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  1. #1
    hi YoKev's Avatar
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    Riding a tandem; what works and what doesn't?

    Good morning C&V! I will be picking up a nice quality tandem later today that has been graciously loaned to me for a while.

    What are your tips/tricks/advice to give to my lady and me?

    We are both very capable riders and we have excellent verbal communication skills.

    If it matters, we do have different riding styles though: I love to stretch my legs on climbs and stand up. She likes to sit and spin. I also generally average about 4 mph faster than her when we ride solo.

    So, please bestow your wisdom on this tandem rookie

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    Still learning oddjob2's Avatar
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    Let her be the captain! Maybe she'll tire of it and let you drive.

    Got a screaming deal on this Santana Visa over the weekend, due to 2 stuck seatposts. One down, one remains. Skipped right to the sawzall.

    Last edited by oddjob2; 07-10-14 at 07:09 AM.
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. Albert Einstein
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    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    Wheelies are a little tough.
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

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    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    Don't give the Stoker any blunt instruments!!!
    Bianchis '87 Sport SX, '90 Proto (2), '91 Boarala 'cross, '93 Project 3, '88 Trofeo, '86 Volpe, '89 Axis, '79 Mixte SOLD, '99 Mega Pro XL Ti, '97 Ti Megatube, , '90 something Vento 603,

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  5. #5
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    Try riding the bike solo for a bit to get used to how all the controls work. Having an extra person on the back creates a whole new dynamic that demands all your concentration, so it's not the time to be learning how the bike shifts.

    The stoker needs to become one with the bike. It is natural for them to try to help lean into turns, but it doesn't help. They just have to stay centered over the bike as it leans over.

    The captain has to communicate everything to the stoker. Every time you coast or even just let up a little bit to shift. Announce bumps that you would lift off the seat for. Eventually, you will be able to feel subtle changes in rhythm without saying anything and will only need to announce the big stuff.

    You will need to compromise on the cadence. If she is spinning away, you won't be able to keep up, and if you are mashing, she won't be able to put down as much power at the slower cadence. Find a gear in between that you can both work with.

    If your sizes allow for it, switch places. Many tandem captains say that they did a much better job after spending some time in the back seat.

    Good luck to you and have fun!
    1984 Miyata 310, 1989 Club Fuji, 1986 Schwinn Sierra, 2011 Jamis Quest

  6. #6
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    Even though I keep bugging my wife about getting a tandem, there's a 90% probability one of us would kill the other.
    *Recipient of the 2006 Time Magazine "Man Of The Year" Award*

  7. #7
    Senior Member crank_addict's Avatar
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    Good that both of you are capable riders. Huge advantage.

    Pompiere covered it including you will need to compromise on the cadence. If captain, suggest to compromise on everything!

    If the tandem is just a beach / towner cruiser, go ahead and laugh along without serious thought of cycling. But if on a higher-end road or ATB type tandem, its a test of patience and relationship. Teach the stoker to not get 'shifty' in the saddle. Emphasize smoothness. Get in sync and the tandem is a blast.

    Had our 9 y.o. g-daughter as a rookie stoker this last 4th July holiday plus we pulled a trailer with 3 y.o.. She listened and followed through perfectly. Funny though a few times I zipped up on the speed and was thinking 'wow, we're going great'! I glanced back and she had her feet up on the bars. LOL.

  8. #8
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    Ahh the divorce missle It's a good experience. We had a loaner for a while and had good fun with it. A few groups rides, dinner out, cruising the town. It didn't fit either of us very well though so couldn't get the comfort worked out.

    Of Course Sheldon Brown has some tips which are all good.
    Tandem Bicycles

    It requires its' own techniques. Go in trying to learn new way to ride, not this is how I ride solo lets do it here too. Don't try to carry over or extrapalate too much from how you each ride as individuals. Tandem riding is really it's own thing.

    Pompiere is right communicate every bump, weave, cadence change, light pedal, hard pedal, changing gears, braking, hill, coast, etc.

    Standing to pedal was doable in realy short bursts but could turn bad quickly. The bike we had was pretty noodle like and got a little like a "tank slapper" action if sync was not just right and super light grip on the bars.

    Define responsibilities and default/"routine" ways of doing things:
    Who does traffic signaling, order of mounting, dismounting, stopping, starting.

    Example: While stopped if I didn't get the pedals positioned right it was the stoker responsibility to spin them around and put the left pedal at 10 oclock position ready for the next start. Watch your shins!, she enjoyed getting me if I wasn't paying attention, it was usually payback for not calling out a bump. I'm amazed watching people in group rides start, so many people all kitted up with fancy bikes do what I call a "scooter" start. One foot is at the bottom of the stroke and then they do a couple of short kicks with the other foot. A "scooter" start is asking for trouble on a tandem.

    Get used to lots of commentary from the general public. "Look a bike for two" Lots of people jokingly say the person on the back is not doing anything, after a while my wife took offense to that.

    The positive is my wife didn't have to pay much attention to traffic/navigating and was more or less "along for the ride". It also made having a conversation way easier because she is right there instead of talking as we work through traffic, pedestrians on the trail, etc. less of the, I couldn't hear you, What did you say?

    Speed.... a good down hill was a hoot for me at least, the momentum/weight of two on a bike was surprising.


    http://shannonandmary.blogspot.com/2...1_archive.html
    Last edited by wheatfly; 07-10-14 at 10:44 AM. Reason: Add a picture link

  9. #9
    Senior Member Wildwood's Avatar
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    When you say YES after the trial run, I've got a great tandem for you.

    IMG_3920.jpg

    Good advice above to ride the bike by yourself first. Understand your turn radius.
    Tips for success depend upon each person's idio-sin-crazies.
    Standing together on a climb is a learned skill.
    Spinning differences can be an issue.
    Calling out bumps led us to the beam bike.
    Didn't work for us.
    Last edited by Wildwood; 07-10-14 at 11:12 AM.
    '81 Austro Daimler Olympian, '86 Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra, '87 DeRosa Professional, '99 Calfee TetraPro, '03(?) Macalu Cirrus, '04 Tallerico, '97 Co-Motion Tandem

  10. #10
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    ... or you could go for a triple (bamboo, yet):

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/reefflop/4394078124/

    Several years ago I rode a few miles behind the "Tour de "Rev[erend]s," three Lutheran pastors. It was interesting to watch them start up from a stop -- one guy had to call "one, two, three, up" as they took three left foot step hops and then pushed down on the three right side pedals.
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  11. #11
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    First read:

    The Proper Method

    Several times.

    My wife and I love our Trek T50, she has balance and vision problem so can't ride a bike solo. On a tandem, the stoker has to totally trust the captain.

    If a single bike is like a car, captaining a tandem is like driving a bus. The long wheelbase makes a huge difference. As noted, the captain should ride a few miles with no stoker. At first, both the captain and the stoker really have to think about what they are doing. It is very different from a single bike.

    For example; coming to a stop. On my singles, as soon as I stop, a position the pedals for starting. Then if it is going to be a longer stop at a light, I put both feet down. On the tandem, as soon as I stop, I put both feet out wide, because the stoker is immediately spinning the pedals into position for starting, and if my legs are in the way, the pedals will hit them (and that HURTS, and will draw blood). The stoker does not put their feet down.
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  12. #12
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    Yes.......... both feet out wide for any stopping and a firm grip on the bars.

    Turning radius is interesting as are U turns. You adapt pretty quick.

    Another fun part was after riding nothing but the tandem for a month or two and then getting back on a road bike. Talk about moving from a school bus to a sports car.

  13. #13
    Senior Member kc0yef's Avatar
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    lay down in a safe place on your back feet to feet and pedal in the air with each other slow fast rest communicate can lead to interesting discourse
    riding

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompiere View Post
    Try riding the bike solo for a bit to get used to how all the controls work. Having an extra person on the back creates a whole new dynamic that demands all your concentration, so it's not the time to be learning how the bike shifts.

    The stoker needs to become one with the bike. It is natural for them to try to help lean into turns, but it doesn't help. They just have to stay centered over the bike as it leans over.

    The captain has to communicate everything to the stoker. Every time you coast or even just let up a little bit to shift. Announce bumps that you would lift off the seat for. Eventually, you will be able to feel subtle changes in rhythm without saying anything and will only need to announce the big stuff.

    You will need to compromise on the cadence. If she is spinning away, you won't be able to keep up, and if you are mashing, she won't be able to put down as much power at the slower cadence. Find a gear in between that you can both work with.

    If your sizes allow for it, switch places. Many tandem captains say that they did a much better job after spending some time in the back seat.

    Good luck to you and have fun!
    Thanks for this. I had no idea tandems were this complicated. I've been considering a tandem to ride with my non-cyclist wife. I've never ridden a tandem before, and she's probably ridden a bike less than 100 miles in her life (no more than 20 miles total in the 22 years we've been together). She's also the first to admit to being impatient and having a quick temper. Maybe I should reconsider...and save the garage space for other bikes!

  15. #15
    Senior Member crank_addict's Avatar
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    ^^This is starting to be an interesting thread but might be more suitable in the Tandem forum. Since we're into C&V, I (we, sorry dahling') ride a vintage tandem. Is there a C&V tandem thread?

    gaucho777 -
    IMHO, tandems rank as one of the most fun experiences in cycling and indeed much different than solo. Most chicken out when offered but really should give it at least a try. It may or may not work but right-off, the captain MUST be the patient one and NOT the stoker. That link and following Bill McGready's rule is so true.

    Riding a tandem for the first time might seem at first a chore for the captain. The first thing is to keep your patience in check. However, even the most inexperienced cyclist can enjoy being the stoker. It does take some miles, starts, stops, etc. but when the day comes and it all clicks, a team could fly! Nothing is more rewarding when you blow past some dude in team spandex on their CF Di2 equipe.

  16. #16
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    A woman I know told me an interesting story.

    She and her son, about 12 years old, used to ride a tandem around the Cascades in Washington. One time, coming down a nice fine hill, they passed a pack of roadies. The lead roadie got the bright idea of drafting them and immediately got behind her, with all the other roadies directly behind him. But he hadn't realized the nature of the wind pocket behind the tandem, and he got sucked in so fast that his front wheel hit her back wheel.

    Now, this may be obvious, but the front part of the front wheel is travelling downward. The back part of the back wheel is travelling upward. When the two come into contact, the one in front is pushed downward, but it can't go downward because there's a road there. The one in back is suddenly pushed upward with enough force to lift it right off the ground. If this upward force is perfectly centered, the guy in back will do a wheelie for a little while, then come back down perfectly safely. If the force is not perfectly centered, he comes down sideways. That's what happened.

    The stoker looked around and saw a pile of roadies on the ground. The tandem kept going.

  17. #17
    Senior Member SJX426's Avatar
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    I can help make this a C&V tandem thread but by only 20 years:
    [IMG]1994 Burley Duet in the raw by superissimo_83, on Flickr[/IMG]

  18. #18
    Senior Member due ruote's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gaucho777 View Post
    Thanks for this. I had no idea tandems were this complicated. I've been considering a tandem to ride with my non-cyclist wife. I've never ridden a tandem before, and she's probably ridden a bike less than 100 miles in her life (no more than 20 miles total in the 22 years we've been together). She's also the first to admit to being impatient and having a quick temper. Maybe I should reconsider...and save the garage space for other bikes!
    Give it a try! It's not as bad as all that; actually really fun.

    What works is listening to the stoker. I suppose what would not work would be the opposite, but I try to be good.

    When we bought one I read a suggestion to swap members with a seasoned tandem team so you each have a chance to pair with an experienced rider before jumping on a tandem together for the first time.

  19. #19
    Still learning oddjob2's Avatar
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    It's definitely more challenging than riding a motorcycle with a passenger.
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. Albert Einstein
    2014 Additions: 1985 Trek 560, 1992 Trek Multitrack 700 (my 2nd), 1994 Trek Carbon 2200, Peugeot PX-10, 1981 Schwinn Voyager, 1989 Bridgestone RB-1

  20. #20
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJX426 View Post
    I can help make this a C&V tandem thread but by only 20 years:
    [IMG]1994 Burley Duet in the raw by superissimo_83, on Flickr[/IMG]
    That is like those Facebook things "how many triangles do you see?".

    I've always wanted to team up on a tandem. Someday.
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

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  21. #21
    Senior Member
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    Communicate as others have said. Happy stoker, happy ride.

    and when you put your feet down, don't put the cleat on the paint of the crosswalk line. You cannot hold the whole mess up as you do the splits. I know this.

  22. #22
    Senior Member SJX426's Avatar
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    @OldsCOOL - YES! and 48 spokes per wheel helps! So maybe we should make a guessing game out of it! What is your number? Would the fork points between the DO and the brake bolt count as a triangle?

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    Just so we can keep with the C&V topic: 1980 Peugeot TH8. I have swapped to flat bars and laced new aluminum rims for better braking.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    1984 Miyata 310, 1989 Club Fuji, 1986 Schwinn Sierra, 2011 Jamis Quest

  24. #24
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    Avoid hard boild eggs and beer.
    I like in-phaze cranks better.
    Dont stand up in the saddle to climb unless your stoker can too.

  25. #25
    Senior Member due ruote's Avatar
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    Pompiere, that Peugeot is a beauty!

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