Child-back tandems

March 2005 We've been doing a bit of investigation into the options for a child-back tandem, ie, one that has a short enough stoker position for a small child.
There are many custom frame-builders in the business, but St. John Street Cycles is the best-known store for getting the exact bike you want. They also have an off-the-peg childback tandem with 18"/12" seat tubes, with lots of options like kiddie cranks and long reversible handlebars for the stoker. V-brakes are the default, which is probably fine, but hub brakes are also available. This bike starts at £700.

A more expensive option is the Bike Friday. This is a folding bike, and the tandem version is folding too. A feature of these bikes is the highly extendible seatpost and the super-short seat tube, which makes them ideal for small kids and large adults alike. Obviously there will be compromises, but all-in-all they seem to have a workable geometry. Plus, even the tandem version should fit in the boot of a car. The downside? Cost, of course! The bottom-end tandem can be bought in the USA, direct from bikefriday.com, for around $1300 (which right now is around £700 plus shipping and import duties). A nine-year-old mid-range version in good condition sold in the UK recently for £800, so they also hold their value well.

The Orbit Zodiac has a really small frame (13"/11" seat tubes) and 20" wheels, making it similar in geometry to the Bike Friday. But of course, it doesn't fold and the price is £600 from Cuckmere Cycles. It also has only 5-speed gearing, using an SRAM 5-speed hub gear.

Online Tandem Shops

They are pretty thin on the ground:
  • sjscycles.com St John Street Cycles
  • bikefriday.com Bike Friday
  • mailorderbikes.com They have a basic MTB-style tandem for £300 or so
  • discountbicycles.co.uk Only one model on offer, the Barracuda Nevada Duet (pictured right), MTB style with 19"/17" seat tubes, for £450.
  • bicyclenet.co.uk They also feature the Barracuda tandem, for the same price.
  • foldingbikes.co.uk This is the Avon Valley Cyclery, and specialises in Bike Fridays. It lists the Two's Day at over £2000!
  • devercycles.co.uk They sell Trek tandems, and the one on the right, the T900, has a 14.5" stoker seat tube. It costs £800. They also have a rather nice racing tandem, the T2000, for £2500!
  • orbit-cycles.co.uk Orbit Cycles has their own range of tandems, but only the Libra, at £900, has a reasonably short stoker tube (15").
  • allterraincycles.co.uk All Terrain Cycles in West Yorkshire sells Treks, and the T900 is listed at £750.
  • wheel2wheel4bikes.com Wheel 2 Wheel in Hants sells Trek tandems, and their T900 is £750.
  • jdcycles.co.uk JD Cycles in West Yorkshire sells Dawes, Orbit and Santana tandems. The latter starts at £2300 and goes up to over £7000. Nice!


Comments

by Miguel Frank on 24 May 2005
There is another option which seems to fit the bill but it is not exactly cheap. Check out the Hase Pino half-upright half-recumbent tandem. Available in the UK inter alia from London recumbents.
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