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  1. #1
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    Cyclocross Tandem

    In an effort to get my honey playing in the dirt with me, I've converted our old Cannondale road tandem into a somewhat-capable cross machine.

    I mounted a pair of the new Hutchison tubeless cross tires using Stan's 29'er rim strips and sealant. 55lbs of pressure seems to be the magic number so far. Less was too squirmy under all that weight. I also added a Thudbuster seatpost, and some Koolstop Tektronic pads.

    We took it out this weekend for an easy, flat spin, and it worked really well. We'll see how we do on steeper and more technical stuff! If she keeps liking it, we will eventually upgrade to a Ventana (hopefully). This was worlds cheaper for now.

    Maybe we should try racing CC? That would be a first!
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  2. #2
    Mark
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    Here is mine: http://gallery.me.com/HooverMarkD#100198

    Too much fun!!!
    ===============

    Mark

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoovermd
    Here is mine: http://gallery.me.com/HooverMarkD#100198

    Too much fun!!!
    Wow! If my stoker ever says I'm crazy, I'll show her your single-speed version! That looks very cool.

    Is the stoker's top-tube length adjustable on that frame? It appears so.

    I want to see a pic of you doing a nose-wheelie with someone on the back now.

  4. #4
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    Mark that is too cool
    I've been riding a dirt fixie...but if I S/Sed the tandem my sweetheart/stoker would just shoot me dead

    cheers to long bikes with no gears!!!!!
    Darwin was an Optimist

  5. #5
    Ride, Rinse, Repeat
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    Seen it done...

    Quote Originally Posted by Monsterstick

    Maybe we should try racing CC? That would be a first!
    There were 2 Juniors who rode the Boulder Cup CX race last year on a converted Road Tandem, so it's been done.

    We've tried to figure out a "graceful" method for dismount/barrier/remout at speed. Have not been too successful. Let me know if you figure out how.

  6. #6
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    There was a description of a tandem 'cross dismount method developed by, I believe, Dave and Vanessa Seto some time ago. You could probably find some details in the DF archives. I think they even had some pictures.
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  7. #7
    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monsterstick
    Wow! If my stoker ever says I'm crazy, I'll show her your single-speed version! That looks very cool.

    Is the stoker's top-tube length adjustable on that frame? It appears so.

    I want to see a pic of you doing a nose-wheelie with someone on the back now.
    The foto of the nose wheelie is actually of Greg. He is the Captain and I'm the stoker.

    The top tube is a cantilevered Ti boom. Everyone from my 5'3" wife to Greg's tall girlfriend have been on the back.

    I captained a tandem that my wife and I rode for several years (road) but sold it off last year. Now I'm just a motor on the back.

    We have had a ton of fun on this bike. Local trails like El Moro and Aliso Woods plus some fairly regular Fully Loop riding.

    Even did Rosarito->Ensenada this year:
    http://www.socaltrailriders.org/foru...iss-kitty.html
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaleTR
    There were 2 Juniors who rode the Boulder Cup CX race last year on a converted Road Tandem, so it's been done.

    We've tried to figure out a "graceful" method for dismount/barrier/remout at speed. Have not been too successful. Let me know if you figure out how.
    Okay, I was joking about the cross racing, but of course people have done it already! There's always someone crazier willing to try... whatever.

    For the record: I have no intention of racing cyclocross on a tandem. In fact, I'm looking forward to full-suspension and big fat tires when we can afford it. I set this bike up just as a stop-gap measure to get us out there.

    I have yet to convince my stoker to go clipless. She's using flats with Power Grip straps. It takes her a good ten seconds to get herself situated back there. That would be pretty funny in a CX race!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoovermd
    Here is mine: http://gallery.me.com/HooverMarkD#100198

    Too much fun!!!
    Hey, there's a 2-speed setup in there.... How was the 2.5x gear change like?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsdoable
    Hey, there's a 2-speed setup in there.... How was the 2.5x gear change like?

    Nice catch!
    The Schlumpf was an early attempt that didn't work out too well.
    Cranks ha to be mounted backward so the pedals kept coming off.

    Too bad too,that would have been the perfect solution... also the unit we had had been returned to the shop (that is why we got it for free) and it slipped like crazy on the uphills.

    I think that one could have made it work but it was more $$ than we wanted to spend.
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  11. #11
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    If you and your stoker could actually try a Ventana tandem, I'm sure that would be all the convincing she/he would need. I hope that your stoker does not get turned off on tandeming, from riding a converted road tandem off road.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane Jeff
    If you and your stoker could actually try a Ventana tandem, I'm sure that would be all the convincing she/he would need. I hope that your stoker does not get turned off on tandeming, from riding a converted road tandem off road.
    I see your point, but we just don't have 4-5 grand lying around for a Ventana right now. I recognize that this bike will limit where we can go, but we need to start off small anyway. The biggest things that will turn her off will be: Uncomfortable temperature, old back injury (this is what put the road tandem in to storage in the first place - she's been doing much better lately), and a general dislike of self-induced pain. That last one is huge, as it's my personal love of self-induced pain that allows me to be one of the best climbers among my riding buddies. I'm not sure how one can do an endurance sport without that.

    So, with all these unanswered questions, I'm trying to avoid large cash outsets for the time being. We were having a really nice Indian Summer here, but it looks like the rains are starting, so we may end up being stalled until the Spring, anyway. We'll see how it goes...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monsterstick
    I see your point, but we just don't have 4-5 grand lying around for a Ventana right now. I recognize that this bike will limit where we can go, but we need to start off small anyway. The biggest things that will turn her off will be: Uncomfortable temperature, old back injury (this is what put the road tandem in to storage in the first place - she's been doing much better lately), and a general dislike of self-induced pain. That last one is huge, as it's my personal love of self-induced pain that allows me to be one of the best climbers among my riding buddies. I'm not sure how one can do an endurance sport without that.

    So, with all these unanswered questions, I'm trying to avoid large cash outsets for the time being. We were having a really nice Indian Summer here, but it looks like the rains are starting, so we may end up being stalled until the Spring, anyway. We'll see how it goes...
    That's the conondrum, isn't it? Folks who have ridden a good-quality off-road tandem realize that, for some stokers, it can be the difference between riding tandems and not riding tandems. Your stoker's particular issues would seem to potentially place her within that category.
    So many of us have gotten past the initial resistance/discomfort/physiological issues and reached the enviable point of both parties being completely on-board with tandeming, and the ensuing enjoyment that results, that we're anxous for others to enjoy the same benefits.
    I've learned over the years that some teams just aren't compatible on a tandem, no matter how much I want them to experience the same enjoyment we do. But it's even sadder when a couple loses interest in tandeming (virtually always the stoker) due to avoidable reasons. The two most common I've see are as follows:

    1. The captain goes out and hammers a ride out as long and as difficult as he does on his single, and the stoker is challenged just to keep up. The stoker then feels the same way they do when riding singles; that they're holding back the stronger rider. In that case, the tandem has removed the difference in skill level between the team members, but not the difference in physical endurance.

    2. The ride(s) are done on rougher trails or roads than the tandem is reasonably capable of handling without undue stress, and the stoker feels either very uncomfortable or very physically beaten up, for want of a better description. Additionally, the tandem's geometry may preclude it from being as stable as it could be in difficult terrain, leading to more get-offs and a feeling of instability. New stokers are subconsciously hyper-sensitive to the tandem's movements, whether they're otherwise bike-aware or not, so twitchy, unstable-feeling, or otherwise alarming feedback from the bike frame makes for a very uncomfortable stoker.

    Absolutely no offense intended, but in reading your posts, I'd say you might be an unintentional candidate for both scenarios.
    Since you posted the results of an earlier tandem experience, maybe you've already figured all this out. If not, please accept it for what it is; friendly observations from someone who's seen several teams go through this process.

    Ultimately, it's down to the fact that 'the stoker makes no mistakes". Therefore, you as captain shape the experience with the choice of tandem/trail combination you choose for your early rides, and the pace you ride them. A little relaxing of your regular ride characteristics may well make the difference here. Choose a nice forest road with great scenery, and ride at her comfortable pace.

    If you keep that up, once she's hooked, you can do the gnarly stuff!
    Good luck, and if you gently hook her on tandeming, keep posting here. Also, sometimes we get used tandems through here. Ventanas tend to stay with their owners for a long time, but every once in a while someone will turn one loose.
    Last edited by TandemNut; 11-01-2008 at 07:41 AM.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigNut
    1. The captain goes out and hammers a ride out as long and as difficult as he does on his single, and the stoker is challenged just to keep up. The stoker then feels the same way they do when riding singles; that they're holding back the stronger rider. In that case, the tandem has removed the difference in skill level between the team members, but not the difference in physical endurance.

    2. The ride(s) are done on rougher trails or roads than the tandem is reasonably capable of handling without undue stress, and the stoker feels either very uncomfortable or very physically beaten up, for want of a better description. Additionally, the tandem's geometry may preclude it from being as stable as it could be in difficult terrain, leading to more get-offs and a feeling of instability. New stokers are subconsciously hyper-sensitive to the tandem's movements, whether they're otherwise bike-aware or not, so twitchy, unstable-feeling, or otherwise alarming feedback from the bike frame makes for a very uncomfortable stoker.
    Thanks, Alex. Believe me, I am aware of these pitfalls. Here in the East SF Bay Area, we are "blessed" with miles and miles of non-technical fireroads. There is plenty of easy stuff for us to start on, and that is my intention. I'm also very sensitive to her endurance ability, as we had to cut many of our road rides short due to her back injury flaring up. She has been strengthening her back with yoga and ballet, but I still make a point of checking in periodically to make sure everything is copacetic back there. We'll be doing out-and-backs so we can keep more control over the milage. And I absolutely won't be taking her on the crazy kind of stuff I usually seek out on my own!

    So, just to clarify, are you suggesting starting out by "jumping in" with a big cash outset for a quality MTB tandem? I'm afraid of the possibility of her still not liking it, then we've wasted a big chunk of cash.

    I guess you would probably be the best guy to ask this: If we were to buy a new El Conquistador with a modest build, like your "Value Build Kit" Web special, what do you think we could expect to get for it if we sold it used in a year or so? This does seem like the kind of thing that might hold its value pretty well, except for bike technology advancing so fast. Thanks in advance for your insights.

  15. #15
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    FWIW, Alex and I have spoken about these challenges.

    One thing I have become very aware of is making certain my stoker can stretch and move a bit. In a non-technical section, I will stop pedaling, take my feet off the pedals for a few seconds, and let the wife (stoker) stand and move around a bit, just as she can do on her single without realizing it.

    Ironically, I will ask how are things back there, answer most times is "FINE", then I'll ask do you want to stretch, "NO I"M FINE", just stretch anyway, "OK", followed by thanks, "I GUESS I DID NEED TO STRETCH".

    Little things make big differences.

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monsterstick
    So, just to clarify, are you suggesting starting out by "jumping in" with a big cash outset for a quality MTB tandem? I'm afraid of the possibility of her still not liking it, then we've wasted a big chunk of cash.
    No, I'm not suggesting you drop many thousands on a new FS tandem (yet)! It's probably not very practical for most teams to drop that kind of money on a new tandem unless/until they know they'll be able to actuall enjoy riding the tandem, especially if those folks work as hard for their money as we do.

    What I was trying to say is this: until you know she's going to be able to enjoy the tandem, adapt the rides to the tandem you have instead of spending the money to build a tandem for the rides you want. Then, if she enjoys it, when you do spend money on a better-suited tandem for off-roading, it will only make the experience that much better for her. Sorry for the confusion!

    One of the first questions I ask folks when they begin shopping for a tandem is whether they've ridden one successfully (enjoyably) or not. If they haven't, I try to get them to do so before we go too far into the sales process.

    While the business logic side of my pea-sized brain says that A SALE IS A SALE, in all honesty, the idea of a $5,000 tandem being ridden once and then collecting dust in the garage offends my practical side very much*. I also don't think I've served the customer very well if I don't make them aware that some folks just don't enjoy riding tandems together (as strange as that sounds to us enthusiasts).


    *Of course, if they have lots of extra cash laying around and they need something to do with it, we'll be very happy to help them with that new tandem, even if it is a one-time thingy
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monsterstick
    So, just to clarify, are you suggesting starting out by "jumping in" with a big cash outset for a quality MTB tandem? I'm afraid of the possibility of her still not liking it, then we've wasted a big chunk of cash.
    :
    Have you tried asking around the Bay area looking for other MTB tandem riders? I'm pretty sure there are quite a few, check here and Double Forte. You might be able to beg a test ride or two - current tandem riders are usually very eager to help spend other people's money by letting them try new toys. Since moving to Grand Junction, CO we have gotten one couple hooked on road tandeming and are working on another pair for off-road.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trails4Two
    Have you tried asking around the Bay area looking for other MTB tandem riders? I'm pretty sure there are quite a few, check here and Double Forte. You might be able to beg a test ride or two - current tandem riders are usually very eager to help spend other people's money by letting them try new toys. Since moving to Grand Junction, CO we have gotten one couple hooked on road tandeming and are working on another pair for off-road.
    That worked for Ogre and I. We had been discussing getting a tandem for a few years, were able to play on a friend's, and bought our own within a couple weeks. We're in the Central Vally, but ride all over NorCal. I'd recommend posting in the NorCal Forum. There's quite a few tandem riders here and I know some of them would be glad to spread the infection.

    Fiona
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  19. #19
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    Trail test #2 - Ride Report

    We had some pretty serious rain over the last couple of days, but today the sun peaked out, and my stoker said: Put on your bike shorts and lets hit it! Well, alright. That's a good sign.

    We did a short but fairly steep (for us) ride on one of the local ridge trails. I figured the higher ground would be fairly tacky, as it drains better than the low-lands. I was right about that. Other than a few puddles, the conditions were perfect. The cyclocross tires shed mud really well, as they should given the sport they were designed for.

    She felt a slight pain in her knees at the beginning of the climb. I think I'm going to try raising her saddle a little bit. It occurs to me that the suspension seatpost probably sags a bit more on steep climbs than when we are sitting on flat ground. One more advantage of a proper FS rig. Also, the PT who did the fitting for us years ago was making compromises for her back-condition, and I think he put her saddle a bit low to begin with.

    The wet trail conditions definitely pointed out the short-comings in the V-brakes. I'm going to be very careful about descending steep sections on this rig. I can make it stop, but the comparison to the 1-finger braking I'm used to on my single bike w/ Formula K24's was stark.

    Overall we had a great time, and she said she really wants to try to ride every week as part of her training regimen. I think we are off to a good start. I see an upgrade in our future. Maybe my LBS will let me make payments...

  20. #20
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    Sounds like a great start! I would think a PT fit for a tandem would be different than a single due to the differing amount of upper body effort/control needed - play around with it and get her comfy!

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    We just bought our first tandem, a 2000 Cannondale, in April. After touring the Adirondacks, we've started taking it off-road recently and I (stoker) can't get enough! I can hardly wait for CX season to start. I can't imagine a more fun way to see what we can do (and take) than bouncing and sliding and hopping and running across the sand and the mud and rocks and the brambles. Monsterstick, I read the modifications you made to your bike. Does anyone have additional suggestions?

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    Tire width for Cannondale "cyclocross" tandem

    Nice thread. What width of cyclocross tire do you think the Cannondale tandem can handle?

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Hess View Post
    Nice thread. What width of cyclocross tire do you think the Cannondale tandem can handle?
    We can go up up to a Specialized Borough XC 45x700 in the back and a Specialized Captain 35x700 in the front. The rear tire clearance is limited by the chainstays and the front is limited by the fork crown. Wehad to re-dish the rear wheel to make the most of the clearance.

  24. #24
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    That's good tire clearance. I put some fatter tires on our Trek T1000 for dirt road use. 35mm fits on the front, but it's a little tight on the back. The tire has ground away the brake mount (long reach calipers, not V-brakes) a bit. I tried putting some ~2mm spacers in the dropouts to gain clearance, but may ultimately have to get a 32mm tire for the back.

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    y'all are crazy. I say go for the race! heh

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