Tandem questions

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
AndyB
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Re: Tandem questions

Postby AndyB » 28 Jul 2009, 7:56pm

Thanks John, those are really useful thoughts. And I must say, a Chas Roberts tandem would be lovely - I'm envious!

AndyB
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Re: Tandem questions

Postby AndyB » 28 Jul 2009, 8:06pm

Mr.Benton wrote:Hi
Having never been on a tandem we went to this place http://www.tandeming.co.uk/ and did a tandem experience day. They were really helpful in explaining how to ride a tandem and gave us confidence to go out for a days ride. It will give you a chance to have a go before you buy to see if it is suitable for you and your child's needs.

I would be interested in knowing what you decide as we are still trying to decide if a tandem is right for me and daughter.

At the moment we have a tag along which works for now but won't last much longer as she is getting heavy and unstable.

Neil.

Thanks - I'll get in touch and see if they have anything suitable to try. I've been on a tandem a couple of times - as stoker for the Bishop's Castle tandem triathlon, which was fun!

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gaz
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Re: Tandem questions

Postby gaz » 28 Jul 2009, 9:21pm

I for one will not laugh at your optimism, it does you credit and will overcome many obstacles.

Mini-me was introduced to the tandem on a run home from school. We were regularly using a trailer bike for the trip but I'd go some kiddikranks without saying and turned up on it to collect him. There was a certain amount of shock involved. Immediately after the laughing incident it became very hard to persuade him to ride the tandem, so I christened it the Tantrum, things have improved considerably since then. We have occassional contact with other cycling families through a local group. He knows he's not alone in riding tandems, trailer bikes, etc. and if he enjoys it enough in years to come then a cry of "Daisy" won't be a problem.

It sounds like your son is well prepared for the change to a tandem and feeling very positive about it, I reckon you'll get off to a much better start.

A few hints about riding with a young stoker,

1. Make sure you mount up first and get off last. Place both feet on the floor, legs wide apart. That way you can hold it all steady whilst he gets on and off and your legs don't get clobbered by the pedals as he spins backwards.

2. Teach him to stay on even when you stop unless you say so. Avoids confusion at traffic lights, etc.

3. Always check he's on before setting off, either visually or verbally.

4. Particularly in the early days expect a little bit of wobble from the back as he shifts his body as he looks around.

5. Have fun, it will be hard not to.
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Deckie
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Re: Tandem questions

Postby Deckie » 28 Jul 2009, 9:36pm

We have an Avid cable disc brake on the back & there's no problem with the rear rack at all, no spacers needed. We also have an Extra Wheel trailer for touring & larger loads.
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swansonj
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Re: Tandem questions

Postby swansonj » 28 Jul 2009, 9:57pm

AndyB wrote:Thanks John, those are really useful thoughts. And I must say, a Chas Roberts tandem would be lovely - I'm envious!


It was a wedding present, I wouldn't have spent real cash on it, beautiful though it is.

When we went to Chas's shop to order it, he asked all the technical questions - gears, brakes, wheels, bars etc - exclusively to me. Then he turned to Jane and said "And what colour do you want?"

reohn2
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Re: Tandem questions

Postby reohn2 » 28 Jul 2009, 10:33pm

Andy
I can't offer much advice on tandeming with kiddy cranks/youngsters,or the Rohloff hub.
However heres some thoughts on tandems from my own experience of them.
I'd start with a secondhand one (Dawes steel framed tandems are an ideal starter tandem the later the better IMHO)but if you do go for a new one as has already been said JD cycles is the place to start.
For the type of touring you intending doing an Arai drag brake is a must,on long descents the hands get tired,the rims can get alarmingly hot leading to blowouts if not careful.
I witnessed a blowout on the front wheel of a tandem at the bottom of a 3 mile descent that went off like a gunshot! so alpine descents which can go on for 15 to 20 miles need care and a drag brake!
I don't think you need worry about front changing,of the four tandems we've owned (mid 90's Dawes Galaxy twin,Late 90's Thorn Discovery(deraileur version), 2001 Santana Arriva,2005 Cannondale R1000)we've never had a problem with the front change (or back for that matter) if set up properly. One of these http://www.gvtc.com/~ngear/instruct.html does help stop the chain from dropping between frame and grannyring,something we'd never experienced until this year in Portugal, so I fitted one to each tandem.
At 80kgs you're a light team by tandem standards (even though one is a youngster)so a light bike isn't that critical,that said Thorn tandems are a heavy beast because they're built as an expedition bike but will take a lot of abuse though. I'm not convinced by the 26in wheel arguement, ours was a pig to get wound up and once there was hard work to keep there.There are an aweful lot of people quite happy with them though.

If you're biggest ring on the front is a 44 (ours was on the Dawes) I'd go for a friction shifter on either Kelly takeoff,D/tube lever or B/end(my preference in that order),if you up that to a 48 big ring then STI's everytime.

Brakes,cantis set up well are good (the older Shimano frogslegs type are very good) V's also V/Good with Tektro RL530's and with Travelagents for STI's.Mechanical disc brakes(Avid BB7's on the Cannondale) are awesome,wet or dry!

Its getting late and I have a heavy cold so I'll leave it at that for the moment, but will add more thoughts as they come :0)

PS,I honestly believe tandeming is the best form of transport known to man(and woman of course), so have fun if and when you decide to jump.
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AndyB
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Re: Tandem questions

Postby AndyB » 29 Jul 2009, 9:18am

Deckie wrote:We have an Avid cable disc brake on the back & there's no problem with the rear rack at all, no spacers needed. We also have an Extra Wheel trailer for touring & larger loads.

That's handy to know, thanks. We are currently using a Carry Freedom Y-frame trailer for our luggage (while the rack is taken up with the child seat) so I guess we could continue to use that (although I obivously want to be able to fit a rack).

AndyB
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Re: Tandem questions

Postby AndyB » 29 Jul 2009, 9:31am

reohn2 wrote:Andy
I can't offer much advice on tandeming with kiddy cranks/youngsters,or the Rohloff hub.
However heres some thoughts on tandems from my own experience of them.

Much appreciated - thank you!

reohn2 wrote:I'd start with a secondhand one (Dawes steel framed tandems are an ideal starter tandem the later the better IMHO)but if you do go for a new one as has already been said JD cycles is the place to start.

I've been wondering about that - there's a 1997 Galaxy for sale here, with kiddy cranks, which I'm tempted by. The only thing I'm not sure about is that it uses straight bars, and I'd like to stick with drops. Converting could be tricky or expensive, as it's old 7 speed kit.

reohn2 wrote:For the type of touring you intending doing an Arai drag brake is a must,on long descents the hands get tired,the rims can get alarmingly hot leading to blowouts if not careful.
I witnessed a blowout on the front wheel of a tandem at the bottom of a 3 mile descent that went off like a gunshot! so alpine descents which can go on for 15 to 20 miles need care and a drag brake!
I don't think you need worry about front changing,of the four tandems we've owned (mid 90's Dawes Galaxy twin,Late 90's Thorn Discovery(deraileur version), 2001 Santana Arriva,2005 Cannondale R1000)we've never had a problem with the front change (or back for that matter) if set up properly. One of these http://www.gvtc.com/~ngear/instruct.html does help stop the chain from dropping between frame and grannyring,something we'd never experienced until this year in Portugal, so I fitted one to each tandem.

I'm coming down in favour of a derailleur system at the moment - the lack of provision of a decent Rohloff shifter for drops makes the expense seem pointless, when derailleurs work fine. The drag brake also sounds like the best braking system, and that's a derailleur only option.

reohn2 wrote:At 80kgs you're a light team by tandem standards (even though one is a youngster)so a light bike isn't that critical,that said Thorn tandems are a heavy beast because they're built as an expedition bike but will take a lot of abuse though. I'm not convinced by the 26in wheel argument, ours was a pig to get wound up and once there was hard work to keep there.There are an awful lot of people quite happy with them though.

Another difficult decision! I ended up with 700c on the tourer, but I'm less sure about a tandem.

reohn2 wrote:If you're biggest ring on the front is a 44 (ours was on the Dawes) I'd go for a friction shifter on either Kelly takeoff,D/tube lever or B/end(my preference in that order),if you up that to a 48 big ring then STI's everytime.

My Ergo shifters work well with the 44 (using a shiftmate at the back), but the modern ones are unfortunately indexed on front.

reohn2 wrote:Brakes,cantis set up well are good (the older Shimano frogslegs type are very good) V's also V/Good with Tektro RL530's and with Travelagents for STI's.Mechanical disc brakes(Avid BB7's on the Cannondale) are awesome,wet or dry!

I take it you don't believe Thorn about disc brakes on the front of tandems then (i.e., either dangerous or uncomfortable)?

stewartpratt
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Re: Tandem questions

Postby stewartpratt » 29 Jul 2009, 10:14am

AndyB wrote:I take it you don't believe Thorn about disc brakes on the front of tandems then (i.e., either dangerous or uncomfortable)?


It's not quite as simple as whether they are or aren't a good idea, it's more about what design constraints they place on the fork and wheel.

Brushing over the explanation of all the forces involved for now, a traditional QR front wheel and narrow-gauge steel fork will both potentially be in trouble with a disc brake - you run the risk of ejecting the front wheel or crumpling the fork at the disc mount.

So they are a problem, but only if you stick with a traditional fork and axle design. To safely use a disc, the fork leg needs to be significantly stronger and stiffer - something Thorn won't do because it effectively prevents flex to be designed in. Thus any comfort which comes from the fork is gone (however much that is, and however important you consider that to be - personally I don't think it's quite as sacrosanct as Thorn do, especiially given their tendency to advise large tyres). And as for the axle, a safe disc setup would use a bolt-through axle.

The thing is that there are very few rigid forks available with this sort of strength plus the disc mount and thru-axle. There are two that I'm aware of, a Funn and a DMR, both designed for dirt jumping and both longer than would reasonably fit a conventional tandem frame - and neither with any braze-ons.

If you have an off-road tandem then it's much less of a big deal, as strong suspension forks with thru-axles and disc mounts are readily available.

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braz
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Re: Tandem questions

Postby braz » 29 Jul 2009, 11:00am

Make sure who is going to navigate!

regards, Braz.
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gobplumber
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Re: Tandem questions

Postby gobplumber » 29 Jul 2009, 11:39am

We had a Dawes discovery twin until recently and now have a Thorn raven twin(Rohloff)
The Dawes didn't like shifting chainrings under heavy load, you just need to anticipate a bit more, no problem with the sprocket change though.The Thorn only has 1000 miles on it so not run in yet but is not 100% at shfting between 8 and 7 under load, you have to get the stoker to back off a little, my only real criticism is the paint finish and quality on the Thorn is very poo rcompared to the Dawes, tyhe bike itself is considerably lighter than the aluminium framed Dawes and rides an awful lot smoother, despite both of them being on 26 inch wheels. We have he mavic ceramic rims on the Thorn and it absolutely eats brake pads, replaced them on the aluminium rimmed Dawes after about 5000 miles.

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speedsixdave
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Re: Tandem questions

Postby speedsixdave » 29 Jul 2009, 12:38pm

On our tandem the change at the back (Shimano 8 ) has never been great - often two clicks up and one click down to change one gear. I have thought often about using SRAM 1:1 gears as they pull much more cable and are apparently far more forgiving of cable stretch. Seems like a good idea on a tandem, and worth thinking about if you're buying from new. As long as you use a matching SRAM shifter and mech they will work fine on a Shimano 8 or 9 cassette.

Front change to the granny ring is a constant blight though. It's fine in the workshop and on easy roads but exactly when you really need it to change - bottom of a 20% hill, for example - you can guarantee it won't change. This we find v annoying. Having to stop, change, and then try and get going again on a steep hill in a tiny gear is a nightmare.

For this reason primarily I'm nicking the Rohloff off my tourer and putting it on the tandem (although I realise this is a luxury not everyone will have!). Having thought about it practically there is unlikely to be a time when we will be touring on both the tandem and my battleship, and most of the time the battleship is just commuting. Therefore I've got a Nexus 8 for the battleship, which will sit in it most of the time, unless I'm going touring without Kate, in which case I shall nick the Rohloff wheel and shifter back. I estimate it will take about an hour to change from one to the other. Both use a 160mm Avid disc brake and 26x2" tyres.

For drops there's the Mittelmeyer shifter for Rohloff. IIRC it's about £80. Searching on here will show my two bodges for the normal Rohloff shifter on drops. The second one - directly attached to the end of the bar - has worked fine for best part of a year now.
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reohn2
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Re: Tandem questions

Postby reohn2 » 29 Jul 2009, 12:49pm

AndyB wrote:

reohn2 wrote:Brakes,cantis set up well are good (the older Shimano frogslegs type are very good) V's also V/Good with Tektro RL530's and with Travelagents for STI's.Mechanical disc brakes(Avid BB7's on the Cannondale) are awesome,wet or dry!

I take it you don't believe Thorn about disc brakes on the front of tandems then (i.e., either dangerous or uncomfortable)?


The Cannondale is breaking down a couple of predjuces of mine,one is aluminium frames,the other is discs on the front of tandems.The thing with a disc brake on the front is to have a fork thats strong enough to do the job (the forces around the hub area are huge) without being bone jarringly harsh.Cannondale have IMHO done the job well,though its got to be said they also won the ugliest tandem fork in the world competition by a mile :0( but,hey life's a compromise so I'll take function over form in this case :0).

I'm that impressed with discs I've found myself looking at disc equiped tourers,this could develope into an expensive period in my life :0)
I don't think they are upto the job as a drag brake though as they simply can't dissipate the heat when left on as the Arai can and so will fade.
We are in a very forntunate postion as we have both the C/dale (discs=winter/bad weather) Santana (V's,Arai drag= tours/hills,fine weather etc)both of which are dream machines IMHO.
Now if I can just change the Galaxy for something with discs,utopia!
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hamster
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Re: Tandem questions

Postby hamster » 29 Jul 2009, 4:26pm

stewartpratt wrote:Brushing over the explanation of all the forces involved for now, a traditional QR front wheel and narrow-gauge steel fork will both potentially be in trouble with a disc brake - you run the risk of ejecting the front wheel or crumpling the fork at the disc mount.


IF the dropouts are built disc-specific (i.e facing forward) or the disc is located on the right then this disc ejection problem is solved as the braking action then pushes the axle into the dropout.

I suspect it's typical of Thorn's opinionated attitude that this is 'impossible' rather than admitting that they just don't like doing it.
More stem stackers anyone? :wink:

stewartpratt
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Re: Tandem questions

Postby stewartpratt » 29 Jul 2009, 4:39pm

hamster wrote:IF the dropouts are built disc-specific (i.e facing forward) or the disc is located on the right then this disc ejection problem is solved as the braking action then pushes the axle into the dropout.


True enough. Though forks like this are hard to find too (Cotic Roadrat, can't think of any others off the top of my head).

hamster wrote:I suspect it's typical of Thorn's opinionated attitude that this is 'impossible' rather than admitting that they just don't like doing it.
More stem stackers anyone? :wink:


I think it's more that they find it incomprehensible that anyone would prefer to have a disc brake than to have a flexible curved and tapered fork with QR dropouts - but yes. "Characteristically dogmatic" is the phrase I'd use :)