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  1. #1
    Cycle for life... woodcycl's Avatar
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    First EVER ride on Tandem & on my new 05' Cannondale!

    Hello fellow tandemmers!

    I can now officially say I am a tandemmer! We had a blast.

    I picked up my new 05' blue Cannondale Road tandem last Friday. I put my saddle on it and road it around alone in my neighborhood to get used to it. The turning radius was the first thing I noticed being totally different than my single.

    Saturday, my Father's wife and I rode it for 5 miles to the YMCA and back. It felt unwieldy for the most part ... I assumed it was just me not being used to a tandem in general. But, it was still fun and I had a huge smile on my face most of time ... with exception of the inclines where I felt inclined (no pun intended) to keep a good cadence & consistent pace going. All in all, it was a good first ride. My stoker just rode with sneakers on top of the look pedals. She hadn't ridden a bicycle in 10yrs, but she has many years experience on singles prior to that.

    Last night, my GF and I took the tandem to a local club ride. The ride is rolling hills, a couple short steep hills, 4 or 5 gradual inclines (that get to you!), and about 25 miles. It was 97 to 98 degrees with a heat index of 100 ... not 'too' bad, but definitely HOT for a first ride! My GF has about 450 miles on a 05' Schwinn FastBack. She normally averages 13 to 14 mph on a given 20 to 30 mile ride. I normally average 17.5 to 21.5 (alone vs. club).

    Once we got her saddle height figured out, we practiced starting & stopping three times. I read up on all the correct techniques as described on TandemLinks.com. It was much easier to start and stop with my GF ... I am 5' 6" 170lbs and she is 5' 2" 120lbs.

    The first thing she noticed is that her handlebars were too low, but the stem was as far up as it would go due to my saddle height. So, we couldn't do anything about it. I am hoping I have some options for getting her handlebars higher? Thoughts?

    The stock saddle for her was totally different and was rubbing her the wrong way. The gears were skipping 2 cogs completely ... jumping all the way to the 3 gear above the one I always attempted to move to ... no matter if we were in the small, middle, or large chain ring. It was HOT. So, between all that, I offered to cut the ride short, but she eventualy said she was feeling a little better after we stopped at a stop sign/rr tracks. So, we finished the ride.

    After the first 12 to 15 miles, we actually already started getting in a groove ... cornering was much easier at speed. And, low speed maneuvers wasn't all that difficult ... or not as difficult as expected. The only thing that I noticed is that my GF prefer to not spin as much as I do. I generally spin around 90 to 105 and she spins closer to 80 to 95. So, I always took a mental note to keep the cadence closer to 90 or so. Plus, on the downhills, pedaling was kind of difficult for her to keep up with ... even at close to 90. So, we generally coasted on the downhills to keep her more comfortable. We only used the small chainring once on one of the short steep hills, but that was a "just in case" decision on my part.

    Half way thru the ride, I asked a single who had stayed near us in the back what his speed and average were. He said we were averaging 18.8 ... I said NO WAY!!!!!!!! I couldn't believe it. It felt more like 16 to 17 which I would've considered good considering that we were in no way "trying" to do anything other than just ride, get used to it, and enjoy. So, we took it down a notch and in the end averaged around 18.0 to 18.5.

    All in all, we really enjoyed the ride. She stated that she enjoyed it more than riding her single and that she could get used to not having to do "anything" other than pedaling! which works for me as I get much more of a workout riding with her on the tandem as opposed to me riding with her on singles.

    Any advice for a first time noob on a tandem? Any ideas on getting her handlebars higher? I'm happy to be a member of a tandem team and look forward to more rides.
    -\Brian
    06' Cannondale Six13 TeamOne
    06' Cannondale Prophet 3 "Lefty"
    92' Trek 5200
    05' Cannondale Road Tandem

  2. #2
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    Congrats on the new 'dale!

    My wife and I got the same bike earlier this year....and had the exact same issue with the "adjustable" stoker stem. It's waaayyy too short.

    We called Mel at Tandems East and he sold us a milled bar that fits into portion of the stem that attaches to my (pilot's) seat post. You scrap the other part of the stoker stem (the part that actually attaches to the handlebar) and use a very short ahead stem to connect the handlebar to the milled bar. I hope this makes sense. There are actually lots of options depending on how much you think you need to move the bar. Since this is new to Kristine, we went for maximum adjustibility fore/aft.

    An added benefit is that it got the handlebars up a bit as well. Works well for Kristine. It moved them up enough that we can use the Profile bottle holder that attaches to the (pilot) seat post. The water bottles are right there for my stoker...pretty cool, actually. No groping for water bottles.

    We have the same issue between my spinning and her mashing. The first few long rides, I would feel our cadence fall/effort increase and I'd downshift. This actually made things worse...man we were going slow. Once I started mashing more (higher gears) our speed went way up and the efffort went way down. I was no longer pulling her legs around. So I think you're doing well to match to your stoker rather than try to get her to spin significantly faster...at least right away.

    We've also been using a Tandem Com and love it. It makes it much easier for her to hear me. Conversations are effortless and I can concentrate on piloting.

    Best regards!
    Jim

  3. #3
    Cycle for life... woodcycl's Avatar
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    We've also been using a Tandem Com and love it. It makes it much easier for her to hear me. Conversations are effortless and I can concentrate on piloting.
    Hello Jim. Sounds like we are in a similar place as you and Kristine a while back. Thanks for all the great info also.

    Can you elaborate and provide more info on this "Tandem Com"? I have no idea what this is ... I am curious.

    I noticed that trying to get the water bottles out of their cages on the tandem are not as easy as on the singles. My GF uses a camelback so that works well. I was actually thinking of using a Camelback on the tandem also to keep my hands on the handlebars more often. Plus, I only have one water bottle on the front ... that's the main reason we stopped on our ride last night ... to swap out the bottles from her side.
    -\Brian
    06' Cannondale Six13 TeamOne
    06' Cannondale Prophet 3 "Lefty"
    92' Trek 5200
    05' Cannondale Road Tandem

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    Hi Brian!

    You can get more information on the Tandem Com at Precision Tandems. (Look for intercoms.) It consists of 3 parts: two headsets, and the intercom. The headset has one earpiece and a microphone. They are very light and are no more uncomfortable, for me, than wearing glasses. (I wear both). The intercom itself is very small, about the size of a matchbook, but thicker. I clip it to my jersey pocket and Kris can adjust the volume for both of us. The volume controls are independent.

    I have never attempted to grope for the water bottle on the bike while we were both on it. Since we repositioned the stoker bars we can use this. Kristine likes this better than groping for bottles herself. They are only inches away from her hands (we mount it to my seatpost) so she drinks more....his is a good thing. With the bottles situated this way, she doesn't have any clearance issues, her knees don't touch the bottles.

    Before I thought of this, she thought I should wear a Camelback...and run the drink tube to her!

    Best regards!
    Jim

  5. #5
    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    Brian,

    What size frame did you get? I assume M/S. I'm 5'9 and my stoker is about 5'6 1/2. MY LBS only had a L/S for a test ride, and it felt a bit unweilding for me. We have a M/S on order and it should be here in about 3 weeks (I hope, I hope).

  6. #6
    Cycle for life... woodcycl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hammer Boy
    Brian,

    What size frame did you get? I assume M/S. I'm 5'9 and my stoker is about 5'6 1/2. MY LBS only had a L/S for a test ride, and it felt a bit unweilding for me. We have a M/S on order and it should be here in about 3 weeks (I hope, I hope).
    That's right ... we have the M/S size and it's perfect. I have plenty of clearance ... even with a wide stance while my stoker mounts the pedals/seat. You'll love this bike HammerBoy! It's great.
    -\Brian
    06' Cannondale Six13 TeamOne
    06' Cannondale Prophet 3 "Lefty"
    92' Trek 5200
    05' Cannondale Road Tandem

  7. #7
    half man - half sheep Doggus's Avatar
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    Pictures! Pictures!
    "The cycling community is so small that it is nearly inbred." - Steve Tilford

  8. #8
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Congrats...!!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by woodcycl
    can now officially say I am a tandemmer!
    Here's a pop quiz; fill in the blank to complete the set.

    bicycle = bicyclist
    cycle = cyclist
    tandem = tandem____


    Quote Originally Posted by woodcycl
    I am hoping I have some options for getting her handlebars higher?
    There are many, everything from stuffing a quill stem into your stoker's stem base, to miscellaneous boom extensions and threadless stem adapters, to Santana's ASX-50 bar riser @ ~$50 (image below).

    As already mentioned, Mel at Tandems East -- and most of the other tandem speciality dealers -- usually stock a wide assortment of hardware that can be used to fit just about anyone to a tandem; you can see a sample here: http://www.tandemseast.com/parts/stems.html


  9. #9
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodcycl
    I noticed that trying to get the water bottles out of their cages on the tandem are not as easy as on the singles... Plus, I only have one water bottle on the front ... that's the main reason we stopped on our ride last night ... to swap out the bottles from her side.
    Yes, if you end up with smaller sized tandems you usually loose the ability to mount a bottle between the top and the internal tube and it's a long reach to the down tube to get that drink. However, like a lot of things with tandems, this too is something you'll adapt to.

    However, here are a couple of "techniques" to consider...

    1. When your bottle is empty, hand it back to your stoker while you're riding and let her swap it out for a full one. You'll just need to teach her how to hold the empty by the neck with her thumb and forefinger while steading herself against her handlebar with her palm and three remaining fingers. This will allow her to reach down, grab the full bottle from the bottle nearest your seat tube on the internal. When passing it back to you, she just needs to hold it forward and press it against your hip so that you can reach back and grab it without having to search for it or to turn your head around.

    2. If you can reach the bottle on your down tube chances are you'll probably be able to reach between your legs and grab the bottle sitting just behind your seat tube between your stoker's top and internal tube. On our tandems -- which are small -- I consider that to be my second water bottle, whereas Debbie's are the one that sits further down the internal and on her seat tube. It take a little practice but it makes swap outs pretty easy in that you pass your empty back to your stoker, reach down and grab the 2nd bottle, and then she can stuff your empty back in the now empty bottle cage.

  10. #10
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Another way to solve the bottle reach issue if you do not switch to a Camelback . . .
    Mount a bottle cage on the handlebar for the pilot (facing outward or inward, your choice). For stoker mount bottle cage on her bars facing inward (as near dead center as possible, for knee clearance).
    Several companies sell an adapter that is mountable on bars (checkwith your LBS: we use the Minoura) or jury-rig a bottle cage to the bars using an adjustable car hose clamp . . . you'll probably need to punch a couple holes through the alloy bottle cage with a regular screwdriver so you can thread hose clamp through cage and around handlebars.
    Get a water bottle and pop out/remove the pull up gizmo in the center of bottle cap.
    Take said bottles/caps to your local hardware (Home Depot/Lowes etc) and fit a length of clear, stiff (not too flexible) plastic tubing for the pilot's bottle through the hole, leaving about 4 to 8 inches of the tube exposed out of the bottle while the rest of the tube is all the way inside the bottle. The correct size/diameter is easy to get as many diameters are available.
    Mount bottle in bottle cage. To drink, pilot dips down head to the plastic tube . . . and sip. Hey, and no need to remove your hands off the handlebars. Easy!
    For the stoker's bottle/cap, it may be necessary to get a bit more flexible and longer plastic drinking tube as she could bop you in the back while she bends down to sip/drink.
    Kay leaves 14 inches of flexible tubing exposed out of the bottle top. It sort of flops down between the back of pilot's saddle and her handlebar. To drink, she grabs the plastic tube, and raises it up to her mouth, thereby avoiding hitting pilot Rudy in the back with her helmet/visor.
    Sounds a bit complicated, but is really quite simple and very efficient. Have been using a system like that for over (gasp!) 30 years.
    We carry up to 6 bottles of water (we live in the desert) and partially freeze bottles the night before we ride. When our handlebar mounted bottles run dry, we can refill with still cold water from our spares.
    BTW . . . welcome to the tandem world!

    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  11. #11
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    Rudy aka Zonatadem - great piont about the additional water bottles and mount systems. I, for one don't like the Camelback (or any water system) on my back, as any square in or cooling surface to me is more important that a 50 oz H2O supply. Also, camelback makes a fanny pac supply that works for me although it's more of a chore to refill.

  12. #12
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    "The first thing she noticed is that her handlebars were too low, but the stem was as far up as it would go due to my saddle height. So, we couldn't do anything about it. I am hoping I have some options for getting her handlebars higher? Thoughts?"

    The wife and I picked up a 'Dale MT800 which we used for both street and trail riding. She wanted a more upright stoker's position to increase her line of sight and increase her comfort. We installed a set of 5 1/4" riser bars (yes 5/14") cut to 28" wide. This also moved her away from my large Camelbak H.A.W.G. -now she can see over my back.
    The next step was to ditch the dusty stoker's water bottle and purchase a 70oz light weight Camelbak for her.
    She has been enjoying riding so much that she asked for clipless pedals. I mounted a set of worn cleats to her new shoes. To my surprise our cadence rose dramatically. She says her feet don't want to fly off the pedals. This also helped dramatically when riding rocky terrain or climbing steep hills.

    Keep the stoker happy.

  13. #13
    Cycle for life... woodcycl's Avatar
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    Tandem Geek: Here's a pop quiz; fill in the blank to complete the set.

    bicycle = bicyclist
    cycle = cyclist
    tandem = tandem____
    That would've been my first inclination as well TandemGeek, however, all of the forums and tandem sites I've been to use the Tanemming and Tandemmer terms to my surprise. I'm still learning all the new lingo associated with riding 2up on a bicycle! ;-)

    Tandem Geek: As already mentioned, Mel at Tandems East -- and most of the other tandem speciality dealers -- usually stock a wide assortment of hardware that can be used to fit just about anyone to a tandem; you can see a sample here: http://www.tandemseast.com/parts/stems.html
    I just ordered a special Stoker Stem that is 6.5" as well as a Captain's stem that is only 80mm to hopefully help me and my stoker more comfy. And, I ordered it all from Mel last night ... what a nice fella! And, he seems to be VERY knowledgable.

    Tandem Geek: 1. When your bottle is empty, hand it back to your stoker while you're riding and let her swap it out for a full one. You'll just need to teach her how to hold the empty by the neck with her thumb and forefinger while steading herself against her handlebar with her palm and three remaining fingers. This will allow her to reach down, grab the full bottle from the bottle nearest your seat tube on the internal. When passing it back to you, she just needs to hold it forward and press it against your hip so that you can reach back and grab it without having to search for it or to turn your head around.

    2. If you can reach the bottle on your down tube chances are you'll probably be able to reach between your legs and grab the bottle sitting just behind your seat tube between your stoker's top and internal tube. On our tandems -- which are small -- I consider that to be my second water bottle, whereas Debbie's are the one that sits further down the internal and on her seat tube. It take a little practice but it makes swap outs pretty easy in that you pass your empty back to your stoker, reach down and grab the 2nd bottle, and then she can stuff your empty back in the now empty bottle cage.
    TG -- VERY good suggestions. I think I'll try No.1 first and see how that goes. My stoker uses a camelbak since she is a new cyclist this year. So, she's good to go and prefers that method.

    Zonatandem: Mount a bottle cage on the handlebar for the pilot (facing outward or inward, your choice). For stoker mount bottle cage on her bars facing inward
    Zonatandem ... thanks for the tip and alternative method for using/mounting the waterbottles. I will give this some thought as well. I like having multiple ideas. And, thanks for the welcome ... I think we will really enjoy the tandem!

    Krell: Keep the stoker happy.
    Krell -- I have read that in SO MANY places, so that is my motto on the tandem. I'm doing my best ... and my stoker has mentioned a few times that she appreciates my willingness and efforts in keeping her comfortable, etc. I figure if she's happy ... she'll actually "pedal" now and then and won't take it out on me by watching me suffer up the hills.
    -\Brian
    06' Cannondale Six13 TeamOne
    06' Cannondale Prophet 3 "Lefty"
    92' Trek 5200
    05' Cannondale Road Tandem

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