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  1. #1
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    Tandem for family with special needs child

    My wife and I rode together for 10 years. Over the last 15 years job situations and an autistic child have kept us from riding together and I had not ridden in five years. I was finally able to get out riding again this summer on a regular basis but my wife has not. I am considering our options.

    We both have gained weight. My wife more than I and she is considerably out of shape. I have ridden about 1700 miles since mid-June and have lost some weight. Our son is 11.5 and weights about 70 pounds. He recejtpy learned to pedal and relies solely on training wheels for balance. I think he could hold on okay, would not do anything over 15 mph with him along, but that is a concern.

    Option 1 - She rides her bike and I connect a half-wheel to my road bike and pull my son. This would take care of any concerns she has about not being able to keep up. I am not sure what kind of half wheel but I would want my son to be able to pedal but he would not know how to shift so that would not be an option.

    Options 2 - Buy a tandem and connect a half-wheel to it.

    Options 3 - A fellow rider suggested, as she was leaving a ride, that someone she knew had a recumbent bike built for 3. I only recently saw a recumbent tandem this summer, did not know they existed, and have never seen one built for three. I vaguely recall seeing a bicycle built for three that was a tandem with a third seat added over the front and the pedals were connected to the drivetrain and that person pedaled. This was a long time ago so I may not have the configuration correct.

    Option 4 - wife rides her bike around the neighborhood during the week and we ride a tandem together on the weekend and get someone to watch our son.

    Anyone have any thoughts. If it is at all possible to take our son along I would like to.

    My other concern is how to transport a tandem. I currently have bars and two bike carriers. The carriers are Thule and the bars were purchased to fit a different car because I could not find Thule adapters for a new car that I purchased. I have not had the rack on a car in 10 years and am not even sure if it will work with modern cars. I have been folding down the seats and putting my road bike in the trunk for transport.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  2. #2
    Ride em all Gtscottie's Avatar
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    I would suggest the recumbent scenario if you can find a triple it would be great.
    I'm thinking the recumbent would be easier for your son if he has balance problems as he will not fall off easily.

    good Luck
    If you can't learn to do something well...Learn to enjoy doing it poorly

  3. #3
    Ride em all Gtscottie's Avatar
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    Check this out if you want to really get serious. http://www.greenspeed.com.au/gshome.html
    If you can't learn to do something well...Learn to enjoy doing it poorly

  4. #4
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Tandem + trail-a-bike for now.
    You can later ride tandem with son or spouse.
    Triples are a bit rate and co$tly and more problematic for hauling in/on a motor vehicle.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem
    Tandem + trail-a-bike for now.
    You can later ride tandem with son or spouse.
    Triples are a bit rate and co$tly and more problematic for hauling in/on a motor vehicle.
    Good thoughts. I was focusing on the present. Now that I think about it that would be the best long term option.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gtscottie
    Check this out if you want to really get serious. http://www.greenspeed.com.au/gshome.html
    Please explain. I looked at the website briefly and I am not sure what you mean. Balancing and steering are both beyond my son's ability and I have no way of knowing about the future. He might get steering eventually but it might be this summer or years from now, I just don't know.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dekindy
    Please explain. I looked at the website briefly and I am not sure what you mean. Balancing and steering are both beyond my son's ability and I have no way of knowing about the future. He might get steering eventually but it might be this summer or years from now, I just don't know.
    I think they meant for you to check out the tandem greenspeed, I think it is the RTT model. Do a search on here for Greenspeed. Owners of them are pretty happy.

  8. #8
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    I'm going to suggest that you get a tandem now, to ride with your son, and have your wife ride along on a single. The top end for comfortable riding with a trailer bike is a 70 pound rider. I have been riding with a trailer bike and sometimes still use it. My son is only 50 pounds, and I find the seat post hitch wants to twist around, no matter how tight I crank the bolts. We are both much happier on our new tandem. (Of course, we still use the trailer bike, as I am riding with 5 year old twins!)

    Catherine

  9. #9
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    I'll agree with Catherine. Depending on sizes, you should also be able to use the tandem with your wife too for quiet moments together.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  10. #10
    Senior Member djembob02's Avatar
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    triplet

    I would argue for the triplet option. My wife, daughter and I all ride an upright 3 person tandem. Of course it depends on the special needs of your son, but if possible an upright triplet would likely work well. I frequently ride our triplet with just me and my 5 yo daughter. She does not have any physical disabilities. At less than 4 years old, she had never been on a bike before and learned how to pedal the triplet in about 30 seconds. Stability was somewhat of an issue on platform pedals but ever since we went clipless she is amazingly secure. She couldn't fall off if she tried. If physically, your son could not keep a fast enough cadence, you could opt for an independent coasting system which would allow for him to pedal slower or even take breaks. We do not have this which means the little on is required to pedal just as fast as I do which is relatively fast much of the time (easily going over 90 rpm)

    As far as hauling the 11 foot beast, I fashioned a home-made roof rack to go on top of yakima cross bars. The rack cost me about $80. There are comercial companies that sell this type of thing for $200 or so. There was recently a thread with lots of pictures about roof racks for tandems.

    I have never seen a triplet recumbent, however I have seen a couple online that were part upright, part recumbent.

    I would think that the only struggle with the triplet would be the cost. We paid for ours with student loans which will be paid back someday in the future. I have had no regrets. When my family came and visited I even changed things around so that my dad and younger brother could ride with me. It was so much fun!!! Good luck with everything. No matter what you decide, I have found cycling as a family to be one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.
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    Bobby

  11. #11
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    dekindy: Check out buddybike.com. I have a ten year old autistic son and purchased a regular tandem (KHS Milano). At first he couldn't keep his feet on the pedals no matter how slowly I pedaled. The KHS came with pedals that had a platform on one side and an SPD mechanism on the other. I bought Winwood pedal inserts from Performance. These transform the platform side of the pedal to a platform with toe clips by clicking into the SPD side. We can't be stopped. Let us know how it goes.

  12. #12
    Ride em all Gtscottie's Avatar
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    I was looking at the trike recumbant he wouldn't have to balance, it is like sitting in a chair and you could steer.
    If you can't learn to do something well...Learn to enjoy doing it poorly

  13. #13
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    though there are cheaper places getting this trike is a good way to go http://www.hostelshoppe.com/cgi-bin/...Bike=984613142 you can hook as man together as you want. get two and get the kids carrier along with it. it has pedals too but does not cost as much. it's kind of expnesive but you get two trikes that can be used seperatly too.
    http://www.hasebikes.com/ens/kettwie...=zub&bike=kett

  14. #14
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Hasebikes also sells a tandem that is unique, reminiscent of the Counterpoint tandem.
    Picture a mountain bike single; add a recumbent front to that. Steering, shifting etc. is done by the rear rider keeping son/stoker up front. Made in Gernany and a bit pricey.
    The Buddybike is a good idea but limited to having a child up to about 12 years old (depending on size) and cannot be used by 2 adults. There is a nice review in issue #23 (Fall 2006) in Recumbent & Tandem Rider Magazine.
    Hope this helps!
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  15. #15
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    Thanks for all the suggestions. I will check them out.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  16. #16
    Dr.Deltron
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    The kids love our Greenspeed tandem. The 12 yr old stokes, the 6 yr old rides on the rack seat and the twin 4 yr olds ride in a Burley trailer. We make quite a parade at any speed!
    I haul it all around in/on my Honda Accord.
    My 6 yr old also like to be the "Captain" using rope around the handlebar/brake lever., so I, the stoker, can steer/brake in case of emergencies.
    I also happen to have an ICE X2 that needs to find another home!
    PM me if interested.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.Deltron
    I also happen to have an ICE X2 that needs to find another home!
    PM me if interested.
    I am not familiar with the ICE X2. What does it look like?

  18. #18
    Dr.Deltron
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    Quote Originally Posted by masiman
    I am not familiar with the ICE X2. What does it look like?
    It looks a lot like a Greenspeed. The frame is about 11 pieces that all bolt together so that the seat angle can be adjusted. I'll try to e you some pics in the next day or two. You might try checking their website by Googleing Inspired Cycle Engineering.

  19. #19
    Captain - 2nd in Command djsincla's Avatar
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    Disabled Child

    Quote Originally Posted by dekindy
    My wife and I rode together for 10 years. Over the last 15 years job situations and an autistic child have kept us from riding together and I had not ridden in five years. I was finally able to get out riding again this summer on a regular basis but my wife has not. I am considering our options.

    We both have gained weight. My wife more than I and she is considerably out of shape. I have ridden about 1700 miles since mid-June and have lost some weight. Our son is 11.5 and weights about 70 pounds. He recejtpy learned to pedal and relies solely on training wheels for balance. I think he could hold on okay, would not do anything over 15 mph with him along, but that is a concern.
    If just getting out to ride is the plan, http://www.wike.ca/special.htm provides a trailer for larger children. Your son would not have to pedal and you would not be limited to any distance. You could tow behind a tandem or single bikes.

    My son has CP and my future concern for a tandem or triplet is that he would not have the reflexes to protect himself if we went down. Our son is still young and we tow him in a trailer. He loves it - We pack a picnic lunch in his trailer.

    A greenspeed Tandem is a big bike and unless you set up independent pedeling, your son might tire easily.

    I was talking to Bill McCready at Santana today and Bill mentioned someone who builds a recumbant seat with a 5 point harness for individuals with disability although I dont know if this is fitted to a bike or trailer/third wheel.

    I have seen a Tandem fitted with a recumbant non steering seat at the front and a regular seat and stearing for the rear rider - looks like a recumbant seat attached to a single bike with a small front wheel. An example of this is at http://ilovebent.com




    For transporting Tandems, I know of a roof option and at least two hitch options. No big deal.
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    Last edited by djsincla; 12-27-06 at 05:13 PM.

  20. #20
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    Decindy,

    I have just been reading through these postings. I doubt that I will be able to give you better technical advise than you have had but I have another side that might help.

    Am in a similar situation as I too had not ridden a bike for over five years and have an autistic son who is now 14 years old (taller than me too). I started back up in May of last year (2006) and have covered over 3,000 miles and lost 19 kilos (40 lbs). During the process of getting myself fit, my son -- who can communicate quite well -- asked if he could come cycling with me. Luckily he is quite a natural on a bike and was able to handle the bike that I bought him (an off road cheapie) very well. I kept him to off road routes, which in the UK is probably not as easy as the States. My son, Daniel, wanted to ride on the roads but there is absolutely no way that I would trust him to do that for all the reasons that you will be aware of (lack of awareness of danger, lack of awareness of traffic rules, etc, etc, etc).

    As a result, I bought a Cannondale road tandem at the end of September and embarked on riding around the North Devon countryside with Daniel. He has taken to it like a fish to water, although step in pedals were a bit of a learning curve for him. However I have converted the riding into a routine for him and he now accepts this. He enjoys the downhill bits best where we have so far got above 46 mph with him screaming with pure joy as we went. He doesn't like the uphill much but hey ho .....................

    The point of this is basically to wish you all the best in getting your boy onto a tandem and I hope that it brings you all the joy that it brings me and a togetherness with my son that would otherwise not be there.

    With very best wishes to you and yours.

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