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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 02-24-13, 04:24 PM   #1
thehammerdog
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upgrade or not...is it worthy or doable

http://www.pinkbike.com/u/gg451/albu...0-Tandem-Bike/

I have an old school Trek T50 everything works but I was wondering about upgrading to modern day abilities..7 speed thumb shifter.
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Old 02-24-13, 05:01 PM   #2
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Do-able: yes.
Worthwhile: No.
Save your $$$ and buy newer/better tandem.
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Old 02-24-13, 05:42 PM   #3
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+1 to Rudy's comment. It comes down to the age of the bike, its gruppo, &/or sentimental value. We've spent a shiny nickel for our fork, rims and a new paint job on our '04 Speedster, but then the bike holds a sentimental value for us. The costs of a new or newer tandem have certainly escalated, but so too has the content. To add to that, some upgrades aren't even possible on an older tandem (i.e. rear disc brake).
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Old 02-24-13, 06:30 PM   #4
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IMO, I would say that it depends on how you intend to use the bike. If you are a tandemcentric couple and you want to do the bulk of your cycling on the tandem, then probably not cost effective to dump bucks into upgrading with the newest, latest, lightest everything. But if you do a lot of other, single bike cycling and will use the tandem as a secondary ride, then maybe just put new tires on it, dial in the fit, saddles that please you both and ride it for a while. The bike looks super clean. I bet it will tune up into a nice ride.

Good luck!
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Old 02-24-13, 06:59 PM   #5
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It depends.... There are a lot of better used tandems out there for a bout $2,000. The Trek tandems of that era are heavy but competent frame that was somewhat based on the Santana geometry

You don't mention your budget if a couple thousand for a good used name brand tandem is out of your range then maybe the T50 with minimum upgrades will let you spend time together on a tandem. You might be able to find a more modern but still outdated tandem for $1,000 but that might also need some upgrading.

Also important are:
Team size
Do you want a mountain bike style bike or road bike
Size tires (width up to 37mm I have been told) tires you want to ride
riding stye - speed/effort
miles riding on tandem.

The T50 has sturdy tubing which does give it a stiff frame that can handle large tires even with fenders.
If you are a small team like us the added stiffness is not worth the weight penalty but if you are larger team and/or want fat tires maybe with fenders then it might be well worth upgrading rather than getting a "better" bike that will not run the tires that you want or be as durable.

Also your ability to work on the bike build your own wheels etc would lower the upgrade cost considerably.
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Old 02-25-13, 10:28 AM   #6
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Lots of good info/advice you've gotten already. The deciding factor to me is the 7 speed. In order to upgrade at all from that, you need to start with a new tandem-rated rear wheel, since no 8, 9 or 10 speed cassettes will work on your 7 speed freehub. Figure a minimum of $250-$300 for something you probably didn't even know you'd have to buy. If you want a matching set of wheels, then $400 plus. Then you're ready to start dropping dollars on cassette, chain, chainrings, shifters, derailleurs, etc. Not saying don't do it ... just want you to be prepared.

That being said, if the bike fits the two of you perfectly, rides the way you like, is the frame material of your choice, and/or you want to upgrade on the pay-as-you-go plan, then go for it. If not, find a good used tandem that fits you on Craigslist and go from there.
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Old 02-25-13, 01:54 PM   #7
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Mostly echoing Onegun's thoughts -- IMHO two major watershed points in older tandems are the rear axle frame spacing (Over Locknut Dimension, or OLD) and threaded vs threadless fork. Since the bike is 7 speed, it's probably 140mm (maybe even less?) OLD at the rear. This means no modern tandem wheel designed for 8-9-10 speed cassettes (which are all 145mm OLD) will fit, AND the wheel is weaker to boot. The threaded fork restricts you to quill stems which are less convenient to change and for which there is less selection. The fork is not as big of a problem, you can always get a quill column that will accept threadless stems, at some weight penalty. The more serious issue is the OLD -- if it's less than 145mm, I would probably refrain from upgrading. Use it as it is, and when you get to where you want/need something better, get a newer tandem. You only have to get up to bikes built in the late 1990's to have 145mm spacing, and then you can put all modern parts onto the drivetrain if you want to. For the existing bike, can you cold set the frame to 145? Sure. But then you are doing the frame plus all the stuff Onegun listed... by the time you did that, just get a used tandem that is a little more modern, and you'll be much closer to where you want to be.

Last edited by WheelsNT; 02-25-13 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 02-25-13, 02:10 PM   #8
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Good points above about the rear spacing. It should be 140mm but take off the rear wheel and measure the space between the rear drop outs. Some older tandems were made with a little wider than 140mm spec drop outs. If it is 142 or 143 then a 145mm hub may fit. There are also a lot of used 140mm hubs out there for cheap if you can build your own wheels. Quick ebay search found cassette hub below first try:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/NOS-Shimano-...item4ac140b98f


In that era may builders used 140mm hubs. Some people space out a 135mm mountain hub. Search the internet for what people have done to keep some of the old tandems running. Here again it depends on your tolerance for working on the bike.

I second the idea of not upgrading any more than really needed if you want to use the bike to try out a tandem. If the 7 speed works that would let you know if you or your stoker hates or loves riding a tandem. The nice thing about going the cheap route is if riding a tandem is a bust you can probably recoup cost of old bike without upgrades by reselling.

Of course if you have the money for a better tandem then get one. I am not against that at all. Just pointing out that there is a low cost option in the bike.

Last edited by waynesulak; 02-25-13 at 02:15 PM.
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Old 02-25-13, 08:37 PM   #9
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Wow, you guy offered some great advice. The wheel issue is huge and I never thought it would be an issue...I spent the better part of Sunday cleaning , lubing the bike and it works great. Not fancy and only 7 speeds but she works for what I need. When I find an extra 3K I can buy another. Thanks
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Old 02-26-13, 07:10 AM   #10
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Its not how much it weighs or how fast you can go it is your fun per hour that matters.
Have fun.
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Old 02-26-13, 09:02 AM   #11
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Many happy miles on your classy "vintage" ride!
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Old 02-26-13, 12:06 PM   #12
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why spend a couple hundred upgrading an old tandem when you can spend a couple thousand on a new one?

i say upgrade the thing and enjoy it. i wouldn't spend a ton of money on it, but what's a set of click shifters cost, $60?

i'm getting ready to install 7 speed clicky shifters on my tandem, only because it currently has twist shifters. i hate those!
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Old 02-26-13, 01:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tpolley View Post
why spend a couple hundred upgrading an old tandem when you can spend a couple thousand on a new one?
i say upgrade the thing and enjoy it. i wouldn't spend a ton of money on it, but what's a set of click shifters cost, $60?
i'm getting ready to install 7 speed clicky shifters on my tandem, only because it currently has twist shifters. i hate those!
I think you misunderstood. He already has click shifters, and was asking about upgrading to "modern day abilities", meaning 9 or 10 speed running gear.
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Old 02-26-13, 03:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thehammerdog View Post
http://www.pinkbike.com/u/gg451/albu...0-Tandem-Bike/

I have an old school Trek T50 everything works but I was wondering about upgrading to modern day abilities..7 speed thumb shifter.
Dog; It seems in really good condition and was a good bike originally. What is wrong with just using it the way it is? Do you have performance expectations it won't meet, etc,? Basically I looked at all the pix and am also well aware of the specific model and brand. Not seeing any real issues save being a pound or two heavier than a fully modern steel bike. If you want to get rid of it, post or PM. It is sellable.
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