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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 09-11-06, 09:15 AM   #1
Fat Louie
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Anyone ever have a stoker that doesn't know how to ride a bike?

My wife has never ridden a bike before- I'm trying to get her into cycling. She's seen me towing my 4 year old on trail-a-bike and has asked about a tandem bike a few months ago (she's even given the OK to buy a tandem). We primarily want to just do slow cruises around the neighborhood and parks. She's only 110#'s so I should be able to control the bike (I'm 250#). Has anyone here ever had an adult stoker with no riding experience? I'm hoping this leads to her getting the nerves to learn to ride on her own. I don't want to push her because I want this to be fun- I've read that teaching an adult to ride a bike is much more difficult than teaching a child.
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Old 09-11-06, 09:52 AM   #2
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I'm not sure I think having a rookie captain and a stoker who can't ride a bike could be classified as "fun". I'd sure try one before purchasing....
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Old 09-11-06, 11:57 AM   #3
Michel Gagnon
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Ride the tandem a couple of times on your own and start with short rides, so you'll keep your sanity.
Apart from that, it has been done by many people and I don't see any problems with that.
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Old 09-11-06, 02:34 PM   #4
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Agree with Michel G., ride the tandem solo for a few short rides so you get to learn to handle it properly(yup, it's not like your single, is it?). Then see if you can get someone, other than your 'beloved', to do the stoker bit for a ride or two.
Above all COMMUNICATE everything you are about to do on the tandem, so there will be no surprises for the stoker.
Bet if you follow these pointers, she'll enjoy rdigin TWOgether!
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Old 09-11-06, 02:44 PM   #5
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Better to ride with someone who doesn't know how to ride. Otherwise, you have to listen to them requesting gear changes when it's too hard/easy for them. With no expectations come few demands. If you're both committed to riding the tandem go ahead and purchase and figure out how to make it work for you on the bike. Test drives are good for insuring a good fit though, if she's only 110 lbs to your 250, you probably need a frame that can accomodate your two very different body types. They're out there, you'll find them.
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Old 09-11-06, 02:44 PM   #6
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My dauther who is has motor control problems, and can not ride a bike on her own. Has no problem on the back of a tandem. We have logged about 600 miles this year. We are in the process of trying to find a better one which is used
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Old 09-11-06, 06:11 PM   #7
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True, folks who have never ridden a bicycle have no bad habits to unlearn.
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Old 09-11-06, 06:43 PM   #8
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It's all good! My partner was brought up by her European grandmother who believed she would be 'damaged goods' if she rode a bike. 25 year later we are still riding and we've just ordered a new bike to celebrate the silver anniversary.

When we first started I had my seat post down a bit so I could handle any balance problems. It wasn't long before she got the idea. Stay off the Interstates for a while!
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Old 09-11-06, 08:53 PM   #9
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THANKS ALL! Very encouraging! So from what I gathered, I can just yell back to her "shut up and pedal when I pedal"

I will definitely try on my own before trying with my wife. I am used to the length because of the trail-a-bike and the tandem trail-a-bike I've towed my kids on. But even with the double trail a bike, the weight of my two kids was only about 80 pounds. I've also been reading up on tandeming techniques. The one thing I won't do is put on my clipless pedals right away- I think I'd rather waste a little energy than have both of us fall over!

Now to find a tandem! Craigslist here I come!

Thanks again all for the helpful advice.
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Old 09-11-06, 11:33 PM   #10
Michel Gagnon
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Louie, you are on a very good start. You will quickly discover that a tandem is much more stable than a Trail-a-Bike. So if you know to balance a Trail-a-Bike, the tandem will almost feel like a single bike.

One slight disadvantage : very tight turns are a little bit harder to do on a tandem. IOW, if you do a U-turn in a narrow street, keep one foot unclipped.
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Old 09-11-06, 11:42 PM   #11
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You could always consider a nice trice or greenspeed tandem trike... no falling over. How much easier could it get for the stroker
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Old 09-12-06, 07:01 AM   #12
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I'll second the tandem trike, that's what we use... about 1/2 what you'd pay for the Greenspeed.
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Old 09-12-06, 09:49 AM   #13
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My son and I had a tandem for 18 months and he always rode captain. He is 16 and was learning very well, gaining confidence and experience daily. However, I now feel I did too much of the spotting hazards and danger and telling him when to slow for corners etc.
On 14th August we were comming down a fast hill, about 35mph, and I did not foresee the bend to warn him. We cornered hard but he must have panicked and straightened up before clearing the bend. The bike touched the verge, he lost control and we came off. He sustained massive head injuries, up from below is neck (a helmet would have made no difference) and he died two days later. We buried him a week ago and I still cannot believe it.
I sustained the usual road rash, cuts and bruises and a three smashed metatasels. My body will mend but my heart will always be broken. I shall not ride a tandem again.

Please take care at speed, it can kill!!!
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Old 09-12-06, 10:17 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markward
We buried him a week ago and I still cannot believe it
I feel for your loss... given the use of the term "verge" instead of "shoulder" I must assume you're either from or live in the UK? I must also assume that there was some type of object or rugged terrain beyond verge to have caused so much physical trauma to the two of you.

Regardless, your story underscores that all forms of cycling are inherently dangerous activities and that, when captaining a tandem, you must also acknowledge that your passenger's safety and well being is now your responsbility.

Again, my heart felt condolences.
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Old 09-12-06, 11:40 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markward
My son and I had a tandem for 18 months and he always rode captain. He is 16 and was learning very well, gaining confidence and experience daily. However, I now feel I did too much of the spotting hazards and danger and telling him when to slow for corners etc.
On 14th August we were comming down a fast hill, about 35mph, and I did not foresee the bend to warn him. We cornered hard but he must have panicked and straightened up before clearing the bend. The bike touched the verge, he lost control and we came off. He sustained massive head injuries, up from below is neck (a helmet would have made no difference) and he died two days later. We buried him a week ago and I still cannot believe it.
I sustained the usual road rash, cuts and bruises and a three smashed metatasels. My body will mend but my heart will always be broken. I shall not ride a tandem again.

Please take care at speed, it can kill!!!
I'm very sorry to hear about your loss. I can't imagine what you must be going through. I thank you for warning us about being safe during this difficult time for you and your family.

I am extra careful these days when riding- I commuted via bicycle for many years and found out how many drivers really don't pay any attention to the road. These days, I rarely go over 25mph even on the steepest of declines- at my weight, bicycle brakes don't do a great job at bringing me to a complete stop once I reach higher speeds. So with the weight addition of another adult rider, my guess is that we won't see speeds of more than 15mph on any rides soon- I also plan to mainly stay on flat grounds since that's possible where we live.

Sorry again for your loss.
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Old 09-13-06, 01:44 PM   #16
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Sorry for your recent loss.
But think back of the fun times you shared TWOgether . . .
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Old 09-14-06, 05:07 PM   #17
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It just ain't that dificult

Fat Louie,

If you've got decent single bicycle handling skills, riding a tandem especially with a light stoker just ain't that hard, especially if you get a comfort or mountain style tandem to around the neighborhood rides. A little care on starts, call out the bumps and keep it slow and easy in the beginning. My wife is self admitted klutz and really a terrible single bike rider. She weighs 50 pounds more than your wife and I weigh 40 pounds less than you, and I had no trouble handling the bike right from the start, and we really enjoy it too.

Good technique on starting out is; Insure you have a medium gear selected so you can start easily and quickly make power. You mount the bike, stradle the top tube and brace the tip of your seat against the small of your back or near your kidney area and clamp the brakes. Then spread your legs wide enough so the pedals can rotate freely with out hitting your shins. At this point, and only at this point, instruct your stoker to mount, with one foot on the pedal and then throw her leg over and put other foot on pedal or into clips. Once she is mounted and clipped if using clips, she tells you "ready". Then give a "1,2,3 go"command and start pedaling on go. At stop signs and lights; instruct her to keep her feet on the pedals. When dismounting; start the same way; stabilize the bike by bracing against the seat, clamp the brakes, spread the legs, and then give her the "ok" to dismount while you brace the bike.

Remember, anytime you coast, she coasts, when you shift she shifts, so call those things out, so the stoker isn't supprised.

I would suggest getting someone to captain you for a short ride so you can learn what the Stoker experiences, that will probably help you to produce an experience for your wife that is more enjoyable later on.
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Old 09-14-06, 11:45 PM   #18
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Sounds like you are already an experienced cyclist. If so, then it's actually an advantage to have a stoker who is not a cyclist. All of my stokers have been novice cyclists (boy, they sure didn't know what they were getting into, did they?) and they all enjoyed riding the tandem immensely. You need to ride a bit more conservatively, since it takes longer to accelerate and decelerate (plus it will keep your stoker from freaking out), and you'll probably tend to use slightly bigger gears since the stoker won't be used to spinning (crank rpm will be closer to 80 - when she gets into it - instead of 95).

Now, with all due respect to those tandem drivers with far more experience than I, I still don't think it's really a good idea to practice riding the tandem without a stoker. A tandem handles completely differently when no one is on in back, so you'll be disoriented when you've gotten used to riding without a load, and then you suddenly get a 110-lb load. I know that if I try to ride an unloaded tandem after I've ridden with a stoker, I'm weaving the handlebars significantly as my body tries to correct for an imbalance that's not there!

BTW, a couple of interesting thangs you find out after you've ridden a tandem for a while: a tandem is not difficult to keep upright at low speeds, like at stoplights; the additional weight seems to help. And a tandem can carve thru deep gravel with a lot more control than a single.

Have fun,and just remember that the stoker position absorbs way more road shock than the driver's. Shock post highly recommended.

- L.
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Old 09-15-06, 02:26 PM   #19
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My partner is an inexperienced cyclists that is about my weight. We have not had much problem on around the neighborhood rides once she stopped trying to steer the bike. However I have ridden with other stokers who have very little bike experience and are closer in size to your partner. I really could not tell that I had a passenger. The weight shifts of a passenger less than half your weight were barely noticable to me.
I have maybe 100 miles on our tandem now and only took one short ride solo before riding with my partner. For an experienced cyclists captaining is not that difficult. If you are not expecting any kind of speeds then an inexperienced cyclists is no real obstacle.
Craig
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Old 09-18-06, 10:09 AM   #20
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Thanks all for the advice! I decided to go ahead and do it...

So after trying to find a used tandem in our size all summer long, I gave up and ended up buying a 2005 Raleigh Tandem Coupe FB I found at a LBS brand new for $1000 this past weekend. I was looking for a late 90's Cannondale, Santana, or Burley- but all the ones that I saw that could possibly fit my wife and I were either the wrong size, sold before I could get to them, or more than what I wanted to spend to see if we like this sport. I think this is considered a hybrid type bike with a flatbar handlebars, 700c wheels, Shimano 105 rear derailleur, and Avid disc brakes. The bike shop I bought it from was kind of a joke- I've never been to a shop where you can only test ride in the parking lot- with the long tandem, this made things especially difficult because it wasn't wide enough to make a U-turn, so in reality, the test ride was useless with exception of trying the bike for fit. I went ahead and bought it anyways because it seemed like it had decent components- I figured since this was going to be mainly a comfort bike ridden at slow speeds, it would be good enough to allow my wife and I to see if we enjoy tandeming- we could always order a new Co-motion in the future if we enjoy tandeming!

So I'm going to try to ease the wife into this- I have a 1up trainer that I can put the tandem on. I'm going to have her pedal in a safe and secure environment for a few days before we make our maiden voyage. I'm personally really excited and really hope this will be something my wife and I will enjoy for years to come.

Thanks again all for taking the time to share your experiences- it helped a ton since I could get any helpful advice locally.
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Old 09-24-06, 09:14 AM   #21
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Louie,

My wife and I just bought the same bike and love it so far. My wife knew how to ride a bike, but admittedly is not a "cyclist". She weighs in about 120'ish and I'm only pushing a buck forty and I have no problems controlling the bike. As someone shared with me when I started out a few months ago, take some time to go to www.thetandemlink.com and read some of the material for newbies under the "Learning" section of the site. Great stuff for beginners.

We're working on communication and have that down pretty good. We also compromise on cadence, but we're getting closer to the 90 mark. The best part is that we can ride together and still make great time. The only changes I've made to the bike so far is pedals and a new set of grips. We went for Serfas RX grips and like them so far.

Good Luck!
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Old 10-02-06, 11:19 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Fat Louie
My wife has never ridden a bike before- I'm trying to get her into cycling. She's seen me towing my 4 year old on trail-a-bike and has asked about a tandem bike a few months ago (she's even given the OK to buy a tandem). We primarily want to just do slow cruises around the neighborhood and parks. She's only 110#'s so I should be able to control the bike (I'm 250#). Has anyone here ever had an adult stoker with no riding experience? I'm hoping this leads to her getting the nerves to learn to ride on her own. I don't want to push her because I want this to be fun- I've read that teaching an adult to ride a bike is much more difficult than teaching a child.
Here's the PERFECT solution!

A tandem tricycle has almost no learning curve! Just get on and go!
And the stoker can take pictures, movies, read or play a Gameboy!
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Old 10-07-06, 09:45 AM   #23
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my wife doesn't know how to ride a bike? we rented tantem bikes may be 6 times and she likes the ideas go further on a bike than running or walking . we love to buy grocery on a tantem , week end ride.
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