From a similar question in the past....
Originally Posted by operator
I thought tandems went faster than a non-tandem into a headwind because there are 2 people putting wattage vs 1 on a roadbike?
Yes and no. All things being equal except for the bike, (and despite myths to the contrary) a tandem road bike with two riders is between 30% to 50% less aerodynamic than a a solo rider on a road bike. Therefore, in order for a tandem to maintain a constant speed that is as fast (or faster) than a solo rider, the team must produce a net power output that is at least 30% to 50% greater than a solo rider.
Moreover, consider if you will that power production on a tandem is not necessarily linear since either one or both of the two riders on a given team may at any given time fall victim to poor form, individually or collectively. Put another way, even if you have two strong cyclists (1+1), they will lose some efficiency due to the nature of a tandem and, if they are not able to work well together, their efficiency will fall way off. So, in reality what you will often times find with a tandem is that you have two riders of different abilities who can produce variable levels of output which may or may not be as high as they are able to produce when riding alone. This is why some tandem teams who are weaker riders individually than a team comprised of two strong riders are often times as fast (or faster) than the stronger couple when both teams ride their tandems. The place where a team's combined efficiency level is most obvious is when they get to the hills where you have the same math problem with percent grade being substituted for headwind MPH and the added factor of team weight having more importance than aerodynamic drag. Less I digress...
So, to answer your question, if you have a team who can produce at least 30% to 50% more power as a team on a tandem they should be able to keep up with a solo rider. However, if a tandem team can produce a net power output above what is required to compensate for increased drag, the tandem pulls the train.