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Converting Tandem Cannondale

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Converting Tandem Cannondale

Old 07-08-16, 08:18 AM
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Converting Tandem Cannondale

Just purchased a used Cannondale Tandem bike. It's basically new and it's set up like a mountain bike with all mountain bike derailliers and shifters including tires. I want to convert it to a road bike, in every since. Suggestions?

Last edited by Trash Man; 07-08-16 at 10:36 AM.
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Old 07-08-16, 08:30 AM
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Smooth tires, find brifters with the same pull ratio as the derailleurs (shouldn't be too hard) and change the bars to drop bars. That's all that's really necessary unless you want different gearing, but that's easy.
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Old 07-08-16, 08:32 AM
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Assuming the drivetrain is Shimano and the MTB components aren't 10-speed (Dyna-Sys) your rear derailleur will work with road shifters.

You will need handlebars, road brifters, possibly a new stem, a new front derailleur, maybe new brakes (if they are V-brakes) or Travel Agents, cables, tires and possibly some other items depending on what's on the bike now. This is going to be a relatively expensive conversion and worse if you have to have a bike shop do the installations.
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Old 07-08-16, 08:43 AM
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Road descents on a Tandem require better Brakes , as the speed of 2 people builds up

Traditionally There were 3 brakes, 2 on the rims, and a Drag Brake which was a Large Drum brake

part of the rear Hub.. But You could have a Front Drum brake hub .. + the rim Brakes .

Disc Brakes require the frame have fittings welded on when it left the factory.
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Old 07-08-16, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Trash Man
Just purchased a used Cannondale Tandem bike. It's basically new and it's set up like a mountain bike with all mountain bike derailliers and shifters including tires. I want to convert it to a road bike, in every since. Suggestions?
Basically new? As in a 1995 bike that's seen little use, or one from last year?

Does it have a rigid fork? Disc brakes?

Got a pic?
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Old 07-08-16, 10:19 AM
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What's your single bike like? (Assuming that you like it.)

The first thing that I would do would be to put your single bike next to the front tandem cockpit to see how close they are. You'll probably need a different stem to fit a road handlebar anyway so you might as well get one that has the right reach and rise. If you use a road style handlebar for the rear rider, you'll want to get an extra wide one so it will clear the captain's legs. Most stokers like the shortest stem that will clear the captain's legs to provide a little more cockpit space. Most tandems can't be set up so that the stoker riding position will mimic a single road bike.

Most mountain style tandems come with V-brakes. To make them work with brifters you will need to install Travel Agents in the brake cable. If you frequently encounter long downhills an Aria hub drag brake is good to have to minimize heating up your rims. Some have the stoker operate the drag brake. I prefer to uperate it with a bar con friction shifter but we never had much experience with those kinds of downhills.

FWIW, Shimano Flight Deck computers are great for tandems. You have a gear indicator and the virtual cadence function provides a clue for when to start pedaling again after coasting downhill.
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Old 07-11-16, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Trash Man
Just purchased a used Cannondale Tandem bike. It's basically new and it's set up like a mountain bike with all mountain bike derailliers and shifters including tires. I want to convert it to a road bike, in every since. Suggestions?

Hey guys, thanks a bunch for all the advice, but I saw quickly that this was going over my head so I took it to the Bike shop..
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Old 07-11-16, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Trash Man
Hey guys, thanks a bunch for all the advice, but I saw quickly that this was going over my head so I took it to the Bike shop..
They'll be able to convert a flat handlebar to a flat bar. Making the bike fit two riders comfortably, I have doubts.
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Old 07-11-16, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Trash Man
Just purchased a used Cannondale Tandem bike. It's basically new and it's set up like a mountain bike with all mountain bike derailliers and shifters including tires. I want to convert it to a road bike, in every since. Suggestions?
Tandems are very inefficient when climbing. Even when you set the cranks 90 degrees out of phase, which some teams really don't like (you can strike a pedal easily when cornering), climbing on a tandem has a very steep learning curve. There are tandem teams that have never learned to climb out of the saddle together, and never will.

As such "road tandems" tend to still use triple crankset setups and use mountain bike rear derailleurs. Commonly you would see Ultegra STIs up front and an XT rear derailleur in the back with a 14-32 cassette. People that love Campagnolo Ergolevers use a JTEK Shiftmate to mix/match to get what they want utilizing Campy road shifters with Shimano/SRAM rear derailleurs.

I've got multiple tandems in the garage, and I'll communicate that riding a tandem is NOT like riding a single. While you may not have ever thought about begin uncomfortable on your single, tandem fit is critical. Most cyclists really don't have a clue about proper bike fit. They can't reach or ride in their drops comfortably, for even just 10% of their daily mileage, and quite frankly are riding perched up on the hoods of their shifters as posuers. They want to look like they are riding an aggressive geometry road bike with a steep saddle to bars drop, but they can only reach the hoods. On a tandem things break down in terms of bike fit in a hurry.

Lots of people disagree but I've never ever believed that tandem builds should include road bars, except in cases of exceptionally light stokers. Many captains are fit cyclists with stokers that are, shall we say, less fit. A captain that is 160lbs can really struggle to control a tandem safely with a stoker that is heavier than they are. Road bars just are borderline dangerous for many many tandem teams with disproportionate weights. Even with captains that are significantly larger and stronger than their stokers, I've always recommended non-drop road bar builds.

Most people haven't ever ridden a Nitto or other branded Mustache handlebar. I think they are ideally suited for most cyclists that aren't still competitive (I mean sponsored professionals) cyclists. They give a much more comfortable bike fit and additional hand positions. However, much more importantly on a tandem they give the captain priceless stability and control over the bike. To the point that they take a spooky handling setup and transform the tandem into a stable controllable bike, instantly.

My favorite handlebars on tandems are actually not the Nitto heat-treated alloy mustache bars. The idea of aluminum handlebars failing on a tandem is a whole 'nother conversation because the stoker is trusting the captain to maintain control and not crash the bike. My favorite handlebar for tandems is the Nashbar steel mustache bar. Its not something to brag about on weight weenies, but its a safe dependable Handlebar that will give any tandem captain a more comfortable fit, and complete peace of mind in terms of control, stability and safety. To the point that I know cyclists that converted their entire stable of road bikes to mustache bars after falling in love with the comfort and positions on their tandem. Its a thing to behold to see a Nashbar steel m'bar on a bike with Campagnolo electronic shifting. Whatever works, and makes one enjoy the bike!
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Old 07-11-16, 04:44 PM
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You will get some useful feedback on the Tandem subforum.
My advice would be to put on some lighter tires appropriate for road use and ride it for a while.
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Old 07-11-16, 07:00 PM
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I agree with JanMM Before doing a bunch of upgrading use it for a while. My first tandem was a 26 inch wheeled type. It did not take long to find out that it drove me crazy to have such a low limit with the high gears going down any little hill , and having to coast.
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Old 07-11-16, 07:20 PM
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I was able to successfully convert a 26" Litespeed (not Tandem) to 700c. Or, perhaps you could use slick 650b or 650c wheels. Anyway, you might just see if a 700c wheel with your desired tire size will actually fit the rear triangle. The fork can always be updated if you wish.

I've got drop bars installed on a Pacific Cycles Tandem. I was able to force stem shifters onto the stem, which fit my needs for that bike.

Anyway, there are lots of options.

The bike could also become a huge money pit, and never quite give you your desired results.

It might be cool to have it setup to switch between "road" and "off-road" wheels/tires.
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Old 07-11-16, 07:30 PM
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I converted our Trek MTB style tandem to road style. The bike originally had indexed grip shifters - 8 speed.

FRONT:
road handlebars - had some on hand, but can be cheap if you have to buy them
new stem to fit road bars and get correct reach - again, had one on hand, but also cheap
bar end indexed shifters matching the # of cogs in the back; front shifter is friction so works fine as-is
Tektro brake levers made for V brakes

REAR:
bullhorn type bars (which I made by cutting an old pair of road bars)

two inexpensive ~1.5" smooth tires.

OPTIONAL:
new saddles to replace the huge padded monstrosities that came with it. The stoker' and I both just used the kinds we prefer.
I bought a suspension seat post for the stoker - she appreciates it.
new, top quality brake pads if needed
Pedals if you want or need them

Last edited by Camilo; 07-11-16 at 07:36 PM.
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Old 07-12-16, 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Camilo
I converted our Trek MTB style tandem to road style. The bike originally had indexed grip shifters - 8 speed.

FRONT:
road handlebars - had some on hand, but can be cheap if you have to buy them
new stem to fit road bars and get correct reach - again, had one on hand, but also cheap
bar end indexed shifters matching the # of cogs in the back; front shifter is friction so works fine as-is
Tektro brake levers made for V brakes
Another possibility for converting to road bar shifters is to use Gevenalle's "Retroshifters" mounted on Tektro brake levers chosen to match the brake pull requirements. These are available in 9, 10 and 11-speed rear indexing and, since the front is friction, almost any crank and front derailleur will work.
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