Ventana's meticulous craftsmanship and engineering design skills were put to the test with El Conquistador de Montanas. By combining our industry renowned rear suspension technology with a super stiff main frame, we have produced a high performance tandem with real off-road capabilities.
For 2002, we have incorporated quad sets of sealed bearings at all suspension pivots, rebuildable 17-4 stainless steel bearing pivot axles, vertically slotted dropouts with replaceable derailleur hanger, increased rear travel to 4.0 inches, and increased rear tire clearance for up to 2.4 inch tires.
a Cross Country Rider
from Glendale, AZ, USA
Date Reviewed: June 21, 2010
Strengths: This tandem rides like a Lincoln Town Car (minus the high speed wobble) and tracks like a tank. I have half a dozen pretty nice mountain bikes in my garage, but nothing gets even close.
Weaknesses: Not for weight weenies, at least in the configuration that I own.
1.This tandem rides like a Lincoln Town Car (minus the high speed wobble) and tracks like a tank. I have half a dozen pretty nice mountain bikes in my garage, but nothing gets even close. Here is what I wrote after my first ride in the Arizona desert: At late afternoon temperatures around 100 degrees, we took the tandem over a few easy loops around the park, mostly sand, lightweight gravel, and over a few weathered, bumpy granite slabs. We were both amazed how easily this tandem floats over everything. It is difficult to explain how well suited the colossal front fork is for this very stiff, but compliant frame. I ran it over a granite slab that I have used to test all my mountain bikes and tires, from a GT STS freeride bike out of the 90s, a GT i-Drive, a Specialized Stumpjumper to a GT 29er hardtail. Each of these single MTBs has its own way of coping with the gaps and bumps. But none of the bikes is utterly unimpressed by it like the Conquistador. Partly due to the 6 foot wheelbase, but mostly due to the super stiff front end I never had the feeling that the front wheel would go anywhere but where I willed it to. Even when the rear tire skips sideways over a rock or by losing a bit of traction in light, dry desert gravel, this tandem just tracks incredibly precisely. The rear suspension, set up for the proper combined rider weight, works smoothly and at the high level of precision of the whole bike.
2.Your legs and your lungs will give out long before you get uncomfortable on this tandem. And this is true both for the captain and stoker. Here is what I wrote after my first longer ride: We got started at 6 AM, chasing the tandem down over fast, wide mountain roads. I was so exhilarated about the way that the tandem tracked over the heavily corrugated road, that I did not notice how we gradually dropped down about 700 feet over 13 miles. On the way back, the heat, last night's alcohol consumption and the weight of the tandem made me wake up from my dream. It's still true that this is the most fun two people can ever have on a bicycle - IF they have the legs for it. Today, we drove a Toyota RAV4 over the same forest roads and we could not believe how rough this road is. The kind of corrugation that seems to shake every bolt loose at any speed between 10 and 45 mph had left the tandem completely unimpressed on the downhills. Just on the uphills, we felt that the pedaling was a bit tougher than the incline demanded.
Consider buying this tandem if:
1.You want to go anywhere in style and comfort. You can live with the fact that other riders pass you up the hill.
2.You just love to float over terrain that scares the hell out of the riders that you pass.
3.You have operated tandems before and it's time for an upgrade.
Weight matters, especially off the road. Always consider the reviewer's own weight BEFORE you ask how many grams a frame or component weighs. Not all riders weigh the same. This rig weighs in at about 50 pounds.
And finally: Consider our purchase requirements:
1.ULTIMATE STOKER COMFORT. This tandem had to have superior suspension front and back, or the whole purchase was pointless. A captain's happiness is measured by the stoker's seat comfort. That's a rule.
2.NO MORE CHAIN SUCK. I just absolutely hate to grind up metal with a dropped chain. Tandems seem to be prone to do that, especially when wide dropouts pose a chain alignment challenge.
3.OVERBUILT. This tandem needed to carry a 500 lbs tandem team across the Arizona desert or whatever trail we were going to explore. The frame had to be extraordinarily stiff, even with a stoker's seat tube raised to dizzying heights, accommodating my wife's long legs.
Similar Products Used: Cannondale Los Dos, Calfee Tetra Tetra
Bike Setup: 1.Frame: Ventana EL Conquistador with S&S couplers and the obligatory travel cases. Ventana uses chromoly tubes for these frames, while the single-piece tandems are made out of alloy. The legendary rear suspension is a Fox Float RP23. We opted for a rear travel of 3 inches to make the suspension more compliant. The frame allows for four inches of travel.
2.Fork: Z-7, a tandem specific beast of a fork built by ATC Racing. Yup, size matters in up ahead.
3.Brakes: Magura Gustav
4.Changing gears: Rohloff Speedhub. Enough said. Google it for details.
5.Front hub, wheels: White Industries Venti with 20mm through axle and 36 spokes. Sun MTX rims front and rear, nice and wide to go along with these 26x2.5 and 26x2.4 tires. We live in the Southwestern desert. Slime is a necessity. If you want to save weight, move out of the goathead and cactus zone.
6.Saddles: Specialized Body Geometry Gel saddles. Enough said. Ain't gonna put no weight weenie butt splitters on this rig.
7.The rest of our shopping list consisted of parts that are worthy to be associated with The Conqueror.
a Cross Country Rider
from Salt Lake City, Utah
Date Reviewed: June 4, 2002
Strengths: Beautiful frame, craftsmanship, frame design. Rock solid in any conditions, so far. Very plush, amazing tracking - no frame waggle. Sweet paint (Superdust)!
Weaknesses: None that we've found.
If you are thinking about mountain tandems, put some serious thought into the ECDM. My wife and I have ridden a Boulder FS tandem for the past few seasons - originally planning to only ride dirt roads - be careful if that's your plan also, you'll be amazed at where you can go with these things! We loved the Boulder, but pushed it beyond what it was really intended to do and finally broke it (Rich at Boulder has since created a bigger, stronger FS tandem). We've wanted the Ventana for a couple of years and now that we have it, we're loving it!
The Ventana is absolutely beautiful. It's a clean, yet beefy frame design that has Sherwood's trademark Electric Sex welds and in our case, the Superdust finish, which I swear makes us go faster - it doesn't seem to work uphill though...
This bike actually responds more like a single and tracks better than any tandem we've ever ridden. Let it rip on the downhills, with the right fork (thanks Stratos!), it goes where you point it, then the rear end soaks up what's left. We've been able to take lines on familiar rides that we wouldn't have even thought about on our older bike.
I really don't think that you can go wrong with the ECDM - just make sure you do your homework when picking the components, wheels, etc. Mountain tandems take unbelievable amounts of stress and abuse, so I would recommend going for strength over weight. Mark Livingood (another reviewer of the ECDM) has been kind enough to devote much of his personal website to info on his ECDM's which helped us a bunch when we were getting our bike together. Thanks Mark! You can also find a wealth of info from Double Forte, a Yahoo Groups worldwide family of mountain tandem riders. And when you do decide to take the plunge, and you will, contact Alex Nutt at MTB Tandems.com. He worked with us to give us a great deal on our dream bike not to mention his knowledge and expertise on mountain tandems. He is the only one I know of that specializes in mountain tandems - he even has enough pull to get manufacturers like Marzocchi (great fork, great company) to work with him to build special makes of their existing forks just for tandems! Thanks Alex and Kim for your help.
Bottom line, riding off road on a tandem built to handle it can be some of the best riding you can experience. The ECDM has got to be one of, if not the best FS tandems available today. If you are new to this, demo a bike or two to make sure you and your partner enjoy mountain tandems, do a little research through Double Forte, etc. Then save a little dough and take the plunge - You won't regret it!
Bike Setup: Race Face cranks, Thompson Posts/Stem, Hope Enduro Disks, Easton EA70 Bars, Mavic D521 Rims, Stratos ST5 Tandem Fork, etc.
a Cross Country Rider
from Near Atlanta, GA
Date Reviewed: April 7, 2002
Strengths: Probably the best off-road tandem frame on the market, in terms of design, quality, value and customer support. This is our second Ventana ECdM; the first was a '97 that was tweaked to '00 specs with the rear disc brake & softer bushings when it was built new in '99. Updates on the '02 worth mentioning include a redesigned rear triangle featuring room for bigger rear tires, quad-set sealed bearings at all pivots instead of nylon bushings, replaceable derailleur hangar, vertical drop-outs and 4" of travel instead of 3.5. Electric Sex welds are still some of the best in biz., "Superdust" powdercoat finish is awesome and hydraulic rear brake line braze-ons are great.
Weaknesses: If you're looking to fit V-brakes or canti's on the rear you can't; stock rear brake bridge no longer has 'em. Not sure I'd bother with rim brakes on a F/S tandem, so NBD for me. That's it... Somebody mentioned sizing was an issue; however, for $200 Ventana will make it any size you'd like and lead time is only about 6 weeks.
The Ventana El Conquistador de Montanas is THE BEST all round off-road tandem frame on the market. If you're serious about your off-road riding and are thinking about taking a friend or loved one out on the back of a tandem full suspension is a MUST HAVE. You may not feel the difference but your stoker(s) will. My wife really enjoyed her first experiences off-roading on our Cannondale MT3000 and at first I couldn't imagine why you'd need to spend the extra dough for a full suspension rig. Well, what my wife didn't know -- being new to off-road riding -- was that her neck and back weren't supposed to hurt after each ride. She didn't know that it could be painless until we got our first Ventana ECdM; and I couldn't believe how much better the handling and control could be with F/S.
Bottom Line: At $2,595.00 MSRP (see http://www.MTBTandems.com for an even better deal), it's an incredible value in a full suspension tandem and a lot cheaper than weekly visits to the chiropractor by your stoker(s). If you're a serious rider with a serious single bike, this is the tandem for you.
If all you're ever planning on doing is riding double track and rail beds, save your pennies and go with a hardtail until you're ready for the single track. Then, buy this bike.
Similar Products Used: '98 Cannondale MT3000, '97 Ventana El Conquistador de Montanas, '98 Santana Dual Moto.
Bike Setup: Custom sized 17/15 frame in Superdust. Stratos S5-T fork, Hope Enduro discs (203mm F/185mm R), daVinci cranks, XTR/XT transmission, Chris King hubs w/Velocity Aeroheat AT rims and other nice bits & pieces by Chris King, Easton, Thomson & Speedplay. Full details on our Web site with pictures at: http://home.att.net/~mark.livingood/02Ventana.html
a Cross Country Rider
from Richmond, VA
Date Reviewed: January 29, 2002
Strengths: Beautiful quality and design. Paint job is excellent and welds are high quality. It looks like it will last a lifetime.
Weaknesses: Sizing is in 2 inch increments, which forces you to compromise on a very expensive frame. No way to attach V brakes in the rear if you wanted to. Embarrased to say that I galled the rear BB while installing a well greased Shimano UN 72. They fixed it for a reasonable charge, but mentioned that they had switched to new dies because they were having problems with Shimano BBs! OWCH.