My wife and I are interested in getting into tandem riding. I used to race on a local Cannondale MTB team, so have a good history with the brand but I don't know much about tandems. Based on some online research, it seems that cdale gives some of the best bang for the buck for tandems - so I've started my search for one. We're really impressed with the 2009 plus road tandems with their disc brakes and nice groupsets, but this might be a little pricy for us. I learned that Cannondale redesigned their tandems in 1999 with their CAAD technology and that the frames have been largely the same ever since. Do the 2004 upgrades such as fatty fork and disc brakes affect the ride enough for us to narrow our search to 2004 plus models? How much does the 2009 redesign affect ride quality? I appreciate your replies and wisdom. I also posted a want ad in WTB forum, so if you or anyone you know has a tandem that's been sitting for a while, let me know!
'10 C'Dale Tandem RT2. '07 Trek Tandem T2000, '10 Epic Marathon MTB, '12 Rocky Mountain Element 950 MTB, '95 C'dale R900, "04 Giant DS 2 '07 Kona Jake the Snake, '95 Nishiki Backroads
Jason, here are a few thoughts for your consideration. As a background, we've owned two first generation (1990 and 1991) C'dale road tandems and we currently own and mostly ride a 2010 C'dale RT2. I have no personal riding experience with the C'dale tandems of the late 90's or early 00's. We mostly ride a lot of hills and a lot of rough country roads. We are a 290 pound team that have been riding Tandems since 1990. Now to your specific questions. The Fatty fork is significantly better than the first generation 1 inch C'dale forks particularly on steep twisty down hills and under aggressive braking. However, under normal flatland/rolling hill riding and normal braking, the Fatty fork is far less critical. As for the brakes, while I love the discs and do prefer them for our serious braking on long steep down hills, they simply are not critical for most riding.
Bottom line: if you are an aggressive and or a heavy down hill riding team then I would recommend that you get the latest generation C'dale with the Fatty fork and discs. However if you are anything less than that, and are budget constrained, them I would not hesitate to buy any C'dale Road Tandem that is fairly priced and that fits you and your stoker. Good luck with your decision.
Thanks for the advice guys! We are also a 290 pound team, and will be riding the hill country south of Austin mostly - so I guess disc brakes will be a welcome feature. For now I'll focus my search on 2004 plus Cannondales with disc brakes.
I just wanted to comment, we bought/received our 2010/11 RT2 about two weeks ago, and it had been on order prior. Before receiving our order, and talking to our LBS, they said that the bikes they had on order (in our case a M/S) were some of the last US built Cannondale tandems available. I.E. that cannondale had run through their back-stock. In as much as ride quality, i'm afraid it's hard for me to say as we've only had time for two short shakedown rides since receiving the bike. I'll say that my soker has yet to express any feeling of stiff or uncomfortably stiff ride characteristics.