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Thoughts on first tandem

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Thoughts on first tandem

Old 01-15-17, 07:45 PM
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mr_reality
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Thoughts on first tandem

I am just starting to research our first tandem road bike. My Lbs sells Raleigh cadent. I haven't found any reviews on this bike so I am curious if anyone has any experience. Trying to see how much we like the tandem experience before we put a small fortune into it. Thanks for your help.
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Old 01-15-17, 08:52 PM
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If you read a lot of the Road forums here, you'll find the occasional thread about the "GMC Denali" or similar bikes. Basically, it's a bike that, on paper, seems to be the equivalent of a much more expensive bike. The problem that comes up is that none of the "bike experts" here would ever use such a bike, so they can all condemn it, but that's based on supposition, rather than experience. Meanwhile, there are some people that have used and liked their Denali's, other people that didn't, etc. But suffice it to say, that most people that ride expensive bikes, started off with cheaper bikes and worked their way up.


So, with this bike, Raleigh Bikes, 2017 Cadent Tandem, the price is low enough to make us go "hmmm" but not quite Denali-low, either. Drawbacks I see: 8-speed (older tech, is what that means), flat-bars, limited size range, aluminum frame, extra-low top-tube in back. Positive aspects I see- decently low gearing (you need lower gearing than single-bikes, normally), low price.


General complaints with cheapo bikes: Shifting and brakes are crummier, wheels are lower-quality, saddles more uncomfortable, etc. Some of that can be upgraded, but then you don't have a cheap bike any more, either.


Aluminum frames are noted for harsher ride, but with fat tires, you may not notice that.


If you have the chance to rent or borrow a regular road tandem, that might be helpful.


Some observations on if a tandem's right for you: If you ride single bikes and one of you is a spinner and one is a masher, you have problems. If one starts on right foot and the other on left, it can be worked out, but is more awkward (in our case, stoker clips in with both feet and stays clipped in until we stop, to get around that issue). If sweat blowing back on the stoker is considered exceedingly icky and the captain sweats a lot, you have a problem.


One other thing: When I first got my tandem, it took about a thousand miles before it didn't seem "weird" riding it. So it's not necessarily harder, just different, so don't let that throw you.
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Old 01-15-17, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by mr_reality View Post
I am just starting to research our first tandem road bike. My Lbs sells Raleigh cadent. I haven't found any reviews on this bike so I am curious if anyone has any experience. Trying to see how much we like the tandem experience before we put a small fortune into it. Thanks for your help.
I would say borrow first if you can. If it seems like a go, look for a used, high-mid range tandem from the 80's or 90's which you should be able to get for $400-$1,500 depending. If that works, go from there. If it doesn't you can probably recoup at least most of your $ if you are patient. If you buy new and it doesn't work out, expect a big loss on resale.
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Old 01-16-17, 12:18 AM
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We own a 2005 Raleigh Coupe seen here: 2005 Raleigh Coupe FB - BikePedia. The Coupe is the spiritual ancestor to the Raleigh Cadent being discussed, and 2005 was the last year it was made with Shimano 105 and other components in that quality level. Its MSRP in 2005 was the same as the current MSRP for the Cadent. Obviously some alterations had to be made to hold the price point over 17 years of steady inflation, but it is HARDLY what I consider a "cheapo" bike! The Coupe was discontinued after 2006? And until the Cadent appeared in 2016, Raleigh made do with the "Companion", a tandem that had much less in common with its more upmarket sibling in earlier years than now.

I can tell you that we own three tandems, and the Coupe remains the lightest and best spec'd of them and we did consider, briefly, getting a Cadent last year, but got the Trek T900 (Tandem | Trek Bikes) instead, as a knock-around town/commuter/errand tandem. I actually recommend the T900 (change the saddles!) over the Cadent for a first tandem, but neither one should disappoint. I have attached a picture of what I did to our Coupe about four years ago. It is no longer suitable for an around town ride. It holds its own against road Cannondale's and Co-Motions on club rides. It is seriously light, anything lighter is immediately twice the price, and some in our club have paid 3x the MSRP of our Coupe for not much more bike. We don't expect to ever want or need a "better" tandem. Did you notice the Coupe has 700C wheels? Ours have 28mm Schwalbe Marathons, not too shabby. I've also upgraded the brakes from Avid BB7 (again, not too shabby) to TRP Spyres and the rotors are now 180mm f/r instead of the stock 160mm f/r.

A more fair comparison to GMC Denali would be the Kent Dual-Drive (26" Kent Dual Drive Tandem Blue - Kent International) that was the first tandem ever that we owned. In fact we owned two. The first we gave away after 5 years when we left NYC. We bought another promptly upon arriving in Portland in 2008 and were riding it daily until it got stolen late last year. We bought a Burley Samba the next week to replace it. Tandems are important to us, one of us is blind and the other is partially sighted. Cars don't figure in our transportation practices in any great measure. A bike or tandem is in play at sometime, every single day of the week.

I knew I had enough bike mechanic in me to make a Kent be a worthwhile purchase. I can't recommend it to just anyone considering a first tandem. I've always shied away from Craigslist, but when the Kent was stolen, and after buying the Trek brand new just last year, another new tandem seemed a bit much. But the Burley Samba (2000 Burley Samba - BikePedia) we found, is clean, straight, and was well cared for. The Raleigh remains the best of them by far, and if the Cadent is 1/2 the bike the Coupe is, it will be well worth the money. I've not seen one in person, but I'd like to. I think our Coupe is a nice looking bike. I think the Cadent is even nicer. Shh! I have to keep 'Beauty' feeling like the Garage Queen she is. FWIW.
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Old 01-16-17, 10:31 PM
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I think its a lot of money for what you are getting. I would check Craigslist or even Ebay for used tandems including Santana, Comotion, Cannondale and Trek. I am thinking you could find a fairly recent Cannondale in that price range. Older tandems are going to have the problem of out dated components that may need replacing.
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Old 01-17-17, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by jnbrown View Post
Older tandems are going to have the problem of out dated components that may need replacing.
The Raleigh Coupe's MSRP was $1499 in 2005. We paid $1000 even, in 2006 by buying a new 2005 model. The o.p. could likely do the same, as the Cadent was introduced in 2016, and I am certain they did not sell them all. The Trek T900 MSRP is $1149, and even though we were buying the previous years bike, the dealer would only give us the standard $100 that all dealers knock off the MSRP. We wanted the bike, and they are the only Trek dealer in Portland, so we accepted their rather inflexible position.

Our recent Burley had an MSRP of $1599 in 1994. We paid $550 in 2016 because I told the seller if he would bring the bike to our house we wouldn't haggle with his asking price. But it is not ready to ride. Not for us. And if I didn't have the wrenching skills to do the work myself I could spend a lot of money getting it just right for us. In its day it was a very good value: Arai drag brake, road gearing, good tube set... but in 2016 someone that buys a Trek T900 or a Raleigh Cadent gets 8sp rear end and much more reasonable 28/38/48 crankset, v-brakes or disc brakes... they also get a warranty, initial adjustment, and probably routine maintenance for quite some time to come!

I'm pretty certain that the guy who sold me the Burley is not the original owner. Along the way someone stuck a 26mm handlebar in the 25.4 clamp and crushed the center section. I can fix it. I don't want or need the drag brake. I can fix it. I don't want the cantilevers. I can fix it. I don't like the saddles. I can fix it. Any purchase like a tandem is a gamble. So is a treadmill, or elliptical machine or skis. People buy them anyway. New. The o.p. in my opinion needs a new tandem at a price that will get them something reasonable to start with. There is not a lot in that area of the market, but there are options. A Trek T900 is every bit the equal of a vintage Cannondale or Co-Motion. 20 or more years of steady innovation in frame materials and component design cannot be completely ignored. The $1000 tandem of today is very much the equal of the $3K tandem of 30 years ago, or the $2k tandem 20 years ago. Why buy the older tandem with all that may have happened to it in the intervening years, even if it can be had for ~$500?
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Old 01-17-17, 03:05 PM
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I don't know how much cycling experience you and your stoker have. We bought our first tandem about 2.5 years ago. We were relatively new to cycling. We found a used Trek t900 on Craigslist and it was perfect for us. The flat handlebars and more upright riding position made it easy for us to enter the world of cycling. We since sold it have have bought used road tandems, but the used Trek t900 was perfect for our first tandem.

I see you are in NW Arkansas. Phat Tire used to rent a Trek t900. I don't know if they still do. We are over in Tulsa and there is a used Trek t900 on Craigslist for $500. I don't know the seller or anything about his bike, but as long as it is in the condition that he states, that is a great price.

If you are interested in it, contact the seller and ig all sounds good, I would be happy to go check it out in person for you before you make a drive to Tulsa.
Trek T900 Tandem bike
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Old 01-17-17, 06:50 PM
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A Trek T900 was our second tandem. It is about 13 years old and we still ride it as a backup. I think it would be a good choice for a first tandem.
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Old 01-18-17, 04:11 PM
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First Tandem

I'd wanted a tandem for quite a while but not having easy access to a loaner to try out when a Burley Duet popped up on Craig's List at a decent price I just went and bought it. If it turned out I didn't like it or my potential stoker balked I figured I could just resell it. I think the try-before-buy is the best plan, epsecially with the price of new, nice tandems. I got lucky with the Duet. Lightly used and needed on brake pads and tires to be back on the road. Plus is that the potential stoker likes it as well.
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Old 01-19-17, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by 2gether84 View Post
I don't know how much cycling experience you and your stoker have. We bought our first tandem about 2.5 years ago. We were relatively new to cycling. We found a used Trek t900 on Craigslist and it was perfect for us. The flat handlebars and more upright riding position made it easy for us to enter the world of cycling. We since sold it have have bought used road tandems, but the used Trek t900 was perfect for our first tandem.

I see you are in NW Arkansas. Phat Tire used to rent a Trek t900. I don't know if they still do. We are over in Tulsa and there is a used Trek t900 on Craigslist for $500. I don't know the seller or anything about his bike, but as long as it is in the condition that he states, that is a great price.

If you are interested in it, contact the seller and ig all sounds good, I would be happy to go check it out in person for you before you make a drive to Tulsa.
Trek T900 Tandem bike
The trek would have been a good option but it had already sold. Going to keep looking.
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Old 01-20-17, 02:54 PM
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All I can say is that I hope you've spent some time searching this forum for posts directed to new tandem riders and those considering buying a tandem.

There's absolutely no need to re-create the wheel here. Go find and read them and you'll gain an incredible wealth of knowledge. Someone in your position would be remiss not doing this.

That said, I hope you can get your questions answered about the specific tandem you're interested in. There are a lot of inexpensive tandems out there, both new and used. But you'll have to know where the point of diminishing returns is. A tandem has a lot of demands placed on it, so if you go too cheap, things can be dangerous and fail. Brakes failing, for example, is catastrophic and potentially deadly for you and your riding companion.

The best bet is for the informed shopper to find a great deal on a used tandem. My '92 Cannondale road tandem, for example, would be a GREAT used purchase for someone new to tandeming. Why? Because it's very high quality, in GREAT shape and would be a bargain price. 25 year old used tandems simply do not bring a good resale price for the seller; but they do present a great deal for the buyer. But the knowledgeable buyer who knows how to spot quality and avoid damage and pitfalls. But that's IF I were to decide to sell it; but I'm not. But there are lots of bikes like this out there. It just takes the knowledgeable eye and luck to find it.

Good luck!
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Old 02-01-17, 10:40 PM
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I found a khs tandemania Roma that has been upgraded to ultergra shifters and xt derailleur. Has a really nice Chris king headset and aloha carbon fork. Bikes about 6 years old. They are asking for $1800 what's everyone's thoughts on that price.
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Old 02-02-17, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by mr_reality View Post
I found a khs tandemania Roma that has been upgraded to ultergra shifters and xt derailleur. Has a really nice Chris king headset and aloha carbon fork. Bikes about 6 years old. They are asking for $1800 what's everyone's thoughts on that price.
If buying used, I think I would expect to get a pretty high-end production tandem for $1,800. That might be overkill for a first tandem when you have no prior experience. I'm not personally familiar with that particular bike but, looking on the internet, it looks more like a mid-range bike at best. Probably perfectly adequate but overpriced? I should think I could find something of comparable quality for $500-1,000. I don't claim to be an expert but that's my gut. Used tandems can be crazy cheap.
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Old 02-13-17, 06:16 PM
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Used and test riding several tandems is the way to go.
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Old 02-14-17, 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by L134 View Post
If buying used, I think I would expect to get a pretty high-end production tandem for $1,800. That might be overkill for a first tandem when you have no prior experience. I'm not personally familiar with that particular bike but, looking on the internet, it looks more like a mid-range bike at best. Probably perfectly adequate but overpriced? I should think I could find something of comparable quality for $500-1,000. I don't claim to be an expert but that's my gut. Used tandems can be crazy cheap.
Agreed. It does look like the Roma is a step up from the usual Comp that sells much better. But iirc the o.p.'s original bike choice was a Raleigh Cadent: $1500MSRP...probably $1399 out the door... new! Now they want to buy a six year old bike that the original owner crashed and trashed the fork on for $400 more? Does it have disk brakes like the Cadent? 8sp rear? Will they like drop bars? I don't know...
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Old 02-14-17, 06:28 AM
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So I was able to get the Khs tandemania Roma for $1000. The owner is a former bike shop owner and still builds custom bike builds on a small basis. The bike is in great shape and has some great upgrades. It's all ultergra and xt group-set and brakes. He updated the fork to an alpha q carbon and chris king headset and hubs. The only thing I needed to replace was the tires due to cracking and put on new bar tape.

We took it for our maiden voyage last weekend and had a great time. The bike is just what e are looking for and it will allow us to do almost all the the things we do on our independent rode bikes. I can't wait to find some century rides this year. Thanks for all the advice and tips.
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Old 02-14-17, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by mr_reality View Post
So I was able to get the Khs tandemania Roma for $1000. The owner is a former bike shop owner and still builds custom bike builds on a small basis. The bike is in great shape and has some great upgrades. It's all ultergra and xt group-set and brakes. He updated the fork to an alpha q carbon and chris king headset and hubs. The only thing I needed to replace was the tires due to cracking and put on new bar tape.

We took it for our maiden voyage last weekend and had a great time. The bike is just what e are looking for and it will allow us to do almost all the the things we do on our independent rode bikes. I can't wait to find some century rides this year. Thanks for all the advice and tips.
Sounds like a great deal.
Have double the fun!
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Old 02-14-17, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by mr_reality View Post
So I was able to get the Khs tandemania Roma for $1000. The owner is a former bike shop owner and still builds custom bike builds on a small basis. The bike is in great shape and has some great upgrades. It's all ultergra and xt group-set and brakes. He updated the fork to an alpha q carbon and chris king headset and hubs. The only thing I needed to replace was the tires due to cracking and put on new bar tape.

We took it for our maiden voyage last weekend and had a great time. The bike is just what e are looking for and it will allow us to do almost all the the things we do on our independent rode bikes. I can't wait to find some century rides this year. Thanks for all the advice and tips.
Congrats! Have fun.
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