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Advice needed on buying a Tandem


Hermann Volkmann
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Want to buy a Mountain Bike Tandem for myself (186cm, 90kg) and my daughter (150cm, 50kg). I am a complete novice and we mainly want to cycle socially, definitely not to win races! Will predominantly cycle on gravel roads and in town. We are staying in Swakopmund, Namibia, lovely area for mountain biking, but tandems are very scarce, therefore no real opportunity to try out different ones. 

I am quite interested in the Avalanche Envi 29MTB Tandem - any comments on this specific bike?

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My 2c:

 

You will need a size Large / Medium or Large / Small for you and your daughter. Btw riding with your children is an amazing thing to do together. I did it with both my boys, but on a road tandem.

 

A tandem takes much more strain, having to carry the weight of 2 people. Therefore, you want to buy the best that you can afford. You never want to compromise on the quality of the wheels and the front fork. Get tandem specific wheels with lots of spokes or downhill /all mountain wheels. The suspension fork should preferably be a downhill type, as sturdy as you can get. Also, the drivetrain must handle much higher forces than a single bike and the configuration of a tandem, makes it fiddly to adjust, so, you want something sturdy. A drive-train of Shimano SLX minimum will work well, but XT is better.

 

Cannondale makes very good mountain tandems, hardtail with front suspension, just a bit expensive. Ventana makes the best full suspension mountain tandems, but at a hell of a price. Second hand tandems are hard to find, but keep your eyes peeled here in the Hub Classifieds, they regularly come up for sale. Use the search function to do a search for "tandem" in the Classifieds. You can expect to pay between R20 000 and R30 000 for a good 2nd hand Cannondale tandem. The Ventanas are very scarce and will set you back somewhere around R50 000 or more. Also consider the Raleigh mountain tandems. (Perhaps someone who knows more about them can comment on the quality of frame, fork and wheels.) The Raleighs seem to sell 2nd hand for about R15 000. Sorry, I don't know anything about the Avalanche.

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My 2c:

 

You will need a size Large / Medium or Large / Small for you and your daughter. Btw riding with your children is an amazing thing to do together. I did it with both my boys, but on a road tandem.

 

A tandem takes much more strain, having to carry the weight of 2 people. Therefore, you want to buy the best that you can afford. You never want to compromise on the quality of the wheels and the front fork. Get tandem specific wheels with lots of spokes or downhill /all mountain wheels. The suspension fork should preferably be a downhill type, as sturdy as you can get. Also, the drivetrain must handle much higher forces than a single bike and the configuration of a tandem, makes it fiddly to adjust, so, you want something sturdy. A drive-train of Shimano SLX minimum will work well, but XT is better.

 

Cannondale makes very good mountain tandems, hardtail with front suspension, just a bit expensive. Ventana makes the best full suspension mountain tandems, but at a hell of a price. Second hand tandems are hard to find, but keep your eyes peeled here in the Hub Classifieds, they regularly come up for sale. Use the search function to do a search for "tandem" in the Classifieds. You can expect to pay between R20 000 and R30 000 for a good 2nd hand Cannondale tandem. The Ventanas are very scarce and will set you back somewhere around R50 000 or more. Also consider the Raleigh mountain tandems. (Perhaps someone who knows more about them can comment on the quality of frame, fork and wheels.) The Raleighs seem to sell 2nd hand for about R15 000. Sorry, I don't know anything about the Avalanche.

Adding to DGR's post:

I bought a Raleigh tandem on OLX for R15K. It was hardly used, so for me it was like getting a new bike.

 

Both wheels have 36 spokes, has a normal Rock Shoc fork, not the downhill type that extends to the top of the headset. That might be one upgrade that I'll invest in at a later stage. The brakes are Magura with a Deore drive train, including the hubs. I've used it once through Rietvlei's green route - 20km of mainly single track with some tight turns and lots of rocks that don't affect a single bike. Handled everything with relative ease, although picking lines suitable to the longer wheel base takes some getting used to.

 

Mine is a M-L/Small combo, but with an extended 400mm seat post it easily converts to a L/S or L/M combo, depending which seat uses the extended seat post. I've used it now on holiday in the Cape, but mainly on tar and dirty-roadie tracks. So far, so good - definitely worth the purchase. I might enter the odd 40-65km road race to introduce the wife to races, before committing to riding the half marathons with her. With 2 young daughters, I hope to get many years of joy out of it.

 

My suggestion would be to look for something that suits your budget, even if it is a long way from you. There should be enough of us that could take a look on you behalf before you commit to buying something.

 

Check on the hub, on OLX, Gumtree, Bid or Buy and even Junk Mail.

Edited by geraldm24
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  • 3 weeks later...

My wife and I ride road and MTB tandem and it is a blast. I have been a pilot or stoker on a road tandem for the last 14 years and thoroughly enjoy it.  There have been posts about components and certain bikes. We bought the Envi 29er (MTB) 1.5 years ago  but I have replaced the complete drive train , shifters, wheels and derailleurs. I knew when I bought the tandem this is what I would have to do, the frame is great and it is an entry level MTB tandem. We do a lot of single track but not all as some switch backs are just to sharp. She loves it as there are certain MTB areas she would not have done alone or with friends. We did Rheboks a couple of weeks back and just walk the sharp turns.  The road tandem is fantastic and the speed is awesome. If you do ride with a group (not racing) , just be careful about your speed on the flats or gravel roads, what might be easy for a tandem on rolling hills could be friggin fast for the bunch sucking wheel. 

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I have an Avalanche Envi Tandem that replaced the Fuji tandem we bought second hand. It is perfect for district roads and social road races. Rode the Argus with a friend last year and we'll be there again this year. I think I paid around R12k for it last year.

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  • 3 months later...

I am fortunate enough to own a 2014 Ventana full suspension tandem that I purchased in the USA.this bike is my second ventana in 5 years. If you can afford one of these, they are well worth the cost. Mine cots around 8000 usd once I finally got it into Sa. We specced it with an upside down white brothers fork, hope tech 4 brakes, sram x9 components as they are durable and wtb wheelset. Rear shock is a fox float and we have 6 inches travel front and rear on the suspension.

 

I would not recommend a frame like an avalanche, they are simply not steong enough and they are supplied with a single crown mtb suspension fork. This is not suitable for an off road tandem.

 

If you have any technical queries or questions, look uu a web site on Mtbtandems in the usa. Emali them and speak directly to Alex Nutt. He is an expert on these bikes and will gladly advise on what works and what doesnt.

 

When buying a mtb tanden, buy the best fork and brakes you can afford. These two items should not be compromised, as they take excessive hammering and need to be as durable as possible. I speak from a point of experience, as I have been through a few of each.

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I havent had much experience with MTB tandems but will give my general experience of them.

 

1.) Cannondales are the Shiz. If you can afford them. there are others but like they siad the Cannondale hardtail MTB tandem seems to be the business.

2.) Get big stoppers - tandems motor and have a lot more momentum. 203mm discs and if i was off road I would want a Saint type brake i.e. 2 pot. I would not be near rim brakes.

3.) Rims are critical as are wheels and hubs. Build them big and strong. They are under a lot more stress. 36 Hole min. MTB I would go even wider with the rims and get some big tires.

4.) Do not skimp on tires as well.

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Hi, also need some advice. Want to make an offer for a 2004 Cannondale Road tandem but have no idea what is realistic and fair. Any ideas?

depends on a lot of things. If its still standard with the normal components that was on them (rim brakes) anything between R12k and R 16k.

 

A new Cannondale tandem with disc brakes is R30k for comparison.

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  • 3 years later...

Aaaaaggg flip. The mtb tandem frenzy has caught my eye. 2019 might not be my best savings year.

Just buy the Avalanche one. And maybe fit a better (burlier-stiffer) fork in it.

You're wife probably won't want to ride rough stuff with you, and it will be a while before you're laaitie rides on the back, so no point in over investing here.

Something that can handle gravel roads and the berms at Tygerberg and you are sorted. Hook the trailer and you have some solid family fun going on..

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