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  1. #1
    Long-time Curmudgeon DrPete's Avatar
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    Young tandem teams--are we really THAT weird?

    So my fiancee and I were on a group ride today, and at the end of the ride one of the other riders mentioned that "usually people wait till a certain age to start riding a tandem." I'm 28 and she's 32.

    Mollie had a horrible cycling experience in her past (hit by a car, facial reconstruction, whole 9 yards), and tandeming was a way that we found to get her riding and enjoying it again. In fact, after our first weekend of owning a tandem, she was itching to ride a half century. We couldn't be happier!

    So the question is this--Are young tandem teams really that unusual? Granted, I haven't met many, but I haven't really met a ton of tandem couples yet, so my sample size is pretty small. It just seems like such a cool way to enjoy an activity that totally brings a couple together.

    How old were you when you started tandeming? Is a team average age of 30 that strange?

    DrPete

  2. #2
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrPete
    How old were you when you started tandeming? Is a team average age of 30 that strange?
    It's definitely at the low-end of the bell curve if you assume that overall tandem ownership (and perhaps more importantly, ridership) parallels major tandem rally attendance.

    Assuming that the average captain's age is representative of the average team age (big number theory), the attached graph depicts the distribution for the ages of 447 teams who attended the Midwest Tandem Rally in 2003.

    (2nd link to image also at the bottom of this post)
    Age = X Axis / No. = Y Axis

    For further amusement, here is a study that was conducted based on a survey of 452 attendees at the 1999 Midwest Tandem Rally: http://www.prr.msu.edu/miteim/econimpact/tandem.pdf

    We know of a several younger couples in their late 20's and early 30's who own and ride tandems, but the lion's share of our regular riding partners began tandeming in their 30's, with another large contingent in their 50's and 60's who either were part of the original surge in tandeming that occurred back in the early 80's or who took it up as their kids left home.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 10-23-05 at 10:19 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member metal_cowboy's Avatar
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    I think it takes a great deal of understanding, trust and patience to be a tandem team. I am guessing that these are virtues that take time to develop in a relationship.

    My wife was 30 and I was 32 when we bought our tandem. Five years later...we are still riding and having a great time.

  4. #4
    What icy wind? Wind 'N Snow's Avatar
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    +1 what has been said here, but here is some other angles. I've always wanted to tandem but couldn't because:
    Couldn't afford one that was close to the same standards as my road bike;
    Didn't have a partner I could trust enough - and want to spend that much time with
    Couldn't get the damn thing up the elevator into my apartment.

    Younger folk deal with all of those issues, as one ages, one overcomes a lot of those barriers.

    I'm still hoping to one day get a tandem. I'm tired of riding with my shadow.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    I'll agree with W&S.

    In my early 30's, I found myself newly married to a wonderful woman that hadn't ridden a bike in years, but was easily to persuaded to allow me to spend more on our bike than we did on our car. 2 years later, she now has 2 bikes of her own (We sold her BMX race bike to buy her a beach cruiser) and we have the tandem. It may sound backwards, but the tandem was her gateway back into cycling. I doubt she would have gotten back into it if it wasn't for a custom fit tandem with all the little touches just for her. By the way, I'm 36, she's 39.

    Oh, I still enjoy the company of my shadow once in a while.

  6. #6
    Violin guitar mandolin
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    I built my first in 1976 when I was 22. I had stokers at that time as young as 16. I anticipate that in 4 years our kids will start as a team at 16 / 10.

    I'd never thought about it.

  7. #7
    Banned. galen_52657's Avatar
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    As a member of the LSV/Kelly USCF cycling club here in Baltimore, I ride with lots of younger folks - mostly men. I always talk up tandeming whenever I get a chance. Same when I do a BBC (touring club) ride. I will often do a BBC ride on my tandem. Also, the BBC has its own tandem wing - CRABS. I don't think there is a single team in CRABS under 40. These are my thoughts on why:

    1. Most guys under 40 are raising kids or confirmed bachelors who want to get AWAY from the family when they ride or, if unattached don’t have a steady partner.
    2. The above demographic if married w/kids is already taking flack for the cost of the single bike with all the accouterments and mistakenly believes you can’t get a decent tandem for under $1,500.
    3. As a tandem is most-often piloted by the male in the couple, the female does not wish to relinquish control or does not have any confidence in her partner’s abilities (maybe she has seen him do stupid stuff while on single bikes???).
    4. Lots of guys think tandems are slow, or that they won’t get a workout. WRONG on both counts!

    I think it is sad, because you can get a decent tandem for way under $1,500 and if you have little kids, you could tow them around in a kid trailer with the tandem and both parents could get a some exercise together. If you have bigger kids, you could take them out on the tandem or have them ride along on single bikes. Weakest rider could ride w/dad (or mom) on the tandem and even out the pace.

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    My wife and I both turned 40 this year. We are slowly catching up in age with the majority of the people we tandem ride with. We are now at least in the same decade of our lives as many of them. We bought our first tandem in 2000 at age 35. We find it very inspiring to ride with couples 10 to 15 years older than us that can make us really work to keep up. Hopefully we will still be riding and making younger riders chase us as we grow older.

  9. #9
    dangerous with tools halfbiked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by galen_52657
    3. As a tandem is most-often piloted by the male in the couple, the female does not wish to relinquish control or does not have any confidence in her partner’s abilities (maybe she has seen him do stupid stuff while on single bikes???).
    Bingo.

  10. #10
    Pepperoni Power ROJA's Avatar
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    Here's one data point for you: We are both in our late 20s and just bought our first tandem.

  11. #11
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Age really is not that much of an issue in tandeming; younger, older?
    Friends of ours bought a new Co-Motion tandem to celebrate her 80th (!) birthday; and the next weekend they rode a club 60 miler!
    We're only in our 70s . . . and those 2 folks are our idols!!!
    At most tandems rallies there are not too many duos in their 20s, but lots of folks are a bit older than that. But, take into account the kids that are riding tandem with parents and the age average lessens a bit!
    So join the fun, we don't care how young/old you are!

    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  12. #12
    Hacker Maximus
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    Quote Originally Posted by galen_52657

    3. As a tandem is most-often piloted by the male in the couple, the female does not wish to relinquish control or does not have any confidence in her partner’s abilities (maybe she has seen him do stupid stuff while on single bikes???).
    .
    Totally agree,, this is the reason why i made a posting not to long ago about why "Stokers=Female" so silly Tandems need to be about "equal oportunity".

    I'm 43 now and this is my second Ibis tandem, the first one i have was 12 years ago(31 then and I have it for 4 years until i move here) and for sure was pretty dificult to find partners female or male , specially if you have a reputations of riding extremlly dificult trails and crash a lot... most of my young lady friends wants to ride on their own machines or at least be at the front, some of them were to small to fit on the big bike(captain size 20") (even if many times they were stronger than i was) but i being in the back seat many times and also have some awesome spills, i Guess some how i'm glad that the whole feminist movement rended the male/female roles obsolete, i don't know if older people grow on a diferent enviroment and they were more willing to be "in the back" for sure that is kind of the case on the latin culture i grow but let me tell you i dislike that whole "macho" thing it a lot, I never got to understand why a woman needs to be separatated (view as a lesser individual) from a man, the same way any racist issues are totally impossible to believe they still exist at this time and age...

    even with male copilots is always a issue about relinquish power and control, persons just like to be on their own power and freedom and not codependent, i don't know if this change when you get older but so far is a constant problem.

    i don't know to me tandems are fun, because they diferent (same as i have recumbents and skates and a few others toys) because they make even the easiest trail far more challenging, because i enjoy very much to pedal around with people i like, in my view who cares if they are really fast or cost a lot of money, i also got to share my bikes with many blind and "small Yellow bus" persons and i think those moments, memories and smiles more than paid for the bike many times over.

    anyway i think i have some of the best moments of my life on my bicycle and for me that is all it counts,, even better some of them i got to spend with some incredible human beings on my tandem.

    one thing is for sure you will never find me wearing a matching uniform with my partner and even more on a cruise of the caribean when i'm 80, i want to life life now, same i'm being doing everyday and hopefully i will keep doing it a litle longer...
    Force is never as effective as Leverage.

  13. #13
    Long-time Curmudgeon DrPete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem
    Age really is not that much of an issue in tandeming; younger, older?
    Friends of ours bought a new Co-Motion tandem to celebrate her 80th (!) birthday; and the next weekend they rode a club 60 miler!
    We're only in our 70s . . . and those 2 folks are our idols!!!
    At most tandems rallies there are not too many duos in their 20s, but lots of folks are a bit older than that. But, take into account the kids that are riding tandem with parents and the age average lessens a bit!
    So join the fun, we don't care how young/old you are!

    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
    Oh we've joined the fun, and plan to continue as long as possible. Our limited time on our new tandem has defnintely shown us that tandeming is very open and inclusive, and I've never gotten a negative vibe from anyone about our age... Mollie's even buying cold weather gear so we can ride through the winter! I'm in heaven! I have a fiancee who bugs me to go riding more!

    DrPete

  14. #14
    Long-time Curmudgeon DrPete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricardo kuhn
    one thing is for sure you will never find me wearing a matching uniform with my partner
    So now we don't feel alone about that one either

    DrPete

  15. #15
    WATERFORD22
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    Nope there are lots of younger tandem teams. There are many reasons why people go into riding a tandem and your's doesn't sound that unusal. I do think most of the tandem clubs I've been around though seem to have older members, but I think that's an issue of both time and in some circumstances money. Just a a FYI - I haven't seen to many teams in their early 20's. Mike

  16. #16
    Cycle for life... woodcycl's Avatar
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    I am 36 and bought my first tandem this year. However, when I was 23, I had a GF who wanted to start riding so we put a THEN new Cannondale on layaway (they were closer to $3k back then). But, the GF didn't work out ... we were both still in college, etc. So, I would've been in my mid 20's with my first tandem.

    In our wheelmen club, I'd say a majority of our tandem teams, and we have approx. 18 teams, are in their 40's, 50's, and 60's. However, I'd say there are 5 or 6 that are in their 20's and 30's.
    -\Brian
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  17. #17
    Senior Member mtbcyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem
    Age really is not that much of an issue in tandeming; younger, older?
    Friends of ours bought a new Co-Motion tandem to celebrate her 80th (!) birthday; and the next weekend they rode a club 60 miler!
    We're only in our 70s . . . and those 2 folks are our idols!!!
    Thats awsome. 70s? 80s!!! Wow. I rode a single with a guy who was 65 and was with us in the fast break away pack and I though that was awsome. Hmm.... I guess you all topped him!

  18. #18
    Guz
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    Maybe this will skew your stats some (and add us to the "weird" category). My girlfriend and I are in our early 20s but we ride a tandem that is in it's early 30s. It's a 1972 Schwinn Twinn. We just got it a couple months ago and it's been a lot of fun. We have mostly been riding it around town and we rode it in a 14 mile community ride on Saturday. All of the other tandem teams we saw were older but there were some that looked to be in their 30s.

    The bike rides great, and it's somewhat of a "sleeper" since we put a 7-speed Shimano Nexus hub on it.

    Here's a pic:

  19. #19
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    That Schwinn looks like a lot of fun, at an affordable price.

  20. #20
    Year-round cyclist
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    Agewise, do you count the age of the pilot or the average age? Because then, my 46 years old plus Ève's 9 years old plus Sophie's 5 years old give us an average of 20 years of age.
    Michel Gagnon
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  21. #21
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    At the other end of the scale I am afraid- I am 58 and Pilot 42. Doesn't make any difference though once you start passing the solos on rides. All they see are powerful legs disappearing into the distance - Till the first hill.

    Age is immaterial on a bike. Only thought from me is that it is great to see some youngsters that can slow down to the pace of the more experienced, mature teams out riding their tandems.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  22. #22
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    We just bought our first tandem, I'm 54 and my wife is 49. We always rode and raced singles and she wasn't interested in a tandem because she didn't really trust me (too many crazy moves on bikes and too fast). We went to Solvang Century a couple of years ago and she was really struck by the number of smiling people on tandems rather than the hard faces of racers she was used to seeing. So when I began talking about a new bike she said, "Why don't you get "us" a tandem." After I picked myself up off the floor I started furiously searching for one while the iron was hot and a month later we had a used Burley Rock n Roll. We love it and can't believe it took us so many years to discover. I can beat myself to death and never drop her, and she can talk on the phone to her sisters. Life is good.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    My wife takes calls on the tandem too. Tandems are rare enough around here, but I'm sure we're an amusing sight.

  24. #24
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    Money!
    Many Tandem user want single bikes also. I certainly do. A high quality bike may cost $5000 each.
    OK, you can get some for much less. But if you are really into it then it is $5,000 to $7,000.
    A quality Tandem starts at $3,000 and can go up to $10,000. (The riding experience is depending on the quality of components.)
    That is a bit much for most young couples in their 20's.
    I know of some entrepreneurs in their 30's who own a Titanium Tandem. (over $10K)

    My wife of 43 years and I started single biking 18 years ago. The disparity in endurance and speed was a constant friction detracting from our enjoyment. I am type A performance driven, she is easy going. The Tandem kept us together instead of me going off on my own for days and weeks. I am somewhat addicted to biking. We enjoy our time together and that is all that matters. Other people opinions change with the wind. This has been IMHO.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will dehne
    I know of some entrepreneurs in their 30's who own a Titanium Tandem. (over $10K)
    I find that very amusing. Not in a mocking way, either.

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