How to convert a $250 Used Tandem into an XC Racing Machine

Main Mountain Biking Team

As you may already know, Joe Solancho and I raced on a tandem last week. Not sure if you knew the story, but I found the Diamondback Wildwood Tandem on Craigslist from a guy who bought it new in 2002, but had only used it about a dozen times.

One of my standards when I was looking for a tandem was making sure it had a 1 1/8″ headtube. Why? It’s so I can install a suspension fork on it to make our ride a bit more comfortable. Luckily the Wildwood had everything I was looking for, 21 speeds, right frame size and decent (Deore) parts.

When I checked out the tandem, the thing was immaculate. It was pretty clean and showed no signs of abuse or neglect. I didn’t even test ride it or negotiate the price, I just gave the guy $250 and took it home. Before we could race with this thing, I had to make a few changes. Those are illustrated below:
tandem musthaves

For starters, I swapped out the tires. In the front I have a Bontrager XR Jones 2.0 and the rear Kenda Karma 2.0. I would have preferred at least a 2.2 in the front for more control, but its what I had. Moving to the clipless pedals. This gave us more control over the bike and more pedaling efficiency. I also left the reflectors on, you know for more lift…(read what I mean HERE).

The Ergon GC3 grips were instrumental in getting enough leverage during the ride and helps with overall bike handling. The Rockshox Pilot fork was a God-send from our buddy Arnie. He had this fork laying around and donated it to us. Luckily he did because I had placed an order for a fork…in which never arrived (I better call them). The fork smooths out all the nasty bumps that the trail dishes out.

Last but certainly not least, you’ll need some Buns of Steel. When you’re pedaling over 400lbs of MAN, you need your tandem to be fast and powerful. What better way to add power by making sure the Captain and Stoker have beautiful buns…

This conversion of sorts that I did to this low-grade tandem was enough to help us finish our XC race. We didn’t win or anything, but we had a great time and to my surprise, the tandem held up nicely.

So if you’re interested in doing some mountain biking, tandem style, no need to spend $7k for an expensive bike that you may not use all that often, consider finding an affordable one from CL and see how you like it.

RL Policar

RL Policar is an avid mountain biker and the Editor In-Chief of and Between the two sites, he's published well over 4,000 articles (and growing).

2 thoughts on “How to convert a $250 Used Tandem into an XC Racing Machine

  1. you guys need to get some storm trooper unitards to match those spiffy helmets.At least you don’t look like nerds.

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