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Best front forks for a newbie tandem team?

4000 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Drum
Howdy all,
Long time lurker, recently begun to post.

Next week, I will be receiving a new-to-me tandem back from my LBS where it has received a fresh tune up and renovation as a cross-country bike. It is a Grove Innovations 2-B-1, which will look almost exactly like this bike below, except for the front fork, which is solid on our bike.

What I would like to know is if you folks have any advice on the best front fork for our purposes, which I will describe briefly.

We will be a heavy team at probably 375lbs total without baggage. We are both competent riders of regular mtn bikes, but I am more the more experienced rider overall. We will be learning how to be a team on miles and miles of basically flat canal tow paths here in eastern Pa.. The surface is gravel and hard packed earth and grass.

I am hoping to keep the relatively mild shocks and jolts of these paths from my 110lbs wife/stroker-to-be as much as possible. Her seat will be wide and the same as her single bike and will be supported with a telescoping seat post like the bike pictured above.

I expect that a suspension front fork will ease the shocks even more, so I am interested in your suggestions for a replacement for my solid fork.

Likewise, I am interested in knowing whether anyone thinks we should start, as a brand new tandem team, with the solid front fork before considering a replacement.

Is it easier to learn on a solid bike?

Thanks in advance for your replies.

Bethlehem, Pa.

PS: I will post pics of our bike as soon as it arrives.
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New Bike!

Congrats on the new-2-you bike. There is a lot to learn about tandem vs. single riding, the good news is it can be pretty fun riding with each other while you figure it out.

A few things:

If you main concern is stoker comfort (and it should be!) put the money into the best suspension seatpost you can get. I recommend the Cane Creek Thudbuster. I just talked it over with my stoker who feels that a front fork has very little effect on the stokers comfort. Her hands and upper body are not over the front wheel so she won't feel much from the front of the bike. She WILL feel EVERYTHING you run over with the back wheel. You will understand when you ride it and realize how little you feel the rear wheel.

I would get a thudbuster dial it in for her weight (swap the elastomers) then ride it with a rigid fork for a while. I don't really think it makes a difference in "learning curve" I'm just cheap. If you both like it and start looking at trails that are more up and down or bumpy than canals you will probably want a new bike anyhow (the brakes and gearing on the Grove don't look good for steep stuff)

If you do want to get a fork later, try to find a short travel one as I don't think that frame is designed for front suspension. Given team weight and use I think one of the Marzocchi single crown forks would do great. BigNut would have a good idea as I think he runs about the same team weight.

Happy learning - post pics!
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The biggest tires you can fit.
Try some WTB WierWolf LT 2.6 tires if they'll fit in the frame. Those tires (or similar volume) will do a lot towards taking away the edges on the trail noise.
As for forks, you're a heavy team for a single-crown fork. If you want to go the cheapest route, get a Marzocchi DJ1 with a thru-axle.
However, when you change forks, you'll likely have to change brakes as well, as most modern-day forks aren't V-brake compatible. The DJ is not. So you'll need to switch to a disc brake up front; I suggest the Avid BB7 as an inexpensive and very good option. Then there's the hub change to 20mm and disc-brake compatibility...
So, put some very fat tires on the tandem and ride it rigid for a while to see how tandeming works for you. Once you've figured out what you as a team prefer to ride, you can upgrade components as needed.
Remember to have fun!
I will report on the exact tires on the bike when I pick it up tomorrow (fingers crossed) but I requested an XC type of tire with an aggressive edge, but a rolling tread. They are 2" at least. Probably bigger.

We will definitely try this out with the rigid forks first before spending any more money on an experiment. We are also going to try the exact seat from her regular xc bike which she likes alot.

Frankly, I do not think any failure in this experiment is going to be a lack of seat comfort.

If she hates not being able to see forward and trust my steering/braking (she does not in a car when she CAN see forward so I am not confident in meeting this requirement of a tandem team) we will try her in the captain's seat and see if she likes that better.

I am really hoping this will work out for us.

Thanks for the excellent advice.

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Make sure the suspension post is working and adjusted for her. Many of the telescoping posts freeze-up over time and need periodic lubing to function,

Drum said:
we will try her in the captain's seat and see if she likes that better.
Your team weight is 375 and she weighs 110? I really don't think having her captain is a good idea. She will have a very hard time controlling the bike and won't have the mass to compensate for any slight weight shift you make. If you do try it, don't do it on pavement...pick something more forgiving.
Yes, I understand your point. I am frankly hoping that the offer will be enough to encourage her commitment to the back seat.


The seat post will be brand new. My LBS uncorked a new one for us, but I appreciate the advice nevertheless.

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