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  1. #1
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    Weigh in on a tandem...

    Hello..
    Looking to get a tandem as I now have a stoker. I'm 170# and have ridden for 10yrs, don't live in the mountains but may vacation. She's a newer rider but a good athlete. We really enjoy bikes and are looking to ride together for many years. We have a 1993 Trek T-200 Fastrack now ridden just enough to love tandeming, but it's the older technology, heavy etc.

    So, why can't I find more posted here on the daVinci tandems? With the indepenent coasting system it seems they would be very popular, especially for newer riders.
    To me, it looks like disc brakes are becoming pretty standard and is it worth making sure to get a carbon fork?

    As far as frame material goes, I was leaning towards Alu for the little weight savings it offers, but if you're going to spend a lot then should you just get a reverse mortgage and get a carbon frame?
    What about the Gate's belt system, is it going to be something to get - significantly better?

    I've always understood if you're going to spend serious money on bikes the place to put it is wheels. Any recommendations? I did find a deal on Rolf wheels.. ??
    Thanks in advance...
    Jerry

  2. #2
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jerman View Post
    Hello..
    Looking to get a tandem as I now have a stoker. I'm 170# and have ridden for 10yrs, don't live in the mountains but may vacation. She's a newer rider but a good athlete. We really enjoy bikes and are looking to ride together for many years. We have a 1993 Trek T-200 Fastrack now ridden just enough to love tandeming, but it's the older technology, heavy etc.

    So, why can't I find more posted here on the daVinci tandems? With the indepenent coasting system it seems they would be very popular, especially for newer riders.
    To me, it looks like disc brakes are becoming pretty standard and is it worth making sure to get a carbon fork?

    As far as frame material goes, I was leaning towards Alu for the little weight savings it offers, but if you're going to spend a lot then should you just get a reverse mortgage and get a carbon frame?
    What about the Gate's belt system, is it going to be something to get - significantly better?

    I've always understood if you're going to spend serious money on bikes the place to put it is wheels. Any recommendations? I did find a deal on Rolf wheels.. ??
    Thanks in advance...
    Jerry
    Lots of questions ----

    First I know the search utility on Bike Forums is pretty bad - I have tried to use it myself.

    Try this:
    http://tandemgeek.wordpress.com/2012...about-tandems/

    Seek and you shall find the opinions....


    Now a quick stab:

    daVinci are loved by many. I buy their cranks and think it is a good company but we don't believe that system is for us. We like the team spirit thing on a standard synced tandem. Like a Ouija Board the bike sometimes has a mind of its own urging us to go faster.

    Disk brakes standard?? Not on the tandems I see. CoMotion is int he pacific northwest so they have a big demand for disks but unless you are where it rains a lot and or in the mountains shy the extra weight?

    I believe material is not important as design. You can have stiff or flexible tandems in any material. Carbon is great if you want a $10,000 plus custom tandem. Then again for that price there is also Ti!



    Wheels are important opinions differ on what is best. I vote for two sets.

    Have fun!

    Wayne
    Last edited by waynesulak; 10-06-12 at 01:32 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    I think the fit and feel of the bike is more important than brand as long as we're talking about established builders and manufacturers.

    We really like our steel daVinci. It works for us, let's us take butt breaks, start on steep pitches, has a very large gear range and will work for taking the grandkids out, but if we were a younger, fast team a conventional drive would make more sense. Our tandem has a CF fork, but I've got steel on their temporarily and I notice a difference on chipseal (YMMV). We do some nasty climbs, 3000' in less than 10 miles, and the rear disc at our full-up 380+lbs seems to make sense, but a good deal depends on your team weight and terrain. New disc technology such as Shimano ICE are really an improvement over conventional steel rotors and may have widened the performance gap between V-brakes and discs.

    Good luck with finding a tandem. I'm sure you'll enjoy it immensely.
    Rick T
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    daVinci Joint Venture

  4. #4
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Your wallet (and butts) will pretty well dictate what tandem you'll end up purchasing.
    As you have found out, you like tandeming and now it's time to get something better/newer than the Trek.
    Been riding as duo for 37+ years and tried/ridden/owned 30+ brands/models of tandems.
    Including the daVinci. They build a great machine and are wonderfull folks to deal with and offer steel, alu, ti and carbon models..
    The independent coasting is a good idea, especially for beginners. But like Wayne states, that is not our cup-a-tea either.
    There are many other good brands available.
    Frame materials can make a huge difference as can the actual frame builder/factory.
    Ridden many types of steel/alloys, Alu, Ti and carbon fiber. All have plusses and maybe a couple minuses.
    Currently have 34,000+ miles on a custom carbon fiber Zona.
    Have tried disc brakes and for our type of riding we do we consider them to be a bit of overkill.
    We currently utilize a Dura Ace caliper front and Tektro Mini-V rear brake. Sufficient for us, even in Arizona.
    A carbon fiber fork will take some of the buzz out of riding chipseal/rougher roads on any tandem.
    The Gates carbon belt system has gone through several updates/price changes and using a real chain for us is not an issue.
    Lots of choices in frames/components/prices/material.
    Our suggestion is to take your time, ride different makes/materials and then decide.
    Buy the best you can afford; we always have considered a new tandem as an
    investment in our continued good health!
    That from a couple cancer susrvivors and 'seniors' (80/77) that still ride 100 miles a week.
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandemtandem smiley..gif

  5. #5
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    I've never ridden a DaVinci, but those teams that I've met who ride them, like them. To add to Wayne's comments, check with your LBS to see if they'll be able to service one -- ICS is a different animal. I'm not a big fan of aluminum, at least for bike frame. Yes, it's lighter than steel but a bit heavier than the exotics. My first real road bike was a (single) Cannondale. Not bad on shorter distances, but it would be beat me up rather badly on long rides or less-than-stellar pavement. IMHO, your stoker will suffer more than you (and that's NEVER a good thing). Given what decent tandems cost, I'd first try to see what's available in your area, both new & used ("Double Talk" and "Recumbent & Tandem Rider" magazines usually have bikes for sale in their classifieds). Even test riding another team's bike can help the process. Disc brakes are generally reserved for hilly/mountain and/or moderately wet (or worse) areas. There are some great tandem rims out in the marketplace, but you have to decided when & where you'll be riding. Rolf & Topolino are well regarded, but talk with Peter White cycles, too. Final thought: figure on 2-3 times the cost of a single bike with a similar gruppo and frame material.
    Jeff

    Learn from other people's mistakes. You won't live long enough to make them all yourself.

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  6. #6
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    A couple in our randonneuring group ride da Vinci tandems. They really like them. Their older model is titanium, the newer model is a lighter aluminum model. They love the independent coasting. On a recent long-distance race, they started on the aluminum, then switched to the titanium as it was smoother on chipseal.

    When I bought my tandem, budget concerns pretty much ruled out the da Vinci's. My stoker at the time had ridden several tandems, and really didn't see an advantage to the independent coast, and other tandemneers I've known didn't either. I don't think it's a new rider issue, either.

    On my Co-Motion, disk brakes were an $80 upgrade, and I was used to them on my single bike, so I got them.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  7. #7
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sprout97 View Post
    .... check with your LBS to see if they'll be able to service one -- ICS is a different animal. .....
    The ICS shaft assembly is all sealed bearings. There is a simple tool which assists in un-threading the double freewheel from the shaft, let's say for cleaning purposes. Everything else on the daVinci is just normal stuff with one small exception: The chainring stack is held together by a custom, steel 12t chainring which threads on. Frankly, I'm not aware of tooling that supports taking this assembly apart. Put a lot of torque on that small chainring it's on very, very tight. I believe daVinci is working on an alternate assembly technique similar to the stack on a cassette. If you're interested you might check with Todd at daVinci.
    Rick T
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    daVinci Joint Venture

  8. #8
    Hopelessly addicted... photogravity's Avatar
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    Here are three other factors to consider:

    1) What kinds of distances to you anticipate riding?
    2) Do you plan to tour?
    3) Is speed more important than comfort?
    --
    Ridding the world of derailleurs, one bicycle at a time.

    46 Hercules Roadster, 49 Hercules Kestrel, 50 Norman Rapide, 51 Hercules Lion, 52 Hercules Windsor, 56 Hercules Royal Prince, 61 Fiorelli Tandem, 67 Carlton Super Race (IGH), 70 Schwinn Collegiate (IGH), 71 Hercules, 71 STF Hercules, 72 Peugeot PX-8 (IGH), 76 Raleigh Sports, 77 STF Raleigh Sports, 77 Jack Taylor Tandem, Early-80's Mike Appel SC, 84 Davidson Tandem, Late-80's Alpine, 10 Bilenky "BQ" Signature Tandem

  9. #9
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    Our first tandem was a Cdale off of CL. Aluminum frame was really stiff. Even w thudbuster seatpost it was hard on the stoker. We are a 295# team, combined age 119. Cdale too big for stoker so we decided to upgrade and tried steel co-motion and steel daVinci. I actually liked the sync chain on the co-motion since it tied us together and I knew where the pedals were all the time. But, when stoker tired, I ended up pushing her feet around. For us, the daVinci ICS is great. Stoker can stand for butt break or for bumps, or just quit pedalling when she tires. I can just keep pedaling over bumps etc. Steel frame is a bit more forgiving. We have carbon fork, disc on back, w cantilever brake on front, thudbuster stoker seatpost. Works for us.

  10. #10
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by estrem View Post
    Our first tandem was a Cdale off of CL. Aluminum frame was really stiff. Even w thudbuster seatpost it was hard on the stoker. We are a 295# team, combined age 119. Cdale too big for stoker so we decided to upgrade and tried steel co-motion and steel daVinci. I actually liked the sync chain on the co-motion since it tied us together and I knew where the pedals were all the time. But, when stoker tired, I ended up pushing her feet around. For us, the daVinci ICS is great. Stoker can stand for butt break or for bumps, or just quit pedalling when she tires. I can just keep pedaling over bumps etc. Steel frame is a bit more forgiving. We have carbon fork, disc on back, w cantilever brake on front, thudbuster stoker seatpost. Works for us.
    Different strokes for different folks. I know that would be great for some teams and I am happy that they have that option. For us, that is why we don't want it. We don't see that as a team approach. My stoker doesn't want to be tempted into being pulled around and frankly I am not strong enough to do much of it. We like to go as far and fast as we can but if that turns out to be short and slow it is still both of us doing every pedal stroke. For butt breaks one of us asks to stand and then we stand and pedal. That works great and a tandem team standing is really "dancing on the pedals."
    Last edited by waynesulak; 10-07-12 at 04:33 PM.

  11. #11
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    I absolutely would not want ICS, I think it is to heavy and adds complexity. That is just my opinion, we have solved the butt break issue by taking a butt break every 15 minutes. We will coast with one leg down while standing and then rotate and coast with the other leg down, we then sit and take a drink. If we coast to long we will pedal back up to speed and then drink. At the 45 minute mark we will stop and have Gu/Gel and take a little break. We are senior citizens and enjoy our breaks.

    We rode tandem several years ago and got back into a couple of years ago with a heavy used Santana Visa. We decided to upgrade and was very impressed with the TandemGeeks write up about their Calfee build. Based on their experience we ordered a Calfee Tetra frame and fork and have built a nice lightweight tandem. We do not tour so it is built as a sport/racing bike. A long ride for us is 50 miles, however we are retired so we are able to ride everyday and we thoroughly enjoy our Calfee. I now have three sets of wheels, Bontrager/Topolino/Spinergy and i am lusting for a set of HED H3's. I have them on my road bike and HED recently told me I could use them on the tandem. The set that I have are tubular's and I want clinchers for the tandem. Does anyone want to buy a set of Bontrager or Spinergy wheels?

  12. #12
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    This thread is a good example of the wide range of tandem teams enjoying riding together. I agree with DubT about ICS but we ride quite differently. I also would like to point out that some really strong teams like ICS. The rando team mentioned earlier lives fairly close to me and I must stay the stoker on that team is not a weak cyclist it is just that her captain is a monster. They just completed a 500 mile hilly time trial and beat all but three of the single men. One more thing it - rained most of the time.

    ICS is not for me but it works well for them.

    Race results are at:
    http://www.tt24tt.com/results2012.html

  13. #13
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    Jerry;

    One thing to note; unless you have lots of hill and the T200 does not fit you properly, you will not be significantly faster than you are on the T200. The T200 has a very rigid Cro-Mo frame; that absorbs very little of the team's energy.

    The biggest bang for your buck is lighter rims (note NOT lighter wheels); high light spoke (Wheelsmith XL15 for example) count light rims - though note the "in thing" are faster accelerating than low spoke count heavy rims. With some free rolling hubs like Phil Wood.
    Nigel
    Mechanical Design Engineer

  14. #14
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DubT View Post
    I absolutely would not want ICS, I think it is to heavy and adds complexity. That is just my opinion, we have solved the butt break issue by taking a butt break every 15 minutes. We will coast with one leg down while standing and then rotate and coast with the other leg down, we then sit and take a drink. If we coast to long we will pedal back up to speed and then drink. At the 45 minute mark we will stop and have Gu/Gel and take a little break. We are senior citizens and enjoy our breaks.

    We rode tandem several years ago and got back into a couple of years ago with a heavy used Santana Visa. We decided to upgrade and was very impressed with the TandemGeeks write up about their Calfee build. Based on their experience we ordered a Calfee Tetra frame and fork and have built a nice lightweight tandem. We do not tour so it is built as a sport/racing bike. A long ride for us is 50 miles, however we are retired so we are able to ride everyday and we thoroughly enjoy our Calfee. I now have three sets of wheels, Bontrager/Topolino/Spinergy and i am lusting for a set of HED H3's. I have them on my road bike and HED recently told me I could use them on the tandem. The set that I have are tubular's and I want clinchers for the tandem. Does anyone want to buy a set of Bontrager or Spinergy wheels?

    The H3s are listed with a 250lb weight limit on Hed's web site. I know that might just be lawyer speak but still something to keep in mind.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by waynesulak View Post
    The H3s are listed with a 250lb weight limit on Hed's web site. I know that might just be lawyer speak but still something to keep in mind.
    Andy at HED said that at our weight and with the weight distribution of a tandem they should be good. He also said that they were very strong wheels. I have a front tubular that I use occasionally but do not like having to carry both a spare tubular and a spare tube.

  16. #16
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    We have an '02 Co-Motion Speedster with V-brakes, good classic wheels, and a carbon fork. We really like how the bike handles and goes for us. We like that it's 9-speed. We like the carbon fork very much. We like that we can tour with it and mount fenders easily, meaning it has braze-ons for that in the rear. The carbon fork is sans braze-ons, but that works fine for us.

    Things that have been most important for us, sort of in order and given that it's the right bike for us: getting both positions right, getting the saddles right, getting the gearing right, having strong wheels, having trouble-free hubs, getting the tires right. When I say "right," I mean right for us and our usage. We sport ride, randonneur, and tour. When I talk to people about buying something major like this, I try to remember to tell them that this thing may change their lives. Be careful to leave yourself room for the changes it might make. Don't worry too much about the starting-out part. You'll figure that out quickly.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by DubT View Post
    Andy at HED said that at our weight and with the weight distribution of a tandem they should be good. He also said that they were very strong wheels. I have a front tubular that I use occasionally but do not like having to carry both a spare tubular and a spare tube.
    We are a 300 lb team and have been using Hed H3 clinchers for a few months now. I have had no problems so far. Only things I don't like is they have a bit of side to side and up and down run out. These are older wheels though so Hed may well of improved this. Also they are quite a handful on windy days. When it is blowing I swap the front H3 for something else.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dean V View Post
    We are a 300 lb team and have been using Hed H3 clinchers for a few months now. I have had no problems so far. Only things I don't like is they have a bit of side to side and up and down run out. These are older wheels though so Hed may well of improved this. Also they are quite a handful on windy days. When it is blowing I swap the front H3 for something else.
    if you get new wheels and upgrade to the Flamme Rouge (sp) they are much truer. I understand about the wind issue. I am guessing that is reason they are no longer allowed in some bicycle races.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dean V View Post
    We are a 300 lb team and have been using Hed H3 clinchers for a few months now. I have had no problems so far. Only things I don't like is they have a bit of side to side and up and down run out. These are older wheels though so Hed may well of improved this. Also they are quite a handful on windy days. When it is blowing I swap the front H3 for something else.
    What rear drop spacing do you have on your bike and how did you make the rear wheel fit?

  20. #20
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    We absolutely LOVE our coupled da Vinci. I the last 2 years we have ridden it over 12,000 miles and have taken it with us to 7 other states and 1 foreign country for organized tours or a 700-mile self-supported tour. We did have a "fixed" tandem prior to that and rode it only enough to decide we wanted a high-end tandem that was coupled for travel. I don't see why anyone would consider da Vinci's independent coasting system a good idea "for beginners". It really has no relevance for beginners or experts, specifically. It's for people who enjoy the advantages of being to stand up and stretch while the other one is still pedaling, or momentarily stop pedaling to take a photo, reach for something in the trunk bag, or start on on a steep hill while the captain clips in. If you don't like the ICS da Vinci can lock it so it functions the same as a fixed tandem and you'd be left with a bike that still has more gears and higher ground clearance than a conventional tandem. After travelling so much with our da Vinci the last two years and talking to so many other curious people we've come to learn that the ICS system is the most misunderstood feature of this beautiful hand-built bike. For some reason lots of people think it means you can each pedal at your own cadence--not true.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DubT View Post
    What rear drop spacing do you have on your bike and how did you make the rear wheel fit?
    Rear spacing is 145mm but I have reduced it to 130mm with a different derailleur hanger (see photo) and a 7.5mm spacer on the other side as well.

    I do not know how easy it would be to modify an H3 hub to 145mm as I haven't pulled one apart. You would obviously need to move the whole freewheel body out 7.5mm and then also fit a longer axle spaced accordingly.

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    Hello. Thank you for all the insiteful replies.. helpful and appreciated.

    Looking at 60 to 100miles on Saturdays, 30 or so on Sundays, and if off during the week any then 60+..
    Touring will never be something we'll be interested in.
    Speed over comfort until 100 miles, then comfort over speed.. for sure will get the Thudbuster, right?
    Thanks again,
    Jerry

    Quote Originally Posted by photogravity View Post
    Here are three other factors to consider:

    1) What kinds of distances to you anticipate riding?
    2) Do you plan to tour?
    3) Is speed more important than comfort?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by jerman View Post
    Hello. Thank you for all the insiteful replies.. helpful and appreciated.

    Looking at 60 to 100miles on Saturdays, 30 or so on Sundays, and if off during the week any then 60+..
    Touring will never be something we'll be interested in.
    Speed over comfort until 100 miles, then comfort over speed.. for sure will get the Thudbuster, right?
    Thanks again,
    Jerry
    My stoker does not use a thudbuster on our Calfee, it is comfortable without it.

  24. #24
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    Hi Nigel,

    We don't have what I consider a lot of hills here, just rollers. The T-200 fits fine and the color of metallic red is something you just don't see anymore - truthfully, it's why I bought it. The drawback is it's bar-end shifters and 7 speed. It also has a narrower (135 or 140) spread in the rear so that doesn't fit most modern wheels. There is a custom builder in town who can spread the stays to 145mm and align, but then you have more money for that plus the new brifters going into an older bike probably needing some other upgrades, plus it's heavier. I would imagine newer builds have better design technology and my stoker said she wants to go fast and I have a day job...

    I like your collection of bikes. I am still sorry I sold my '85 Miyatta 912 for $100, it was beautiful...
    Thanks for the info!!!
    Jerry

    Quote Originally Posted by nfmisso View Post
    Jerry;

    One thing to note; unless you have lots of hill and the T200 does not fit you properly, you will not be significantly faster than you are on the T200. The T200 has a very rigid Cro-Mo frame; that absorbs very little of the team's energy.

    The biggest bang for your buck is lighter rims (note NOT lighter wheels); high light spoke (Wheelsmith XL15 for example) count light rims - though note the "in thing" are faster accelerating than low spoke count heavy rims. With some free rolling hubs like Phil Wood.

  25. #25
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    I would make sure the frame was sized to permit use of a Thudbuster. You might try start without one; your stoker will let you know if some suspension is needed. Practice saying "bump" in front of a mirror. Practice saying "bump" on your single!
    Rick T
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    daVinci Joint Venture

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