A Bicycle Built for Two

A Note from Fatty: I’m not ready to declare a winner of the Ergon BD1 yet. There are so many entries, and many of them are pretty long. To give all entries a fair shake, I need time to read. I will post a winner Tuesday (Monday’s a holiday and I’m taking the day off).

New Bike Smell
Yesterday, I picked up my new bike from Racer’s Cycle Service and took my first ride.

No, wait. Scratch that. That should read, “We picked up our new bike from Racer’s Cycle Service and took our first ride.”

I’m just not used to having a bicycle be “we” thing, you know? Anyway, check it out:

I love the retro-cruiser look with the mustard fade and the little flame detail:

Handlebars a mile wide:

A Green Line tandem cruiser. How cool is that? (Answer: very, very cool)

Early Observations
Mostly, buying the tandem was a selfish act. I want to spend more time doing outdoor stuff with my kids, but biking’s about the only outdoor thing I’m good at. Since my boys haven’t otherwise showed much of an interest in riding their bikes, I figure maybe I could get them jumpstarted with a tandem. You know, give them the feel for riding a bike, while I do most of the work.

Here’s what I’ve discovered so far, based on one ride with my 11-year-old:

  • People see tandems: The jury’s still out on why, but I’ve noticed that people definitely notice and look at the tandems a lot more than they watch other bikes. I’ve got two theories for why: there’s the possible “recumbent” effect — any unusual (i.e., bizarre) bike is going to get noticed. And then there’s my preferred theory, the “Wow, I’ve never seen a tandem cruiser before, that’s totally awesome!” effect.
  • The saddles are enormous: I mean, take a look at this thing. It just feels wrong to be sitting on something this gigantic. All part of the experience, though.

  • I have never sat so upright on a bike before: The swoop-back handlebars and seat combine to leave you entirely upright on this bike. I expect that for casual riders, this is really great. I feel silly and keep expecting someone to start playing the theme music to The Flying Nun.
  • This suckah’s heavy: I haven’t weighed it, but I’d guess this bike weighs 65 pounds. It turns out that if you buy a tandem for less than $500, it’s not going to have all the lightest, high-zoot parts. Go figure.
  • I’ve got to cool it with the cadence: I’ve been training myself to pedal a nice fast cadence, and I kept forgetting myself when out riding. And since the cranks have to turn together on the tandem, this meant my 11-year-old kept having his legs spun around much, much faster than he wanted.
  • So far, the bike’s a success: My 11-year-old wants to go out on another, longer ride on the tandem this weekend. So, oddly, this by-far-the-cheapest-one-I-own bike may wind up being the most valuable bike in the stable.

Bikes: An Exception to the Law of Diminishing Returns?
As I rode with my son on the tandem, I kept coming back to the thought of how cheap this bike is compared to my other bikes. I mean, it is seriously 1/3 the cost of my next-cheapest bike (the Rig). And this tandem’s a good bike — it seems well-built, and it’s definitely fun to ride.

So have I been wasting my money spending many multiples of this cost on bikes?

No, I don’t think so. I love all my bikes, and feel they’re all good deals. They’re just for different things — riding with kids, riding on the road, racing on the dirt, ruining my knees.

All different parts of the biking experience, all really great. All with different price tags, but all worth every penny of it and more.

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