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  1. #1
    enthusiast JamieElenbaas's Avatar
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    Help with first tandem

    I know that these "help me choose a bike" threads get tiresome, but any help is appreciated.

    My wife and I are considering getting our first tandem. Some of the issues that will effect our selection are, in no particular order:

    Captain - 190 lbs, 5'11" - fairly strong solo rider, with fairly aggressive solo bike (BMC SLO1 with about 4.5" saddle to bar drop, standard crank, 12-24 rear) Likes group riding, rides a couple of thousand miles per year, 50 - 100 mile rides most weekends and commute / training / spin rides weather permitting during the week.

    Stoke - 125 lbs, 5'2" - more casual rider, with hybrid bike with tall head tube / stem, flat bars, triple crank and ??? in back. Commutes and enjoys a half dozen metric or imperial centuries a season and finished the 200 mile two day STP last year with a smile on her face. She has a couple of fused vertebrae in her neck so is not comfortable with traditional drop bars.

    We live in the Pacific Northwest and ride in some pretty hilly terrain. Occasionally, I wish I had a compact chain ring or 28 in the rear. (Just need to HTFU I guess )

    Our budget was around $1,500 for a used bike, but you know what happens to budgets... Realizing that we would have to do some work in the rear cockpit to fit the stoker, what does the assembled tandem brain trust think of something along these lines:

    http://seattle.craigslist.org/est/bik/2877346870.html

    This is one of the few bikes we've found close to our budget that has integrated shifters, which I consider a must; I don't think I would be too happy about going back to bar end or down tube shifters. Not knowing much about tandem specific components I could use some guidance for the rest of the drive train items.

    Thanks again for any advice!
    Last edited by JamieElenbaas; 03-19-12 at 06:12 PM. Reason: edited for accuracy - instead of a 2.5" bar drop, I have a 4.5" bar drop.

  2. #2
    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    This bike looks to be pretty big for a 5'2" stoker. I don't know what that red adapter thingy is for in the brake line. Also, this tandem has 26" wheels; is this what you're looking for?

    (I live in Kirkland also and am available for private messages if you would like.)
    2011 Rodriguez Rohloff tandem
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  3. #3
    enthusiast JamieElenbaas's Avatar
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    swc7916,

    Thank you for the reply.

    In my innocence, I assumed that a longer 'stem,' (is that what you call it for the thing that holds the stoker's bars?) and moving the seat forward on it's rails would take care of Stoker fit. Evidently, there is more to it.

    Are 700cm wheels standard for tandems these days?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Skyler_WA's Avatar
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    There's no right or wrong for 26" vs 700c wheels, but there's a million opinions. Personally, I prefer 26" wheels, but that's mainly because I'm only 5'8" and bike geometry starts getting wacky when you try to squeeze 700c wheels into a bike frame in my size.

    You're only a short drive from Snoqualmie, so you should just go see it in person. If I didn't already have a new tandem on order from R&E in Seattle, I'd be tempted to go look at that Santana myself.

    That red brake cable booster looks like the device that Precision Tandems calls a "Brake Power Booster" on their parts page.
    Bikes: Surly Long Haul Trucker, Rodriguez Classic Tandem. . . . My First Tour: Circling The Olympic Peninsula (2nd, 3rd, and 4th Tours still need to be published)

  5. #5
    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamieElenbaas View Post
    In my innocence, I assumed that a longer 'stem,' (is that what you call it for the thing that holds the stoker's bars?) and moving the seat forward on it's rails would take care of Stoker fit. Evidently, there is more to it.
    In order to fit a 5'2" stoker and have room for a suspension seatpost, I would expect the toptube to slope more, resulting in a shorter stoker seattube. Yes, you can adjust the reach to the handlebars by lengthening and/or raising the stoker stem however the saddle is adusted up/down and fore/aft to fit the rider's relationship with the pedals, not to adjust the reach to the handlebars. Adjust the seat first, then deal with the handlebar position.
    Last edited by swc7916; 03-07-12 at 02:41 PM.
    2011 Rodriguez Rohloff tandem
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  6. #6
    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyler_WA View Post
    That red brake cable booster looks like the device that Precision Tandems calls a "Brake Power Booster" on their parts page.
    It is hard to tell from the photos, but it appears that this bike has V-brakes so this thing must have been used in place of a TravelAgent.
    2011 Rodriguez Rohloff tandem
    2008 Rodriguez Rainier Lite sport/touring

  7. #7
    enthusiast JamieElenbaas's Avatar
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    Alright then, to Snoqualmie this weekend it is!

    I know it's hard to do on line without seeing the bike first hand, and I hope that if the seller is on line that he or she is not offended, but does this price look appropriate?

  8. #8
    enthusiast JamieElenbaas's Avatar
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    Also, with regard to the 26" wheels - I have no problem with the substantial toe overlap on my single bike. I could imagine a challenge on a tandem. While a a smaller wheel might lose style points and complicate family tube and tire inventory, it may be worth the trouble.

  9. #9
    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    2011 Rodriguez Rohloff tandem
    2008 Rodriguez Rainier Lite sport/touring

  10. #10
    enthusiast JamieElenbaas's Avatar
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    I did have my eye on the Burley as well. We're specifically looking for a road bike, so the Specialized doesn't quite fit the bill and, as lovely as it is, the Rodriquez is definitely beyond the budget. (Hmmm... wonder if it fits though...)

  11. #11
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    For proper stoker fit, she should be able to stand with feet on the ground without the toptube hitting her in the crotch.
    If she can do that, then adjust saddle and stoker handlebar/stem to fit her.

  12. #12
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    I would almost guarantee that this is NOT the bike for you. That is a larger frame, and your stoker won't even be able to stand over the top tube, let alone have any clearance.

    The bike seems overpriced to me, (then again ALL Santanas seem overpriced to me), but we can't really tell without more information.

    Personally, I'm always amazed by ads like this and what the owner apparently doesn't know to tell you. What year is it? What model is it? And what frame sizes, for Pete's sake? His "opinion" of who it will fit is NOT the same as giving you the actual frame sizes or stand-over heights. Additionally, there have been some mods done to the bike, so how about a complete component list? (the Chris King headset and brake booster being two.)

    Lastly, since you're new to tandems, be aware that Santanas use 160mm spacing on their rear wheels, whereas the rest of the industry uses 145mm. This can and does create multiple issues with availability and interchangeability.
    BICYCLE - [bahy-si-kuhl] - Noun :> A medical device used to correct the common geriatric condition of OFS, (Old, Fat & Slow), in a manner that does not induce brain-decaying boredom like walking or running.

    2005 Trek T2000 Tandem, 2003 Burley Tosa Tandem, Pacific Dualie beater tandem, and 6 singles including 2 fixies.

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  13. #13
    Senior Member CaptainHaddock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swc7916 View Post
    This bike looks to be pretty big for a 5'2" stoker. I don't know what that red adapter thingy is for in the brake line. Also, this tandem has 26" wheels; is this what you're looking for?

    (I live in Kirkland also and am available for private messages if you would like.)
    The red adapter is a brake booster. it works on a pivot and increases the pull / stroke of the brake leaver.

    With regard to the frame size, it does "look big" in the photo, but if those are 26'rs, then it might be an illusion. I'd be concerned about the reach for your wife (more from a crank length & cadence perspective), over being able to reach the ground.

    a nice feature is that it has the (what appears to be totally unmolested) drag brake on it, so never a question of overheating your rims.
    Last edited by CaptainHaddock; 03-07-12 at 05:40 PM. Reason: additional comments

  14. #14
    Senior Member CaptainHaddock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swc7916 View Post
    Look at that crazy drop on the Rodriguez! What, are they TT'ing?
    Last edited by CaptainHaddock; 03-07-12 at 05:43 PM. Reason: spelling it would seem...

  15. #15
    Senior Member CaptainHaddock's Avatar
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    If you don't mind making the drive down here to Portland, I've seen this Cannondale http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/2878405084.html on sale for a bit, and it even already has the thudbuster in the back.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Skyler_WA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onegun View Post
    That is a larger frame, and your stoker won't even be able to stand over the top tube, let alone have any clearance.
    I was taught that standover clearance isn't really mandatory for a tandem stoker since the captain will have both feet planted firmly on the ground holding the bike up while the stoker climbs on. For the stoker, the pedal to saddle to handlebar distances are what really matter. However, I'm a tandem newbie so I'm open to more education...

    Quote Originally Posted by Onegun View Post
    The bike seems overpriced to me...
    Cash and a little negotiation will usually reduce that problem. ;-)
    Bikes: Surly Long Haul Trucker, Rodriguez Classic Tandem. . . . My First Tour: Circling The Olympic Peninsula (2nd, 3rd, and 4th Tours still need to be published)

  17. #17
    Senior Member Team Fab's Avatar
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    As a newbie I can attest that our Trek T1000(2006 ish) has been great. I really don't know yet how it compares to more expensive tandems(currently putting together our Comotion)but it has handled everything i could throw at it and more(we are thinking of trying cyclocross on it next season). I am an ex Pro Motorcycle racer so handling was important.

    We purchased it about a year and a half ago (for $1000 CND)and have had nothing but the best experience.

    We bought a set of Rolf wheels that we use for Gran Fondo's etc otherwise is original right down to tires(on our third set of Bontrager race lite hard case).

  18. #18
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyler_WA View Post
    I was taught that standover clearance isn't really mandatory for a tandem stoker since the captain will have both feet planted firmly on the ground holding the bike up while the stoker climbs on. For the stoker, the pedal to saddle to handlebar distances are what really matter. However, I'm a tandem newbie so I'm open to more education...
    While it is better to have stand over clearance it is not required. If the stoker is happy to step on a pedal and swing her leg over the bike like getting on or off a horse then it should work out fine. Not all stokers are willing or able to do so.

    The picture below was taken from the Precision Tandem web site.


    500rsmarknj2-th.jpg


    Wayne
    Last edited by waynesulak; 03-08-12 at 11:19 AM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Sometimes during a longer stop it's nice for both captain and stoker to be able to put their feet on the ground, say when you're waiting in a pack of 9,000 bicyclists at the start of the El Tour de Tuscon, but clearly not mandatory.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member CaptainHaddock's Avatar
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    So, have you made a decision on the frame yet? Inquiring minds want to know!

  21. #21
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    While it is not 'mandatory' for stoker to have standover room, it's not 'mandatory' for pilot to have standover room either . . . but it makes sense.
    Have actually piloted a couple test tandems whereby frame was a tad large and had to tip-toe at stops rather than putting full foot down. Not too comfortable/secure a situation for either rider.
    Would you wear shoes that are too large or too small?
    Why not?
    Just our input/reasoning.

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    We have only dumped twice in many years of tandeming. Both time while moving forward at less than walking speed. Once while blowing a shift on a ridiculously steep hill. Once when turning too sharply at the other side of a cross walk. Both times my stoker was able to put a foot on the ground and reduce the severity of the sudden unplanned stop. So, like the others said, standover room is not mandatory, but I would not have it any other way. Also be aware of the fact many stokers have a bad psycological reaction to the tall bar in front of them--mine does!

    A 5'2" stoker probably would need a 165mm crank. That is the first thing I would look for. Then placing her on the saddle with one leg parallel to the ground a plumb line from her knee should just touch the end of the crank. Slide the seat fore and aft for this adjustment. Only after this is done then adjust the stem and bars for comfortable seating.

    I strongly suggest you visit the local tandems listed above before deciding. Also I have seen some pretty nice used tandems in the R&E store in the "U" district in Seattle. Close to you.

  23. #23
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    JamieElenbaas - You might want to check out the Evergreen Tandem Club, a good active group of tandem cyclists in the greater Seattle area. Sometimes members will buy a new bike and have a used one for sale - occassionally they list bikes in a classifed section that I think may only be accessed by members:

    http://www.evergreentandemclub.org/index.php

    Also check out Elliot Bay Bicycles, where Davidson bicycles are built. They sometimes have used tandmes for sale and it looks like they have a couple now - here is a link to their used bikes, with a couple of tandems listed:

    http://elliottbaybicycles.com/consignments/

    If you are down near the market it is fun to check out some of the old bikes that have been restored that are on display in the shop.

  24. #24
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    While it is not 'mandatory' for stoker to have standover room, it's not 'mandatory' for pilot to have standover room either . . . but it makes sense.
    Have actually piloted a couple test tandems whereby frame was a tad large and had to tip-toe at stops rather than putting full foot down. Not too comfortable/secure a situation for either rider.
    Would you wear shoes that are too large or too small?
    Why not?
    Just our input/reasoning.
    Just in case there is a misunderstanding, I my opinion the Captain should always have stand over clearance. Likewise a tandem that fits both riders is always preferable over one that is just good enough to be safe to ride.

    As to why not one that fits better, the original poster was requesting information about a first tandem for a team with a substantial size difference between captain and stoker. Not everyone is willing or able to pay for a custom frame for their first tandem. An adequate starter tandem might be needed to convince a new team that the substantial outlay for a custom frame is worth the money.

    Wayne

  25. #25
    enthusiast JamieElenbaas's Avatar
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    Hey all - Sorry for going dark, I was traveling last week.

    While I was trying to be reasonable with the expenditure, my stoker got very excited about a custom bike, so we have an appointment this weekend with R&E to get a measurement and quote on a new bike. What's that bit about the stoker never making a mistake?

    Unfortunately, my travels included a freak skiing accident that resulted in a sprained ankle, so I'll have to reschedule the measurement appointment by a week or two until I can properly pedal a bike.

    In the meanwhile, some similarly sized friends have offered to loan us one of their tandems so we can get an idea of what is important to us on a tandem. I will probably be reluctant to try it out until my foot feels strong enough to hold us both up if necessary.

    As for the standover question, I really feel that my stoker should be able to stand with both feet on the ground, so 0" standover would be a no go on any used bike.

    I will keep you posted on our progress. Does anyone have an experience with Rodriquez?
    Last edited by JamieElenbaas; 03-19-12 at 12:25 PM. Reason: additional content

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