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Maiden voyage on the Santana and I was shocked

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Maiden voyage on the Santana and I was shocked

Old 05-31-20, 06:04 PM
  #1  
Tomm Willians
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Maiden voyage on the Santana and I was shocked

I posted recently about the gf and I acquiring a Santana Sovereign that we were excited about. We took it for a short but quick 20 mile ride today on a well established bike path in Sacramento. This path sees extensive use by cyclists of all skill levels and equipment levels which is pretty cool as I get to see a lot of different things.
To begin our journey we agreed on a few simple voice commands to keep ourselves synchronized, this proved easier than we assumed🤣 My first impression was that a tandem is a handful at takeoff but once we got going I think we embarrassed several (seemingly) serious cyclists on flat straightaways as our combined power shot us past them. According to our Garmin we hit 27mph on one stretch, but corners and hills we gave up our edge, it was hilarious seeing some of the looks we got as my gf was wearing open toe sandles while I was in tennis shoes with Race Face flat pedals front and rear.
By the time we finished the ride we both agreed it was a great addition to our 10 other bikes but....... what can we do to make it lighter and/or faster ? It has Velocity Dyad rims with Hadley hubs, Ultegra shifting, FSA carbon crank arms front and rear but also huge “tractor” seats which will be replaced and perhaps carbon seat stems.

Ideas, thoughts ?



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Old 05-31-20, 07:25 PM
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If your SO is going to wear sandals on flats, make sure that she doesn’t ever get her toes caught in the left hand chain that you are pedaling.

This can happen when teams don’t communicate starting or stopping pedaling, and the stoker’s feet come off of the pedals. With the captain driving the timing chain, bad things can happen.
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Old 05-31-20, 07:53 PM
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work on the motor(s), strong wheels and good brakes are essential on a tandem. Hills are slow up and as fast as you dare on the down I'm acutely aware of where the blame will lie if we have an off so I always choose robust over lightweight
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Old 05-31-20, 10:25 PM
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Nice ride.
I'd be swapping the fork for carbon with disc brake mounts.
Some new wheels with Lightbicycle AR46 rims (ask for tandem layup which costs and extra $20), CX-ray spokes and White Industry hubs would be lighter and look much better :-)
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Old 06-01-20, 10:24 AM
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Beautiful bike! The quickest and most effective thing is of course clipless pedals and shoes, double sided SPDs especially for captain. MTB shoes for walk-around. Stoker stays clipped in for the whole ride.

Tandem starts get easier with practice. Stoker being clipped in makes them really easy. A big advantage of a tandem is hill starts, a frustration is when Captain forgets to gear down at stops.

Tandems can corner with single bikes, tires and pressure need to be right. Tandems will climb at the average watts/kg of the two riders, so they aren't necessarily slow on hills. That's of course when they are synced up with their pedal strokes. Just like a shell, a team can feel it when they're synced up.

An interesting thing would be to have both riders with power meter pedals. Stoker sees both captain's and stoker's power, Captain sees only captain's power. Stoker matches some percentage of captain's power. I wish we had that, but we don't We do the same thing with heart rate, but of course stoker usually lags captain. Gradient isn't always obvious to stoker.
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Old 06-01-20, 10:52 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Tomm Willians View Post
but....... what can we do to make it lighter and/or faster ? I replaced and perhaps carbon seat stems.


Cool bike - the grape juice color is striking. I have dinner plates smaller than the rear brake disk! Was the rear brake retrofitted?

Re: the weight - seems to me it's simply a bike built for 2 and that is hard to overcome with regard to total weight - 2 seats, 2 seat posts, 2 crank sets, 2 handlebars, a super-sized frame, etc. As you suggest replacing the seats might help a little.

I am not a tandem-rider but have witnessed the same type of pace that you observed. I've been passed many times by a tandem going like a freight train on the flats - but when it came to hills I always caught and passed the tandem.

One thing to consider re: downhills - I have read many accounts of tandem riders pushing their brakes to their limits on extended downhills to the point of near-failure (boiling brake fluid, serious brake fade). That V brake on the front looks a bit underwhelming relative to the rest of the bike - it is my understanding that most of the braking power is found in the front brake - maybe a new fork and front disk brake some day... Exercising caution re: downhills until you and your partner are fully acquainted with your new ride seems in order.

Have fun!

Last edited by jlaw; 06-01-20 at 11:21 AM.
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Old 06-01-20, 11:23 AM
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We've got a couple of tandems but our main ride is a 2006 steel, Co motion Speedster. (We'd love to upgrade, but to get anything even marginally better we'd really have to lay out the big bucks!)

As our daily rider, we use 40 spoke Dyads with 28mm Gatorskins. These are a solid set of wheels.

A few times a year (though not this year for obvious reasons) I throw on a set of Rolf Prima Vigor wheels, which I picked up on E-bay a couple of years ago. It turns out that these were an original upgrade for this bike if you purchased the 'race' package.

Back then 'narrow' = fast, so these rims are very narrow, 18mm outside, I think 13mm inside! I have 25mm Conti GP4000sll's on these babies. And according to some charts, that's pushing it. I think it was intended that you run 23's on them Twentythree millimeter tires on a tandem? I don't think I'm quite man enough for that!

Be that as it may, and back to the original question, this tire and wheel combination shaves over two pounds off the total weight of the bike, down to 32lbs. And they really seems to help the bike fly. It could be psychologically inspired, but we did average 20.6 mph for 54 miles with them on. On good days, with are daily set up, we are normally average around 17. That's a lot of psychology!
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Old 06-01-20, 11:36 AM
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Get some deep section rims to cut through the wind and replace those Gatorskins with Conti GP5ks to massively reduce rolling resistance. I would suggest getting the widest GP5k you can fit, and also go tubeless so you can run lower pressure without worrying about pinch flatting, because with the combined weight of two riders you will bounce around and lose efficiency when riding tires pumped to a high PSI.
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Old 06-01-20, 01:23 PM
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Nice bike and well equipped. You really have everything you need for many miles to come. Your gearing and braking is a solid set-up. I see you have a suspension seat post which is great for stoker comfort. you might want to Google that make and model seat post to make sure you have it set-up for your stoker's weight. As someone said above, really the only thing you might want to do at some point is contact Santana and check pricing on a carbon fork with disc mounts. That would be a nice upgrade and would a higher end set of wheels. Keep in mind that Santana uses a a non-standard rear hub spacing and headset diameter which must be taken in consideration when you do upgrades in those two areas. No problem but it does limit some of your options. The standard tandem hub spacing for many years has been 145mm and the Santana uses a 160mm. On the headset, standard has been 1 1/8 and Santana has used a larger diameter. Great bike and all set for many miles, enjoy!
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Old 06-01-20, 02:20 PM
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That bike looks great. And you sound like a great tandem team. You had less difficulty in the beginning than most do. My spouse and I did kinda-sorta well in the beginning. I think we started six years ago or so. It's taken until this year until we feel we really have the hang of it.

Yes, you've noticed some commonly noticed things. Uphills are generally slower though as noted above, not always. Flats and downhills are faster, because the power to air-resistance ratio is higher.

Do some experiments with air pressure. I tend to prefer low air pressure on my single bikes, but I notice our tandem doesn't ride well unless I use much higher pressure than I expected. But hey, you might find yourself going the other way for all I know.
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Old 06-01-20, 10:21 PM
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Riding tandems

Living in Nevada City means that you have access to the type of terrain that will make use of that large disk on the rear wheel. Braking is a serious challenge for tandems, especially in the hills. For over 40 years we rode with two rim brakes and a low-performance drum brake. Recently we bought a new tandem with front and rear disks, which is a significant improvement. Your braking probably is comparable to what we have on our new tandem.


However, your current braking arrangement shares braking responsibility between the captain and the stoker. A lot of teams ride this way. We always setup our tandems so that all of the brakes were controlled by the captain. Doing other wise seemed like having the passenger in a car control one of the car's brakes. In your case this will require controlling both rim brakes with one lever since you want to be able to control the disk brake independently. This allows you to drag the disk brake on long descents without overheating a rim, which can have serious consequences. The problem with controlling two brakes with one lever is that some captains are uncomfortable with providing that much grip with one hand. It worked for me for 40 years and I do not think of myself as having a particularly strong grip. Other captains feel differently on this issue.


Tandem teams adopt different approaches to starting. One of the other posters described the practice of having the stoker keep his or her shoes on the pedal, leaving the captain to hold the bike upright at stops. My stoker and I both put our right foot down at stops. We have been riding tandems together since 1973 and find this approach works well for us. Tandem riding is about coordination. I believe coordination begins with how you start out from a stop. We also stand a lot when we climb. It took us most of a year before we could stand effectively.


In short, I would worry less about changing components other than switching to clipless pedals. Tandems are a relationship more than a piece of equipment. You have acquired a nice bike so you won't be limited by equipment. Instead I recommend concentrating on develop the relationship that makes tandem riding such a mutually satisfying experience. The only way to develop that relationship is to ride. When it works well, tandem riding is a wonderful experience. For my wife and me it has been a life-long source of happiness.
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Old 06-01-20, 10:50 PM
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I suggest upgrading to clips for safety and focusing on working together as a team. Whichever starting technique you use, you'll get better with time. FWIW, I think if the captain is significantly bigger than the stoker, having the stoker climb aboard and clip in while the captain stabilizes the bike is the way to go. Captain sits on the top tube, spreads feet wide, grabs some brake, and holds the bike firm. Stoker climbs on, clips in, and rotates pedals to the agreed upon start position. Captain clips in the forward foot, and they launch.

Two strong riders on a tandem makes for a powerhouse. The only thing faster is a velomobile. On group rides you'll have to discourage drafters if you don't want a train behind you.
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Old 06-02-20, 12:26 AM
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Hadley hubs! Nice

I saw some people going around Lake Natoma yesterday on a co-mo. The stoker seemed way out of sorts, she was doing kind of a hop out of her seat.
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Old 06-02-20, 06:58 AM
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@MikeAndJean lovely post and fantastic pictures. @downtube42 that is the exact technique my spouse and I use. I am about 50% heavier than she is, so holding the bike up for her is easy.
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Old 06-02-20, 10:15 AM
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I rode for 15 years with a disc on the rear and v brake on the front and didn't have problems with brakes, but the brakes have to be managed. The brakes should not be used as a drag brake, apply brakes to slow then let up to allow cooling. Team weight makes a big difference in braking and wheels. If you replace wheels, think about team weight before buying new wheels.
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Old 06-02-20, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by joeruge View Post
A few times a year (though not this year for obvious reasons) I throw on a set of Rolf Prima Vigor wheels, which I picked up on E-bay a couple of years ago. It turns out that these were an original upgrade for this bike if you purchased the 'race' package.

Back then 'narrow' = fast, so these rims are very narrow, 18mm outside, I think 13mm inside! I have 25mm Conti GP4000sll's on these babies. And according to some charts, that's pushing it. I think it was intended that you run 23's on them Twentythree millimeter tires on a tandem?
Rolf Prima Vigor's? Those are intended for single's only. Sure you don't mean Rolf Prima Tandem wheels?

The older versions were narrow, with a maximum recommended tire size of 25mm.

Newer generation Rolfs are wider, with an internal width of 19mm and rated up to 62mm tire width.

This is all trivia to the OP, since Rolf doesn't offer a wheel for the 160mm Santana rear dropout spacing, AFAIK.
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Old 06-02-20, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by diabloridr View Post
Rolf Prima Vigor's? Those are intended for single's only. Sure you don't mean Rolf Prima Tandem wheels?

The older versions were narrow, with a maximum recommended tire size of 25mm.

Newer generation Rolfs are wider, with an internal width of 19mm and rated up to 62mm tire width.

This is all trivia to the OP, since Rolf doesn't offer a wheel for the 160mm Santana rear dropout spacing, AFAIK.
.

Thanks for the info. Of course you are correct. The OP asked about ways to make his new Santana lighter or faster. Since we share similarly built everyday wheels, I thought I would mention that we experience a significant weight saving by getting lighter wheels.

His options are somewhat more limited because of Santana's 160mm dropout spacing. I would say we were pretty lucky to find a nice set of wheels for a relatively good price. If the OP desires to lighten the bike some, new wheels could be one way, though it wouldn't necessarily be an inexpensive way.
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Old 06-02-20, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by diabloridr View Post
Rolf Prima Vigor's? Those are intended for single's only. Sure you don't mean Rolf Prima Tandem wheels?
Whoops! I didn't pay attention to the first sentence of your post. I'll have to check the big, gaudy stickers on the side of these rims. I was pretty sure they were the tandem wheelset, but I better check it. You can see that I don't always pay attention to things the way I should!
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Old 06-02-20, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by geoffs View Post
Nice ride.
I'd be swapping the fork for carbon with disc brake mounts.
Some new wheels with Lightbicycle AR46 rims (ask for tandem layup which costs and extra $20), CX-ray spokes and White Industry hubs would be lighter and look much better :-)
My suggestion would be carbon fork upgrade too. Took the words right out of my proverbial mouth. But wheels? This is already so nicely equipped. I'd have to see actual weight savings per wheel to see if it were worthwhile. Carbon fork and wheels upgrade is gonna get stratospheric in price though. Retail would be what you paid for the bike I assume.

You've gotten excellent feedback already, so I won't add any more upgrade suggestions.

And that's because I don't think upgrading will offer enough benefit, given the vintage. To achieve true weight savings, you're gonna have to replace virtually everything.

And that says "STOP!" in giant, neon letters!

You'd be MUCH better off simply upgrading to a used carbon tandem. You'll get WAY more weight (and money) savings this way. Ride what you just bought LOVE it! Enjoy the miles; appreciate the fact you two are so compatible. Get your money's worth out of it. I'd second the clipless pedals suggestion. Even though there's a "flat pedal renaissance" afoot, I will NEVER forgo my clipless pedals! I can't imagine going without, triple-true on the tandem! Best way to "learn" clipless is as a stoker anyway - and she's light so you're golden (just like my tiny stoker - half my weight, ahem!).

Ride what you have, save your bucks. Then sell this tandem to fund the carbon replacement. That plus the savings buying used will probably mean spending the SAME amount of money and getting a WAY lighter tandem.

You already have 10 bikes, so you should know how you get nickle-and-dimed pursuing endless upgrades. It isn't quite to the level of "polishing a turd," (It's a wonderful Santana), but you'll waste money getting a bike a LITTLE lighter.

IMHO, that is. Good luck.

And PS, if you're upgrading wheels, go with the best hubs: Chris King. Light, strong and engineering marvels. Wouldn't go with anything else, especially considering weight is your main goal.

PPS If THAT is your proper saddle height, this bike's too big for you. Another data point discouraging upgrading. You simply have to have the correct frame size as proper foundation.

PPPS If those are basic, square taper cranks, that's ANOTHER area of high weight. But again, upgrading to lighter carbon cranks and BBs is either price restrictive, or not even possible, given the English bottom bracket spec. Yet another reason to not embark on a wild goose chase of pointless and expensive upgrading - especially on a frame that's too large for the captain!

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Old 06-03-20, 12:33 AM
  #20  
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I recommend getting clipless pedals for the captain, and either clipless pedals or toe clips for the stoker. If the stoker wants to wear sandals, I recommend sandals with SPD clips for the pedals. I wore them on a coast-to-coast tandem ride several years ago.
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Old 06-03-20, 12:31 PM
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Tandem sizing is more limited than sizing for singles. On our tandem, captain has about the same amount of exposed seatpost you have. The next size down has the captain's top tube much too short. I use a 90mm stem and have a good fit. If you want more speed, aero is the way to get it, and the almost free way to get that is position. I use a -17° slammed stem, long enough that my upper arms make a 90° angle with my straight torso. I also cut the stoker stem down, to where it's completely collapsed, stoker's bars thus being almost under my saddle.
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Old 06-15-20, 12:16 PM
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Worry about communicating as a tandem team first

Before worrying about getting faster on a lighter tandem, worry about coordinating together and safety and overall happiness of the tandem team.

During our maiden voyage, we almost fell just descending our driveway (our driveway isn’t even steep). We also had trouble getting started on the bike after leaning at a standstill with our right feet on the curb. Shifting at the correct time without straining our gears while climbing uphill also took a while to adjust.

It probably took as around 500miles of road tandeming together in order to feel comfortable.

Because we ride a lot of hills (our typical ride is 35miles with 2500+ft elevation), we are probably slower by 1mph on the tandem than on our individual bikes on most rides. But we are faster by 1mph on a tandem compared to solo bikes if our route is really flat (75miles with 2000ft elevation).
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Old 06-15-20, 03:08 PM
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FWIW we started tandem riding in 2007 on a 45# steel tandem and on flat ground (under 4k ft for the century) we did the
century in 5H 5'. 18 mo later we got a Macchiatto which was ~30#. Never got near that same time on the Macchiatto.
Main difference with weight is toting the bike around (damned hard to get that 45# on a top rack) and climbing hills
longer than ~0.3-0.5 miles. Of course our combined ages back then were ~125+ and weight ~360 so realistically
the 15# less on the bike was not much when the riders were added. On longer rides in the summer the team
probably lost 8-10# in sweat and pee.

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Old 06-17-20, 06:34 PM
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"The stoker is always right."

This one adage alone is almost all you need to know about tandeming together.


That said, finding a stoker who has experience riding on the back of a motorcycle cannot be suggested enough! I simply lucked into that one. Plus, she has naturally fast pedal speed, which in my experience is rare among unseasoned bicycle riders. Compatibility check number two! And then she's half my weight, so it's totally cheating. There's a third factor that made it a match made in heaven for us. Starting and stopping? NEVER a problem for us. Standing and sitting? Nope, works just fine. Climbing out of the saddle? No biggie. So after four years on the road tandem, we thought we'd give off road tandeming a try...


Which is why she was dumb enough to try THIS with me:




And for her fiftieth birthday, too! What a champ! We really should ride more, we're so compatible. Track stands are no big deal. As is gnarly single track, when we actually make the effort to load up the tandem and ACTUALLY RIDE it. Actually, I'm just INCREDIBLY lucky to have a stoker who trusts me implicitly. (And she definitely shouldn't! But I haven't dropped her yet, so perhaps she can!) Plus, we have compatible personalities. Neither of us are type-A control freaks, so we work together well. Again, I simply got damn lucky. And I'll add that we NEVER rode a tandem together before I surprised her with the road tandem on her birthday. Oh, and the damn thing fitted into our Westphalia camper too. "Pure or dumb luck" should probably be our motto!
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Old 06-22-20, 05:20 PM
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PaulGrun
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Originally Posted by MikeAndJean View Post
Living in Nevada City means that you have access to the type of terrain that will make use of that large disk on the rear wheel. Braking is a serious challenge for tandems, especially in the hills. For over 40 years we rode with two rim brakes and a low-performance drum brake. Recently we bought a new tandem with front and rear disks, which is a significant improvement. Your braking probably is comparable to what we have on our new tandem.


However, your current braking arrangement shares braking responsibility between the captain and the stoker. A lot of teams ride this way. We always setup our tandems so that all of the brakes were controlled by the captain. Doing other wise seemed like having the passenger in a car control one of the car's brakes. In your case this will require controlling both rim brakes with one lever since you want to be able to control the disk brake independently. This allows you to drag the disk brake on long descents without overheating a rim, which can have serious consequences. The problem with controlling two brakes with one lever is that some captains are uncomfortable with providing that much grip with one hand. It worked for me for 40 years and I do not think of myself as having a particularly strong grip. Other captains feel differently on this issue.


Tandem teams adopt different approaches to starting. One of the other posters described the practice of having the stoker keep his or her shoes on the pedal, leaving the captain to hold the bike upright at stops. My stoker and I both put our right foot down at stops. We have been riding tandems together since 1973 and find this approach works well for us. Tandem riding is about coordination. I believe coordination begins with how you start out from a stop. We also stand a lot when we climb. It took us most of a year before we could stand effectively.


In short, I would worry less about changing components other than switching to clipless pedals. Tandems are a relationship more than a piece of equipment. You have acquired a nice bike so you won't be limited by equipment. Instead I recommend concentrating on develop the relationship that makes tandem riding such a mutually satisfying experience. The only way to develop that relationship is to ride. When it works well, tandem riding is a wonderful experience. For my wife and me it has been a life-long source of happiness.
(I bet I know you guys ... something about a catboat and a canoe yawl named PickPocket ... but I digress). Your advice is worth its weight in gold. Among other nuggets is the idea that there are various starting and stopping methods, none of which is 'hoyle', but rather whatever works for a given team. I've seen too many posts along the lines of 'this is how to do it." I'm with you, do what works best. Liz and I are in the 'stoker stays clipped in' club.
I also concur on the 'one person controls the brakes' advice ... the only exception, IMHO, is if the rear brake is a genuine drag brake.
One place where I diverge from the mainstream is in the area of brakes. We've been riding with rim brakes for a long time; we are currently building a new tandem and it will have rim brakes as well. A lot of people think we're crazy, but ask us about our experience climbing and descending Crown Range Road in New Zealand. :-) To me, the exceptions would be disk brakes for wet/muddy climates, e.g. a mountain bike. But again, this is another example of "what works best for you". In our case, we opted for simple, light, and effective.
But again, I strongly concur with the focus of Mike and Jean's thoughts, and it meshes perfectly with ours...for us, the thrill of the tandem is in the way two people mesh into a marvelously smooth team. There's just nothing like the exhilaration of two people merging into one. And yes, it's kinda fun to blast past a couple of single bikes on the flats, but as you've learned, you WILL get your comeuppance on the next rise. But then again, the descent on the other side... :-)
And by the way, I have a huge softspot for purple bikes. Our current bike is purple and white, and our new one will be too. I love the looks of your Santana...just beautiful.
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