Author Topic: Tandems -- pros/cons/suggestions?  (Read 3931 times)

lhamo

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Tandems -- pros/cons/suggestions?
« on: April 03, 2015, 05:36:27 PM »
I've had this crazy notion in my mind for several weeks now that when I get to Seattle I really want to get a tandem bike.  I have ridden a tandem bike just once in my life, when I was about 7 or 8 at a family reunion on Orcas Island with my dad.  I still remember how awesome it was.  I guess I'm just a little fixated on it at the moment, so wondering if MMM friends have experiences with tandems, advice on pros/cons (obviously we'd need a garage to store it in), suggestions of types to be looking for (I'll buy off Craigslist, new too expensive), etc.

Russ

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Re: Tandems -- pros/cons/suggestions?
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2015, 05:52:44 PM »
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kendallf

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Re: Tandems -- pros/cons/suggestions?
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2015, 05:58:06 PM »
We have had a tandem for a number of years.  There's a saying, "Whichever way your relationship's heading, a tandem will get you there faster!"  :-)

What you get probably depends on how serious a cyclist either of you is presently, what your goals are for it (neighborhood rides to the bar?  Doing the Portland-Seattle ride?  Very different bikes..).

A fairly inexpensive tandem that's mountain bike based (26" wheels, straight bar up front, often an idler pulley in the timing chain) will be fine for neighborhood rides up to reasonable length road rides.  I have never seen anybody actually ride one of these on MTB single track trails; I think it would be quite difficult.  Dirt or gravel roads are possible, though.  These tandems are generally easier to ride at first because they often have lower standover height, platform pedals, and you're generally riding them more slowly.

A road tandem (700c wheels, timing chain with an eccentric bottom bracket for tensioning, road shifters and drop bars) will be more expensive and requires more skill.  They handle like a tractor trailer compared to a regular road bike, and generally the captain must be the larger of the two.  When you've had some time to develop as a team, they're an absolute blast.  On flat ground, you have a considerable aerodynamic advantage over singles.  We have a couple of local teams who have won National Championship jerseys on the tandem, and they are capable of holding 30mph on a flat road.  I did a century in 3:46 with a small group, largely due to about 50 miles worth of high speed tandem pulls.  :-)

If you're in the market for a road tandem, don't be afraid of an older steel frame from Burley or Co-motion that's been well cared for.  The owners are often older and the mileage low.  A common pattern is for an experienced roadie (usually the guy..) to buy a tandem and the spouse/partner just doesn't take to it.  It gathers dust for years, and finally ends up on CL. 

johnny847

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Re: Tandems -- pros/cons/suggestions?
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2015, 06:05:55 PM »
This couple got a tandem bike and toured a huge chunk of the world on it. They should have answers to some of your questions.
http://cyclingabout.com/tandem-faq-everything-you-ever-need-to-know/

Rubic

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Re: Tandems -- pros/cons/suggestions?
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2015, 06:09:42 PM »
I have a lot of tandem riding experience: ultracycling events, time trial races, and general fun.  You haven't mentioned who your partner will be ('stoker', assuming you're the captain), but assuming it's your spouse, a few caveats.

The best cycling partners on a tandem are enthusiatic cyclists before they become tandem riders.  If you both don't already own a couple of bikes and ride together on a regular basis, a tandem bike probably isn't the place to start.

There is a lot more physical stress on the tandem than on a single bike.  Parts wear out quicker and maintenance is more of an issue, so they're more expensive to maintain in top condition.

That said, riding a tandem with an experienced stoker is like no other feeling in the world.  I've been fortunate to have 2-3 excellent stokers who have been amazing.  In addition, we work with adaptive athletes, since it's easy to share a tandem with blind riders.

If you still want to experience tandem riding, my advice would be to join your local bicycling club.  They're likely to have a few tandem riders who'll provide you with tips and maybe even let you borrow their tandem.  I have lent mine out on numerous occassions.

Bon route!

Janie

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Re: Tandems -- pros/cons/suggestions?
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2015, 06:11:18 PM »
I've had this crazy notion in my mind for several weeks now that when I get to Seattle I really want to get a tandem bike.  I have ridden a tandem bike just once in my life, when I was about 7 or 8 at a family reunion on Orcas Island with my dad.  I still remember how awesome it was.  I guess I'm just a little fixated on it at the moment, so wondering if MMM friends have experiences with tandems, advice on pros/cons (obviously we'd need a garage to store it in), suggestions of types to be looking for (I'll buy off Craigslist, new too expensive), etc.



We got a tandem and love it. It's quite a bit different than riding two single bikes, but both the teamwork and the social aspect appeal to us. I'm a lot faster than my GF so it lets me ride at my normal pace and she doesn't have to struggle to keep up and I don't have to slow way down.



We got a Bike Friday tandem which is a bit smaller than some of the bigger wheeled models, but it keeps up just fine and packs into 2 suitcases for travel or storage.

-- Vik

lhamo

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Re: Tandems -- pros/cons/suggestions?
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2015, 06:48:39 PM »
Thanks for these replies.  Initially I am thinking this will be primarily for me/DS and maybe me/DD, as DH will be staying in China.  But I do hope that DH will get interested in it, too.  None of us is currently biking extensively, though -- I will get back to regular bike commuting starting next week, but the rest of the family only bikes irregularly at present.

Ideally I want to find housing within easy access of the Burke Gilman trail.  If it is just DS and me in Seattle together next year then I was thinking we could "bikepool" down to the UW using the tandem on occasion.  There is some research I'd like to do at the UW libraries, plus contemplating some other projects I could work on there during the day while he is in class.  Probably not every day, but at least a couple of times a week. 

Probably should hold off on purchasing until we get into a regular biking routine.