The Best Tandem Bicycles

Tandem bicycles successfully combine the efforts of both riders because each rider is allowed to pedal with as much or as little force as she chooses. The tandems provide opportunities for riders to spend time together while improving or maintaining fitness and sharing new places, experiences and feelings of accomplishment. Tandem road models vary in features, components and price. Here are some choices, with prices quoted as of May 2010.

Higher-Priced Models

Calfee Dragonfly (starts at $6,995)

Craig Calfee has been building handcrafted carbon fiber tandems since 2001--longer than anyone else currently in business. He offers endless choices on his highest end model, the Dragonfly, along with a 25-year-warranty. Calfee and his company can incorporate nearly any design feature into your custom bike and they specialize in fit-for-you geometry. Stock frames sizes are also available. The Dragonfly handles slower jaunts with ease while remaining race-ready. Riders praise the bike for its comfort, handling and speed and express amazement that a bike can feel so comfortable while being so fast and stiff.

Co-Motion Periscope Hammerhead (starts at $6,950)

Buy this tandem for its versatility. The Co-Motion Hammerhead is a family bike. According to Bicycling Magazine, the premiere features of this model is its “telescoping stoker seatpost [that] allows for tremendous range of captain/stoker heights.” This seatpost can accommodate stokers as short as 3-foot-8 and as tall as 6-foot-2. For a parent/child pair with a vast height difference, the Hammerhead will gives you the opportunity to ride with your child, beginning at a relatively young age, without limiting you from riding with an adult stoker when your child is willing to relinquish her turn. Performance complements versatility on this bike. Bicycling Magazine observes: "A key component to the performance of the Hammerhead is the Gates Carbon Drive. It’s a polyurethane belt in lieu of a timing chain, and it provides tremendous power transfer.” Riders commend Co-Motion’s ability to build an aluminum frame that is both light and strong. Customization options at Co-Motion are endless. Choose your frame color, wheel size, components and couplers. Stock bikes and custom sizing are also available.

Mid-Priced Models

Co-Motion Primera (starts at $3,600)

The Co-Motion Primera borrows from traditional Co-Motion design heritage to become a benchmark for performance, value and durability. According to Tandem Cycle Works of Colorado, “the use of continuous top and lateral tubes made precisely to specifications allows for a stronger and straighter tandem bicycle.” The result is a hand-built frame with performance features unmatched by any mass-produced frame on the market. Co-Motion maintains its reputation for best handling tandems with unbeatable geometry and a hand-built fork. Co-Motion ‘s bike uses “top-notch tandem-grade components with outstanding Co-Motion integrity.” Built to handle any task with grace, the Primera is at home on a club ride or long tour. The Primera is available in red and blue, with custom colors available at a small charge.

Santana Arriva SE (starts at $3,495)

The Santana Arriva SE is a dependable high-performance road tandem at an affordable price. Marketed at riders who target long tours and fast centuries, the aluminum frame features a durable design noted for its efficiency. Santana highlights this frame as one of its “best value tandems” that combines “a superior-quality CroMoly frame with a value-packed SE parts package.” Santana offers “sophisticated frame materials, superior quality frame materials, superior ergonomics and exclusive componentry” despite the low price.

Lower-Priced Models

KHS Tandemania Milano (starts at $1,799)

The Tandemania Milano represents the industry’s best combination of value and quality in an entry-level tandem bicycle. It’s the perfect choice for a first-time buyer who isn’t yet convinced of the virtues of tandems. While you might not want to take this bike on a long tour, it’s great for running errands around town and leisurely rides on your local bike path. The Milano is the only bike in its category. No other bike manufacturer meets the value of an entry-level tandem in today’s market like KHS.