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Cannondale Tandem Road 2 - first impressions

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Cannondale Tandem Road 2 - first impressions

Old 07-14-19, 04:25 AM
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torger
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Cannondale Tandem Road 2 - first impressions

Hello,

I recently purchased a Cannondale Road 2 Tandem 2018. This is my first experience with a tandem.

The 2018 model is unchanged from 2017 and is the latest model as they don't manufacture tandems every year (none for 2019). According to my research Cannondale has made tandems on and off since at least the late 80s, made in USA at first. 2014 they moved manufacturing to Taiwan, when they also made a minor geometry update, as far as I know the frame is unchanged since 2014 (note that the MTB version has different geometry). The 2014 model year had bad forks (recalled) so watch out if you get one of those second hand. 2017 they changed the color from white/red to a deep glittering brown antrachite. I'd prefer if the color was a little brighter, as it's so dark it's almost black.

The reason I got a Cannondale Tandem is that I found it to be flexible concerning fit, has a little bit more tire clearance than most road tandems, and is realtively cheap for being a quality tandem. It's very hard to get here in Europe though. I found it in a speciality store in Germany so I had to order it unseen and get it shipped to Sweden where I live. I'm used to studying geometry charts though so I didn't get any nasty surprises in that aspect. I had already planned to replace a few bits and pieces.

Geometry and fit:

The frame comes in four sizes. If you look at pure racing tandems they come in like 20 sizes + custom to make precise sizing for both pilot and stoker. With only four sizes to choose from the fit is a bit limited, but I'd say each size has a rather flexible fit range with just seat post and stem adjustments. I got the smallest size (S/M). The frame has very low standover height in the back which means short people (even children) can sit in the back. The standard seat posts are 350mm long which I think is a bit too short, as the seat tubes are unusually short on this frame. I replaced with 430mm seatposts for the front and back which makes the fit range more flexible. The headtube on the other hand is long (touring/endurace-oriented). As this tandem will be used by friends and family too I got a full set of stems to be able to adapt the fit. Note that this bike has 1.5" steering tube, meaning that stem choice is very limited. There's Cannondales own 60 - 120mm +/-5 or +/-20 degrees, and a few shorter stems from Truvativ and Thompson. If you want longer than 120 to fit a really tall person you'll need to make a custom stem.

The S/M size has a relaxed 71 degree head angle, so it works with super-short stems without getting too twitchy. So to get the most out of the fit range I got also a 40mm Truvativ stem in addition to 60-120mm Cannondale stems. It's delivered with a 110mm 5 degree stem. I replaced the handlebar with a Bontrager VR-C which is a compact bar with 100mm reach (20mm more than the Cannondale standard) to be able to get a bit longer on the upper end. I also like the fact that with a long reach handlebar it's a bigger difference between the hoods and the tops position.

The bike has a Tange Seiki custom 1.5" headset, with a 15mm tall top cap. I think that is a bit unfortunate from a fit perspective, as if you want to get as low as possible that top cap still adds 15mm to the head tube. I don't know of any replacement low top caps, but may look into that later. In addition to the 15mm top cap there's a 20mm spacer which you can have above or below the stem. I find it odd that they only put in a 20mm spacer there instead of a bunch of 5 or 3mm spacers instead. Now I need to get new spacers to to be able to fine-tune height of the stem. 1.5" spacers are rare, but Wheels MFG and FSA got them.

As you see from the above discussion I'm interested in having a flexible fit so it can be adjusted for many people, not just me and my girl. I think the Cannondale is a good choice for this due to its low standover height and relatively long stoker top tube, but you need longer seat posts to be able to size up a bit. In theory you can put in a 500mm seat post in the back to make a franken-fit for tall stokers, I may do that later but the Shannon Hardcore seatpost in that length was sold out for the moment (one of the few that comes that long).

Cannondales stoker stem is 30 degrees adjustable from about 125 to 165mm center to center. If you remove the extension part you get a tube which is 29.5mm in diameter, that is 1mm more than 1 1/8", which is a real pity otherwise you could fit a regular stem over it to make a riser stoker stem to fit the stoker bar really close under the pilots seat which may be desired if the pilot is shorter than the stoker. I'll look into getting some additional stoker stems to get more fit flexiblility for the stoker position.

Defects at delivery:

I opted to get the original factory packing to get quicker delivery. I'm used to building up bikes, and I know that factory mounting often have some mistakes. In addition to the usual loose bolts here and there, I had some noise from the hubs which turned out to be under-greased axle adapters. The dork disk was skewed (but it should be thrown away anyway). Most conspicuous was that the stoker bar was assymetrical with flare on one side but not the other and the bend on the end made at different places on the left and right side. So that needs replacing. I'll probable get a drop bar with stoker pegs. The stoker bar was 42,5 cm wide center to center, but I suspect that intention was to be 45cm but due to manufacturing error with inwards flare on one side it got narrower. As the stoker hands often get close to the hips of the pilot you often need a bit wider than normal handlbar there.

Tire clearance:

This frame was designed before the gravel trend started. While it may look like it has huge tire clearance, especially in the fork, it's not that big as you hit the crown with big tires. You can squeeze in Schwalbe G-One 40-622 tires on the 24mm wide rims (I have tested), but I wouldn't recommend it as it leaves only 2-3mm space to the frame. 35-37mm wide tires I'd say is the sane maximum size. It's delivered with 25mm gatorskin tires. I'd recommend to get 28mm for general road use. If you get a 650B wheelset you can get a bit more in, my estimate is 45mm in that case. Here in Sweden relatively smooth gravel roads are the norm so 35mm gravel tires will probably be the choice for us for all-road, and I got GP5000 28mm for tarmac. I know most use very tough tires on tandems, but as we are a relatively light team I'm trying standard high performance road tires.

I'm slightly disappointed by the tire clearance, I would have wanted it to be a bit more. With slightly altered frame/fork design they could easily made it fit 45mm tires without issues fitting the chainset, so it's narrow not by necessity but as they didn't see big tire clearance as a feature when designing the frame. I'm not surprised though, as this frame was designed before the gravel scene exploded. It still has more clearance than many/most road tandems, and for us it's certainly adequate as we don't intend to get it onto that rough stuff.

Brakes:

There are mechanical disk brakes on this, with huge 203mm rotors. Great for stopping power, but you will experience rubbing from time to time. The fork flexes under twisting load and there will be slight rubbing. No problem for touring/endurance, but could be a bit irritating for racing. There's no thru axles, just quick releases which as we know is not ideal for disk brakes, but I can live with it. The rims are actually prepared for rim brakes too, but the fasteners for rim brakes was removed to the 2017 edition of the frame (I think, maybe earlier). would have been nicer to have full black disk-specific rims, but I can live with that unusued silvery brake track too.

Gearing:

10 speed Shimano 105 5700 groupset to be compatible with the 10 speed FSA Gossamer tandem chainset I suppose. I like the range, and 10 speed is enough for me in this setting.

First ride impressions:

We are both new to tandems, and we've only ridden for 100 kilometers or so so far. I was surprised by how easy it was to be the pilot, as the pilot it's about the same as riding a normal bike. It's long so you need to take a little bit care in tight corners, but that's about it. As long as you shift in normal situations (ie when you don't put much torque through the pedals) I don't think it's necessary to communicate with the stoker, just shift. I didn't find it to be much of a challenge that the chainsets turn in sync either. Before riding a tandem I though pilot would be difficult and stoker easy. While stoker is technically easy, I found it more terrifying and more getting used to. Also, if the stoker bar is not perfecly level setup (adjustable stoker stems may have the at an angle if not set up carefully) you find yourself constantly out of balance which is not nice... but when everything was properly set up I got used to it quite soon.

Older Cannondale Tandems are known for an overly stiff ride, but alloy has come a long way, and with 28mm tires it's a nice ride, I don't feel that I need more compliance. I think you can stick with a rigid seat post in the back, just remember to call out the big bumps.

We have found the tandem to be really nice to tour with, as you stay together all the time and you can ride at your own effort and you can easily speak to eachother, if not too windy. If you got bikes on your own it's difficult to talk even if not much wind, and if there is difference in riding capacity it's much more noticable.

In all very pleased by the purchase and pleased that we dared to try the tandem concept without any prior experience. The Cannondale does have a few quirks as noted in design and quality, but in all I think its a good balance of price/quality and has good flexibility in terms of fit and tire choice.
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Old 07-14-19, 09:01 AM
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ahultin
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Bikes: 2003 Cannondale Jekyll 1000, 2014 Fuji Finest 1.5 (wife), 2008 Fuji Finest 1.0 (Daughter), 2012 Fuji Cross 2.0 (son), 2011 Cannondale Road Tandem 2

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Glad you are enjoying it. In regards to tires, I run 650bx47 with fenders so I am certain it could go bigger though I have not yet tried.
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Old 07-14-19, 11:37 AM
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The rubbing of the disks may not be from fork flex, but more from the quick release skewers. On our '04 C-dale we would get disk rub going around turns. We switched to DT Swiss RWS skewers, which have a greater clamping force, and the rub went away.
I would suggest trying the RWS, they are worth every penny.
DT Swiss RWS 145mm skewer
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Old 07-14-19, 12:58 PM
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torger
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Originally Posted by New2Two View Post
The rubbing of the disks may not be from fork flex, but more from the quick release skewers. On our '04 C-dale we would get disk rub going around turns. We switched to DT Swiss RWS skewers, which have a greater clamping force, and the rub went away.
I would suggest trying the RWS, they are worth every penny.
DT Swiss RWS 145mm skewer
Thanks for the tip, I'll try that.
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Old 07-15-19, 05:46 PM
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Torger,

I appreciate you articulating your thoughts on the Cannondale. We also have a T2, a 2015 that is identical to yours but in white. It has been a great bike for us and I feel itís the best deal in tandems right now, however, it doesnít have the cache of one of the high end tandem brands. Weíve put a bunch of miles on ours so Iíll share a couple tricks Iíve learned. Since the brake rotors are so big they can easily warp when they really heat up and cool. Spin the wheels slowly in a bike stand and cold set (bend) then back into alignment using the brake pads as your guide. The eccentric is the old wedge style, do yourself a favor and remove/clean/grease it once a year so it doesnít corrode to the aluminum. The boom tube is the thinnest walled tube in the set, the rear brake cable housing runs the length of it underneath and is the source of a rattling noise against it. Just a couple small pieces of electrical tape holding it in place fixes it. Enjoy your tandem!
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Old 07-24-19, 07:15 AM
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I've done some upgrades.

The skewed stoker handelbar is a Promax HB-T323 455mm branded Cannondale, a China made bar you can get for $4 at Alibaba. No wonder the quality wasn't good. The overall shape of the bullhorn bar is very versatile though concerning fit. With it's long reach you can rest the hands both close and far so it's less critical to have the bar at an exact distance from the saddle. For children it can be turned upside down to point backwards from the stem.

It's not that easy to find a quality bullhorn bar with similar shape and long reach, but finally I found one, the Somafab Urban Pursuit 25.4mm version. There is a 31.8mm version too but it has a bit shorter reach, so I opted for the 25.4 and a shim to fit the 31.8 stem.

Concerning stoker stems the 31.6mm seatpost minimized the available choices, so I have shimmed down to 27.2mm seatpost so I can use normal 1 1/8" stems (28.6mm) with shims (lots of shims...). Now I have more stoker stems, one is the 170mm Thorn stem from SJS cycles, it has no handlebar clamp but instead you add another standard stem to it to make a riser stem. This is very flexible in situations the stoker is a little taller than the pilot. The double stem arrangement makes it more prone to slip though so one need to tighten to the max spec.

Otherwise I try to get fixed stems for the most common setups, and there Procraft 35 and 40 degree stems are good choices for me.

Personally I prefer regular dropbars over bullhorn though so my plan is to get one to use as an alternative to the bullhorn bar. The fit range become tighter and less flexible with that though, and since the (cane creek) stoker pegs make the grips considerably wider than a bullhorn, I need to have a 46cm wide bar (tops center-to-center) to fit the pilot's bum between the hoods. Again I would prefer the newest edition of Bontrager Elite VR-C which has 100mm reach and 124mm drop, eg a compact bar with unusually long reach, but I need to wait for ~2 months or so until the new batch is out for sale, as all 46cm bars are sold out. Until then I'll run the bullhorn bar.

Concerning pilot seatpost I realized a problem with the Shannon Hardcore which I use as it exists in long lengths. The problem is that the saddle clamp take up so much space vertically that you can't get the stoker stem very close to the seat, which can be a problem if the stoker needs a high position of the bar. With the Thorn stoker stem it can be worked around, less so with a fixed stem. In the back that's no problem though, and there I need a really long seatpost for the taller stokers so I'll keep the Shannon Hardcore there. In the front I currently have a standard Cannondale seatpost which has a compact saddle clamp. Ideally I want a 430mm seatpost in the front and I haven't found one with a compact seat clamp at that length, so I'll probably end up with two posts, the longer Shannon Hardcore for taller pilots, and a standard 350mm seatpost for the others.

I did upgrade to the DT Swiss RWS skewers. It didn't completely solve the disc rub problem in the front fork when laying down power, but the disc is a tiny bit untrue so perhaps fixing that and tuning the pad distances I shall be able to solve that problem.

Do you think a TRP Spyre (dual piston) brake would be easier to tune with more pad clearance? If so that could be a possible upgrade.
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Old 08-05-19, 04:47 AM
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Boring thread without an image of the bike, so here it is. Now set up with me as pilot and the girl as stoker. She prefer a higher position of the bars for more comfort. I'm using a Procraft 35 degree 18cm fixed stem and Somafab Urban Pursuit 25.4 bullhorn for the stoker. It's messy to change stem length with a non-adjustable stem (as you have to remove the seat post to put on a different stem), but on the other hand the bar can't twist and a standard stem is lighter and nicer finish so I prefer it.

We use our own favorite saddels, a Selle Italia Superflow SLR for me and a noseless ISM (forgot the model) for her.

Here we're out on a gravel ride so we're using 35mm Hutchinson Overide tubeless tires (with latex tubes inside, the rims are not made for tubeless, and since I want to swap tires relatively often I don't want to mess with tubeless sealant anyway). One of few performance gravel tires rated for high enough pressures. 34mm real width on the rims which suits the frame well. You could go up tp 37mm or so but no more on 700c rims and still have sane clearance left. On hardpacked roads smooth gravel we rode on these tires worked really well.

I think it's the rear brake cable housing that rattles on the underside of the frame, I will pad that up. I still get some disc brake rub from time to time on the fork, seems hard to get rid of. Otherwise it has been working fine.

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Old 08-06-19, 05:16 AM
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Beautiful!

The Tandem is very nice but the background is amazingly beautiful!
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