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Is tandem for us? - Beginner queries.

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Is tandem for us? - Beginner queries.

Old 06-09-17, 04:36 PM
  #1  
riceowls
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Is tandem for us? - Beginner queries.

Me and my wife both like cycling but perhaps to a different degree. I do over 100 miles a week (40 commuting) + evening/weekend group rides, she rides with me on a 20-30 miles trips every other weekend or so. As a result, I am stronger and faster and often have to stop/slow-down for her to catch up. I like the idea of a tandem for the sake of riding together, being able to keep the conversation and perhaps share the "work" in a way that allows me to put more effort.

1) Is tandem something we should to consider? Unfortunately, I don't see places nearby that allow us to rent one to try.

2)Is independent pedaling something that we should consider?

3) I am considering buying a used one. How much to budget? will 20-year old steel road one in good shape be better than newer "budget" model.

4) What are the typical weight of a quality tandem? How do we convert our road bike frame sizes (58-59 for me, 53 for her) into the tandem frame sizes?
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Old 06-09-17, 07:08 PM
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0) Is this something she wants to do?

1) Ask at bike shops. Our first outing was on a shop owner's tandem that they rented out for a pittance.

2) Most people haven't tried one, they are rare.

3) Around here you can find the bike you describe for ~1000 asking. But there's a lot of variability in asking prices. New tandems of the decent sort start at like $3300.

4) Approaching fifty pounds for a conventional, not-racy steel bike with a drag brake. You are basically starting with a touring bike sort of thing which would be pushing thirty pounds to begin with, adding half again more components and reinforced wheels. Size for you is normal, but there are fewer sizes so be prepared to play with stems etc. Size for her is normal or smaller. She can't stand over too large but smaller can be made up with adjustments.
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Old 06-09-17, 08:40 PM
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Yup, that sums it up pretty well.
If she's interested, go for it. If not, reconsider.
I know a number of women that have done a LOT of riding. Some are very comfortable on a tandem or even prefer it. Some have zero interest. It's just individual preferences and all.
On independent coasting, it seems to me to be to be a solution without a problem. On the other hand, I know one tandem couple that wouldn't have anything else, so different strokes for different folks. For starting off, I wouldn't worry about it- it severely limits your choice of bikes. You also get some added complexity, possibly added weight, possibly a slower bike.
On the old bikes- check with your bike shop on what parts are available, what can be upgraded, etc. Make sure everything on it can either be replaced without undue hassle if it breaks, or can be upgraded if desired.
I have heard of some older bikes having shorter rear cockpits than more modern bikes- don't know if that's a trend or just isolated bikes- but something to check when you buy.
Some of the tandems come in Large, Medium, Small, and Large/Small. That last is a large captain's cockpit and a small stoker's cockpit. Try a large frame, see how that works with your wife. If it doesn't, then start looking for the L/S frames. My tandem is a "semicompact" frame, means the top bar is a little lower, and that lets it cover a little wider range of sizes.
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Old 06-09-17, 08:42 PM
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I just noticed you're "riceowls". If by any chance you're in or anywhere near Houston, look up "House of Tandems".
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Old 06-09-17, 09:52 PM
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How well do you communicate with each other? Successful Tandem riding both facilitates conversation and developing an ability to anticipate/understand each other's actions/needs with only a slight hesitation in pedaling cadence. Or something like that. It has been said that, "Whichever direction your relationship is going, riding a tandem will get it there faster." My gf's first tandem ride was to learn how to use the drive train more efficiently, as her rides on her single bike exhausted her legs in a very small number of miles, while I was just getting warmed up. Since then, we ride the tandem exclusively, and the ride length is now up to 30 miles. The limiting factor is no longer her legs, but her discomfort on the seat. We're working on that with new seat, seat adjustments and coil spring suspension seat post.
I should add that the tandem is a mid/late 1980's Santana steel road frame, with a very small stoker cockpit (short top tube), 27 x 1+1/4" tires and bar end shifters. Today we test rode an mtb tandem, for the index shifters, wider gearing range, wider tires and the ability to ride gravel and mild singletrack. The wider tires are much more comfy, as is the better designed suspension seat post. She loved it and we placed our order. I have seen tandems on CL for <$1000 and for as little as $400, but be thoughtful before you buy used, and test ride.
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Old 06-09-17, 11:10 PM
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Riding a tandem does require a lot more communication, not all of it verbal, and patience. There's also that whole issue of the stoker having essentially no control over anything on a "conventional" tandem. That takes trust, which must be earned by the captain. If a stoker doesn't like fast, hard descents, the captain needs to respect that or s/he will soon be back riding their half-bike while the tandem sits gathering dust.

There's going to be a learning curve and you're both going to make mistakes as you learn how to ride two-gether. Keep it fun and don't ever blame the stoker and all will be good.

That said, we do almost all of our tandem riding in a most unconventional way. My 5'6" wife rides captain and I ride stoker (6'2"). I control the shifting and a rear disc brake; she has two rim brakes that rarely get used. We like it this way. It equitably shares responsibilities and allows both of us to spot hazards (mostly elk, deer, foxes, turkeys and bears where we ride). As was stated above, different strokes... Don't get locked in to what works for someone else. If it isn't working, look for some other way of doing things.
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Old 06-10-17, 03:39 AM
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Originally Posted by riceowls View Post
Me and my wife both like cycling but perhaps to a different degree. I do over 100 miles a week (40 commuting) + evening/weekend group rides, she rides with me on a 20-30 miles trips every other weekend or so. As a result, I am stronger and faster and often have to stop/slow-down for her to catch up. I like the idea of a tandem for the sake of riding together, being able to keep the conversation and perhaps share the "work" in a way that allows me to put more effort.

1) Is tandem something we should to consider? Unfortunately, I don't see places nearby that allow us to rent one to try.

2)Is independent pedaling something that we should consider?

3) I am considering buying a used one. How much to budget? will 20-year old steel road one in good shape be better than newer "budget" model.

4) What are the typical weight of a quality tandem? How do we convert our road bike frame sizes (58-59 for me, 53 for her) into the tandem frame sizes?
Our situation seems to be similar: My wife and I, we both love cycling, but I do love it a bit more, I am stronger and a bit more willing to "suffer" on the bike. And I am a lot more comfortable and stress-resistant in traffic. All that has let to the effect that there were moments when my wife felt "lost" or stressed when we were touring together on our singles (race-bikes and MTBs).

We did rent a tandem for two full days before we (I) built our own. Riding the rent tandem we instantly loved it: To be able to talk, to share the effort (and nobody´s asking whether the ratio of the power invested is 50/50 or 60/40 or even 70/30) -> the result being always that we stay together, we succeed together.
My wife actually enjoyed to give up control over the bike and to transfer that to me, as that took away stress from her. But that´s certainly dependand on the person(s) involved. I wouldn´t like the idea to share control over the bike. And of cause, I have to pilot the tandem in a way that keeps her relaxed, i. e. much more devensive and a lot slower on descents than I normally would...

Tandeming together certainly has that learnig curve B. Carfree mentioned: This learnig is partly very conscious and involves talking, but is indeed partly non-conscious, too: The two bodies just learn to anticipate the other´s reactions and that involves especially the pedaling/the cadence. My wife by now just knows when I am going to change gears. I think that the connected cranks are an essental part of the two bodies acting in a co-ordinated and synchronous fashion. Somebody compared that to dancing together (if you´re able to read German, that´s a good article: RADPLAN DELTA - TANDEMFAHREN ), and I think he has a point. But again, this is probably very individual; we just happend to pedal in very similar cadences on our singles anyway.

My advice would be to rent or borough a tandem for at least one longer ride, then you might know whether to pursue the idea of a tandem any further. The type of tandem you want to buy after that totally depends on your riding preferences. I don´t think one needs to go high-end and spend a lot of money, and one can certainly buy 2nd hand, but I wouldn´t go "cheap": Breaks, wheels and drivetrain are doubly stressed and need to uphold to that; the bike must simply work flawlessly, otherwise it causes stress on the riders and perhaps even increases danger.

Last edited by Heidelfix; 06-10-17 at 07:52 AM. Reason: English is a foreign language for me...
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Old 06-10-17, 11:34 AM
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Read this:
The Proper Method

A lot of successful and happy tandem couples agree with it, a lot do not; but it is a method that works. Contrary to the gist of the article, it is not the only method that works. It works very well for my wife and I.
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Old 06-11-17, 02:14 PM
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If you've ever been in a canoe together, I think there's a lot of parallels. If you worked well together + enjoyed the canoe, chances are better that you'll find the same on a tandem. If a canoe together wasn't fun, chances are higher that you won't enjoy a tandem.

But there's no substitute for trying it. You could also ask around among biking friends + see if somebody's got one they're willing to loan for a short test ride.
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Old 06-13-17, 06:27 AM
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I'm near Atlanta if you want to try one.

I have a KHS that would fit you the best ... and the travel Ti.
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Old 06-13-17, 08:24 AM
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thanks everyone for their insights. We never done the canoe but did kayaking in tandems and enjoy it. I guess we would look for a rental around us or a local seller of a used one who'd let us to have a long test ride. I am near Houston, so House of tandems is ~1h away perhaps worth visiting. Do they rent tandems?

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Old 06-13-17, 09:51 AM
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House of Tandems

Call Ric or Marcia (713-725-6554) at House of Tandems and ask if they have a tandem put together you can test ride.
They are GREAT to deal with.
They used to have a huge bike shop, but now have a small tandem only shop.
Ric knows his bikes.
We bought a da Vinci tandem from them.
If you call them, tell them Jack & Diane in New Orleans said hello.
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Old 06-15-17, 10:35 PM
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I totally agree with contacting Ric & Marcia at House of Tandems. The one hour drive will be a wise investment. They can let you ride a traditional tandem and then a da Vinci with ICS. There is something to be said for trying out the two different styles of tandems back to back. We have both a traditional tandem as well as a da Vinci.

We started riding tandem 3 years ago and I quickly found out that many of the people who knock the da Vinci and ICS had never ridden one. It's not for everyone, but only you can make that decision for yourself after you have tried it.

3 years ago when we started our tandem journey, none of the LBS carried tandems, but we did find one that rented a tandem, so we rented one for a couple of hours and then started looking on Craigslist and found one 4 hours away. 3 years later we still love riding together. Neither of us had much cycling experience back then, so we kind of learned the whole thing together. We like spending time together and for us, riding the tandem is so much better than riding single bikes.

Disclaimer: I have not purchased a tandem from Ric and Marcia. I met them at the 2015 South West Tandem Rally in Texas. They were running sag and came to the rescue when our da Vinci broke down. Ric took the front derailleur off of his da Vinci and put it on mine so I could ride in the tandem rally. That's just the kind of people they are.
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Old 06-16-17, 11:25 PM
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Try it, you'll love it. We were in your situation a few years ago. Now the singles rarely get use anymore. The tandem, on the other hand, gets about 100 miles a week. It also travel with us on most of our vacations.

Definitely give Ric and Marcia a visit - that's a great place to start.
You'll need to know your size and preferences. And, the only way to know that is to ride a few bikes.

There is also a tandem club, Team HOTT - Houstonian on Tandems Together, that meet every other month for rides. Come join us when you get yours.

CJ

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Old 06-21-17, 01:19 AM
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Originally Posted by jethro00 View Post
If you call them, tell them Jack & Diane in New Orleans said hello.
I always wondered what became of you two...
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Old 09-13-17, 03:40 PM
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Thanks for all the replies!
After trying at a local rental place (TREK) we've decided to give it a try with a tandem. At this point it's N+1 bike so we don't want to spend over $1000, hopefully around $500 on a used market. I am looking at two options:
1) KHS Tandemania Milano from mid 2000s, perhaps 2005 or 2006.
2) Mid 1990s Cannondale Los Dos (MT1000) with some upgrades

The first one is 700c the second one is 26" but with slick tires. Based on The Skinny on Fat Tire Tandems I am inclining for 26 but i think with appropriate tires either one can work as KHS frame can take fatter tires it seems. Any comments on the two and what would be the fair asking price for these?
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Old 09-13-17, 07:59 PM
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What is your team weight?
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Old 09-14-17, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by WheelsNT View Post
What is your team weight?
About 310lb
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Old 09-14-17, 09:52 AM
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Enjoy.
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Old 09-14-17, 09:36 PM
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Your team weight is not high, so you would be fine on either of them weight-wise. If you had a higher weight, you might consider the Cannondale more strongly as the aluminum frame would be stiffer and the larger tires would carry the heavier load better.

If you could give more info about each of the bikes, you could get a more precise answer, but without that: I would look first at two things, type of stem (threadless vs quill) and rear hub OLD. You want a threadless stem and a 145 mm OLD. If one of them has a quill stem or a 140mm hub, that would push me strongly in the other direction. 145mm hubs/wheels are much more common, and will run 9 (or 10, or 11) speed without finagling. So if you have 145 with 7 or 8, you can easily upgrade. With 140, it's a can of worms. Not that you can't do it, just that since you don't own the bike yet, pick the easy one. Similarly, threadless makes your life much easier, and it's stiffer/stronger for the somewhat higher steering loads on a tandem.
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Old 09-15-17, 10:07 AM
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What state you in I've got a like new Trek T900 I may let go, setup with narrow tires for street riding now.


More photos can be seen here Trek T900 Tandem:
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Old 09-15-17, 12:15 PM
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Trek T900

A Trek T900 was our second tandem. After over a decade, we moved on to a da Vinci Grand Junction. But, we keep the T900 as a backup. It's a good tandem for casual road/paved path riding. I don't know how much the like new T900 will sell for. But, it would be better to get a like new tandem versus having to replace components on one with a lot of use.
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Old 09-15-17, 02:47 PM
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My wife and I are experienced cyclists, we got the tandem itch last fall. The comment about canoe/kayaking is spot on. The leaning curve was much higher than either of us anticipated (not terrible, but we thought it would be really easy), but came mostly from me as the captain being very cautious. We love our tandem and are now riding much more aggressively as our confidence has increased, so take you time and be patient. We bought 1999 Cannondale RT1000. We had discussed a mountain tandem, but most of our riding is done on road bikes. I would suggest staying with the form of riding you are doing the most of. The mountain tandem in our case would have been easier at the start, but we would have quickly wanted to make it more road like.
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Old 09-15-17, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
0) Is this something she wants to do?
riceowls, you never did address this question. curious, as i am interested in a tandem for the same reasons as you, but wifey is lukewarm to the idea. interesting, since we fared well during our honeymoon tandem kayak experience.
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Old 09-17-17, 05:35 PM
  #25  
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Hi everyone,

thanks for your advice. I ended up getting Trek T2000 (I think 2005, 2005 T 2000 - Bike Archive - Trek Bicycle) for a good price. Will start a separate thread to get the feedback from current and previous owners of the line-up.
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