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Tandem Sizing, Brand and Couplers(11 posts)

Tandem Sizing, Brand and Couplerslotterypick
Nov 26, 2003 10:56 AM
I'd love to get a used tandem, but I'm not sure what size the bike should be (hoping it doesn't have to be custom).

I'm 6'2" and ride a 62 in a Trek 5500, which I think is a 60 in most other bikes.

My wife is 5' exactly and she's riding an XS OCR1, so I think that's around 45-47.

Would we fit a medium tandem where I'd sacrifice a little bit on totoal fit, but she'd be pretty close.

Wily gave me some thoughts on brands and I'd like a mid level 3-4K road tandem. Any suggestions on types or features would be appreciated.

And I was looking at the couplers. I could see it coming in handy, but what are the down sides. I just read a catalog so it's new and greek to me. THanks.
re: Tandem Sizing, Brand and Couplerswily in pacifica
Nov 26, 2003 1:56 PM

The first thing you need to know is your budget for the whole ball of wax. Once you have that things will fall in place.

The differences in your sizes might make it tough to buy a used tandem but check on Ebay and in the classified section.

If you are willing to pay $3k-$4k then you are in the range of a very nice new tandem.

Cannondales and the new Trek are fantastic buys considering the componants on the bike. And Alum is not as stiff on a tandem as on a single due to the length of the tubes.

You also might want to look at the lower end of the Co-Motion or Meridian line and have them add the S&S Couplers. These are not lower quality frames but mostly lower end componants to get the price down. But XT and 105 parts will last just as long as the higher end parts especailly since tandems normally get used less often.

The only real down-side to S&S is the cost. Usually $600-$1k more on a tandem plus you need to buy the cases. If you plan to travel a lot then it might be worth it. Mostly the benefits are the convience of air travel which will cost you possibly $75 each way. But you would have to take a lot of trips to make up for the cost of te couplers. So really you are paying for the convience of packing and transport. For instance if you travel to Europe you will have a tough time getting a taxi once you arrive if no S$S. If you don't plan to do much air travel save your money or buy a better frame/bike.

I believe Cannondale make some of their frames as XL/Med or L/Sm which might be perfect for you. Plus this year I believe their road and mT tandems come with disc's front and rear.

But for $4k you should look into a non coupled Co-Motion or Meridian as I am sure most tandem builders make frames for tall and short riders.

There are also a couple dozen frame builders who can make you a frame. Since they do not have the inventory, like big builders, you basically get a custom frame. One I was looking at is Steve Rex up near Sacramento. Last time I looked his frame/fork was around $1,800. With another $2,200 you should be able to build it up nicely

Have you tried renting a tandem yet?

How serious is your wife into riding?

Wher are you located? May be a tandem club near you.

Riding a tandem is a blast, and you don't have to wait up for her or she does not have to work hard to keep up with you.

Willy in Pacifica
Thanks for all the great thoughts.lotterypick
Nov 26, 2003 2:36 PM
We haven't tried it yet, but both see how it could be really good. We talked to some couples doing it in Solvang a month ago, they said they loved it.
We're in Santa Barbara, which has tons of road both north and south as well as in Santa Ynez.
I've seen your pictures with your kids and think my sons would love it. Going out with Dad on a long ride.
We don't travel that much so from your thoughts, I'll pass on the couplers.
I'll keep looking for the used ones as we move forward. Maybe the best thing as we've never done it before. For 2-3K I could get a great bike.
Santana said they sold their demos, so I told them to let me know if they had a med (they said that was the one that would fit us).
I got their mag and letter, so I know they have the data.

Just to tell you, I think you riding with your kids in the past pictures has been a big reason why I think it'd be great. Your bay area backdrops remind me of all the great things we could, should and can be doing. THanks for the help.
Thanks for all the great thoughts.wily in pacifica
Nov 26, 2003 5:48 PM

I can't believe that you would be a medium on any tandem, so be sure to check out any sizing info any tandem builder offers.

Since your wife is about 5 feet you might want to keep the rear on the small size to acommodate your kids without any crank shorteners.

Right after I made my last post I thought of what might be the perfect tandem for you and your family. Co-Motion just came out with a new frame to accomodate riders with big differences in size. I cannot remember its name but check out their web site. It has a telescoping seatpost and uses 26" wheels. Due to its size it does not have the lateral tube that most tandems are now built with. It actually looks very cool since they compensate for the lack of lateral tube by using oversized tubes everywhere else.

My e-mail is so feel free to e-mail me directly with any questions. There are quite a few things that are specific to tandems that most people would not think of when designing thier own or specing out a single. There must be at least a dozen different combinations of brakes that you would have to decide on. If you have someone like Steve Rex or Bushnell build one you will get the perfect fit and they will spend all the time you need to get comfortable with the bike. Most builders will tell you the hardest part of buying a frame from a small builder is getting the couple to agree on the color.

Willy in Pacifica
Sizing chartgtscottie
Nov 26, 2003 2:47 PM
You can find a sizing chart here. It may give you a rough idea of where you and your wife fit in.
IT will be my pleasurelotterypick
Nov 26, 2003 3:13 PM
to measure up my wife. THanks
re: Tandem Sizing, Brand and Couplersukiahb
Nov 26, 2003 4:20 PM
I'm shopping for one myself, don't know much yet but there is a LOT of great info, links, etc. at this page...
re: Tandem Sizing, Brand and Couplerswily in pacifica
Nov 26, 2003 6:14 PM
I found the web site and pictures. It is called the Periscope.
re: Tandem Sizing, Brand and CouplersGeoCyclist
Nov 26, 2003 6:44 PM
I own a 1999 Santana Rio with S&S frame couplers. The couplers added $1000 to the price of the bike and two S&S 26x26x10 (max airline size cases) cost another $780 (I don't believe you can get them that cheep now). Another problem to face is the new reduced maximum baggage weight allowance. Previously you could travel in the US with a 70 lb bag. Last summer we arrived in the US to find we had to pay $25 per case due to excess weight; guess we packed too much extra stuff with the bike. I guess you could avoid this by carrying a second big case for your cycling clothes and support stuff; however, it is nice to just have a carryon bag in addition to the bike case (a bit more mobile). I don't travel more than once a year with the tandem, so I have no hope of every recouping the cost of the S&S couplers and cases.

With that said, I'll explain the up side of the couplers; Convenience! Convenience! Convenience! Travelling with two 26/26/10 cases is much easer than hauling a very large single case. You will encounter transportation problems at the airport. We store our bike cases at hotels while touring; I'm not sure the hotel managers would be so accommodating if I had a huge bike case to store. We can transport our bike in a rental car without completely breaking the bike down; just disconnect behind the pilot's seat tube and put the bike in the trunk with a blanket between the two halves of the frame. We have done this many more times then we had envisioned when we purchased the bike.

If I lived in the States, only planned to travel in North America with my bike once a year, I wouldn't put S&S couplers on my tandem. You can send your bike to a hotel or bike shop via ground transport and avoid the airport hassle. Save the $$$ and spend them on better frame, components, and cycling holidays!

The following pic was taken from a cycle tour in the San Juan Islands. As you can see, my wife and I don't have the height difference isssue that you have to deal with.
Consider BurleySpoke Wrench
Nov 27, 2003 4:57 AM
I seem to remember that Burley has a big/little frame size that might suit you. During my years in the bike business, I felt that Burley had far and away the most pleasant customer service. I'd recommend calling them directly, ask for John, and see what he recommends.
re: Tandem Sizing, Brand and Couplerswardinside
Nov 30, 2003 3:39 AM
KHS has the most aggressively priced Tandem; they are owned by UEC and make their own bikes and bikes for many others - the Tandems are high quality and good spec.
you can always find a KHS dealer who will order you one at around 20% off their list - making them a great deal.