Our vehicle of choice is a Santana Cabrio quad tandem http://santanatandem.com/Bikes/QuadEtc.html.
The bike breaks down into two conventional bike boxes – the frame being joined with SS couplers. It’s proven to be robust and rides well for such a long bike. We’ve come to learn that some of the technology and componentry is a bit unconventional and can therefore be a little hard to source.
It is our opinion (and we’re novice bike mechanics, so read these as you see fit) that there were two ‘Achilles heels’ on the bike. First, the bike was provided with a ball bearing headset (whether it shipped with this or was assembled incorrectly we can’t be sure), which handled badly and ultimately compromised the front forks. The mechanic who identified the issue for us was astounded to find that headset on this bike. The result was our having to replace the forks and install a Chris King NoThreadSet, which has proven to be bomb proof to this point.
Second, the large load of the bike places a lot of stress on the tyres which initially resulted in side wall blowouts front and back (usually front) and continues to result in dramatically shortened life of the tyres, not to mention a few unnerving moments We were initially supplied with the wrong tyres for the bike, then worked with various Schwalbe Marathon tyres which coped admirably. Schwalbe were great to deal with but weren’t happy to guarantee their tyres would take the load (up to 500kg…), so we alternatively selected Continental Travel Contacts, which were alleged to be the best option to sustain the load. This trip proved the true test for these tyres, with the first tyre failing after three days, and the second failing after eight days.
We’ve now moved back to Schwalbe tyres, choosing Marathon Plus. So far so good. We keep them at 4.5 bar.
***STOP PRESS*** Schwalbe Marathon Plus lasted 900km on back; replaced with Specialized Armadillo which can be inflated to 8 bar. We’re running at 6 bar. Marathon Plus on the front is running at 4.5 bar out of a max of 5 bar and is approaching 2000km.
Of less dire consequence was the need to replace the alloy chain rings with more suitable and durable steel rings.
***STOP PRESS*** Replaced running gear at 1850km on left hand side of bike (chains/chainrings alloy), first time ever (365 euros inc 42 euros delivery).
Another challenge we’ve yet to attend to is the – in our opinion, sub-optimal – braking, comprising V-Brakes front and rear and an Arai drum brake to the rear. Although the drum works effectively and V-brakes pull you up pretty quick, we don’t like pulling up quickly on V-Brakes, neither do we like the prospect of replacing the rims over-frequently (we’ve had a rim explode on a mountain bike so don’t like to take chances once they start to concave). We are keen to get disc brakes to resolve this, but their are big challenges associated with this – and costs – in the meantime we ride conservatively. Most of the time 🙂
It would – without doubt – be more sensible and more convenient to be on two regular tandems. But we wouldn’t have met the people we’ve met, raised the money for charity we’ve raised, brought joy to so many passers-by; nor would our children have had the endless conversations they’ve enjoyed together as we clicked up the kilometres.