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Old 02-06-09, 12:06 PM   #1
wobblyoldgeezer
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Encourage or discourage?

Not really asking for advice, just sharing a situation

One of the stronger guys I ride with has just signed himself and his wife for one of the UKs classic rides, Lands End to John o'Groats, furthest south east to furthest north west. About a thousand miles in 20 days, organised trip with itinerary and accommodation organised. Sounds great.

He's fit and a very good bike handler. His wife is very fit too, has run a marathon, but a bit less bike experienced. They've just bought a tandem. Have all of 25 miles on it.

Spouse and I have a tandem, and about 15 years and a lot of miles on it. They want to try it out, to see if they prefer to do their long ride on the long bike or on two singles.

My tandem is in very poor shape just at the moment. Brakes are tired. Gears don't shift right - I bought a new pair of wheels with a 9 speed cassette, but the bar end shifters are still the original 7 speeders. With the shifters set to 'friction' not 'index' I can work them, but it's not intuitive. Forgiving spouse and I can still use it fine, but its not really a demonstration rig.

I'm wondering whether or not to supply, as asked, a demonstration ride. Hmmm
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Old 02-06-09, 12:09 PM   #2
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That'll be south west to north east. OOps. pardon me!
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Old 02-06-09, 12:17 PM   #3
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Tandems are tandems- None of them handle so it doesn't matter which model- age or condition they ride. And if you remember- no Tandem novice(s) can just jump on a tandem and feel comfortable. Takes a good few months to feel comfortable on one.

And that 20 day ride-- it is normally done in 6 or 7 days by the club riders over here so 20 days will be a leisurely stroll.
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Old 02-06-09, 12:38 PM   #4
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Exactly - 50 to 60 miles a day on well researched rural roads. Their route is 1000 miles, (not the 850 that can cover the route if you don't mind traffic), not too much of a daily wallop - we did their planned daily distance this morning with the 2 in question and were done by 10 am after a coffee (and apple pie, we are all over 50!) stop. I'd like to encourage them to use their new tandem, but I feel that trying out mine with all its quirks might not be the best advertisement
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Old 02-09-09, 05:44 PM   #5
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If they can get in about 4 good weeks of training on their new tandem before the cross country tour and are compatible, we'd say 'go!'
Pedal on TWOgether!
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Old 02-10-09, 12:34 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by wobblyoldgeezer View Post
. I'd like to encourage them to use their new tandem, but I feel that trying out mine with all its quirks might not be the best advertisement
In a straight line- A tandem is a Tandem. Perhaps it will be heavier but the brakes won't work and neither will the steering- Just like any other Tandem. The main problem with a Tandem team starting- is the team. It will not matter whether it is a 30lb Race machine with top rate disc brakes and Dure Ace running gear or an old machine that is about to fall apart. That team has to work and it does take a few miles for that to happen. Until that happens it does not matter what tandem they ride. In fact it is probably better if they ride an older machine that works than a new one that still has to settle down.

And if you want to give them some encouragement and initial training-- Take them out one at a time with you as stoker or pilot so that you can keep balance on the thing and pick up on their initial faults- Like excessive movement-And decibel rating (The amount of noise the pilot can take once the stoker starts screaming on the downhills)
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Old 02-10-09, 05:48 PM   #7
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I had a tandem and I vote no. If your tandem isn't up to snuff for you it will be discouraging for them.
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Old 02-10-09, 08:39 PM   #8
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I don't see what the issue is here. Explain the situation and either give him the bike or don't. Or you could tune it up, then let him ride it.
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Old 02-13-09, 09:14 PM   #9
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If they just bought a tandem, why do they need to ride yours?
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Old 02-14-09, 08:28 AM   #10
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If they just bought a tandem, why do they need to ride yours?
Yup, maybe I should have stated the context.

We ( and my friends) live in Bahrain. They plan their long ride this summer in UK. They bought a cheap, and by all accounts a very good tandem in UK during their Christmas holiday a few weeks back. They tried it out, and had a wobbly and not too inspiring first ride on it - but it can't have been too bad a first ride, as they were thinking of using it for their long summer adventure. And test rides are a problem, as spouse and I have the only tandem in Bahrain, so they're stuck with mine, and all its age related quirks, to learn on.

Anyway, yesterday morning we had a tandeming session. First spouse and I demonstrated how we set off -Bill McCready's "Perfect Method" and all of that. I know it doesn't suit everyone, but it's suited spouse and me for 20 years or so.

Then I took Mr Friend as stoker. He was nervous! I told him I haven't killed a stoker yet, haven't even grazed one! But clearly he wasn't at all happy about not being in control. He's a lovely fellow, but taking the less controlling role was a challenge. The first step, "I'll hold the bike, you get both feet on the pedals and into the straps" was hard for him to do! (Context - I'm skinny, he's not!)

But once launched, we were great - or at least we were once I suggested he put his fingers rather than his fists on the stoker bars and I could tell he wasn't trying to steer us any more. We did about 15 minutes together, and it was great.

Then I took Mrs Friend. That was fine from the outset. And then they took the bike for about 20 minutes, and they were great and loving it. And confessed that on their first ride in UK the take-off and landings had been an uncoordinated muddle of legs and swerves and curses - they really took to the idea of 'stoker clipped in, captain taking responsibility', and they looked like naturals, finishing with big smiles and 'can we try that again, maybe take the tandem when we ride again?'

So satisfying. I did tweak the bike a bit, firm up the brakes, and spouse and I took our Valentines day ride this morning and loved it
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Old 02-14-09, 09:33 AM   #11
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But once launched, we were great - or at least we were once I suggested he put his fingers rather than his fists on the stoker bars and I could tell he wasn't trying to steer us any more. We did about 15 minutes together, and it was great.
Stoker steering is always a problem. What I do with a new stoker is get them to hold the bars in the middle and not at the ends. I also- once they are used to riding the tandem- put them as pilot and show them how a stoker can affect the steering. That always causes a few Problems but they do realise how they can affect the direction the Tandem is going in.
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Old 02-14-09, 04:46 PM   #12
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How different is riding a tandem compared to riding a normal bike with a tagalong attached? There are the obvious differences of being forced to pedal together and the stoker being quite a bit bigger than my 8 year old, but the tandem wouldn't have the play in the tagalong hitch and an adult stoker would be more likely the flamin' sit still unlike my daughter.

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Old 02-15-09, 01:43 AM   #13
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How different is riding a tandem compared to riding a normal bike with a tagalong attached? There are the obvious differences of being forced to pedal together and the stoker being quite a bit bigger than my 8 year old, but the tandem wouldn't have the play in the tagalong hitch and an adult stoker would be more likely the flamin' sit still unlike my daughter.

Richard
Ok- IT's a bike so should not handle any different- but it does.First of all that long wheelbase- It does require more effort and thought on steering. You turn the bars and realise that you should have turned sooner. Most pilots forget to lean the bike aswell. Brakes-- Same brakes as a solo- but with double the weight to stop. So it doesn't steer and the brakes don't work.

Then the team- Two differnt styles of riding on the same bike. Different cadence- different power output and different fitness of the two riders- but the strong rider cannot carry the weak one. Until a compromise is reached- it is difficult for the two riders to work- but then you have to make the compromise the normal style for the pair of you. This does take a few miles/ months to work.

Then the gearing- Same running gear as a solo- but when it gets critical- the gears won't change. New technique required when under pressure. And Balance- Any movement by either rider will affect the balance of the bike. I say any but it takes technique to even take a bottle out of the carrier in safety.

OK- I am exaggerating the problems- but they are there. Riding a Tandem is very different to riding a solo. Once that team does work-So does the Tandem. Then the fun begins. But change the Team- I.E. try a new stoker and the learning has to start again. And Tandems are not for everyone. I took one stoker out on a ride and he phoned for his wife to come and collect him halfway through the ride. In the middle of Friston Forest and after a fast Downhill. He could not take the Fun element of 40 mph down a steep lumpy hill offroad.
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Old 02-15-09, 09:42 AM   #14
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How different is riding a tandem compared to riding a normal bike with a tagalong attached? Richard
I'd agree with the response above and just add maybe something obvious. Tandem buyers look for as much lateral rigidity in the frame as possible, to minimise even the slightest side to side flex - whereas side to side flex is completely unavoidable and just part of the experience on a tagalong trailer.

There might be plusses and minusses - on a tagalong, maybe a fidgeter of tender years might not upset things too much, whereas every fidget would have an effect on a rigid tandem. However, if you've got a stable back seat rider and you're both putting in some effort and want to go a bit quicker, then you might start wanting a more firm or stable ride
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