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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 12-09-06, 11:31 PM   #1
BikeManDan
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Grocery getting/commuting on a tandem?

Hello all

I don't have a tandem and have never actually ridden one but my interest about them has been rising.
My girlfriend and I live together and we ride together daily (on our respective bikes). We are as car-light as we can be and it's pretty enjoyable for both of us to do all our errands together and also get exercise at the same time.
There are problems with this however. She is a much slower rider than I am and it can be difficult to keep pace. She also is not very street smart when it comes to city riding and can get into dangerous situations.

Could a tandem be the answer to our situation?

Has anyone shared the same experience?

Last edited by BikeManDan; 12-10-06 at 05:30 PM.
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Old 12-10-06, 05:41 AM   #2
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Sure.

My daughter & I commute daily on a tandem, and use it for groceries and other errands.

Go for it!!

-Greg
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Old 12-10-06, 06:47 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by dwoloz
Hello all

I don't have a tandem and have never actually ridden one but my interest about them has been rising.
My girlfriend and I live together and we ride also together daily. We are as car-light as we can be and it's pretty enjoyable for both of us to do all our errands together and also get exercise at the same time.
There are problems with this however. She is a much slower rider than I am and it can be difficult to keep pace. She also is not very street smart when it comes to city riding and can get into dangerous situations.

Could a tandem be the answer to our situation?

Has anyone shared the same experience?
We bought a tandem for exactly the same reason(s).
Both my wife and I love it!
My wife can get herself as tired as SHE wants and during the ride she can look where she wants (which is more sideways than in front of her) and she doesn't have to pay attention to the traffic AND the shifting of the cycle wich allows her to talk to me ALL the time. She LOVES it! And myself I like it because I also can get all the exercise I want and I don't have to worry about her getting into trouble in the traffic or her making the wrong shifting decisions. And last but not least I love it because talking to each other is good for your relation !
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Old 12-10-06, 10:17 AM   #4
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If you are limited to city riding you might be better off with a mountain bike type of tandem with flat pedals -- more stable and quicker turning at slower speeds. Your sig indicates you live in Sonoma County. Check out the SF Craigs List. There is someone in Santa Rosa who periodically posts a tandem for sale at around $900 that might be just the thing. Can't recall the brand, but I think it is a Burley. Most important thing, of course, is getting a bike that fits.

The advantage of flat pedals for city riding -- especially for short rides -- is you don't clip in and you can wear just about any kind of shoe. But if you go outside the city for quicker rides you'll find your feet having a hard time staying on the pedals. One possibility is to use flat pedals for the first few months and then see if one or both of you is comfortable switching over. Depends on what you use the bike for, and what kind of riding you enjoy. We know several couples who use flat pedals all the time and they would not think of changing them. We rented a Co-Mo Periscope once with 26 inch wheels, slick tires and flat pedals. Great for around town, but as aggressive single bike riders we found the flat pedals frustrating for speeds over 15-16 mph. Our new Speedster rarely goes slower than 20.

One limitation of riding around town for errands is where to park a long bike. The last thing you want to do is put it into one of those racks with the front wheel into a slot. Long walls are your friend. Might want to do a trial run with your single bikes to see where a tandem can be parked where you would normally go. I will not voice an opinion on tandem kickstands, but plenty of people on this list do have strong opinions on both sides -- mostly negative.

Suggest you and your girlfriend rent a tandem for a few hours to a day to see if it works. If you try it and it just doesn't work for both of you, the 60 bucks or so will have saved you lots of money and perhaps a relationship. If it does work, well.... Good luck!

Last edited by DBC Steve; 12-10-06 at 10:29 AM.
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Old 12-10-06, 12:47 PM   #5
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We've been commuting on a tandem for several years now. I guess we're lucky that we both work at the same place. For the last two years we've been taking our son to creche on the tandem as well.

Now we're close to our second child (my wife hopes to keep cycling up to Christmas when she stops work) I'm not sure what to do. There'll be some time with no tandem riding, but then there will be the dilemma of do I take the older one on the tandem with kiddie cranks and my wife the younger with child seat, or any of a number of other options.

I also would suggest you rent before you buy.
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Old 12-10-06, 05:25 PM   #6
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A tandem is a great 'equalizer' and you'll never loose her at a traffic light . . .
Having said that, if you grocery shop, you can load more stuff onto 2 bikes than on 1 tandem.
Been tandeming 31+ years . . . great!
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Old 12-10-06, 05:34 PM   #7
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I'm going home for the holidays soon and have a friend down there who I'm going to borrow a tandem from so we can try it out.

Thanks for everyones input so far


How is a tandem in stop and go traffic? Is it troublesome?

I have thought about the fact that 2 bikes can hold more than a single tandem but thought about maybe getting a trailer, would that work? Or has anyone tried to fit an Xtracycle on a tandem (seems kinda dangerous with that much wheelspan)
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Old 12-10-06, 09:37 PM   #8
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I don't like the idea of flat pedals. Clips/clipless/whatever, but anchor 'em in, imho. If one rider has foot/feet come off, the other rider can keep driving the pedals and do serious leg damage to the person whose feet are off of the pedals.

Stop and go, no problem. Stoker stays clipped in. Just use those low gears, don't be lazy keeping it in a middle/high gear when you pull to a stop. Go ahead and shift down when you stop.

Definitely think trailer, not Xtracycle.

Is this enough cargo for you? Not even running a front rack...



GO FOR IT!!!

-Greg
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Old 12-10-06, 09:42 PM   #9
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That is awesome, exactly what I was thinking

What kind of trailer is that? Or is that just a trail-a-bike minus the seatpost plus some additions
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Old 12-11-06, 12:17 AM   #10
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Next time I have all 4 kids out for a ride I'll HAVE to get a picture. The 5 of us ride a Greenspeed tandem recumbent trike! And even with the kids, it'll haul about 6 bags of groceries!
And people wonder why it needs 72 speeds!
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Old 12-11-06, 07:29 AM   #11
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My wife and I ride a Tandem in Buenos Aires Argentina, a Trek T100 hybrid. It got a little getting used to in traffic, but we do very well and go all over town. If we can do that, you can do Sonoma. We have flat pedals with srapped toe clips, any shoe will do, and your feet stay on the pedals, do not consider riding without either toe clips or SPD pedals or your stoker will very likely have a pedal hitting her calf. For your groceries, Bobtrailer.com. A single wheel trailer will be easier to negotiate in traffic. I'd like to have one of those, but we have front and rear panniers, and you can load a fair amount of stuff. I have always found a place to park the bike with a good lock.

Hardest thing on a tandem is to have the right stoker, if you do go for it, you will not regret it.
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Old 12-11-06, 11:16 AM   #12
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After you get used to handling a tandem, stop and go traffic can be 'annoying' but is not really an issue.
Stoker stays clipped in at traffic lights/stop signs.
A trailer is a good addition to add extra carrying capacity; there are one-wheeled and 2-wheeled trailers on the market. A single wheel will track better but is more troublesome when parking it with a load than a 2-wheeler.
Panniers, front and rear + expandable trunk bag, are another siolution as is the unique trail-a-bike set up shown.
Gregm's set-up looks like it could be modified Burley Piccolo.
Would not suggest the Xtracycle set-up as that is a more permanent system than a detachable trailer/trail-a-bike.
There are options out there . . . you decide!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 12-11-06, 11:31 AM   #13
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Trailer works

I use an old Burley d-lite child trailer for hauling stuff. You can find lots of them used on ebay & craigslist.
They are awesome grocery carriers. I once hauled a set of stacking craftsman tool chests home (no tools inside, thank goodness, but it still pushed the hitch to its limits). I also hauled my brand new tandem frame home on it--about a 10 mile trip.

Rich
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Old 12-12-06, 03:38 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwoloz
What kind of trailer is that? Or is that just a trail-a-bike minus the seatpost plus some additions

Yes yes -- this is a Burley Piccolo trailer cycle converted into a cargo trailer. I call it the "barely picloco."

I suspect that a proper cargo trailer would perform loads better, carrying the load lower, but this rig does a good job for us.

-Greg
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Old 12-12-06, 11:53 PM   #15
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I have been fixing up a tandem that was given to me and use it quite often to do some quick shopping. We use a trailer to carry things most of the time.
I actually ride it solo to work sometimes also around 10 mile round trip.
Here's a link to my little project if anyone wants to take a quick peek let me know what you think.
http://www.jtgraphics.net/tandem_bike_project.htm
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