Tandem buying advice

Carlton_gang

Dirt Disciple
Hi everyone. I'm looking to buy a tandem for me and my partner to ride the Land's End to John O Groat's cycle in our gap year.
I'm looking for some advice for what to look out for when buying older tandems. I know a proper eccentric BB is a must, as well as proper 40 spoke tandem hubs and wheels. It also needs indexed shifting as she won't put up with me rattling away with the gears.
Also some help on frame sizing. My partner is 5'1.5" with 78cm inside leg, and I'm not really sure what size frame she needs because they all seem to have different seat tube angles, I know I need a 23".
Also I should say, if anyone has a tandem that fits these things that they'd be selling, please PM me.
 

hamster

Retro Wizard
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Try SJS Cycles, they have always had a range and some tryout possibilities. The big difference in your two sizes isn't going to be easy.

I've toured a fair bit on a tandem with 26" wheels and 36 spokes - the smaller wheels are stronger and 135OLN hubs were fine. You might find an MTB tandem frame could work well.

Try hiring one before proceeding (if you haven't already) as they can make or break a relationship. They definitely aren't for everyone, but are very rewarding if it works.
 

zerogravitas

Devout Dirtbag
My partner and I bought a tandem together this summer and did a week long tour at the end of July which was great fun, tough in places but a real adventure!

I second the advice above to try one out if at all possible - riding a tandem is definitely a test of your communication skills and patience as well as physical fitness. :mrgreen: As a way to ride together and level out differences in speed and fitness they are amazing.

We trialed a borrowed town style tandem, found we could work together and have fun on it, and then began the hunt for a proper tourer.
We got a lot of advice from present tandem owners, and the main thing I took away was that for a bike you intend to do serious mileage on, it is best to look for newer models if possible. I originally had my heart set on something beautiful from the 60s or 70s but after much thinking and researching we ended up buying a 2007-ish Dawes Galaxy Twin.

The Galaxy's are kind of the VW Golf of Tandems, well built and reliable, and you can find them of all ages. Buying a 2007 model over something from the 70s or 80s meant we got a much larger range of gearing (which you WILL need on a long tour!!) as well as more modern brakes (also very important), a suspension seatpost for the stoker, and a lighter aluminium frame.
If you intend to ride a fair bit then spares for older machines are also going to be harder work to acquire and fit; I know we are on Retrobike here so it really depends what you want the bike to be - a restoration and repair project or something more purely practical. Of course people have ridden tandems up hill and down dale for 120years+ so don't let me put you off something fun and vintage - just be aware it will probably be harder going! ;)

Loaded tandems are hard work up hills, even with a fit team pushing them, and I appreciated the lowest gear we had a whole lot, as well as the lower weight of the alu frame.

You haven't mentioned a budget but some brands I would consider might be; Dawes, Thorn, Orbit and Landescape. As mentioned, SJS should be helpful if you want to buy new and/or try something out. There are plenty of lovely old Jack Taylors and Claud Butlers around that are pretty mouthwatering for those of a vintage persuasion.

There are some good pointers here that we found useful;

http://www.tandemcycleworks.com/first-ride/
 

greencat

Senior Retro Guru
I can only echo what others what others have said about the effect on relationships. Imagine what it must be like to be conjoined twins - and you get a flavour of what's like to ride a tandem with your other half.

Had a serious falling out with a female friend after us riding one on holiday together. It was exhausting in more ways than one. Would not repeat the experience. I'd rather tow the current missus sitting on the trailer trike than do another trip on a tandem.
 

Jamiedyer

Moderator
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Not sure where you are located but up in Inverness there is a gentleman selling around five ex rental Orbit tandems for not much money. The couple I seen are in very good condition, I think you would just load and go.
I agree with what the others say on the most part but I wouldn't be put off by an older 'retro' tandem. We have a Flying Scot tandem for touring with my young (10 year old) son. It may be a bit heavier being steel but it runs a 9 speed triple, eccentric bottom bracket and has with it's previous owners been all over Europe and several times up Mont Ventoux fully loaded ;)
Try and make sure you are compatible on a tandem rather than going together on solos, but either way it will be a great ride and adventure. I am only a few miles from your destination so let me know when your passing and the kettle will be on :)

Jamie
 

Carlton_gang

Dirt Disciple
Re:

Thank you everyone for taking the time to reply.
Unfortunately I'm quite a way from Inverness.
I forgot to say, I borrowed a tandem from my school (we had a club where we did up bikes for other people, so this one was for a special needs school), which we never finished fixing due to covid. I got it all serviced and working, and we had a go on that. We were a good tandem team but the bike really needed new parts and saddles, and was too small for me.
After reading everyone's comments, I had a look for a slightly newer one, and have made a bid on fleabay on a Dawes street 2 street (currently it's at 350 and I hope it stays there).
 

Jamiedyer

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Re:

Best of luck with it.
Can’t imagine you could go too wrong with a Dawes

Jamie
 
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