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Thread: Touring Tandem

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    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Touring Tandem

    My wife and I are thinking about getting a tandem. We want to ride around town and also do some touring. What should we be looking for? I'd appreciate your advice.
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    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    .....What should we be looking for? ....
    A LOT of research. Touring where? Grades? What does your wife ride now?

    Check out Santana's website - strong opinions there.
    Check out the tandem blogs on Crazy Guy on a Bike.

    Tandems go fast on the level and downhill, where the speed is the summation of the two riders' strength and endurance. Uphill, it is the average, at best, and tandems to slow, and need lots of gears. We are running 3x9 with 26-44-54 in front and 11-34 in back; with the cranks set inwards to allow the 54 to cover all nine in back, the middle ring only does the lower seven of nine cogs, and the granny on the lower four.

    If you are planning on going down mountains - there are certainly beautiful mountains not far from you; I strongly recommend a drag brake that it is NOT applied against the rims, in addition to standard front and rear brakes.

    For touring, most likely you will want to be able to mount front and rear racks, fenders, lots of water bottles, etc.
    Nigel
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    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nfmisso View Post
    A LOT of research. Touring where? Grades? What does your wife ride now?

    Check out Santana's website - strong opinions there.
    Check out the tandem blogs on Crazy Guy on a Bike.

    Tandems go fast on the level and downhill, where the speed is the summation of the two riders' strength and endurance. Uphill, it is the average, at best, and tandems to slow, and need lots of gears. We are running 3x9 with 26-44-54 in front and 11-34 in back; with the cranks set inwards to allow the 54 to cover all nine in back, the middle ring only does the lower seven of nine cogs, and the granny on the lower four.

    If you are planning on going down mountains - there are certainly beautiful mountains not far from you; I strongly recommend a drag brake that it is NOT applied against the rims, in addition to standard front and rear brakes.

    For touring, most likely you will want to be able to mount front and rear racks, fenders, lots of water bottles, etc.
    Was thinking about an internal-gear hub.
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    Tandems in general and for touring in particular require a large range of gearing. This is a challenge for internal gear hubs and makes this option very rare on tandems. In fact I know of NO tandem manufacturers to offer internal gear hubs on a tandem. Riding around town might work fine on an internal gear hub if it were an available option.

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    Senior Member ahultin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vrooom3440 View Post
    Tandems in general and for touring in particular require a large range of gearing. This is a challenge for internal gear hubs and makes this option very rare on tandems. In fact I know of NO tandem manufacturers to offer internal gear hubs on a tandem. Riding around town might work fine on an internal gear hub if it were an available option.

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    We do credit card touring on our tandem so we only run a back rack with small paniers, we also restrict touring to warm summer months to keep the gear/clothing light. Our tandem is setup as a hybrid with flat bars and 32mm tires because we also ride rail-trails, we're not speedsters so this works great for us. One challenge of tandem touring is that you have half the pannier space of two single riders, I've seen unsupported tandem touring teams towing trainers to haul their gear. It all comes down to what you want to do and your style of riding, a fast road bike generally isn't good for hard touring and a touring bike isn't good for fast riding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vrooom3440 View Post
    In fact I know of NO tandem manufacturers to offer internal gear hubs on a tandem.
    take a look at this one, too: Rodriguez MakeShift Rohloff Equipped Bicycles

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    Ok I stand corrected, there ARE tandems with internal gear hubs.

    Still with a 14 speed internal gear hub on the Co-Motion Java Rohloff you get these numbers bottom to top

    Gear Ratio 1 0.279 = 19.0” (equivalent to a 24 x 34T chainring/cog combination)
    Gear Ratio 14 1.467, = 99.6” (equivalent to a 52 x 14T chainring/cog combination)

    Which is an exceptional climbing gear but not so good on the top end where 52x11 is more common. Big deal? Maybe, maybe not but if you like to make up time on the downhills this is going to have an impact.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vrooom3440 View Post
    Tandems in general and for touring in particular require a large range of gearing. This is a challenge for internal gear hubs and makes this option very rare on tandems. In fact I know of NO tandem manufacturers to offer internal gear hubs on a tandem. Riding around town might work fine on an internal gear hub if it were an available option.
    Also Co-Motion Equator Co-Motion Cycles | equator

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    We tour on our Racing Limo, a CoMo Speedster. It rides plenty fast, either loaded or unloaded. We only run rear panniers and only lose ~ 1/2 mph on the flat when loaded, say only 17.5 instead of 18. Climbing's harder loaded of course, but we haven't yet seen anything we couldn't climb in our 26 X 34. Descending, on the flat, and even climbing, we are faster than most loaded single riders, primarily because our frontal area/power and load/person is less. Our Speedster weighs 36 lbs., which compares to what 2 carbon racing bikes weighed a decade ago. In our experience, light and fast makes touring a joy. It's easier to keep weight down on a tandem compared to a single because there are so many things we only need one of, not two.

    287 lb. team. Camping load including everything except the stripped bike and water is 43 lbs. There's nothing more efficient or durable than a simple chain drive.

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    Senior Member RobbieTunes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    My wife and I are thinking about getting a tandem. We want to ride around town and also do some touring. What should we be looking for? I'd appreciate your advice.
    This:

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    Nice!
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    How much money are you planning to spend, Ekdog? That will be one of the deciding factors. Then where are you intending to source the bike? In Europe, from the UK or from the US? You ride off road a bit, yes? Do you intend to do the same with the tandem?

    I ask the last question because when we were last in Switzerland and browsing through a bike shop, I spied an MTB tandem that I would love to have taken with us. Full front and rear suspension, robust frame, disc brakes, quality gears.

    We have a Santana Arriva, a steel road bike frame, rim brakes front and rear with ability to bolt on rear disc. We've done more than 3000km on it, including a 40km ride yesterday after getting it out of 12 months of storage. It was one of my best rides of the year... and the flat roads helped.

    There are some minor fit issues we are still sorting, but one of the things about it is the ability to fit wider tyres -- it currently has 28C slicks -- so we can do gravel roads. We also may have to look at a steel lugged fork to swap out with the carbon one if we want to do extended self-contained touring on it, although we have the trailers to choose from if we don't go that route.

    Gear also will be problematic. We installed a 26T granny ring on the road cranks, and a 36-11 cassette on the back to help with the hills, so think carefully about the specs when you buy or order and that you might have to change out a few things if you intend heading off to the Pyrennees or the Alps.
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    I recently found the following blog about a couple that was touring the world. They started on singles but switched to a tandem and seem to be very happy they did. Here is the section of their blog that deals with their tandem and other tandems. I think it's a very well done blog.

    Cycling About ? Tandem

    Interestingly they went with a gates belt and internal hub. I would guess their touring is a bit more intense than what most people have in mind.

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    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    How much money are you planning to spend, Ekdog? That will be one of the deciding factors. Then where are you intending to source the bike? In Europe, from the UK or from the US? You ride off road a bit, yes? Do you intend to do the same with the tandem?

    I ask the last question because when we were last in Switzerland and browsing through a bike shop, I spied an MTB tandem that I would love to have taken with us. Full front and rear suspension, robust frame, disc brakes, quality gears.

    We have a Santana Arriva, a steel road bike frame, rim brakes front and rear with ability to bolt on rear disc. We've done more than 3000km on it, including a 40km ride yesterday after getting it out of 12 months of storage. It was one of my best rides of the year... and the flat roads helped.

    There are some minor fit issues we are still sorting, but one of the things about it is the ability to fit wider tyres -- it currently has 28C slicks -- so we can do gravel roads. We also may have to look at a steel lugged fork to swap out with the carbon one if we want to do extended self-contained touring on it, although we have the trailers to choose from if we don't go that route.

    Gear also will be problematic. We installed a 26T granny ring on the road cranks, and a 36-11 cassette on the back to help with the hills, so think carefully about the specs when you buy or order and that you might have to change out a few things if you intend heading off to the Pyrennees or the Alps.
    How much money? As little as possible! Seriously, if I could get a decent second-hand bike for €2,000-€3,000 or so, I'd be happy, though I realize that at that price I'd probably have to give up on the idea of an IGH.

    We'll be riding mostly on paved roads, with an occasional trail or gravel road. I think we can do without suspension.

    As to where to source it, tandems aren't big here in Spain, and there's very little on the second-hand market. I've noticed that there's quite a nice selection on eBay in the UK. I suppose Germany and the Netherlands are two more possibilities.
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    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    What do you think of the Circe Helios?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    How much money? As little as possible! Seriously, if I could get a decent second-hand bike for €2,000-€3,000 or so, I'd be happy, though I realize that at that price I'd probably have to give up on the idea of an IGH. .
    Little money?

    Actually you CAN have fun on a little money ride and i tend to preach about the used Schwinn DuoSport available very cheap in the US. This thing was the big buck ride decades ago and can be still had in great condition. For that matter any good tandem 20 years old can be had for very cheap. Good tandems are built tough and should last a life time with maintenance.

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    I see used tandems on a fairly regular basis on craigslist. If you find the right bike, this might not be a bad way to get started. Used prices are very reasonable (at least in the States, I have no idea whether this would be true in Spain).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    How much money? As little as possible! Seriously, if I could get a decent second-hand bike for 2,000-3,000 or so, I'd be happy, though I realize that at that price I'd probably have to give up on the idea of an IGH.

    We'll be riding mostly on paved roads, with an occasional trail or gravel road. I think we can do without suspension.

    As to where to source it, tandems aren't big here in Spain, and there's very little on the second-hand market. I've noticed that there's quite a nice selection on eBay in the UK. I suppose Germany and the Netherlands are two more possibilities.
    Ekdog

    According to Thorn's on line brochure the start price for a twin raven with Rohloff is GBP2,899. This is a bit more than your Euros 3,000 budget but England is not that far from Spain for you to go over for a test ride. Thorn also have second hand ones from time to time.
    We imported one into Australia without having actually seen one, let alone a test ride and we love it.
    The narrow gear range in comparison to a deraileur triple is an issue as we easily spin out on most down hills but after all it is a touring bike and we can live with not racing down hills.
    Our lowest gear is fine and we seldom have to use it.
    Have a serious look at a Thorn! Check their on line pdf brochure.

    Mike

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    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Ayling View Post
    Ekdog

    According to Thorn's on line brochure the start price for a twin raven with Rohloff is GBP2,899. This is a bit more than your Euros 3,000 budget but England is not that far from Spain for you to go over for a test ride. Thorn also have second hand ones from time to time.
    We imported one into Australia without having actually seen one, let alone a test ride and we love it.
    The narrow gear range in comparison to a deraileur triple is an issue as we easily spin out on most down hills but after all it is a touring bike and we can live with not racing down hills.
    Our lowest gear is fine and we seldom have to use it.
    Have a serious look at a Thorn! Check their on line pdf brochure.

    Mike
    Thorns are nice bikes. I'll definitely have a look at them. I thought they were more expensive than that.

    There are a lot of used tandems for sale at the UK version of Ebay, not that many here in Iberia.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    My wife and I are thinking about getting a tandem. We want to ride around town and also do some touring. What should we be looking for? I'd appreciate your advice.

    Look for a rental.

    New tandems are expensive and you or she may not like it....

    Just saying. You would't buy a sweater without trying it on.

    Binky

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    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    We've rented and borrowed a couple of cheap ones. Had a ball, but we want something of a bit higher quality.
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    I'm thrilled with our Sterling- which was a Bikenky brand from a while back. His new tandems are pricey, but they're quite nice. He can be...less than fun to work with. What I look for is lots of tire clearance...I want THICK tires when riding around town. Large gear ratio in the back. Lots of braze ons for racks and fenders. Geometry that isn't totally slack, bit which is comfortable. I want a long top tube for the stoker.

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    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vrooom3440 View Post
    Tandems in general and for touring in particular require a large range of gearing. This is a challenge for internal gear hubs and makes this option very rare on tandems. In fact I know of NO tandem manufacturers to offer internal gear hubs on a tandem. Riding around town might work fine on an internal gear hub if it were an available option.
    The Circe Omnis+, which I'm very high on, comes with a Sram Dual Drive. I asked my bicycle mechanic about it, and he says they're very good. There's another version of the bike that comes with a Rohlhoff, but I'm afraid it's too rich for my blood. Anyone have any experience with the Dual Drive?
    I need me a woman with some food stamps!

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