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Tandem Price/Features vs Std Bike Price/Features? - also Please Suggest...

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Tandem Price/Features vs Std Bike Price/Features? - also Please Suggest...

Old 07-17-20, 03:06 PM
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michaelm101
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Tandem Price/Features vs Std Bike Price/Features? - also Please Suggest...

Lifetime cyclist here and interested in a tandem (road/touring) for the first time. Not sure if it’s going to work out with my stoker, but she’s willing to give it a try…

I realize it’s a niche market with far less demand, I but why are “x” priced tandems, compared to “x” standard bicycles, so backward in terms of braking systems, gearing, and wheel sizes?

For example, $750-1000 for a road/touring or hybrid standard bicycle will get you 700C wheels, 2 x 9 or 3 x 9 drivetrain, mechanical disc brakes, etc.

For the same money, for a tandem of the same type, you’ll get 26” wheels, a 3x6 or maybe a 3x7 drivetrain, V-brakes, and 1970s style front fork, etc.

While I’m at it, can anyone recommend a “value” tandem with the following features:

Flat bars, ALU frame, 3x9 drivetrain, mechanical disc brakes, 700C wheels / 35-40mm tire clearance, rack ready…

Thanks in advance!

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Old 07-17-20, 06:49 PM
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Others may have a more detailed take, but I think of a tandem like buying two single bikes. So for your $750-$1000 single bike, you’re at a $1500-$2000 tandem. If you wonder why this is so, look at the prices of the tandem-specific parts you need to build one up. Crankset F&R, eccentric BB, 145mm rear hub, probably 40* rims, stoker stem, etc. All costs money and adds up.
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Old 07-17-20, 07:52 PM
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There are a fair number of used tandems out there, and some are really good deals. If you are still unsure of your stoker's buy-in, it seems a used tandem to start with would be a good way to go.

You should expect that riding a tandem the first few times can feel a little awkward. But find one that fits you both, and if you're meant to ride a tandem together this awkwardness will go away.

You can find quality used tandems for perhaps $1000. Something like a mid 2000's Cannondale will have 3 X 9 gearing and quality components.

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Old 07-18-20, 05:03 AM
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Absolutely shop for used. You're in an area where there should be plenty of options. Our starter tandem was a used like new Trek T1000 purchased for $800 a few years ago.


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Old 07-18-20, 01:05 PM
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If you buy a used tandem, look at drive train wear. Three chains, five chain rings and a cog set gets expensive.
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Old 07-18-20, 05:43 PM
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Tandems, used or new, cost about twice as much as a single. Go look at new tandem prices. Figure that a used tandem that you'd want to keep will cost about 1/2 what a new one would cost. And there's no sense in buying a tandem you wouldn't intend to keep as a "starter" tandem. Buy a good bike. A crappy one will just sour you and your stoker on the whole idea. If it turns out that tandeming wasn't for you, you can sell the used bike for about what you paid for it.

Why is this? Because so few tandems are made, basically. And they are more complicated. The only real tandem specific parts are the frame, two cranksets, the rear hub and maybe the discs on a fairly new tandem. Everything else is basically single bike parts. It's the low production numbers and thus sales numbers which make them expensive. OTOH, a tandem really is 2 single bikes, so the price makes sense that way. A good tandem will also weigh about the same as two singles of a similar vintage.
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Old 07-19-20, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by tandem rider View Post
If you buy a used tandem, look at drive train wear. Three chains, five chain rings and a cog set gets expensive.
Three chains? Am I doing something wrong, or is that because you're making a timing chain from two conventional chains? I have distinct memories of bike shops having reels of bulk bicycle chain, but the last couple of times I've had to replace one, nobody seems to know what I'm talking about. Anyway, I usually go with a couple of 8 speed chains for the timing. They last forever and cost almost nothing, though I suppose I'm paying a weight penalty and if I was someone who worried a lot about having to do on the road repairs, I'd have to carry two sets of extra links.
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Old 07-22-20, 01:05 PM
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This one is listed for 850 OBO. Owner doesn't know too much, just said he's the second owner and rode it 4 times with his wife who was not interested. I'm thinking the comfortable uprightness will make it ideal for a first time stoker... Any comments are greatly appreciated!
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Old 07-22-20, 02:30 PM
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We had a "cruiser style" handlebar like those on the stoker compartment of our first tandem and I (stoker) personally found the angle of the handlebars to cause a significant amount of arm and wrist pain. We could only ever ride ~6 miles at a time due to how uncomfortable it was. YMMV.
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Old 07-22-20, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by michaelm101 View Post

This one is listed for 850 OBO. Owner doesn't know too much, just said he's the second owner and rode it 4 times with his wife who was not interested. I'm thinking the comfortable uprightness will make it ideal for a first time stoker... Any comments are greatly appreciated!
Looks like it would be a great first tandem at a good price. This handle bar set-up is a little limiting should you decide to go with road bars in the future. You would have some cost involved with the road style brake/shifter combo being a fairly expansive purchase but the bike is very much worth that upgrade it if you make that decision. Also, this bike has the drag brake included which is a very nice piece to have. I can't tell where the lever is for the drag brake is on this set-up in this picture, typically it is on the bar-end of a road bar or a thumb shifter for upright bars. Good luck on your journey!
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Old 07-22-20, 03:09 PM
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Tandems often use what is considered legacy technology for single bikes. The bike industry moves very fast, new components and standards and trends all the time. Tandem bikes have a very low production volume and need some special parts like tandem chainset etc which means that development does not move as quickly. We bought a new Cannondale in 2019, and that sported a Shimano 5700 triple groupset, which is no longer made, used quick release skewers when all modern single disc brake bikes are using thru axles etc.

If you get a boutique/custom tandem you can get more modern parts, but not always. Some still use square taper on their bottom brackets. That's just how it is.
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Old 07-22-20, 05:20 PM
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I have to say that I don't know much about tandem geometry or technical stuff regarding tandems, even though I have two of them. One is a steel mid 80s Santana Arriva road tandem, the other is a 2016 Fandango mtb hardtail tandem, aluminum frame, disc brakes, mtb tires. I've been told that the stoker position on the Santana is cramped, and the Fandango is much more comfortable. The gearing is much different, so adding a road bike tandem wheelset and 700x40c tires to the Fandango wasn't a cure all. But all in all, you have to get the fit to your bodies correct first. If you find one that fits and has a good drive train (in good condition, proper gear ratios), it can be lots of fun. If it's not a good fit and isn't fun, you won't ride it. My road tandem is for sale. The mtb (gravel) tandem is not for sale.
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Old 07-22-20, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul J View Post
Looks like it would be a great first tandem at a good price. This handle bar set-up is a little limiting should you decide to go with road bars in the future. You would have some cost involved with the road style brake/shifter combo being a fairly expansive purchase but the bike is very much worth that upgrade it if you make that decision. Also, this bike has the drag brake included which is a very nice piece to have. I can't tell where the lever is for the drag brake is on this set-up in this picture, typically it is on the bar-end of a road bar or a thumb shifter for upright bars. Good luck on your journey!
Thx. I can't do drop bars anymore due to car crash injuries, so I plan on converting the front bar to a standard flat bar with slight rise, depending on my fit.This should be easy. It appears to be in great condition. Hoping to go and see it soon!
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Old 07-22-20, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by morganmarie19 View Post
We had a "cruiser style" handlebar like those on the stoker compartment of our first tandem and I (stoker) personally found the angle of the handlebars to cause a significant amount of arm and wrist pain. We could only ever ride ~6 miles at a time due to how uncomfortable it was. YMMV.
Agreed. Those bars need to be swapped our for flat bars with a 1-3" rise...
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Old 07-22-20, 10:05 PM
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Tandems have a few things going against them for price.

They are small production.
They are big. They have about 2x more welds and need a car-sized paint booth and they cost more to ship
They are heavy-duty. Their tubes and their components are therefore also small production
They are mostly made in the West, a few in Taiwan. (I believe Cannondale is now in the PRC, those and the CAAD10 were the last in the USA. But I'm not sure about anyone else, and it seems like they make a batch every few years for a single market and wait til it sells out before making more, rather than having model years.)

For your shopping list, you should look for a Cannondale from about ten years ago. For your price now, check out KHS. Trek had a cheap cruiser tandem a few years ago, T900, and there was another cheap frame sold by a few different marks but especially Raleigh.

The e-bike, enduro, and 1x fads have done wonderful things for mountain bike tandems. 1x enables single sided drivetrains that obviate the need for special cranksets. Boost spacing (QR141, TA148) is about interchangeable with tandem spacing (QR140). Heavy duty wheels are available that can take the power and weight and carry bigger tires. Four-pot brakes are coming cheaper and cheaper, and enduro forks can take it. But a single bike to that heavy duty spec is not much bought hardtail and $2500+ for a full squish so you can imagine the price of a tandem.
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Old 07-23-20, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by michaelm101 View Post
Thx. I can't do drop bars anymore due to car crash injuries, so I plan on converting the front bar to a standard flat bar with slight rise, depending on my fit.This should be easy. It appears to be in great condition. Hoping to go and see it soon!
went to craigslist listing and it really looks to be practically unused, BUT 27Ē wheels, 21 speed (7 speed cassette/ freewheel?) with arai drum(valuable in itself but you probably donít need it), 40 spoke wheels suggest to me it is an older bike and older tandems can be had CHEAP. I think you could get something comparable in So Cal for about half the price if new looking isnít a priority.
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Old 07-23-20, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by L134 View Post
went to craigslist listing and it really looks to be practically unused, BUT 27Ē wheels, 21 speed (7 speed cassette/ freewheel?) with arai drum(valuable in itself but you probably donít need it), 40 spoke wheels suggest to me it is an older bike and older tandems can be had CHEAP. I think you could get something comparable in So Cal for about half the price if new looking isnít a priority.
Thank you. Cdale said it was 2004. The owner sent me the measurements and the standover will be too high for the stoker (by 2.5"). So,this is a no go!
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