Author Topic: Touring tandem: experience with different makes  (Read 5360 times)

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Offline Dullboot

Touring tandem: experience with different makes
« on: January 02, 2017, 02:44:15 am »
My wife and I have been using a basic tandem for a few years and are planning to upgrade soon.  We want a reliable tandem that fits well, can be packed for air travel and will work for us on extended tours.  We want it to last us for several years.  Some level of robustness is needed because we sometimes ride off road on gravel (but usually relatively flat groomed trails).  Our preferred method of carrying loads is panniers.
We have looked at Comotion, and like the bikes, but to get one In standard size with SS couplers, good quality drive train and solid wheels, packing cases etc. we are looking at around $7,500USD. 
I am left wondering if this level of purchase is spending more than we need to for what we are looking to achieve, but as the saying goes "nobody ever regretted buying quality". 
What I have read from other fora is that custom made sizing is not required and that the size of the captain is most important, as some level of adjustment can be made for the stoker.  So standard size will probably work.
Any thoughts or similar experience from anybody out there?


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Offline bluemootwo

Re: Touring tandem: experience with different makes
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2017, 05:19:33 am »
I have one of these and it is brilliant.

http://www.circecycles.com/products/helios/


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Offline DaveB

Re: Touring tandem: experience with different makes
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2017, 08:54:58 am »
As you have discovered, tandems are expensive and good ones are even more expensive.  The S&S couplers and the packing case are a big cost all by themselves so no one is going to make a cheap tandem with them.  Co-Motion is a great and well respected maker so, as you noted, you can't go wrong going with them.

Offline BrianW

Touring tandem: experience with different makes
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2017, 04:46:48 pm »
Unless you need a custom fit or the newest technology, you can likely find a nicely setup used Santana or Co-Motion S&S tandem for between $2500-$4000. For maximum versatility and ease of packing for a couples touring tandem, my preference is 26" wheels, but others will disagree.

I have three S&S tandems: a Co-Motion Mocha (26"), Santana Fusion (26"), and Santana Cabrio triplet (700c). The 26" wheeled bikes are definitely easier to fit in S&S cases.

PM me if you have more questions. We've been touring and traveling/flying wth our tandems/triplet for 17 years or so.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2017, 06:17:51 pm by BrianW »

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Touring tandem: experience with different makes
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2017, 06:55:51 pm »
I would agree used is the way to go.  Sort of.  If you have years to look, you might possibly find what you want.  Do you have years to look?  You want the S&S couplers.  These are sort of common on tandems.  But are expensive options at purchase.  So any used price with them will have them priced in.  Much higher than a non S&S equivalent.

Your statement included this:

"We want a reliable tandem that fits well, can be packed for air travel and will work for us on extended tours.  We want it to last us for several years.  Some level of robustness is needed because we sometimes ride off road on gravel (but usually relatively flat groomed trails).  Our preferred method of carrying loads is panniers."

I doubt panniers are a problem unless you get a road racing only tandem.  Every tandem can accommodate rear racks and maybe a new fork would solve low rider racks on the front.  Or possibly clamp on racks.  All tandems handle wide tires, 35mm.  So gravel would not be a problem.  Your main problem is the air travel.  This requires the S&S couplers and bags.  Expensive.  Expensive to get the S&S, the carry bags, and the shipping cost to send the bike.  Very expensive every time you travel.  Not just the extra expense at purchase.

You want a Rolls Royce, Ferrari, but think the asking price is too high at the car dealership.  Either pay the asking price, or change what you want to buy.  If you give up the air travel requirement, you could find a used, good tandem tomorrow for cheap.  Just resign yourself to driving everywhere with your tandem.  No flying with the tandem.

Offline Dullboot

Re: Touring tandem: experience with different makes
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2017, 03:15:25 am »
Thanks all for the comments.  Yes I was thinking the 26" wheels would be easier to pack, it is now a customisation for the Co-motion mocha as they now use a bigger wheel.  Driving everywhere would be great if we could, but we live on an island, so no option but to fly.  Thanks for confirming what we thought, there are limited other options.  Will take a look for a used one. 


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Offline Dullboot

Re: Touring tandem: experience with different makes
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2017, 03:36:34 am »
I have one of these and it is brilliant.

http://www.circecycles.com/products/helios/


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Thanks for the suggestion.  I have seen others who are using folding tandems for long tours (e.g. Flying Cyclists). What is your experience with this type of tandem?  Is the frame sturdy enough for an extended tour (wobbles etc)?  How do you find the smaller wheels to ride on?


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Offline bluemootwo

Re: Touring tandem: experience with different makes
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2017, 08:24:07 am »
My Circe doesn't fold but when dismantled it takes up little space - there are photos on the Circe Facebook pages of these tandems in the boots of average sized cars. I bought this tandem because without any dismantling its length is exactly the width of my motorhome and it rides on the rack perfectly.

Like all well made small wheeled bikes it feels stronger and more sturdy than an equivalent quality/cost large wheel bike (yes, I also own a Brompton and a Pashley TSR...).

The racks, front and back, are superb, the best I have ever come across. The rear rack is engineered to cope with a directly mounted child seat so it is more than capable of my panniers. Tyres are excellent.

I went for the SRAM DD3-30 hub/derailleur combo which is perfect for tandem use. And mechanical disc brakes with a 3rd brake on the rim. Very happy - feels like it could take us anywhere.


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Offline DaveB

Re: Touring tandem: experience with different makes
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2017, 09:54:00 am »
The 26" wheeled bikes are definitely easier to fit in S&S cases.
+1  I've never had a tandem but i did own a 700c wheel Co-Motion S&S single bike.  The wheels, even with 23 mm tires, were a press fit into the packing case and the tires had to be deflated.  I highly recommend 650B or MTB 26" wheels with modest width tires as a very desirable option.

Offline AdventureRide

Re: Touring tandem: experience with different makes
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2017, 09:45:54 pm »
My wife and I have done many years of tandem touring. Our old non-coupled tandem finally broke after about a 100K miles and we replaced it with a S&S Rodriguez. We really like the Rod. All Rods are customs (for about the same $ as other manufacturers stock sizes).  Fit is KING.  If it doesn't fit, all is lost. Be careful. Note:  I have no relationship with Rodriguez other than being a satisfied customer.

Our bike has 700 wheels and yes it is a tight fit in the case. Sometimes, depending on the tire, I have to partially dismount the tire.  But I find that no big deal as we carry a frame pump and it takes but a few extra minutes in the assembly process to air up the tires.

You don't buy a tandem bike very often. Please don't get a bad case of buyer's remorse by trying to cut a few financial corners. I'd rather  put off my purchase for awhile and save up to get the right bike instead of maybe forcing a round peg in the square hole. Just sayin'.

Offline BrianW

Touring tandem: experience with different makes
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2017, 09:05:56 am »
@dullboot - what size tandem are you looking for? I'll likely be selling a 26"-wheeled S&S tandem this spring (Santana Fusion or Co-Motion Mocha; I have both just need to decide which to sell). Both are medium frames.

Offline jparaclete

Re: Touring tandem: experience with different makes
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2017, 08:47:08 am »
My wife and I have a Co-motion Equator tandem the the Rolhloff internal hub with carbon belts. We love it. We have taken it on  the GAP trail in the east and on Bitterroot in Idaho. The Norpac section was extremely rough when we took it. We never had to worry about dirt in chain or gear rings. We did not get the couplers but wish we had. We do have disc brakes. We had our bike fit as compared to our old tandem and it made a big difference for our endurance. Yes, it is expensive but in 3 years we have 12,000 miles for $8000. That is cheap per mile. The equator handles almost anything. Have fun shopping.


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Offline canalligators

Re: Touring tandem: experience with different makes
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2017, 12:41:33 pm »
I don't know if you're open to recumbents, but you can find a used Vision R82/85 for somewhere around $1500, sometimes less.  It splits in the middle and each part can be fit into a bike box.  Alternately, you can remove the wheels and pack the frame into one box.  It was a challenge to figure this all out, but here's one approach: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=tS&page_id=65351&v=8O.  The notable travel hassle with recumbents is that you'll need a bag or bags for the seats, so you end up with more bits to carry along.

Offline ian123running

Re: Touring tandem: experience with different makes
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2017, 09:56:27 am »
Hi Dullboot and good to see tandem talk on the Adventure Cycling forum!

We have a Co-Motion 'Colorado' Supremo bought about 4 years ago.  We originally borrowed one from friend to try, and our old Dawes Galaxy tandem felt like a noodle in comparison.

Ours has S&S couplings (objects of beauty in themselves!), 700 wheels, disc brakes and carbon fork.   We fly with it regularly which does mean about 90 minutes (or less if we work together) at each end to pack / unpack and finding somewhere (usually a hotel) to store the cases.

The wheels fit in the cases, no problem.  Depending on the airline and what else we're carrying this often falls within our baggage allowance but sometimes we'll pay for an extra bag.  So far no problems flying.  We pack the cases with clothing etc up to the weight allowance.

To load it in the car we take of the front only which is a 3 minute job.  It's got a Gates belt drive for timing - this is fabulously clean compared with a chain and never needs adjusting and gives a very direct link between driver and passenger (I should not have said that...) .  The rings began to wear after 8000 miles so we've replaced them.

For touring we use a trailer and two rear panniers.  We've cycle camped across France and done many major climbs in Europe and USA.  But the our Co-Motion excels at all kinds of road riding and this is what we like about it - it's light, fast enough and handles well for shorter day rides and climbing, but we can also load it up and tour long distances.  And it feels totally secure and predictable at speed - a lovely smooth flow never any wobbles or jitters.  We've done some reasonably fast descents on a wide variety of surfaces.  We rarely ride off-road, and when we do we take it slowly on our relatively narrow tyres.

We have absolutely no regrets - yes, expensive to buy, with some maintenance costs, but compared to the riding enjoyment but well worth it.  A classy machine.

In terms of fit we are similar heights so was fairly straightforward.  I set mine up similar to my road bike (using the three contact points) as a starting point.  Jeannine has a telescopic stem with loads of length adjustment (I think these are standard).  Our dealer was excellent and making sure we both had a good fit.   After while she did switch to drop handlebars instead of the standard 'bullhorns' - just her preference.

We could not imagine finding the right bike for us second-hand - we wanted the right bike, without compromises, which will hopefully last us many years.  It was a bit of an eye-watering sum at the time but well worth it 4 years on.

Ian
« Last Edit: January 26, 2017, 02:52:12 am by ian123running »

Offline Dullboot

Re: Touring tandem: experience with different makes
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2017, 04:51:31 am »
Thanks for all the information. It seems to me there is no one right answer. It is good to read of so many people enjoying their tandems so much. Definitely there needs to be some balance between cost and 'pack-ability'. One common theme seems to be the need to make sure the fit is right. Thank you all


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