Your Dream Tandem?
My captain, also my fiancť, and I while discussing our upcoming wedding, no date has been set yet, have come to the conclusion that we want to get a new tandem as a wedding gift to ourselves. The wedding will be small and since weíre both fairly established and donít need much in the way of gifts we are asking people to donate towards our tandem fund to supplement the money we are saving for the bike instead of giving gifts. Anyway while deciding how we were going to build up our own bike I got to thinking about the variety of opinions on this forum. I thought it could be interesting to ask if you could design your own tandem from the frame up what frame builder you would use, what components you would use etcetera? For those of you who have done it what have you learned and what would you change? For those of you who havenít let your imaginations run wild.
Since you use the phrase "new tandem" it sounds like you currently have a tandem. What sort of riding do you do and what do you anticipate doing in the future? If you have a strong preference for a frame material that would narrow your choices of builder a bit, but you should be able to consider both truly custom shops and a customized frame from one of the manufacturers.
Well, that's a tough one, IF we ever have the funds, maybe a Recumbent Tandem or a Rans "feet forward" tandem. The problem with most tandems is they don't fit our size range, (32 inseam/26 inseam), so we'd have to go "custom" and that will probably always be "beyond" our funds, rats! :( We are just SO HAPPY that our T-900 Trek Rec.Tandem actually "fits" us and we didn't have to sell a kindney to buy it! ;) Hope you get what you want and it makes you two HAPPY! :)
Don't get me wrong we have a Pretty good idea of what we want to do I just thought it would be interesting to see what other peoples dream bikes are.
Originally Posted by rdtompki
We currently have a Santana Fusion, small frame. We're very much in the endurance, let's see how far we can push ourselves and how fast we can go category (44 mph at one point this morning...LOVED seeing the looks on the faces of half bike riders going in the opposite direction). Like ridingblind said, we have a decent idea of what we want--lightweight. But we also know we need to go custom at this point because of our odd sizing. :-)
Originally Posted by rdtompki
Attachment 212759Attachment 212760
photos:1977 Assenmacher; desert scene on boobtube of Co-Mo
Zona c/f tandem and Co-Mo tandem
Get the best you can afford . . . and above all a proper build/fit!
Choices in frame material from steel, alu, ti, Magnesium, bamboo,carbon fiber (or combinations thereof).
Since 1975 we have owned/ridden 5 tandems, 4 of which we designed and had buillt.
1. Follis . . . steel production . . . had no input in design or much knowledge of tandems. This bike taught us what we did not like. It had Nervar cranks, Mafac centerpulls and Atom drum brake; Nisi 36H rims and forgot name hubs and BBs and der. The drum brake made for a steady diet of broken spokes. A great learning machine! Color: silver/blue.
2. Assenmacher: custom built by Matt Assenmacher (Michigan) delivered Jan. 1977. Put 64,000 happy miles on it before we sold it. Pilot is 5'7" stoker 4' 11''.
Reynolds 531 DB single bike racing tubing with ovalized (a bit rare then) boob tube. Prugnat lugs. Chromed rear triangle and lower half of fork.
Extra short wheelbase (60 and 1/4 inches) and male/ladyback design for proper fit with twin thin laterals. Very fast handling. Hand curved/bent rear seattube (had to deflate rear tire to remove wheel). Toeclip overlap. One very light (34.5 lbs) tandem. Utilized the then latest: Phil Wood hubs, BBs, pedals; 36 spoke Mavic rims with Berg-Union db spokes, then-brand new Dura Ace ders. Campy QRs. Custom adjustable stoker stem (a real novelty then). Round plastic stoker hand rests made in Italy and gotten via the Tandem Club of England. Mafac cantilever brakes and Suntour barcon shifters. D/A headset.
What would change: D/A front der twisted apart in a couple hundred miles (too light for tandem use) and replaced it with tougher Suntour.
3. Colin Laing: custom built for us by British expatriate Colin Laing in Phoenix, AZ. Reynolds 531 db single bike racing tubing for all but the downtube which was oversize tandem guage. Male/ladyback with internal lateral.
Handmade chromed lugs with builders' initials into the headtube lug. Fastback rear triangle (very new then) with aero fillet.
Stretched out the wheelbase to 63.5 inches. More Phil Wood stuff except for the pedals. Mavic rims, 36H. Pedals were Vittoria SuperLeggero (100 grams per pair). Adjustable stoker stem; double spare spoke carrier under the boobtube.
TA triple cranks and Scott Matthauser brakes front and under the chainstays in rear. Suntour barcon shifters. Paint was a gorgeous metallic lavender to pinkish fade. Put 56,000 great miles on that twicer before we designed a new one.
4. Co-Motion Custom. Again 63.5" wheelbase; switched to Japanese ultra light Cro-Mo (Tange Prestige) tubing. A modified male/ladyback styling with internal lateral. Phil hubs, utilized ultra-light sealed (forgot the name) BBs and Topline crankset. Vittoria pedals were taken off the Colin Laing and put on the Co-Mo and lasted a total of 80,000 miles! Japanese rubber covered round stoker handrest. Barcon shifters.
The rear triangle and lower fork were chromed; this was not a lugged frame but beautifully fillet brazed. An airbrushed colorful desert scene was painted on the boob tube to offset the glossy blackpaint.
Double spare spoke hanger under boobtube, a braze-on for our mini-garage door opener on the adjustable stoker stem.
56,000 miles later, we were ready for our present tandem.
5. Zona, custom built by Bob Davis in Peoria, AZ. Full carbon fiber tandem frame with c/f window-cutout lugs. Male/ladyback design, internal lateral and again 63.5" wheelbase. Titanium rear dropouts and 5 bottlecage mounts and various nuts/bolts. Pilot/stoker top tube was angled way down to allow easier mounting for our aging bones and shrinking height. Rer-inforcing aewro fillets where needed.
Some other features: Fully adjustable carbon fiber lugged stoker stem (1st one ever built) with custom mount for stoker's water bottle and yes . . . that mini garage door opener + room for 2 spare spokes under the boobtube. Also, a full custom one-of c/f rear rack and c/f round stoker handrests (K-grips . . . so named after stoker Kay!). Easton EC90 c/f drop bars front and rear.
Crankset is a triple Carbon Pro Team FSA, Ti BBs, D/A front der, Shimano XTR rear, wheels are Velocity AeroHead, 32H front and 36H rear on Chris King hubs + a Chris King headset. Front brake is D/A calipher and rear is Tektro-Mini. D/A STI shifters. Clipless pedals.
Things changed: Got rid of STI shifting (too finicky) after 3,000 miles and at stoker's suggestion went back to old reliable barcons, this time Dura Ace.
Got rid of clipless pedals as stoker developed foot/knee issues and went back to generic clips and straps for both of us.
So far our Zona has logged 34,000+ great miles.
If you want a great tandem find a reliable custom tandembuilder. Lay out your desired frame design on graph paper (or do it on your 'puter if you are able).
Pick out components you want. Also pick alternates as not everything you want is always readily available.
Also pick out color(s) and any other refinements that you may need/want.
Just our input; hope this helps!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
zona - You always inspire and inform people so well and you have owned some very nice tandems in your time.
When I asked The Girl to marry me last eater she said she did not want an engagement ring but rather, a custom tandem... I am presently serving an apprenticeship with Arvon Cycles here in Canada and he has been tandems and touring bikes for more than 30 years.
Our tandem is a custom Arvon convertible that allows for two adults or an adult and child to ride as a stoker (I have two young daughters) and the bike is expedition worthy and I will be doing some additional custom work to it before we choose a colour.
Will be wonderful to ride with my wife... we are getting married August 16th... and to be able to take my daughters on longer rides than they would be able to do on their own.
Some day, I will probably build us another tandem and my youngest wants to ride trans Canada with me in 2015 and figure we will ride a tandem instead of single bicycles.
Here are links to a couple things I've written that may be of interest in light of your questions:
Originally Posted by riding_blind
From 2004, Custom Tandems: A Primer
From 2008 & 2009, a 12-part series I wrote as we sorted out our most recent "Dream Tandem" that documents all of the trials and tribulations:
From February 2011, a follow-up to our Calfee Journal that fills in gap between entry #12 in March 2009 and February:
To your other specific questions:
- if you could design your own tandem from the frame up what frame builder you would use, - I guess my reaction here is, unless you're a bicycle frame designer the best you can hope for is providing candidate builders with a description of how you ride and what you're looking for in your next tandem. From that, the builder will come up with a design. As for which builders to consider, the ones who have successfully built tandems that have caught my interest, i.e., if I was having a titanium frame built I'd be talking with Kent Eriksen or Rob Vandermark at Seven Cycles. If it was composites, Craig Calfee. It it was steel, it would depend on what type of tandem we were having built: a classic, old-school tandem or rando would have me on the phone to Stephen Bilenky. Something fast and sporty would have me contacting Dwan Shepard at Co-Motion. Something really outside the box, I'd be checking in with David Boehm or Dennis Bushnell via R&E Cycles. Ultimately, what you're looking for is a builder who gives you a good vibe in terms of being someone who you're comfortable working with and who seems to be able to capture your desires in his description of his design ideas for your tandem.
- what components you would use etcetera? The ones that I have experience with or that have a long-standing reputation for working well and/or being backed up by exceptional customer support.
- what have you learned and A lot... See above for just a sampling, but the most important is get everything in writing and get a signed-off / approved design drawing from the builder so that as "issues" develop you'll have a clear understanding of what was agreed upon as a starting point for any negotiation of changes or consideration.
- what would you change? - I'd spend more time understanding my builder's suggestions when they are at odds with my own desires. Chances are, he probably knows more about what really will work well than I do... even though as consumers and bike enthusiasts we sometimes 'think' we know what we want. Hey, you're paying for your builder's experience... might as well use it.
Good hunting and have fun with the entire process.
Thanks for the responses everyone. Zona it is interesting to read about the different tandems you have had built over the years. Thank you as well TandemGeek. I have actually read all of the links except for the epilogue I somehow missed that one.
So here’s what we have been thinking. Please keep in mind we are still in the early stages and haven’t talked to any builders yet so this could change. Our first choice would be Calfee. I don’t have to tell any of you about the advantages to CF especially where comfort is concerned. As Tandemchick mentioned in an earlier post we enjoy our long rides. Our second choice would be Paketa. My big concern about a magnesium frame is long-term durability. It has only recently become a material used for bicycle frames and we don’t know what affect 10-15 years of riding will have on it. My third choice for a frame would be the Co-motion Macchiato. At this point we all know the pluses and minuses of a good aluminum frame.
I still have plenty of time before we start building the bike and haven’t even really started seriously considering components yet. I know what’s out there but that decision isn’t a current priority.
Attachment 212868Good to get started early on research and finding a builder!
Nowadays there are quite a few choices for builders that have extensive tandem experience and also availability of tandem specific components . . . not so 30 - or even 20 - years ago!
It helps to get all your ideas and options down on paper or on your 'puter.
We've always had the pleasure of meeting with the builders and appreciated their input and experience.
When we ordered our first custom built in 1976, Matt Assenmacher, the builder, insisted on meeting stoker Kay as he did not quite believe the measurement I presented. As he saw Kay coming in the shop he said "Oh . . . she is that short!"
On our Assenmacher, Colin Laing and Zona tandem we saw the work as it progressed at least once. But don't pester the builder with lotsa visits as their time is valuable and limited. If they have any questions/suggestions they'll contact you.
We were super-satisfied with all the builds, but a word of caution: if builder tells you a certain finish date for delivery, be prepared to mentally add on a few days or even a couple weeks as there can be delays in getting componentry.
We do tend to nit-pick on components and were diappointed in only a couple of our choices: D/A's (first year) front derailleur, D/A STI, clipless pedals and difficulty/hassle with some internal cable routing/replacements.
We have ridden over 30-some tandem brands/models; some for only a few miles, and several for more than a thousand miles. We were priviliged to do testing for several companies: Cannondale, Schwinn DuoSport, Burley and Zona.
So if you can, get in test rides on different frame materials and tandem brands and componentry.
There are likely local qualified builders that we've never heard of that may be a great choice, as well as the well-established brands you have mentioned.
Arvon (Canadian) is a brand we've heard of but not seen and we are sure there's many more out there.
So good luck on planning that dream tandem!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
In the three+ decades that we have ridden TWOgether, we know pretty well what we need/want/like.
Is there a budget limit, how much do you plan to spend. The more you can spend the more exotic the dream bike can become.
We just built our dream tandem and it cost us around $9,000. I have not added up all of the receipts. That was just about the limit. If I would have had 15k to spend the bike would have some different components.
We have owned three tandems in our 30 years of riding together.
Our current one is Calfee and may very well be the last.
I can't imagine a tandem that would be better than this.
I chose all the components and built it up myself.
If I could have afford it I would have gone with Lightning cranks and gates belt drive.
Other than that I wouldn't change a thing.
Zona - Arvon has been building tandems as long or longer than most (30 plus years) but we are a small custom builder and if someone from California wanted a tandem we would encourage them to shop local so they could develop a more intimate relationship with a good builder.
Originally Posted by zonatandem
With that being said, Arvon tandems and touring bikes have a strong following and have circumnavigated the globe... it is nice to get messages from people who have been riding their Arvon bikes for decades and remain wholly satisfied and we often refit and upgrade our older tandems as needs change and technology advances.
An Arvon will be a rare sighting anywhere except here and even then they are not common bikes... I have friends who own 4 of them as they own 2 tandems (racing and touring) and 2 custom built rando bicycles.
Besides being a builder, Arvon was a world class racer in the 50's, help start the local rando club, and figured he has logged well over 500,000 miles in his life.
He knows what makes a good bicycle.
The advantages of carbon fiber are manifest both in the market and in competition. It is great having a carbon fiber tandem, as it is smooth, stiff, compliant and light. Paketa and magnesium have their advocates, but with half-bikes magnesium has not been able to compete with carbon (as evidenced by the unlamented 2010 demise of the magnesium Pinarello Dogma). It isn't especially apparent why in half-bikes, carbon>magnesium, but that in tandems, magnesium>carbon. As for aluminum, no one ever considers an aluminum frame a dream half-bike, save for CAAD-9 in crits.
Originally Posted by riding_blind
Deciding on carbon, however, does not necessitate a Calfee. There is also Cyfac (French), Ciocc (Italy), and Cunga Bikes (Ireland).
Originally Posted by Ritterview
If it's a dream bike, I would want carbon materials, but a frame that exploits carbon construction technique. Like how many single frames are fabricated with carbon prepreg unidirectional tapes forming the left or right half of the frame, positioned to optimize load bearing strength while reducing weight, this is how I would shop for a frame. The shape would incorporate airfoil styled tubes with no diagonal. Cables would not run internal, but would be covered by a fairing. The frame would also offer blending of the brake assembly and disc. Water bottle locations would not be cages, rather integral sliding into the shape of the frame tubes or would incorporate the ability to carry Camelback bladders slid into these compartments.
The fork would be all carbon, again disc brake specific, with the brake mount fairing the disc also.
A tube and lug carbon bike is very nice, but unless custom tubes with very specific fiber quantities and directions are utilized, the dream is still not achieved.
Ergonomics wise, it would be flat bar with time trial aero bars.
Wheels would be 808 rear and 404 front. 32 spoke front, 36 spoke rear. Rohloff rear hub with a 2x on the front cranks allowing all right side drive. Prior to assembly, the hub internals would be shot peened and micro polished, then friction reduction treated. Steel would be replaced with titanium when applicable. Carbon cranks with titanium axles. Stoker ti seatpost. Captain aluminum post, custom stoker stem. All hardware either aluminum or titanium as required by the application.
Hey it says dream tandem...cost nor availability was not mentioned.
Still as a friend said when I suggested he trade his Seven in for an Eight, it would still have the same engines. Nice to dream, but for us our Co-Mo does the job of us having fun.
Here is our actual dream build. Started riding it at the beginning of this year. About 2k miles on it so far. BTW, this is our first tandem and we are loving it! We're planning on a second set of wheels. Something very aero, like Jet 6 or Jet 9.
Originally Posted by riding_blind
Pakata V2r build :
Paketa V2r frame with 130mm rear wheel spacing
Enve 2.0 fork
Zipp cranks and BB
Cane Creek AER headset
Captainís stem KCNC Team Issue 31.8
Stokerís stem Extralite OC road stem 31.8
Thompson Masterpiece seatposts (tuned)
Saddles- we keep switching
New Ultimate seat post clamps
Kestrel EMS PRO OS SL handlebars-Capt 42mm, stoker 40mm
Lizard skin DSP bar tape
Full Nokon cables
SRAM RED levers
SRAM RED front der.
SRAM XX rear der.
SRAM powerdome 11/23 cassette
Gates belt drive
Dura Ace 7900 brakes (tuned)
Capt. Pedals = Speedplay Frog
Stoker pedals = Xpedo XRF06TT
Q Rings- 53/39
Shimano chain (Ultegra?)
American Classic 420 wheelset
Vittoria CX Corsa 25mm Tires
Strada carbon bottle cages
Depending what saddles are on, the bike weighs about 23lbs with pedals.
Have fun with your build!
Based on personal experience I would highly recommend keeping daVinci (Denver, CO) in your desirable frame builders list. We have visited their plant many times and spoken with both Todd and Brian (great people) and have seen first-hand some of the clever custom things that they do for people with a wide range of needs and desires. Can't say enough good things about our daVinci or any of the others we've seen them build.
This is an interesting thread because there are as many dream tandems as there are riders. Although I am perfectly happy with our 1993 Noventa, my dream tandem is my next tandem which is currently in the build stage.
Are you going to share with the group what you are building?
Originally Posted by waynesulak
My current tandem build is a Santana Arriva tandem which has been modified to run 650B tires and other custom modifications including a low trail fork. Pictures and a full description will be posted once the build is complete.
Current 100+ temperature days in Fort Worth, Texas has limited my desire to work on it since all the cooler morning times are used riding our Noventa.
Current temp is 107 F. Got up to ride at 4:45 am last Sat and the temp was 86 still dropping down to 82 at 5:30 or so. Utah sounds GOOD Zona! then again so does retirement.
with an all white Santana chariot on fire in Fort Worth, Texas
Top of the list on my dream components list would be S&S couplers. Having just returned from an oversees tandem vacation I can not say enough regarding how much we enjoy traveling on our tandem. We have only done it a few times so far but once a year more than justifies the expense.
While on our most recent trip I was pleasantly suprised to find out how easy it was to take the mid section out of the bike and fit everything in the back of a small rented hatchback.
Our current bike is a Calfee with S&S couplers, the only change I would hope to make one day is electronic shifting with a triple. Having been shown how easy it is to remove and replace the timing chain by tandemgeek I do not have any deire to put a gates belt on the bike.
Yup, that's the dream.
Originally Posted by chichi
Meanwhile, we're still planning on taking a tandem along on our trip to Europe next summer. Not as convenient, but we won't let that stop us!
Originally Posted by bgross
If you were inclined to take a tandem to Europe, viewing the Flickr Set from the 17 tandem teams that last month took a trip to France, promoted by Tandem Cycle Works of Colorado and organized by Iron Donkey Bicycle Works, would not likely dissaude you. It looks like a ton of fun.
What a great way to start the day -- and hour-long slideshow of Tandem Touring. Thanks!
Originally Posted by Ritterview
Just so the OP doesn't think we're completely hijacking the thread -- to me, at least, the "dream tandem" is as much about what we do with the bike as it is about the hardware.
Hear, hear. For me, handling that I (captain) like is at the top of the list. If I like the handling, Stoker is happy because the ride is smooth and confident. The other biggie is reliability in use: no on-road mechanicals, missed shifts, dropped chains, broken chains, broken spokes, tweaked or broken (carbon) rims, or blown tires. All the rest of it is quite secondary. For us, our CoMo Speedster is very good. We can sport ride or tour with it and everything works perfectly. It climbs well, descends like a dream, and rides smoothly. We do tire, but it's not the bike that tires us, just our own ambition.
Originally Posted by bgross