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Tandem Cranksets

Old 04-26-17, 08:34 PM
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Road Fan
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Tandem Cranksets

I have asked a few things about these component sets, but I think now this:

What would you guys use? New build of a road tandem, NOS but new frame, English threaded BB shells, steel frame, 145 mm rear over-locknut distance, desire to match front and rear chainline (like the books say), and desire to have Q pretty low for a tandem. I'll use either a SRAM 10 speed or 11 speed 11/32 cassette, so the chainrings should be installed to best accommodate that. I also want them to support or include rings with ramps and pins et cetera for good index shifting. I plan to have a wide, evenly-spaced set of gears ranging from about 100 inches to 28 or so inches

What I've seen have been FSA Gossamer and a lightweight carbon system, possibly a Bontrager set for a lightweight tandem (not sure if this is mythical), some kind or Ultegra setup, Rene Herse, and DaVinci. I'll be doing index shifting with Campy 11 speed Gen 3 Ergopower (yes this is a change of plans, as sharp-eyed readers will notice).
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Old 05-15-17, 05:41 PM
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I would never build a tandem with 10/11 speed drivetrain. The cogs are too narrow and it doesn't hold the indexing tune as well as 8 speed. 11 speed requires more dish to the wheel over 10 even.

You can get the same gearing range from 8 speed that you can with 9/10/11 but the indexing is more dependable with less fussing with barrel adjusters. The wider cog spacing makes all the difference in the world.

Plus the thicker chains (outer plates), cogs and rings last longer.
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Old 05-15-17, 07:47 PM
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I would use 10sp on a 145mm OLN rear wheel - the dish is significant but feasible. Yes you can get the same range with 8 (or even 5) cogs but the jumps between gears within that range are greater. This is significant on a tandem where you have to average two different pedalling/cadence preferences. On a single you can muscle a slightly too big gear for a bit, or spin a slightly too small gear for a bit, but that is harder on a twicer.

We run 10sp with Shimano bar-end shifters on two tandems and the shifting performance is faultless. Also Tektro V-brake levers with Shimano XT V-brakes because neither bike permits discs. Excellent cost effective braking for rim-brake bikes.

As for cranksets? Them brands you mentioned in your post seem reasonable. Cost per gram differentials?
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Old 05-16-17, 04:51 AM
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We've had zero problems with our 10sp drivetrain. We are using a DaVinci tandem crankset which is lighter that the FSA carbon that we used to have. My stoker being rather vertically challenged requires 165mm cranks which rather limits our options.
The problem with 8sp is the gear changes go "CLUNK". If you forget to warn your stoker when changing gears you will have a very unhappy stoker. This isn't a problem with 9spd or more systems
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Old 05-16-17, 07:59 AM
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We've got a tandem with FSA Gossamer cranks, and one with Lightning cranks.

The Gossamers are fine. Only issue we've had was with the original BB bearings. The ceramic bearings we're running now have been fine. They're not the lightest set up.

The Lightning cranks are nice. Very light, but very expensive. Also the interchangeable spider on the Lightning allows you to run 130BCD or 110BCD rings


A number of tandem teams use the Davinci cranks and like them. They are likely the lightest per dollar that you'll find. The disadvantage is that they are square taper internal bearing, which makes it highly likely that they are not as stiff as more modern external bearing cranks, although I don't have data to prove that.

The Ultegra tandem cranks were nice, but they're discontinued. You'd have to find used or NOS.
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Old 05-16-17, 08:04 AM
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As for 10 speed and 11 speed setups, we've got both, and have not had problems with either.

Our 10 speed Dura Ace Co-Motion Robusta shifts better than our 7 speed Burley did ( admittedly not apples to apples given the higher grade components)

And our 11 Speed Di2 Calfee is the best shifting bike I have ever ridden, tandem or single. (including friction 5 speed through 6,7,8,9, 10, and 11 speed).

10 and 11 speed chains and cassettes do wear faster than 8 speed, but not at an unacceptable rate, assuming you're willing to replace a chain or two a year.

And 11 speed gives you the ability to do a 2x11 setup, with just about the same range, and spacing as a 3x8 setup.


I'd also note that mtnbk doesn't appear to have a bike less than 25 years old, which is fine if it works for him. For the rest of us, time marches on and technology improves.
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Old 05-16-17, 05:14 PM
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I'm happy with my 3X10 on spinnergy 145 spacing.
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