The Tandem Corner

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Konsi
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by Konsi

Hello,

From what I could gather in different threads, there is quite a number of us also riding a tandem. Unfortunately, not many can be seen in the Gallery. Yet.

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As a start, here is my Santana Visa (1993), in my possession since 2012. Bought in the US, transported via Couchsurfing and Lufthansa, rebuild with mostly affordable, but not necessarily lightweight parts, it comes in at just 20kg with the rear rack and light and the wider 32mm tires.

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Tange Steel, handbuild in California, Ritchey stems and handlebars, Aerospoke wheels, Conti 4Seasons (originally 28mm, now 32mm), Campagnolo Ergopowers with Shimano XT drivetrain. I didn't always have an odometer on the bike, but I have worn through two rear tires and one front tire, so I assume around 4500-5000km.

I probably should take a few better photos of it ...

DamonRinard
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by DamonRinard

Hi Konsi,

Nice to see another tandem rider! Beautiful Santana you have. I think the shop I worked at might have sold similar, back in the day.

My wife Jane, an accomplished cyclist herself, and I love to ride our old tandem. We try to ride one day of each weekend, then single bikes on the other day.

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The "NO PAIN - NO JANE" sticker on her top tube is from a ski area in Colorado. https://www.winterparkresort.com/the-mo ... ne-history
Nevertheless, it's an appropriate sticker for us, because at the right time (this is usually downhill, LOL!), we enjoy inflicting pain on the riders who try to keep up with us! LOL

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Some people are surprised our bike has rim brakes, not discs. Luckily, this bike is capable of both: a rear adapter and I changed the front fork. Years ago after warping several rotors, I switched back to rim. Set up carefully, they work great.

Thinking of ways to save weight, like maybe a crank upgrade (expen$ive!!!). I'm not very comfortable with very many other light parts. In general, I'm less willing to risk broken parts on a tandem. Obviously, it sees higher forces than a single bike, and also I want to protect my stoker! :-) I have a higher risk tolerance than she does. I don't want have to walk home, or worse, get up off the road... :shock:

Cheers,
Damon
Damon Rinard
Engineering Manager, Road Bikes
Cycling Sports Group, Cannondale
Ex-Kestrel, ex-Velomax, ex-Trek, ex-Cervelo

by Weenie


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Konsi
Posts: 142
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by Konsi

Hej Damon,

Considering your signature, I am surprised to see that you are not on a Cannondale Tandem, those were always a dream of mine.

If I could, I would go with disc brakes on mine though, the Aerospokes are awful at distributing heat, and I have to stop on longer descents frequently. When it starts to smell like burned rubber, I have to take a break. But I cannot complain too much, keeping in mind the budget, the whole tandem cost me less than 800 Euros.

Best

Konstantin

DamonRinard
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Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:32 pm
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by DamonRinard

Hi Konstantin,

It's really cool how inexpensive your tandem is! I like that people can enjoy a bike even if it's not the most expensive.

Yes, Cannondale tandems are famous. In the old days, possibly when your Santana was also being made, 1990s to early 2000s, Cannondale tandems were lighter and stiffer (stiffness is important in tandems!) than any steel tandems. We dreamed of owning a Cannondale. Many of our club mates did. Instead, I got a defective steel tandem frame for free, from a local builder. Jane and I rode it (at first without paint!) for a year or two, eventually painting it red and labeling it with my own name. (Due to a simple but embarrassing manufacturing mistake, the real builder didn't want his name on it.) That steel tandem was ridden in many time trials, and Jane and her teammate Adrian rode it to a U.S. National record that stood for about ten years! They covered 40 km in a little more than 53 minutes or so, quite good for the women's 90+ age category (the total age of the two riders added together). And not bad for a free tandem. ;-)

Later, I got the current bike when I worked at Trek. Lucky for me, another free tandem! The head tube had been bored twice, once off-axis and again on-axis. I used epoxy to bond in the headset cup and it's been there for I guess about 15 years now.

Four years ago when I started working at Cannondale, I looked for a Cannondale tandem, but they had just stopped making them! I'm keeping my eyes open for a good deal. Of course, free again would be ideal. LOL :-)

For your tandem, may I suggest: instead of disc brakes, use tandem wheels with wire spokes? Aerospokes are strong wheels, but the plastic body covers a lot of the rim surface (half?), which I think would really benefit from air cooling if it were exposed.

We use Alex G6000 rims on our tandem and have never had brake heating problems, like we did with discs.

They're great for road tandems:
- 23 mm wide (outside),
- 17 mm wide (inside),
- 30 mm tall
- Available with lots of spokes (we use 32)

A little heavy, listed at 655 grams(!) but that's okay for a comfortable peace of mind on a tandem.
Image
https://www.benscycle.com/alex-g6000-ri ... 11/product

Cheers,
Damon
Damon Rinard
Engineering Manager, Road Bikes
Cycling Sports Group, Cannondale
Ex-Kestrel, ex-Velomax, ex-Trek, ex-Cervelo

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pdlpsher1
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Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:09 pm
Location: CO

by pdlpsher1

I've been a long time tandem rider. Here's our current tandem. The blue one is our prior tandem. The current tandem has a double ring setup which I really love (50/34 front, 11-40 cassette). Our blue one has the typical triple crank and a 11-36 cassette. Both bikes have disk brakes on the rear (250mm rotor) and caliper brake on the front.

Our first tandem is also a Santana (not shown here). It's a custom steel fillet brazed Sovereign from 1988. It has 135mm rear dropout and caliper brakes front and rear. On a steep descent (8% grade, 3 miles long) the front rim heated to the point where the tire blew off the rim. Luckily I had already noticed something wasn't quite right and slowed down to 10mph. Neither of us were injured. After the incident we decided to buy a tandem with disk brake (blue bike).

We enjoy tandeming very much. We were riding tandems before we got married. People say a tandem could be a divorce machine. Here's a good tip. Don't push yourself too hard and do too long of a ride. Once you are fatigued you get pissy, which is very bad when you have a riding partner so close by :D


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Last edited by pdlpsher1 on Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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pdlpsher1
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by pdlpsher1

I found a pic. of our first tandem. This was taken in March 2004. The trailer has our one year old son in it. The trailer was our freedom liberator. It allowed us to go biking while having a one-year old :D

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DamonRinard
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by DamonRinard

Hi pdlpsher1,

Nice to meet another owner of multiple tandems! Thanks for your photos. Looks like a beautiful bike you have now!

"50/34 front, 11-40 cassette. How are the hills where you ride? We've considered a double, but here in Connecticut the hills are short and steep - we need a really low gear. And a really high gear! But we could *almost* make do with a double like yours. How do you find your double on your terrain? Steps between gears small enough?

Divorce machine? I've heard that too, and for a lot of couples it might be true! For a different way to say almost the same thing, I'll quote my friend Will: "No matter where your relationship is headed, a tandem will take you there faster!" LOL

Cheers,
Damon
Damon Rinard
Engineering Manager, Road Bikes
Cycling Sports Group, Cannondale
Ex-Kestrel, ex-Velomax, ex-Trek, ex-Cervelo

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pdlpsher1
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Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:09 pm
Location: CO

by pdlpsher1

Thanks Damon. Haha. I like your quote.

I live in a very hilly area. Fortunately I don't have a climb a steep grade for an extended period. I live at 6,000' elevation. To do any ride I first have to descend 800' to 5,200'. Then it's rollers everywhere we go, or longer climbs if we choose to climb. Then we finish off with a 800' ascent to our house. We went from a triple to double setup and the difference is amazing. The wide-ratio cassette has two main benefits. One, because the ratios gaps are larger, we end up shifting a lot less. Due to the extra mass of a tandem, the variability of speed and the manner which the bike accellerates/decellerates suits a wide ratio cassette very well. Given our local hilly terrain we are always either slowing down or speeding up. So with a double setup, one with a wide range cassette, we end up shifting the rear a lot less. Secondly, having a 50 front ring and a 11-34 allows us to stay in the front ring longer. If we hit a small hill that we will 'roll' over, I can stay on the front 50 ring down to a speed as slow as 10mph without having an extreme cross-chaining. This is because I only have a 50 front (as opposed to a 53) AND a 11-40 cassette. The 11-40 cassette has the following ratios (11-13-15-17-19-21-24-27-31-35-40). I can pedal efficiently with a 50-31 gear combo down to 10mph. This is not an extreme cross chain. Having a double setup means FAR fewer downshifts from the 50 to a 34 unless we are actually climbing a real hill. If we ride the rollers I almost never shift down to the 34. On a tandem a front shift is always more cumbersome because both riders have to reduce the pedaling power, and after the front shift is done you'll need 2-3 offset shifts on the rear. So any gear system that reduces the number of front shifts is a real bonus. In conclusio with a double system we end up with a faster average speed because we end up shifting a lot less.

The new Shimano 'shadow' long cage 'GS' rear derailleur is a marvel. The stated maximum tooth capacity is 34 but it can easily accommodate a 40 by adjusting the B screw. The B screw on the new 'shadow' RD works differently from the old B screw. The adjustment range is very wide. With the new Ultegra 'GS' RD I can shift into the extrement cross chain gear combos without the chain being too tight or too loose. These extreme combos are 50-40 and 34-11. I will never use these gears but even if I accidently shift into those combos no damage of any kind will result.

I hope I answered your question. And oh, in a somewhat related matter, I always find it interesting that when tandem owners get together, we always talk about some technical topics. If one has been riding a tandem for a while it's easy to understand that tandems put a lot of stress on every component. Yes, I have broken a lot of tandem wheels in seventeen years. Keeping a tandem is good working order is always a challenge.

MichaelK
Posts: 77
Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2018 4:50 pm

by MichaelK

Does everybody has their girlfriend/wife as the stoker? I think a bit more training and I'd have my girlfriend as the pilot.

DamonRinard
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Location: Connecticut, USA

by DamonRinard

Hi MichaelK,

Yes, my wife is my normal stoker. The occasional "guest" stoker can be fun. It's nice to share the experience with a guest who is interested.

Generally, the conventional wisdom is to have the heavier/stronger rider on the front.
- Steering sometimes requires a little more upper body strength, and good bike handling skills help.
- Normally the captain is the one who puts a foot down at a stop and has to hold up the stoker, so of course it's easier if the stoker is the lighter rider.
- Captain might have to squeeze the brake levers harder than on a single bike.

As an example of stoker-as-captain, Jane, my stoker, has captained a lot, although not with me as stoker (I'm heavier), but with her teammates. For example, she was captain for the US Masters national record, and captained with a different teammate for other time trials (and training for them).

So if your GF is heavier/stronger, or especially skilled bike handler, should be okay for her to captain.

Cheers,
Damon
Damon Rinard
Engineering Manager, Road Bikes
Cycling Sports Group, Cannondale
Ex-Kestrel, ex-Velomax, ex-Trek, ex-Cervelo

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pdlpsher1
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Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:09 pm
Location: CO

by pdlpsher1

Everything Damon said is true regarding pilot/stoker. OTOH I get the impression that the tandem is most 'efficient' in terms of power delivery when the stronger rider is on the back. This is due to the drivetrain layout of a tandem...the captain's power has to be transferred to the stoker's crankset via a timing chain/belt. As an example, on our bike the timing belt is on the NDS. When I (the captain) pushes down with my right foot, the torque has to go through a crank axle, propel the timing chain, turns the timing chainring on the stoker's crank, goes through a second crank axle, before the torque is now on the stoker's drive chainrings. Said differently, when I stomp on the pedals I can hardly feel the bike accelerate. When my wife stomps on her pedals I can feel an immediate acceleration. So from a speed/efficiency perspective it's better to have the stronger rider on the back. But for too many practical reasons this is rarely done. On some racing oriented tandems they put the timing chain/belt on the DS. This is done purely for efficiency gains. But there are other tradeoffs so it's rarely done by tandem manufacturers.

When I was younger (before marriage) I did serve as a stoker with a male captain on a few double century rides. Tandeming is a lot of fun because you have to work as a team. If either the captain or the stoker has a urge to compete with other riders on the road then you must compete as a team. Winning/losing depends on how well the two work together.

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Konsi
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by Konsi

MichaelK wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 3:15 pm
Does everybody has their girlfriend/wife as the stoker? I think a bit more training and I'd have my girlfriend as the pilot.
As I have been mostly single since getting the tandem, no. I have had about 15 different stokers so far, friends, family, curious bystanders. Tandems are also great to cycle with visually impaired people or someone who never learned cycling.

My tandem has a rather high toptube, so anyone with an inseam below 82/83cm has a hard time in the front, which in most cases determined who could go in the front.

MichaelK
Posts: 77
Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2018 4:50 pm

by MichaelK

pdlpsher1 wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 4:56 pm
Everything Damon said is true regarding pilot/stoker. OTOH I get the impression that the tandem is most 'efficient' in terms of power delivery when the stronger rider is on the back. This is due to the drivetrain layout of a tandem...the captain's power has to be transferred to the stoker's crankset via a timing chain/belt. As an example, on our bike the timing belt is on the NDS. When I (the captain) pushes down with my right foot, the torque has to go through a crank axle, propel the timing chain, turns the timing chainring on the stoker's crank, goes through a second crank axle, before the torque is now on the stoker's drive chainrings. Said differently, when I stomp on the pedals I can hardly feel the bike accelerate. When my wife stomps on her pedals I can feel an immediate acceleration. So from a speed/efficiency perspective it's better to have the stronger rider on the back. But for too many practical reasons this is rarely done. On some racing oriented tandems they put the timing chain/belt on the DS. This is done purely for efficiency gains. But there are other tradeoffs so it's rarely done by tandem manufacturers.

When I was younger (before marriage) I did serve as a stoker with a male captain on a few double century rides. Tandeming is a lot of fun because you have to work as a team. If either the captain or the stoker has a urge to compete with other riders on the road then you must compete as a team. Winning/losing depends on how well the two work together.
Yeah this is what I was getting at. Drivetrain inefficency really. I guess modern tandems and drivetrains are better/stiffer. My partner isn't much shorter and weighs nearly the same so a tandem with the right geometry could work for us in either position.

Maybe a using a regular double but as a 1x with the inner chainring being used for the timing chain could work?

by Weenie


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