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First Tandem - Micargi California

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First Tandem - Micargi California

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Old 08-24-15, 01:46 PM
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dphilips
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First Tandem - Micargi California

My wife and I recently became interested in the idea of a tandem for paved and dirt road use. I want to use 1.75" - 2" tires with fenders so 26" wheel tandems seemed a good starting point.

Looking at the options for lower priced tandems I came across one I've been unable to find much info on - the Micargi California. In some ways it's the Giordano Viaggio of 26" wheeled tandems but there are some appealing aspects:

. aluminum frame vs steel (KHS Sport, etc) for potentially lighter weight
. frame has both V-brake posts and a disc caliper mount on the rear (the included fork is V-brake only)
. 6 bottle mounts
. eccentric bottom bracket up front (the Viaggio uses an idler tensioner)
. kickstand plate
. priced between $500 - $600 new

The downsides:

. one small-ish frame size (seat tubes are 19" / 15.5", captain's effective top tube is 22.25")
. 135mm rear spacing (maybe not so bad with some well built wheels)

More details on the assembly and stock components can be found in the write up on my blog: http://davidp.org/micargi-california-tandem/

The 15.5" rear means both my 9 year old (seat post all the way down) and 5'7" wife (seat post all the way up) can ride as stoker. We've only done a few short rides around the neighborhood but both enjoy it.

I'll be building new wheels using 40h Velocity Aeroheat rims. I waffled a bit on converting it to 650b either with longer v-brakes or disks but chose to stick with 26" and v-brakes for now.
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Old 08-24-15, 11:24 PM
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zonatandem
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Have worked on a couple Micargis and they are known for skimping on everything including NO grease anywhere where it is required.
If you are able, suggest complete check up and inspection.
Enjoy the ride!
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Old 08-25-15, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
Have worked on a couple Micargis and they are known for skimping on everything including NO grease anywhere where it is required.
If you are able, suggest complete check up and inspection.
Enjoy the ride!
Thanks, Rudy. Your right, these bikes require a through going over during assembly; the bottom brackets were actually greased and well adjusted but the hubs were not.
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Old 08-25-15, 10:39 AM
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Thanks for the review. I have actually been looking at this bike for me and my wife. I ride a fair bit but my wife does not and wants to get into it more. We have ridden a tandema few times and enjoy it, but finding a tandem that I can captain at 5'5 has proven to be difficult. The ETT on this is pretty similar to my current mountain bike setup so I think that this would an option. Can you tell me what the captain's standover is on this?

Thanks
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Old 08-25-15, 01:53 PM
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Comparing this bike to some of the offerings on Craigslist, this doesn't look so bad. OK, not great stuff, but jeez, look at the crap on Craigslist and what people are asking for it.

Old, heavy bikes with waaaay out of date designs and equipment. 1" forks, less than adequate brakes and non-standard equipment.

On my local CL, for example, you can get a 1993 Specialized Deja2 for $999. Aluminum frame, so hopefully not as heavy as the old Burleys and such. But wait until the new owner wears out the 7 speed Suntour cassette and can't get one at the LBS, (but on ebay for only $150 while they last).

Not to say that there aren't uses for older heavy tandems with out of date equipment. We ride our 47 lb Fisher around town and have lots of fun on it, but it's hard to see them worth the $800+ that people are asking on CL. And speaking of surprises, how about the totally non-std. BBs the Burleys and Fishers use. Fortunately, they use cheap, easy to find bearings and last a long time.
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Old 08-25-15, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by uclamatt2007 View Post
The ETT on this is pretty similar to my current mountain bike setup so I think that this would an option. Can you tell me what the captain's standover is on this?
I measured ~30.5" around the middle of the top tube with 1.75" tires mounted.
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Old 08-29-15, 10:52 PM
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FYI: I'm 5'4" and I captain the Cannondale T2 - the smallest size captain works for up to 5'6", I believe. If you buy one at REI you get 10% back (membership benefit) and 1 year to return it if you don't like it. We are very happy with this tandem and learning on it has been fun. We're now looking for another tandem with couplers for travel but I don't think you can go wrong with this Cannondale.

Originally Posted by uclamatt2007 View Post
Thanks for the review. I have actually been looking at this bike for me and my wife. I ride a fair bit but my wife does not and wants to get into it more. We have ridden a tandema few times and enjoy it, but finding a tandem that I can captain at 5'5 has proven to be difficult. The ETT on this is pretty similar to my current mountain bike setup so I think that this would an option. Can you tell me what the captain's standover is on this?

Thanks
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Old 09-02-15, 08:43 AM
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Here's our California as it sits now.

I had a pair of Michelin Country Rock 26x1.75 tires not being used so I put them on for now. They are a great improvement over the knobbies but I have some Compass Rat Trap Pass 26x2+ tires in the mail.

I came across a Truvativ Elita 9/10 speed tandem crankset with bottom brackets for a great price and was able to install it on the California. The frame's curved chainstays allow the narrower road crankset to clear without issues. The new crankset and bottom brackets dropped 1.2lbs from the bike, mostly from replacing the heavy steel bottom brackets.

More photos and details on the install here: http://davidp.org/micargi-california-crank-upgrade/

New wheels are next - rims and hubs in hand, spokes on the way.
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Old 09-05-15, 09:29 PM
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Looks like the Micargi is on a successful diet plan!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 09-10-15, 06:47 AM
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My wife and I took the California out for a ~9 mile shakedown ride. This was the first time we've been outside of the neighborhood on it and the bike was great. I didn't track the ride but the speeds certainly felt higher than what I am used to on a single and I was surprised by how much of the ride was spent in the 53t chainring. We definitely descended one longer downhill faster than I have previously gone - the bike was very stable and inspired confidence.

The best part is that we are both enjoying riding the tandem and improving our technique. Being able to converse much easier than when we are on singles is nice too.

I've finished building the new wheels and will report on them soon.
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Old 09-12-15, 01:27 PM
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New wheels and tires are on the tandem - Wheelmaster 40h hubs and Velocity Aeroheat rims. The new wheels are a bit heavier (stock wheels were single wall and 36 spoke) but the Compass Rat Trap Pass tires are way lighter, super comfy, and fly.

The bike now weighs 39 lbs but I'm about to add weight with racks and fenders.

Details on the build here: http://davidp.org/micargi-california-new-wheels/

Originally Posted by fxsvelo View Post
Comparing this bike to some of the offerings on Craigslist, this doesn't look so bad. OK, not great stuff, but jeez, look at the crap on Craigslist and what people are asking for it.

Old, heavy bikes with waaaay out of date designs and equipment. 1" forks, less than adequate brakes and non-standard equipment.

On my local CL, for example, you can get a 1993 Specialized Deja2 for $999. Aluminum frame, so hopefully not as heavy as the old Burleys and such. But wait until the new owner wears out the 7 speed Suntour cassette and can't get one at the LBS, (but on ebay for only $150 while they last).
After replacing the cranksets, wheels, and tires I'm just now reaching the $1k mark on the Micargi and am pretty happy with it.
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Old 10-15-15, 03:32 PM
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This past weekend we rode 30 miles in Vermont with roughly half the ride on dirt roads. We made it up all the hills with the 30/32 low gear but during a few sections would've appreciated something a bit lower.

The downhills were very fast (max downhill speed was about 42 mph) and the bike felt incredibly stable.

The Compass Rat Trap Pass tires were great on rough pavement and dirt roads, soaking up bumps while rolling very quickly.

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Old 01-06-18, 12:57 AM
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that's a good-looking bike. thanks for posting, great info here.
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