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  1. #1
    Censorship Stinks! pcsanity1's Avatar
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    First Time on a Tandem

    A friend of ours in our cycling club is going to let my wife and I try her tandem road bike tomorrow after the club ride.

    I was just wondering if you have any words of advice / caution for a single bike rider who is going at it for the first time on a tandem.

    My wife is not currently a rider at all, so this will be her first experience. I of course will be clipped in, but we are just putting platform peddals on for her.

    Mainly I am looking for cautionary suggestions on the differences in handling the bike. (Of course we are not going to do any long / hard riding - I will just have finished an 80 mile ride. single.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Oh God, He's back! 1oldRoadie's Avatar
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    Use their Captain to ride your wife first!!!!!!!

    Then you ride the tandem alone for a couple of miles.

    Then you two can decide if you want to try riding together.

    Good Luck

    terry
    I can't ride and Frown!

  3. #3
    Veni, Vidi, Vomiti SteveE's Avatar
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    I'll second what 1oldRoadie said about having your friend captain the tandem for your wife.

    However, instead of you riding solo on the tandem for a few miles, it would be better for you to be captain with your friend as an experienced stoker before taking your wife out. You'll get a better feel for how the tandem handles with the stoker on board and the stoker can teach you (and you can practice) the things you need to know to be a good captain.
    "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ...'holy *****...what a ride!'"

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    I think pcsanity has the ticket. I'd not ride the tandem as a solo captain. I do it some on ours while I'm tinkering and adding new "toys" but, it sure feels squirly not having the anchor of the stoker.

  5. #5
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Riding on the back of a tandem is a very unnatural experience for a cyclist and even a non-cyclist. Anyone who plans on "captaining" a tandem NEEDS to take a spin on the second seat as stoker behind -- ideally -- an experienced captain before taking over the "helm" with whoever it is they intend to ride with as their regular stoker. This gives the prospective captain a great deal of appreciation for what their stoker will be experiencing and it WILL alter how you think about what you're doing on the front of the tandem. Moreover, it will also reaffirm how important communication is with regard to establishing your stoker's trust in your piloting abilties.

    As others have suggested, if the person loaning you the tandem is an experienced captain then by all means see if he'll take your partner out for a ride, during which time he can instruct her on what to expect and how to coach you when you take over the helm. Also, if he's willing, ask if he'll take a spin on the tandem with you as captain so that he can critique your skills. Keep in mind, riding a tandem with a larger stoker (height more than anything) is much more challenging vs ones of smaller and shorter stature.

    Back to you and yours.... I can't over emphasize that the keys to success for tandem teams are building trust and learning to work as a team. I've always maintained that riding a tandem is very much like ballroom dancing. Someone has to lead and someone has to follow but both need to compromise a bit to dance well together. "Negotiating" those compromises requires a lot of verbal communication with both riders taking turns being in transmit and receive mode.

    Also, never forget that when you captain a tandem you are asking your partner to give up all control and to place their trust in you for your collective safety and comfort. Therefore, you'll want to tell them what you are doing before you are doing it throughout the first couple of rides, i.e., shifting, bump, left turn, stopping, etc... At the same time, you need to be attentive to what they are saying, what they aren't saying (dead silence is not a good thing) or what you're feeling from them through the bike. All the while you'll also have to work through compromises on pedalling cadence and riding style, particularly if you are both active cyclists. In fact, in some cases captains who take on non-cyclist stokers have an advantage in that the stoker's haven't developed a riding style or tempo.

    Well, I could ramble on but you get the gist of my comments. As for some of the other fine points here are links to some additional articles that you might want to read before tomorrow...

    http://www.gtgtandems.com/tech/newriders.html

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tandem.html

    http://www.gtgtandems.com/tech/propmethod.html

    Some of the content is redundant, but if nothing else it should reinforce the notion that certain methods have proven themselves to be better than others.

    There is quite a bit more available on the Web with regard to tandems and most of it is linked off of my Web site: http://www.TheTandemLink.com

    The "first time tandem team" information begins at this link:
    http://home.att.net/~thetandemlink/tandems.html

    Last bit of advice.... have "fun" on your first ride(s). You learn more by taking it easy, discussing what you're both feeling and working through your differences than you can by going hard at it from the get-go.
    Last edited by livngood; 06-27-03 at 04:05 PM.

  6. #6
    Oh God, He's back! 1oldRoadie's Avatar
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    And the most important thing of all!!!!!!!!

    REMEMBER your Lady has to put full trust in you... and man, I mean full. If you testosterone out, that will be the LAST ride she will ever make with you...Guaranteed!!

    Make the ride slow and as "chick friendly" as possible. Enjoy the view, smoothly.
    I can't ride and Frown!

  7. #7
    Censorship Stinks! pcsanity1's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the great feedback.

    Now I am excited and challenged at the same time.

    I will let you guys know how it goes.

    I think the most important thing to remember is she is not used to speed and high cadence on a bike.

  8. #8
    Senior Member trmcgeehan's Avatar
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    Pay attention to your tandem tires. A lawyer in our town set out with his wife on a tandem. They weren't 200 yards out of their driveway, and on a downhill, when the rear tire blew. They crashed, and the wife broke her pelvis. Seems like the lawyer way overinflated the tire, and didn't check the pressure. She's a lawyer too, but I don't think she's going to sue him.
    "I am a true laborer. I earn that I eat, get that I wear, owe no man hate, envy no man's happiness, glad of other men's good, content with my harm." As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 2. Shakespeare.
    "Deep down, I'm pretty superficial." Ava Gardner.

  9. #9
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    Is it wise to do your first tandem ride on clipless pedals? There are so many fail to unclip falls with riders using new types of bike. If your wife decides to dismount on the "wrong" side, you could find yourself clipped in and tipping over.
    Until your stoker is competant, I would ride the first few times with platforms.

  10. #10
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Originally posted by trmcgeehan
    Pay attention to your tandem tires. A lawyer in our town set out with his wife on a tandem. They weren't 200 yards out of their driveway, and on a downhill, when the rear tire blew. They crashed, and the wife broke her pelvis. Seems like the lawyer way overinflated the tire, and didn't check the pressure.
    Well thank goodness nothing like this could ever happen on a bike designed for only one rider....

    No offense, but you brought up this exact same comment regarding tandems on March 21st on the "rotating tires" thread. I'm still not quite sure of its context here although I'm assuming the point of your post is to reinforce the fact that when captaining a tandem you are now almost 100% responsible for the safety and well-being of whoever is riding on the back of the tandem with you.

    With regard to tires and equipment, it goes without saying that being attentive to your equipment choices and proper maintenance should take into consideration the greater physical demands placed on tandems and their components by the additional weight and forces that added weight generates.

    There are some other "words to live by" elsewhere in this forum regarding tires, braking, etc... that may also be of interest:
    close call!

    With regard to the "rotating tires" thread:
    Rotating Tires
    About 1/3 down the 1st page you'll find this crash story and several posts later you'll find my reply which was and still is:

    Originally posted by trmcgeehan
    Regarding tires on a tandem, a local couple crashed hard several years ago when they inflated the tires before an outing and didn't bother to check the pressure with a guage. The tires were over-inflated. Only a quarter mile out, they were going down a steep hill when the rear tire blew out. They crashed, and the woman broke her pelvis. She was in training to run her first 26 mile marathon, but due to the severity of her injuries, had to scrap her running plans. Check the pressure! Don't guess!
    Sorry, but I'd have to disagree with the assessment that over-inflation caused this blow-out. What is more likely are one of the following scenarios:

    1. The rear tire was recently replaced and the tube wasn't installed properly and pinched between the rim bead and the rim which lead to the blow-out.
    2. The tire was old and the cloth rim bead -- usually on a wire bead model -- tore which allowed the tube to "escape" from the tire casing and blow out.
    3. They ran over something large and sharp that resulted in a blow out.
    4. The captain was riding the rear brake on all the way down the hill to control their speed and overheated the rim to the point where either the tire softened up enough to become unseated as the tire pressure increased from the heating and then was pinched as it lifted the tire bead (see 1, above) OR failed inside the tire/rim as the air in the tube expanded.

    In regard to #4, it usually takes more than a quarter mile for something like this to happen -- which is actually not all that uncommon for inexperienced tandem tandem teams -- which is why I listed it last. If, however, they were a really heavy team and had been descending a very steep hill for about a mile or were travelling at a high rate of speed (> 45mph) and then dragged the brakes for 1/4 mile it's is possible that the rear rim overheated enough to cause the failure.

  11. #11
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Originally posted by MichaelW
    Is it wise to do your first tandem ride on clipless pedals? ..... Until your stoker is competant, I would ride the first few times with platforms.
    Just my .02, but you should always try to test ride bikes with the shoes and pedals that you're most familiar with, i.e., bring and use your own. If you've gone through the FDGB (fall down go boom) stage of first time clipless pedal ownership that most of us have had the displeasure of experiencing clipless pedal entry and exit is now second nature. However, if you haven't ever used clipless pedals I sure as heck wouldn't start using them at the same time I started riding a tandem because you will, in all likelihood, fall over at least once when first learning how to get in and out of clipless pedals.

    The only caveat would be with regard to road-bike racing pedals and Speedplay X-series pedals in particular whose shoe cleats are a bit too slick for the amount of firm footing you require when learning to hold up a tandem with two people on a variety of conditions, road surfaces, etc... In this regard, mountain bike shoes with their lugged soles and recessed cleats are great for new tandem teams and most types of non-competitive tandem riding.

    As for the stoker, my preference is that they have their feet strapped to the pedals with at least toe straps and clips just so that they aren't tempted to "put a foot down". The key to smooth starts and stops on a tandem is to minimize the amount of body movements from both riders. Having a stoker who picks up or drops a leg down to reach the ground simultaneously with the captain merely doubles the amount of movement that you'd ideally want to minimize.

  12. #12
    Censorship Stinks! pcsanity1's Avatar
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    Hmmm, What an experience.

    Though I am sure I would get used to riding a tandem, I think this "test" shows that my wife and I are better off on single bikes.

    The good news after this test is that she wanted to go to the LBS and start window shopping road bikes. She currently does not have one, so this is a big step.

    As for the tandem, I really missed the responsiveness of the acceleration of a single. Additionally, I prefer to ride in the 20-24 mph range, my wife says she would be happier in the 14-16 range. That of course could change after she gets on a single, but I doubt it.

    I felt a bit ackward having to communicate when I had to make small speed adjustments with a coast.

    I used my Look Pedals as the captain and my wife was on platforms since she does not have cycling shoes and does not have any experience with clipless. That being said, I think we would have been better off with clipless on her. I had a hard time keeping my cadence low enough to keep her feet on the platforms. (I usually hace 105 range cadence.)

    (Oh, I did ride solo first, then put the person we borrowed it from (she is usually the stoker) on the back, and tried it before I got on with my wife.

    Thanks for everyones advice, it really helped!

  13. #13
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    Much too late for your first ride but this may help others.
    Number one rule is that the stoker is the most important person on the machine and must be considered above all else.

    First time on the back get the stoker to put there hands onto your hips and not on the bars. Ride like this for some time and then transfer to the bars.

  14. #14
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    Its interesting reading all the posts about the different styles, cadences involved in pedaling. I guess because I am a newbie to road biking my break-in period was easier. My husband is an experienced mountain and road biker and I have confidence in him. I also enoy the fact I don't have to worry about the gears and steering as much. Just sit back, pedal hard, and talk his ear off!!

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