Testimonials and In The Media
Cable TV Appearance
Click here to see the a show featuring da Vinci Designs
– – by Megan Cotler for Douglas County TV
Touring the World on a da Vinci
Kris Lund and Erik Wright’s 2008-2009 world tour.
Click Here to see George and Sharon Miner’s stories of their year long 15,000 mile US/Mexico/Canada tour in 2000-2001.
Dennis & Terry’s Tour Links
Tour in Portugal
3 day, 3 passes ride, in Colorado (all over 10,000 Ft Elev)
Bicycle Touring Checklist
The Empty Seat
These are unsolicited letters. Some have been sent to us directly and many others were not even written for our benefit but sent to Tandem@Hobbes, an open forum of tandem topics to enlighten other tandem enthusiasts.
I will start out this review with a little history on us. We have been riding tandem together now for 13+ years and we took to tandem cycling with no real issues to speak of. It came quite easy to us. We have ridden the traditional tandem set up in sync and have gotten quite use to it. We had looked at the da Vinci ICS system several times throughout the years and pondered if we would like it and had some reservations. We set out and did some research read a lot of reviews and decided to take a chance on the ICS system and placed an order for a Joint Venture 700 in galaxy gray fade to orion silver with the package #1 upgrade to include the Envi carbon fiber fork, White Ind free hubs and a TRP front V brake upgrade so no travel agent was needed with the V brake and road shifters.
Todd, Brian & the crew at da Vinci were top notch and spent a grip of time talking with me throughout the process. With that said, I am real picky and drove them nuts but they weathered the storm well and in good spirits…lol. The tandem was built in the off season and was done in a few weeks. I finished putting it together after it arrived and boy did it look great!! Awesome craftsmanship, attention to detail, and the paint job was great.
Now for the ride experience. All I can say is any reservations about the ICS system we had went out the window once we started pedaling. We took to it like a duck in water and the learning curve was short for us. The wife found it very easy to get in sync and enjoyed being able to coast without needing to give a command to keep from jerking my knees around. I also found this to be very nice when I needed to coast for the same reasons. For us, it was very much like riding a standard set up when in sync going down the trail, no problems here. My wife noticed that she didn’t really even have to pay much attention to her pedaling position as we seemed to automatically end up in sync 98% of the time. The big surprise was when we were in parking lots or doing slow maneuvers around any obstacles my wife could just keep her feet still and I could do the pedaling and balance as needed without fighting or dragging her legs around during these maneuvers. I found this to be a big advantage over the traditional locked together set up of a regular tandem set up.
Lastly, the handling experience. The tandem was smooth and rode really well. The steering is precise and fast but just nimble enough to feel completely in control. Just pick your line and that’s were the tandem would go. The tandem cornered extremely well and responded to everything I threw at it. Never leaving me any loss of confidence at all. The gearing on the da Vinci is quite different as we got the set up with the four rings up front and the Campi shifters. I really like this setup because it gives me the wide gear inches high and low that I really wanted, especially the lows for us. We have never been great hill climbers on a tandem, but we do hold our own and make it over the top every time. With that said, as we have gotten older, having the lower gear inches the ICS system offers is going to be worth its weight in gold and will pay out in the long run.
If you have any reservations about the ICS System we recommend giving it a try.You will not be disappointed!!
Thanks to Todd, Brian & crew for a wonderful tandem the quality and care shows throughout..
Bill & Julie
Just returned from a 7-month European tour on our new Titanium, Joint Adventure picked up in Denver in April 2010. We cycled 6000 km from Rome up to the Baltic Sea and back down to Vienna, with some stretches by train.
We (my wife/stoker and I) have drafted this write up primarily for the benefit of those folk who may be contemplating the unique da Vinci Designs Independent Coasting System (ICS) but have not had, and will not have, the opportunity to try it out thoroughly before committing to the purchase. This was the position we found ourselves in, back in January 2010.
We bought an Aluminium Cannondale Mountain Tandem in 2006 and did a 6500 km trip in Europe but in planning our second trip to Europe in 2010 we were looking for a lighter tandem with couplers.
Notably, the ICS was not a prime requirement at that time. However, the additional plus factors associated with the ICS were attractive straight off, namely, the extraordinarily wide gearing range, less stress on the bottom brackets (this was the Achilles heel in the Cannondale) and a lot more front chain ring ground clearance.
Our prime concern was what was involved in getting back into phase once out. In reality this turned out to be easy but at that early stage, before trying the system, we were reassured by the fact that if we did not like the ICS, it could be locked out.
Stoker speaking: I was concerned about not being automatically tied in phase, with my Captain. I did not want to be bothered with having to look and see what my husband was doing on the front.
I have to say that these concerns were totally unfounded. In the beginning I did have to glance down, pause, and then get into phase particularly when approaching a steep hill. After some time I realized that getting into phase was taking place almost sub consciously, with no specific effort. It had become a non-issue.
Based on my experience on this extensive trip there were unexpected ICS positives:
• Being able to start pedaling while the Captain was still moving his feet into position (and no more bruised shins for the Captain);
• Not having my feet fly off the pedals (no clipless) when the Captain stopped pedaling suddenly (bee sting or leg cramp etc);
• Better concentration on map reading, on the back, because I could keep my feet and legs still;
• Being able to stand up and stretch or ease pressure on my rear end at will while the Captain was still pedaling;
• Likewise the Captain was able to stop pedaling while I continued if needs be.
As a final comment on the ICS, on returning after our 2010 trip we did two short back to back rides, one on the ‘fixed’ Cannondale and then, immediately after, on the ICS da Vinci J Adv. I found it really disconcerting and restrictive being permanently tied in with the Captain on the fixed system. There was a distinct loss of freedom and independence. No way would I choose to go back to the ‘fixed’ system.
Aside from the ICS, which turned out to be an unexpected benefit, a few additional comments are:
• Through the days of demanding questions and negotiating on all the finer details, it was a pleasure dealing with Todd who had answers at his fingertips based on personal experience. He had no need, unlike the marketing oriented people elsewhere, to refer to technical staff for answers. And it was great receiving pictures of progress on the hand fabrication of our beautiful machine. The welding is certainly an art form.
• Todd’s suggestion that Titanium would be better suited to our type of touring (fully loaded with camping gear) than carbon fibre was borne out when sliding backwards down an escalator, tumbling down a dyke in Holland and falling multiple times in thick mud, the bike came out with hardly a mark. In fact on a thorough clean up at the end of the trip she looked as though we had just rolled out of the shop in Denver. The brushed silver look of the Titanium is stunning and the bike feels fast and responsive.
• Todd’s after sales service has been terrific; we had replacement parts flown to us in four days in Rome after the chains and some cranks were ‘lost’; we always have prompt email responses to further technical questions and going way beyond the bike related stuff, Todd helped us out on iPhone and tent related issues.
• Undoubtedly, this is the man you want to be dealing with when buying a top end bike.
Pierre and Eleanor, Australia
We took our maiden ride this afternoon. We love this bike. It’s aesthetically gorgeous, fits us perfectly, absorbs road shock well beyond our expectations, handles exceptionally well, has a drive train that is a work of genius, shifts like butter, sounds like a Swiss watch works, and, well it just flies. We easi…ly, in fact effortlessly, cruised along at 20 mph for the hour we rode it today (ran out of daylight).
The Joint Venture exceeds our expectations in every way. Thank you all so much!!!
Brian Mink & Monica Davis Monona, WI
…It is beautiful. It’s been hard to work during the day with this Joint Venture sitting in our garage. Monica & I are itching to head out into the drift-less area west of Madison and take the Joint Venture through a 100 miles o…f Wisconsin’s most beautiful hills and valleys. We’ve logged over 100,000 miles on eight high end tandems over the years. This Joint Venture is in a league of it’s own. It’s ride quality, mechanics and handling are hard to describe. You have to feel it and it feels like your most comfortable pair of old boots crossed with a Lamborghini.
We just wanted to send you this e-mail and thank you and the guys at da Vinci Designs for our fantastic new tandem. We absolutely love it and are enjoying every ride we take on our new machine.
Just last weekend, we rode TOSRV and were feeling great as we rolled along the terrain. Many looked at our ride and were impressed with what they saw, but more importantly, we really feel comfortable on it and it fits us well. Thanks again for getting it shipped to us in time for this ride and we have several more scheduled already for the summer.
We are so glad we made the trip to the tandem expo back in March. We look forward to enjoying many miles on our new ride and we will send along some photos to you soon. If you ever need a testimonial about our experience with da Vinci Designs, you can send them our way – we had a great one!
Thanks again and we’ll keep in touch,
Brian & Sheila Pol
I just wanted to let you know how very satisfied I am with the Tandem. The build process was very smooth. Everything is as promised. The bike rides and shifts perfectly with zero adjustment and no trips to a bike shop. We just did a 70 mile fast ride in a large group and we were able to stay in the front group with very little training. Then we did a fifty mile ride (in another fast group) in 2 hours, 10 minutes! On our own we can average 21mph and hit 34 on the flat. Sweet! I am so glad I purchased a Da Vinci Tandem.
Last Sunday, my wife and I took delivery of our brand new Joint Venture 700 from Bryon and Peggy Price at Crank2 in Pleasanton. The bike and the service provided by Bryon and Peggy are/were completely outstanding.
It has been raining here in Sacramento since then (nothing compared to the weather you guys have been having) so we haven’t had a chance to get out and ride. Our new bike has been sitting in the kitchen since we brought it home. I have to admit I have spent more than a “normal” amount of time just admiring the bike. The paint fade from black to cobalt blue is absolutely gorgeous. I honestly don’t know how anybody can actually do that. When I get a new bike, I can usually find a few cheapy parts where the manufacturer cut corners. I can’t find any on this bike. Those hubs are like jewels.
Covering all of the cables in that black protective tubing is something that you normally don’t see. I really admire you guys for sticking to the 9 sp system. It is sad, yet funny, how the other manfacturers are forcing everyone to go with the new 10 sp system even though it seems that nobody can actually make a wide range gearing system work with the 10 sp components without seriously downgrading the range of available gear ratios. I am sure that we will admire this bike even more when we actually get to ride it.
As for Bryon, his wife Peggy and their two kids who help them at Crank2, they are truly outstanding and a real asset to your business. Their knowledge of all things tandem, and Bryon’s patience it facilitating numerous test rides of several of the bikes from various brands, and finally the delivery and fitting of our new bike are second to none. We live in Sacramento, about 100 miles from their shop, but it is still well worth the drive. I would have assumed that they had been in business selling tandems for 25 years. The fact that Crank2 is only a year old astounds me. I really have to admire them for jumping in with both feet, taking what must be a terrific financial risk, and going for it. They are nice people too.
We are all too quick to criticize a business or a person when we aren’t happy with them. I think we should be equally quick to compliment a business or people when they are outstanding.
Thanks for everything
Eric and Carolyn, Sacramento CAStrem
We are on our second tandem with our new da vinci Joint Venture. We loved being together, now we love to bicycle together. The independent pedaling system allows the stronger rider to push as hard as they like with out annoying their partner. We love our new bike. Your (da Vinci) customer service is second to none, and your dealer Continental Bicycle Shop in Hazel Park is fantastic . Thanks for the great job and all of the help.
Mike and Ellen
We were at Mel’s yesterday to pick up our new baby. What a spectacular paint job you did!!! It’s one of the prettiest bikes I’ve ever seen. Mel said that we might just want to hang it on the wall as a work of art, but that way no one else would get to enjoy it. We took it out today for its maiden organized ride and did we get compliments. And they were ALL about your artistry. I can’t believe how much work you must have done to make the fades all so perfect. We’re truly unique!! And the best part is not only are we gorgeous but WE LOVE RIDING THIS BIKE. I wasn’t sure how much I was going to take to the independent coasting, but it turns out that I am really happy. The bike, named Blue Moonfire but in Gaelic as we’re both half Irish, rides like a dream. Eric and I are working to refine our new style, but we absolutely and totally enjoyed our ride today. We think that we have the two best tandems that we could ever own, and the only difficulty is going to be deciding which one gets taken out for some exercise when we go.
In talking with a couple of teams that have tried to ride a daVinci in the past, they all had the same wobble problem that we experienced the first time we rode one last year but they gave up. Somehow if you could make the retailers of your bicycle aware that they need to do some prep work with people going out for the first time, I think you would sell a lot more of these fantastic bikes. I know it took Eric and me a year of talking about it and more tandem riding to figure out what happened the first time and what we needed to do to fix the problems. Your stressing that it’s independent COASTING and not cadence made a lot more sense to me that my original thought that I could just pedal however I wanted without worrying about working together. I know we will be singing your praises for artistry AND engineering from now on. And we’re going to let teams that want to try ours do so with a little coaching from us on what to be aware of and how to approach things. Maybe it will spread the word.
Again, MANY MANY THANKS for all the conversation at the Expo, hard work, e-mails, and our beautiful new baby. We hope to see you again next year at Mel’s Expo.
Dale and Eric, brand new Blue Moonfire owners!!!!
Our test ride on your Joint Venture was an eye opener. Janice and I keep thinking about how much fun we had on that bike. Janice described the difference between the co motion and the joint venture as moving from a Lexus to an amazing sports car. The freedom of the independent pedaling was exhilarating; synchronization was not an issue.
My wife and I are not evenly matched riders. Before I started riding tandems, I thought the experience would be about speed. I soon realized it was more like a dancing; our time together being far more about cooperation than speed.
The combination of your bike and my partner made for one exciting dance. I could pedal as fast as I wanted. The bike speed was incredible. We found ourselves passing singles, something we rarely accomplished on our own tandem.
Galen and Janice Lowe
Just finished another fine year aboard our gold and purple machine. All told I think we have about 14k miles in the 3 years we have owned our bike. The best dependability is engineered in with no worries when we travel. With the 26″ wheels I have broken 1 spoke and don’t think I need to rebuild yet. The service that the bike has needed was simple and partly just wear. I was especially happy when I could fix the Campy shifters for minimal cost. The 26″ wheel decision was the best as we can change tires with the terrain with ease and go from the fast pavement to gravel roads to experience all that Colorado has to offer. I am sending pictures of our Flat Tops loop, and yes that is a trailer. We measure 12′ front to back. Thinking I might just convince Beth we can do the White Rim.
This year we have been to Spain (self support), rode to Iowa (self supported), rode RMCC Super Contrail, and have done a brevet series. Can I say our Ti bikes are not getting used much. This tandem has cemented our relationship by confirming that if we can solve our issues on the bike, off the bike has to be easy.
Beth and Brent
We picked up our bike last Sat. It is just as pretty as the picture! We spent a the day with Mel learning how to take it apart (and getting fitted with padding for each piece), packing it, and of course putting it back together again. We took it for its “maiden” ride yesterday and loved it. The 44 miles flew by. We were very pleased with how it handled and how much fun it was to ride. Thanks for making such a great bike. We will recommend your bikes to everyone. We’d love to get some of your jerseys to spread the word, so please let us know when you have them available again.
Dona and Curt
My wife and I love our da Vinci Global Venture which we bought in 2006. We have owned five new tandems since we began riding tandem in 1999. We had a Santana and a Cannondale which burned up in a garage fire and a Bike Friday which we sold. We now have the da Vinci and a Cannondale road tandem.The da Vinci is the best of the bunch. We like independent coasting a lot. Putting a child kit on a da Vinci is easy.
This bike is comfortable, easy to pack, and the wide range of gears allows us to climb better. We have not had the mechanical problems we had with our Santana or Bike Friday. The Cannondales have been good bikes but they don’t have independent coasting and can’t pack in luggage for air travel. Thanks for making a good product with multiple innovations which are valued by us.
San Antonio, Texas
The next six entries were in response to questions on T@H about our tandems, drivetrain and service. The da Vinci owners had some very thoughtful and complete answers
Posted on T@H 8/9/07
I think you’ll find da Vinci tandems are all they are billed to be. We’ve had our Joint Venture since 2001 and it’s unthinkable to give up the independent coasting system at this point. We had over a decade of conventional drive tandem riding before ICS. I’ve upgraded my Joint Venture to the current 4×9 gearing configuration a few years ago and just added the new all carbon Wound Up tandem fork this year. Call Todd or Brian at da Vinci and they’ll answer any question you ever had about their bikes. I’m lusting after the new carbon frame with 700c wheels, maybe next year…
Posted on T@H 8/10/07
I second all the comments made by M Andersen regarding the DaVinci tandem. We bought ours almost 5 years ago after having ridden a nice older Trek for 2 years. When Cheri once rode the dV she wouldn’t go back to the Trek!. Ours is also S&S..we have taken it on many airline trips, and only recently were charged by United …jerks…going out of Cincy. Our return trip from Vancouver BC we weren’t even asked what was in the suitcases…Never charged on Delta.
We have Campy ergo shifters and the house built V-22 wheels with White hubs and Avid disc in the rear. Maintenance is simple, but I haven’t repacked the eccentrics yet, which looks to be more involved than general maintenance on any tandem…just that there are 2 on the dV. We bought ours from Continental Bike Shop in Detroit, and visited the workshop in Denver on a visit there 2 years ago. Todd and crew were wonderful and have responded to questions by e-mail and phone when I needed them. What would I change…nothing really though I wonder what it would be like with 650B wheels instead of 26 😉
Posted on T@H 8/10/07
Yes, all da Vinci tandems have four chainrings. It’s part of the advantage of the independent coasting system. The chainrings are actually hyperglide cogs mounted on the intermediate shaft in front of the stoker cranks. Because of the 2 to 1 drive ratio a set of 12/18/24/30 cogs makes for effective chainring sizes of 24/36/48/60. Perfect for our 26-inch wheels. You can have tight and wide gearing all at the same time!!
The 6-tooth jumps make for easier shifting up front and there are no chainline angle issues as the cogs are further up front and smaller than conventional crank systems so you can actually use every single one of the 36 gears without additional noise, chainring rub, or excessive side loading of the chain. The original da Vinci tandems were 4 x 8 gearing and the current are 4 x 9. 4 x 10 can’t be far behind! I’ve thought of doing that when I next need a new cassette, however that would require an investment in 10-speed Campy Ergo shifters. The set up is, of course, not adaptable to a conventional drive train.
There’s plenty of info on the drive train at www.davincitandems.com as well as the old Tandem Magazine review of the first generation Joint Venture. The bike is really built around the ICS system — it’s not “tacked on”. I want a 700c da Vinci, too. That way I can have both a 26″ wheel tandem and their newer 700c tandem and enjoy the inherent advantages of each wheel size. Our previous tandems were a Burley Duet, Santana Arriva, and Longbikes 300ES so we have had some nice bikes as a frame of reference for our da Vinci Joint Venture on which we are now enjoying our 7th season. We’ll have the bike at Saturday’s (tomorrow’s) ETR ride, although I bet there will be other da Vincis there. Patti and I will be on the yellow one, in case anyone wants to say hello or check out the bike!
Posted on T@H 8/10/07
For most of my cycling life, I’d only ridden tandems a few times, being a paid bike wrench for over 10 years as a youth, but only one ride was for more than 20 miles…and that was more than 20 years ago. I’ve been a serious cyclist for more than 25 years now, with most of my miles on the road but significant mountain bike time several years ago. I bought a 26″-wheeled 1998 da Vinci Joint Venture earlier in 2004. Since then, I’ve had about 4000 miles on tandems with several different stokers, mostly my three 8, 11, 12 year old (now, in 2007) children. The two adults I rode with were absolute novice cyclists, one being blind. Therefore, I have some experience with the da Vinci system, but not with an experienced adult stoker, and that might make a difference…see below. We sold that tandem to a family on the East Coast and bought a custom-ordered 700c-wheeled da Vinci in early 2006.
I’ve discovered several things about the da Vinci system: First, it’s great with kids. They can coast when they want, push when they want, and when I’m really spinning, I don’t pull their feet out of their shoes. We almost never ride with our cranks in sync…if we do, it’s by chance. On the other hand, I’ve never missed it either. 99% of our climbing is done in the saddle. In fact, I only stand up to give the ol’ butt a break occasionally…my stoker kids stand up all the time…sometimes too often, in fact, to take butt breaks. It seems like they always stop pedaling right at the steepest sections. But when it comes to ease of adaption to the whole tandem thing, the ICS gives us quite a bit of flexibility. It’s at it’s best with kids and inexperienced adults in the back. That’s not to say it won’t work for old-hand cyclists either; I just have no experience with it in that regard. As a captain, I love it. Wouldn’t trade the ICS for anything.
The four chainrings are also very cool. Because the two crank chainrings are 34 teeth but the intermediate freewheels are 17 teeth, the whole middle assembly spins twice as fast as the cranks. This means that the chainrings only need to be half the size as “normal” to give the same gearing. Very cool. They’re very small, and never get caught up in anything…like while loading into the van, etc. They shift faster and easier than any triple I’ve ever ridden. And the gear range is absolutely HUGE!! I’m currently running an 12×28 rear that gives us a 23 to 135 inch range from lowest to highest. You never need to worry about running out of top end…not with that 60×12 top gear.
And the 24 equivalent smallest ring, with a 28 or 30 big cog on the back end is plenty low for us. In fact, it’s not the lack of low gears that bother me, it’s my own steering problem keeping the bike straight and not wandering all over the road at speeds under 2.5 mph that limit our steep uphill creeping speed. (Hope you followed that train of thought…I’m sure it ran off the tracks somewhere there…) The 26″ wheels we had at first are no big deal. I found a nice tire from Soma that’s 1.1″ wide and only 230 grams. At 110 PSI it rides very well. We’re only 225-235 lbs depending on which kid stokes, so we’re a very lightweight team. For heavier pairs, there’s lots of quality 26″ tires to choose from. The big knock on 26″ road tandems is the lack of top end. Again, a 60×11 takes care of that just fine…
However, I prefer the 700c wheels we have on the latest tandem. There’s plenty of tire selection and they just seem faster. I don’t think they are; our average speed is about the same. I’m sure it’s a psychological thing…
I expected some sort of weight penalty when I bought into the da Vinci thing, and I’m sure there is one, but either bike still weighs almost exactly 35 lbs, which I think is reasonable. You can of “lock-out” the ICS if you want. To do so, you replace the two freewheels on the intermediate bottom bracket with a pair of fixed gears, thereby “locking” the two cranks together as a traditional tandem. You still get the advantage of the smaller chainrings and 4-way front shifting. You can switch back and forth between ICS and fixed for the price of the time needed to exchange the cogs…about 20-30 minutes (with practice), I’d guess. According to the builder in Colorado (a great guy, by the way), he very rarely has to send out the parts to do this. Most teams like the ICS better that fixed, according to him. Disadvantages? Well, that middle bottom bracket with the two single-speed freewheels on one side and four cogs on the other is more complicated than a normal tandem. I can foresee that a strong pair of experienced adults that are more evenly matched than me and my various stokers would not need some of the benefits I find so attractive, but for me, it’s just the ticket.
By the way, I’ve found the Large-Small da Vinci sizing to be rather flexible. My usual stokers are my children at 13, 11, and 8 years old now. They all started at 10, 8, and 7 (youngest had to grow just a bit to fit; he was too short when we first got the tandem). They’re currently 5’3″, 4’8″, and 3’10” tall respectively. They all fit on the bike fine, though I have to remove the shock-post and run a different saddle all the way down for the youngest.
The 13-year-old daughter is nice to ride with because of the time we spend together. Where else can an old guy spend so many hours with his teenage daughter? She’s not all that strong and doesn’t like to push very hard, though she doesn’t mind longer 60+ mile rides if we take enough rest stops along the way. If the speed ever gets above about 24-25mph, usually on the down-hills, she starts calling for me to apply the brakes–a speed demon she’s not. The 11-year-old boy, on the other hand, is much faster both on the flats and especially the downhills. He doesn’t talk much, but likes to put his helmet down and hammer. Our average speed is about 1-2mph higher than with the girl.
He tells me “Faster, Dad, faster!!,” on every downhill. His longest ride is a metric century (62.5 miles) and he was very tired at the end. The 8-year-old is only just barely big enough to reach the pedals. He’s a real fireplug up hills, though; I think his strength-to-weight ratio is higher than the other two. When he stands up on the pedals, I can really feel the turbo-boost kick in. His longest outing is 45 miles so far–he still talks about that ride and asks for the uphills when we go out. A real chip off the old block, if I do say so myself.
My two adult stokers have been my wife (5’2″) for a few rides and a blind gal (5’7″ but heavier than I am) whom I took for a couple or three rides last summer. Neither of these women are experienced cyclists by any stretch of the imagination, but we were easily up and riding on the tandem with virtually no issues. The daVinci ICS makes this especially easy.
I can’t say enough good things about the ICS system, especially if the captain is much more experienced than the stoker as is the case with me. It allows me to ride the tandem almost as I would a single bike, without any of the worries about dragging the stokers legs (as was previously mentioned), concerns about coordination of coasting periods, or even being effected when the stoker wants to stand up and coast for a butt-break. Starting out is particularly easy with no whacked shins for either rider…ever. I ordered the new bike with daVinci’s cool three-hole stoker cranks (no extra charge, by the way).
This makes a big difference as they allow the stoker to have either 130, 150, or 170mm crank lengths just by moving the pedals from hole to hole. Because I tend to run a rather high cadence (usually from 90-110 rpm) I used to hear constant requests from the back seat to slow the feet down when on our older tandem (fixed 170mm stoker cranks). Well, by using the 150mm option (where I normally have the stoker pedals mounted), it allows the stoker to run the same cadence as I but at a lower overall foot speed–no more complaints.
Furthermore, I am able to use the 130mm super-short option with my youngest. This made all the difference in allowing him to fit the bike well.
Our bike was “custom” ordered from daVinci last spring, but with standard Large-Small sizing. We picked the exact color we wanted and I was able to spec every component. The front cockpit fits me exactly the same as my best-fitting single bike. I can move right from the one to the other without feeling even the slightest difference in fit. This was important to me, though some captains don’t mind (some even prefer) a different fit. Our frame was still made by hand by the same fellows that build daVinci “custom” bikes; it’s a pretty small shop. The biggest advantage of a custom builder that I could think of would be for custom tubes if you’re an unusually light or heavy team as well as custom sizing, most especially for a longer top-tube in the rear cockpit. This can make a world of difference for stokers experienced on single-bikes. Because all of my stokers are small, the 28.3″ rear top tube of the daVinci is fine.
I wanted a 57-58cm captain’s top tube with a rear seat tube in the sub-45cm range. Their stock sizing fit this just fine so I didn’t have to pay the custom size up-charge. I do have two different seatposts and attached saddles that I swap (15-second job) depending on who rides. I run the shock-post in the middle of it’s height range for my daughter and wife and run it all the way down for my oldest boy, but I replace the post and seat for a set with very low profile for the littlest stoker.
Posted on T@H 8/10/07
As a tandem team with 17 years experience, and twice that time as a single roadie myself, I can tell you that the ICS advantages can be just as real for very experienced twosomes. It might be my imagination but it seems that everyone that questions the value of the da Vinci drivetrain has not spent any sigificant time on one (or zero time at all?!). Speaking for da Vinci owners everywhere…. “we know something you don’t know!”. Try one, you just might like it enough to write a check – haha!! My opinion, your mileage may vary, as always.
Posted on T@H 8/10/07
Hi all, I thought I would post a few comments about the da Vinci tandem. My qualifications are over 35,000 miles on our 2000 Global Venture, including a 15,000 mile, one year long tour around the perimeter of the USA, with side trips into Mexico, the Caribbean and Canadian Maritimes (a 600 mile loop around Nova Scotia.)
September 10, 2000 to September 1, 2001.
We carried 4 panniers, trunk bag, handlebar bag and towed a slightly overloaded ( 80 pounds) Bob Trailer. Yes, that is a lot, but it’s what it took to get my wife to agree to the adventure. We rode at a touring pace – about 65 miles per day. Neither of us had any injury or illness, other than me being stupid and not putting on a jacket in the rain and getting a little hypothermic one day.
We had one mechanical issue. When riding into a CAMPGROUND in South Carolina part of the flange on the rear hub (White Industries) broke off. What to do? Call Todd Shusterman in Colorado and then what? Wait until about 9 the next morning for the big brown truck to arrive with a complete replacement rear wheelset. Walking miles =0, time lost on the road = less than one hour. Cost to me = 0.
You decide if that means Todd backs his machines.
ICS??? Haven’t seen any discussion of the REAL advantage of the system. Sure getting started and butt breaks are easy, but there is something way beyond that. The ability to adjust pedal phasing at will. Once she got a little practice, my wife soon learned to phase according to conditions. In phase for climbing, 180 out for cruising and the best thing for her, the ability to adjust how much of the load she takes. By pedaling slightly behind or ahead of me she either works a little less, or for the “rare” moment when I am being lame, she pedals a little ahead and saves my butt. (seems to be happening more as I grow more “experienced” (older.) The rest of the system gives us a very wide range of gears. Real high for that fully loaded 58 MPH romp down the big hill on 101 just north of Cloverdale, California, all the low gears we needed for those 10 – 13% climbs in the hills of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. BTW, we pedaled every single foot of the distance. Sometimes at nearly walking speed, but never got off and pushed. And neither of us is a really great athlete.
The discussion of cranks and sprockets is a little over my head (not a bike mechanic or designer) but after 35,000 miles I have replaced most of the drive train. I saw some comments about the concentric’s. All you need is an allen wrench and a big flat wrench to turn the concentric. So easy, even I can do it. As far as the bearings, Todd has lovingly designed the whole system to accept the same sealed, factory lubricated ball bearing. I just carry a couple (must weigh a full ounce or so , Yikes!) as emergency spares, but have never replaced one on the road. Same bearing works in the White Industries hubs, and only an allen wrench is required for service.
Also saw something about the sprocket on the crossover wearing out quickly. My first one “only” lasted about 22,000 miles (Remember 15,000 of those miles was fully loaded touring). Todd sent me a replacement, all set up and I sent my worn one back to get rebuilt and sent on to the next person. I think there was some implication that this was weak. Fully loaded we weigh around 600 pounds when touring. And we often both stand when climbing short steep ones, so far we can’t break it. It is true that adjusting that short chain is a little tricky, but I can do it so it can’t be that difficult. Chain wear??? All that chain does is go around and around. The other side, which has to jump over all those gears wears out faster.
Speaking of jumping over gears, I have been riding deraileur bikes since the late 1950’s when I got my first “European Racer.” Over the years I have had some cheap bikes and some expensive ones. Gotta say that the best shifting bike I have ever ridden is the da Vinci, despite all that talk of poor shifting on tandems due to the cable lengths. I converted the rear cassette to 9 speed. The 8 speed chain did drag a little so I changed to 9 speed chain. The original Campy brifters were 9 speed, with the last “click” useless on the 8 speed rear. After changing the cassette, I went out for a test ride to adjust as necessary and found it worked perfectly with no changes. The gear teeth range on the 9 speed is well outside the “limits” of the Campy Racing Triple deraileur, but has always work perfectly.
No, I do not own stock in Todd’s company and he did not and does not sponsor me, other that the replacement wheelset mentioned above my only other “freebie” was a T-shirt he gave to me and my wife in a weak moment!
George and Sharon Miner
2000 da Vinci Global Venture
Vancouver Bicycle Club
Vancouver, Washington State, USA
We are very pleased with the Joint Venture. The 26 inch wheels have held up well, and really is a no-tools job to change a tire. I can’t imagine not having independent cranking, nor can I imagine not having disk brakes (we do have some serious up and down in places in Ohio).
It is a pleasure to ride and work on a well-built machine. if you know anyone who needs confirmation that the investment is a good one, send ’em my direction.
We purchased our Da Vinci from Acme Bicycle last November. We now have 2,600 miles on our tandem in less then a year and love it! We have taken it with us to do the 3-State 3-Mountain Challenge and the Copper Triangle. It is much easier to travel with. While the Da Vinci was in the shop for a tune up we tried to ride our old Santana. It was not fun. We really enjoy the Da Vinci.
Janet B. in Texas
My Wife and I are in our early 60’s and my wife never has rode a bike by herself. I got interested in riding a couple years ago watching Lance. I could never get my wife to ride a bike by herself. One day riding by myself I saw a couple ride by on a Tandem, I stopped called my wife on my cell and asked her to find the nearest Bicycle shop that sold Tandems. We had a Tandem that day!
We have been riding together ever since!
We began with just any Tandem. It was a road bike and had 18 speeds BUT! We found it had many difficulties because it was NOT a Davinci Tandem. My wife would be trying to get her feet locked in the pedals while I was trying to get the Bike moving forward (not good), and at 60 plus 18 speeds just would not get us up many of the bigger hills.
I began doing some serious research on Tandem bikes and (thank you Lord)! Found the Davinci Website! We just cannot say enough good things about our Davinci Tandem. AND It looks GREAT!
Ken & Rachel S.
Guys, I wanted to personally thank you for your work on my new bike (the purple In2ition). I haven’t been this excited for years. Here’s a note I sent to friends and family earlier this morning.
My new bike arrived! Because of rain and time constraints we’ve still got less than 20 miles on it. Bethany is wearing new shoes, socks, and gloves, and her feet are attached to new pedals. There are two trip computers, one each, although hers is the nicer of the two. Acme gave us matching jerseys, but we’re out for a quick ride in these pictures and aren’t wearing them. This weekend we’ll pick up matching helmets. They custom make and paint these, and I’m told they’d never done that color combination before, so it’s the only one of its kind in the world. Her name is Annabelle.
Todd & Brian,
We just got back from our second tandem trip. We went to New Zealand for three weeks in January, 2006 and off to Holland from June 30 to July 9, 2006 . We really appreciate the 26″ wheels! Packing the bike is much easier than it would be with 27″ wheels.
I have included a picture that was taken in Holland. This is on the dike built in the early 1930’s that separates the Waddenzee (North Sea) from the Ijssel Meer (the lake that was created by cutting off the North Sea). I sent the full-sized picture in case you want to use it. If this is too large to handle easily with your software, just hit reply and I will send the email version.
One funny story. When we were in New Zealand, one of the tandem guys referred to my bike as the “funny bike”. I resisted laughing when we passed him on the 10-16% grades in the mountains. Oh…he never commented again after we passed him.
John & Geri S. Rush, NY 14543
Just wanted to let you know that I returned from my two week 818 mile trip in the Alps of France and that I was very pleased with the bike!
My wife and I have about 500 miles on our new 10th Anniversary edition Joint Venture and I just wanted to write and thank you for building such a wonderful machine. I have not had tandems before but we test rode quite a few before buying. This bike just rides like a dream. I can not believe how comfortable it is in all aspects. I don’t know if its the rims, the tires, the frame, or just the whole combo but it’s just really fun to ride. I have a Merlin Extralight for my single and I think the da Vinci is way more comfortable. So anyway, I just wanted to say thanks.
Bob in SoCal
I love all my bikes, but only one is a marriage machine. We have had some great times on that thing, from the MS150’s, to 2 weeks in Italy, to Sunday morning cruises to the coffee shop. It may be one of the more expensive bikes made, but it was a great investment in the most important relationship in our family or any other.
Keep up the great work,
Todd & Brian,
Vicki and I have now ridden the initial 100 miles on our Joint Venture this Montana November. What a joy to ride it has been! The level of workmanship and functionality is remarkable. A friend who has over 100,000 miles on his tandem is now seriously considering a da Vinci Designs tandem after examining our new ride.
Hi guys, just wanted to let you know our bike came, and we love it! I’m really impressed with this whole experience of buying a tandem from your company.You helped us choose the perfect bike and it turn out exactly that way.The high quality and workmanship shines through this bike, and we can feel it while riding down the road. Turns alot of heads too. You guys even take your packing serious, that’s the best packing job I’ve seen. thanks for such a beautiful bike, Bonnie and Chuck ps…maybe we’ll see you in Tucson this nov.
We’re in our 3rd season on our global joint venture. It had its maiden global venture this spring – 2 weeks in Italy. I had worried a bit about flying with it in these days of heightened security – how much unpacking would they do? — but it was no problem. Among other places, we spent 4 days in Pistoia and saw the finish of a stage of the Giro D’Italia there. We rode part of the race course as well as exploring the steep olive groves and vineyards on other roads high above the town. The bike was just fantastic on the long climbs and steep technical descents. I’m very glad we got the rear disc brake. And the steel frame ride was almost buttery over the narrow cobblestone city streets. It got almost as many admiring looks and close inspections from the bicycle-loving Italians as my wife. The bike remains our most prized possession and possibly the best “marriage machine” ever made.
Tamara and I thoroughly enjoy our Joint Adventure tandem. We are 100% certain that the Independent Drive was the correct choice. On a long ride it is very convenient to stand off the seat to rest your bottom while the other rider pedals. We have also been trying to improve our climbing by getting the pedals 90 degrees out of synch on the steeper hills and it does seem to help the perceived pedal effort.
Again, thanks for the great bike. We have received a lot of complements on the bike and on the quality of the bike components from other riders.
Todd & Brian:
I’m sure you hear this all the time, but thank you for building my beautiful bike. It’s more than I imagined. I appreciate your great attention to detail and insistance on perfection.
I have a da Vinci Joint Venture that I bought from it’s previous owner. He had the bike for a year and liked it so much that he had another one built for him and his wife with a few custom alterations. I wasn’t able to take it out of the box for a year because I was mobilized on military duty. Anyway, I’m back home and I have been riding it for the last three months and I love it!
We bought a tandem in November and think it’s a wonderful bike… This tandem is a GREAT design and we simply challenge anyone who has ridden a conventional tandem (as we had) to try the Da Vinci and not be blown away by the many advantages and comfort.
I ride the tandem all the time around town, with either my wife or daughter on the back. It’s so easy to maneuver compared to a conventional tandem.
We also rode 540 miles in six days down the coast of Florida, from around Jacksonville to Miami, in December. We were loaded with about 70 pounds of gear…and this tandem rode just great! Had we been really touring I have no doubt the tandem could have been completely loaded up and perform great.
We used fatter than average tires which the 26 inch wheel makes easy, and enjoyed a very smooth ride. Halfway down the Florida coast, we hit a thick four-inch nail that went through the rear Contiental 1.75 Top Touring tire we had in the rear, and shot out at the edge of your great, no-tools-required-to-change-the-tire/tube-36-spoke, V-22 rim. (Or the nail when in at the side of the tire/rim, and shot out the top…who knows!) The nail caused an instant lost of tire pressure, which we really enjoyed as we bounced off a large concrete curb with a competely flat rear tire, effectively riding the rim. The nail also cut a small gouge into the aluminium of the rim sidewall. While I should probably replace that rim in the near future, the wheel itself remained completely true, and the trip continued on without any problems!
I have lots of pictures of the ride, and I’ve attached two to this email…one shows what all long rides need, especially in the middle of the day: a Coke, and a German Hefe-Weiss!…
Further to our conversation at interbike… here’s some pictures that you might be interested in…. Our holliday was awesome and the bike worked flawlessly…. The bike is a marvelous piece of equipment, we want to thank you for making such memories possible for Austin (the Auz) and I…
We are extremely happy. We talk up da Vinci tandems like parents talk about their first born child. We tell every couple we see how this is the only way to ride. We tell single men that owning a da Vinci tandem would be a great indicator to single women that they are not afraid of making a commitment to a quality relationship. We laugh at tandem teams that have a frowning stoker, or the captain stooped over in a grimace. Heck I could go on and on but you get the idea.
One of the ego-boosting games that we play with the daVinci is called “hunting roadies”.
The necessary ingredients are tall gears, a long gradual downslope and young, unsuspecting, single bike wannabe road racers. We have a favorite place on the US Air Force Academy especially suited for the sport – about four miles of nearly constant grade that drops almost 500 feet from start to finish. It’s a great way to end a training ride when you can make it happen…
The scenario: Two older, somewhat chunky riders on a 26 inch wheeled tandem, sitting quite upright because of the captain’s moustache bars and stoker’s upswept MTB bars, clad in nondescript unmatching t-shirts and faded cycling shorts, leisurely approach the beginning of the kill zone, waiting patiently for an overtaking road bike rider. As the roadie passes, the tandem offers a friendly greeting. If the greeting’s returned, the victim goes free. But if all you get for your greeting is a disdainful glance, the hunt is on. Slow acceleration (this is a tandem, after all) puts you on the victim’s wheel in no time, where you linger long enough so that the poor soul feels the pressure and accelerates to drop you. Thus the gauntlet is thrown down. Now it’s time for the captain to drop down into the aero bars that sit atop the moustache bars, and the stoker drops her elbows onto the tops of her MTB bars with her arms extending forward around the captain’s hips (some may recognize this as the Pam Blalock Tuck). Now aerodynamically configured, the stealthy tandem pops up into the 60/11 big gear and starts to crank, popping out of the draft to pass while politely offering the hapless roadie a tow if they want one. The competitive roadies will hop on your wheel, intending to suck wheel for a moment so they can blast past to humiliate this insolent tandem pretender, but the speed keeps increasing. And the roadie’s cadence keeps increasing. And the speed keeps increasing. And there’s not much draft behind this aero tandem. And the tandem’s still spinning as we go past 35 miles per hour (remember, this is still slightly, deceptively, downhill). And the roadie’s REALLY spinning. And almost none of them can hold the wheel, simply because they’ve spun out their top gear… So you continue to push hard so that you can rationalize your spiteful performance as merely the end of a hard training ride, and soon the roadie’s out of sight (older tandemists have bad eyesight, you know).
The end of ride kiss for your stoker somehow tastes just a little sweeter, and she has this silly grin on her face… Competitive? No way!…
Jon and Ann M.
Colorado Springs, CO, USA
And if the roadie rejoins you later at the end of the ride in the parking lot where most riders congregate, they’re always talkative, but usually just want to have a closer look at the tandem, not the tandem crew…
Posted on T@H 5/28/03
I would echo and agree with Kurt Anderson’s comments on the S&S daVinci. We did find the independent coasting feature to be an important point in our decision to buy it. We tend to spin rather than climb out of the saddle, and find that climbing out of phase on long climbs works well for us. It it very simple, as Kurt mentioned, to get back in phase . There is a learning curve, but not a difficult transition, we found.It seems to combine the best features of tandeming with the “feel” of a single bike. It handles very well, is comfortable to ride, and the slight extra weight of the drivetrain is cancelled out by the 26″ wheels and frame design, I believe. We are a 375# team and have had no problems at all with pinch flats or spoke breakage like we did on the 700cc-wheeled Trek. Wide choice/availability of tires, 32 real usable gears and etc etc. The “large/small” frame fits us both (6’5 me & 5’7 Cheri, and her 9 year old daughter can also stoke with the seat lowered and using crank shorteners.) We’ve flown with it 3 times so far, it is relatively easy to take apart and reassemble, and goes well into the 2 hard cases we bought. It takes us about an hour to take it apart and about that long to reassemble it. ( I have a Bike Friday single so perhaps was less intimidated by taking apart an expensive bike and putting it into a suitcase) No airline hassles at all, so far! We have “upgraded” to the campy veloce system on our In2uition, and also have the deep-V rims/White hubs. Both are good choices, particularly the wheels which are fitted for a disc brake should you want one.Do try to ride one…Cheri refused to go back to the other bike once we rode the daVinci.
Wanted to let you know how much we love our new Da Vinci Joint Venture. We have had it out on the road a half dozen times up to 25 miiles. We’re still in the process of doing minor adjustments to seats and handlebars. Over all we are very pleased with how quickly we adapted to a tamdem ride. The independent coasting is superb and the gear range is wonderful. We are doing well as a team and enjoying the experience.
Thanks for a super machine.
If you have a potential customer in our area who would like to see a Da Vinci feel free to give them our name and phone #. We would be happy to show it. Terry & Linda K.
Todd, just a short note of thanks for the great job you did on my bike. I noticed it on the internet and must say it is a work of art. I have been riding bikes since I was knee-high to a grasshopper and untill recently never had the money to buy the bike of my dreams. Well as life turned out I came into a position to get my dream bike. As you are well aware I had some definite thoughts on what this bike should be. Through my constant conversations with you ; where I would have a strong preference for a component (the handlebar stem for example), you would enlighten me as to the pros and cons of the part in question. I was also made aware of other concerns that come into play when a custom bike is being created. Through this process where I would request to you a thought or Idea as to what I wanted you would turn that thought or Idea into reality. The end result of this process was a creation of something more than mere machinery. To glide thru your environment on something so smooth that you feel no concerns has to be a touch of true freedom. Ride On.
We hit the first 500 miles on the new bike it is great! We really like it. We did a ride last week with some good hills and the gearing is fantastic. We have meant to let you know sooner how pleased we have been, but our schedules have been hectic and our first priority has been to get our rides in. Next week we head to the Hotter Than Hell. We will hook up with Richard and will be glad to chat with anyone interested. I think my boss is going to want to get the samething we did, when his life finally slows down. He was impressed with how we out performed he and his wife (and I don’t think we are that tough a team!) We will also be hanging around at the time trials the have at Moriarity over Labor Day Weekend.
Let us know what we can do to help promote this product:)
Linda and Michael S.
After years of dreaming and planning we left our home in Vancouver, Washington on September 10, 2000, and pointed our da Vinci Global Venture west along the Columbia River to the Pacific coast at Astoria, Oregon. Nearly a year later on September 1, 2001, we returned. Along the way we rode 15,000 miles around the perimeter of the USA, with side trips to Mexico, the western Caribbean and the Canadian Maritimes. The total distance including travel on trains, busses, autos and a cruise ship was a little over 20,000 miles.
Our plan to be self-supported the entire trip, sometimes hundreds of miles from the nearest bike shop, or for that matter, the nearest anything, meant the right bike would be critical. We test rode many makes and models, eventually choosing the S&S Coupled da Vinci.
Our tour was a 100% success. We went everywhere and did everything we planned. We were exactly on schedule all the way. We had zero sick or injury days, and thanks to the dependability of the da Vinci, mechanical issues were so minor that our total “breakdown time” for the entire year was less than 3 hours, and we were NEVER stranded alongside the road.
One issue we spent many hours on was what to bring on such a long tour. We had to balance weight and volume while trying to make our bike “home” for a full year. Ultimately creature comforts won out. We loaded four panniers, trunk, handlebar bag and packed the Bob trailer a little over it’s seventy pound Max weight limit, which included a lightweight folding “loveseat” ( gotta allow some considerations for the stoker)! And no, we did not send a bunch of gear home after the first climb.
Speaking of climbs — we made them all. Total walking miles for the trip — zero! The wide range of gears and the IPS on the da Vinci got us up the long, high climbs in the West and over the 13% grades of the Northeast. IPS allows us to quickly change from in-phase to out-of-phase pedaling, depending on conditions. Also, we change pedal positions slightly, allowing the stoker to either lead or follow the captain’s pedal stroke a few degrees, changing the load-share. Contrary to what most tandem teams believe, IPS is not a “beginner’s” item that simply allows easier starts. It does allow easier starts, but taking full advantage of IPS adds another dimension to the da Vinci.
Handling the da Vinci fully loaded was a lot easier than it looked. At nearly 14 feet in length and covered with panniers, we were asked time after time if a commercial operators licensee was required. Low speed handling is solid and eventually we learned to do brief “track stands” for stop signs. On the other end of the spectrum, our top speed was 58 MPH on Highway 101 coming down the long grade south of Willits, California. We rode on every type of surface imaginable, including several brief stints on gravel/dirt. The chrom-moly frame gives just the right amount of relief from road shock, but doesn’t flex when we both stand for steep climbs. Yes, that is correct, the handling of the da Vinci allows us both to stand, even when fully loaded and towing a trailer.
Our only disappointment for the entire trip was that it ended. The good news is that we are already well under way with plans for our next tour!
George and Sharon Miner
I got a da Vinci tandem so my teenage daughter and I could bike together. I watched friends lose touch with their kids as the kids struggled through their teen years and was determined not to let it happen to us. The tandem is ten times better than a therapy couch, and probably a lot cheaper in the long run. We may start out silent, but over the course of a 30-mile ride we always talk. We talk about school, boys, parties, health, college plans. We even talk about my job, my frustrations, what it was like when I was a teen. Sometimes we ride longer than we planned because we want to keep talking. Riding the tandem and talking is much better than sitting face-to-face and talking. On the tandem we’re a team. We’re working together to get somewhere. We are not adversaries, and we know that we need each other to get home. Do we have our struggles? Of course. But our da Vinci tandem is a great way to bring the two of us together.
Jim F. – Neenah, WI
Posted on T@H 9/16/00
Judy and I have been a tandem team for several seasons, and looked forward to this season with great anticipation. Our first tandem, a KHS Tandemania Roma was better than we’d expected, and got us hooked on the sport. It was replaced last year by our light and oh-so-portable Bike Friday XL – we’d planned on doing a few trips this year.
But as they say, life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. Judy, who wasn’t overweight ate right, never smoked, never drank, good family history, etc was an unlikely candidate for health problems.
Ironically, early this spring something (probably a virus) attacked her heart and created a very severe, and potentially permanent, problem. As one consequence, while she’s advised to get 30 minutes of light exercise every day, hard efforts must be avoided, and she has to stop at the first hint of fatigue or shortness of breath. To make the long story short, we decided to acquire a DaVinci because independent coasting would allow her to stop pedaling entirely and rest as needed. So two months ago I called Todd Shusterman and ordered an aluminum DaVinci “Joint Venture” road tandem.
I did so with some trepidation. Pros and cons about in or out-of-phase pedaling and independent coasting are common on this news group. One recent contributor wondered if a turn with the wrong pedal down might even
precipitate result in a crash. But circumstances rendered the arguments moot. Basically, independent coasting was mandatory if we were to keep riding.
The bike (since dubbed “Sophie” because she is one “sophisticated lady”) arrived a few weeks ago. As expected in a bike at this level, the quality is impeccable from welds to components and paint. After a short assembly
process, the bike was pretty much dialed-in. I invited Judy to go on a quick shakedown cruise around the block. No bike shorts, jerseys or cycling shoes; just helmets, gloves, street clothes and sneakers.
Down the driveway and out of our cul-de-sac we went. I then checked for traffic and executed a quick right turn onto the nearby cross street. A few seconds after the turn, a startled “Oh!” emanated from my stoker, followed
by a laugh and an explanation; “When we got to that corner, I stopped pedaling, but you didn’t!” I hadn’t even noticed. I just did what is normal for me, which is to keep spinning, and Judy had done what felt normal for
her, which is to coast through the corner.
We pedaled around the neighborhood for another ten minutes checking things out and made a quick game out of “Hey, can you tell when I do ‘this’?” Truth is, the independent coasting system was all but invisible. We both
started and stopped pedaling whenever we wished. It was smooth, stable and required no getting used to.
Next day we went on our first 20+ miler of the year. It included a relatively easy 2-mile hill; up which I spun. Yes, when Judy stopped pedaling I noticed that the hill got a tiny bit steeper. And if she took some air time to shake her bootie, I’d feel it, just as I would on any tandem – but I could keep right on pedaling. With the stoker out of sight, I pretty much forgot about the independent coasting, and just got on with riding. And hey, *I* could stop pedaling without upsetting the apple cart either. Veeeery nice.
We’ve put on a few hundred miles since then. In some out-of-phase situations, particularly high rpm, we notice a very slight wobbling-bobbling sensation. Whether this is an integral characteristic of out of phase pedaling, a function of pedaling style, or a combination I cannot say. But such instances have been rare and short-lived. Getting back in phase is effortless for us. In fact, we seem to ride in-phase (or roughly so) more often than not without conscious effort.
A good friend, who frequents this list, found that independent coasting didn’t work well for his team. In particular, his stoker reported missing the feedback and communication through the pedals. Our experience is the opposite. Surprisingly, we feel *more* in-sync. I hypothesize that our communication is more body-english related, which perhaps explains why falling into phase seems natural.
We haven’t tried out-of-saddle climbing yet – there’s been little call, and Judy always preferred seated climbing in any event and I’d made that accommodation early on in our tandem experience. But we’ve tackled several fairly hard hills – one at 8-10% for a half mile or so. Judy was, as hoped, able to stop pedaling. Due in no small part to the DaVinci’s incredibly wide gearing I was able to tow us up without difficulty. Slow? You betcha.
But a lot faster than sitting at the bottom. The hardest part is that Judy doesn’t like just sitting there while I do all the work (or so she says 🙂
As an aside, we ordered the DaVinci with the optional Thudbuster post. Judy *loves* it – reporting it to be *much* better than the vertical compression post it replaced. It’s so much better I don’t even bother calling out any but the largest bumps and ruts anymore. Big kudos.
Bottom line: if you’re in the market for a high-end bike, do yourself a favor and test-ride a DaVinci. It has the look, feel, low weight, and responsiveness expected of a bike in this price range. Independent coasting
may not work for everyone. Just don’t be surprised if it makes you feel even more “in-synch” than having your pedals locked together.
Posted on T@H 9/16/00
We just acquired our second DaVinci–an aluminum Joint Adventure–and everything
you say about it is true. (The first is a coupled Global Adventure.)
The independent coasting solved a lot of problems Tony and I had had on our
conventional tandem, and the ride quality and handling are wonderful. I especially
like the 26″ wheels and tires, which along with the Thudbuster absorb so much road
shock but are so light. The gearing and shifting are a dream, though as stoker, I
don’t do much beyond lightening up my stroke to facilitate a shift under load now
I agree. Throw away all your preconceptions and give a DaVinci a chance. If you’re
not sure after a few minutes (we knew we wanted one within about two), give it
more of a chance. I daresay we couldn’t go back to a conventional tandem now.
P.S. It’s also a great conversation piece, especially if you encounter someone who
knows tandems and spots your drivetrain.
Todd- Hats off to you from the guys at Ti Cycles (and myself!). That is one sweet, fast bike! After breaking a few speed limits on the 200k last weekend I have to say that I am a very happy customer! The bike handles well, goes like a bat out of hell (especially when someone tries to slide by us on the flats or better yet on a slight downhill). I have slipped into the 64×12 and taken off a number of times and since we greased up the squeak in the beam we slip right by the rest of the pack on those occasions. I call it my stealth gear!
We picked up the new Global Venture from Gateway Bicycles yesterday. It is beautiful! Exactly as ordered. We were impressed that all the equipment was just what we asked for. Jonathan and Mike were very helpful all the way through the process. Even though their shop was a “zoo” yesterday first really beautiful spring Saturday this season), they made sure we were set up and ready when we left. This is the second tandem someone in our family has purchased at Gateway, and won’t be the last.
We took a short spin around the neighborhood as soon as we got the bike home yesterday afternoon and ran into an immediate problem — we got stopped every couple of blocks by someone that wanted to look at the bike! Lots of great comments about how cool it looks! Hopefully, this won’t happen too much on our 20,000 mile tour of the USA, Canada and Mexico that starts September 9th. We have allowed ample time for the tour, but showing off the bike was not a factor we though we would have to allow for!
Great job on the bike and thanks again for all your help and advice,
George and Sharon Miner
Ps: We’ll keep you posted as we get closer to the start of “Free as the Wind,” our unsupported 20,000 mile tour around the perimeter of the USA and include you on our email list for updates as the ride progresses.
Posted on T@H 8/9/99
We recently ended a nearly 2-year long search for the perfect tandem for us and chose the daVinci Symbiosis XC. Along the way we had the opportunity to test ride a number of tandems. IMO buying what feels good to you after a short test ride is not the way to go. Talk to experienced tandem riders about what is important and start from there. We were in the Bay area last year and had a great opportunity to talk to folks and test ride a number of different tandems incl. Santana, Co-Motion, Burley, Cannondale, and daVinci. Breakaway Bicycles in Dublin, CA let us have a C’dale tandem for a weekend. Never having owned a tandem before, this was an important experience for us. We needed to know if the kind of riding we thought we wanted to do could be accomplished on the kind of tandem we thought we wanted. It couldn’t. The tandem we finally decided upon was completely different. The extended test ride made the difference.
Our conclusions at the end of all of this test riding:
1) The geometry of Santana frames makes their bikes very stable. To novice tandemists taking the bike out on a 20 minute test ride with the driver getting used to the long wheel base and the shifting, and the guy/gal-in-back (“GIB”) feeling out of control, Santanas feel good and give you confidence. However, after the experience acquired from riding over 100 miles together, the stable ride begins to feel like you are driving a truck. You long for something with quicker handling.
2) Santana charges a premium price.
3) The component package does not measure up to the premium price.
4) Santana does not offer a feature we found to be very important – an independent coasting system.
Some thoughts on what tandem buyers should consider:
1) Stoker comfort!!! We went with the Thud-buster suspension seatpost, steel frame and independent coasting driveline. No matter how much you pay for your tandem, if your stoker is not comfortable, the bike will sit unused.
2) Front suspension/bigger tires – Even if you plan on road riding exclusively, let’s face it, life on the shoulder can be hazardous. On a tandem, you have much less opportunity to avoid potholes, glass, gravel and your occasional construction zone.
3) Gear range – with experience you will find you want as wide a range as possible.
4) Handling – stability gets boring after a while.
5) At least the capability of doing double-track off-road. We consider ourselves “Roadies” but when the road comes to an end, we can still explore.
6) 26″ wheels for strength and wide variety of tires.
7) Frame size and design that can accommodate a wider range of driver height. GIB should have opportunity to drive sometimes and driver should be able to discover the joys of stoking. As the guy who usually drives, I find it to be a nice change of pace to have my girlfriend drive so that I can relax and enjoy the scenery. She prefers stoking, but occasionally likes to experience the advantages of driving.
8) Independent coasting driveline – we find this a great help! It eliminates 80% of what we find uncomfortable about tandeming.
a) No more communication like, “My butt is getting sore, can we coast for awhile so I can stand?” Either one of you can coast at any time.
b) No shock to the knees if the other stops pedaling unexpectedly.
c) In-phase/out-of-phase – you can change on the fly.
d) Momentum can be maintained even when one of you has to stop pedaling.
e) When clearing curbs, logs, or other obstacles, sometimes the driver has to stop pedaling for clearance. The GIB can still power you over the obstacle. Then when the GIB has to clear, the driver can be pedaling.
f) Starting made easier. The GIB can power the bike while driver is clipping in.
g) Driver has much better control during stopping and close maneuvering.
h) We have a 32-speed driveline with the equivalent of a 60-11 high-end and a 24-30 low-end.
We found that for us daVinci Designs has the superior product. Your own extensive test riding and research may find a bike that better fits your needs.
Jeff & Rhonda
Kansas City, MO
’99 daVinci Symbiosis XC
’99 Univega Tandemsport – for family and friends to experience tandeming
’98 Giant TCR
’75 Motobecane Grand Record
Posted on T@H 6/22/99
Our dream bike is finally here!
Last spring, I helped my friend David’s parents buy him a wedding present: an S&S Softride bike from CoMotion. This was nearly the same bike as the stock SkyCapp they now sell, with a few upgrades. Naturally, I was jealous, and resolved that Amy and I also would have such a bike ASAP! When I got some money around Christmas time, I knew we could buy.
I’ve heard from enough people with beams to gather that beams have rivals, but no equals, for a smooth ride. In January, I noticed that Todd Shusterman from DaVinci had been asking for comparisons between beams and parallelogram suspension seatposts. I correctly surmised he was toying with the idea of building a beamed bike. As I have always been intrigued by his drive system, I talked him into making a beamed Joint Venture for us.
This bike has DaVinci’s top-flight component set, on a frame Todd designed specifically for the beam (and, in our case, our *wildly* different heights; the rear top tube is about parallel with the lateral tube). You can see the stock version at DaVinci’s website. Our rear seatpost tube is functional if you remove the beam, which can allow very small riders on the back. Perhaps larger ones, too — Todd mentioned he did the test rides with a seatpost in. DaVinci made a plug for the seatpost tube when it’s not in use. I didn’t know DaVinci does this, but I was pleased to see that they ovalized the boom tube up to the coupler. Also, the small size in back dictated (at least to Todd’s perfectionist mind) a monostay. The beam rests on a straight tube, rather than the angled tubes on beamed CoMotions and Burleys. Overall, the frame design is very trick. To help make up for our height difference, we got 160mm crank arms in back, and 175mm in front. I added BeBop pedals, and am trying to buy a rack to fit the bike from Bob Beckman’s Needleworks company.
This bike rides beautifully for us. We’ve spent some time on a stock Burley that totally didn’t fit us, and my friend Dave’s beamed CoMotion, which doesn’t really fit us. The Burley was awful, and the CoMotion was pretty good, but not like our DaVinci. On our first ride, I hadn’t checked the tire pressure, so I thought the bike felt so solid because the tires were low. But after over inflating them by 30psi, the bike felt just as solid. Amy has told me several times now to stop calling out bumps, and I’ve had pretty instant confidence in low- and high-speed manoeuvres. Shifting and braking both feel perfect. Of course the main unusual feature of this bike is the independent coasting system (ICS). We haven’t spent a lot of hours on tandems, and I purposely wanted to have the ICS from the beginning, in order to acclimate to it without prejudice. We like it quite a bit. For relative beginners, it makes starting much easier. At the beginning of each ride, I find myself having to remind Amy to get in sync, but after that she seems to have little trouble syncing up when she needs to. The ICS allows an extremely wide gear range, which we haven’t yet exhausted on either end, despite doing some very steep hills. Usually, of course, you don’t notice the ICS, though at times even the 175-160mm crank-length difference was too small to keep me from outspinning Amy.
This being DaVinci’s first beamed bike, they didn’t know about quick-releases for the beam. The folks at Softride were quite unhelpful to Todd. Softride suggested that he have his customers bring a hammer with them on trips, to detach the beam by pushing the pin! CoMotion was good enough to send me their clevis pin arrangement, and after drilling the quirky 4.4mm hole to 3/16ths, I had a quick-release beam. The bike is very small in back, so the rear triangle doesn’t fit anything inside. The beam is very long, so you have to take the seat off of it to shorten it. All this makes it a little harder to pack in the S&S backpack case, but you can do it. On last week’s visit to NYC, though, something heavy put a ding in our rear rim where it touched one of the tubes, and I’ll probably have to replace it after the summer. (Also, the rear derailer’s mounting screw came out, and I had to use Vise-Grips to rotate it back in position. I’ll put a nut on there next time if I can.) Rare is the shoe that doesn’t need to be trimmed when you use BeBop pedals. We like the pedals, but I spent a lot of time prepping our shoes for them with a utility knife.
Although not as pretty as CoMotion’s famous paint jobs, DaVinci’s powder coats are exceptionally tough — especially important for a bike on an airplane. I missed protecting some friction points on our NYC trip, but the rubbing didn’t penetrate the paint. Also very handy for S&S bikes are DaVinci’s cable splitters and easily removed cranks. The cranksets are especially round, which makes for a nice tight timing chain (it also doesn’t hurt that DaVinci’s drive uses two shorter timing chains rather than one long one). Cable housing and stops are intelligently set up. Because I don’t have to adjust brakes, derailers or eccentrics when I assemble the bike, it goes very quickly. Todd passed on a good idea, BTW, for protecting the S&S coupler teeth on the airplane — cut an “X” in old tennis balls and place them over the tube ends.
I really like the ICS. With that, couplers, and a beam, the bike is flawless. Even without ICS it would be our bike of choice. But if *you* don’t want ICS, you’ll be buying from some other manufacturer. I’m probably the only one on the mailing list who has bought two high-end bikes like this in the last year, and judging from my experiences with CoMotion, they would be an excellent choice as well. Both CoMotion and DaVinci were remarkably professional, friendly and responsive. When questions came up, or choices needed to be made, both called right away, and took the time to explore the issues with me. In general, of course, I think the whole tandem-building industry is like this — I’ve had very friendly and informative conversations with Green Gear and Santana as well. DaVinci’s base bike is slightly nicer. When I ordered my friend David’s bike from CoMotion, I ordered 175/160 DaVinci cranks and cable splitters, which made up most of the difference. I would not want to do without cable splitters on a coupled bike! Neither of these bikes was cheap, and they’re not in everybody’s price range. Other manufacturers make beamed bikes, or S&S bikes, or bikes with both — consider Bilenky, Burley, Erickson, Green Gear, Santana, and any of the other dedicated makers on the list. I don’t think you’ll be able to get bikes like these from Cannondale and their ilk, but I could be wrong. Based on my research, you tend to get what you pay for, in the sense that upgrading a bike from any given manufacturer to the rough equivalent of a bike from somebody else will cost you about the price of the hardware involved. Nobody’s getting rich off this stuff. We are very happy with the value of our DaVinci — it’s precisely the bike we want.
Posted on T@H 8/9/99
Well our new full suspension Symbiosis arrived Monday from daVinci. What an incredible piece of machinery! Top shelf goodies all around, like Hope hubs and disk brakes, Control Tech posts and stems, Fox shox in the back and a ravine eating Hanebrink fork in the front. The fit and finish of the frame, cable guides, the daVinci cranks, paint, ect. would have made Leonardo himself blush. I am speechless. The independent coasting driveline is a definite must for offroad work, allowing the tandem to clear things that would hang most bikes. If you would like to view the finished masterpiece in all of its glory, I have enclosed an address which has a picture of our actual cycle. http://teamspirit.net/sy.html
Dealing with Todd Shusterman and Eric Short has been a delight. Todd’s project management skills in pulling together the numerous suppliers and communicating with the client was impressive (and I do project management for a living!). One of the factors that made the custom tandem experience so enjoyable was Todd and Eric’s high level of customer service. Any time I had a question or suggestion Todd and Eric were very responsive, in most cases within several hours. Both of these gentlemen understand the meaning of “Partnering” with the customer and every tandem that these guys build has that custom tailored look and feel. I would recommend daVinci to anyone. Honestly, I told Todd that I would never by another mass produced cycle after seeing how well he fit me (at 6’7″) and my wife (at 5’7″).
If your in the market for a new tandem or if your looking to upgrade your components, give Todd a call. He is an incredible craftsman and an outstanding resource for unbiased information.
Just trying to decide which calf to get tattooed with daVinci’s logo,
Brian and Amy Mayo
I wanted to share this little email exchange with you. We have a local tandem club called TROL (Tandem Riders Of Longview) and we’re planning a two day tandem trip here in East Texas in September. The two people coordinating the trip are Reggie Bowers and Michelle Callaway at where I work. I really want to go on this trip but my stoker is unable to make a weekend trip. It’s hard when you and you’re stoker are married, but not to each other as is our case.
My Joint Venture is performing great. It gets a lot of attention at races and we came in first again in a race this past Saturday. I’m three for three on the Joint Venture.
Anyway, here is the office email that has my solution to participating in the tandem weekend getaway which follows Reggie’s response.
Cathy made it down to Portland today, hitched a ride to Gateway Bicycle and rode the medium-size Joint Venture with a great guy from the store staff….good weather meant they got to spend a lot of time on the bike….
Well, she’s sold, and then some! She left me a phone message this afternoon and I talked to her “live” tonight on the phone from her hotel…she was still buzzing about the bike, the ride, and the shifting/gears….
Bruce & Cathy
Thanks for your help and craftsmanship on building the “Purple Tiger” (It is very purple). Your wheels are awesome. I think you should put them on your Symbiosis. Thanks again.
Hey y’all, Sound the trumpets! Strike up the band! It’s official! K.R. is now a CENTURION! She completed 100 miles on the tandem with me today. She really didn’t need me, though. She could have done it easily by herself. Our previous longest ride was 93 miles, but that was back in February. She had knee surgery shortly after that ride so our previous long ride was 63 miles in Mt. Pleasant two weeks ago. By the way, today was 6 weeks since her knee surgery.
We rode the new 1998 Rubicon century route today on the fantabulous DaVinci Joint Venture tandem. What a machine. It’s wonderful. I’ve noticed it gets considerable attention from other tandemists at rides. Rightly so. It’s a dream machine.
etc… Century recap
Elizabeth and I took our new bike out on a 50 mile inaugural ride yesterday. We were impressed with the bike and enjoyed the ride greatly.
It took us a little while to get used to the independent coasting – we found riding out of phase quite uncomfortable. Fortunately we found it quite easy to get into phase – you don’t even have to look or count, it just feels “right” to start peddaling at one point in the other rider’s cycle. Once we had this mastered the ride was far more comfortable, and we could appreciate the benefits of independent coasting – more control when riding slowly alongside traffic, no lost momentum when the
pedaling stops for the captain to get into clipless pedals/into toe-clips, random breathers etc. etc.
The bike feels more like a single than other tandems I have riden and we ended up pushing up the steeper hills rather harder and faster than we would have done in the past – the net effect was that we were more tired at the end of the ride than we expected. The bike may be the best hill-climber we’ve ridden but I think we’ll need to be fitter to get the full benefit!
I am fascinated with bicycle technology. I tried your road bike and like it very much. I have a whole raft of tandems including a custom Serotta titanium, but I prefer the da Vinci on most all rides on which I use the upright. I have ordered a recumbent Screamer from Kelvin at Angletech and am going to have the da Vinci IC system installed – try to talk Kelvin into using your cranks – I find them very nice.
One thing that I have had to do is raise the stem – because of back pain. This is not a problem of the bike – only the rider. I added a stem extender (Zoom 50mm). Would it be possible to manufacture another fork with the appropriate height so that I would not have to use the extender? I would be happy to exchange the one I have and include any costs you thought were appropriate.
Everything you say about IC is true. My wife and I find it very easy to manipulate the pedal angle to suit our riding needs. I find that the bike climbs very well. One thing that your system provides is an outstanding range of gearing. I find that I can smoothly transition to an appropriate gear ratio without having to drop too low or go too high. For a recumbent this will be a very powerful tool. Everybody I have shown it to around here including Eastern Tandem rally and GEAR is very impressed.
My friends think you must be a aircraft engineer by the way you designed the clearance of the pedals!!
Jack and Sharon M.
Forwarded to me on 8/24/98
Your note asking for info about the DaVinci Joint Venture was forwarded to me from a friend.
I own a DaVinci Joint Venture and love it! I ordered mine last October from Todd Shusterman at DaVinci (he builds them) and had it customized for me. It’s a dream to ride. It has a ton of gears….four chainrings and 8 in the rear cluster for a total of 32 gears. My biggest chainring is a 64 (actually a 32 on the DaVinci but is the same as a 64). I have thought about putting a 68 on the Joint Venture because I occasionally run out of gear on the high end. I have ridden the heck out of it since I got it and have had no problems whatsoever. The only problem I had, and it’s minor, is that it came with Richey Tom Slick tires and I was flatting very often. I changed to Contintental Grand Prix tires and have not had a single flat since (oops, I shouldn’t say that!).
The independent coasting is fantastic. I ride with multiple stokers and most have said they would never ride with me without the independent coasting feature. Riding in synch or out of synch is not a problem. We tend to ride in synch on flats and downhills but my stokers will pedal 90 degrees off so their power stroke is on my weak stroke when climbing hills.
I can’t say enough about the DaVinci. I like the 26-inch wheels and I think they make better sense for a tandem. Todd is always available for questions either on the phone or via email. They have a great website which I’m sure you’ve visited.
I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about the Joint Venture. I love mine. It’s a highly crafted tandem and total fun to ride for the captain or stoker.