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Do any of you own a vintage (1970’s) tandem?

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Do any of you own a vintage (1970’s) tandem?

Old 05-19-23, 12:40 PM
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Do any of you own a vintage (1970’s) tandem?

I own an old Schwinn single speed, coaster brake tandem that gets rented out as props, weddings, etc but is hell to ride. Getting two people to backpeddle simultaneously is silly.

Recently without trying, I’ve amassed some tandem parts, 40 hole rims, campy hubs with drag brake capabilities, non-drive side Pista crank with chainring (to use it on the drive side means the pedal will come out).

and my bike shop friend has some old Schwinn paramount tandems that may or may not have been raced in Montreal.

do any of you own vintage tandems? Are they noodles compared to today’s ticker to technology?
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Old 05-19-23, 01:23 PM
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I do have a 70's tandem, for what you are asking about I think is really more the materials made from than just the time period.

My 70's Rodriguez tandem is solid as a rock simple front triangle and unsupported diamond single seat stays Mafac canti brakes, it has an ovalized tube on the bottom, it also has a 1 1/8" steertube I think, the joints (trust me they are not pretty) are crude. This has French downtube shifter braze on, and uses a claw derailleur. I am assuming this was a prototype givin the laquer 'set' brand decals.

Gitane made some super flexi all round tube unsupported diamond frames, they also made some that hade 1/2" tubing that ran length wise. Those may have been stiffer. I really don't know much about 70's tandems.

The Jack Taylor I heard were superb. Rodriguez was know for good tandems back then, or at least after mine was constructed, lol.

I recently picked up a late-mid 80's all 531 with the ovalized bottom tube with double seatube stays. I have not had the time to work that through all the maintenance paces to test try.

At one time I, with my brother, had the '74 twin Schwinn 3 speed kick-back. We never got that one going. I ended up donating that to local.
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Old 05-19-23, 01:36 PM
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For tandems, I have a '46 René Herse, a '59 Jack Taylor, and a '76 Colin Laing. Have used a couple steel Santanas owned by other family members, and I have been to a tandem rally or two. You could say I have experience.

In general, with old Paramounts, you will be less put off by the noodliness of old tubing, and more by the other stuff:
1. slack head angles mean the stoker is steering you.
2. cramped rear cockpit will leave you struggling to make room for your stoker without their hands touching your posterior.
3. cup and cone bbs need constant attention, particularly with crossover drive.
4. friction shifting requires a lot of coordination or you will injure your stoker as s/he slams down onto the saddle when you mess up a shift while s/he has missed the memo to soft-pedal.

The '46 René Herse has a ton of innovative stuff: larger bearing on the bottom of the headset, some oversized tubing, two sets of lateral bracing stays (like a mixte), nearly dishless rear wheel with super wide spacing (137mm in 1946?!), tapered roller bearings in the BBs to support the load of a tandem crankset's chains pulling on opposite sides of the thing. The rear cockpit is surprisingly roomy, but still a little cramped by modern standards. The head angle is 74 degrees, which isolates the stoker's movements from the bike's steering, making the thing a lot less of a handful when the stoker is having a drink, birdwatching, smashing a tube of energy gel, or generally lollygagging.

The Jack Taylor has an oversized downtube and neat internal conduits to pass dynamo light wiring through the frame. Feels stiff enough even though the rear is a mixte ("Ladyback" style). The rear cockpit is unusable by anyone taller than about 5'1" but the saddle is almost at the bottom with a 5'3" stoker. Not a lot of versatility. But the head angle is steep, also around 74 degrees, and it's easy to handle the bike.

The Colin Laing has a curved rear seat tube. This puts the stoker really far back, almost over the rear wheel, making the rear cockpit bigger than most, so it's bordering ok for anyone under about 5'5". But the rear bb is far forward so they have trouble standing up without banging their knees on the bars, especially if they are tall. This bike is the noodliest, having standard size tubing throughout, and only a single set of lateral stays running the full length of the bike. But I don't mind that much. What I mind is the head angle is only about 72 degrees, meaning handling isn't sharp, and is quite affected by lean. When the stoker leans, the bike goes that way. Much more so than the other two tandems. But I modernized it with 9-speed XTR and indexed shifting, so I don't injure my stoker when I miss a shift. A real mixed bag.

If you want a nice old tandem, try for a vintage Santana. Bill McCready basically cribbed the best of René Herse and Jack Taylor, but without a lot of the bad stuff. Look for a good sized rear cockpit, lateral bracing, and steep head angle. Make sure you have cantilever brakes. Aside from the Maxicar 115mm drums, I have found auxiliary brakes on tandems to be sorely lacking. Plus, vintage Santanas are basically free. You can pick one up, often with lots of accessories, for less than $1000. Put indexed shifting on it and a freehub so you don't break axles. You'll probably have a nicer time than messing around with Paramounts.
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Old 05-19-23, 02:57 PM
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I have one, will be donated to the local bike Co-op.
it is a Paramount.
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Old 05-19-23, 04:18 PM
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We owned this Gitane for awhile. We loved it but it was very noodly compared to modern tandems.
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Old 05-19-23, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage
I have one, will be donated to the local bike Co-op.
it is a Paramount.
is it possible to see pictures of the set up?
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Old 05-19-23, 08:12 PM
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Not vintage but vintage inspired and I can hardly wait until I can ride it.


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Old 05-19-23, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage
I have one, will be donated to the local bike Co-op.
it is a Paramount.
Take a few pictures for reference and the SN. There will be an updated registry ready for it soon.

-Kurt
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Old 05-19-23, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Robvolz
is it possible to see pictures of the set up?
at my vacation place, gents front, mixtie rear, 27” wheels, Campagnolo record hub, solid axle rear, QR front.
‘Campagnolo seat posts, Rally rear mech. I will swap it out to a Suntour.
Under braked. Frame has too much lateral deflection.
the local bike co-op is blocks away. Almost done, but they have had goofy hours lately.
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Old 05-19-23, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888
Take a few pictures for reference and the SN. There will be an updated registry ready for it soon.

-Kurt
but that is work, the purchase was a mistake. Will just remind me of that error.
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Old 05-19-23, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage
but that is work, the purchase was a mistake. Will just remind me of that error.
Think of it as a sacrifice for historical data

-Kurt
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Old 05-19-23, 11:34 PM
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Mine is not vintage, but I rode several used from the '80s, before deciding in '96 to buy new.
My decision factors were about having multiple stokers (requiring max stoker position changes) and handling. The Co-Mo advertised handling that was more responsive - and living near mountains, that mattered. I believe how you ride and where you ride are important factors. And the captain's cockpit has to be comfortable as the captain never (or rarely) takes their hands off the bars.

There was also a Seuss-mobile version, featuring 2 stokers - but almost never these days. (Sometimes on Father's Day).


Maybe buy one for a lifetime, choose wisely.
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Old 05-20-23, 05:08 AM
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In process. TA cranks, Mafac/Atom brakes. 48 spoke 27" wheels.

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Old 05-20-23, 06:53 AM
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We have one, but it doesn't get ridden much. At the time we bought it, I thought it would be helpful for my wife to be able to keep pace on longer rides. The tandem is a lot harder to ride than a single bike. It didn't turn out to be as much fun as we thought it would.


1980 Peugeot tandem
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Old 05-20-23, 10:43 AM
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I've got the same model Peugeot as Pompiere , though I think mine's an '81. I've only ridden a couple other, more modern aluminum-framed tandems, and those only for relatively short rides. The Peugeot is noticeably more 'flexy' but I don't find it terrible. As Pompiere said above, riding a tandem is quite a bit harder than a single bike. I kind of hoped it would get my wife a bit more into cycling, but mainly we've just been using it for a weekly 9mi round-trip ride to a local coffee shop. The ride involves a couple hills so at least it's been good for getting communication down as far as shifting, etc. I find the handling a little bit 'wobbly', particularly at slower speeds, but I kind of think it may be due to the 'squishiness' of the sprung stoker saddle. I don't really recall noticing the same on the more modern tandems, but they didn't have sprung saddles, and with the (very) rough roads around me a bit of suspension for the stoker is kind of a necessity.


I've since swapped the sprung captain's saddle for a B17 (I just happened to have the B67 on hand, but it didn't really work for the riding position). It's definitely a little too small for me and a little too big for my stoker, but it works well enough. I don't know that I'd want to do more than 20 or so miles on it (at least not yet...), but it's fun enough- and it gets a TON of positive attention!
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Old 05-20-23, 01:26 PM
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stunning example.

I looked at the schwinns, they were track bikes. No RD hanger.
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Old 05-20-23, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. 66
My 70's Rodriguez tandem is solid as a rock simple front triangle and unsupported diamond single seat stays Mafac canti brakes, it has an ovalized tube on the bottom, it also has a 1 1/8" steertube I think, the joints (trust me they are not pretty) are crude. This has French downtube shifter braze on, and uses a claw derailleur. I am assuming this was a prototype givin the laquer 'set' brand decals.
Sounds like a Follis, which Rodriguez brought in as bare steel, then accessorized (sometimes) and painted as Rodriguez. They were up-front about it; customers knew it was a Follis. Those had a 28 mm "OS" steerer/headset, not 1-1/8" (28.6 mm); close but not interchangable. They were very good bikes for their day but not the best. Rodriguez also made custom tandems in-house, which were considerably nicer. <brag>especially after I started making them, in '79</brag>. The custom Rods used OS tubing everywhere including the steerer* and fork blades, unlike Santana (where I worked before I went to R+E), who only used 1" steerers back then.
* Steerer size was an option, and some customers opted for 1" on their Rod, mostly for parts availability. The 28 mm headsets were already by then considered obsolete and a bit hard to find. 1-1/8" steerer/headset hadn't been invented yet.

In about '81, Bicycling Magazine reviewed a Rod tandem, and the headline was something like "If there's a more advanced tandem, we haven't seen it." <brag> I made that tandem they tested</brag> In fairness to Angél Rodriguez, the design features that made it so "advanced" were almost all Angél's ideas, I just supplied the silky workmanship.

scarlson supplied the main criteria for a tandem you'll enjoy. My only nit to pick is his claim that cup-and-cone bearings require constant attention. My'88 Davidson tandem has Campy NR BBs and I hardly ever service them. Good fenders have a lot to do with that. My list, roughly in order of importance:
  1. Long rear TT
  2. OS tubing
  3. Low-trail steering geo, preferably with a steep HTA
  4. Fattish tires, say 35mm min, pref 38 or more
  5. Canti brakes. 3rd brake optional unless you do mega-downhills with a heavy load. I've never had a 3rd brake on my own tandem, never missed it. (OK my brakes are WTB mini-rollercams, not cantis, but those are super rare.)
  6. Straight (not curved) rear ST.
To the OP: no need for crossover crankset, just use single-bike cranks and keep the timing chain on the right side, if you want to keep cost down. Our '71 Schwinn Twinn cruiser tandem has same-side drive, rear is 1 x 5, and that's fine for flattish rides. But same-side drive can work with a 2x or even 3x with some tinkering.

On the 1 x 5 Twinn, we use a 38t Suntour "Alpine" freewheel. Somewhat rare these days, but they do show up on ebay if you're patient. Suntour even made a tandem-specific freewheel body, which is what we're using, look for the word TANDEM stamped into the inner body, adjacent to the remover notches Not quite period-correct, I think they're early '80s, so sue me. Then the rest of the bike can stay mostly original or PC-ish. The original Atom drum-brake hub is still on there. never bent the axle. Once, when we got home from a grocery run with an especially large load, I weighed the bike at 165 lb. The breakdown was 85 lb load, 80 lb tandem! Steel paperboy baskets, and Wald giant basket on a porteur front rack. Oh and I replaced the wimpy original fork with one from an '80s Schwinn MTB, made of Cr-Mo and with canti brake studs. The bike was nearly unrideable with the original fork and über-wimpy side-pull brake. One canti and one Atom drum are enough brakes for us, even with steep hills. We just never go fast on that bike, ever. Not a great bike for standing to pedal, too short in back and too flexy, but stiffness is otherwise adequate, due to very thick-wall tubing. Not the most efficient way to stiffness, but it can suffice.

​​​​​​​Mark B
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Old 05-20-23, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by bulgie
....
On the 1 x 5 Twinn, we use a 38t Suntour "Alpine" freewheel. Somewhat rare these days, but they do show up on ebay if you're patient. Suntour even made a tandem-specific freewheel body, which is what we're using, look for the word TANDEM stamped into the inner body, adjacent to the remover notches ....

​​​​​​​Mark B
The SunTour Pro-Compe freewheels were made in TANDEM versions too... at least I used to have one.
Pastor Bob can correct me, but I think the difference was the size and robustness of the pawls.



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Old 05-20-23, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by steelbikeguy
The SunTour Pro-Compe freewheels were made in TANDEM versions too... at least I used to have one.
Pastor Bob can correct me, but I think the difference was the size and robustness of the pawls.
Yes I have Suntour TANDEM in both Perfect and Pro-Compe variants. Almost identical to the eye, but maybe Pro-Compe had some improvements over the older Perfect? (MORE Perfect?)
They had the same number of pawls (two) as non-tandem FWs, but wider, IIRC. Agreed, we need pastorbobnlnh to give us the straight poop.

I also have an Atom tandem FW, in French thread, one of my most prized posessions. It has four pawls instead of two. 32t too, how cool is that? OK, not all that cool!


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Old 05-20-23, 05:46 PM
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I had a Schwinn DeLuxe Twinn in the '70s and we got a Gitane early in our marriage but did not ride it much. The Schwinn was best used as a pub crawler.

Here's a pic of the Gitane. I put the T/A cranks on it, had the adjustable MTB seatpost turned down to fit, and swapped bars and stems to tweak the fit.


Prices on used tandems are so cheap right now you'd be crazy to spend your money on something from the last century when so much newer stuff is around.
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Old 05-20-23, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by thumpism
Here's a pic of the Gitane. I put the T/A cranks on it, had the adjustable MTB seatpost turned down to fit, and swapped bars and stems to tweak the fit.


Had the same for a brief period of time, and maybe will have it again, once the half gentleman on the pic decides, he has no clue why did he want it bitd.
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Old 05-20-23, 06:57 PM
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Track bike. Can’t do it. But, I found a different route. Looks like I might become half a COW.
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Old 05-21-23, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by bulgie
Sounds like a Follis, which Rodriguez brought in as bare steel, then accessorized (sometimes) and painted as Rodriguez. They were up-front about it; customers knew it was a Follis. Those had a 28 mm "OS" steerer/headset, not 1-1/8" (28.6 mm); close but not interchangable. They were very good bikes for their day but not the best. Rodriguez also made custom tandems in-house, which were considerably nicer. <brag>especially after I started making them, in '79</brag>. The custom Rods used OS tubing everywhere including the steerer* and fork blades, unlike Santana (where I worked before I went to R+E), who only used 1" steerers back then.
* Steerer size was an option, and some customers opted for 1" on their Rod, mostly for parts availability. The 28 mm headsets were already by then considered obsolete and a bit hard to find. 1-1/8" steerer/headset hadn't been invented yet.

In about '81, Bicycling Magazine reviewed a Rod tandem, and the headline was something like "If there's a more advanced tandem, we haven't seen it." <brag> I made that tandem they tested</brag> In fairness to Angél Rodriguez, the design features that made it so "advanced" were almost all Angél's ideas, I just supplied the silky workmanship.

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Thank you very much for this information. Follis contract lol. That certainly explains all the French braze ons and fittings.

By chance do you know who or the contractor made the opening inventory. I brought it in to R&E back in '82, Angel mentioned that it was an English import. It has very long seatstay caps and no braze ons sloping crown fork.

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Old 05-21-23, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by bulgie



To the OP: no need for crossover crankset, just use single-bike cranks and keep the timing chain on the right side, if you want to keep cost down. Our '71 Schwinn Twinn cruiser tandem has same-side drive, rear is 1 x 5, and that's fine for flattish rides. But same-side drive can work with a 2x or even 3x with some tinkering.

On the 1 x 5 Twinn, we use a 38t Suntour "Alpine" freewheel. Somewhat rare these days, but they do show up on ebay if you're patient. Suntour even made a tandem-specific freewheel body, which is what we're using, look for the word TANDEM stamped into the inner body, adjacent to the remover notches Not quite period-correct, I think they're early '80s, so sue me. Then the rest of the bike can stay mostly original or PC-ish. The original Atom drum-brake hub is still on there. never bent the axle. Once, when we got home from a grocery run with an especially large load, I weighed the bike at 165 lb. The breakdown was 85 lb load, 80 lb tandem! Steel paperboy baskets, and Wald giant basket on a porteur front rack. Oh and I replaced the wimpy original fork with one from an '80s Schwinn MTB, made of Cr-Mo and with canti brake studs. The bike was nearly unrideable with the original fork and über-wimpy side-pull brake. One canti and one Atom drum are enough brakes for us, even with steep hills. We just never go fast on that bike, ever. Not a great bike for standing to pedal, too short in back and too flexy, but stiffness is otherwise adequate, due to very thick-wall tubing. Not the most efficient way to stiffness, but it can suffice.

​​​​​​​Mark B
I have searched google images for "timing on the right side." Not finding any, and I'm having trouble picturing it. Are you suggesting a triple in the back and the inner ring be use for the timing chain?

Please send images if you can.
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Old 05-21-23, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. 66
Thank you very much for this information. Follis contract lol. That certainly explains all the French braze ons and fittings.

By chance do you know who or the contractor made the opening inventory. I brought it in to R&E back in '82, Angel mentioned that it was an English import. It has very long seatstay caps and no braze ons sloping crown fork.
Those "house brand" Rodriguez road and track frames were made by Tonard of London. Very nice frames. As with the tandems, you could get a custom Rod made in-house as well, and those were probably a little nicer, but Tonard were resspectable high-end builders, equal to say Holdsworth or Bob Jackson, and you got the advantage of walking out with a frame the same day, vs. waiting months for a custom. As with the tandems, he was up-front about them not being made in Seattle, it was not a bait-and-switch operation!

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