Tandem Biking

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Tandem Biking

Postby quantus » Mon Jul 13, 2009 11:02 pm

Well, LM and I ordered a tandem a few weeks ago and got it this past weekend. We've taken it out twice over the weekend for a 10-mile and then a 14-mile ride. It's pretty convenient that we live less than a mile from the Alameda Creek Trail. It takes a bit of work to get used to the communication necessary for getting one of these things going, but I'm learning. The trails around here are pretty flat and straight, so it's relatively easy going once the bike's moving. On our longer ride, we decided to kick up our leisurely pace to see how fast we could get moving without too much difficulty and got it going just over 25mph (that's with the front derailleur at gear 3 out 4 only and the rear derailleur at gear 7 or 8 out of 9). We probably could've gone faster, but we had to slow down some for curves (road underpasses) that came up every mile or so where we'd have to slow down again. Usually we cruise around 12-15mph.

I need to work out how to do a left turn across the 4-lane road that we live on without needing to get off the bike and walk it across at the cross walk. I'm thinking that we might try doing a right and a U-turn to go with the straight traffic across the street. However, the intersection uses sensors, so we might be waiting a while for a car to trip the sensor and change the light.
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Re: Tandem Biking

Postby Jonathan » Fri Jul 17, 2009 4:17 pm

How do you know how fast you're going? I've wondered this from time to time while on my bike.
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Re: Tandem Biking

Postby quantus » Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:04 pm

We have a digital odometer that's calibrated for our wheel size. It registers the little nub on one of our spokes every time it goes by the sensor mounted on the front fork. Our sensor wirelessly transmits the data to the little display on my handlebar. It gives us average speed, current speed and trip distance for two trips and the total for all trips. We tend to read the total distance rather than the trip distances since they get reset when we stop for some reason. It's common for us to stop to turn around because the trails are narrow and also when transitioning from the street to the trail because of the 20 foot dirt ramp in between is not handled very well by our road tires (it's harder to make fine adjustments in balance on a tandem, at least for n00bs like us).
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Re: Tandem Biking

Postby quantus » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:52 am

Jonathan wrote:How do you know how fast you're going? I've wondered this from time to time while on my bike.

Another way to do this rather than getting an odometer is to get the app for your iPhone from http://www.everytrail.com ... I don't think it'll give you instant feedback, but it will plot your course, speed and elevation for you...
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Re: Tandem Biking

Postby Jonathan » Sun Nov 06, 2011 8:18 pm

Hijacking for great justice!

Elsewhere on this site I have mentioned my current ride is a Trek 7200, probably the 2007 model year. I've been riding it since summer '07.

The 7200 has been a good bike for me. When I started, I hadn't biked regularly since getting my learner's permit at age 15. I tested a few other bikes, but I preferred the upright stance and low price of the 7200. The 7200 was comfortable enough that I liked to get on it and ride, but fast enough to grow with me as I improved as a cyclist. I immediately added fenders and a rack to the stock model. Last year I replaced the worn-out 700C/35mm tires for a Continental 32mm touring tire. (Incidentally, this tire is a monster --- eighteen months, zero flats.) Last winter I received a pair of Giro 100 Proof gloves which meant I was comfortable riding all winter except the few days of the year Portland has ice on the ground.


During the test ride of the 7200, I actually did not like the suspension fork or the twist-style shifter, but the price was right so I took it. Over time, I've grown frustrated with the gearing and the upright stance. I would also like to shift to a clipless pedal to generate power on the upstroke. I never use the rack any more. I would like a quicker bike. In short, I've outgrown the 7200.

I am considering buying the 2010 Trek Portland from my local bike shop, Bike Gallery. It's a discontinued line and not even this year's model, so it's on sale for $1162. At the regular retail price, it's probably a bit more than I want to spend. I really liked the integrated shifters when I test drove it yesterday. I think a disc brake is a wise choice for riding in wet weather conditions, but I did find the stock brakes on the 2010 to be mushier than I would like. It is significantly lighter than the 7200, but on the heavy side for a road bike (well above 20 lbs. without full fenders). The wheels are 24 spoke and I am concerned about the reliability of them. I am not very concerned about the brakes, because I can replace them quite cheaply.

The Portland geometry was a little weird for me on the 63cm frame. I tried a Raleigh Port Townshend touring bike which was more comfortable, but had these real annoying bar-end shifters I just could not stand to use. The salesguy said the stem on the Portland I was looking at was extra-long, so I could replace the stem with a smaller one for $40 and it may feel better then. Full fenders would be another $40. Perhaps, though, I should just look at some actual road bikes that can accept full fenders, instead. I'm heading back to the bike shop soon.

The gear question is tricky. The Portland has a triple chain-ring crank like the 7200. The Portland's crank is 50-39-30 compared to the 7200's 48-38-28, so the Portland is really covering the same range with just slightly higher gearing. The Portland's cassette is a 9 speed 11-26 compared to the 8 speed 11-32. I never use the 32, so the Portland will have effectively two more usable gears on the rear with the separation between gears significantly closer. I rarely use the third chain-ring and have thought I could do without it. On the flat, I can cruise along at 48/11 but lately I have been using 48/12 and increasing my cadence to compensate. Hopefully on the Portland I can cruise along at 50/12 with the same level of exertion as 48/12 on the 7200. If I really decide I want to change the gearing I think it is reasonably priced --- when I wore out a chain and cassette the replacements were about $80.

Since I don't use the rack for commuting, I think I will keep a rack off the new bike but hold onto my 7200 for hauling duty or bike path exploring.

Reviews have been generally kind to the Portland, but forum commenters are less so.

Summary:
  • Need integrated shifters
  • Need full fenders
  • Need drop handlebars
  • Want clipless pedal
  • Want a quicker ride from stop
  • Want a more aggressive geometry (maybe)
  • Want disc brakes (maybe)
  • Really unsure about the 24 spoke wheels
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Re: Tandem Biking

Postby Jonathan » Sun Nov 06, 2011 11:57 pm

After experimenting with a Trek 1.1, I decided the 60 cm frame was a bit small but the 62 was pretty comfortable. I bought the Portland (on the 63 cm discounted frame) with a new stem to bring the handlebars an inch closer to the seat. I've got four weeks to figure out if that is gonna work for me.

The Kona competitor to this Trek is selling at MSRP or 10% discount, so I don't think I would spend that much. There were some cyclo cross bikes that might get the job done, but they didn't have my size in stock and they were not as attractive as the Portland.
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Re: Tandem Biking

Postby Jonathan » Mon Nov 07, 2011 3:44 am

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Re: Tandem Biking

Postby quantus » Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:06 pm

You'll want disc brakes, they wear a lot better and stop much more consistently. Clipless pedals are nice, but will take some getting used to at first when stopping and starting (especially on a tandem!!)

We need to get a trailer for Erik so we can start riding again more consistently.
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