The guys at GCN compiled the top ten bikes and top manufacturers of pro cycling for 2016 and Specialized topped the list of manufacturers. Scott, Cervelo, Pinarello and Giant did well, as you would assume but the Venge ViAS and the Tarmac were Sixth and First respectively. It makes sense as the ViAS is a very “stage specific” bike – it’s only used by sprinters and Peter Sagan on specific stages of races. The Tarmac, on the other hand (and also ridden by Sagan), is an exceptional all-around bike. It’s light, stiff, fast, and “kinda” aero.
It should be fairly well known that we are a Specialized family with five Specialized bikes in the bike room. My Venge, my wife’s Alias, my youngest daughter’s Dolce, my eldest’s Secteur Elite and my Rockhopper Sport Disc 29’er.
I don’t make much of a kerfuffle about the tandem my wife and I bought last year but I have to tell you, I really love riding it. You’ll note the stoker’s seat post is awfully long contrasted with other tandems. We have the steep rake of the top tube that almost looks like a low-slung drag bike by the time it gets to the back end…. The bike is designed for a family, to allow for a stoker ranging from 4’2″ to 6’2″.
Originally our bike started out as a Co-Motion PeriScope Scout, a flat bar “Hybrid” but I had the drivetrain upgraded to a 10 sp. road bike rig with a 105 rear derailleur, 105 shift levers, a drop handlebar and a custom 130 mm stem so the tandem could be made to match my Venge as closely as possible. I don’t have quite the drop, but it’s definitely close enough for government work. That said, it fits like a glove.
The bike has it’s flaws, of course. This one is pretty heavy – it’s a steel frame. That, however, is the only major drawback (if you could call it one, most people love a steel frame – the ride, as one would assume, is astonishingly comfortable and forgiving). I also don’t care for the disc brake calipers, but that’s a minor issue. I suppose there is one more issue… The bike wasn’t cheap, especially for a steel bike. It topped out at almost $4,000.
So I pulled the tandem out of the garage a week ago and got it ready for another season. I wish I’d done it last month as we have been on several rides that would have been fun to have ridden on the tandem… but we needed to build up the fitness for that bike. On a single bike, I can do 50 miles and be bummed that it’s over too soon. On the tandem, 30 miles and I can feel it all over the next day. Arms, legs… The tandem is a workout.
That said, if one has a solid relationship or marriage, I can’t recommend a tandem highly enough…. After you’ve gotten through the working together phase of the bike – and it’s a pretty steep learning curve. That part isn’t much fun and it certainly isn’t easy.
However, and this is the important part, if we use the tandem for what it is good for, my wife and I (or daughters and I) going out for a nice, fun ride around the block (if the block is 16 to 50 miles around – it’s a big block) with my favorite person in the whole world, there’s nothing out there that’ll beat a tandem. They are an absolute blast to ride.
To put a bow on this post, a lot of cyclists will think that having your significant other that close to your ear is a bad thing. I am one of those lucky few who feels like he hit the lotto when he got his wife to say “Yes”. We work our butts off to be happy – we work at our marriage, together.
We put that same effort into riding the tandem. If we didn’t, it’d be fisticuffs.
It’s a commitment.