Simmondsohn Tandems - Opinions Appreciated...

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
SpaceCaptainTheodore
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Simmondsohn Tandems - Opinions Appreciated...

Postby SpaceCaptainTheodore » 11 Oct 2018, 10:25am

Good Morning,

My partner and I have been considering dipping our toes into the murky world of tandeming. Between different fitness levels, a recent pregnancy, and an intended tour to visit friends in Amsterdam getting onto the same bike is very attractive.

Common and well documented red-flags around tandems and relationships notwithstanding, I was hoping to get an opinion on the Simmondsohn tandems. I hadn't come across them before but found their bergen tourer at <£500 here https://www.simmonsohntandems.com/shop/simmonsohn-classic-touring-series/bergen.

The spec looks very respectable and the only two things that make me hesitate are the lack of a third brake and the stock wheelset. (The latter not an issue as replacement would bring it up to RRP or thereabouts and our current intended longer distance trip should keep us in proximity to plenty of bike shops!)

At this price (and given some of my expectations around usage) I'm thinking of taking the plunge. I had been looking at second hand but given difficulties presented by our location (North Lake District), the assumption of a certain level of work required and the rarity of available bikes falling into the right specification this often ends up more realistically near the price of the lower end Dawes tandems.

The distributer is the same as for the Viking tandems which generally seem to be considered very acceptable for the money though not perhaps suited for more than leisurely day rides. These appear to be marketed at a slightly higher price point and, to me, look equivalent (in tandem terms) to some of the Ridgeback tourers - e.g. a solid spec, especially at the price, that'll do the job nicely without setting the heather alight.

They only appeared on the UK market last year, so I haven't been able to find any reviews or user experience - as there are only a few left in our size I'd like to make a quick choice. I'd be very grateful if anyone could offer a perspective on whether they think my reasoning holds. I should note, we've toured together before and my partner used to use a tandem as a child - so we have a reasonable expectation of what we're letting ourselves in for!.

Many thanks...

SpaceCaptainTheodore
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Re: Simmondsohn Tandems - Opinions Appreciated...

Postby SpaceCaptainTheodore » 11 Oct 2018, 10:42am

Realising that ended up rather long-winded and wordy, the TL:DR version...

Does the above tandem look like a reasonable semi-serious starter tandem, recognising that there's a minor element of risk with it's being an unknown quantity.

reohn2
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Re: Simmondsohn Tandems - Opinions Appreciated...

Postby reohn2 » 11 Oct 2018, 10:57am

That tandem on paper looks like a £1500 bike,if the frame is made well enough,the wheels would be my main concern,but as you say a pair of handbuilt wheels £300? could bring it upto some kind of spec or maybe have the original wheels prestressed and tensioned by a competent wheel builder.
At £500 I'd check frame alinement and build quality,and go through the bike carefully for snags and poor assembly,I would also buy it on a credit card so I had some comeback should it all go pear shaped.
It's a very cheap bike,bells are ringing,but I'm a cynic
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roubaixtuesday
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Re: Simmondsohn Tandems - Opinions Appreciated...

Postby roubaixtuesday » 11 Oct 2018, 10:59am

I'm no technical expert, but have done a few miles on tandems.

For £500, I'd say that's an absolute bargain, almost suspiciously so! I can't image tandem sales attract scammers, but I'd definitely phone them and check they are real.

48 spoke wheels, even if not branded, are a real bonus and imply actual thought has gone int the spec. I doubt they need replacing.

A third brake is only worthwhile if it provides a different heatsink - another rim brake still leaves the same amount of heat going into the rim.

Our tandem has a drum brake as the third brake, which screws on and requires a frame fixing too. Might be worth seeing if the frame dimensions allow a retrofit at some point.

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SimonCelsa
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Re: Simmondsohn Tandems - Opinions Appreciated...

Postby SimonCelsa » 11 Oct 2018, 11:03am

I bought a Viking Tarantino around 2009, pretty similar basic spec although it had an alloy frame and cromo forks.

Done about 7000 miles now and no complaints, although a lot of the original components have been replaced. Not through poor quality, just because I felt it was getting the use to warrant a better spec.

If that really is a 531 frame then I would say go for it. Out of interest my Tarantino was about 22 kg out of the box. A bit heavier now as I've converted to an e-tandem via front hub.

Go on, be the Guinea Pig & buy it - let us know how you get on!!

Bonefishblues
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Re: Simmondsohn Tandems - Opinions Appreciated...

Postby Bonefishblues » 11 Oct 2018, 11:04am

Not sure if that can be done for the price. Echo the 'buy on credit card' advice.

Earnestly hope I am wrong.
Last edited by Bonefishblues on 11 Oct 2018, 11:26am, edited 1 time in total.

SpaceCaptainTheodore
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Re: Simmondsohn Tandems - Opinions Appreciated...

Postby SpaceCaptainTheodore » 11 Oct 2018, 11:22am

Thanks all for speedy and considered responses. The bikes are offered at not dissimilar prices across a few outlets (including some familiar) so I don't think it's a scam, though, as echoed here, I am inclined to take the cautious approach and buy on credit card (lest it turn out to be like riding a bar of soap).

It's good to know that SimonCelsa has had a positive experience with the Viking bikes. I had one of the Concept branded bikes from the same distributor as a child/teenager - given my approach to maintenance was not so much uneducated as abusive, it was surprisingly reliable. Thanks also to roubaixtuesday (cracking name!) for the reassurance over the spoke count and the other poster (small screen - power of memory evades me) on the nudge toward the getting the spoke tensions checked out.

I think I am prepared to accept my mantle as guinea pig (!) just need to reassure myself that the geometry is okay (it's a shade smaller than I'd go solo, but I understand this is fairly common on tandems) and engage in a little bit of stakeholder management tonight...

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meic
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Re: Simmondsohn Tandems - Opinions Appreciated...

Postby meic » 11 Oct 2018, 11:40am

and the only two things that make me hesitate are the lack of a third brake and the stock wheelset.


The third brake certainly has its uses but I havent felt the need to fit one yet even though I live and ride in hilly Wales.
I would feel the need for one if our combined human weight was a lot higher than our present 120kg or if we did much more challenging rides. At the moment I would not even fit it (to save the weight) if I had one. If I lived somewhere flatter, I would probably not fit one.

Not having a drag brake on a trip to Holland would not worry me much.
Yma o Hyd

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Paulatic
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Re: Simmondsohn Tandems - Opinions Appreciated...

Postby Paulatic » 11 Oct 2018, 11:56am

RE your location
The Cumbria Tandem Club used to be very active though I see no longer an entity. I’ll bet there are some cracking tandems sitting in garages around you if only you could find them. :D
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SpaceCaptainTheodore
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Re: Simmondsohn Tandems - Opinions Appreciated...

Postby SpaceCaptainTheodore » 11 Oct 2018, 12:03pm

Thanks Meic, the appeal of a drag brake was less for the trip to the Netherlands and more the living in the Lake District! Our combined human weight is probably nearer 140kg but it sounds like we should be able to figure something out either by approaching hills conservatively (a choice I think I'd be forced into anyway - our risk thresholds differ substantially!) or scoping a retrofit.

I have previously (don't ask) managed to use badly set-up caliper brakes with knackered pads under similar loads on my roadbike. I just did a quick spreadsheet to compare energy in a system over a comparable drop and at under relevant loads and a probable partner-capped speed. As long as we're not trying to scrub off loads of excess speed in the first place (I'll get an ear bashing) it looks like we're actually okay. Given the brakes *should* offer better performance than that comparison case I'm feeling relatively sanguine...

(in theory)

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meic
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Re: Simmondsohn Tandems - Opinions Appreciated...

Postby meic » 11 Oct 2018, 12:11pm

I am not sure that I would trust any spreadsheet. On a good downhill tandems dont feel the effect of wind resistance anywhere near as much as solo riders.
On that subject you will need to use your brakes an enormous amount if riding in the middle of a group of solos, for that very reason.
Yma o Hyd

Brucey
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Re: Simmondsohn Tandems - Opinions Appreciated...

Postby Brucey » 11 Oct 2018, 12:40pm

glancing at the spec the bike looks very good value but there are parts that will likely cause problems down the line; specifically

- the low riders are of clamp-on type and really ought to have a front hoop to stabilise them. The mountings as they stand put an undue load onto the lower bolt, too. If this bolt breaks the whole lot ends up in the front wheel PDQ and there is a very nasty accident.
- the forks are not Reynolds 531 or anything close to it
- 48 hole wheels are a comfort but they would be best stress-relieved for sure and
- I have seen more than one cheap 48h hub where a whole section of flange has just broken off it.
- The cranksets are cheap junk; touch and go if the pressed steel chainrings are even strong enough for enthusiastic pedalling on a tandem. Replacement tandem chainsets (that are any good) are expensive
-flat bars suit some folk but not others
- If you want the larger size be quick; they are only showing three in stock

So it might do for a one-off tour in the flatlands (if you do something -like not using it- about the front rack which is just an accident waiting to happen) but would require quite a few upgrades for more serious use. If the left side of the rear hub isn't threaded then a new hub/wheelset is required to install an extra brake.

cheers
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SpaceCaptainTheodore
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Re: Simmondsohn Tandems - Opinions Appreciated...

Postby SpaceCaptainTheodore » 11 Oct 2018, 1:39pm

Thanks Brucey. As with the rest of the feedback I think this helps in terms of walking in with my eyes open. Especially good call on the lowriders - my Brother's failed at 60kmph last year and he was lucky only to have come away with a few broken ribs. (Most importantly, the bike was fine.)

If they're still in stock after I've slept on it I'll pick one of these up. My partner's a bit of a fair weather cyclist (and fair enough) so it may be a while before I can offer a substantive report. I'm happy, if the frameset goes well enough, to upgrade priority components piecemeal (gives me something to do) and if nothing else this should be good enough for leisurely bibles down on the solway...

reohn2
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Re: Simmondsohn Tandems - Opinions Appreciated...

Postby reohn2 » 11 Oct 2018, 2:34pm

The third drag brake is only really necessary in the real big hills we've never really needed a drag in the UK.
I didn't take too much notice of the front lowriders but Brucey is right a loop is a must IMO.
And I did mean stress relief the wheels not prestressed which is the opposite :?
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iandusud
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Re: Simmondsohn Tandems - Opinions Appreciated...

Postby iandusud » 11 Oct 2018, 4:28pm

My wife and I bought a tandem earlier this year and absolutely love it! At the time a looked at this bike and was very tempted by the price. I would certainly echo Brucey's concerns about the front lowrider and throw it in the bin (not a problem at this price). Also the chainset is probably not much cop either. The frame is stated as having 531 main tubes but this doesn't tell us much about the rest of the tubes or the forks. Still at that price it is still great value for money. However I would suggest that you look at Ebay and Gumtree as there are some real bargains to had on s/h tandems. Eg in your neck of the woods:
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dawes-Discov ... rk:10:pf:0
The asking price is probably too high and you might get it with an offer of £400.
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dawes-Galaxy ... rk:16:pf:0
Again this one might be worth emailing the seller with a bid.
We ended up buying a s/h Orbit Tandem on Ebay for £600, almost identical to one we test rode with a price tag of £2400. I since spent about a further £400 upgrading bits and pieces but it was still a bargain. And once again WE LOVE IT. We both enjoy cycling but our fitness levels are very different. The tandem allows us to ride together in a way that we never could before.