Nashbar MTB tandem (acquisition and modification)
Thinking about checking out a used MTB-style Nashbar tandem that's for sale for $250. From the pics I've seen, the cranks and brakes look rather low-end (riveted chainrings, for example), but I do see a drag brake and 40 spoke wheels. Projected use is in-town runs (under 5 miles) on lousy pavement to the library or grocery store with a 260#-plus team (captain currently 220#, stokid currently 40#), plus my one-year-old in a rear-mount seat and baskets up front.
I expect I'd see quality differences next to a Burley or Santana, but I'm not used to super-expensive or super fancy-looking bikes. My main concerns are that my bikes be strong enough, comfortable, somewhat rackable, and easy to maintain. As long as the frame and wheels don't seem likely to disintegrate, I guess I'm not too worried about overall quality, but I've had a frame or two I just couldn't get comfortable on, and I fear the idea of learning to tandem on a bike with wonky handling. I am hoping the cranks don't look too lousy in person, since upgrading a lot of stuff right away would kind of ruin the deal.
For comfort and handling reference, my current favorite solo bike is an old loaded touring frame with 47cm stays and a short top tube, modified with 38mm tires, lowered gearing, and Albatross bars set very high. Ride and position are comfortable to me, handling is plenty nimble enough and yet was dead stable with my son in the rear carrier even as he hit 40 pounds.
So the point of all this is, would I likely to have major quality or handling concerns with a Nashbar tandem, provided I'm able to fit a comfortable bar/stem combo? I expect it'll be at least somewhat better than an ancient Schwinn Twinn, but I'd hate to go buy something I'll hate in a couple months just because it seems like a lot better value than the current Kent or Pacific offerings!