Tandem Cycling - child stoker kit
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03-14-10, 04:33 PM
My son is 5 years old and just learning to ride a bike. Is he old enough to use a child stoker kit? How long before he graduates to crank shorteners? Finally, does anyone have advice about where I might get a reasonably priced kit (for a Burley with a 1 1/4 inch seat tube)? They seem quite expensive. Thanks
03-14-10, 04:51 PM
Probably. We started with our daughter when she was 4 and the tandem was my daily commute vehicle. I'd drop her off at her school (first preschool then kindergarden and 1st grade) and then continue on solo to work. She started riding the tandem before she was able to ride a bike on her own.
I found someone selling a clamp-on bottom bracket used and then scrounged through the LBS junk drawer for the necessary child crankset parts - I later sold it for the same price. The chainring used the thicker teeth common on 1-speed bikes so I had to run a wider timing chain, but it worked fine on the thinner chainring as well.
Switching away from the kid-back arrangement to just crank shorteners depends on your kid's growth and the size of your tandem frame. In our case we never did use crank shorteners - by the time she could reach the pedals ok without the kidback she was also able to use the regular cranks.
A member of the Florida Panthers Tandem Club has one, and I believe he's looking for $100 for it. I'll PM you with his email addy.
I ride with my daughter, and we started when she was 3. At that point she could go for a ride on her bike (with training wheels) and be zooming all over, not falling off, and so I was confident that she would not spontaneously fall off of the back of the tandem.
My parents and spouse were pretty worried about the concept, but felt much better after seeing her in action.
We haven't done any rides long enough for me to worry about her falling asleep, now that she's 4 it's less of a worry.
I had initially bought a kidback crankset from ebay ($90?), over-ambitiously and before I bought a tandem! It was too small for my Trek T1000, and the chainring was sized such that I'd have had to replace my timing chainrings to match. Also, had longer crankarms than I really wanted for starting so early. It was one of the two-tubes-welded-together style, rather than the CNC machined-from-a-block style that seem to run $400-500 for the full set.
I think I still have all the parts for that one. If the Florida lead doesn't pan out, PM me and I will a) check, and b) try to measure all the things that might be of interest:
- downtube size
- crank arm length
- timing chainring teeth
One other price consideration: by the time Crank-2 Tandems (www.crank-2.com) got done setting up the entire kidback set, things like seat, pedals, handlebar, extended-reach stoker-stem, etc. totaled a fair amount on top of the child-stoker BB and cranks. I had thought that a lot of that stuff could be re-used from kids' bike parts that I had, but cheap kids bikes seem to have all non-standard and odd parts that didn't work for one reason or another. By the time I was done, the total was (surprise surprise) right around the $500 range that the full 'child-stoker kit' retails for from Precision Tandems and others.
I still felt like I got a good deal, as the shop did all the install essentially free, the owner talked me through everything, and wasted a good bit of time trying to re-use the parts I had thought would work.
Have fun with your kidback stoker!
03-15-10, 04:52 PM
Shameless self promotion, but I have one too. Send me a PM if interested. Our son just graduated to crank shorteners. He will be 7 in a couple of weeks. He was in the middle of a triplet, and if we could have I would have slid them down some and used them again this season, but the boom tube is in the way on the triplet. Haven't had the chance to take him out this season yet, as it has been cold for him, or raining. He is very excited to move to the regular cranks and stuff. Enjoy the time with him!
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