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  1. #1
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    Looking for recommendations - what is a good first tandem to purchase?

    Hi Everyone,
    My husband and I are in the market for a tandem bicycle, our first one. We like to ride, but he is always way ahead of me. So I have a couple of questions and I would be interested in people's thoughts. They are:
    1. We like to take weekend rides, perhaps 2-3 hours. We are both in our mid-fifties, and reasonably fit. We live in the north Chicagoland, where it is flat. We are also considering purchasing a trailer to tow along a 105 lb dog so is not left at home. My husband (Captain position) has a bad back and would like to sit as upright as possible. Does anyone have any suggestions on makes/models that they would recommend?
    2. Can anyone suggest a good bicycle shop for tandems in the Chicagoland area?
    3. I am also interested in any rides/trails that people particularly enjoy in this area?

    Thank you!
    Eileen

  2. #2
    Senior Member mkane77g's Avatar
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    Fit first, $$$$$ second. A mtn. tandem sounds right up your alley. Brand doesn't matter as long as it's of decent quality.

  3. #3
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    Hi Eileen;

    What is your budget? Are you interested in new or used?

    This is a good starter: http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...n/tandem/t_900#

    Make sure that you and your husband read: http://www.gtgtandems.com/tech/propmethod.html

    We are in our 50's also. My wife cannot ride a single due to balance and vision issues. We purchased our Trek T50 used three years ago, and I modified it to suit us.
    Nigel
    Mechanical Design Engineer

  4. #4
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    A used tandem with flat bars for both of you could be a good starter.
    Do not advise a department (W-mart, etc) type tandem.
    Trek and Burley have several models in the configuration you look for.
    If stoker does not want flat bars, it would be easy to put on a set of drop bars.
    Hauling a 100+ lbs non-pedaling friend could be a bit of a challenge if you start encountering some hill work.
    Good luck!


    .

  5. #5
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    Welcome! You may want to take a look at this sticky thread which has some posts concerning shopping for your first tandem: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ks-appreciated

  6. #6
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    Slightly off-topic, but why is your husband necessarily going to be the captain? While most couples do it that way, it's not written in stone that it must be so. My wife rides captain almost all the time (well over 99%) and we find that it is much more fun for both of us since we can both see what is going on. It also adds a safety factor since we have two sets of eyes on potential hazards (lots of deer, turkeys, elk, coyote, bear and cougar where we ride, not to mention the occasional car). ride we On our rides, we sometimes hear comments from couples who are on singles that indicate they had never considered putting the shorter person up front. On last Saturday's ride, we had one rather boisterous new female fan yell out, "Oooh, I like that." to the guy she was riding with.

    Of course, this might be something to consider on tandem #2 , since many entry-level tandems won't be stiff enough to handle a large stoker. Then again, if you are riding mostly flatlands the bike won't have to be as stiff as it would in the hills.

  7. #7
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    B.Carfree, I'm curious about what bike you have to allow a larger stoker? Is this a custom design? We looked for awhile and only found the CoMotion Periscope. I would be interested in this type of tandem as well!

  8. #8
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    To save you a little bit of time, this is the home page for Chicago Area Tandem Society: http://chicagotandems.home.mchsi.com/ . I'm sure that somebody, maybe everybody, in that club will be able to help steer you in the right direction.
    Jeff

    Learn from other people's mistakes. You won't live long enough to make them all yourself.

    2004 Co-Motion Speedster
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by VastCrew View Post
    B.Carfree, I'm curious about what bike you have to allow a larger stoker? Is this a custom design? We looked for awhile and only found the CoMotion Periscope. I would be interested in this type of tandem as well!
    We have an old Tango from Rick Jorgensen, a small builder in Davis who was our neighbor when he built it for us twenty-five years ago, and a Rodriguez that we had built last year. Both are custom, but not terribly expensive. In fact, we were surprised to find that the Rodriguez cost less in nominal dollars than the much older Tango had cost us. Of course that situation can be readily corrected by adding lots of nicer bits.

  10. #10
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    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...dem-Experiment

    Above is a thread for our $300 walmart tandem experiment. We've been riding it for almost a year and it has gone well.
    It's the best $300 we've spent just to make sure tandeming is for us. Lately I've seen more of these tandems in San Francisco
    on our Sunday rides.

    I'm currently welding a tandem frame for us (cruiser position, frame diassembles into suitcases for touring). Just put the parts together. Will post a thread later

  11. #11
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    For the extremely upright riding experience, the only configuration that will really cut it is the "beach cruiser" style of tandem that are exemplified by the Wal-Mart Dual Drive, among others. Electra also offers an upright tandem that will likely be better made than the Wal-Mart offering. We examined this bike but I couldn't honestly see any real difference between it and the several cheaper models that cost 1/4 as much. Of the el cheapo pack of cruiser tandems looking for impulse buyers, we can vouch for the Wal-Mart version. We are on our second. We gave the first one away when we moved cross country, and promptly bought another in our new city. That was five years ago and it is still going strong. It is extensively upgraded. Only the frame, handlebars and the drivetrain is original, and even that has had the bottom brackets upgraded to cartridge bearings. It is a 60lb beast even with our upgrades. We have a Bob Yak for shopping (we are car free also) and the tandem is equipped with special axle nuts that receive the trailer. We routinely pull loads in the 120's of weight but cannot in good conscience advise towing large dogs around... unless you are towing them to the beach where they will then get a run in. But that's us. Two hours in a kid trailer is not at all like being in the SUV. The dog will hate it. In any case you would definitely feel the frame flex when a captain and stoker of moderate weight get a 105lb load attached.

    We are in our mid-fifties as well. Pretty fit. If the Wal-Mart were our only tandem we would feel pretty limited by it. You may find you want to join a tandem club and ride with others. Don't even think about bringing a beach cruiser type rig to a group ride. Our Raleigh Coupe flat-bar road tandem was only made for two years. Raleigh still offers the Companion which is not a road bike but most of them probably are ridden entirely on road. We see many, many conventional tandems adapted to older captains with bad backs. For an entry level you are going to see makes like Cannondale a lot. The Burley's and Treks that were mentioned don't seem to turn over that often and when they do, its on consignment from someone knowledgeable and they will be motivated to secure the highest price possible for their clients. On Craigslist we see mainly the usual Cannondale, Co-Motion and Santana and of course the Cannondales will be the most affordable.

    Our Wal-Mart tandem is five years old now and our Raleigh Coupe is eight years old. However, at the time we bought them they were brand new i.e. state of the art. We could have taken the advice we received at the time to buy seriously older but high quality tandems from knowledgeable sales representatives, but this would have meant going backwards decades in performance features. We did not consider it advantageous to go back to friction shifting and 5 speed freewheels when for a similar amount of money we could have the latest in index shifting, 8 speeds (9 speeds!) and disc brakes even, in the case of the Raleigh.

    Bottom line: for a couple such as yourselves looking for a nice rig to ride for a couple to three hours and not to be a car replacement, we would skip the beach cruiser utility bike stage and go directly to a used Cannondale off Craigslist. Be careful buying used specialist machines from members of tandem clubs. They paid a lot for those bikes, as in most cases they were custom purchases. You may find your budget going out the window. Speaking of budget. Have you decided on one? That would be helpful in steering the rest of this discussion, I think.

    H

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    We have an old Tango from Rick Jorgensen, a small builder in Davis who was our neighbor when he built it for us twenty-five years ago, and a Rodriguez that we had built last year. Both are custom, but not terribly expensive. In fact, we were surprised to find that the Rodriguez cost less in nominal dollars than the much older Tango had cost us. Of course that situation can be readily corrected by adding lots of nicer bits.

    Hey... did we ride with you recently in Hillsboro, OR at the alternative Northwest Tandem rally? Your Rodriguez had an extended steerer tube so you could sit taller??

    H

  13. #13
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    Agree with the advice above to 1. stay away from department stores, 2. Look for a new or used mtn. bike setup. 3. Ride a few if possible, 4. Contact your local tandem club. I would also suggest that the most upright position is not necessarily the best for a "bad back". If you are sitting straight up and you hit a bump or pothole the shock is transmitted directly up the spine. If you are leaning slightly forward the shock can be absorbed by the spine flexing a bit. You don't define "bad back" so you may want to have a chat with your doc regarding which motions would be the best for the back.

  14. #14
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    Thank you everyone for your comments and suggestions. We purchased the Trek T900, and took our first ride yesterday for 25 miles. It is quite comfortable, and so far, so good! Thank you!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by EileenB View Post
    Thank you everyone for your comments and suggestions. We purchased the Trek T900, and took our first ride yesterday for 25 miles. It is quite comfortable, and so far, so good! Thank you!
    Did you take the dog along?

    Mike

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