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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 09-27-05, 06:58 PM   #1
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Can someone explain the basics of roof racks?

Now that I own a tandem (see my thread below regarding my new Cannondale), I want to explore transportation options so that I can do some rides that are not accessible by public transportation. I think that the way to do this is by means of a roof rack. I won't mess up my car (or my bike) with a trunk rack and while I would prefer a hitch rack because they are so much cheaper, I don't think they will work with a tandem.

So, assuming a roof rack (but feel free to pipe in with other options), what parts do I need? The base rack system itself from either Yakima or Thule (about $350) and then some kind of mounting mechanism for a tandem (about $325, e.g. for the Yakima sidewinder mount)? So that is $675 alone and it does not allow me to carry regular (1/2) bikes? Will this rack work on my next car? Will the tandem mount?

Thanks for any help on this. If there are any useful links, that would be helpful as well.
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Old 09-27-05, 07:47 PM   #2
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You'll find several links to tandem transportation products including lists of sports rack retailers and company's that produce tandem mounts at the following URL:

If you want to know everything there is to know about bike racks (well, at least a lot of stuff), check out Steven Scharf's web site, also linked off the the above Web page or go directly to it using this URL:

There are several rear receiver mounts that work pretty well, although I usually recommend that both front & rear wheels be removed if at all possible when your travels will take you onto the highway or into congested areas with lots of pedestrians. Check out Badger's basic system -- the non tilting model.

As for roof mounts, there are a variety of systems available. Thule, Yakima, etc.. all do the job and most 3rd party tandem mount producers like Atoc (maker of the Tandem Topper & Bike Topper and owner of Draftmaster) provide hardware for all the various crossbar designs and, in fact, even produce tandem mounts for companys like Thule (e.g., Atoc's tandem-length Bike Topper is Thule's tandem mount). I like the Atoc systems because they can be used with tandems or personal bikes and the rear section can be removed when you're not hauling a tandem to shorten up your rack system. It also has a lower profile and creates less drag when you're not toting a tandem than say the Yakima Sidewinder. TandemsEast, Rockymounts, and a few others also produce economical (well, sort of) tandem mount systems; however, the cost savings comes at a certain degree of ergonomic compromise and/or hardware quality. The pivoting mount systems are nice if you have a high profile vehicle, are vertically challenged, or just don't feel like hefting the tandem onto the roof of your vehicle. It's also noteworthy that you can often times use standard bike mount hardware to haul tandems on bigger vans and full-length SUVs by adding a third crossbar, eliminating the expenses associated with a tandem specific mount if you've already got a slew of bicycle mount hardware in your garage. However, you need to be sure you're using 9mm skewers and that all of the mounting hardware is in good shape as a tandem places much larger loads on the mounting hardware in cross winds as well as buffeting from big rigs.

Anyway, check out what's available. Oh yeah, and if you do get a roof mount find a way of reminding yourself that you've got bikes on the roof before leaving the driveway, lest you find yourself running them into an overhang at the bank's drive-up teller, a hotel portico, or the front of your garage when you return home and try to put the car in the garage with the bikes still on top.

Last edited by TandemGeek; 09-27-05 at 08:09 PM.
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Old 09-28-05, 04:46 AM   #3
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How about a trunk rack: so many of my friends have butchered their bikes on a roof rack I can't count. If you're worried the car will get scratched with a trunk rack, how 'bout all the marks you'll be making heaving the tandem up to the roof. People think roof racks look cooler- that's their biggest selling point so far as I can tell. I own a Thule and do use it to transport my bike box to the airport, but when staying domestic the racing bike goes in the trunk. A Colnago paintjob atttracts a lot of attention.
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Old 09-28-05, 11:56 AM   #4
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I use the Draftmaster by Atoc. It is not necessary to lift more than the front end of the bike to attach it to the rack, and nothing touches the back of the car. Accessing the back of the car through the hatchback is a snap. (Subaru Forester) We travelled to and from Prince Edward Island this summer without any problems and presently use the rack once or twice a week. Judging from the $$$ figures you quoted in your initial post about other racks, the Draftmaster is no more expensice. My whole system cost $636 Canadian. Not cheap, but as I've said before in this forum, I didn't hesitate to spend 10% of the cost of my bike for a rack that would give me the peace of mind and the ease to load and unload frequently. Good luck with your decision; but do have a look at the Draftmaster system.
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Old 10-11-05, 09:44 PM   #5
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I use a standard rear hitch mounted rack and NEVER take of my front or rear wheel. The tandem sticks out only a couple of inches more than each side view mirror at most.

Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.
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Old 10-11-05, 10:29 PM   #6
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Tough not totally on topic, we just bought an S&S coupled tandem on eBay this summer. I don't want to completely disassemble it anytime I go somewhere, but all I have to do is unthread the front 3 couplers, and the cable couplers, and slide it into our Nissan pathfinder (a short SUV that couldn't possibly hold our previous tandem). If I took the wheels off, I could probably fit it into many more vehicles. I was in the market for racks, and now I'm not. Initially, all I thought I'd save was airline fare and rental car fees, but not getting racks for any of our vehicles is a plus. If someone's looking at the overall economics of racks vs. S&S couplers, this is an interesting tradeoff.
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Old 10-20-05, 12:32 PM   #7
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Elrey-- I'm not sure exactly what your friends are doing to "butcher" bikes on a roof rack, but I've had a bunch of singles that I've carried on a Yakima rack that's been installed on 3 different cars and have never had ANY damage to the bikes from the roof rack. In fact, the only incident where I had any "damage" was driving into a drive-thru having forgotten my MTN bike was on the roof. My bike was unscathed and my car had a big dent in the roof! Now I have a Yakima Sidewinder (a super-cool design that allows for one-person loading of a tandem) and have had nothing but success. The only parts that even touch the frame are the fork mount and an 8" or so long padded boom tube support that even has little grooves cut into it for cables, so THEY don't hurt the bike.

I think roof racks are by far the most reliable and stable way to carry bikes, especially tandems. Those little straps on the trunk racks make me nervous, and the roof rack will give you years and years of use if installed and used properly. And I'm a little partial to Yakima, though Thule makes awesome products too.
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Old 10-21-05, 04:18 PM   #8
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I dont think this would help everyone but know that their are other options. linkie

the draft master looks like a cool setup I was considering setting up one but this idea came to me after I fell off the comode while trying to hang a picture..... errr .. no that wasnt me ... some one else ... any way this is how I transport mine.

a inch hitch on a car and parts of a roof rack and wallal .... tandem rack.
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Old 10-21-05, 05:14 PM   #9
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We've had great luck with a hitch rack, a Thule, 4 bike jobbie. We don't take off the wheels on our tandem, but I do turn the front wheel 90 degrees and velco strap it in place. The other wheel does hang over a bit, but only about 1 foot. We also velco strap the boom tube to the verticle tube on the rack, and the old gal sits there without an problems. I did install some pipe insulation to the rack to protect the paint on the tandem. I prefer this type of rack for many of the reasons stated above. It's so easy to load the beast, it's a work stand for those (on the road) adjustments, and I don't have to worry about forgetting the "toys on top." We also carry a big, ugly heavy vinyl coated cable to secure the wheels, if we need to. OHB
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