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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 11-05-12, 01:45 PM   #1
jnbrown
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Need suggestion for vehicle to carry tandem

We normally transport our tandem on top of 1998 Toyota Sienna using a tandem topper rack.
It has 210,000 miles on it and is consuming a lot of oil so it may die soon.
Lately I have been putting the tandem inside by sliding it sideways on top of a piece of hardboard on top the folded down seats.
This is much easier than putting it on top which can be problematic when my back problems flare up, also avoids the wind noise and reduced mpg with it on top.
I could take out two seats and put a fork mount inside which would be better, but removing the seats is a PIA and also not great for my back.
We have been looking for a vehicle to replace the Sienna and test drove:

Subaru Outback
Hyundai Santa Fe
Kia Sportage
Ford Escape
Mazda CX-5

The Subaru appeals to us the most, but we would not be able to fit the tandem inside. It rides somewhat rougher than our Sienna but gets about 5 mpg better.
The main problem I have with the Outback is the seats are not very comfortable compared to the Sienna (My back problems again).
I like the better mpg of Outback for commuting and trips where we won't be carrying the tandem.
My understanding is that putting the tandem on top would reduce mpg drastically so carrying the tandem on the Outback would be no better than the Sienna and possiby worse.
A new Outback is going cost $25,500 and I can a slightly used Sienna for around $21,000.
I have a Toyota Camry XLE (GREAT CAR) that I normally drive to work.
We only use the Sienna for carrying the bikes and other stuff. My wife normally takes the train to work but drives during the winter to avoid the sick people on the train.
I am thinking another Sienna makes more sense. The Outback appeals to me for the MPG, cool factor and something different. It has AWD but living in San Diego we would rarely need it.
The newer Sienna has the rear seats that fold down into the floor, so it would be much easier to switch bwteen carrying the tandem or passengers.
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Old 11-05-12, 03:02 PM   #2
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Roof topping is awful on MPG, regardless of what you drive short of vehicles that are so big and un-aerodynamic that a little extra drag is meaningless.

I believe the trick to being able to drive anything that you'd like with minimal expense is carrying the tandem on the back of the vehicle with one or both wheels removed.

Mind you, I like having our tandems inside as well, but having had to suck it up and put the triplet up on top of the truck has made me wish I could put the thing behind our truck. The fuel mileage hit due to the aero drag of that 45 lb bike on the roof is almost on par with the hit I see when we're pulling two 700 lb motorcycles on a 900 lb open trailer... go figure.

Just something to think about if you're looking to move away from a mini-van.
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Old 11-05-12, 03:16 PM   #3
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Roof topping is awful on MPG, regardless of what you drive short of vehicles that are so big and un-aerodynamic that a little extra drag is meaningless.

I believe the trick to being able to drive anything that you'd like with minimal expense is carrying the tandem on the back of the vehicle with one or both wheels removed.

Mind you, I like having our tandems inside as well, but having had to suck it up and put the triplet up on top of the truck has made me wish I could put the thing behind our truck. The fuel mileage hit due to the aero drag of that 45 lb bike on the roof is almost on par with the hit I see when we're pulling two 700 lb motorcycles on a 900 lb open trailer... go figure.

Just something to think about if you're looking to move away from a mini-van.
By on the back do you mean something like a draftmaster rack or having the bike at right angle to the vehicle with both wheels off?
Having to take both wheels off is probably not going to happen.
I am also afraid of the bike getting hit from the rear by another car.
For those reasons inside is preferrable plus I don't have to hassle with locking the bike.
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Old 11-05-12, 03:21 PM   #4
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We put our CoMo Medium/Small in our 1995 Subaru Impreza with both wheels removed. Stoker holds the bike while I do the wheels. Takes about 1 minute. Won't fit with a rack or fenders, though. We just put the rear seat down. For touring, we take off the rack and reassemble at the start. For day rides, we use our Ford F250 long bed king cab with canopy. Now that's a TTV. As TG says, if we are taking a single rider with us on a day ride in the summer, we put his bike in the back and put our tandem on a rear rack with wheels removed. We don't like to do that in the rain, though, so we use the F250.
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Old 11-05-12, 11:34 PM   #5
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We prefer our tandem inside and not on a rack.
Back in the 1970s we hauled our tandem inside a VW Squareback with the hatch part way open.
Have carried tandem inside Honda Accord Harchback with hatch part way open and inside our current '97 Honda Station Wagon with both wheels on with hatch part way open. Or, for longer hauls, we remove both wheels and shut the hatch.
Actually a tandem will it inside a Honda Fit!
We own only one vehicle and have only one driver so no need for 2nd car or a dedicated tandem hauler.
Where there's a will, there's a way.
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Old 11-05-12, 11:38 PM   #6
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Ummm? Why not a newer Sienna, the rear seats fold into the floor. The tandem will fit up right down the middle, front wheel off. Or a Dodge Caravan with the fold into the floor seats.
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Old 11-06-12, 01:28 AM   #7
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Ummm? Why not a newer Sienna, the rear seats fold into the floor. The tandem will fit up right down the middle, front wheel off. Or a Dodge Caravan with the fold into the floor seats.
IMO, if you are looking for a car for a tandem, the first thing to look at is cars that will hold it upright, inside, fork in rack with front wheel off. It is a big step down to not have this capability.

This now includes minivans, and the Honda Element. I think there are some other station wagon crossover type cars that might do this as well, but the driver's center console might have to be modified to allow the rear wheel to back in between the driver and passenger.

My wife needs a new sedan, and while she was looking at a sedan at a dealer, I was scoping out the Lincoln MKT. Its rear seats come out, and leave a flat floor with lots of height, and there is a configuration with two middle seats with a space between. It had 79" between the console and the rear hatch, whereas my tandem needs 86". The sloping rear window would be a problem too. The Lincoln is based on the Ford Flex, which is boxier, and might be better for a tandem.



Insert tandem between these bucket seats.



Customize the console so the rear wheel of the tandem can fit in between captain and stoker.



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Old 11-06-12, 06:02 AM   #8
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2012 Dodge Caravan

Plus's; $19.500 (or less) new, plus tag and tax, 23 MPG Highway, folding seats makes for the largest usable space among popular vans

Minus's; five huge doors compromise structural integrity resulting in squeaks and rattles, no compass, non-locking fuel filler door (minor gripes, but come on Chrysler it's $10.00 in extra build expense.)



http://stpetecycling.com/
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Old 11-06-12, 07:29 AM   #9
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We're in a similar situation. Our VW Jetta wagon is approaching 300K miles. This has been a great tandem transporter, getting 36 mpg with the tandem on the roof at 75 mph (it's a diesel). We would like something a bit larger, but if the size works for folks it's very easy to get the tandem on the low roof: either just lift the tandem in place or use the pivoting front fork mount.

I'm looking for a cross over that will get a true 30+ mpg at actual (California) highway speeds. I might try to hold out for a CX-5 diesel, but could be the 2014 model year before this appears in the US. Don't think the CX-5 will comfortably house a tandem inside, however.
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Old 11-06-12, 07:41 AM   #10
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You know that you're hooked on your tandem when your car buying process gets involved. We are still hanging ours off the back of the Acura TSX. The funny thing is it will fit inside if you take the wheels and seats off. I loved the one ride we did with mostly singles when we pulled a tandem out of the trunk and set it up in just a few minutes. They were like "what the what"? One couple we rode with in MD have a beautiful Toyota Sienna. The back lid opened to two tandems.
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Old 11-06-12, 08:13 AM   #11
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I'd imagine a tandem would fit fine in our odyssey, one rear seat folded into the trunk, the middle jump seat pulled out.

not owning a tandem, I'm not 100%, but I know I can fit two DF bikes behind the 2nd row with the 3rd row folded down. plus our burley cub trailer between, though we normally run the bikes on a hitch mounted rack and the cub popped up with the wheels on for ease of assembly at our riding start point
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Old 11-06-12, 09:00 AM   #12
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We put our Bilenky tandem in our Chrysler Town and Country with the front wheel removed. I have made a set up with a front fork mount to hold the bike in place for transport. It is not necessary to fold down the middle bucket seats, but we usually do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jnbrown View Post
We normally transport our tandem on top of 1998 Toyota Sienna using a tandem topper rack.
It has 210,000 miles on it and is consuming a lot of oil so it may die soon.
Lately I have been putting the tandem inside by sliding it sideways on top of a piece of hardboard on top the folded down seats.
This is much easier than putting it on top which can be problematic when my back problems flare up, also avoids the wind noise and reduced mpg with it on top.
I could take out two seats and put a fork mount inside which would be better, but removing the seats is a PIA and also not great for my back.
We have been looking for a vehicle to replace the Sienna and test drove:

Subaru Outback
Hyundai Santa Fe
Kia Sportage
Ford Escape
Mazda CX-5

The Subaru appeals to us the most, but we would not be able to fit the tandem inside. It rides somewhat rougher than our Sienna but gets about 5 mpg better.
The main problem I have with the Outback is the seats are not very comfortable compared to the Sienna (My back problems again).
I like the better mpg of Outback for commuting and trips where we won't be carrying the tandem.
My understanding is that putting the tandem on top would reduce mpg drastically so carrying the tandem on the Outback would be no better than the Sienna and possiby worse.
A new Outback is going cost $25,500 and I can a slightly used Sienna for around $21,000.
I have a Toyota Camry XLE (GREAT CAR) that I normally drive to work.
We only use the Sienna for carrying the bikes and other stuff. My wife normally takes the train to work but drives during the winter to avoid the sick people on the train.
I am thinking another Sienna makes more sense. The Outback appeals to me for the MPG, cool factor and something different. It has AWD but living in San Diego we would rarely need it.
The newer Sienna has the rear seats that fold down into the floor, so it would be much easier to switch bwteen carrying the tandem or passengers.
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Old 11-06-12, 11:23 AM   #13
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I carry our tandem in the back of a Ford Ranger... very convenient.
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Old 11-06-12, 12:33 PM   #14
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We went the minivan route! We ended up with the Chrysler Town and Country. Our tandem fits inside with both wheels attached. We actually load from the side door and have to tip the bike slightly to get it into the vehicle however once inside we stand it up right. We can keep the middle bucket seat set upright as well as one single seat in the rear. This allows for 4 passengers to ride as well as we can also fold our trek gobug and slide it in the van as well.

With the Dodge/Chrysler minivan we found the most flexible for accommodating traveling as far as what setup we would like inside. We did however find that we thought the Honda and Toyota minivan had more comfortable seats.
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Old 11-06-12, 12:38 PM   #15
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Anything is possible, with a little creativity.

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Old 11-06-12, 02:00 PM   #16
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We're in a similar situation. Our VW Jetta wagon is approaching 300K miles. This has been a great tandem transporter, getting 36 mpg with the tandem on the roof at 75 mph (it's a diesel). We would like something a bit larger, but if the size works for folks it's very easy to get the tandem on the low roof: either just lift the tandem in place or use the pivoting front fork mount.
We were really disappointed in our 2005 Jetta TDI Wagon when we "only" got 34 mpg traveling I-15 at 75 mph with the air conditioning on and 4 bikes on the roof. First time we'd ever gotten less than 40 mpg. Saw 52 mpg with the air conditoning on and two bikes on the roof traveling east through the Columbia River Gorge at 60 mph. I think we must have had a pretty good tailwind. We routinely get 44-46 mpg w/o bikes. As rdtompki says, easy to get bikes on and off the roof. Comfortable for long trips. Plenty of get up and go from the TDI engine. My wife calls it her little go kart. She says it is so much sportier than her Outback was in terms of acceleration and handling. You might find it a bit space challeneged if you are used to the Sienna though. Our TDI is just getting broken in at 100,000 plus miles. I think the new model TDIs, 2010 on, don't get quite the same mileage.

My preference when it comes to hauling bikes is to have them inside the vehicle. Even on the roof they seem to get pretty dirty when traveling longer distances and that is much worse in my experience when you haul them on the back of a vehicle. I too worry about a rear ender destroying the bike when hauled on the back.

Curtis
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Old 11-06-12, 05:52 PM   #17
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Great mileage on the VW TDIs . . .
However diesel fuel here in AZ is almost $1per gallon pricier than no-lead.
Anyone check out the Prius V that gets 50 mpg?
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Old 11-07-12, 09:07 AM   #18
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Great mileage on the VW TDIs . . .
However diesel fuel here in AZ is almost $1per gallon pricier than no-lead.
Anyone check out the Prius V that gets 50 mpg?
Depending on the time of year and where you are in the country there can be quite a spread between the cost of #2 diesel and regular unleaded. We travel around the west alot and have seen differences as high as $0.85 and as low as $0.04 most recently. During the winter a compound is added to prevent gel formation in diesel fuel and that takes the price up significantly here in Utah. Our other bike hauler/camper is a 2008 Dodge (Mercedes) Sprinter van. It hurts to fill that 25 gal tank up when diesel is almost $5.00 a gal. in some of the more remote places we tavel to.
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Old 11-07-12, 09:56 AM   #19
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There is hope for diesel prices as commercial trucking does a partial transition to natural gas which will lower diesel demand. Around here diesel is withing 5% or so of regular.
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Old 11-07-12, 10:28 AM   #20
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I'll just leave this here. Easy to load and if this fits, anything will.

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Old 11-07-12, 11:36 AM   #21
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I've been thinking about the Ford Transit Connect. Not luxurious but holds a lot.
http://www.ford.com/trucks/transitconnect/
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Old 11-07-12, 01:03 PM   #22
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We had had a Chryslee Pacifica that with the seats folded down would fit inside if. I made a little stand to support the rear wheel. The tandem was centered in the vehicle and the rear wheel was between the front seats. It worked but was hard to load and unload. With the tandem in the middle packing was also difficult.

We sold the Pacifica and bought a Honda Odyssey which is absolutely perfect. Plenty of room for the tandem behind the driver with one of the second row seats removed. We can haul the tandem, my single bike and plenty of luggage, everything is safe inside.

Wayne
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Old 11-07-12, 08:33 PM   #23
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Spoiled by being able to put our tandem right down the middle of our 2001 Mazda minivan. Usually remove the rear (bike) seat but no wheels. Probably our last minivan but who knows? I do have a Thule roof rack (just like the Tandem Topper) that works with factory roof racks with Yakima adapters and crossbars on the Mazda and on our Vibe.
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Old 11-07-12, 10:24 PM   #24
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I've been thinking about the Ford Transit Connect. Not luxurious but holds a lot.
http://www.ford.com/trucks/transitconnect/
Wow, that would be hard core. Since a Transit Connect is so obviously used most of the time as a commercial vehicle, might this be a vehicle more plausibly sold to the IRS as a business expense?



In Europe, Ford has a completely new Transit, and has shown a passenger model called the Tournoe. Apparently this might make it to the U.S. If so, there would be an additional tandem transporter somewhat smaller than a minivan.




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Old 11-08-12, 07:31 AM   #25
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I looked at the new minivans it it looks like they just keep getting longer and longer and less boxy.

Minivans are great haulers. We had Grand Caravan one for 12 years and it is amazing what you can fit it one. The problem with a vehicle like that is not getting the tandem in the vehicle it is getting the vehicle in the garage. Well not getting it in the garage but they do suck up all the available space.
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