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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 02-27-12, 02:33 PM   #1
Ritterview
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Santana Tandem Night at Cupertino Bike Shop

This might be interesting. Apparently en route to Sacramento for Santana's maiden appearance at NAHBS, Bill McCready will provide the definitive word on an oft discussed (e.g.) topic here a the Tandem BF.

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SPECIAL EVENT!

Santana Tandem night at Cupertino Bike Shop, Monday March 5th, 6pm.

Bill McCready, founder and owner of Santana Tandems will be at our shop giving a talk about "Are Lighter Tandems Faster?" Wine, beer and hor d' oeuvres will be served. Call to reserve a seat!
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Old 02-27-12, 03:41 PM   #2
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I'm going to put that on my calendar. Might dissuade me from putting our daVinci on a diet.
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Old 02-27-12, 04:17 PM   #3
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This might be interesting. Apparently en route to Sacramento for Santana's maiden appearance at NAHBS, Bill McCready will provide the definitive word on an oft discussed (e.g.) topic here a the Tandem BF.
That would be interesting and probably generate lots of posts on BF.

Wayne
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Old 02-27-12, 04:46 PM   #4
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Have known Mr. Bill since 1978 . . .
His likely say 'only Santana tandems are . . . .'
That's why they've never won that tandem race in Eugene, OR.
Yes, they build a nice tandem, but so do others.
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Old 02-27-12, 07:29 PM   #5
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I'm going to put that on my calendar. Might dissuade me from putting our daVinci on a diet.
I don't want to be in your shoes when you explain to the stoker how the "ready to ride" weight must be trimmed.

PK
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Old 02-27-12, 09:03 PM   #6
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I don't want to be in your shoes when you explain to the stoker how the "ready to ride" weight must be trimmed. PK


Yep, I'm going to buy a scale and we'll do a weigh-in. Right

Seriously, we're doing great. Heck, we're still upright and not having to ride in the Florida flatlands.

As an engineer I can (or could) calculate the difference weight makes. It's pretty darn small unless your racing for dollars. Still, when you've been climbing for 90 minutes at a crawl the appeal of lowering team+tandem weight seems to gain appeal and there is always one short pitch that we can't climb.
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Old 02-27-12, 09:14 PM   #7
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:As an engineer I can (or could) calculate the difference weight makes. It's pretty darn small unless your racing for dollars.
I know a couple of folks who were good riders, though a few pounds overweight.

Both got serious and lost about 10 pounds (each).

Now they put the hurt on rest of us.

I did a quick and dirty calc using your Henry Coe ride. Roughly, losing 15 pounds would benefit you by over 4 minutes on that climb.

Put another way, you would be a 1/2 mile from the top while the "lighter you" had finished the climb.

Your call.
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Old 02-28-12, 08:56 AM   #8
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Bill McCready will provide the definitive word on an oft-discussed topic here at the Tandem BF.
With all due respect, I'd expect a lot of words. "Let me tell you about four new developments in tandem technology" was an hour-long talk at the 2011 SWTR. "Let me show you some pictures from..." was our cue to turn tail and fly.
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Old 02-28-12, 10:19 AM   #9
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I have never met Bill McCready but I have read a lot of his posts and understand why people are put off by his unfortunate marketing approach and his comments about competing companies.

Bottom line though is that choice is good for everyone. I give him credit for making great bikes that are designed the way he thinks is best and not just copying the now common designs. There are a lot of great tandems out there and companies like Santana and DaVinci greatly increase the range of choice buy using different designs. It is great to have tandem manufacturers put forth an approach they believe in and invest the time and money required to generate components that make it possible.

Wayne
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Old 02-28-12, 11:10 AM   #10
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I have never met Bill McCready but I have read a lot of his posts and understand why people are put off by his unfortunate marketing approach and his comments about competing companies.

Bottom line though is that choice is good for everyone. I give him credit for making great bikes that are designed the way he thinks is best and not just copying the now common designs. There are a lot of great tandems out there and companies like Santana and DaVinci greatly increase the range of choice buy using different designs. It is great to have tandem manufacturers put forth an approach they believe in and invest the time and money required to generate components that make it possible.
Wayne
+1. I've met a number of very satisfied Santana owners. Same applies to Co-motion, Trek, Cannondale, daVinci, etc. Few products sell themselves and I'm sure a huge part of Santana's success is the enormous effort Bill McCready puts into marketing his brand; more power to him. And for every prospective tandem couple that has considered and bought a Santana, there's probably another couple that was drawn in by the marketing, but chose another brand thus further enlarging our ranks.
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Old 02-28-12, 01:01 PM   #11
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We have had the opportunity to do quite a number of tandem trips with Bill and Jan. I even helped him work through the bugs and learning curve of using GPS routing on the trips. Because of this I know them pretty well. Their marketing is great for the tandem community. On the tours they don't care what type of tandem you ride and I would guess that about 1/2 are not Santana's and that is my guess as to the Santana's market share as well. He has many strong opinions and I respect someone who sticks to them and implements them in their product. He has a vast history of tandems and has managed to stay in the tandem manufacturing as long as anyone. Many times his strong personality offends others and fortunately Jan tempers him somewhat. If you have an opportunity, hear him speak and for sure try to take a tandem trip with them, they are first rate trips. BTW we don't ride a Santana (we have a Calfee)or in many instances even agree with him but he is good for the tandem community.
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Old 02-29-12, 07:59 AM   #12
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Bill McCready will provide the definitive word on an oft discussed (e.g.) topic here a the Tandem BF.
This is not anything new. Bill's theory is pretty straight forward and has nothing to do with the actual weight of the ubiquitous "lighter tandems".

In part it pertains to the steering geometry found on most of the lightweight racing tandems, e.g., Calfee, Paketa, and Co-Motion in particular (nominal 73* head angle / 44mm fork rake), and the influence of additive rider fatigue associated with keeping said tandems with longer steering trail in a straight line over the course a ride. To a lesser extent, it also pertains to the veritical compliance, or lack there of that some of the racing tandems exhibit.

With regard to steering, the point he typicall makes is, while many riders like the cornering & handling "feel" that said racing tandems provide, 98% of most riding happens in a straight line or gentle curves where longer steering trail provides no signficant benefit. However, longer steering trail can be the source of additional "work" for captains since any side-to-side movements by the tandem team will require countersteering inputs by the captain to keep the tandem going in a straight line.

A Santana (nominal 73* head angle / 55mm fork rake)-- as well as any other tandem that uses shorter steering trail such as a Cannondale (nominal 73* head angle / 53mm fork rake) and to a somewhat lesser extent Co-Motion's tandems with steel forks (nominal 73* head angle / 50mm fork rake) -- will typically require less focus and steering input to keep the tandem going in a straight line.
Note: If someone would like to see just how much influence short vs. long steering trail has on how a tandem's handlebars react to lean-induced steering inputs, push a longer-trail tandem around a parking lot with your hand on one of the saddles and note that you can pretty mush make it go exactly where you want just by moving the saddle left or right of center. Now try to do the same thing with a Santana. You'll find the Santana will not respond in kind to those same inputs via the saddle and, instead, must to be walked and steered with a hand on the stem / handlebars.
Over the course of a metric, full, or double century rides it is therefore argued by Bill -- and probably correctly so -- that a given tandem team and the captain in particular could be less fatigued and riding stronger towards the end of a long ride on a tandem that is perhaps a couple pounds heavier but with shorter steering trail vs. an uberlight racing tandem with carbon fork featuring 44mm of rake. Couple that with what may also be a less compliant frame and a given team could have a higher average speed / shorter time on course if they rode a tandem that put less physical demands on the riders.

Again, it's not the weight of the tandem per se, it's the steering geometry and to a lesser extent the compliance of the frames that are at heart of the comparision and contrast that Bill has been making since well back in the 90's.

Now, as to whether or not this has any merit to a given team, that's highly debatable. Anything related to a rider's preference for things like handling / frame compliance is far too subjective and open for debate lacking any really good data that might quantify the differences. How a tandem is used also factors into the discussion.

Disclaimer: We've ridden long steering trail tandems since 1998 and enjoy the way they perform. I've also ridden quite a few Santana tandems and they also ride quite nicely. It takes a few miles to acclimate to the subtle differences in handling. What the Santana gives up in very aggressive cornering performance it compensates for on steep climbs. Everything in between is preference driven.

Last edited by TandemGeek; 02-29-12 at 09:02 AM.
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Old 02-29-12, 09:58 AM   #13
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My preference is for the shorter trail design so I feel it is actually better for high speed handling as well as low speed, but as TG says in his post there is a great amount of personal preference involved. Santana is not the only one that designs tandems with lower trail. See the link below for Bilenky geometry and a low trail of 42mm.

http://www.bilenky.com/tangeom.html

One thing to keep in mind is that changing forks on an existing tandem can make a big difference. You can give it a try and decide for yourself. Changing forks on our CoMotion Speedster to a lower trail model convinced me.

The fastest tandem is the one you will ride a lot and train hard on. That means get one you like and ride.

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Old 02-29-12, 10:14 AM   #14
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...In part it pertains to the steering geometry found on most of the lightweight racing tandems, e.g., Calfee, Paketa, and Co-Motion in particular (nominal 73* head angle / 44mm fork rake), and the influence of additive rider fatigue associated with keeping said tandems with longer steering trail in a straight line over the course a ride. To a lesser extent, it also pertains to the veritical compliance, or lack there of that some of the racing tandems exhibit.

With regard to steering, the point he typicall makes is, while many riders like the cornering & handling "feel" that said racing tandems provide, 98% of most riding happens in a straight line or gentle curves where longer steering trail provides no signficant benefit. However, longer steering trail can be the source of additional "work" for captains since any side-to-side movements by the tandem team will require countersteering inputs by the captain to keep the tandem going in a straight line.

A Santana (nominal 73* head angle / 55mm fork rake)-- as well as any other tandem that uses shorter steering trail such as a Cannondale (nominal 73* head angle / 53mm fork rake) and to a somewhat lesser extent Co-Motion's tandems with steel forks (nominal 73* head angle / 50mm fork rake) -- will typically require less focus and steering input to keep the tandem going in a straight line...Over the course of a metric, full, or double century rides it is therefore argued by Bill -- and probably correctly so -- that a given tandem team and the captain in particular could be less fatigued and riding stronger towards the end of a long ride on a tandem that is perhaps a couple pounds heavier but with shorter steering trail vs. an uberlight racing tandem with carbon fork featuring 44mm of rake. Couple that with what may also be a less compliant frame and a given team could have a higher average speed / shorter time on course if they rode a tandem that put less physical demands on the riders.

Again, it's not the weight of the tandem per se, it's the steering geometry and to a lesser extent the compliance of the frames that are at heart of the comparision and contrast that Bill has been making since well back in the 90's....
What a bunch of whooy! Has he ever riden a tandem more than 100 miles? But what would I know since I've only done two RAAMs and a number of other ultra races on Calfee's and Santana's...funny thing, all my ultra distance course records are on the Calfee and not the Santana...what do I know though...thanks for posting that TG.
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Old 02-29-12, 10:15 AM   #15
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TG,
Thanks for the great input. I suspect our daVinci has the 50mm rake Wound-up fork and I certainly don't notice any undo fatigue, but I don't have much with which to compare. On a somewhat related note, however, since we're slow climbers the parasitic effort of keeping the tandem in more or less a straight line is very tiring. It's only on these rides with a lot of climbing that I'll feel upper-body fatigue.

I recently switched from an Al Giant to a CF Volagi and attributed the lesser effort when climbing out of the saddle to lower weight, but you've given me food for thought regarding inherent stability. When I test rode the Volagi the first thing I noticed was the greater straight line stability; I'm thinking now that the reduced upper-body effort when climbing is a combination of the two factors: stability and weight. Same would apply to a tandem of course.
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Old 02-29-12, 11:35 AM   #16
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TG,
Thanks for the great input. I suspect our daVinci has the 50mm rake Wound-up fork and I certainly don't notice any undo fatigue, but I don't have much with which to compare. On a somewhat related note, however, since we're slow climbers the parasitic effort of keeping the tandem in more or less a straight line is very tiring. It's only on these rides with a lot of climbing that I'll feel upper-body fatigue.
You make a good point about climbing and from your previous posts I know you are like us and sometimes climb at rather low speeds. For me low trail really shines at speeds of 5-10 mph. Assuming the same 73 degree head tube angle the lower trail bike will require less steering input at 5-10 mph than a higher trail tandem. This is one reason I think there is a lot of personal preference involved. Some people rarely go that slow so they never see that benefit.

The bike that is best for some conditions may not be the best for other conditions or other riders.

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Old 02-29-12, 11:40 AM   #17
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We bought a new Santana Targa "Racing" model tandem in I believe 1989, it had a racing geometry fork. The bike handled great, we raced it in several races and the handling was very similar to the Klein that I was racing at the time. We sold that tandem and did not have another Tandem for several years, in the summer of 2010 we bought a used Santana Visa and it had the more relaxed touring geometry, I hated it! To me it felt heavy and cumbersome. In May of 2011 we bought our new Calfee Tetra, oh what a difference, it handles like a sports car in comparison to the old Santana Visa. I much prefer the faster steering. I believe that we are more relaxed and comfortable on the carbon fiber Calfee than we were on the steel Santana. That was one of our comments after our first few rides, we were not as tired on the new bike as we were on the old bike for the same distance.
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Old 02-29-12, 11:41 AM   #18
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Wow, you've ridden RAAM on a tandem? What was that like? Got any photos or stories you'd like to share?

Bravo to you sir!

I can remember when Lon Hadelman and Pete Pennsyres (not sure on that name spelling) were the kings of that race. Pete was quite the So Cal speedster in his day as well.

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What a bunch of whooy! Has he ever riden a tandem more than 100 miles? But what would I know since I've only done two RAAMs and a number of other ultra races on Calfee's and Santana's...funny thing, all my ultra distance course records are on the Calfee and not the Santana...what do I know though...thanks for posting that TG.
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Old 02-29-12, 11:44 AM   #19
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Wow, you've ridden RAAM on a tandem? What was that like? Got any photos or stories you'd like to share?

Bravo to you sir!

I can remember when Lon Hadelman and Pete Pennsyres (not sure on that name spelling) were the kings of that race. Pete was quite the So Cal speedster in his day as well.
Yes they would be very interesting.
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Old 02-29-12, 12:20 PM   #20
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What a bunch of whooy! Has he ever riden a tandem more than 100 miles?
Back in the day both he and Jan were avid century and double century riders.

Extracted from an article published back in 2002 that you can still find on the Web.
  • Bill purportedly set a course record for the “Grand Tour” double century in June 1967 (10:25) that lasted 9 years.
  • Jan set a personal best for a solo double century of 10:50 at age 16.
No idea if they did any doubles together on a tandem after meeting in '69/70.
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Old 02-29-12, 03:35 PM   #21
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I'm not sure which "Jan" you are talking about? Is that Jan Heine?

I've heard that stuff for years from the "retro" grouch crowd in randoneuring circles. "You need a relaxed geometry bike to be comfortable on a long distance rides." I still think it's a bunch of whooy.
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Old 02-29-12, 03:43 PM   #22
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The article states:

“...It depicted Southern California,” laughs Jan McCready, secretary of Santana Cycles and McCready’s wife....."

Wayne

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Old 02-29-12, 03:52 PM   #23
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Ok, thanks I missed that.
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Old 02-29-12, 04:43 PM   #24
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I'm not sure which "Jan" you are talking about? Is that Jan Heine?
As Wayne notes, I was referring to Bill's wife Jan. And, I don't think you'll find the two data points I provided in the article I linked to, as I just remember that was something I'd learned from Bill in one of our many discussions over the years. It was something I included in a couple blog entries. I'd thought it came from the Laverne article in 2002, but having looked back through the article I can see I got my wires crossed (again).

As for the other Jan (aka, Yaan Heine)... I ain't going there. I enjoy reading Bicycle Quarterly immensely, appreciate the randoneuring scene for what it is and admire Jan for figuring out how to make a living out of a hobby without spoiling his love of the hobby... much the same as Bill & Jan McCready have and several other tandem builders who we consider friends.
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Old 02-29-12, 05:06 PM   #25
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...As for the other Jan (aka, Yaan Heine)... I ain't going there. I enjoy reading Bicycle Quarterly immensely, appreciate the randoneuring scene for what it is and admire Jan for figuring out how to make a living out of a hobby without spoiling his love of the hobby... much the same as Bill & Jan McCready have and several other tandem builders who we consider friends.
As you can probably guess, Jan Heine and I have discussed the subject. As far as McCready goes, he builds a very fine, quality tandem. I have no argument with that. His opinions though...
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