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Tandems & Comparison Weights

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Tandems & Comparison Weights

Old 02-25-05, 10:26 AM
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TandemGeek
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In another thread the subject of tandem weights pop'd up so I thought I'd amortize some data I collected a few years back regarding actual tandem weights. They were recorded at the Georgia Tandem Rally as part of a novelty event called "What does it weigh?" where owners had to guess what their tandem weighed. I then weighed the thing using a hanging scale and the one who guessed closest to the actual weight won.

Of course, with regard to any discussion on the weight of bicycles, what they actually weigh often times varies from what marketing literature provides in that there are no standards for "comparison weights". Therefore, if you're trying to compare different brands of tandems based on catalogs or Web site info you need to check the fine print to establish what each builder used to establish the baseline for their comparison weight. Santana, for example, notes in their catalog that they use small-sized frames with rigid seat posts and do not include pedal weight. Therefore, while you're definitely getting an apples to apples comparison between Santana models, it's not uncommon to find that the comparison weights vary from what owners discover when when weigh their tandems at home, never mind how those comparison weights stack-up against what's being used by another brand of tandem. For example, our small-sized '97 Santana Arriva had a comparison weight of 36 lbs and weighed more like 39lbs w/pedals (go figure). And, what is often times overlooked when comparing weights, is the weight of the frame vs. the weight of the components. This is usually easier to see when comparing models made from different frame materials within brands, e.g., an aluminum (Easton 7005) Co-Motion Robusta has a "comparison weight" of 29 lbs whereas the steel (air hardened) Co-Motion Supremo which has the exact same components is cited as 31.1 lbs.

Now, how much of that weight does the frame account for? Most small-size tandem frames fall between the lightest at ~6 lbs (Calfee's Dragonfly tandem) to the premium steel models ~9 lbs. As for how size effects weight, from small to large size frame: for Ti, Aluminum & Carbon there is perhaps a 1lb frame weight difference and for steel about 1.5 - 2lbs depending on type of alloy / treatment process. It's also worthwhile to note that a steel tandem fork will weigh about 2.4 lbs compared to the carbon tandem forks that range from ~1.2 lbs - 1.9.

From a more practical standpoint, it's also important to remember that while owning a 29 lb tandem IS pretty cool, the base tandem weight is only one element of weight that factors into the total weight of the bike 'as ridden' and, after all, it's the weight that you have to haul up that hill or heft up on top of your car that teams should be most concerned with. Therefore, once you take that 29lb tandem and put on water bottle cages, racks, trunk bags, frame pumps, seat packs filled with spare tubes, tires, patch kits, multi-tool, computers, a heavier than stock saddle, mudguards, aerobars, auxiliary drag brakes that original 29lb bike weight begins to have less and less relevance. Moreover, while it's great to have 5 or 6 sets of water bottle cages, each large-size water bottle you carry adds about 1.75lbs (795 gr) to the weight of your tandem.

At the truly "geek" level of bike weight you can have a field day comparing the cost, weight, and durability of different hubs, rims, cranks, pedals, etc... However, it suffices to say, unless you like the way any particular tandem feels and handles when you actually ride it, weight is often times meaningless. Moreover, given that it costs about $1 / gram to reduce the weight of a bike with aftermarket parts, it's also a good idea to factor how much extra weight the team is carrying around their respective waists and hams before before wearing out the magnetic strip on the back of those credit cards. Again, there are certainly some bragging rights and pride of owership issues associated with owning a superlight bike or tandem but... and I've seen some pretty big butts flexing the heck out of some pretty expensive frames over the years ... it's best to go into the tandem purchasing process with both eyes wide open.

Anyway, all of that said, here is a snap-shot of how 22 different tandems stacked up against each other with the equipment as noted circa 1999. Bear in mind, the race to get to the sub-30lb tandem really didn't pick up steam until after 2000 so results today could be a bit different if there were a disproportionate number of Calfee, Seven, ariZona, Co-Mo Robusto/Supremo, or Santana TeamAL/Beyond bikes in the mix. But, that notwithstanding, as for the tandems we did weigh back in '99 what I found interesting was that despite the wide variety of accessories, builders, materials, and components, most were within 5lbs to 7lbs of each other: that's just about equal to 3 full water bottles.

So, without further ado, here's how they came in. [Note: FB = fillet brazed, TIG: welded]

Litespeed Taliani..................……....31.7 lbs......(TI - TIG: every lightweight part known to man)
Santana Sovereign...............……....34.0 lbs......(AL -TIG: lightweight adds but no carbon fork)
Co-Motion Speedster (small).……....38.0 lbs......(Steel -TIG: no racks, no drag brake)
Erickson (smallish custom)……........38.2 lbs......(Steel - FB: Hope drag brake, but no rotor)
Santana Ti-700 (small frame).……...38.5 lbs......(Ti - TIG: rear rack, no drag brake)
Cannondale MT3000..……………........39.5 lbs......(Alu - TIG: rear rack, 26" road tires)
Erickson (Med/Large)……….…..........39.7 lbs......(Steel - FB: Hope drag brake, but no rotor)
Co-Motion Java…………….……...........40.2 lbs......(Steel - TIG: rear rack)
Santana Encore…………….….…….......40.5 lbs......(Alu - TIG: rear rack)
Erickson (Large custom)..…….…......40.5 lbs......(FB: Hope drag brake)
Cannondale RT 1000………….…........40.5 lbs......(Alu - TIG: no racks, no drag brake)
Bilenky Sterling (small frame)….......41.2 lbs......(Steel - TIG: rear rack)
Bilenky (small frame)……………..........42.0 lbs......(Steel - FB: rear rack)
Sycip..……………………………................42.0 lbs......(Steel - TIG: no racks, no drag brake)
Ibis Easystreet...……………………........42.5 lbs......(Steel - TIG: no racks, no drag brake)
Co-Motion Cappuccino (softride).....43.0 lbs......(Steel - TIG: no racks, no drag brake)
Osell...………………………………...............43.2 lbs......(Steel- FB: rear rack - I think)
Santana Sovereign (early 90's).……..43.5 lbs......(Steel FB: no rack, no drag brake)
Co-Motion Co-Pilot(large frame)…....45.0 lbs......(Steel - TIG: S&S couplers, fenders, rear rack)
Erickson S&S (X-large frame)……......45.0 lbs......(Steel - TIG: S&S, Hope drag brake & aero bars)
Santana Arriva (1984 model)..………..48.0 lbs......(Steel - TIG: racks, drag brake)
Burley Duet...………………………............50.2 lbs......(Steel - TIG: rear racks, drum, fenders, etc..)

Hmmm. Heavier than comparison weights for most of these bikes might have suggested.

A sampling of "comparison weights" (recalling previous caveats) for more recent models:

Calfee Dragonfly………...27.0 lbs......($10k Carbon w/superlight components)
Santana Beyond……....27.5 lbs ......$9.5K Carbon Ti w/superlight components)
Calfee Tetra.…………....28.5 lbs......($9.2K Carbon w/superlight components)
Seven 007 (Ti…………...28.6 lbs......($9.3K w/superlight components + $600 for Rolf Wheels)
Co-Mo Robusta (AL)....29.0 lbs......($7.2K w/superlight components)
Santana TeamAL……....29.2 lbs......($6.0K w/superlight components)
Santana Ti700....……...30.5 lbs......($8.0k w/superlight components, less 16 spoke wheels)
Co-Mo Supremo...……..31.1 lbs......($6.1K w/superlightweight components)
S'tana Sovereign (AL)…33.0 lbs......($4.6k w/lightweight components - RTR Test Report)
Santana Noventa……...33.0 lbs......($5.5k w/superlight components, less 16 spoke wheels)
Burley Tosa (AL).........34.0 lbs.....($2.4k w/mid-weight mix - RTR Test Report)
C'dale RT3000 (AL)......34.2 lbs.....($3.0k w/Ultegra - XT components - RTR Test Report)
KHS Roma (AL)…….......34.2 lbs.....($2.4k w/mid-weight mix on Small Frame - RTR Test Report)
Santana Arriva..………...34.5 lbs.....($3.9k w/lightweight components)
Trek T2000 (AL)...….....35.0 lbs …..($3.3k w/lightweight components - RTR Test Report)
Santana Arriva SE……...35.6 lbs ....($3.0k w/mid-weight components)
daVinci In-2-ition.……...36.2 lbs ....($3.6k w/lightweight components)
Raleigh Pursuit (AL)..….36.5 lbs......($1.5k w/105 level components - RTR Test Report)
Ravello Rocket.………....37.0 lbs......($2.6k w/mid-weight components - RTR Test Report)
Co-Mo Primera.……......37.1 lbs......($2.9K w/mid-weight components)
Trek T1000 (AL) …......38.0 lbs......($2.2k w/Tiagra level components - RTR Test Report)
Burley Rumba..……….....38.5 lbs......($1.9k w/mid-weight mix - RTR Test Report)
KHS Milano (Steel).......41.9 lbs......($1.1k w/mid-weight components on Large frame)

26" Value-Based Tandems
KHS Sport...…………......49.0 lbs......($ .7k w/value-based components - RTR Test Report)
DB Wildwood.……….......50.0 lbs......($ .7k w/value-based components - RTR Test Report)
Raleigh SC..............…..52.0 lbs......($ .7k w/value-based components - RTR Test Report)

Last edited by TandemGeek; 01-06-08 at 02:14 PM.
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Old 02-25-05, 10:58 AM
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Nice work Mark.
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Old 02-25-05, 02:33 PM
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I took delivery this week of a new Burley Rivazza with the "race" package (carbon forks, carbon cranks, Rolf wheels, rear disc brake, etc.). After building it up with lighter than the included saddles and adding four standard water bottle cages and pedals (but before losing a tiny amount of weight by sawing off the steering tube to the right size) the weight is 35.5 lbs. according to what, I think, is a pretty accurate scale. If I wanted to make it lighter the most obvious places to start would be in switching to lighter seat posts and finding (if possible) a lighter stem for the stoker.
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Old 02-25-05, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by K&M
I took delivery this week of a new Burley Rivazza with the "race" package... the weight is 35.5 lbs.
Sweet!!! You're the first team I've come across who have taken possession of Burley's new high-end package.... After you've logged some miles on it please give us an update on your impressions and, if this is replacing a previous tandem be sure to contrast the differences.
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Old 02-25-05, 05:58 PM
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ariZona Tandems had 3 tandems at the vendor display at the Rally in the Valley of the Sun this Prez Day weekend in Phoenix.
One small, one large, and one large frame with ti S&S. All had very good to excellent componentry. Two had c/f adjustable stoker stems and c/f stoker handrests.
While weight isn't everything it is to be taken into consideration . . . at a price!
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Old 02-26-05, 03:40 PM
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Cannondale MT2000 set up for off road. Big beefy disc brakes, Boxer triple crown forks, Heavy duty wheels, that also are very heavy, Rear seat post rack and a few tools. and bars etc up to freeride or downhill quality.If I could come anywhere the manufacturers weight with that lot, I would be worried.

Most of you would Buy a bike and look at improving the quality of parts fitted as they require changing, and also look to lose weight at the same time. Hence My solo Bianchi that initially weighed 28lbs, now weighs 24lbs, and will still take the punishment that I dish out to it, Just a change of wheels, tyres, fork and a few Lighter weight items like bars and seatpost.
I looked at the Tandem and thought if I lightened this up, It would break, So I now have an MT2000 that weighs in excess of 50lbs, but can take any offroad that I throw at it, and will not fall apart when it does an endo. (Haven't quite done that yet, but it has taken a few tumbles with the only damage to the paintwork and the pilots pride)

On top of that, with the two riders in excess of 350lbs, why should we worry about a few lbs here and there?
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Old 02-26-05, 04:22 PM
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I just had to weigh in on this one, since I think it was my casual comment that triggered it. We have a Ti coupled tandem MTB, Ti bars, Rhynolites, and a Dual crown DH fork. The stoker stem is steel, but I have an aluminum replacement. Seatposts are on the heavy side, but most fasteners, down to the crank bolts, are Ti. With a pump, tool kit, and bells, safety lights, computers/HRMs, it's an even 40lb beast. As this bike was designed for air travel, we wanted it to be as light as possible, while still being durable. I know that's no explanation for the fork choice, but it will get swapped for a Marzocchi, putting it under the 40lb mark. We're hardly a lightweight team, so the weight obsession wasn't for bragging rights or ease of hill climbing, rather just less to lug through airports.
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Old 02-26-05, 07:21 PM
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Ready to ride, our ariZona Tandems custom weighs in at the 30 lb. mark. That includes pedals, bottles/cages, rack, toolkit, racktrunk, pump, computer and . . . garage door opener.
As stated previously, ariZona Tandems had 3 of their carbon fiber long bikes on display at the Rally in the Valley of the Sun. All weighed in at well under 30 lbs, including the one with Ti S&S fittings.
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Old 02-27-05, 12:50 AM
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Originally Posted by TandemGeek
In another thread the subject of tandem weights pop'd up...
Co-Mo Primera.……......37.1 lbs......($2.9K w/mid-weight components)

That's fairly close to their publicised weight. Still makes me think that ours must be close to the 50-lb mark.

It's a large-small Co-Motion, but with the added weights:
- drum brake
- front and rear rack
- dual front stem (to add a handlebar bag)
- 9 bottle cages
- one Brooks saddle
- fenders and mudflaps
- 3 taillights
- a Schmidt dynohub with dual headlight.
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