The Unofficial Used Tandem Price Estimating Tool, V2.3

 A. The Spreadsheet Tools

1. If you are using a full version of Microsoft's Excel 98 or newer, click on the first table below to download the spreadsheet.

2. If you are using an older version of Excel, Microsoft Works or a similar "works" package with a spreadsheet program that came with your computer, click on the second table which links to a simplified Excel 5.0 / 95 version of the Spreadsheet.

B. Used Tandem Price Estimating Tool Instructions, Pricing Considerations & Tips for First Time Tandem Buyers

1. For instructions on what value to enter into the spreadsheet, how to determine what range to use and other cost considerations, please scroll down to or click the hyperlink to the narrative that accompanies the tool.

2. For some things to consider when shopping for your first tandem and links to several Web sites featuring classified ads for tandems, please see Tips for First Time Buyers

3. For a collection of links to articles that would also provide prospective tandem owners with good foundation material related to tandems and tandeming, please see Essential Information for First Time Tandem Buyers & Riders


Unofficial Used Tandem Price Estimating Tool V2.3 (Excel 98)

With special thanks to Rich Wolf of La Jolla, California

Unofficial Used Tandem Price Estimating Tool, V2.1 (Excel 5.0/95)

Unless you're running a full copy of Excel 98 or newer, the full version of the spreadsheet tool will load on your system. This version has been saved down to Excel 5.0/95 with all graphics removed and should open with most spreadsheet programs or "works" packages.

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A. INPUT REPLACEMENT COST: All calculations in the spreadsheet are based on the value placed in the "Replacement Cost" cell.

a). REPLACEMENT COST: Use the current replacement value of the equivalent brand and model for all tandems, including the replacement cost of any accessories that are being included with the tandem. Replacement cost is used since it more accurately reflects the current state of the economy and the new product a tandem buyer would most likely be weighing the value of the used tandem against. It also eliminates issues associated with what a seller actually paid for a tandem since that is not relevant to fair market value.

b). PRICING ANOMALIES: In some cases a tandem up for re-sale may have originally been purchased as a demo, as part of a special promotion, as a previous model year close out or as a second hand tandem from the original owner. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume the asking price for a used tandem that was purchased for less than its original retail cost could be made significantly lower than for an identical tandem purchased at full or near full retail price being offered for re-sale by another seller. Under these circumstances the seller must decide if they want to base the asking price on the current replacement value of the tandem and potentially realize a higher return against their original expense, or to lower the current replacement value to calculate a "discounted" fair market value. If they elect to pass along their good fortune to the market it creates a pricing anomaly; something every buyer strives to find when shopping the tandem classified ads. As far as tandems which appear to be overvalued, every seller has a right to establish what they believe is a reasonable amount of return on their original investment. Moreover, the seller may have reason to believe there are certain features or intangibles that warrant the higher asking price. Ultimately, it all comes down to the premise that a tandem is actually worth what someone is willing to sell it for, or what someone else is willing to pay.

B. USING THE HIGH, MID, AND LOW RANGE: A tandem's fair market value is greatly affected by its present condition. To use this tool a subjective assessment of the tandem must be categorized using one of the three ranges provided. The ranges are not absolute price points, so the final agreed upon sales price could easily fall within or even outside the suggested ranges when special circumstances apply. Please note, tandems and bicycles take a huge reduction on their fair market value at the time of re-sale since manufacturer's warranties are only valid for the original purchaser/owner. This reduction is reflected in the first depreciation figure shown for the current year and all subsequent years since the warrantee expires whenever the tandem is re-sold by the original owner.

The following describe the three ranges:

a). HIGH RANGE: High range implies the tandems are exceptional examples of a builder's work that have been properly maintained, kept current with regard to components and both the frame and components are cosmetically in "good" to "excellent" condition. There should be no mechanical flaws or performance issues with the tandem and the tires should be in good repair. In summary, this would be an exceptional tandem that has been meticulously maintained, has low mileage and is fitted with current components (See 2C, below, regarding Technology Jumps).

b). MID RANGE: Mid range assumes the tandem is a good example of a builders standard product offering for that particular model year that has received proper maintenance and has either the original components or perhaps some upgrades. The frame and components should be in cosmetically good condition for the amount of mileage accumulated on the frame. Mileage should not be excessive. Minor blemishes are to be expected. There should be no mechanical flaws or performance issues and the tires should be in good repair.

c). LOW RANGE: The low-range should also be used for any tandem that has seen extremely high mileage or infrequent maintenance and could be categorized as "well used" but still in good condition. The frame and components should be in cosmetically fair to good condition for the amount of mileage accumulated on the frame. Blemishes and perhaps a minor ding or two are to be expected in non-critical, low stress areas. There should be no mechanical flaws or performance issues and the tires should be in good repair.

d). OFF THE CHART: If a tandem is exceptionally good or, conversely, incredibly poor, the fair market value is not reflected by this tool. For an exceptionally rare tandem in pristine condition or a highly specialized time trial tandem, the fair market value could be the actual replacement cost without depreciation, or a price somewhere between the replacement cost and high range calculated by the tool. Likewise, a tandem in absolutely poor condition or of very poor quality will sell for quite less than the low-range values. NOTE: Tandems that have crash damage should be avoided.


A. EMOTIONAL EQUITY: The price of used tandems and bicycles has traditionally been hard to establish. Many owners tend to apply emotional equity to their tandem when it comes time to part with one. Fond memories of past rides, the relationships that formed around them and other personal ties often times create a strange, yet understandable bond between the owner and his or her tandem. This can lead to some price inflation that buyers must be sensitive to and strive to work through when negotiating the fair market value of the seller's tandem.

B. PRODUCTION MODELS vs. CUSTOM TANDEMS: It is also important to establish if the bike being considered for sale or purchase is a "production" model or was custom built to the previous owners specifications. Custom tandems can be a blessing or a curse. There may be significant or only subtle difference in "custom tandems" versus "production models" but it is usually apparent when a certain tandem is an exceptional model and has enough features to justify a higher fair market value. Also consider that, what makes it special or custom to the current owners may or may not have any added value to a potential buyer. Other factors affecting the price could be the "instant gratification" of taking ownership at something less than the original expensive, but certainly much sooner than if a new one were commissioned from a high-end builder. Again, like many tandem pricing decisions, these tend to be emotional issues that buyers and sellers must take into consideration as they establish the fair market value of a tandem.

C. TECHNOLOGY JUMPS: Every couple of years new technology will work its way into the mainstream tandem market that makes previous models "old" even if they are just last year's product. Key events that come to mind include the introduction of linear pull brakes, 9 speed gearing, integrated brake & shift levers (i.e., STI & Ergo), 1 1/8" headsets, disc brakes, carbon forks, 145mm and 160mm rear spacing, and other less dramatic changes. To infer the price of an "old" tandem drops dramatically assumes all buyers will find the technology or changes attractive. In many cases, this may be true. However, quite a few seasoned tandemists still prefer bar-end shifters to STI or Ergo, and have yet to see the need for 9 speed shifting. Therefore, when establishing the fair market value of the tandem these factors can be looked at in one of two ways. The "new-is-better" model would suggest an "old" tandem should be priced more along the low range to reflect its lack of current bicycle technology. The "don't change what isn't broken" model would suggest the same tandem be priced somewhere closer to the mid range since not everyone sees technology advancements as improvements.

D. SPECIAL FEATURES: The size, color, and special features on a tandem can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on how 'special' they are. A XS/L (i.e., Extra Small front / Large back) sized tandem may be just what some buyer in Los Angles, California, is looking for. But if that tandem is sitting in Casper,Wyoming, it may not command as high of a price as it would if it were in Clairmont, California, where they buyer could go see and ride it. That really cool paint job that you thought would make your tandem stand out... does! Not being able to find someone else with the same tastes might reduce your return on the proceeds from sale by $300 for a new paint job. ALSOP beam or double beamed tandems, aggressive hardtail or full-suspension off-road tandems, recumbent tandems, and "sociable" tandems (i.e., side-by-side) are also niche products with the tandem niche market that may either move faster or slower than the average, upright, medium-sized, blue Santana Arriva with 9spd Ultegra sitting in San Jose, California. Therefore, pricing may be somewhat more elastic for these less traditional tandem models.

E. GEOGRAPHIC DESIRABILITY: As was alluded to in the previous section dealing with special features, the proximity of sellers and buyers to one other is also a factor that can affect the eventual sale price of a tandem. Ideally, most buyers and sellers prefer to find one another in close enough proximity to permit a face-to-face meeting, a physical inspection of the tandem and, of course, a test ride; perhaps even an extended test ride. When buyers and sellers are in remote locations this is not usually possible so the selling or offering price may be adjusted down as a hedge for accepting the moderate degree of risk associated with the sale. Fortunately, at least in all my dealings with private sellers, buyers and tandem-specialty dealers or builders, long distance transactions have always been quite pleasant and ended up with no surprises. So, while there is some degree of risk, if you're willing to trust your "gut" on a long distance transaction neither you nor the other party should end up being any worse for wear if everyone keeps their cards on the table throughout the transaction.

NOTE: A detailed sales contract should be drawn up for all long distance transactions. Language should be included that spells out all provisions regarding who has responsibility for the tandems shipment, under what conditions the buyer may decline to accept the tandem at the time of delivery and who will bear the responsibility for shipping costs. As an example, sales agreements should plainly state if the seller clearly mis-represented the condition or features of the tandem, or it was damaged in route, they bear the burden for a remedy subject to approval by the buyer. If the buyer simply changes their mind for any reason and no longer wants the tandem, they bear the burden for all shipping costs. In some cases, buyers and sellers may want to use a trusted, local bike shop as an agent for receiving and inspecting the tandem to protect their mutual interests.


a). ACCESSORIES: Sellers may choose to include clipless pedals, seats, luggage racks, carrying cases for S&S or foldable tandems, panniers, frame pumps, seat packs & tools, cyclo-computers, water bottle cages and other accessories that are attached to or come with the tandem at the time of sale. The extent to which they will have an impact on the final price of the tandem is up to both the seller & buyer. In some cases, the seller may wish to calculate the value of those items into his or her asking price for any one of a number of reasons. If so, that should be clearly understood by both the seller & buyer when they are negotiating a final sale price to prevent any "surprise" at the time of sale, e.g., "You mean the pedals and seats are not included!". In some other cases, the seller may wish to represent these accessories as "freebies" to help move the tandem along faster or substitute value-priced equipment so that the tandem comes "ready to ride".

NOTE REGARDING SEATS & PEDALS: Seats (aka. saddles) and pedals are very personal equipment decisions for experienced cyclists. Clipless pedals from different manufacturers have inherent compatibility issues which usually predispose an experienced tandem team to use one particular model on all their bicycles. Saddles, like pedals, are also products where experienced cyclists have usually adopted a particular brand and/or model that they use on all their bicycles. For new tandem teams who are not already avid cyclists, they often times aren't interested in the clipless pedal technology and prefer to have the more familiar platform pedals, perhaps with toeclips and straps. As for saddles, again, new tandem teams who are not already avid cyclists will not necessarily care what kind of a saddle is on the tandem so long as there is one for each rider. So, including clipless pedals or specialized saddles may or may not add value to the sale price of the tandem and that's why sellers may or may not wish to include them in the pricing and/or may wish to substitute inexpensive, basic platform pedals and saddles to be sold with the tandem.

b).INTANGIBLES: There are certain intangibles that may affect the sales price of a tandem.

b1. Brand Name Value: Like cars, in the world of tandems there are some brands that enjoy a very high degree of name recognition. While you can argue whether or not it is a valid consideration, brand name value often helps to justify a higher asking price in both the mind of seller and buyer. How much additional value the brand name is worth is highly subjective because, unlike cars, bicycle warranties are not transferable to second owners. Therefore, while a tandem manufacturer might offer a lifetime warranty, it is only valid for the original purchaser. Therefore, other than the reputation for quality that usually backs up such a warranty, brand name value can be somewhat subjective.

b2. Proactive Sellers: A higher price may be justified by a very engaging and helpful seller who goes out of their way for the buyer. Examples of how sellers add value would include making photos of the tandem available to buyers via the internet or mail. Or, when arriving for a test ride, taking time to teach new tandem teams the basics of tandeming, such as how to properly mount, start and stop or how to service the eccentric. If the sale involves shipment of the tandem to a distant buyer, the amount of help the seller is willing to provide in preparing the tandem and with the arrangements for the shipping can certainly be a very valuable service to the buyer. Again, it's hard to quantify the added value of a helpful seller, but it is definitely something that can be used to justify a higher selling price vs a purchase where the seller is for the most part passive and reactive, and does not go out of their way to help make the transaction any more enjoyable than is necessary to complete the sale.

b3. Buyer Infatuation: More simply put, this is buyer lust. In some cases buyers find a tandem that they simply fall in love with, be it the color, brand, components or even the seller's enthusiasm. This is, for the most part, a buyer's version of emotional equity that may -- in the mind of the buyer -- justify paying a higher price for a tandem than another equivalent model being offered at a lower price.


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Tips for First Time Buyers

© 1998 by Mark Livingood


1. Decide how much you're willing to spend for your 1st tandem.

2. Visit Web sites that offer "buying a tandem" advice: Tandem Magazine: or this one, at The Learning Center or Tandems pages.

3. Get a copy of "The Tandem Scoop", available for about $9.00 from most tandem dealers and

4. Ride as many different tandems as you can to find out what "feels right" to you. Each tandem manufacturer builds their tandems a bit differently and they all have certain characteristics that appeal to some teams, but not to all.

5. Consider buying a used tandem as your first tandem. There are several good web sites that provide tandem-only classified ads and there are always quite a few very nice tandems being offered for sale whenever I've looked:

o Tandem Club of America:

o Tandem Magazine:

o Tandem Network: http://www.tandem

o National Greenways Tandem Classifieds:


6. Make sure what ever you buy as your first tandem, its frame fits both you and your partner. You can change everything else about a tandem, but the frame is what makes the difference when it comes to how much you -- and more importantly your partner -- enjoy riding the tandem. A bit too small (except in the stoker's compartment) is better than a bit too big.

7. Recognize from the start, if you and your partner enjoy tandem riding you may find yourselves buying an "upgrade" tandem in a few short years.

Here's the rationale to support these recommendations:

If you are the cyclist in the family and have an affinity for "nice" equipment, you'll find it hard to settle for a tandem that's of a lesser quality (components & ride) than the single bike you're accustomed to riding. That is *IF* you and your partner become very active tandemists who expect to do routine touring, metric or full centuries and the like. If you and your partner only intend to take with an occasional "fun ride" then you may be able to fight off the urge for something better. Therefore, if at all possible, test ride several different types of tandems and find the brand or model that you feel most comfortable on or "like" best. Next, look for a 2 to 4 year old example of that tandem in the classified ads and compare the cost difference. Don't forget to consider the cost for sales tax and essential equipment needed on a new tandem that may come with a used one. If you can find a nice used tandem that suits your needs you may find it's all you need for the first year or two as you refine your skills and further define your needs.

Now, assuming you've purchased a used tandem, here comes the important part. RIDE, RIDE, RIDE!!! If you find that you and your partner aren't cut out for tandeming you may find you'll be able to re-sell it for not much less than you paid for it. However -- and this is the good part -- if you find that you and your partner are "hooked" by tandem riding you'll have a tandem that's probably "good enough" for your first year as you decide whether to upgrade your current tandem or begin to define what it is you'll want to have for your next tandem. Everything about tandems is subjective and you really won't know what you "like" or "need" until you've been able to spend many hour and/or at least several hundred miles on a tandem together. Even more important will be what you learn during this time from the new tandem friends you'll meet on the road or, if you are Internet savvy, perhaps from people on the Tandem@Hobbes listserver. Keep in mind, if you enjoy riding together you'll find yourself riding the tandem on the weekend's more often than your single bikes. In essence, your tandem will become your "recreational vehicle" and it will be easier to justify the expense of a high-quality tandem that meets all of your expectations. So, given that you've limited the entry cost to the sport, you'll be in great shape because you can order that "perfect tandem" and pay for 1/2 to 1/3 of it with the proceeds of your used tandem's re-sale. Also, in looking at what you want for that next tandem, you'll be able to take what you've learned about all of the nuances of tandeming, and apply it to your next tandem purchase. By that time you'll have a better understanding of any special requirements such as S&S couplers for travel, custom sizing, and you'll be able to apply your personal preferences to the components.

Bottom Line: By taking your time and learning along the way you'll be able to ensure the premium dollars you spend on your "long-term tandem" are all dollars well spent.


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Essential Information for First Time Tandem Buyers & Riders


What is it about tandems.....

    • The Pair© - Link to an article on the T@H archives written in1993 by Terry Zmrhal
    • Why Do People Ride Tandems - Santana's Bill McCready (There's a little marketing in here, but it's still great information)
    • Daisy Bell - The 1890's Song by Henry Dacre Inspired by Tandems
    • Tandem Bike: A contemporary musical standard for tandem enthusiats written and produced byThose Darn Accordions

What You Should Know Before Heading Out to Buy or Ride....

Tandeming and Kids....


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