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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 12-08-06, 07:44 PM   #1
mystrwizard
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Getting 4 yr old on child stoker seat safely?

Well, Ive attached a child stoker kit with bar extension to my Burley and seem to have it adjusted correctly. Ive had him on by lifting him up to get the kit all adjusted but am curious is there a technique for the child to get on the bike or is there a specific safe method for me to safely put him on the bike without the danger of the bike falling over? This is real new, Ive not had him out on any test rides yet and wanted to figure this out first.

I would greatly appreciate anyones expertise that has been through this.

Thanks,

Reese
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Old 12-08-06, 11:25 PM   #2
djembob02
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Good question. I ride a triplet and have had my little one in the middle with a child stoker kit since 4 years and 1 month. I nearly always put her on while the bike is leaning on something (Usually either the tree out front of the house or the side of a building). Of course, this is not always an option if, for example, changing a flat on the side of the road. In these cases I step over the captains tube facing backwards, straddle the bike and lift the little one on. Then I step out and back on the right way.

I find that when riding in groups, many people offer to help, but few of them understand that the most important part is the front wheel. They usually hold the seat which usually results in the front wheel turning and me having to catch the bike before it falls. So I usually tell them I've got it under control.

She is now beginning to climb up by herself (turned 5 in September) so I have to make sure I'm holding on to the bike well and I have to be very patient because it takes her a couple minutes. Good luck. It is so much much. The little one and I went on a 20 miler in the sub 30 degree weather to look at Christmas lights. She was so distracted (and covered in layers of clothing) that she didn't even complain about the cold.
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Old 12-09-06, 08:19 PM   #3
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As captain you hold the tandem with brakes applied, both feet flat on the ground.
Some small stokers get on by 'climbing' (putting foot on internal lateral and then climbing up to seat. Suggest you cover tubes that will be 'climbed' with foam piping pads so as not to scar up paint job and give child a non-slippery surface to place foot/feet on.
For pedals you can utilize a standard pedal with a 'half' toeclip to keep feet from slipping off pedals. If you can't find any half clips, use a toeclip without the toestraps.
You can practice this tandem mounting at home with spouse assisting child to climb up/down before heading out on the road.
Enjoy the ride TWOgether!
Pedal on!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 12-10-06, 12:51 PM   #4
simsi
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I found this thread very interesting, and have another question regarding child stokers. When do most people start with their children stoking - 4 years old? I know there are a few or start them younger, but our son is 3 and quite small for his age, so I guess we'll be waiting a bit longer than some.
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Old 12-10-06, 10:34 PM   #5
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This is a very interesting thread. I bought a tandem before the child was born thinking that we would never have children. I decided to keep the tandem and wondered about stoker kits. Do stoker kits damage the bike at all? Do stoker kits have much shorter crank arms for little people?
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Old 12-11-06, 08:56 AM   #6
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I started riding with my son on the tandem at 3.5 years old. My daughter was 4.5 and was not as confident as my son was but she saw him try it once and she also wanted to do it. They both do great and the only thing I am worried about is if they fall asleep. I have to be careful not to ride at 2-4 in the afternoon or they may try and sleep. If they get sleepy, I make them sing until we get back.

I placed my stoker kit on my Trek T2000 and I it did mess up the decals that Trek placed on the downtube. Between the decals on both sides and the clear coat on top, the largest kit did not fit without crackking the decals. I ended up removing the decals which is not noticable (except the lack of clearcoat). I plan on keeping this tandem for several years so this was not a concern for me.

It took some practice to get to the point where I can place him on the tandem without help from anyone. I stand on the opposite side of the tandem from my child and reach over the stoker bars letting the side of the tandem and stoker bar rest on my body. Reaching over the tandem and the bars at the same time allows me to stabilize the bike with my body while I am pick my son up. It is hard to explain but it can be done safely now that I have practiced.
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Old 12-11-06, 09:11 AM   #7
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simsi: Great pics aggi grad:
Check out www.precisiontandems.com for some pictures and thoughts about age of children riding and child stoker kit issues. Mark Johnson had his daughter riding very early (2yo if I remember correctly).

In answer to your question, children can start riding in a child stoker kit even if they are very small. Sometimes they are some fit issues regarding handlebar height, crank length, etc., but with a community like this plus either a good LBS and/or a little creativity, it can certainly work. Of course you have to adjust riding style some to the kids. For example, I can still ride fast and in pace-lines, etc, but Jamie can't handle riding an all day century. We have done some longer trips, but these always try her patience a lot.

Regarding crank length, I believe they are usually something like 145. I would think you could custom them shorter or taller. You could probably even use crank shorteners if you needed them even shorter. As far as frame damage, in my case there is really no significant damage apart from a little paint scuffing.
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Old 12-11-06, 10:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djembob02
Regarding crank length, I believe they are usually something like 145. I would think you could custom them shorter or taller. You could probably even use crank shorteners if you needed them even shorter. As far as frame damage, in my case there is really no significant damage apart from a little paint scuffing.
Davinci sells a kid crankset that is drilled for 125 and 145mm. Scroll down to see them.

I can't help you on the getting them on part. Thus far I have not allowed them to ride until they can mount on their own. Until then, they are in the trailer. However, I have 4 kids. If I only had 1 or 2 then I would be able to take the time to get them on earlier. As it is, I am short of seats to let them stoke and this just avoids fights over who gets to ride. Only the older 2 can stoke with the oldest being capable of riding single.

Next to singletrack, riding with your kid(s) stoking is the most fun you can have on the bike. I have not figured a way to make out with my wife on the bike yet, so that would probably be the most fun .
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Old 12-11-06, 05:16 PM   #9
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"Next to singletrack, riding with your kid(s) stoking is the most fun you can have on the bike. I have not figured a way to make out with my wife on the bike yet, so that would probably be the most fun ."

Because of Jamie being in the middle, I don't get to "make out" with my wife on the bike yet Maybe someday they can change places.
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Old 12-12-06, 05:36 AM   #10
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I usually leave the bottom pedals on the regular cranks even when my son is stoking. When he was younger he'd use one of those to climb on the bike with. Took a little practice and teaching for him to learn which foot to start climbing with and where his hands should be for leverage, but once he figured those things out it was no trouble at all.
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Old 12-12-06, 09:16 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simsi
When do most people start with their children stoking - 4 years old? I know there are a few or start them younger, but our son is 3 and quite small for his age, so I guess we'll be waiting a bit longer than some.
It can be done -- Check out the many excellent articles on the Precision Tandems website, including http://www.precisiontandems.com/art2yroldbymark.htm. Our daughter was a small (36"/91 cm tall) three-year-old when we started her on our Bike Friday triple. We worked with the folks at BF to get her seat low enough, and I still had to install wooden blocks on her pedals. Once on the bike between us she refused to go back in the trailer. Good fun!
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