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Help with an 'Ethical' decision.

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Help with an 'Ethical' decision.

Old 05-03-21, 12:39 PM
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joeruge
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Help with an 'Ethical' decision.

My tandems are piling up and it's time to let one go. I have an old, circa 1980 Santana Sovereign. It still rides fine, everything works perfectly (as good as 1980 components ever did), the paint still sparkles and the fillets still amaze me. Still, it is 40 years old, and though it might be a fine tandem for tooling around on in the neighborhood, it's certainly not worth doing any up-grades on it.

My inclination is to keep it all together so that maybe some couple can get a little enjoyment out of it. It would be hard to ask for anything more than, maybe $400 - and that is probably more than anyone would pay for it - nor would I feel comfortable asking for more.

On the other hand, it is loaded with vintage parts that individually I could probably sell for much more than the whole bike together; vintage bicycle nuts being what they are. The component highlights are; 48h Phil hubs, Phil bottom brackets, TA cranks and an Arai drum brake. There are a few drawbacks for anyone who would really wants to ride this bike: It's quite heavy, I've got to guess it's near 45lbs. The 27 1/4" wheels make finding tires a bit difficult, though they are still out there. I'm not sure 700c rims would even work as there is almost no adjustment on the Mafac cantilever brakes, though another brand with some adjustment could be substituted, but now you're getting into up-grades and more money. And would anyone really want to invest in new rims? A big drawback for me and why we went in search of other rides in the first place is that rear stoker compartment is quite tight as compared to current frames, only 25", which might be okay for a short stoker or a child.

Of course, to save all the trouble of selling individual components, and to be an 'ethical' and a morally responsible classic tandem owner, it's very likely I will just offer the bike for sale as is. Another option would be to just give it to Achilles International, which is an organization that helps visually impaired stokers hook up with captains. Not sure this bike would even be good for them, as is. I was just wondering what the collected brain thinks.
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Old 05-04-21, 01:24 AM
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I'm usually a vacant member of the community, but my thoughts are as follows:
1. It's your bike. If you want to part it out, part it out.

2. Donations are always a nice solution. If you want to know if they want it, ask them. It may well still be nicer than their alternatives. Hard to find tires aren't a big deal if you only wear them out every 5-10 years.

3. You'd be surprised what people will buy. Somewhere around 15 years ago I bought a mid 70's French tandem for $300. It was less than half the price of anything else I could find at the time. The wheels were 650B and I wanted 700C, the brakes didn't have that much adjustment, and the bottom brackets are French thread, which oddly is easier to find now than it was at the time. A few parts bin hunts, Ebay finds, and a wheel build later it was close enough to the bike I wanted, affordable on my student budget, and gave me quite a few years of good service. It's a poorly handling heavy pig with a too-tight stoker compartment for us, but it's better than the alternatives I had, and it served us well. I'll probably be selling it soon (with the original 650B wheels back on it), but I'll be keeping the Arai as a spare. Hopefully somebody else will want it. If not either the entire bike will go to the local volunteer bicycle co-op, or keep a few parts for a future build and and I'll donate the rest of the parts to the co-op to be someone else's project. I like to think the TA tandem cranks on it are special, but at this point there are a pile of TA cranks in the $10 parts bin at the local co-op. Not tandem cranks mind you, but not all that different.
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Old 05-04-21, 08:50 AM
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jim_pridx
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I also have a vintage custom tandem that gets very little use these days, and while I spent some time last fall building it back up again - mostly for nostalgic sake - I'm also finding myself questioning whether I should sell as it is or to part it out. Like your Santana, it's quite heavy, but it's still a pretty sweet and solid ride! The wheelset alone consists of a bombproof pair of Mavic rims and Phil Wood hubs that likely makes the set worth more than the entire bike itself. About 20 years ago I also had the builder of the bike widen the rear triangle to 145mm to accommodate a wider range of gearing, so it's currently running a 3x10 setup with ease. For a beginning tandem team who may be interested in testing the tandem waters, it would be a great bike for many more years to come. Still, it's basically an old tank that's running mostly dated Campy components, friction shifting, and a 700c wheelset that barely works with the original 27" brake arrangement.

As to the "ethical" question, that's really a tough one to call. I've never felt that it's wrong to price a bike for what it's likely worth but, of course, someone will always complain that any given price may be outrageously high while others might think it's a great deal. I guess it all depends on the specific buyer, but we all know that tandems aren't exactly a "high demand" item, either, especially a tandem that's custom-built for a tall captain and a short stoker...... While I'm obviously not offering much help here, I do have the same dilemma. Please be sure to let us know what you end up doing!
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Old 05-04-21, 10:40 AM
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FWIW. I met my wife in 2005 in NYC. She was a member of Achilles and had been on tandems at the School for the Blind in the UK but never in the U.S. For our second date she suggested we check out what the tandems were like in the Achilles bikehouse in Central Park. There were only four. All late model Fuji Abolute's from the late '90's. I don't think they would have been up to the challenge of managing 'vintage' rolling stock. A bike co-op would be the place I would consider donating a bike like described in the o.p. I also know that it is possible to buy used Burley's built in the late 80's early'90's, for around what the o.p. was considering for their rig.

An enthusiast will consider the Santana on it's merits as a legendary brand, but a couple that just wants a tandem will probably go for a Burley or Trek, or or other brand of much more recent manufacture. I recently put four very decent bikes on Craigslist 'free stuff' and they were gone within the hour. All that said, in one shop I know of is one of those "Schwinn Twin" things that looks to be from the late '60's displayed in the window. There is a ticket asking $770 hanging from one of the handlebars. Hope springs eternal.
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Old 05-04-21, 01:58 PM
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Excellent question.

Either option of parting it out or selling it complete has merits. The Arai drum brake alone brings you hundreds.

But if you're on the fence about it and don't really need the $400 for the complete bike and/or the hassle of parting it out and selling everything individually, then take your last suggestion: donate to a valuable cause like the one you mention. Knowing that your old Santana would potentially put a sight-impaired rider on a bicycle is worth so much more than the few hundred you'd recover.

That said, if not pursuing that option, then sell it complete. You'll hopefully bring another cycling couple into the wonder fold of riding tandem together.

So my vote is donate it first, sell complete second.

Good luck.
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Old 05-05-21, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by jccaclimber View Post
...at this point there are a pile of TA cranks in the $10 parts bin at the local co-op. Not tandem cranks mind you, but not all that different.
Please let me know which co-op this is! I also am in the S.F. Bay Area and could really use a couple of TA cranksets for two of my vintage projects.
Thanks,
Brent
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Old 05-05-21, 09:12 PM
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Old tandems just don't get the love old racing bikes do. There were a lot of bikes like yours (27" wheels, Suntour parts, canti brakes) for a lot of different prices when I was shopping and they all just sat there on Craigslist seemingly forever. Just for a 1:1 comparison, Paramount tandems from the 70's crop up all the time, FB frames with nice components and stuff like Phil disc brakes and they never go for much compared to a touring or racing Paramount single. I think it would be a lot easier to get rid of a Twinn
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Old 05-05-21, 09:14 PM
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If you're like me, the idea of parting it out and the frame likely going to scrap really hurts. I'd say either donate where it will be used, or try selling it to someone who's going to ride it.

I donated my Santana Arriva to a bike co-op, and I know it was purchased by a bike mechanic who appreciated the quality, and was going to use it as a rider with his gf. The co-op could have parted it out themselves for maximum profit, but that wasn't really their business model.
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Old 05-06-21, 12:52 AM
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Originally Posted by obrentharris View Post
Please let me know which co-op this is! I also am in the S.F. Bay Area and could really use a couple of TA cranksets for two of my vintage projects.
Thanks,
Brent
I saw them pretty frequently pre-pandemic at Bike Kitchen. Haven't been out much since then. They also seem to have bikes with them semi-frequently.
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Old 05-06-21, 10:09 AM
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joeruge
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Thanks!

Thanks to all for the thoughtful responses. Though a few extra hundred dollars in my pocket (temporarily, as I'm sure money would go to some other bike project), it seems the opinions lean toward donation, and I'm okay with that idea.

My worry with this is, is the bike good enough for such 'serious' use?
​​​​ And tandems, being such special animals, would someone be able to keep such a beast running safely? Maybe along with the bike, I could donate my services and, what the heck, donate my time to captain folks on rides. Ah jeez, I could disappear down the rabbit hole with donation thing!

Once again, thanks to all.

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Old 05-07-21, 07:27 PM
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Wow, that's a beautiful piece of equipment. Some college couple should have it. I know my gf and I would have ridding the heck out of it, except it would be born for another 17 years. I'd put it up for sale, let it sit there until someone buys it. Real pity to see something like that not get used.
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