Dipping my toe into a tandem

For discussions about bikes and equipment.
User avatar
Claireysmurf
Posts: 612
Joined: 18 Nov 2011, 12:10am
Contact:

Dipping my toe into a tandem

Postby Claireysmurf » 28 Jan 2015, 1:28pm

I have a strong and potentially irrational urge to own a tandem. My partner is supportive and happy to be Stoker to my Captain. I have never tried a tandem but don't see it as difficult technically.

My question is what to buy? I think I want to spend relatively little on a first tandem. Are the Viking or Indigo tandems that are readily available on ebay and Amazon just too much in the manner of a BSO to bother with? Here's one as an example http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/INDIGO-TURISMO-CITY-HYBRID-700C-TANDEM-BIKE-RRP-599-99-/301191575665?pt=UK_Bikes_GL&var=&hash=item46206ab871

If I were to go for a tandem should I be scared of the very elderly ones that crop up (I see quite a few 1960s or similar Pashleys etc.).

Is there anything I should be looking at if looking at used tandems (either models or in terms of wear and tear?). Does anyone have a high spec tandem for modest money they might sell ( I know, I know)

My N+1 itch NEEDS a tandem.

Thanks
Claire :D

Vorpal
Moderator
Posts: 18761
Joined: 19 Jan 2009, 3:34pm
Location: Not there ;)

Re: Dipping my toe into a tandem

Postby Vorpal » 28 Jan 2015, 1:36pm

I recommend looking for a used Thorn. The others migth be okay just to try the idea, but if you take to it, I doubt they will have the durability that a little more money will get you with a used Thorn. I have a Thorn Voyager childback tandem, and we love it. IMO, it is a well-constructed and practical machine. No bells and whistles, but I spent circa £500 on it (a few years ago), and got it with the original receipt, and the specification, as built.

Besides keeping an eye out here, check the Thorn forum, and the Tandem Club site.

It may be worth posting a 'wanted', as well.

If you just want to try tandeming, these folks http://www.tandeming.co.uk/ came highly recommended by one of my clubmates. I haven't tried them myself; I eventually decided it wasn't worth the trip over from Essex, but my clubmate waxed enthusiastic about them.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

Ugly
Posts: 458
Joined: 14 Jul 2009, 8:34am

Re: Dipping my toe into a tandem

Postby Ugly » 28 Jan 2015, 4:22pm

My advice would be:
Don't buy anything that is not as good as the bike(s) you ride regularly
Buy good 2nd hand, then if it is not quite right or the pair of you don't make a compatible tandem pair you can sell it at small loss

Dawes are a good start, avoid cheap old French made ones and small wheel jobs by makers you have never heard of.

User avatar
Claireysmurf
Posts: 612
Joined: 18 Nov 2011, 12:10am
Contact:

Re: Dipping my toe into a tandem

Postby Claireysmurf » 28 Jan 2015, 4:27pm

[quote="Ugly"]Don't buy anything that is not as good as the bike(s) you ride regularly
quote]

That would be a Cube Peloton road bike and an audax/light touring biased Croix de Fer custom build.

reohn2
Posts: 40711
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: Dipping my toe into a tandem

Postby reohn2 » 28 Jan 2015, 4:43pm

I'd thoroughly recommend tandeming,especially if one half of the team isn't such a strong rider.
There aren't any serious technical issues to riding a tandem,usually an hours getting used is all that's needed for general riding,though if the stoker is a solo cyclist s/he may have to compromise their individual riding style slightly and accept that the captain/helmsman is just that,as the one with the steering makes the decisions and has full control of the machine.
Stopping and starting needs a little practice but doesn't take long to master,providing the team communicate effectively.
Also an agreed cadence needs to be reached as both riders' may differ widely.
Braking will need a little practice,especially at speed and in traffic,they don't stop quite as quick as solos.

Secondhand tandems come onto the market regularly and sometimes almost new as people sometimes buy the best and find out they don't like it.Both of our high quality adult tandems(Santana and Cannondale)were bought s/hand for half their new price.
We also own a childback KHS tandem again as new and bought for less than half the cost of a new one.
The Viking ones I believe are very good value for money,and an ideal starter tandem,though be prepared to upgrade the tyres and do a bit of fettling to get it tuned up.
Thorns are a great tandem s/hand,tough as old boots and usually well looked after though heavy.
I'd beware of older machines not that some aren't very good but usually the gearing is limited and the rear OLN is usually only 135mm or less which limits wheels to MTB hubs and 36 spokes,OK if you're a light team or the stoker is light,but if you're heavy can lead to problems,also some older chainsets only allow a 28t granny ring,you'll find unless both quite strong and working well together you need a loowww bottom gear as generally tandems are slloowww climbing compared to solos.
But if the frame,wheels,and chainset are good you're halfway there.
One thing worth considering if the stoker's tall,is that older tandems are short in the stoker ETT which means they get limited viewing and feel cramped,especially if the captain is taller.
Places to look aree The Tandem club website,here and Ebay.
Have fun :D
-----------------------------------------------------------

User avatar
deliquium
Posts: 2133
Joined: 9 Mar 2007, 3:40pm
Location: Eryri

Re: Dipping my toe into a tandem

Postby deliquium » 28 Jan 2015, 4:47pm

We started on a second hand early '90s Dawes Galaxy tandem for around £450 IIRC, with bar end shifters 7 speed triple - it was plenty good enough to dip ones toe on and a huge amount of fun :D . We sold it 3 months later for the same price we paid. And bought a custom built George Longstaff tandem trike :D
Current pedalable joys

"you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who nearly are half people and half bicycles"

User avatar
Claireysmurf
Posts: 612
Joined: 18 Nov 2011, 12:10am
Contact:

Re: Dipping my toe into a tandem

Postby Claireysmurf » 28 Jan 2015, 5:01pm

Great advice so far, thank you.

I'm about 5ft 11, the stoker is about 5ft 6. I am overweight but not obese and in case my stoker reads this, she is slimmer than me.

Bonefishblues
Posts: 8798
Joined: 7 Jul 2014, 9:45pm
Location: Near Bicester Oxon

Re: Dipping my toe into a tandem

Postby Bonefishblues » 28 Jan 2015, 5:05pm

Can I ask whereabouts you are based?

User avatar
Claireysmurf
Posts: 612
Joined: 18 Nov 2011, 12:10am
Contact:

Re: Dipping my toe into a tandem

Postby Claireysmurf » 28 Jan 2015, 5:07pm

Bonefishblues wrote:Can I ask whereabouts you are based?


Near Cardiff but am often in Bristol.

Bonefishblues
Posts: 8798
Joined: 7 Jul 2014, 9:45pm
Location: Near Bicester Oxon

Re: Dipping my toe into a tandem

Postby Bonefishblues » 28 Jan 2015, 5:10pm

Claireysmurf wrote:
Bonefishblues wrote:Can I ask whereabouts you are based?


Near Cardiff but am often in Bristol.

Hey ho, we've got a tandem that would have fitted that you could have borrowed for a week or two, just to see whether tandeming worked for you.

User avatar
Si
Moderator
Posts: 15188
Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 7:37pm

Re: Dipping my toe into a tandem

Postby Si » 28 Jan 2015, 5:12pm

Second hand tandems changed around the 1990s......if your other half is small then you might get away with an older one, but if not then you need a proper test ride. The issue is that older ones have a short stoker's top tube (as reynolds didn't make very long 531 etc), which means a taller stoker ends up with their face against the pilot's back.....nice and aero but not much of a very.

If looking for good cheap 2ndhand I'd look at Dawes double edge, or...and I can't remember the exact name...something like a two-down.

Or a burley samba - low middle range kit but an awesome frame and good wheels - great for improving over time if the bug bites. Last few I saw second hand looked like bargains.

Bonefishblues
Posts: 8798
Joined: 7 Jul 2014, 9:45pm
Location: Near Bicester Oxon

Re: Dipping my toe into a tandem

Postby Bonefishblues » 28 Jan 2015, 5:25pm

Si wrote:If looking for good cheap 2ndhand I'd look at Dawes double edge, or...and I can't remember the exact name...something like a two-down.

By coincidence, that's our model :)

User avatar
DaveP
Posts: 3333
Joined: 9 Mar 2007, 4:20pm
Location: W Mids

Re: Dipping my toe into a tandem

Postby DaveP » 28 Jan 2015, 5:47pm

You can see the cockpit issue for yourself if you study some of the pics on ebay.
Personally, I'd avoid machines that have a chain tensioner in the middle of the timing chain (the one that links the two sets of pedals). Its a cheap and nasty way to tension the chain and I can imagine all sorts of problems developing quite quickly if you ever have coordination problems - so no Pashley for me...
I wouldn't dispute the earlier comments about Viking tandems, but Personally I'd try for a used Dawes - Double edge or Discovery Twin. There have been several on the bay recently at about half price.
Trying to retain enough fitness to grow old disgracefully... That hasn't changed!

goatwarden
Posts: 700
Joined: 20 Nov 2009, 12:03pm
Location: Bristol

Re: Dipping my toe into a tandem

Postby goatwarden » 28 Jan 2015, 6:32pm

You are fine with pretty much any tandem, provided the rear rider is small. I have never seen an-off-the-shelf tandem with a long rear compartment; it is natural as it suits normal frame design to have the top tubes in one line sloping down from the head tube, and therefore frame builders assume that the consequent shorter rear seat tube should be matched to a shorter top tube. Most frames are designed for a front rider around 150mm taller than the rear.

We are approx 100mm different in height, with smaller on the back but are both tall. So my wife has only ever been comfortable on our custom frame, all the others were to cramped for her.

My nephew bought a Viking tandem a few years ago, at my recommendation, to have a go. It is broadly fine; they have been to France on it without complaint and have carried themselves plus two children. For the price of a fairly cheap single bike it was a bargain way to try out a tandem and is all they will ever want.

I believe Viking no longer fit disc brakes to their tandems; this need not be a concern provided they still use a frame and forks with disc mounts. For trying out a tandem, Vee brakes would be fine, but for adventurous riding discs front and rear plus a rear Vee parking/ emergency brake is much more sensible.

Lots of experienced tandem riders will tell you disc brakes are dangerous/ unnecessary/ less efficient than rims/ blah, blah, blah. They have never tried a bike with disc brakes, or only rubbish ones. I have had two tandems with BB7 203mm discs and would not want to go back to rim brakes. It is this uninformed perception of danger from disc brakes which means you won’t find a Thorn with a front disc.

I have noticed a lot of Luddite attitudes from tandem “experts”. Generally they are the product of individuals who can’t admit that there might be an equal, or better, solution than that which they have shelled out thousands to buy; or they come from people with a commercial interest in selling you the same thing as they have always done. The world of tandem supply is much smaller than that for single bikes, so there is less range of opinion available.

Bike components have, through MTB development, become much more suitable for tandems in the last twenty years (lower gears, better brakes, stiffer frames, stronger rims, lower cost) and the inclusion of these developments makes for a tandem which can be economical to maintain, more reliable and more pleasant to ride. A thirty year old six-speed Galaxy Twin with cantis and an Arai drum could be a pleasure to ride but unless it is dirt cheap, you would probably be as well off in the long run with a newish Viking.

reohn2
Posts: 40711
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: Dipping my toe into a tandem

Postby reohn2 » 28 Jan 2015, 7:17pm

Goatwarden
I agree with everything you've written wholeheartedly,other than the short ETT of most modern OTP tandems,ie; Cannondale Lge/Sml=front 590mm,rear 680mm Santana,their medium front 560mm,rear 670mm.
I'm 1.83m tall MrsR2,1.73m.She doesn't feel cramped.
Even our KHS childback tandem is 560mm front,670mm rear.
-----------------------------------------------------------