Tandem Cycling - Tips on shifting for a newbie?
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06-21-04, 02:05 AM
We just bought a new Santana Fusion over the weekend. I think it has 28 speeds. Our old tandem only has 7! I am the driver because my husband can't see. We do great with the stopping, starting, and general riding. The shifting and knowing when/what to shift to is not clicking in yet. Our bike has the "rapid-fire" shift lever system. All advice will be appreciated. Thanks!
06-21-04, 11:41 AM
Your tandem is probably 27 speeds(3 chain rings, front gear and 9 pignions, rear gear). This is a guide line to help you start with so many gears. For general riding, keep the chain on the middle chain ring(medium front gear) and switch the back accordinly to the condition you are riding. If you are riding with the wind in your back or are in good shape, you can put the chain on the big chain ring and shift on different rear gears. If you get to a loonng hill then you can use the small chain ring. In any case avoid to have the chain too much cross side; small gear in the front and small gear in the back, or larger one in the front and larger one at the back are not good for a chain. These are basic instructions. Of course with time you will get better at it and are going to switch your gears for the actuals conditions and to your preferences. If you find yourself pedaling too slow on one pinion and too fast on the next one, you can try shifting on a different chainring. Most often you will find the right gear of the moment. Some peoples like fast RPM and others lower RPM. One more point is to relieve a bit pressure on the pedals while shifting. This is going to keep your components in a good shap for a longer time. Hope this will help you.
06-23-04, 07:10 AM
Thanks for the help, Michel! Yes, it will keep me from breaking my chain like we did the first time out :( ! I just need some time off from work to practice your advice :) ! I also plan to practice without a passenger too. Thanks a bunch for the encouragement!
06-23-04, 11:34 AM
Oh yes...practice without a stoker...or on a single bike if you can. I've been riding single bikes seriously for 25 years now and have tens of thousands of miles on the saddle of all kinds of bikes, but even then, tandem shifting is something a little different.
The principles are the same, regardless of how many gears you have or what type of bike (assuming you don't have an internally-geared hub...but those are pretty rare). I have bikes that range from 5 gears (kids bikes) to 32 (daVinci tandem) in my stable, and they all work pretty much the same way.
onroule's advice is good about just sticking to one chainring, the middle, for most of your riding until you get some experience under your belt. Use the small ring when you have to...preferrable before you have to. Don't wait to the last second (like you can on a single bike) before you grab for that bottom chainring. With a tandem, if you try and shift while you're on the hill and both straining hard, you may well be in for an unhappy surprise (like it just won't shift at all, or if it does, you'll get the dreaded "chain suck" where the chain gets sucked down between the frame and the crankarm).
Don't forget to let your stoker know when you're about to shift the front--especially since I imagine he is the stronger of the two of you. Shifting the rear under load is one thing--it can be done, but not recommended for long-term life of the chain--but shifting the front under load can easily result in all kinds of nastyness--like broken chains, derailleurs, and bent chainrings. Even though my stoker is only 9 years old and 60 lbs, I usually let her know to lighten the load when we shift the front.
06-28-04, 08:09 AM
Eurastus, thanks for the reply. We are doing fairly well on the bike so far. It rides like a dream. A question for you though since you have several bikes...Does riding in the middle ring wear it out quicker than using all gears? Thanks for your advice and encouragement. Love my bike and my stoker :)!
06-28-04, 08:46 AM
The normal lifespan of most quality aluminum chainrings is measured in tens-of-thousands of miles. Steel rings can last for hundreds of thousands. However, this is easily effected by the cleanliness of the chain. Oily dirt and sand act just like sandpaper and grind away at the material they contact. Likewise, an ill-fitting, stretched, chain can cause undue wear as well. I measure my chains religiously and generally end up swaping out my chains every 5000 miles or so, give or take.
I wouldn't worry about wearing out one ring more than another. and letting that effect my gearing choices. Even the most expensive Campagnolo Record 10 rings are generally in the neighborhood of $75 or so with the majority of other brands around $30-50. I don't know exactly what crankset is on that Santana; I suppose I could look it up...
It's tough to wear out the big ring, unless you're a couple of real monsters, and even though the small ring may be used the least, it will probibly wear out soonest as it suffers the greatest load (while you're grinding up that infamous switchback out there...) and fewest number of teeth to carry that load.
Just some thoughts...
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