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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 04-05-12, 11:41 AM   #1
Sprout97 
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Does anyone out there still ride with a Shimano 6501/6502 Flight Deck computer?

We've had a Flight Deck on our bike from Day-1, and I've gotten accustomed to it. I normally just watch the virtual cadence (my wife has her own Cateye wireless for the true function), but do pay attention to the gear indication (especially on climbs). Our LBS is trying to convince us to drop our problem-free Flight Deck for a conventional computer and just rely on cadence vice watching the gear mapping (which he thinks is more of a crutch). We've become a stronger team with his training inputs. My title question is somewhat rhetorical: should I drop the FD? I'd add that if the FD goes, I'll probably upgrade to 10-sp cassette & 6703 STIs (which apparently are incompatible with the SC-6502 FD).
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Old 04-05-12, 12:56 PM   #2
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Personally I'd love to have a FD on my tandem. I had one on my first couple of road bikes, but not on my current one as I use a Garmin 800 (which I use on my tandem also). It's not a big deal to see what gear I'm in on my single, but I find myself asking my stoker periodically what gear I'm in on the tandem. Maybe it's just because I'm a tandem noob, but particularly on climbs I like to know what gear I'm in and what I have available.
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Old 04-05-12, 01:21 PM   #3
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I used to have the flight deck on the tandem. The only thing I really liked about it was the gear indicator. I never paid attention to the cadence indicator. My legs tell me that without looking at anything.
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Old 04-05-12, 01:30 PM   #4
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I also liked (and now miss) the virtual cadence function of the Flight Deck to know what our current high speed coasting would translate to if/when we re-engage pedaling. A valuable stoker-friendly thing.

If you can live without the virtual cadence, then solve your gear status issue with a simple inline Dura Ace gear indicator for the rear cluster. Some shops that do a lot of new bike setups (mostly singles that come with Dura Ace components) will just toss you a couple for free. You can get them on eBay for <$10, but here is Amazon link to the same:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss...+a%2Caps%2C491
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Old 04-05-12, 11:51 PM   #5
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Does the guy who is advising you to get rid of the Flight Deck ride a tandem? Maybe he doesn't realize how useful a gear indicator is in that situation. Also, if he only ever rides one bike, or several bikes that all have very similar gearing setups, then I can also see why he thinks it is easy to just know which gear combo you are in based on speed and perceived cadence. If you regularly ride different bikes with different gearing setups then a gear indicator is really handy, especially on the tandem where you cannot look down to see the cassette.

The Dura Ace inline gear indicators mentioned above are something that I've used a lot. Unfortunately, they don't work so well with the new generation of Shimano STI levers, which route the shift cables under the bar tape. With these, there is no ideal place to put the indicator like there was with the old routing. The best solution I found was by using Nokon housing, which allows very tight bends in the housing, and strapping the gear indicator to the side of the stem. However, the regular Nokon housing is too wide to work well with the indicator, I think the "slimline" version of the Nokon housing would have worked better, but that is even more expensive. Even so, I still found that I didn't like the gear indicator way out of my field of view down by the stem, and ended up rarely looking at it, so finally took it out.

Of course, if you want to upgrade to 10-speed and keep the flight deck in its current position, then you should still be able to obtain some of the previous generation Ultegra shifters, 6603. Alternatively, the new 10-speed Tiagra shifters, 4603, are virtually as good, and I believe they have an integrated gear indicator at th top of each lever.

Last edited by Chris_W; 04-06-12 at 11:33 PM.
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Old 04-06-12, 09:59 AM   #6
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I really like the FD gear indicator and watch the cadence, too. Though many computers can show cadence, they can't show virtual cadence. Gear, cadence, and HR is all I watch. I've had to ride without the FD a couple of times and seriously missed it. What does the LBS think you'll gain by dropping the FD? I use a Polar 725 for HR and data recording. The Polar and FD are a good pairing. Stoker has a Cateye for navigation.
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Old 04-06-12, 01:58 PM   #7
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Thanks for everyone's input. At the end of the day, I think I'll stick with the FD for as long as it works, then jump to the 6603 STIs. In the meantime, I'll try to just focus on the cadence & leave the gear map to climbs. As for my LBS, we're his only tandem business. He's still races (road, cyclocross, & crits, albeit in the 50+ category), but I don't believe that he's ever been on a tandem.
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Old 04-09-12, 12:23 PM   #8
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I still use the FD. Love the gear indicator. I could live without the cadence if needed but not the gear indicator.
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Old 04-09-12, 02:09 PM   #9
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Over on the Hobbes email list, Spencer just posted a note about a bunch of stuff he's selling on eBay. On topic...

"--Shimano Ultegra STI 10 speed/triple shifters with Flight Deck computer system and Ultegra front derailleur with clamp for 34.9 mm seat tube. I'm setting the buy it now price at $150 + $15 shipping."
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Old 04-24-12, 06:31 AM   #10
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Upon further reflection, I may just tape over the gear display and rely on cadence/leg feel and see how this works out. . If it doesn't, then I'll look at the 6603 group. (The 6703 stuff really does look pretty nice, checkbook notwithstanding.)
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Old 04-24-12, 01:18 PM   #11
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Hello all. I am a newbie to this group. I have a problem with my 6502 (wireless 10 speed - version with shift cables routed out from the inside of the levers) and since it is somewhat related to this thread, I thought I'd give it a shot. The unit always shows the small chain ring being engaged regardless of what chainring I use. I have tried cleaning the contact of the left lever, to no avail. Any thoughts or suggestions? As others have indicated, knowing the gear you are in is a nice feature to have and you certainly get used to it. I have actually installed in-line indicators, but for other reasons, I'd like to take them off if I could get the FD to work again. Thanks!
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Old 04-28-12, 08:11 AM   #12
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I had this problem and tried first a new mounting unit. Then I tried a new mounting unit and a new computer. Finally I decided that the problem was with the left hand Ultregra triple brake shifter unit. So I sent this back to the dealer I had bought it from. They sent it to Shimano who repaired it. When mounted again on my tandem a year ago it worked fine and still does.
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Old 05-28-12, 10:19 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sprout97 View Post
Upon further reflection, I may just tape over the gear display and rely on cadence/leg feel and see how this works out. . If it doesn't, then I'll look at the 6603 group. (The 6703 stuff really does look pretty nice, checkbook notwithstanding.)
Well, I tried taping over the gear mapping for 1 ride at the Georgia Tandem Rally, and the results weren't pretty: shifting both too early/too late (and the accompanying upset in cadence), a couple of near chain drops (my chain keeper is there as insurance, not for use as a standard operating procedure) and a lot of wasted effort. The tape came off shortly after. (I did a few rides with tape down here in flat FL prior to GTR, and the results down here weren't exactly impressive.) So the FD's staying, whether it's a 6501 or 6502. On a side note, it does baffle me that Shimano didn't develop the Flight Deck system for the 6700 group.
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Old 05-28-12, 05:16 PM   #14
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We have the Da Vinci mixed drivetrain (Campy brifters/FD, SRAM RD/cassette), and although I wouldn't want to give up the Campy handles (it's the ticket to quad chainrings), I'd love a FlightDeck to see what gear we're in. Maybe I'll get a FlightDeck when Shimano comes out with Di3 shifters...then I'd give up quad rings quickly.
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Old 06-04-12, 04:22 PM   #15
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I just bought my first tandem two days ago, a new Cannondale Road Tandem 2. I am also in a decision mode about what, if anything, to use to indicate what gear we're in.

On my solo bike, I've ridden with a Flight Deck since it was new in 1996. I use it mainly for cadence, and telling me what gear I'm, quickly. With that FD it only takes a second, and probably less than that to read what gear I'm in. That keeps my eyes on the road, instead of looking at the cassette at the back of the bike (which is impossible to do on the tandem). I really like the virtual cadence also. No need for a cadence sensor, that's genius.

On the tandem, I've decided to install the Dura Ace in-line gear indicators on the shift cables at the handle bars, and see how that goes. I've never had a bike with those, and only seen a few in many years of bike riding that had them.

The Flight Deck is a great computer, one of the best in my book, but it lacks a feature I've long wanted in a bike computer. To be fair, most computers don't have it either though. That is a trip odometer that can be moved up or down to match the readings on a route sheet.

I have found only two computer makers that have that feature on some models, Sigma Sport and VDO. If the FD had that I'd go with it on the new tandem, too bad it doesn't.
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Old 06-07-12, 07:20 AM   #16
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The flight deck was a great computer when they came out with the first gen of 10sp levers the had only a wireless kit and they had some problems with connectivity in the levers and then came out with 2nd gen of 10sp levers the 6703 and the first batch hat the fd caps on the lever to un screw and decided to do away with the flight deck its sad to see it go. If u need flight deck 9 or 10 speed flight deck tandems east still has plenty of stock left tandemseast.com
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