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My wife and I are going to purchase our first tandem soon. We have ridden my parents C'dale several times (it's a '05 or '06), obviously a newer aluminum design. How would the ride of something like a Co-Motion Speedster (631 Steel) compare.

I was not encouraged by the lateral stiffness of the C'dale, but I guess comparing it to our singles is similar to apple/oranges. I mainly want to know how much more, if any, the steel frame will feel flexy. I am about 6'0" 160lbs and my wife is 5'5" 120lbs so I expected the tandem to feel a little more stiff as I would not consider us a bigger team.

I like the idea of the stiffer Alu C'dale, but I've heard a bunch of talk about how nice a Co-Motion/Santana rides comparatively. The price is also more appealling with the C'dale. It looks like I'd basically be paying an extra $1500 for the smaller brands. Is it worth it?

FWIW, we'll mostly be doing touring type rides although both of us are fairly strong racer types. I assume we'll keep our singles for racing, the tandem for fun. Although the idea of racing the tandem with her is appealling as well. I just don't know of much tandem racing in the midwest, we're in Northern Indiana. Thanks!
 

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Well there are a lot of questions..........

We have owned Steel, Aluminum, Titanium and Carbon tandems. I suggest carbon.

But to answer your question of steel or aluminum I would have to say steel. My wife/stoker got so beat up on the back of an aluminum tandem that we had to sell it and get another (Ti that time-great bike).

OTOH if you are going to keep the tandem mileage down to 50 or less at a time aluminum might work. I'll mention that we weigh a little bit less than you folks but ride lots and lots. Also a suspension seatpost for the stoker didn't work as she couldn't stand the variable seat height that goes with it.
 

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Wow, if you are not impressed by the stiffness of the cdale, you won't be impressed with steel. Cdales are considered to be fairly stiff. But then, you are right to compare apples to oranges. Tandems are under different loads than singles, so you have to give them a little forgiveness.

I've never been impressed with Stantana's ride quality. Lots of cocky marketing hype to justify high pricing. On the other hand, Comotion does have some exceptional ride quality but for a price. Great company, too.

Racing, I would recommend Alum. You want stiffness of alum over steel. Also, cades can be built up to be lighter than more expensive boutique tandems costing thousands more. The premium with other brands is generally not worth it as $1500 will buy you a lot of lighweight bling.

Touring, I recommend Alum. Even the stiffest steel tandem will still flex and fish-tail under loaded panniers and racks. I never like that feeling, and consider tail-wagging at high speeds unsafe. Also frame flex contributes to sluggish steering feeling that really bothered me.

We've toured with Alum on double centuries, and found "modern" Alum to be quite comfortable. I stress modern Alum tandems as they are engineered to be more compliant than in the past, IMHO. Steel will always be more compliant than Alum.

In all, every team is different with different preferences. Good luck.
 

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nony said:
Wow, if you are not impressed by the stiffness of the cdale, you won't be impressed with steel. Cdales are considered to be fairly stiff. But then, you are right to compare apples to oranges. Tandems are under different loads than singles, so you have to give them a little forgiveness.

I've never been impressed with Stantana's ride quality. Lots of cocky marketing hype to justify high pricing. On the other hand, Comotion does have some exceptional ride quality but for a price. Great company, too.

Racing, I would recommend Alum. You want stiffness of alum over steel. Also, cades can be built up to be lighter than more expensive boutique tandems costing thousands more. The premium with other brands is generally not worth it as $1500 will buy you a lot of lighweight bling.

Touring, I recommend Alum. Even the stiffest steel tandem will still flex and fish-tail under loaded panniers and racks. I never like that feeling, and consider tail-wagging at high speeds unsafe. Also frame flex contributes to sluggish steering feeling that really bothered me.

We've toured with Alum on double centuries, and found "modern" Alum to be quite comfortable. I stress modern Alum tandems as they are engineered to be more compliant than in the past, IMHO. Steel will always be more compliant than Alum.

In all, every team is different with different preferences. Good luck.
While not as diverse as MB1 in regards to tandem frame materials, we have experience with what you ask.

We owned a Speedster, absolutely a smooth riding bike. We never toured on it, but every ride we did proudly displayed it's smooth flow over the asphalt. As the post I quoted, we too noticed the frame winding up a bit, and what really bothered my stoker was for us, on the flats above 25mph, the frame started flexing up and down, making her demand we slow down. Still a very nice bike.

As for aluminum, this is our preference. Yes we have off road tandems from Cannondale, these are not a bad ride on pavement, but also have big tires. The difference in flex is absolutely felt and noticed. Turning one more page, we sold the Speedster and got a Roadster. The Roadster has perky handling, and sits in between the Cannondale MTB tandems and the Speedster. Roadster is a good balance of stiffness vertically, and twisting. You can feel the bike lung forward with each stroke.

The post I quoted runs pretty much aligned with what we have found. I would like to add that wheels can also make a good frame feel soft, so consider the wheel quality, and how well tensioned the spokes are.

PK
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the feedback. I went ahead and picked up a Cannondale. It's a good looking bike and I think a great first tandem for us.

We plan to ride it for a season or two, see what we like/dislike about it, and then possibly sell it and build a "dream" tandem. From my research I'm leaning towards the Roadster from CoMotion with the performance level kit. Of course in a couple of years a lot can change, but again I appreciate your responses.
 

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FWIW, last year we got a cheap ($500 new) ALU road tandem. I was concerned about a harsh ride. Not to worry, the long wheelbase of a tandem smooths out most road washboard. Also, most tandems tend to ride a larger tire with a lower PSI. All that adds up to a pretty smooth ride.

Bottom line IMHO, steel offers little in terms of smoothness but sacrifices a lot in terms of flex. ALU works great for cheap tandem frames. My 2 cents.
 

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Here's some interesting info I found at this site: http://www.nordicgroup.us/bikerec/#Tandems

"Tandems

Tandems generally carry price tags that are far higher than two equivalently equipped singles, when logic would dictate that the price be much less. This is because tandems are not a mass market product, and most are made by small manufacturers.

Trek's T1000 is a good value, and it often goes on sale for well under $2000. Many years ago, when the MSRP was around $1700, I bought one for $1100, and this was not the cheapest price (one store had them for $1000, but didn't have the size I needed). Many Trek dealers don't carry the Trek tandems, since tandems are a slow-moving product. I think that Trek came out with a tandem to appease their tied shops, who wanted a product in that segment.

There are now many aluminum tandems available (for many years, only Cannondale had an aluminum tandem). These are best avoided due to the huge tube sizes needed to build a strong enough frame for a tandem. If you must buy an aluminum tandem, look into a Santana model that uses two parallel smaller tubes to compensate for the weak aluminum, rather than something like the Cannondale which use a huge boom tube to compensate."

Anyway, that's what they said.
 
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