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I kind of need a different tandem.

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I kind of need a different tandem.

Old 12-22-20, 02:02 PM
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pipeliner
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I kind of need a different tandem.

My wife was an athlete in her younger years and rode a bike for fitness until a genetic eye disorder took most of her vision. A few years ago I bought a secondhand tandem that needed quite a bit of work and fixed it up with new cables, bottom brackets, brakes and quite a few other things. It took quite a while for us to adjust to riding the thing but we do enjoy it. When I have time away from work and cooperative weather I have to balance my desire to ride my gravel and mtn bike with the need to go riding with her so that takes miles away from her, which I feel a little guilty about.

The bike is a Meridian Ascension, which is a high quality aluminum frame from a small builder back east, now defunct. It is set up as a pure road bike, can only fit 700x25 tire in the back and a 28 in front. Alu fork and bars are extremely harsh riding along with the 20 year old Ultegra brifters that are shaped for hands the size of a small childís... itís a very uncomfortable bike for the captain. I did put some carbon bars on it but 30 miles is my max. I also donít like riding on the highways but with this bike you really donít have any other options. I think a Redshift stem and a shifter/drivetrain upgrade are in order but do I want to spend that much on a road tandem when I donít necessarily like riding on the road? I live where there is tons of gravel to ride and thatís my thing so I suppose a gravel capable tandem would be the answer. Pretty purpose-specific bike that would cost big$$$ I suppose. Ideally, I would want a drop bar rig with 650b 2Ē tires and a 2x drivetrain with real wide range... And not cost $10k. Iím willing and able to build something up but gotta start somewhere and the quality used tandems I see available that can run bigger tires are usually flatbar mtn tandems. Flat bars are a no go for me. Any suggestions for a frame?
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Old 12-22-20, 02:47 PM
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You could have a look at the comotion mocha.
It ticks of all of your boxes: 650 2" tires, dropbar setup and a 2x 11 drivetrain. It costs 4000$ without couplers.

We've made the similar experience that we are mostly limited by comfort rather than edurance. But we have a steel frame and can fit 32mm, it only starts to get painful after 60 miles.
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Old 12-22-20, 02:50 PM
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Or keep your eyes open on ebay/ tandemclassifieds.
We would also like to upgrade soon to a tandem with larger tiers. I've been eyeing the second hand market over the last 18months, but most tandems are pre-2010 road tandems that can only fit 32mm tires max.
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Old 12-22-20, 04:19 PM
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I'm not sure what "big money" means to you - tandems are often pretty expensive to begin with being small production runs of heavy-duty parts.

Fandango Gigi is a recent entry in this category. It replaced a gravel build of the Fandango MTB that had drop bars.

You also maybe don't need to hang up on whether the one you buy has flat bars. Old Burley tandems for instance had a pretty nearly the same frame between road and MTB models, and they would sell it with either kind of bars. Drop bars are a common enough conversion for mountain bikes that you can look at all the ways it's done - either with a frame size down, or with a short stem, or with flared drops with a short reach.
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Old 12-22-20, 05:09 PM
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You're still working, so you might not be all that old. If you have another, say, 20 years of tandeming in you, a really nice bike might be the thing. Look at it as amortization over the years - get paid back in pleasure and a continued wonderful relationship, and not only that, but in health for the both of you. IIRC there's someone on this forum who had a road Calfee built with both 650B and 700c wheels, just swap back and forth. You can't have a custom automobile for 10X that. I wish now that we had thought to have a Calfee built in 2006 when we bought our current steel bike. It's a fine bike and we love it, but by the time we had upgrade lust, we were too old. We still ride tandem a couple thousand miles a year and we're 146.

We've ridden our steel CoMo Speedster on double centuries with 28mm and 32mm tires. Wonderful rides, those were, perfectly comfortable. We've done many long rides on it, ridden in the mountains, did unsupported camp touring in Europe. It has a WoundUp carbon fork and would take good sized tires if we wanted to ride gravel. My stoker hates gravel, though. She doesn't like it when the back end squirms around.

We bought it used. I knew exactly the bike I wanted, looked and watched for about 2 years, finally saw it advertised. If I were looking for the same thing now, I'd go discs instead of rim brakes, partly because one can't find Arai drum brakes anymore for touring applications and we go through rims pretty quickly here, riding in winter in the PNW. Yes we ride in the rain. It's not uncomfortable riding in it, only in thinking about it. Like most things, it's just knowing how.
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Old 12-22-20, 06:20 PM
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In the expensive but not insane, category, there’s Co-Motion. We had a Java, which was a very nice bike. It was really overbuilt, and consequently heavy, for our purposes.

we replaced it with a gravel capable Calfee, which is in the insanely expensive category


If it had been available when we bought the Java, we would have strongly considered a Co-Mo steelhead, which while expensive, appears to be a great, gravel capable, all around bike.

Less expensive options might be a Cdale mountain bike tandem with some mods to make it more of a road/gravel bike.
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Old 12-22-20, 07:07 PM
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Off topic, but I'd be interested in learning a bit more about your Meridian. I understand they were often made with a longer rear top tube than most tandems. You can message me separately if you don't want to bog down this discussion, though some others might also be interested.
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Old 12-22-20, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by joeruge View Post
Off topic, but I'd be interested in learning a bit more about your Meridian. I understand they were often made with a longer rear top tube than most tandems. You can message me separately if you don't want to bog down this discussion, though some others might also be interested.
Not really sure the year of manufacture but judging by the components I'd guess late 90s or so. Didn't measure but would guess it to be an XL/M size. A little too large for both of us. Previous owner had a deep aluminum wheel set built and it runs a 3x drive with a 56 tooth large ring up front. They rode competitively for a while and then parked it to gather dust for many years. I like speed but that 56t was overkill and made for nearly impossible front shifting to the smallest ring. I've got a 52 on it now and it shifts ok, not great. The brifters are nearly worn out and combined with the mile of cable you are dealing with, just doesn't work like I want my bikes to. I've got mech grx800 stuff on my current gravel rig and good lord that stuff works nice. I suppose a 2x Ultegra conversion would be the most comparable conversion but I wonder how it would work with all that cable? Di2 would be awesome but on a bike I'm not that crazy about... Nah.

I'm not totally opposed to dropping 4-5k on a new rig but for that kind of dough I would look at the used market for a while for something more exotic I.e. Di2. Such a rare bird to find too. Must haves: drop bars, 2in min tires, Ultegra level or better drivetrain, disc brakes, durability for rough-ish roads, room for a redshift or similar Stoker seat post. Size in the L/S range.
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Old 12-22-20, 10:04 PM
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There are a growing number of gravel tandems on the market. Some flat bar tandems might be good candidates for drop bar conversion, too, depending on your frame size needs. These tandems should all fit a 2.1" or wider tire. In ascending price order...
KHS Sport ($1400, flat bar)
Hokitika G2 ($3700)
Fandango Gigi ($4400+)
Rodriguez custom ($4600+)
Co-Motion Java ($5500+)
Davinici Joint Venture X ($5500+)
Chinook Gravel ($9000+)

These are marketed as gravel tandems, but don't fit wide tires
KHS Cross ($1700, flat bar)
Co-Motion Mocha ($4000+)
Ritchey Outback Tandem ($3000 frame only)
Co-Motion Steelhead
Co-Motion Kalapuya

Some older flat bar tandems might be available used:
Salsa Powderkeg
Cannondale Tandem 29er
Santana Picante or Cilantro
Burley Rock N Roll
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Old 12-22-20, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by OneIsAllYouNeed View Post
KHS Sport ($1400, flat bar)
Pay attention to geometry, I'd looked at this one for a drop bar conversion. 57.2cm top tube ctc for the captain seems a little nutty to me for the small size, jumps to 59cm for the medium. At 5'10 I often think of myself as riding a medium but I just sold my c-dale tandem since I couldn't get decent steering with the short stem I needed to match a drop bar to a 58cm top tube. Most mediums road bikes tend towards 54cm which for me is great with a 100mm stem but a 59 top tube on the medium would mean a 50mm stem and that's short to run a drop bar on the road with.
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Old 12-22-20, 11:36 PM
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Maybe not the kind of investment you are interested in but it has been the best dollar to relationship enhancing dollars ever spent . We have a fair number of miles and trips on it. It just works in about all the conditions on road or gravel. A number of other members have followed the same path. YRMV
https://www.bikeforums.net/tandem-cy...re-tandem.html
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Old 12-23-20, 03:04 AM
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You could try to find a used Santana 26" tandem. I got super lucky to buy a 98 Vision off Craigslist from a retired couple who upgraded to a custom and let it go for a song. Mine fits 26x2.0 tires, possibly larger, and I use it for gravel and road.
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Old 12-23-20, 05:41 AM
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This is the bike you're looking for. No affiliation with seller. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Hokitika-G2...4AAOSwwoRf4SSo
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Old 12-23-20, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
Pay attention to geometry, I'd looked at this one for a drop bar conversion. 57.2cm top tube ctc for the captain seems a little nutty to me for the small size, jumps to 59cm for the medium. At 5'10 I often think of myself as riding a medium but I just sold my c-dale tandem since I couldn't get decent steering with the short stem I needed to match a drop bar to a 58cm top tube. Most mediums road bikes tend towards 54cm which for me is great with a 100mm stem but a 59 top tube on the medium would mean a 50mm stem and that's short to run a drop bar on the road with.
Yeah, that's my concern with a drop bar tandem conversion. Part of the reason my current bike is so uncomfortable is that it's too big for me, am running the shortest stem you can buy. I ride a 58cm road/gravel bike.
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Old 12-23-20, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by jwalther View Post
Interesting. Maybe too big for me tho. Will contact him.
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Old 12-23-20, 09:00 AM
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Our bike.
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Old 12-23-20, 10:02 AM
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Thanks for your reply to my query about you Meridian, Pipeliner. That's quite a nice looking machine.

We ride a 2006 Speedster set up for road riding. After riding a Cannodale, which was quite a nice ride, this bike is a little more comfortable. We ride on 28's, but it wouldn't have any problem handling 32's, possibly more.

The Speedster is a medium and is a little small for us. That's why I was curious about the length of your Meridian's rear top tube.

Keep up the search and ride as many bikes as you can get your butts on. You may find you can fit on a 'standard' size tandem and therefore, won't have to go custom. If you find you don't have to go custom, the used market opens a whole world of possibilities.

A good quality tandem is not going to be cheap, but if you go new, most builders will go custom for a couple of hundred dollars more. I dream about a custom but so far have not pulled the trigger.
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Old 12-23-20, 11:31 AM
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Where do you live?

The used market is pretty incredible if you are patient. As mentioned previously tandemclassifieds.com is good if you want something quick and don't mind shipping. Similarly e-bay occasionally has some good offerings (as well as lots of junk). I've purchased and sold multiple bikes on Craigslist (bought our Calfee used this year...and saw some other screaming deals that weren't quite our size). I've also started looking on facebook marketplace.
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Old 12-24-20, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
You could try to find a used Santana 26" tandem. I got super lucky to buy a 98 Vision off Craigslist from a retired couple who upgraded to a custom and let it go for a song. Mine fits 26x2.0 tires, possibly larger, and I use it for gravel and road.
I picked up a 90's 26" fusion for a thousand dollars few years ago that we use for gravel and road too. Pretty sure it will fit 2.3" RH RTP's but we just use 1.75" paselas. If I were building a brand new mixed surface tandem today, I can't think of anything I would change.
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Old 12-24-20, 04:04 PM
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Fifty years of fooling around with bikes, including tandems, has taught me that frame material is of little or no importance with regard to comfort on a bike. Spend the money on another tandem if you're determined to do so, but you're only a taller stem and a wider saddle away from a perfectly comfortable fit on that beautiful Meridian.
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Old 12-25-20, 07:51 PM
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Sorry - no useful input on your search. But, saw this amazing Meridian quad in 2005 at the Hilly Hundred Weekend in Indiana.

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Old 12-30-20, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by OneIsAllYouNeed View Post
There are a growing number of gravel tandems on the market. Some flat bar tandems might be good candidates for drop bar conversion, too, depending on your frame size needs.


These are marketed as gravel tandems, but don't fit wide tires
KHS Cross ($1700, flat bar)
Co-Motion Mocha ($4000+)
Ritchey Outback Tandem ($3000 frame only)
Co-Motion Steelhead
Co-Motion Kalapuya



The Steelhead is specíd for 45mm tires should be wide enough for Gravel for most teams. People do Dirty Kanza on it.
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Old 12-30-20, 08:54 AM
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You might consider a good Burley Rock and Roll. You can find them well under $1K these days, with fixed or Soft Ride stoker seat. It has 26" wheels. Probably will be 8 speed, which can go to 9 or 10 on the same hub. Ours would take 1.5" tires with room to spare and probably could have taken a 2" mountain bike tire easily. Convert to drop bars with used brifters or bar ends and there you go. You can easily use V-brakes instead of cantis if you prefer.

Our first tandem was a a R-n-R. I converted it to drop bars and never looked back for 6 years.
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Old 12-30-20, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
The Steelhead is specíd for 45mm tires should be wide enough for Gravel for most teams. People do Dirty Kanza on it.
The OP requested 650b x 2.0" tires. I think that's a perfectly reasonable width for many tandems on gravel. For rides like Dirty Kanza, most folks are running their tires at 30-40psi, and tandems should be no different. Using my wife and I as a typical 320lb team (including bike), we'd have to run 58mm tires with tubes or 49mm tubeless to get to that same ~40psi target at reasonable tire drops. I'm using the pressure calculator here: https://www.cycleschinook.com/tire-pressure-calculator/
Sure we've ridden gravel on tandem with 700c x 32-38mm tires before making the leap to 650b. Traction wasn't that great, we flatted regularly, and wore through tires quickly. Sometimes we now ride gravel on 45mm tires if it's in the middle of a road ride. The 45mm tires are great for nice gravel roads and pavement, but they're less than ideal for wet dirt roads, unmaintained roads, or loose gravel. Most of the time I have 50mm tires mounted on our tandem. The 50mm tires are plenty fast on pavement and we can take whatever "roads" we feel like. For large chunky gravel like Dirty Kanza, I'd be using 54-60mm tires -- setup tubeless -- on our tandem. I wouldn't buy a new gravel tandem knowing that it can't fit tires wide enough for the intended use. Heavier teams will need even wider tires than our 320lb example team to enjoy similar traction, suspension, and pinch-flat-resistance from their tires.
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Old 12-30-20, 03:23 PM
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For the sake of this discussion, our team weight is 400lbs. I own about 240 of that....
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