All tandems will have F / R sizing.  Some are equals, like 20" / 20" for equal size riders.  This is a 'mixtie' layout, with 21" / 18" , for un-equal height riders.  Just perfect for Dad & kids !

All tandems will have F / R sizing. Some are equals, like 20″ / 20″ for equal size riders. This is a ‘mixtie’ layout, with 21″ / 18″ , for un-equal height riders. Just perfect for Dad & kids !


I installed a longer ‘stoker stem’ to move the back handlbar away from ‘captain’ seat, for my stoker’s comfort. (This is the ‘before picture’) This is an upgrade older tandems may need. We realized how inadequate our current (legacy) part was once looking at newer tandems. My little girls (stokers) love the more relaxed positioning !

Handmade by Curtlo Custom Bikes, in Winthrop, Washington, and finished in a hot pink powdercoat !

It’s cool to have a custom steel, vintage tandem.

We suspect this bike was made in early 90’s, due to the equipment group it features, which is Shimano Deore XT 7 speed, with a triple front chainring, aka 3 x 7.

I must say that the steel frame Curlo builds features a very nice ride, being highly responsive, yet absorbing the vibrations that come from the very marginal pavement quality here in East Texas.

Despite our Tandem being an (estimated)  20 year old bike, Doug Curtiss, of Curtlo custom bikes, is still offering this handmade steel tandem frameset or complete bikes:

Curtlo Custom Tandem in Flame Red

Curtlo Custom Tandem in Flame Red

Our’s has an interesting & somewhat rare feature, an Arai cable operated drag brake.  It’s an auxillary aluminum rear drum brake that is able to be activated & set in position via bar end shifter, by the ‘stoker’ to help control speed on steep descents, where controlling the speed of a 350 # + tandem team can be a concern !

We don’t have any mountain passes in East Texas, but just in case we go to some, we’re ready.

We’ve enjoyed riding the tandem greatly. It’s a nice contrasting experience to our single bikes, to mix things up.

It’s a new wrinkle and just plain fun to get 2 people to ‘sync’ up and make the bike go.  When they really sync well, they really GO, too.  The momentum of a tandem is really fun – on the descents, it’s easy to hit 40+.  On the flats, we can keep up with faster riders than on our single bikes.

On the Ascents, it’s a different matter altogether – pretty slow.  The bike beings to feel like a boat anchor, truth be told.

It does weigh 45 #, so no surprise there.  I find myself saying to the stoker, “Mush, Mush”.

(While peddaling hard myself, of course !)

Hopefully, we gained enough ground on the flats & descents that we’re able to stay close to the other riders.

My 3 little girls vy for the chance to ride stoker, it’s really fun for them.

We just rode the Pineywood Purgatory ‘T Shirt Ride’ in Lufkin Texas, a family tradition now for 4 years running.

12 year old Kara rode stoker with me & helped us go 52 miles.

We were able to ride with another tandem team, also from our Houston based team, NWCC, Northwest Cycling Club.

This couple was riding a new, $10,000 tandem, it was a beauty:  A Co-Motion state of the art machine, with all the bells & whistles, 10 speed Dura Ace with Disc brakes & carbon wheels.  It weighed about 15 # less than ours, amazing.,

Despite the contrast between our Custom, legacy ‘old school’ tandem & their state of the art machine, we still more than kept up, speed wise.

Our total investment in our tandem is no more than $ 1200, even counting the $ 300 in minor upgrades I’ve done, like seats, suspension seatpost, new cables & ‘Brifter’ shifter upgrades.

(It had bar end shifters, a no-go for safe riding, in my book)

We were pleased to see the seller had upgraded the tubes & tires to thorn proof tubes & Continental Gatorskin tires.

Riding on this stout tire / tube combo, flats ought to be a non-issue.

Good thing, too because changing tires, especially the rear, is far more daunting than on a normal road bike !

So, here is an affordable way to try ‘Tandeming’ if you’ve ever wondered if it was for you.

If you’re in a large city, finding a clean used tandem locally on craigslist should just take some patient searching.  I watched the Dallas / Ft Worth CL for about a month & found 3 good ‘road sport touring’** bikes to test ride, this one, and 2 Treks.

(Definition: “Road sport touring”, as opposed to cruiser, mountain or hybrid tandems.)

There is also a good option for an affordable ‘new’ tandem, for those who simply can’t find a clean used one locally.

It’s the Viaggio Tandem – also a ‘Road Sport Touring’ type bike, and a real steal at $ 500 new:


Yes, the Viaggio needs some upgrades pretty soon after purchase, due to some ‘compromise’ parts that all discount bikes feature, like cheap brakes & brakepads, weak rim strips & tires & tubes, but that’s not much to count, compared to a new “budget” tandem that the local bike shop near you may offer, starting in the $ 2500 + range.

Here is a nice post by Jay Dolan, shoing how he upgraded his Viaggio Tandem affordably:

Jay Dolan's upgraded Viaggio tandem features a longer adustable stem, etc.

Jay Dolan’s upgraded Viaggio tandem features a longer adustable stem, etc.

I’m sure those spendy ‘major brand’ new tandems are worth all they ask, but maybe not if you are unsure if ‘tandeming’ will work for you & your partner.

With the $ 500 Viaggio Tandem, no big loss if you have to sell it on CL if the wife / daughter / friend isn’t warming to tandem riding.

For example, I got our Curtlo Custom Tandem  thinking, hoping, that my wife would like it.

I suspect most folks buying a tandem have this hope.  I first thought about trying a tandem for our family at the Pineywoods Purgatory Ride 2013, when I saw more than a dozen tandem teams who looked like they were having a super fun ride.

But, alas, my wife did not enjoy tandeming, at all.  She said riding ‘stoker’ – the back position made her feel terribly claustrophobic.

Good thing for me, our 3 little girls aged 10-12, love it as much as I hoped she would.  With them, I have all the ‘stoker’ candidates I could wish for !

We will be able to bring the little girls along on some fast club rides that they would otherwise be unable to keep up with, another advantage of the tandem.

So, I hope this post & our experience encourage some folks to give “tandeming” a try, if they’ve been wondering.

Feel free to direct any questions you have to me in the comments area.  I’ll do my best to help you out.

God bless you & great riding !

David in East Texas