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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 02-13-13, 03:34 PM   #1
bradcycles
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first tandem bike options

i'm interested in purchasing my first tandem bikes. i've been riding road bikes for 12 years, and raced for quite awhile, and now race occasionally. I have several bikes, including 2 nice road bikes (and a TT bike, track bike, around-town fixie, and a cyclocross bike). my girlfriend has only been cycling regularly for 4 months, but she's adapted to it quite well. we just got back from a trip to maui, where we rode 260 miles and climbed 28,000 feet in the 4 rides we did there. we rented a tandem bike last weekend and enjoyed it. we're planning on renting it again this weekend to make sure we still like it. i'm trying to figure out what kind of tandem bike to get. it seems like people often get used tandem bikes for their first bike, but the two good options locally (in the san francisco bay area) that look appealing to me are a 1988 santana arriva tandem bike with 9-speed dura-ace components, or a 2010 cannondale road tandem 3 (that has lots of tiagra components). Both are about $1400-1500. These seem nice from the perspective of being a low cost entry point into the tandem market, but seem to have the downside of being heavy (i prefer light, as i guess most people do) and/or having low-grade components (tiagra for the cannondale). my other option is a new old-stock 2010 santana sovereign with a rear disc-brake and the "elite performance package," which i can get on sale for around $4200. to me, this option seems appealing as the components (mostly ultegra-level components) seem to be pretty good, so i wouldn't feel like i would need to upgrade anything immediately. the downside seems to be the extra expense, without knowing how often we will really go tandem cycling. right now, i try to do around 200 miles a week on my road bike. i wouldn't mind trying to do the tandem about once a week or twice a month. kind of struggling with the decision. any opinions as to the best option? or other options?
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Old 02-13-13, 04:16 PM   #2
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A few pounds extra on a tandem isn't such a big deal, IMO. $1800 for a nice enough tandem is worth it. They tend to retain value when bought used, so it's not as much of a risk if you'd like to upgrade in the future....
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Old 02-13-13, 04:21 PM   #3
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Two things can happen. You ride the tandem a lot or you don't.

If the tandem gets a lot of use then I suggest no matter which tandem you buy now you will most likely want a newer better one. Think about how many singles you have owned and the likelihood that you would have stopped at the first one. As a result I suggest you go with the used bike option. It should resell without much loss to you and you will know more about what you want in a tandem when you upgrade to a new tandem.

On the other hand if you buy it and do not ride it a lot you will be glad you went the lost cost route.
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Old 02-13-13, 10:14 PM   #4
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but the two good options locally (in the san francisco bay area) that look appealing to me are a 1988 santana arriva tandem bike with 9-speed dura-ace components, or a 2010 cannondale road tandem 3 (that has lots of tiagra components). Both are about $1400-1500.
It doesn't look like on Craigslist right now there are a lot of options. You may consider expanding your search outside of the SF Bay, or waiting until something better comes up.

If you can find a Cannondale Road Tandem 2 you'd be in great shape, as these are terrific values new, and that much better used. The problem with Santana's is all the proprietary specs and components that are difficult to extricate yourself from.

Here's an interesting find, a Specialized. You should be able to get pretty good service for that at your nearby Mike's Bikes!

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Old 02-13-13, 10:45 PM   #5
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As long time tandemistas (started in 1975) we'd suggest going the used route.
Personally would pick the C'dale as it has less of 'tana's proprietary-like stuff and is newer. And the $1,500 range is not a huge investment or loss if you want to sell it later.
The Specialized shown is indeed a rare find; have only seen a couple of them and they were only around for a couple of years.
Hats off to the girlfriend for doing a big hill-climbing trip in Hawaii!
Welcome to the tandemn lifestyle!
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Old 02-14-13, 01:44 AM   #6
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Thanks to everyone for the feedback. It seems to be that buying a used tandem is the consensus as it minimizes financial risk for first time tandem buyers. I like what i have heard on the cannondale tandems, but really wish the available one had better components. I suppose i could upgrade it over time if we continued to like tandeming. The specialized bike looks interesting, but would be quite a trip to southern california to try it out.

Another option popped up for a 2003 comotion supremo that was used as a demo for a bike store. The specs are as follows:

2003 Co-Motion Supremo
Demo. Large/Small. Excellent condition and was intended to be kept for personal use. Fillet Brazed frame, Snow White to Magenta Peal paint. Set up with wide range gearing. D-A 9spd STI, Ultegra 175/170 cranks, D-A 53,39 and XTR 26 th rings. XTR RD, 11/34 9spd cassette. W-U fork painted to match, CK silver HS, CK/Aerohead wheelset, W-U CF seatposts , Max adjust stoker stem.

They are asking $4000. I was curious what people think about this option. I was also curious if anyone knows what the difference is between the 2003 comotion supremo frame and the current comotion supremo frame.

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Old 02-14-13, 05:26 AM   #7
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i'm interested in purchasing my first tandem bikes.
Another suggestion....

We were here http://www.spokefolk.com/rentals/index.asp last summer on a VBT wine country tour.

Cycling north on US1 from Bodega Bay we passed a tandem couple that had rented their mount from the shop.
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Old 02-14-13, 10:44 AM   #8
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We stick with out opinion/suggestion to start off on a used tandem at the lower price range.
Having said that, we think the Co-Motion is a great bike at a good price.
Did own a custom Co-Mo way back in 1993 and put *only* 57,000 miles on it before selling it and getting a full carbon fiber tandem in 2003.
Check Co-Mo's website to see the difference bertween the 2003 and the current Supremo frame specs.
Yes, have ridden a Supremo a few years back; price range then was in the $8,000+ range.
Depending on mileage/conditionand/fit, $4,000 is a tad high for a 10 year old machine. Make an offer if money is burning a hole in your pocket!
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Old 02-14-13, 11:05 AM   #9
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You haven't said what size you need, but here is a nice one in my area: http://www.rodbikes.com/closeout.html Of the bikes you mentioned I would go with the Cannondale. The Tiagra is not the coolest, but in my experience it works well. My son has it on his Burley and it has never let him down. Besides, as Rudy has pointed out, if you are as serious as you seem to be you will be looking for a newer tandem in the near future.

Another excellent option is a new Cannondale RT2--if you can find one. I would check in at Tandems East for this enquiry. Should cost about $3500. While you are there check out the other new "old" stock as well.

In the end you should ride each of the prospective candidates and buy the one that feels the best. Low weight is cool, but is not the deal breaker it would be on a single.
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Old 02-14-13, 11:58 AM   #10
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Hi Brad, I'm glad you joined this forum and asked here. Lots of very experienced folks here. I agree $4K for a 9 speed Co-Mo is too much. I also agree: go with used first, after you ride a while you'll have a better idea what you want in a newer tandem. See you on the lunch ride.
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Old 02-14-13, 12:21 PM   #11
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I have had a C'dale as you describe. They are a very good bike. The only problem with the Tiagra componentry is in your head! It works well with no issues at all.
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Old 02-14-13, 01:30 PM   #12
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We bought a used Santana Visa to see if we would enjoy riding a tandem and it did not take long to determine that we loved it. We soon ordered a new custom bike and after we received it we sold the old one.

Like so many others have suggested buy used and you do not need to spend a lot of money to find out if you like it. If you do then buy/build your dream tandem.
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Old 02-14-13, 01:31 PM   #13
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The Cannondale is a much better frame, IMHO, than the 1988 Santana: lighter and stiffer. And components can be easily changed later if you wish.

Here's the components of the Cannondale, courtesy of Bikepedia:

2010 Cannondale Road Tandem 3
MSRP (new) $2,449.99
Sizes MS, LS, XS, JM
Colors Jet Black, Metiteranean Blue

Frame & Fork
Frame Construction TIG-welded
Frame Tubing Material CAAD Tandem oversized 6061 alloy
Fork Brand & Model Cannondale Fatty R Tandem
Fork Material Aluminum, unicrown crown

Components
Brakeset Cannondale Fire w/cartridge pad, Travel Agents brakes, Shimano Tiagra levers
Shift Levers Shimano Tiagra
Front Derailleur Shimano Ultegra
Rear Derailleur Shimano LX
Crankset FSA Gossamer Tandem, 30/39/53 teeth
Bottom Bracket FSA Mega EXO
Rear Cogs 9-speed, 11 - 34 teeth
Chain Shimano 9-speed drive, KMC 8-speed timing
Seatpost Cannondale C4 alloy, Thomson Elite
Saddle Selle Royal Viper
Handlebar Cannondale C3, 31.8mm front, Stoker rear
Handlebar Stem Cannondale C4 front, 31.8mm Stoker rear
Headset 1 1/8" Tange Integrated

Wheels
Hubs Shimano Tandem, threaded for drum
Rims Sun ME14A, 40-hole
Tires 700 x 28c Vittoria Randonneur w/double shielding
Spoke Brand DT Swiss Champion stainless, 14ga. (2.0mm)

There's nothing wrong with the component choices. The Tiagra brifters are the only Tiagra component, so if they bug you, just get some used Ultegra 9 brifters. I wouldn't bother, I'd just replace them if/when they break. In fact, the only change I would think about right off will look like a downgrade to most folks outside the tandem community -- many have observed that the 9-speed 105 triple front derailer is stiffer than the Ultegra, and so shifts better than the Ultegra under the additional load of two "engines".

Get the Cannondale and ride it a little first. Then, since you didn't blow all your cash on the purchase, you have some left if you want to upgrade. Go get some Spinergy or Topolino wheels and you will take off rotating weight, improve the aero, and still have your old wheels for emergencies, touring, riding in the rain, or whatever.
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Old 02-14-13, 02:41 PM   #14
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I'd go with the C'dale over the Santana because as mentioned it's a better frame. You can always upgrade components down the road as they wear out, or if they don't meet your expectations.

Also, given your single bikes, and racing background, the handling of the Santana might be a bit stodgy for you.

Not to start a flame war, but Santana's tend to handle differently, more stable, but less manueverable, for lack of a better description, than some other tandems, such as the Co-Motion you're also looking at.

That's not to diss Santana, but you may want to ride several brands to get a feel for what you like.
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Old 02-14-13, 03:24 PM   #15
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I'd go with the C'dale over the Santana because as mentioned it's a better frame. You can always upgrade components down the road as they wear out, or if they don't meet your expectations.

Also, given your single bikes, and racing background, the handling of the Santana might be a bit stodgy for you.

Not to start a flame war, but Santana's tend to handle differently, more stable, but less manueverable, for lack of a better description, than some other tandems, such as the Co-Motion you're also looking at.

That's not to diss Santana, but you may want to ride several brands to get a feel for what you like.
As a former Co-motion and current Santana owner I will say no offense taken. A Santana does handle differently - it is designed that way . I agree that with the OP's racing background the C'dale will most likely feel more familiar to him. Both are good bikes. For what it is worth C'dales are good bike and loved by some and not by others. The frames are reported to be very stiff which some like and some don't.

The Santana nonstandard components have been mentioned and to give you a little detail there are three main areas, fork steerer is 1.25 " not 1.125" in diameter, the rear drop outs are 160mm rather than 145mm and the BB is 73mm rather than 68mm. It is not hard to upgrade any of those.

A new headset allows the use of any 1.125 fork. When using existing fork the stem selection is adequate but your existing 1.125 stems will not work.

73mm BB is standard mountain width but limits choice to some extent. The lightest carbon cranks by Lightning are available for a Santana. Very popular FSA tandem cranks work on a Santana. These are standard on many brands of new tandems.

Rear hubs are harder to come by and does limit choice of light weight wheels. The recently released carbon spoked Spinergy wheels are available in Santana rear wheel width.

Hopefully whichever used bike the OP buys he will soon be putting a lot of miles on it and planning to let go of some big bucks on a new tandem rather than small upgrades.

Last edited by waynesulak; 02-14-13 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 02-14-13, 08:41 PM   #16
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Thanks everyone on the responses. I think I'm now gravitating towards the mindset of trying to not spend too much on a first tandem and buy used, and then figure out what I need. The existing Cannondale RT3 sounds pretty good, but I think I found two more options that also look very interesting. One is another Cannondale, as follows:

1) Cannondale large/medium. The front end of the Cannondale is a 58. The bike is mainly Ultegra level. the Cdale currently is set up w 9 speed Shimano and a bar end shifter for the front (for more reliable shifting). It has a replacement upgrade carbon fork as well as the old fork. The paint is scratched from shipping. It is straight and has no problems. Price would be between $1000 and 1500, depending on components. The bike has a new upgraded rear crankset (172.5) and TRP carbon brakes -- but I have the older parts as well. My older rear crank is, I think, 170.


Also there is the matter of wheels: I have a set of Rolf race wheels and a set of training wheels. The bike has 145 spacing, btw, and our next tandem will be 130, so I'll probably sell the wheels w or without the bike. The wheels retail for somewhere around $1000 -- so let me look them over and come up with a price.

2) 2000? Santana (Sovereign SE?). It’s a Santana Race Aluminum (I forget its name). about 10 years old. Carbon fork. It came with the hydraulic brake which we replaced with the avid one. I got it almost new from a guy in Colorado who had it for a few months, then broke up with his girl friend. It’s custom sized for a bigger person in the front and smaller in the rear. I’m 5’11 and it’s a tad long in the front for me. My wife is 5’8 and it’s a tad small for her back there. He downgraded the race wheels when he bought it. Original equipment had it weighing 32 pounds. Not sure now with the 48 spoke wheels. It’s very very dusty. We probably rode 100 times is my guess including Sierra to the sea (my butt still hurts thinking about that trip). Just searching around some, this is close to the specs. The model is the Santana Sovereign SE. We bought it around 2002 and it was a few months old.

http://www.gtgtandems.com/specs2000/sanroady2k.html


Curious as to people's thoughts about these two options? Also, the seller of the 2nd bike didn't know what the price should be on the Santana? Does anybody have any ideas on what would be a fair price for that bike?

Thanks again for all the replies! It's good to hear about some of the differences between the Santanas and the Cannondale bikes.
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Old 02-14-13, 09:02 PM   #17
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Both are solid brands and there is no way to judge without seeing a used bike. Tandems are just big bikes that use road bike and mountain bike components. As many miles as you ride you should be in the best position to make a decsion.
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Old 02-15-13, 09:23 AM   #18
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From my perspective, you need to buy what fits into your budget. For my husband and I, we are triathletes, ride on a cycling team and then we find pleasure riding together. Your partner being new to cycling, I would assume is not at your level. My thoughts are to buy the more expensive or the bike that has better components. This ride you will appreciate! If your intentions are to ride together and stay together, tandem is the way to go.......as for components, the better components, the better ride. Good luck! Lori
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Old 02-15-13, 09:28 AM   #19
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Also there is the matter of wheels: I have a set of Rolf race wheels and a set of training wheels. The bike has 145 spacing, btw, and our next tandem will be 130,
Why 130? I don't think that anyone has made 130 spaced tandems for a *very* long time. Did you mean Santana-spec 160?
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Old 02-15-13, 12:03 PM   #20
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Why 130? I don't think that anyone has made 130 spaced tandems for a *very* long time. Did you mean Santana-spec 160?
The seller told me he was getting a custom Calfee made for him. I'm guessing his custom Calfee has 130 spacing?
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Old 02-15-13, 01:40 PM   #21
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Why 130? I don't think that anyone has made 130 spaced tandems for a *very* long time. Did you mean Santana-spec 160?
I read that statement as part of the ad, not the OP's posting. The person selling the tandem was stating his next tandem would have 130 spacing so he would be willing to sell the wheels since they would not be of use to him.
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Old 02-15-13, 02:46 PM   #22
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The seller told me he was getting a custom Calfee made for him. I'm guessing his custom Calfee has 130 spacing?
I just looked at the amazing custom calfee 4/s in LoriBenvenuto's link. (see post 18) I think the pdf spec'd 130 for it, and it's an $18k beauty. I guess that it's a lightweight/racing tandem type spec that I was unaware of. Shows how much I know!!! I guess that 130 is indeed a modern spec for that type of bike.

I'm a practical/cargo/family biking type, so that world is generally foreign to me, except when I get out for a century ride now and then.
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Old 02-15-13, 02:56 PM   #23
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Why 130? I don't think that anyone has made 130 spaced tandems for a *very* long time. Did you mean Santana-spec 160?
130 mm spacing opens up a door to use wheels that are not typically used on a tandem. Wheels like Madfiber, Zipp Deep dish, HED 3's and other low spoke count lighter weight more aero wheels.

Typically these tandems are ridden by couples who do not carry big loads etc. They want a light fast tandem and if they tour they will probably have another bike in the stable.

My observation!
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Old 02-16-13, 08:09 AM   #24
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Yup. I realized this as soon as I looked at the spec sheet that hot calfee...
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Old 02-16-13, 06:04 PM   #25
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Thanks everyone for all the help. I ended up purchasing a 2002 Santana Team Aluminum today. I am excoted to start riding with it. First real ride planned for Monday through the hills and to the coast and back (65 miles, 5000 feet of climbing).
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