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Tandems(7 posts)

Apr 9, 2002 7:27 PM
Thinking of getting a tandem, but before I even begin to look, I've got a few questions.

1) It seems like they have non-caliper brakes. Is this due to the weight, or something else?

2) On a similar thread, tires are (what I consider) super-fat (30c) and the rims are 40-hole. Is this due to the weight, or something else?

3) What manufacturers are big into tandems? Aside from Cannondale, there seems to be very little competition.

Mark Duell
re: TandemsGreyhound
Apr 9, 2002 8:17 PM
Well, pretty much more weight requires more breaking power and traction, as well as strength. I think the coolest thing happening with tandems is Avid is coming out with a mechanical disk break compatible with sti levers. I've gotten to ride a tandem, and have a friend who tours extensivly on them, and the fact is any rim break really starts to cook going downhill on a tandem.
How much do you want to spend? Manufactures like Ventana and Burley are common names in tandems, but if you want to go high end Seven and Calfee are both awsome bikes, the Calfee coming in easily below 30 lbs. Look at the reviews section for tandems to get an idea of who does what.

re: TandemsCFBlue
Apr 9, 2002 8:45 PM

has some excellent links to various manufacturers. Everything you mention has something to do with weight. We are tall people and tip the scale, with gear, at close to 500#. I want all the braking power I can get, and all the strength in components and conversly the lowest gearing I can as well. I run 35c tires.

I own a C'dale RT1000, so far it is still in factory trim, with 2500 miles on it nothing but the rear tire has worn out, but we did put a smaller granny on and a 34T on the rear cluster.

for more tandem stuff, including a tandem specific email list

Good Luck

re: TandemsMcAndrus
Apr 10, 2002 4:17 AM
Actually, Cannondale is probably not a dominant tandem manufacturer. More common names I see on the road are:
Burley, and

There is also a large variety of lesser volume makers who make excellent tandems like Commotion.

If by non-caliper you mean side-pull brakes, then, yes they are common on tandems though not all tandems have them. My Trek has traditional Shimano road brakes.

What size tire you ride depends on the roads and riding. For instance, on my single I ride 700x23 - a standard setup. On the tandem it's a 700x25 on the front and 700x28 on the rear. The only people I've seen use anything bigger than a 28 are those riding fully loaded for touring and they ride up to 700x32. The wheels are 36 spoke. While some folks may think this setup is a little light for a tandem, I've never had a blowout, had to true a wheel, or had any braking problems.

Oh, and as long as you have a half-way capable stoker you'll love tandem riding. Just picture in your mind a twisting downhill at 50mph.
The deal is you want your tandem to be reilable.MB1
Apr 10, 2002 5:33 AM
We put about 6,000 miles a year on our Santana tandem. Over the years I have ridden dozens of tandems and I would never own anything but a Santana-that is just me though. I would suggest you spend a lot of time looking into tandems before buying. Test ride everything you can.

Our bike is probably a little sturdier than we need but we appreciate that we have never had wheel or brake problems in 15,000 miles. On the tandem we run all stock parts except for the tires (we use Performance Forte Kevlar 700X26) and seats. It came with 40 spoke wheels, we only weigh 250 lbs so I think 40 spokes is overkill for us but really with all the aerodynamic advantages of a tandem what are a few spokes or a slightly wider tire. I'll take the security and durability they provide over any really small performance gain we could get by running lighter stuff.

As far as brands go I think most brands available now in the US are fine if they have more than a couple of models in their line. Start by looking at the tandem information on Sheldon Browns' Harris Cyclery website then start checking the tandem manufacturers websites.


KHS & Burley-for entry level value
Trek & Cannondale-big bike companies with tandems as a very small sideline.
Co-Motion, Long Bikes, Meridian-tandem specialists with large product lines.
Santana-the first tandem specialist manufacturer with a really large selection. You love them or hate them. They claim to be the largest (I think they probably are).
Calfee-MrCelloBoy would never forgive me if I didn't mention the maker of his custom carbon tandem (talk about pricy). Only if you really know what you are doing.

I have probably missed quite a few but this will get you started.
What are you trying to accomplish?Spoke Wrench
Apr 10, 2002 5:36 AM
My wife and I have ridden tandems for over 25 years. We are now on our 4th tandem and it is a very nice bike.

The reason the vast majority of people buy tandems is because they have a partner that they want to ride with. It's pretty difficult for couples to ride together unless they are very closely matched physically. A tandem solves that. The majority of stock tandems are built and equipped with this purpose in mind. A quality tandem is kind of a big investment unless you have a pretty stable relationship with your riding partner.

A tandem has twice the weight of a single bike. Consequently it needs twice the braking power. Most stock tandems use linear pull mountain bike brakes for more braking power and to clear tires wider than 28mm.

In recent years, Santana has been the big fish in tandem sales. Their bikes basically start at about $3,000 and can go up to $12,000. Between $1,500 and $3,000 you're talking Burley or Cannondale. Trek and Burley are offering aluminum tandems this year that share the same frame design for about $3,000. Co-Motion is my current favorite manufacturer offering first-class bikes priced between $3,000 and $6,000.

Oh, don't forget the ultimate tandem accessory, a mini-van to haul it in, about $30,000.
re: Tandemssprockets2
Apr 10, 2002 10:17 AM
I concur with much of what the other posters have said. It sounds like you need to do lots more research into the tandem world, including figuring out whether you will be a recreational, racing, or touring rider, and going to the trouble (pleasure) of riding as many as you can, because that is where you will see the differences, not on paper. Buy the bike that feels the best to you, and that should include feeling-from a handling standpoint-as close to a single as you can find. A good tandem will feel tight and responsive, and I almost forget my wife is back there until she says to slow down. If you feel the rear of the bike not wanting to turn with the front-a gentle wallowing sensation-seek a different bike. We are long past those pathetic times, although several manufacturers continue to make them as lower end models.

As mentioned, Cannondale is not the major player in tandems, and other than the fact that their bikes are stiff, they have little to recommend them in my experience. Be sure to ride a Santana, perhaps a Comotion or Burley , and some custom jobs like a Rodriguez or Erikson (both in Seattle, I think). I balk a bit on the Comotion or Burley because although they have loyal followings, when I rode some a few years ago when I was looking, I found their design and execution comparatively wanting. They may have improved, but there were several bikes-the others I named above-that were superior on the road.

Best advice. If you find a bike that you really like, look for a used one. Save lots of $ that you can use on gear and upgrades.