There was an interesting question posed to one of the bike lists I frequent from a gentleman who is toying with the idea of adding a tandem to his collection of bicycles and decided to seek input from the subset of the tandem cycling community that participate in this particular forum.
A quick read of some of his other postings provided some insight into his current situation, i.e., nature of the relationship, level of cycling activity, recent bicycle acquisitions, etc. which — accurately or not — gave me a point of reference for my comments.
I was also reminded of a note I received from a gal near St. Louis back in April who was looking for help in finding a potential buyer for her 3-year old Calfee that was ridden twice by she and her boyfriend just ahead of their break-up. It’s definitely a high-end machine that needs a new home; unfortunately, she has never followed up with the photos that any seller needs to have available if only so potential buyers can properly visualize the bike for size, etc.
Note: For anyone who may be interested in a nearly-new 2010 Calfee with what was described as ‘a purple/green/blue color depending on the light’ and sized for a 6′ tall captain with a pretty nice build kit, send me an email and I’ll pass you her contact information. Please bear in mind that she’s reluctant to do a long-distance transaction and would ideally like to consummate a deal near St Louis, Missouri:
- Ultegra shifters and derailers
- FSA Carbon Pro team issue cranks
- Ksyrium SL wheels
- Vittoria Diamante Pro tires
- Cane Creek brakes
- Chris King Headset
- Carbon handlebar(captain)
- Newton stem (captain)
- Arundel water bottle cages
- Thompson elite seatposts
Anyway, hers was a familiar story: a couple that were dating decide to buy a tandem on a whim without really having a serious discussion about how that tandem will fit into their relationship. While I’m not sure if the tandem hastened the end of that relationship, tandems do have a tendency to take relationships to their logical end at an accelerated rate, i.e., good relationships get better while weak ones quickly dissolve.
So, it was with this gal and her Calfee in mind that I wrote my reply to the gentleman that appears below.
So I am somewhat wondering if my gal and I would like to ride tandem. What’s in it for you guys?
Tandem cycling was something I suggested so that my wife and I could spend more time together; I was a life-long cyclists and she was not but was athletic, competitive, game for anything and also wanted to spend more time together. It did that, but more importantly it introduced us to other like-minded couples in our area who, in turn, introduced us to tandem rallies, etc. So, tandem cycling quickly became the center of our social life and has remained so ever since.
Had we both been strong cyclists who spent time riding together, I can’t imagine why I would have suggested a tandem UNLESS we stumbled into the tandem cycling community and were compelled to jump on board.
While I have seen a few couples who are not married succeed as tandem partners, they just have a very special friendship, tend to be partners who have been living together, couples who end up married, or who are bound by some mutual commitment, e.g., sighted captain for sight impaired stoker.
I also wonder this. We both have top shelf bikes… and wonder if I could like one with lesser groupo/bells and whistles. She probably wouldn’t notice the difference but I like things high end and working perfectly.
“Top Shelf” is relative: To some, a top shelf tandem will run from $12,000 – $18,000, to others it’s simply a well-recognized brand that has better-quality components and is maintained in good working order. Unless you’ve got more money than you know what to do with or are simply an equipment freak with enough disposable income to cover the bet, it is my belief that any good quality tandem, new or used, can be made to work perfectly where the only limitation is the motors. Beyond that, the rationale for having a high-end tandem becomes pretty subjective: strong teams are fast and win races on just about anything that’s reliable with a well-designed frames. There have been well-designed frames available for decades, arguably since the 30’s is you search out the original top-shelf tandems of their day.
So, a used Co-Motion Speedster, Santana Sovereign, Cannondale RT3000, Trek T2000, Burley Rivazza, as well as older Calfees and many other tandem models would all have qualified as a top-shelf tandem in their day and will continue to delivery outstanding performance. Moreover, today’s Co-Motion Speedster will do everything that a custom Co-Motion Macchiato or Calfee will in the hands of all but the most elite teams where the lighter weight or custom-designed frame will provide a benefit during competitions. Again, beyond that it’s all intangibles to satisfy the wants and desires of the buyer.
Also do you regret buying a tandem and now ride it because of all the cash you sank into it?
I know of no-one who rides a tandem because they spent money on them. Again, if they had deep pockets an unused tandem — for any reason — collects dust along side many other unused bikes that were acquired on a whim by someone who simply likes buying / owning bikes (I probably fit into that category, although my pockets are that deep). Instead, most of these folks end up selling them, usually trying to get the same amount of money they put into them: good luck with that.
Bottom Line: Make sure you and “your gal” have talked about tandem cycling and share similar motivation and goals, if only because tandeming is about relationships… and the most successful tandem teams are the ones who get that and use tandems to enhance and strengthen their relationships. If it’s something you’re both interested in, establish a budget and go find the best tandem you can find to fit within that budget. If tandeming clicks, you’ll have plenty of time to buy more tandems and work your way up the ladder to whatever you define to be top shelf as you refine your understanding of what you and yours really want from a tandem: That could be a 24lbs Paketa full-on race machine at $15k, a fully-restored 1940’s Rene Herse, or that very first tandem.
I’d be remiss if I did not mention that this same discussion should also take place before considering the purchase of larger, motorized two-wheeled machines! As a long-time motorcyclist I also get similar questions about the purchase of a motorcycle. I typically suggest the person Jones’ing for a motorcycle to sign-up for and successfully complete a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) or MSF-endorsed Riders Edge course by Harley Davidson as a way of giving them time to carefully consider their decision while, at the same time, getting some saddle time and the motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license. Again, having your spouse or partner’s buy-in on a big purchase, never mind one that may also represent a lifestyle change, is pretty important.
With that in mind, let me close with this Craigslist Hall-of-Fame listing which, from all indications was a real ad posted on Craigslist several years back; it’s a classic but it also reinforces the value of talking over those two-wheeled bike buying decisions:
This is an actual ad for a motorcycle (And a lesson for the men).
FOR SALE: 06′ Suzuki GSXR 1000 – $10,000
2006 Suzuki 1000. This bike is perfect! It has 1000 miles and has had its 500 mile dealer service. (Expensive) It’s been adult ridden, all wheels have always been on the ground. I use it as a cruiser/ commuter . I’m selling it because it was purchased without proper consent of a loving wife. Apparently “do whatever the f*** you want” doesn’t mean what I thought. Call me, Steve. (xxx)xxx-xxxx