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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Why are most all Tandems set up as triples? I am purchasing a used tandem and I was thinking of converting it to a double.:confused:
 

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I don't know, I have no tandem, but I would think that...
1) since a tandem is a rather heavy piece of equipment, a triple crank may come in handy to pull all that weight up hill
and 2) especially so if your partner (stoker is the term, isn't it?) isn't as strong as you are.

For an exemple, my ex-girlfriend enjoyed biking, but I'd say we were realy just riding around. For her, 15 miles was quite the exercice - it took well over one hour. I do not imagine riding a tandem with her using a double crank : the moment I'd get tired, she certainly wouldn't be the one to pull us through!

If you and your partner are both very fit & run hard on a light road tandem, yes, off course, you could run a double crank...

Remember, these should be taken as hypotheses, since I never ran a tandem. It's just what makes sense to me, anyway.
 

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We rarely use our inner chainring but when we need it there is no substitute (except walking). You just can't muscle a tandem the way you can a half bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
MB-1... What type of climbs would you use your granny?
My wife and I are both strong riders, I have borrowed tandems many times and I have never shifted down to the granny.
On the other hand, I have never ridden a tandem where there are long steep climbs, like skyline drive? So, maybe I don't know what I'm in for?
For rolling east coast terrain, I'm thinking a double will be fine? Am I wrong?
btw, My wife and I will/can stand on climbs.
 

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mrfixit said:
btw, My wife and I will/can stand on climbs.
I think that's a part of the reason for a triple. Not everyone is comfortable with tandem standing climbing. Even when you do have the teamwork and skill necessary, you just can't grind a tandem the same way you can a single. Personally, I'm in the camp that says that standing climbing is a generally bad idea in terms of cycling efficiency, other than for a change of pace or to beat a short steep. That'd be doubly true on a tandem.

That said, I don't fight a lot of terrain, and probably wouldn't on the tandem in any case. My similar thought is to get a tighter cassette for the rear. I personally see more benefit to that than to dropping the granny.
 

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We ride with a triple on our tandem, but haven't used the granny in several years. Having said that, I still plan on leaving the granny on the bike. Better to have more gear range than you need.

As others have mentioned, tandems and teams are heavy, thus needs a wider gear range.
 

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mrfixit said:
MB-1... What type of climbs would you use your granny?
My wife and I are both strong riders, I have borrowed tandems many times and I have never shifted down to the granny.
On the other hand, I have never ridden a tandem where there are long steep climbs, like skyline drive? So, maybe I don't know what I'm in for?
For rolling east coast terrain, I'm thinking a double will be fine? Am I wrong?
btw, My wife and I will/can stand on climbs.
See what you can get away with. Even still you may decide to keep the triple when you see what a replacement tandem crankset costs!! But at least you're dealing with the one part that is actually the same as a single if you only change out the stoker's right hand crank.

Even coming down rolling hills at 40mph, you'll be amazed at how fast your speed will drop off going up the other side. We climbed a few 7% grades this weekend. The longest was maybe 1/2 mile and we grannyed it after we lost our momentum. If you never use the granny, then you could get rid of it.

We're currently geared 30/42/53 with a 12-27 in the back. But I have an 11-34 in case we go somewhere mountainous to ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
android said:
See what you can get away with. Even still you may decide to keep the triple when you see what a replacement tandem crankset costs!! But at least you're dealing with the one part that is actually the same as a single if you only change out the stoker's right hand crank.
I was not planning on replacing the crank, just the bottom bracket. One thing that has not been upgraded are the bottom brackets. I was going to remove the inner ring and switch to a sealed BB with a shorter spindle.
I don't understand this theory that tandems are heavy so it's hard to go up hill. A tandem is generally around the weight of two bikes, but you have twice the horse power. So why would it matter?
 

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mrfixit said:
I don't understand this theory that tandems are heavy so it's hard to go up hill. A tandem is generally around the weight of two bikes, but you have twice the horse power. So why would it matter?
Not sure where on the east coast you're riding, but if you're on any sustained climb, and your cadence drops low enough, w/o your granny you won't be able to turn over the cranks. And it's gonna take a LOT of tandem riding before you'll master both standing on a climb.

That said, you should pull the granny off, and let us know how it works out for you. Be sure to throw in some climbs.

BTW - cool looking tandem - looks like you got a great deal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
thinkcooper said:
Not sure where on the east coast you're riding, but if you're on any sustained climb, and your cadence drops low enough, w/o your granny you won't be able to turn over the cranks. And it's gonna take a LOT of tandem riding before you'll master both standing on a climb.

BTW - cool looking tandem - looks like you got a great deal.
I ride in the mid-atlantic area (Maryland). Rolling terrain, mainly short steep climbs, but plenty of them.
My wife and I only have about 30 hours of time riding on borrowed tandems, but we both feel very confortable standing on climbs with the tandem. Even my daughter climbs well standing as a stoker. All the tandems we have borrowed have had triples and I have yet to use the granny on any of them.
I'm going for it. No triple for me. I hope I don't regret the decision....:idea:
I'll keep you guys posted.

Yea, I'm very happy with the deal. I think that it's probably worth about 1k more than I paid.
 

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Doesn't sound like you'll miss the grannie. Here on California's central coast, pretty much any ride we're on has climbs with at least 400-800' of steep climbing, and lots have climbs over 1500' with 8%+ grades, so we spin up in the grannie. My wife is a decent road rider, and climbs well on her single but hates practicing standing climbs on the tandem. I put on a smaller middle ring so we could try and stay out of the grannie; that helps, but on those longer sustained climbs, it's a slow spin to the top.
 

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We have a couple in our club (Pam and Scott) who can stand on their tandem for sustained climbs. They can climb faster than me (not saying much). They do have a triple on it, but don't often use the granny.
 

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I suppose that removing the granny gear has to do with removing "dead" weight, right?
Just to put things in perspective... Supposing your tandem weighs 30 pounds and that the granny ring is about 80 grams (it's probably less than that), then you're shaving a whopping 0,5% of your bike's mass. And if you factor in the riders, you increase the total weight roughly tenfolds, which means you're losing only about 0,05% of your riding weight.

Put that way, it doesn't seem like a lot, does it? Anyway, take this with a grain of salt. I'm just rationalizing and I'd be a liar if I said I've never tried shaving a few grams off my "single rider" road bike, in proportions which would in fact compare to that...

...And it will be a long time before a third ring gets back on my roadie!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Svooterz said:
I suppose that removing the granny gear has to do with removing "dead" weight, right?
Just to put things in perspective... Supposing your tandem weighs 30 pounds and that the granny ring is about 80 grams (it's probably less than that), then you're shaving a whopping 0,5% of your bike's mass. And if you factor in the riders, you increase the total weight roughly tenfolds, which means you're losing only about 0,05% of your riding weight.

Put that way, it doesn't seem like a lot, does it? Anyway, take this with a grain of salt. I'm just rationalizing and I'd be a liar if I said I've never tried shaving a few grams off my "single rider" road bike, in proportions which would in fact compare to that...

...And it will be a long time before a third ring gets back on my roadie!
It has nothing to do with weight. I have some Dura Ace double componets that I want to put on it. Also, doubles always shift better than triples.
 

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mrfixit said:
It has nothing to do with weight. I have some Dura Ace double componets that I want to put on it. Also, doubles always shift better than triples.
Those seem like two perfectly legitimate reasons to me. I'd like a DA double crank myself... I sure would use it if I had one laying around.
 

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We attended a tandem event this past weekend. It was our first time riding with other tandem teams. Some teams stood others did not.

In regards to standing, I noticed that like most things tandem, a lot of setup decision base around the teams riders. There were several teams with small or light stokers. Some of these teams would ride sections, some even flat where the stoker alone would stand for short times. Other times both captain and stoker would ride sections standing.

The teams where the stokers alone would stand had captains that were tall and stokers that were light. I'm sure the captain knew the stoker was standing but with the light stoker there was no wag of the bike.

Teams that stood together did this very much in sync. Again those that rode standing had lighter stokers, and overall lighter team weights.

When the teams were larger, most seldom if ever stood, except to stretch, and in these cases most were able to work as a seated team and still get the job done.

PK
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I converted my tandem to a double this weekend and went rode hills with my wife. No problem, it was fine running a double. We only used the lowest gear at one point. The shifting is much better and the short cage rear der makes shifting much cleaner in the rear as well. :thumbsup:
 

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What kind of hills are you all writing about that you want to remove a triple? I was very glad to have it on 3 to 4.5 mile climbs on Skyline Drive in Virginia, yesterday. I'd like to see a team climb them standing the whole way or riding with a larger gear and not have knee problems. Likewise, one can save weight by not having a disk or hub brake, but yesterday in the rain we would have had to walk down those same hills as the rim brakes could not stop the tandem from its downhill speed of around 45 mph with sharp turns.
 

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mrfixit said:
Why are most all Tandems set up as triples? I am purchasing a used tandem and I was thinking of converting it to a double.:confused:

Why triple?

I saw a lot of the responses. A triple - even on a single person road bike - offers more combinations of gears/cadence/climbing capabilities.

The second reason is the climbs. Out here in Colorado we have some pretty serious climbs -- 7,000 feet over 20 miles, 6% to 8% grade over 8 miles. OK, I know most people think it dumb to climb stuff like that, but that's our topography out here and we ride it. (www.ridetherockies.com, www.bicycletourcolorado.com). On these rides I have see people on tandems doing the grind up the hills - yes in triples - and having the grind of their lives. Slow, punishing. The downhill payoff was amazing for these people though - like 18 miles at 40MPH+ (zoom!).

Anyway, if your stoker isn't at the same level as you from a performance perspective, I'd definitely keep your triple
 
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