Frame Technology

Understanding Frame Efficiency

Butted Tubing
Tubing Refinements
Relative Weight Index


The IsoGrid® Story


The growing popularity of tandems has allowed Reynolds, True Temper and Easton to create tandem tubesets. Unfortunately, most tubes contained in these relatively inexpensive sets were originally designed for mountain bikes. While stock tandem tube-sets are a welcome development, thicker and heavier mountain bike tubing cannot produce the highest quality tandem.

Although it is impossible to overcome the performance deficit of inadequate tubing, other builders can distract consumers with vague or inaccurate claims of having proprietary tandem tubing. In actuality, whenever we contact a tubing manufacturer for verification of the labels being used, we learn that just one or two custom tubes are included—the remaining tubes are generic.

Why don’t other builders use specially-drawn tandem-specific tubing? Price. The special tooling, inefficiency of small mill runs, and costs of testing and development means they would have to raise prices by $400 or more to offer a tandem built with optimal tubing.

Can an expensive frame from a prestigious builder who relies upon generic tubing provide a comparable level of performance to that of an entry-level Santana built with larger and thinner tandem-specific tubing? No. Even the most talented builder cannot escape the limitations imposed by inferior materials. Because they are noticeably lighter, stiffer, more stable and more comfortable, Santana tandems have won more formal comparison tests than all other brands combined.

The lightest tandems?

Since Santana uses the lightest large-diameter tubes, are Santana tandems always lighter? Actually, when other builders scrimp on tubing diameters and then install a single bike’s lighter wheels and fork, it’s not hard for them to produce a light tandem in spite of heavier generic tubing. Most of the weight Santana saves with custom-drawn tubing is reinvested in larger and more efficient tube diameters, more reliable tandem-specific wheels and components, and the largest and safest forks in the business.


Is it wise to spend a bit more for a tandem with superior tubing? We think so, independent testers think so, and the market overwhelmingly concurs. Only with tandems is the most expensive brand (Santana) also the most popular.