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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 08-01-13, 10:48 AM   #1
SuperJETT
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Giordano Viaggio

I've contemplated posting this or not based on past threads, but why not finally make my first post after years of reading.

I ride trails and road plus with the family, probably 30% trails, 40% road, the rest is family rides.

A couple of months ago I picked up a '73 JCPenney (built by Huffy) cruiser tandem for $50 off CL in great condition appearance-wise but needed a lot of mechanical tlc like repacking bearings, etc. We ride it around the neighborhood (flat stuff), and may do the Labor Day Hike/Bike on it with the kids too. It's a blast and with all the chrome really draws attention plus rides pretty well now that I fixed all the issues. Not bad for a total of $60 total invested, though it does need new saddles.

So I got the tandem bug and started looking into a road tandem. My wife rides a Trek FX (has a 29"er mtb also) and likes to ride but doesn't care so much for the dealing with traffic/etc so my hope is that I can take the traffic/gears/etc off her, we can get more miles in together, and maybe eventually we can do some light touring.

In the end, I couldn't find any decent used tandems around here for under $1000 and didn't want to tie up a lot of money in a 10th bike that may not work out, so I bought one of the Viaggios off Amazon for $500, knowing that I can fix any issues, and may upgrade to a 'real' tandem eventually or just sell it for a $200-300 loss.

I took it out for some quick shakedown rides last night with my wife and 2 daughters (11 and 9) as stokers. Our 7 year old son isn't quite tall enough yet but close.

Anyway, here's my first impressions that I posted as a review on Amazon to hopefully help out future owners.


Quote:
The tandem came in yesterday so I spent the evening disassembling/reassembling it based on all the 'known' issues such as metal shaving in the rims, grease, etc. This review is just a list of what I did/saw so others can know what to expect.

The box was in perfect condition, everything inside is zip-tied pretty well though one spoke did rub the paint just a tad on the captain's seattube.

The very first thing I did was pull all 12 Giordano stickers off the wheels. Unfortunately the other logos are silkscreened/painted but once the wheels are destickered it looks a little more 'normal'. The kickstand came off right after the stickers.

There were metal shavings in the wheels/on the tubes, so I'm glad I pulled the tires/tubes/rim strips before even airing up the tires. However, I didn't have rim tape and the shops were closed so I put the rim strips back on and aired up to 85psi<<<the rear flatted before the next morning since the strip didn't cover a hole completely. Get rim tape before you air up.

The headset and front wheel bearings had grease, just not a lot, so I took care of that. The front wheel needs a 14mm cone wrench which is the one size I didn't have and all the LBS were closed, so I cut down an old 14mm box end to work.

I installed a SRAM Apex brakeset to replace the single pivot junk, it was fairly straight-forward but I did have to enlarge the mounting holes to accept the recessed bolts.

The wheels are pretty true out of the box but need some tweaking as both have one spot that's noticeably out laterally, not enough to rub a brake pad though with them adjusted fairly close. They do need to be tensioned better.

The captain's cockpit is very stretched for me at 5'10" so I'll be installing a Nitto Column quill adapter soon.

The sync chain idler is very loud. It appears to need to move outward just a little more to be inline 100% because for every link it leans then pops back up when rolling the chain very slowly.

Adjusting the front derailleur is a little tricky because at low tension, the cable clamp bolt is not accessible due to the rear sync chainring/guard. I have to tighten up the low limit screw to move the bolt, do a coarse cable adjust, put the low limit back, then can work with the barrel adjuster up front.

The rear derailleur was spot on in adjustment out of the box surprisingly. The rear hub is a freehub using cassettes, not a freewheel, great for changing gearing in the future.

I picked up a WTB Speed She for the stoker as that's what my wife rides on her MTB. It's going on the 'suspension' seatpost off her Trek FX

So far so good, new pedals and stoker bars are on the list for now but I'm keeping the upgrade $$ down until we know we like it and may decide to upgrade to a 'real' tandem eventually, who knows.
Here's a pic of the JCP tandem. I changed the rear cog from a 19t to 22t to lower the gearing some and it made a world of difference on takeoffs/normal riding.
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Old 08-01-13, 06:19 PM   #2
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You are off to a great start. Check out http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/searc...viaggio+tandem for some serious touring on a Viaggio.

On the front derailleur tuning; if you are not happy with, take the stoker's timing chain crank off to do the tuning.
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Old 08-02-13, 04:49 AM   #3
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I did read through that blog a couple of weeks ago actually. It took awhile to be sure I wanted to go this route so I read and read and read, plus I read some cycling blogs on cgoab anyway so that one did pop up in my searches. One thing I noticed is they pretty much didn't mention the bike other than list it in the beginning, so that's probably a good thing meaning it wasn't a source of problems for them, though they did upgrade most of the important components.

That's a great suggestion for adjusting the fd so the bike is quieter and you can hear rubs like on a single, thanks.

Now, if I can just some time with the wife or one of the kids to go for a ride, it's been a busy week and continues through tomorrow.
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Old 08-02-13, 09:27 AM   #4
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On the front derailleur tuning; if you are not happy with, take the stoker's timing chain crank off to do the tuning.
The drawback to that is it will then take two people just to shift the derailleur and see if it's adjusted right.
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Old 08-02-13, 09:32 AM   #5
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The drawback to that is it will then take two people just to shift the derailleur and see if it's adjusted right.
For me I go by rubbing sounds for the fd. If I hear slight rubbing in the big/big and/or small/small combination, it's probably getting close since you shouldn't be in those combinations with a triple. The idler on this thing is fairly loud and masks any rubbing sounds. I could just remove the idler instead I guess, it's just one bolt to get the pulley out.

Now where did my stokers go??? The wife is out tonight with friends and the kids are going to grandma's.
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Old 08-02-13, 10:18 AM   #6
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The drawback to that is it will then take two people just to shift the derailleur and see if it's adjusted right.
Guess I have long arms Also, I put the tandem up on a cheap rack made of closet shelf brackets.
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Old 08-02-13, 11:00 AM   #7
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Guess I have long arms
You must if you can reach the left brifter to shift and pedal the stoker cranks at the same time!
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Old 08-02-13, 11:19 AM   #8
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... The idler on this thing is fairly loud ...
The idler bracket is probably bent, or even more common, welded crooked from the start. Taking your time and a big crescent wrench, bend it back until it is dead vertical and under the center of the chain. A good plan is to drop the chain off it, then raise it back up to where it usually is when the chain is correctly tensioned, (VERY IMPORTANT. Does no good to get the idler true and plumb at the bottom when it's normally slid up to the top). Then tie a string with a weight on it onto the center of one of the chain rollers just ahead or behind the idler. Now bend the arm until the idler is right.

Next, get rid of the *******-jack-quality idler wheel itself and get a quality one.
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Old 08-02-13, 11:30 AM   #9
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I already dremel'ed the slotted hole in the bracket a mm or two so I have room to align it, but the bracket (and chain) is straight. The noise still seems to be from it leaning/straightening with every link that rolls over. I've got a spare 105 rd that I may steal the tension pulley off of so there isn't any lateral play like the current idler has.

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The idler bracket is probably bent, or even more common, welded crooked from the start. Taking your time and a big crescent wrench, bend it back until it is dead vertical and under the center of the chain. A good plan is to drop the chain off it, then raise it back up to where it usually is when the chain is correctly tensioned, (VERY IMPORTANT. Does no good to get the idler true and plumb at the bottom when it's normally slid up to the top). Then tie a string with a weight on it onto the center of one of the chain rollers just ahead or behind the idler. Now bend the arm until the idler is right.

Next, get rid of the *******-jack-quality idler wheel itself and get a quality one.
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Old 08-02-13, 12:13 PM   #10
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Some have done away with the fixed position idler altogether and replaced it with:

1. A complete rear derailleur cage.

2. IF those are square taper BB's, pick up one of the eccentrics the fixie crowd is using to convert vertical dropout road bikes to fixies. They won't take up much slack, so size your chain to be real close. Might have to use a half link.

3. A ghost or floating ring. Get the chain real close and insert a bigger used chainring in between the two timing rings. It stays put, takes up the slack, and has people going "What the ...!"

Of these, #3 is the easiest, fastest, cheapest, quietest, coolest, and several other -ests I can't think of right now. But to each their own. If you find one you like, you can cut off the annoying idler arm bracket, file down the rest, and grab some white fingernail polish. A man on bicycle-back would never know it was there.
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Old 08-02-13, 12:17 PM   #11
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All in due time. I've seen all those options but figure I need to make sure it gets ridden enough to warrant any of them. I do like the ghost ring option best myself just for the 'different' aspect and if I can get a cool looking one, bonus.

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Old 08-03-13, 05:16 PM   #12
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My wife/I did our first real ride on it today, downtown and back. It's ~13miles with one good hill that I do regularly by myself so it was nice to compare against.

We had no real issues, just one time where we crested a roller, coasted down, and started pedaling again but we were discussing something and I didn't upshift so I spun out and my wife isn't used to that and her feet came off the pedals and one got hit by a pedal from the back. Other than that, it was a great learning ride to practice 'the proper method' for takeoffs/stops, etc.

Oh, the ice cream lady at the riverfront park downtown wasn't selling, that's a negative I guess.

The stock gearing worked for the uphill though we were in granny for most of it. I can see moving to 10-speed eventually and lowering the gearing a little more but I also think my wife's conditioning and the heat played a part in that hill being tough. The SRAM Apex brakes worked fine, I rode them moderately on the downhill (22mph max, could have hit 35 probably without the brakes) to help bed the pads in. Hopefully they get better, I'm used to the discs on the mtb, v-brakes on the hybrid, and cantis on my cx/road bike and not having that kind of control may take some getting used to.

It was a good ride.
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Old 08-04-13, 07:30 AM   #13
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You need to change your brake pads to either KoolStop Salmons or SwissStop greens. I can tell you from personal experience that the salmons will DRAMATICALLY increase your braking power, and I hear the same thing said about the SwissStop greens.

Secondly, clipless pedals or toe clips and straps are a necessity on a tandem if you plan on doing any serious riding. Otherwise, this will not be the last time the stoker gets hit with a pedal, and before long ..... no stoker.
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Old 08-05-13, 10:37 AM   #14
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You need to change your brake pads to either KoolStop Salmons or SwissStop greens. I can tell you from personal experience that the salmons will DRAMATICALLY increase your braking power, and I hear the same thing said about the SwissStop greens.

Secondly, clipless pedals or toe clips and straps are a necessity on a tandem if you plan on doing any serious riding. Otherwise, this will not be the last time the stoker gets hit with a pedal, and before long ..... no stoker.
Riding by myself on the tandem, the brakes are very responsive (front, rear just locks up as expected with no weight in back), so I have a feeling it's the ~400lb team, not the pad composition. I had Kool Stop salmon on my old single speed mtb until I sold it, they worked very well.

Great advice on the pedals, sounds like a tandem-specific issue and makes sense. She's dead set against clipless, so I'll be looking for clips/straps.
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Old 08-05-13, 11:55 AM   #15
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I spun out and my wife isn't used to that and her feet came off the pedals and one got hit by a pedal from the back
I had this problem on our initial ride too, although we were using toeclips and straps so there was no pedal contact with legs. The wifey just isn't used to the spinning.
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Old 08-05-13, 12:03 PM   #16
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Riding by myself on the tandem, the brakes are very responsive (front, rear just locks up as expected with no weight in back), so I have a feeling it's the ~400lb team, not the pad composition.
That's true. But unless you guys intend to lose down to the weight of a single rider, pad composition is a quick and easy increase in stopping power.

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Great advice on the pedals, sounds like a tandem-specific issue and makes sense. She's dead set against clipless, so I'll be looking for clips/straps.
Not a bad way to start. Keep in mind though, (and point out to her), that the problem is you pulling the pedal out from under her feet. So, in order for toe clips and straps to stop that happening, eventually she'll you have to learn to use them properly. That means reaching down and cinching them up tight around your shoe, and having to reach down and release them when it's time to dismount. So obviously, they are harder/take longer to get into and out of than clipless. That's why clipless were invented and adopted by everyone.

Tandems, incidentally, are also an excellent training ground for clipless stokers. Once they get confident with your ability to hold the tandem during starts and stops, they know they'll never needs to clip in or unclip in a hurry. So they're much more amenable to trying clipless. Something to consider for the future perhaps.
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Old 08-05-13, 12:15 PM   #17
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That's true. But unless you guys intend to lose down to the weight of a single rider, pad composition is a quick and easy increase in stopping power.
The Kool Stop Salmons are on my upgrade list, we're 450+ and I am 6'7", I haven't weighed under 230 since I was 14.

Quote:
Not a bad way to start. Keep in mind though, (and point out to her), that the problem is you pulling the pedal out from under her feet. So, in order for toe clips and straps to stop that happening, eventually she'll you have to learn to use them properly. That means reaching down and cinching them up tight around your shoe, and having to reach down and release them when it's time to dismount. So obviously, they are harder/take longer to get into and out of than clipless. That's why clipless were invented and adopted by everyone.
Having the feet in loosely was not really a problem for us per se. That being said...

Quote:
Tandems, incidentally, are also an excellent training ground for clipless stokers. Once they get confident with your ability to hold the tandem during starts and stops, they know they'll never needs to clip in or unclip in a hurry. So they're much more amenable to trying clipless. Something to consider for the future perhaps.
I'm already working on her on the clipless pedals. I told her Shimano MTB clipless are really easy to use, which is true and I have some extras just lying around from my other bikes.
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Old 08-05-13, 12:33 PM   #18
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I'm already working on her on the clipless pedals.
Cool. Take your time, though. Let her get comfortable with the idea you're not going to drop her first, then things will go a lot easier.
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Old 08-05-13, 12:48 PM   #19
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My Stoker started with these A530 which a great for getting started with clipless. We use these when we are going to mix it up with rides with the grand kids using running shoes and our own rides where we want to be clipped in.
http://www.shimano.com/publish/conte...e-pd_road.html
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Old 08-09-13, 09:24 PM   #20
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Today I put some Kool Stop salmons on the front and a quill adapter/80mm x 40degree stem to get the bars where I need them. I only got to ride around the block by myself but it's tons more comfortable for me though I can still move the stem up another 10mm or so. The brakes feel better but I'll have to get my wife on to truly answer. I did order a second set for the rear though, less than $10, why not.

If we can just finish up this busy week/weekend to get some riding time I'll be happy.
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Old 08-11-13, 10:00 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Onegun View Post
Cool. Take your time, though. Let her get comfortable with the idea you're not going to drop her first, then things will go a lot easier.
I don't think there's any way I am going to drop her on the tandem, I mean, the stoker position is physically attached! Every time I turn around to see where she is, she's right behind me.
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Old 08-25-13, 10:16 AM   #22
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I have a Brooks B17 on the front and a Brooks women's Flyer on the back, we're both much happier than with the stock junk seats.

Kool Stop salmon both front/rear in SRAM Apex dual pivots, just about 4000% better than the stock brake setup.

The cabling has/had a few issues that I'm addressing---cheap fix. One section of rear brake housing doesn't let the cable slide smoothly and the rear derailleur cable had a slight kink in one section that I straightened out.

And I saw a Co-Motion on craigslist that is a killer deal, it's a 2009 Speedster with the Rolf wheels/disc brakes and extras like Thudbuster for $2800. We're not ready to lay out that money on one just yet...
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Old 09-29-13, 11:36 AM   #23
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Our 9 year old daughter did the 25 mile route of the Harvest Homecoming Bicycle Tour with me today on the tandem. We had a great time and pedaled every hill, no walking. The pancakes/sausage breakfast and SAG stop and pizza lunch all included for $20 really made it a nice ride, plus we finished right as it started to rain thanks to starting 15 minutes early.

We hit 35mph on one hill where we blew by 6 singles that had just passed us on the uphill prior, that was fun. It also made me appreciate the SRAM Apex/Kool Stop salmon brakes at the 90 degree turn at the bottom.

I really like the 38t middle ring for rollers and the 28/30 low gearing got us up the tough hill @8 miles in which climbs around 200' in about .6 miles. Someone said it was 8.5% overall but with some 10-12% sections and I don't doubt it, it was definitely tough. We spun out the 48/12 high gearing pretty easily but we don't many hills around here that are long enough to worry about needing more that often.

We got to ride with a tandem posse for a bit, 5 tandems rolling along ~20mph was pretty cool but I needed a stronger stoker to stay with them longer.

I'm happy with the Giordano but wanting something nicer so keeping an eye out.

http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/252021605/1041856

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Old 10-15-13, 01:03 PM   #24
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Once I replaced all shifter cable housing/cables, it shifts great. There were a few bends in the cable and a couple of tight housing sections that were causing issues but all is well now.
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Old 04-09-14, 02:27 PM   #25
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A few years ago I bought a Kent tandem for me and my wife. Earlier this year we finally took it out for a spin. It was a bit hit or miss on that first ride, but on subsequent rides we determined that we loved riding together.

So the Kent went to a friend and I picked up one of these tandems. The weight difference was noticeable. The first thing that I did was to tear everything down, clean out all of the bearings and reinstall properly.

As noted, many of the components are substandard, but my plan is to refit it with better parts and put some miles on it. I'll likely look into a ghost ring as the idler is rather noisy.
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