: Keep the C'dale and add a trail-a-bike.
have the girls switch off in the middle of the ride so there is no 'favoritism'.
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Old 07-06-11, 11:15 PM   #6
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I have an '84 Santana Soverign ( steel ) triplet and rode it regularly with two different children when they were between 2-12 ( almost always with another adult ). I had been a regular tandem rider for several years before getting the triplet. When I first got it, I thought I threw my money away and took two lanes to make a turn. It was a lot different than a tandem. I thought there was a much bigger difference going from a tandem to a triple than from a single to a tandem. After a little practice, it got much easier to ride. I enjoyed riding it for a long time. I'd suggest you give the triplet another test to get used to it.
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Old 07-07-11, 10:18 AM   #7
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Suggestion: Keep the C'dale and add a trail-a-bike.
have the girls switch off in the middle of the ride so there is no 'favoritism'.
That's my plan B...
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Old 07-07-11, 10:52 AM   #8
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Suggestion: Keep the C'dale and add a trail-a-bike.
I do this with a Cannondale RT1000 and a Burley Piccolo. It works OK. I don't have any experience with a triplet, but I do have twins. But they are too small to ride.
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Old 07-07-11, 12:28 PM   #9
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You might check with Todd at da Vinci Designs in Denver. He rides a tandem with his wife and young son and builds them for other people too. His has couplers and it can convert from a triplet to a tandem when he and his wife take touring vacations. There are photos of it on his website as well. www.davincitandems.com Even more photos on the da Vinci Facebook albums.
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Old 07-07-11, 03:11 PM   #10
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I own a Santana Cabrio triplet, and have been riding it with my wife and now 6.5-year-old son for two years now. Overall, I've been very pleased with the way it rides. Certainly, any triple is going to feel more "twitchy" than a single due to the amount of bike you have behind you, and the fact that usually the heavier of the two stokers is in the back position (at least at first). The first few rides it felt really weird, even though I was used to riding our fully loaded tandem when touring (with weight that was probably approximate to what we had on the triple). Now that we're used to it it's no problem at all. In fact, a few weeks ago we did a three-day, overnight loaded tour with our son (his first) on the triple, and I was surprised how well it rode even with front and rear panniers.

Also, a stoker that moves around a lot on the far back will cause more problems than they would on a tandem. It's a simple matter of leverage.

IMO, the Cabrio S&S option is the best way to go on a triple, if you can afford the extra cost. So much more versatile and easy to travel with. We flew with ours from the USA to Europe last year, for example (one week in SW Germany and one week in Provence doing day rides).

Where are you located in Europe, and what is the price you are being quoted? If it's only 30% off the current new price for a 10-year-old bike, that doesn't seem like that much of a savings. Although, I will say that these bikes tend to hold their value pretty well, as they are rare in the used market. If you are in the euro zone, you can get yourself a brand-new triplet by traveling to and buying in the USA and get pretty much that same 30% discount due to the exchange rate right now. Heck, I'll sell you my Cabrio for 6500 euro, delivered to you in Europe! :-)
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Old 07-08-11, 02:34 PM   #11
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I own a Santana Cabrio triplet, and have been riding it with my wife and now 6.5-year-old son for two years now. Overall, I've been very pleased with the way it rides. Certainly, any triple is going to feel more "twitchy" than a single due to the amount of bike you have behind you, and the fact that usually the heavier of the two stokers is in the back position (at least at first). The first few rides it felt really weird, even though I was used to riding our fully loaded tandem when touring (with weight that was probably approximate to what we had on the triple). Now that we're used to it it's no problem at all. In fact, a few weeks ago we did a three-day, overnight loaded tour with our son (his first) on the triple, and I was surprised how well it rode even with front and rear panniers.

Also, a stoker that moves around a lot on the far back will cause more problems than they would on a tandem. It's a simple matter of leverage.

IMO, the Cabrio S&S option is the best way to go on a triple, if you can afford the extra cost. So much more versatile and easy to travel with. We flew with ours from the USA to Europe last year, for example (one week in SW Germany and one week in Provence doing day rides).

Where are you located in Europe, and what is the price you are being quoted? If it's only 30% off the current new price for a 10-year-old bike, that doesn't seem like that much of a savings. Although, I will say that these bikes tend to hold their value pretty well, as they are rare in the used market. If you are in the euro zone, you can get yourself a brand-new triplet by traveling to and buying in the USA and get pretty much that same 30% discount due to the exchange rate right now. Heck, I'll sell you my Cabrio for 6500 euro, delivered to you in Europe! :-)
briwasson, thank you for the advice. The shop wanted 7000Euro including conversion with two kidkits and from drop bar to straight handlebar.
Unfortunately, importing a new bike to Germany will raise the price substantially vs US list price: 19% import duty and 16% (or so) tariff on bicycles.

I feel a bit like you said: the rebate is not sufficient for a 10 year old model. I'd somehow compromise over what I want. The frame doesn't support disk brakes (ok, I could simply get a new fork), its the 28" frame, so the widest tires I could put on are 32mm (a substantial amount of riding around here is on gravel paths), I'd be missing out on 10 years of development in components (maybe not so important).

6500 for a two year old cabrio would be a different story - especially if it were the 26" version...
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Old 07-09-11, 07:53 PM   #12
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I have a Co-Motion triplet, which I use mainly with my 9-year old and 6-year old daughters. Occasionally my wife will ride in the middle, with one girl at the rear. On the sloping frame triplet, the smallest rider generally rides in the rear. Thus far, I have not loaded it with panniers. I have found this bike to be very stable; equal to the Santana tandem and Rans Screamer that I used to have. It does take a lot more space to turn around, and is a bit harder on the captain, at least when the team first starts riding together. All in all, I find it to be an excellent bike, and a great way to further family togetherness.
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Old 07-10-11, 03:39 AM   #13
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You should consider one of the Co-Motion Periscope models to give your family some flexibility with which riders can fit on the bike. We recently added a Periscope Trident Convertible to our fleet of tandems so that we could ride with our 4-year-old daughter. We purchased the bike in the US and then flew back home to Poland with it.


Audrey is so short that we added a child stoker kit, but most kids her age or older would probably fit on there just by lowering the telescoping seatposts. Adults We can also remove a section so I can ride with just one stoker.

The bike feels amazingly solid and handles impressively well, considering the long wheelbase. A triple takes more thinking to get it through tight corners, but most of the time it isn't that different from riding any other tandem.

Riding on the terrible roads we have here in Poland we are very glad to have the sturdy 26 inch wheels and some fatter tires. Plenty fast for the smooth sections of road and offering a bit more comfort on the cobbles, broken pavement and tram tracks that are a good percentage of our riding.

We couldn't be happier with this bike and we are especially happy knowing that we will never outgrow it.
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Old 07-11-11, 08:39 AM   #14
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We have the 700c (28") model, and we can get a 700x35 tire on it, but not with fenders. 32mm is probably the max with fenders. Santana put 700x28 Conti Gatorskin tires on as original equipment, which I thought were too small for a triplet.

The Co-Motion Periscope mentioned by Tandemracer is also a really nice bike to consider.

Personally, I wouldn't be too keen on disc brakes on a triplet, preferring our v-brake and Arai drum setup for redundancy. Be aware that it's not a simple task to swap out the 1-1/4" fork on a Santana for a disc-compatible one, as it's a non-standard steerer size.

The only difference between the 10-year-old version and a new one is basically moving from 9 to 10 speed. Ours is a 9 speed version (we bought it new, but as "old stock"), which I'm perfectly happy with, so I wouldn't worry too much about that.
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Old 07-12-11, 07:50 AM   #15
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You should consider one of the Co-Motion Periscope models to give your family some flexibility with which riders can fit on the bike. We recently added a Periscope Trident Convertible to our fleet of tandems so that we could ride with our 4-year-old daughter. We purchased the bike in the US and then flew back home to Poland with it.

Audrey is so short that we added a child stoker kit, but most kids her age or older would probably fit on there just by lowering the telescoping seatposts. Adults We can also remove a section so I can ride with just one stoker.

The bike feels amazingly solid and handles impressively well, considering the long wheelbase. A triple takes more thinking to get it through tight corners, but most of the time it isn't that different from riding any other tandem.

Riding on the terrible roads we have here in Poland we are very glad to have the sturdy 26 inch wheels and some fatter tires. Plenty fast for the smooth sections of road and offering a bit more comfort on the cobbles, broken pavement and tram tracks that are a good percentage of our riding.

We couldn't be happier with this bike and we are especially happy knowing that we will never outgrow it.
I was a bit hesitant to even consider a periscope, as I was afraid it would flex too much with the long wheelbase, no diagonal tubes, and long telescopic seatposts. After your comments, I think I should actually consider it and try to find a place to test-drive one. Your setup looks like the one I should get...
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Old 07-12-11, 01:08 PM   #16
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I was a bit hesitant to even consider a periscope, as I was afraid it would flex too much with the long wheelbase, no diagonal tubes, and long telescopic seatposts. After your comments, I think I should actually consider it and try to find a place to test-drive one. Your setup looks like the one I should get...
Take the train over her to Poland and you are welcome to test ride it. I don't think there are too many other Periscope triplets in Europe.
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Old 07-12-11, 03:05 PM   #17
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http://www.squaw.com/tahoe-sierra-century-bike-ride-2

Been riding with my boys for several years now.... first on a tandem w/Burley trailer, then tandem w/Piccolo, ultimately a 90's vintage Santana triplet..... we've got a lot of miles in.... a bunch of centuries (mainly metrics, but a couple of Milers too).... oh yeah, and lots of climbing as well.... The triplet is way better than the tandem/piccolo..... very stable, but a twitchin' stoker is a twitchin' stoker...... boys are big enough now that I removed the child stoker, which helps more.....
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Old 07-14-11, 06:12 PM   #18
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I don't know if the Adams Tandem Trail-a-bike is available in Europe, or not. I have one, but it is more than a little twitchy when pulled behind the regular tandem.

See attached for a picture of me and the 5 year old kid-back stoker on the tandem, pulling the tandem-trail-a. The 3 yr old can't reach the pedals properly, so I fixed them in place as footrests. The 1 year-old is in a seat that Adams sells, onto a seatpost-rack. I've used that on both the single and double trail-a-bikes.

As shown, it was definitely somewhat twitchy!

Since then, with the kids 6 mo older and the 3.5-yo showing great pedaling on a 12" bike with training wheels, I moved her onto the kid-back and the 5.5-yo onto the tandem-trail-a-bike. She's now the Captain, as well! My thinking was that the 5.5-yo could balance better, and it would be more stable.

But, that is now REALLY twitchy. I'm not ready to take it on the road; we have a bike path nearby where I can do ~12mi to park, then ~2.5 home. When I rode us up to Maker Faire I used the (empty) sidewalk rather than ride on a trafficed street.

I need an adult to watch who is jerking everything around; both girls deny it! The 1.5-yo boy is only 25 lbs, but a weight that far back might be enough to swing things.

Anyway, another option to consider.

Arggh, I can't upload. I'll try to do so from home, maybe it's a firewall issue.
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Old 07-15-11, 08:15 PM   #19
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The triplet will be a bit more twitchy than a tandem. We have a commotion periscope with a sloping frame. We absolutely love it and it was so much better for us than a tag-along.
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Old 07-16-11, 10:56 PM   #20
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A triplet need not be twitchy!

Our triplet is as stable as our tandems.
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Old 07-19-11, 04:12 PM   #21
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Our triplet is as stable as our tandems.
It looks like an aluminum frame (at least). Which brand/model?
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Old 07-28-11, 11:32 PM   #22
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Our triplet was made by Meridian in Bend Oregon USA. Unfortunately they are no longer in business. We had it custom made with S&S couplers. The Frame is Steel. It easily becomes a tandem and it packs as a triplet or tandem into 2 S&S hard cases. Since Meridian no longer makes bikes I would Highly recommend Co-motion(Eugene Oregon USA). We have two tandems in addition to the triplet. One made by Santana and the other by Co-motion. Both serve a specific purpose but in general we like the fit and finish of Co-motion better.
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