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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 02-25-12, 08:51 PM   #1
rdtompki
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Looking for Weight Savings (low hanging fruit)

Ok, so the obvious approach is to shed 10-15 lbs of fat, but let's set that aside, and I have no death wish so stoker's weight is off limits.

Saddles are SA, we do like them, but I'm not saying they are off the table. thudbuster is heavy and I'll broach that with DW, but neither of us is a featherweight.

Here's my candidate list:
1. Lighter pump. I'm going to go ahead and do this.
2. CF WB cages - no, already done
3. CF stoker stem/bars
4. Thudbuster replacement - big comfort item for the stoker
5. Remove trunk and rack and find alternate storage for tools and clothes
This is probably the biggest opportunity for weight savings, but I'm at a loss as to
how to store both tools and the clothes that we sometimes have to take off during
rides.

I can calculate easily the savings for 1-4 and I believe the savings will be a fraction of the weight I could loose in 4-6 weeks. Would appreciate advice on 5. It might be that 1-2 frame bags would save weight and hold tools, but I don't have any experience with these.

Those of you familiar with our Northern California organized rides will recognize the problem for us seniors. There is always some climb, might not be over 500 feet, near the end of a ride (Solvang comes to mind) with 10+ percent grades. These can be tough at the end of a ride. Now a 15 lb. weight savings is less than 5 percent (higher speed/faster cadence), but there is definitely a psychological effect. Anyway, all suggestions gratefully accepted.
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Old 02-25-12, 09:12 PM   #2
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If you can spare a bottle cage, the "Cage Rocket" would hold a good multitool, patch kit and spare tubes.
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Old 02-26-12, 09:33 AM   #3
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Those Tail-rider trunk packs are well worth their weight -- we don't leave home without ours. They might seem heavier (loaded) than they really are because when you pick the bike up amidships the weight on the rear is acting on a long lever arm. If you go round to the back and hoist the rear wheel by itself the weight doesn't seem nearly as bad. On the road it doesn't really add much to physical effort as I'm sure you know but psychological is real too, I agree, especially at the end of a hard day.

However, your rear rack is designed to carry heavy touring panniers. It's much beefier than it needs to be just to support a tail-rider and could be lightened a lot, either by removing metal (if you don't mind permanently altering it) or shopping around for a much lighter rack. Since you know you won't be overloading it -- the manufacturers don't, so they over-build them -- you could get creative in cutting away as much of it as you dare. As the aeronautical engineers say, "If it breaks, make it stronger. If it doesn't, make it lighter."

I'm sure you've gone over your tool list to make sure you take only what you really need. Don't forget that a selection of loose Allen wrenches and an 8mm shorty box-end wrench weighs a lot less than a multi-tool that will have a lot of bits that you either don't need or won't fit into the space you have to work.
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Old 02-26-12, 09:46 AM   #4
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Rick, Maggi and I usually ride with the same setup as you, i.e., Topeak rack and the big Explorer bag that explodes into panniers when necessary, lots of tools and spare parts, some of which are to help THE OTHER guy out! (Example: 8 and 10 speed masterlinks when we ride 9 speed.) We fill the main compartment full of food, snacks, and enough frozen water bottles that we're still sucking ice water at the end of a metric. I weighed just the bag before one ride and it was 12 pounds!

But I also have the memory of riding in the 70's when I carried 2 spare sew-ups under the seat, a pump, and a single water bottle. Two bottles was for a full century!

So for one rally ride I decided to pare down and see just what I really needed. I ditched the patch kit altogether. I carry 2 spare tubes, and if I have more flats than that in a day, I tend to get disgusted and call it quits anyway! I kept the Park tire boots (2). I ditched the tire tools, as I can get MY tires off and on without them. I kept one 9 speed masterlink and my smallest multi-tool. Also gone was the CO2 inflator and cartridges. I still remember how to use a pump, and have a good one! Gone was the Leatherman, the spare cables, the alcohol-based wipes for your hands, the medicine cabinet, (endurolytes, tylenol, benedryl, aspirin, tums, zantac, etc.), and the emergency med kit, (the paramedics usually have one with them if you really need it!). We stuffed our snacks, keys, phones and wallets in our jersey pockets as mother nature intended, put two water bottles apiece on the bike, and we were set.

What was left fit into a small seat bag, and I was able to leave the rack and bag at home. The only addition was 6 one foot lengths of cord. Remember that stuff, what everybody used before someone put "bunji" put in front of it? Works great for tying shed clothing under the top tube. We shed about 8 pounds of the 12 pounds we were used to carrying.

It was a fun experiment, but that's what it was. We live in Florida where heat is a bigger issue than hills, so we like to carry an excess of water, (and it may as well be cold!) We also like to have our comfort items with us, and I like to have the tools and parts to help out the other guy. So it all went back on within a couple of weeks!

P.S. Biggest piece of low-hanging fruit I see is an adjustable stoker stem. Wouldn't a fixed length carbon-fiber one be lighter/look sexier?
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Old 02-26-12, 12:52 PM   #5
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Some good input:
Stem - were going to get a fitting for my stoker, DW Sherrill. Once her fit is more dialed I'll seriously look at a CF stoker stem, maybe bullhorns as well if I can find them in a width that fits around my big butt. I'll do some experiments will my pump and see how reliably I can get >100 psi; I'm no weakling for a senior and 200 lbs, but it's really work to get to the higher pressures.

We don't carry much weight in our rear bag and Sherrill's seat post is Al so I'm wondering if a lighter post-clamped rack and lighter bag might not help as well. I'll look into that when I get a chance.

Agree on the tools. I've only used my multi-tool once, but it really saved us so I'm not going without. It's only after a brutal climb (yesterday) that I'm wishing the bike and I weighed less.
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Old 02-26-12, 01:16 PM   #6
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A conventional drive train would save some weight and increase drive efficiency as well. I don't think you would notice any of the weight saved by things like cf stems etc.
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Old 02-26-12, 02:18 PM   #7
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I lost 30 lbs a year ago, and it helped my climbing immensely. It was like no longer carrying an extra 30 lb child with me on rides. I can't help but think that, with the changes you may make to your tandem maybe shaving off 2-3 lbs, that it may be cheaper to look at whether losing some weight would be doable. I think that could help you much more than any of these changes your contemplating. Please don't take this the wrong way, and obviously I have no idea what you or your stoker weigh . . .
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Old 02-26-12, 02:24 PM   #8
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I believe Rick addressed that in his first sentence ....
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Old 02-26-12, 02:42 PM   #9
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I believe Rick addressed that in his first sentence ....
I saw that. My intent is not to upset or insult anyone, but from my own experience losing weight can make a big difference. I'm not saying he would bring this up with his stoker, I mean maybe this is something he could consider. And I'm not saying he should lose 30 lbs. But with all of the suggestions so far in this thread, how much weight are we talking about shaving off? If he chooses not to do this, so be it; I know he took it off the table with his first sentence. My apologies to the OP and anyone else I may have offended.
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Old 02-26-12, 03:32 PM   #10
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5. Remove trunk and rack and find alternate storage for tools and clothes
This is probably the biggest opportunity for weight savings, but I'm at a loss as to
how to store both tools and the clothes that we sometimes have to take off during
rides.
I've often been puzzled by the prevalence for racks on tandems, they seem to be much more common than on singles. Given that most folks on singles are able to make due without a rack, I think with a little experience and discipline you can reduce the amount of gear you carry without compromising your real needs. You have plenty of room to mount conventional large seat bags for both stoker and captain. This is the strategy we use:



Our strategy is easiest in pleasant weather, but we've also made it work in wet and/or cold conditions.

Rear bag carries all the tools: spare tube, patch kit, boot, multi-tool, CO2 with 2/cartridges. Front bag is reserved for stoker use. If I need to lose clothes they go in my jersey pockets: I max out at a cell phone, hammer flask, kerchief, jacket, glove liners, head band, arm and knee warmers and perhaps a couple of my beloved stoker's smaller clothing items. Yes we can look like pack mules.

You also likely can lose some weight with an alternative wheelset, perhaps a good handbuilt set. Unless you can convince your beloved stoker to join you in a weight loss/conditioning routine, I believe you exceed the recommended weight for our Rolfs.
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Old 02-26-12, 05:33 PM   #11
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Why keep the pump, we use co2 cartridges, light and compact. We each lost around 20 pounds and built a new tandem that is around 12 pounds lighter than our old one. Climbing is much easier!
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Old 02-26-12, 05:50 PM   #12
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The real question for me is where to put the arm & leg warmers and vests when the ride temps here in south Florida go from the low 50's to the upper 70's. We make extensive use of an expandable trunk.

A picture of a new Calfee 2 seater recently made the rounds with a reputed weight of 21 pounds, but I don't recall seeing any of the light weight tandems with a trunk. I'm not even sure it's possible to mount one.

15 pounds would sure help when we (attempt) to ride with the big dogs.
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Old 02-26-12, 05:51 PM   #13
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I always carry a pump for general riding and training. Only leave it behind for racing. It greatly reduces the chances of being stranded from multiple punctures and makes roadside tube repair possible if required.
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Old 02-26-12, 06:26 PM   #14
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The real question for me is where to put the arm & leg warmers and vests when the ride temps here in south Florida go from the low 50's to the upper 70's.
All that stuff should fit in your jersey pockets.

Our temperature profile yesterday was almost exactly like yours. For our ride I opted to wear arm and knee warmers but put up with being a little cold for the first hour of ride into a raging headwind rather than deal with a vest. In the second part of the ride I stripped my knee warmers, but kept the arm warmers. Beloved stoker did opt for a vest, but her's is wispy thin and rolled up to about the size of a pack of cigarettes when she didn't need it anymore.

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Why keep the pump, we use co2 cartridges, light and compact.
What do you do when you have X flats and only X-1 CO2 cartridges?

This is not an esoteric question, it has happened to us, but we had our pump to get us home.
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Old 02-26-12, 07:00 PM   #15
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All that stuff should fit in your jersey pockets.

Our temperature profile yesterday was almost exactly like yours. For our ride I opted to wear arm and knee warmers but put up with being a little cold for the first hour of ride into a raging headwind rather than deal with a vest. In the second part of the ride I stripped my knee warmers, but kept the arm warmers. Beloved stoker did opt for a vest, but her's is wispy thin and rolled up to about the size of a pack of cigarettes when she didn't need it anymore.



What do you do when you have X flats and only X-1 CO2 cartridges?

This is not an esoteric question, it has happened to us, but we had our pump to get us home.
Agree on using jersey pockets.

Very small saddle bag, and jersey pockets are all we need.

As for the second flat, we carry one CO2 cartridge, and a micro pump.

The CO2 takes care of 95percent. And the micro pump, at 60 grams, take care of the rare second flat. Takes a lot of strokes and some time, but it gets you home on the rare second flat.
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Old 02-26-12, 07:15 PM   #16
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Ditched our trunk bag and got the spares and pump inside a large water bottle.

Stoker stem bag for food and money. Sometimes camera.

Depending upon the ride (by ourselves or no support), a stoker saddle bag for a couple of tubes.

We are now both sing small road style Camelbacks for water and small stuff if needed.

While we did not remove all the weight, but will go very light when needed, the weight is now better positioned and the handling is far better than everything over the rear wheel.

Watch the grams and the pounds take care of themselves.

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Old 02-26-12, 09:28 PM   #17
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What do you do when you have X flats and only X-1 CO2 cartridges?

We carry 3 cartridges.

Wayne
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Old 02-26-12, 09:40 PM   #18
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More good dialog. We will definitely investigate. Stoker is always right: ergo, no use of stoker Jersey pockets and the cool weather craft jacket is neither light nor very foldable. Agree that the rack and trunk are not well located.

I'm going to try the following:
1. remove rack/trunk. I'll investigate a seat post mounted rack with bungees for storage of unneeded clothing
2. Try a frame bag - I'm not sure a stoker saddle bag will work with the Thudbuster
3. I have a nice, very small handlebar bag and I'll investigate mounting both that and my Garmin. Problem is that my stem is too short for the Garmin so I'm using a small aux. mount and with my CF wing bars I don't have enough round bar to mount both the bar bag and aux Garmin mount - where there is a will there is a way
4. Smaller pump - definitely. I'm not reverting to just CO2 and the smaller pumps have gotten more efficient
5. Looks like we can store tools in water bottle mounted below stoker's seat tube
6. diet. Just for reference the lightest I've weighed as an adult was 179-1/2 and that was in college when I was trying to make lightweight crew; I was spitting in every drinking fountain. Weighed 185-190 as a 2:42 marathoner in my late 30's so I don't think much under 190 is in the offing.

We don't live in Florida. Here's a profile of yesterday's ride, thus our interest in shedding lbs:
http://ridewithgps.com/routes/964509/elevation_profile

BTW, low 50's is short sleeve base layer and very light duty arm warmers.

Last edited by rdtompki; 02-26-12 at 10:34 PM. Reason: typo+
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Old 02-26-12, 10:15 PM   #19
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I've often been puzzled by the prevalence for racks on tandems...
From yesterday's ride on Cape Cod:



Wind gusts to 60mph, temp in the low 40's, finishing at 41F with a snow squall. 50.9 miles. Inside the panniers are food, more clothes, a Thermos of hot tea. Today (closer to home) it was colder but not quite as windy. Only 24.25 miles. We carried small Thermos's with hot soup as part of lunch.

These rides would not be possible without the rack!
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Old 02-26-12, 11:20 PM   #20
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The real question for me is where to put the arm & leg warmers and vests when the ride temps here in south Florida go from the low 50's to the upper 70's.
Use on of your bottle cages to hold a tennis ball can. It weighs only 30 grams. It will hold a lot, as you can stuff hard to compress. The trick is to find a four ball can, for even more capacity. Like here.

My commuter bike, with arm warmers, knee warmers, vest in tennis can:




As to what to carry, I describe what, and how to carrry a pump, CO2, multitool, patches and tube in this elaborate post: All is vanity saddlebag

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Old 02-26-12, 11:51 PM   #21
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If losing some body pounds is not possible . . .
Lighter wheelset. Also utilize Veloplugs instread of rimstrip; folding tires instead of beaded; narrower tires rather than wider.
Less rotating weight makes for easier climbing/accelleration.

Put needed tools/spare tube into wide-mouth waterbottle.
On cool starts stuff a sheet of newspaper between jersey and body instead of vest. You can ditch newspaper into garbage when not longer needed.
Jacket, if too large to stuff into jersey pocket can be tied around your waist.
We use a Topkeak Mountain Morph frame pump; light weight, converts into a floorpump with T-handle and foot rest and gets us 100 PSI with 100 easy pump strokes. Rated up to 160 PSI.
Carry only tools you need and that fit your bike (skip the klutzy/heavy multi-tool).
A folded dollar bill can be used as emergency tireboot.
Lighter racks are possible as are lighter trunk bags.
Go through what you carry and see what could be eliminated.
And, maybe capt and stoker can push away from the dinner table a bit sooner and have dessert only once week?! That way you can decrease weight and $ave some money too!
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Old 02-27-12, 08:25 AM   #22
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What do you do when you have X flats and only X-1 CO2 cartridges?

We carry 3 cartridges.

Wayne
Hope you never have a ride with 4 flats.

We have.
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Old 02-27-12, 08:53 AM   #23
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Moving stuff from a bike bag to your jersey pockets doesn't reduce the total weight. I don't like riding with my jersey pockets stuffed. Trying to reduce the total weight by 5% (~15 lbs) is pretty difficult and expensive if you can't take any weight off the motors. Our GVW (gross vehicle weight) isn't very low but leaving an extra tube behind isn't worth the cost/benefit ratio to me.
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Old 02-27-12, 09:37 AM   #24
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Hope you never have a ride with 4 flats.

We have.
We carry 2 tubes and a patch kit. If i use all three cartridges then I make a phone call. We always carry our cell phones.
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Old 02-27-12, 09:58 AM   #25
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Moving stuff from a bike bag to your jersey pockets doesn't reduce the total weight.
No, but moving food from a bag to our stomachs seems to help!

Over in the C&V forum (and perhaps in the roadies forum which I don't usually bother to read) they talk occasionally about being a weight weenie. I used not worry about it, but I've become a believer. There is no silver bullet for weight reduction if you already have no over-weight component. The way to save a pound or two is to accumulate small savings. And trim down the engine(s), of course.

If we dropped a few pounds off our tandem I'm not sure I'd notice. We barely notice when we add 5 lbs of clothing and food.
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