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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 06-21-07, 12:23 AM   #1
pocky
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Coordinating starting and stopping

Am I crazy in feeling that it's far, far easier for us to coordinate starting and stopping as if we were both on single bikes, just mounting with frame tilted and left foot touching down, then hopping up on the lifted right pedal simultaneously, as opposed to the "stoker mounts fully, captain braces bike and then hops on and stoker pedals like hell" method that everyone else seems to favor? I can understand how that method would be vital with a tiny stoker who can't touch down at all, but with our nice-fitting frame, treating this process like a synchronized swim team of two single bikes seems far more intuitive.

This past weekend was only our third tandem ride ever (and our first on the Burley), but this starting/stopping method seems to be becoming second nature to us. Is there any reason we should even re-attempt the other method?
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Old 06-21-07, 12:27 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by pocky
. Is there any reason we should even re-attempt the other method?
No.

If it works for you, why change it? Enjoy the ride and forget what everyone else does.
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Old 06-21-07, 06:21 AM   #3
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Actually it's good to be familiar with the "traditional" method because you may find it easier at stop lights. My wife stays seated at stoplights and I put a foot down. That way when the light turns green, she is ready to provide full power to scoot us away. Other than that, the only reason for the traditional method is it is timing insensitive. For example if you ever give rides to visitors around the house, being comfortable supporting the stoker and starting will make a visitor much more comfortable that they aren't going to get a side scraped off on the driveway.

Sheldon
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Old 06-21-07, 07:36 AM   #4
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If it works for you all the time, keep starting as you've done, but we find it more stable to let the stoker get clipped and ready to go. It actually seems like less coordination, and less liklihood of a mistake by either rider that could cause and embarrasing low speed fall.

As for the stoker "pedaling like hell" to get started, it's not necessary. If you're in the right gear, a couple of gentle pedal revolutions is all that are necessary for the captain to get clipped in and ready to roll. It's actually harder for the captain to clip in if the stoker is pedaling like mad from a stop.

The only real secret to tandeming is that you've got to work as a team on every aspect, including starting and stopping. Once you've learned to work together, it's all relatively easy.

Have fun and enjoy your new bike.
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Old 06-21-07, 07:44 AM   #5
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Stoker Lisa rarely unclips at stoplights. I just unclip and support both of us. Often, if we are adjacent to a curb, I unclip on the right, lean right and stand with my right foot on the curb.

On a couple of occasions, Lisa has unintentionally leaned the wrong way and we almost went down. That is the only real downside of stoker staying clipped in.
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Old 06-21-07, 08:16 AM   #6
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Use whatever method works best for you. There are plenty teams that use the "proper method" (stoker stays clipped in), but just as many do not. When we first started, we tried both methods. The "proper method" was awkward, unstable & sluggish for us, so we ditched it quick. Since then, we've logged tens of thousands of miles using the "single bike method". Occassionally, we use the "proper method" just for grins, and are quickly reminded why we don't like it.
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Old 06-21-07, 10:10 AM   #7
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My wife and I started tandeming in '82 and were self-taught which led, of course, to both of us being unclipped at stops. We ride quite a bit and are almost telepathic when we ride and rarely have problems with anything, whether it be stopping and starting, standing cornering, etc, so I doubt we are going to change now.

So, anyway, we were at the Midwest Tandem Rally a few years ago and were stopped at an intersection when I overheard a stoker tell the captain "Look, Honey, they must be just learning. She's not clipped in." We just glided effortlessly away when the light turned green and I whispered to my wife, "Maybe we'll figure this tandem riding thing out some day."
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Old 06-21-07, 03:12 PM   #8
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As a stoker, I use both methods, depending on how the seat
is sitting at that point in the ride. Just sitting on the seat,
at rest, for several minutes can be somewhat uncomfortable,
so if the stop is more than 30 sec or so I will usually dismount
and then we practice synchronized starts. The usual takeoff
is with stoker clipped in and captain holding the bike steady.
One other factor is how fast you can clip in. Some pedals
are fast on the clipin, others prone to fumbling around.
Simultaneous fumbling can result in some erratic riding til power
finally develops.
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Old 06-21-07, 05:03 PM   #9
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My wife and I have only had our tandem for a year, but right from the start we found it much easier to start as we do on our singles. Since we are a tall team maybe this has something to do with it. A friend of mine who has ridden Paris-Brest a couple of times with his wife on their tandem says that a lot of the European teams also start and stop as they would on their singles with the stoker not clipped in. I guess it is what works best for individual teams.
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Old 06-21-07, 05:11 PM   #10
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Not crazy

My husband and I are nearly the same size - not big... we never could manage the stoker locked in start method although that was the one we were "taught". I think that if both riders are very similar (height) and weight - it is easiest to do synchronized starts. When I think about it, the only tandem teams that we have seen have had much smaller stokers than pilots -- perhaps that is why the "normal' way to start/stop is stoker up. Since I am the stoker, I also appreciate getting a chance, when we do have to stop, to be able to step down.
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Old 06-21-07, 05:28 PM   #11
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As usual, all great points and counter points. However, if you want to put the pedals out of phase, I think you will have to start with the stoker cleated in or risk your shins.
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Old 06-21-07, 08:24 PM   #12
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Since my stokers weigh 50-60 lb and I weigh three times more, they clip in, then I start the tandem. Same for stops.

One advantage of the stoker-clipped-in approach: I tend to put on the ground the foot which happens to be on the lowest pedal... which means it's never the same. If all of us were to put a foot down, co-ordination might be a bit difficult.
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Old 06-21-07, 11:03 PM   #13
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There is no 'wrong way'.
However for us, stoker clips in and stays clipped in at stops/trafic lights. Been doing it that way for 32+ years.
Do what you prefer/like!
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Old 06-22-07, 05:49 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stokessd
Actually it's good to be familiar with the "traditional" method because you may find it easier at stop lights. My wife stays seated at stoplights and I put a foot down. That way when the light turns green, she is ready to provide full power to scoot us away. Other than that, the only reason for the traditional method is it is timing insensitive. For example if you ever give rides to visitors around the house, being comfortable supporting the stoker and starting will make a visitor much more comfortable that they aren't going to get a side scraped off on the driveway.

Sheldon
+1

Also, if you have to take off up hill, like when having to momentarily stop in the middle of a steep climb, having the stoker clipped in and ready to provide power helps a lot.
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Old 06-22-07, 09:54 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pocky
Am I crazy in feeling that it's far, far easier for us to coordinate starting and stopping as if we were both on single bikes, just mounting with frame tilted and left foot touching down, then hopping up on the lifted right pedal simultaneously, as opposed to the "stoker mounts fully, captain braces bike and then hops on and stoker pedals like hell" method that everyone else seems to favor? I can understand how that method would be vital with a tiny stoker who can't touch down at all, but with our nice-fitting frame, treating this process like a synchronized swim team of two single bikes seems far more intuitive.

This past weekend was only our third tandem ride ever (and our first on the Burley), but this starting/stopping method seems to be becoming second nature to us. Is there any reason we should even re-attempt the other method?
I used the two feet down, lean the bike method from when I built my first tandem 45 years ago, up until maybe three or for years ago, when we converted to "The Proper Method" (stoker clips in while stopped.)

I can't say my wife and I found any real benefit in the switch, but my wife is a highly skilled, very strong rider and we coordinated well together.

Actually I got into "The Proper Method" when our then-young kids rode on our kidback tandems...there's really no other option with a kidback.

Sheldon "Both Ways" Brown

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Old 06-22-07, 02:06 PM   #16
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Thanks for the advice, everyone! Good to know there's lots of ideas about going "both ways".

I'm starting on my way down to South Carolina today to get married in Greenville on July 1st. I'm road-tripping down alone with the tandem as my companion on the trunk rack, 'cause Liane has to teach Sunday and is flying in by herself on Monday. We're taking a pre-honeymoon in Asheville (during which we were planning to ride the tandem around the Biltmore), and then another one in Charleston after the wedding--any recommendations for rides in either of those places? We're taking a third in the winter in Australia (been engaged for 5 years, we might as well blow the vacation budget out now), but I don't know about lugging the tandem around there... Maybe I should start a new thread.


P.S.: I especially appreciate your advice, Sheldon. (It's Dan/pocky from MIT, the Scaphio to your Paramount in "Utopia, Ltd." Professional opera singer now, and so's the fiance: she and I met while working together at an opera company in North Carolina!)
Hope all is going better with your health. Good wishes! -Dan
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Old 06-27-07, 11:00 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pocky
P.S.: I especially appreciate your advice, Sheldon. (It's Dan/pocky from MIT, the Scaphio to your Paramount in "Utopia, Ltd." Professional opera singer now, and so's the fiance: she and I met while working together at an opera company in North Carolina!)
Hope all is going better with your health. Good wishes! -Dan
Nice to hear from you, and glad that M.I.T. has prepared you well for your chosen career! ;-)

It was a great pleasure to share the stage with your Scaphio. Did you see MITGASP's recent Princess Ida? Rob Morrison was hilarious as one of the brothers! Even better than his Phantis.

Drop me an email (captbike@sheldonbrown.com) if you would like MP3s of that show...I made them from Opus's video. Unfortunately I was not in good voice that night, so you'll need to put up with my lousy intonation...

Tova is now a grad student at M.I.T. (mathematics) having graduated from U.C. Santa Cruz last year. It's SO nice to have her back near home (we're only a dozen miles from M.I.T.)

I can't appear on stage anymore, due to my illness, but I do go in to M.I.T. once a month for the group that gets together to sing sea chanteys, so my pipes still get some exercise. I'm also planning to take part in the upcoming Iolanthe sing-through...

Congratulations on the imminent nuptials!

All the best,

Sheldon
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Old 06-27-07, 02:04 PM   #18
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Congrats on upcoming nuptials!
Pre-honeymoon? Honeymoon? Post-honeymoon?
We're still on our 1st honeymoon . . . 52 years after the wedding!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 06-28-07, 08:26 AM   #19
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Interesting thoughts.

We read the manuals and the stoker stays clipped in, which works well for us as we tend to take different amounts of time to clip in. That said I have a super stoker and she has saved us from falling a couple of times when I've slipped or stumbled by unclipping.
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