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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 03-08-13, 12:35 PM   #1
bikerjj2003
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Should I switch Triple to Double

I am a newbie on the forum, thanks for any help. My wife and I are new to tandem. About a year and 1500 miles in. We ride a Cannondale Tandem 1. I am used to the shifting on my single and am disappointed in the shifting on our triple. Ultegra long cage and shifters.
Would it be worth switching to a double and short cage? The bike is adjusted properly as I ride for a local shop with a ton of tandem experience. We don't need the extra gearing. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks for your help.
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Old 03-08-13, 12:45 PM   #2
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I doubt you'll notice that big of difference just by going from a long cage to a short cage RD.

One cheap approach is just going to a narrower spaced cassette, which should help the shifting.

Also if it's the front shifting you don't like, you might try upgraded chain rings such as Praxis.

If you're willing to make a major investment in upgrading the bike, going to a single side, double drive train would be a significant weight savings, and would improve your shifting some
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Old 03-08-13, 12:58 PM   #3
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Single side double drivetrain? Can I get a link? Thanks for the help.
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Old 03-08-13, 02:58 PM   #4
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I doubt you'll notice that big of difference just by going from a long cage to a short cage RD.

One cheap approach is just going to a narrower spaced cassette, which should help the shifting.

Also if it's the front shifting you don't like, you might try upgraded chain rings such as Praxis.
Usually the problem with shifting on a tandem is getting to the big ring on the front.

A stiffer chainring helps.

The chainrings that are reputed the best shifting are those that are forged, the Shimano Dura Ace and Praxis.

With Dura Ace, you can get both out and middle chainring in triple. Praxis doesn't yet have a triple chainring set, so contact Praxis to see if you can just purchase just an outer chainring (that will let Praxis know that there is a market for triple).

The Praxis outer chainring really helped our front shifting over the TA rings, and will probably help yours over the FSA(?)

I'd imagine the front shifting to big ring woes might persist if you did change to a double, if the problem was insufficient stiffness of the front chainring. Better to rule out the chainring first before making any other changes.

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Old 03-08-13, 05:27 PM   #5
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Single side double drivetrain? Can I get a link? Thanks for the help.
You don't need a tandem-specific drivetrain to do this; just two standard cranksets. The rear is a triple with one of the rings (usually the inner ring) used as the sync ring and the other two used as drive rings. The front has one chainring (the same size as the rear sync ring) on the right side.
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Old 03-08-13, 05:33 PM   #6
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Ultegra long cage and shifters.
But what kind of front derailer? Many folks in the tandem world have noticed that the 105 FD is actually stiffer than the Ultegra and shifts better than the Ultegra with the load of a tandem. As others have mentioned, if it's shifts to the big ring that are the problem, stiffer chainrings such as Dura-Ace will help.
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Old 03-09-13, 07:42 AM   #7
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Thanks for the help. I am referring to the rear. Front works fine with Ultegra rings and drlr. I just don't think the rear shifts as crisp. Maybe I am asking for too much? I want it to shift like my single.
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Old 03-09-13, 07:43 AM   #8
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You don't need a tandem-specific drivetrain to do this; just two standard cranksets. The rear is a triple with one of the rings (usually the inner ring) used as the sync ring and the other two used as drive rings. The front has one chainring (the same size as the rear sync ring) on the right side.
Never seen that. It makes great sense. Is that commonly used?
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Old 03-09-13, 07:49 AM   #9
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Never seen that. It makes great sense. Is that commonly used?
NO IT IS NOT! My Shimano drive train shifts great, no problem at all as long as it is adjusted properly. Shimano Ultegra brifters, Ultegra cranks (triple on the rear) DA triple FD. If you go over and ride the hilly hundred you will want the triple. We rarely use our triple but when we want / need it it is there.

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Old 03-09-13, 09:29 AM   #10
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My tandem shift great as well but just like the brakes the long cable run does make it feel a little different. If adjusted properly it should shift well in back. I second the suggestion to make a fair comparison to a single use the same cassette on both. Big jumps between cogs will also make for a different feel. In any case you say you don't need a triple so I assume you can use the same cassette with the same nice small jumps.

We are not very strong so we use the same or very similar cassette as our singles with a triple for bail out when needed.
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Old 03-11-13, 02:33 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by WheelsNT View Post
But what kind of front derailer? Many folks in the tandem world have noticed that the 105 FD is actually stiffer than the Ultegra and shifts better than the Ultegra with the load of a tandem. As others have mentioned, if it's shifts to the big ring that are the problem, stiffer chainrings such as Dura-Ace will help.
I would disagree with this. The difference between the 105 and Ultegra triple FDs is that the 105 is designed for an 11-tooth difference between large and small rings, and so works best with those combinations (e.g., 50-39-xx, 53-42-xx, etc.), whereas the Ultegra is designed for a 13-tooth difference (e.g., 52-39-xx, 55-42-xx, etc.). If you run a difference between middle and big rings that the FD is not designed for then the derailleur will be at the wrong height and you'll either risk shifting the chain off of the outside ring, or you it won't shift from the middle to the small well because the shifting tab on the derailleur won't be lined up with the chain. Size of the inner ring is far less important for the choice between FD models, except that the closer in size the inner is to the middle, then the smoother the shifts will be.

As for stiffness differences between the 105 and Ultegra models, I haven't noticed any, but maybe the Ultegra is slightly less stiff because it has a longer/deeper cage to allow for the bigger difference in rings sizes. However, this factor is far less important then choosing the FD that matches your middle to large ring tooth difference. Also, there are differences in cage widths between the old 9-speed models (5503 and 6503) and the newer 10-speed models (5603, 5703, 6603, 6703) and again you need to have the one that matches your chain to have optimal performance.
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Old 03-11-13, 11:11 AM   #12
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I would disagree with this. The difference between the 105 and Ultegra triple FDs is that the 105 is designed for an 11-tooth difference between large and small rings, and so works best with those combinations (e.g., 50-39-xx, 53-42-xx, etc.), whereas the Ultegra is designed for a 13-tooth difference (e.g., 52-39-xx, 55-42-xx, etc.). If you run a difference between middle and big rings that the FD is not designed for then the derailleur will be at the wrong height and you'll either risk shifting the chain off of the outside ring, or you it won't shift from the middle to the small well because the shifting tab on the derailleur won't be lined up with the chain. Size of the inner ring is far less important for the choice between FD models, except that the closer in size the inner is to the middle, then the smoother the shifts will be.

As for stiffness differences between the 105 and Ultegra models, I haven't noticed any, but maybe the Ultegra is slightly less stiff because it has a longer/deeper cage to allow for the bigger difference in rings sizes. However, this factor is far less important then choosing the FD that matches your middle to large ring tooth difference. Also, there are differences in cage widths between the old 9-speed models (5503 and 6503) and the newer 10-speed models (5603, 5703, 6603, 6703) and again you need to have the one that matches your chain to have optimal performance.
The info we have both provided is pretty much all moot since the OP has clarified that he's interested in rear shifting, not front.

However, I agree 100% that the FD cage shape must match the middle-large tooth difference for it to shift properly. But a small correction -- Ultegra 9-speed (6503) was built for a 10- or 11-tooth difference. The change occurred with the 6603 which was built for a 13-tooth difference, and the 6703 is the same. Unfortunately the techdoc for the FD-6503 is missing from the Shimano site, but you can see what rings they sold with it by looking at the FC-6503 crankset -- 52/42/30. So comparing the 6503 to the 5503 would use the same chainring sizes. Matching the cage width to chain width is beneficial as well.

All that aside, the Ultegra models for each generation are lighter than 105, but the 105 (being heavier) is a little stiffer. It's a small difference, but several other folks through the years have also mentioned it.
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