Thursday, October 27, 2016

How to Buy a Tandem Bicycle - the right bike shop

The final step is to find a bike shop that handles tandems well. When shopping for a first tandem, expertise is more important than price.

First, ask about selection and floor bikes, the first sign of commitment to tandems. A surprising number of shops will try to sell you a tandem from a single floor model, or from the catalog alone. Also find out if they offer a choice in tandems lines.

Tandeming DALMAC in 2009.
When a shop shows more than one tandem line, the better for you. Be especially aware of this phrase. “We only carry tandems from single bike maker X, since they fit everyone’s needs”. Regardless of the merits of tandem X, this is a self-eliminating statement, especially if they carry 3-4 lines of singles! Just as with singles, there are differences across tandem lines in bike fit, handling, and suitability for what you want to ride.

A shop with multiple lines of tandems is going to offer you more sizing options as well. This can be very important for couple that don’t fit the “norms” of a 3” or 7” difference in height. If don’t fit this normal distribution, and a particular brands design assumptions, you may have to choose between a tandem to large for the captain, or too small for the stoker. Different brands, or a custom sized bike, can greatly expand your sizing options and getting a tandem that fits both of you.

The second question for your prospective dealer is about a test ride appointment. There are a lot of reasons for you to expect an appointment. Your time is valuable, and you want someone’s undivided attention. There are twice as many things to adjust, and many more questions to consider when looking at a selection of tandems.  When I was selling tandem full time, I had appointments scheduled for about an hour, but was not surprised when they ran 2 hours or longer!

Another benefit of getting an appointment, is this hopefully means you are getting the shops tandem enthusiast or specialist. A good tandem sales persons takes interest in both of you, and is more than just a hardware driven gear head. The best will sell you on tandeming, and then let you select the tandem.

This three-step process is sound advice for any big-ticket item; know what you want through the self interview process, get advice from an experienced friend or tandem team, and find a good source. You may find a dealer that is a mentor, or you may not. Or you may find a tandem mentor that helps you compensate for the lack of good nearby dealer, or helps with a used tandem purchase.

The most important thing to remember is that tandem buying should be just like your future tandem riding. Build it on the T’s and C’s of Teamwork and Trust, Communication and Compromise. If you are both involved in the process, you will both enjoy the end result that much more.

(This is adapted and updated from a series of articles I wrote for Recumbent and Tandem Rider magazine a few years ago.)

Follow the Ride So Far on Facebook

No comments: