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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 06-14-07, 02:46 PM   #1
todd11
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Whats it like to ride on a tandem bike.

What does it feel like riding a tandem bike I mean having two people controlling the bike.

Last edited by todd11; 06-14-07 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 06-14-07, 03:08 PM   #2
ken cummings
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Most people would say it couldn't happen. One person, call the captain, controls the bike, the other, called the stoker, had no direct control. Given that physical side of it my stoker/wife has plenty of say in where we go just not much say in how. If a stoker tried to force the bike to go some way by throwing their weight around it is a good way to get hurt.
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Old 06-14-07, 03:08 PM   #3
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It feels like a big frosty oasis of pleasure, swirling up from within like a Peppermint Patty for your sole...

Oh, wait you're new here, you probably meant tandem... well if you're the captain it feels like you're pulling a load, and if you're the stoker it feels like you're pushing a load, but at least it's a load you can probably have a nice conversation with.
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Old 06-14-07, 03:26 PM   #4
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It's twice the fun of riding singles!
There is only one person actually steering but 2 people doing the pedalin'!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 06-14-07, 03:45 PM   #5
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It is the sexiest ride on two wheels
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Old 06-14-07, 04:17 PM   #6
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it's like S&M...

the sadist in you gets to inflict pain on the downhills
the masochist in you receives pain on the uphills
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Old 06-14-07, 06:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xanti Andia
It is the sexiest ride on two wheels


The latin perspective but correct.
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Old 06-14-07, 06:53 PM   #8
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Imagine a station wagon with pedals. It's the least responsive bicycle you can imagine. Long, I mean Looonnnnngggg.... It's also a bit like riding a horse. With a single bike, if you shift your weight, your bike responds accordingly, the bike doesn't shift without you. Like riding a horse, there's another living thing on the tandem, and sometimes the other thing moves around. So you are peddling, and the bike moves a bit without you. You don't get to stop peddling whenever you like, and you don't get to shift around on the seat as much. Standing on hills is a bit more tricky, but can be done.

On the plus side, there is a symbiosis between the two riders. You move faster easier as a pair. You can easily talk together all the time. You two become one thing moving through the world. This is huge if the other person is someone you care about, or would like to care about.

Sheldon
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Old 06-15-07, 09:01 AM   #9
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A Ferrari station wagon maybe.
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Old 06-15-07, 09:39 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by stokessd
Like riding a horse, there's another living thing on the tandem, and sometimes the other thing moves around. .......
You two become one thing moving through the world. This is huge if the other person is someone you care about, .

Sheldon
What did I tell you! sexiest thing....
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Old 06-15-07, 12:36 PM   #11
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Great thing for good relationships, terrible thing for bad relationships. Kind of forces togetherness.
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Old 06-15-07, 01:17 PM   #12
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Great thing for good relationships, terrible thing for bad relationships. Kind of forces togetherness.
+1 lol.

I'm currently engaged and one of the semi-tests was whether a tandem would work for us or not. It ended up working great and it's something we both look forward to riding. Problem with tandems is that it also requires cooperation between the two riders' schedules (physiological and time-wise).

The stoker retains a lot of command although the captain does the actual steering and shifting. It is sort of like chess - the Captain is King, the stoker is Queen. You can't play without a King but the Queen is a mighty powerful force on the board.

cdr
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Old 06-15-07, 03:39 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing
You can't play without a King but the Queen is a mighty powerful force on the board.

cdr
Good one.
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Old 06-16-07, 08:09 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by todd11
What does it feel like riding a tandem bike I mean having two people controlling the bike.
The enthusiast's perspective: It's analogous to moving up from a two-seat roadster to a 2+2 sports convertible: longer wheelbase, higher gross weight, usually with a bigger engine and backseat passengers = twice as much fun. Or, if you prefer, moving up from a 600c sportbike to a 1300cc GT / Sport Touring motorcycle: again, longer wheelbase, more weight, and a bigger powerplant to even things out + someone to share the experience with. Seriously though, they do handle differently because of the longer wheelbase and weight but it has its plusses and minusses: most of them plusses if you truly enjoy being with your riding partner. Early unsteadiness from stoker movements and what not usually work themselves out as you develop a more unified pedalling movement.

Once you become accustomed to riding a tandem, the handling differences just become assimilated into your cycling experience and otherwise second nature, although jumping back on a single bike after a prolonged period of time doing tandem-only can find you pulling unintentionally wheelies when you power-up and skidding the rear wheel with the nearly useless rear brake on your single bike. For folks who ride aggressively, if you happen to buy a tandem with conservative geometry and have been riding your single bike exclusively for a while you may find that your tandem doesn't want to "turn" as smartly diving into curves at higher speeds once you get back on it... as one friend recently discovered and related.


The contrarian's perspective: Yeah, my wife talked me into one and it was awful. They handle like trucks, you end up doing all the work while they complain and when you finally get to the top of a hill and can actually get some benefit from all that dead weight on the descent you discover that you've unintentionally fitted your tandem with a "nag-brake" who keeps telling you to slow down. No thanks. Do yourself a favor and use the money to buy yourself a better bike and tell your wife to hit the health club if she wants to get in shape. As for quality time, why do you think I took up cycling in the first place... so I could get some quality "alone" time.

-------------------

Bonus Feature for First Timers: The Joy of Tandems...

Let me state right up front that before having any discussion about first time tandeming we talk about protection: you really want to make sure you have helmets and know how to properly put on and fit helmets before engaging in tandeming. While accidents aren't usually serious, some can leave legacies that last a lifetime.

OK, movin' on...

First time tandeming can be a bit awkward for many couples. "Almost every couple will feel nervous about it and it's really common for stokers to find it more unsettling and uncomfortable the first time they try it. Being in a good relationship will go along way towards making the stoker happy and comfortable their first time out, but it won't eliminate the anxiety (whether or not they will admit it). IMHO, tandeming is much better when both people are relaxed and can trust each other. So, talk to your riding partner about their feelings and if you're not sure there's enough trust or confidence there then you can either wait a bit and work on developing that trust or press ahead but go easy the first time."

Now, in a perfect world all couples would be able to get sound advise and instruction on proper tandem technique before trying themselves, perhaps even having some first hand experience with a more experience tandem surrogate, if you will, who could demonstrate how a good tandem partner should perform their respective duties during the ride. This way, once the couple saddles up for the first time, it really isn't their first time and much of the awkwardness is eliminated.

Now, it's fair to say that not all couples will really enjoy tandeming, either first time or at all... ever. This is where communication, openness and a good relationship become essential. It's been said many times and it's true: hoping onto a tandem will accelerate the course of a relationship faster than a jetpack and that can be good or it can be. While many experienced couples who ride tandems will relate that tandeming is a "deeply moving emotional experience in which two people bond in a profound and lasting way", it's simply not true for everyone. "Don't get me wrong-- this does happen, but only if you were in a satisfying, close relationship" before you started tandeming. "Tandeming doesn't create anything that wasn't already there. It won't solve any communication problems, and it won't make you fall in love with anyone (or make them fall in love with you). If you are tempted take up tandems in order to improve a faltering relationship, STOP. It won't help, and could make things worse."

Well, there you go... that's the real inside track on first time tandems. There is obviously a lot more that we can discuss about good tandeming vs. bad tandeming and how tandeming can improve and become more varied once a couple decides they're ready for something other than the same old loop or club ride routine. So, look for future installments dealing with:

- Taking it to the next level: rough and tumble tandeming.
- Adding Tandem Toys to your routine: Do Heart Rate Monitors & Computers help or simpy distract?
- Group Tandeming: Tandeming with other couples, tandem clubs, tandem rallies, and swapping stokers.
- Off-Road Tandeming: Getting back to nature and doing it in the woods.
- Same sex tandeming: Why it's cool to watch a couple gals riding a tandem but seeing two guys doing it gives us the hee-bee-gee-bees.

------------------------

Quoted material and other passages were lifted from various sources and "tweaked" a bit. I've got an imagination and can write, but sometimes others can provide better words that more richly convey the sentiment and, YES, the parallels between tandeming and sex are rather profound. I believe it has something to do with both partners sitting on very sensitive erogenous zones while engaged in a rigorous, synchronized physical activity where all types of hormones get fired up. Thus, things like riding out of phase, riding on a semi- or fully recumbent bike rob much of the sensuality of the tandeming experience... as does having a partner who simply can't keep up. Hmmm... I think I need to go find my wife: a feel a little afternoon delight coming on.

Last edited by TandemGeek; 06-16-07 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 06-16-07, 09:23 AM   #15
djsincla
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Quote:
Originally Posted by todd11
What does it feel like riding a tandem bike I mean having two people controlling the bike.
Stoker's responsibility is to pedal, balance and move my right pedal to the 2PM position when stopped. Certainly not controlling the bike. Riding together is fantastic.
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Old 06-16-07, 12:27 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by todd11
What does it feel like riding a tandem bike I mean having two people controlling the bike.
We raised three daughters and they all spent many many hours as the Stoker on our Tandems.
Having Captained with all four members of the tribe (wife and three daughters), I'll describe the
experience like this:

With two of them, it is simply a joyfull poetry in motion. Tons of power, smooth ride due to loooong wheelbase, inspiring to all the single bike riders we met along the way.

With the other two, it was the Keystone Cops on a bike. Wibbley, wobbley, non fluid motion, exhaustive.....The type of experience that would cause me to sell the tandems. Both of these Stokers are the type of rider who is herky jerky and unstable on a single bike, and a little bit....well.....don't take directions well.


As a Captain I always thanked and complimented all four for the great rides, but it's no surprise to me that two of them have gravitated towards bikes and two are couch potatoes.

I'm no expert in this matter, but my personal experience leads me to believe that most co-ordinated
couples will have a blast on a tandem, and be a power to be reconned with out on the road. Try some out before you buy. There are many Tandem clubs across the country. Try to find a couple of teams willing to take the two of you out together as Stokers to teach and allow you to experience the world from a tandem. Be sure to post pics of your new ride once you're hooked.
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Old 07-07-07, 02:27 AM   #17
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A tandem is one of the few ways two people of unequal strength can do something physical together without the strength delta being a problem. No matter how hard you pedal the other's always right there. Santana's folks told me 2/3 of their customers comprise an eager beaver + a less hotshot mate. So my wife & I are in the majority there.

However, a tandem tests a relationship. As some other posters have noted, an untrusting stoker will make the rig wobble constantly as they squirrel around trying to see past you and panicking at every little thing. A great stoker--like my wife--becomes one with you and the bike. So even though she's no powerhouse, riding with her is a joy--which I'm reminded of every time I take out someone else.

Big point: you the captain are located midway between the axles. Your stoker is over the rear wheel. So bumps you don't notice whack her in the butt. She then says Ouch! You then think "wimp." She then thinks "jerk." So you have to pay far more attention to bumps than on a single, where you can loft the wheel over bumps and potholes. On a tandem, if you can't avoid a bump/trough you have to anticipate it far enough ahead to say "stand" so you can both ride over it comfortably. So you have to be more attentive and intersubjective. However, if you and your stoker pass this test for both of you, it will confirm your relationship in a fundamental way, and you'll share a certain quiet smugness whenever you hear someone say "I'd never ride a tandem--no way!" They don't know what they're missing. The only other thing that's so bonding is scuba diving--which we also do, and which also requires you to put your lives in each other's hands--literally.
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