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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 06-27-07, 06:45 AM   #1
Mike45
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stoker cadence question

My wife (stoker) and I have a great disparity in our cadence comfort zone. If I get anywhere near 85 she starts to complain about bouncing in the saddle and calls for a shift or just stops pedalling. I do my best to pedal slower but sometimes I just need to spin.

Does anyone have any advice on how to get her more comfortable at a faster cadence?

Thanks
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Old 06-27-07, 07:25 AM   #2
lhbernhardt
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Longer cranks in front; shorter cranks in rear. Smaller radius is easier to spin. Also, check stoker's position. On a fixed gear, bouncing means saddle height is not right.

Be patient; it takes time to develop a nice spin. Thousands of kilometers.

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Old 06-27-07, 07:25 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike45
Does anyone have any advice on how to get her more comfortable at a faster cadence?
The solution here is compromise, which involves both of you. Oddly enough we both spin faster on our singles (same crank lengths on the tandem as our singles), but my stoker likes to keep cadence to the mid-80s -- faster is simply uncomfortable. While I prefer mid-90s, compromise means we can ride together. You are not the first to bring this up (I've read this at least 50 times over the past year on various web sites), and you won't be the last.
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Old 06-27-07, 07:25 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike45
Does anyone have any advice on how to get her more comfortable at a faster cadence?
1. Check her seat height and set-back and make sure they're spot-on. Too high or too low, to far forward or too far aft can all contribute to bouncing.

2. Be patient, compromise, and help your stoker work up to the higher cadence levels. Forcing the issue won't get it.

3. If the aforementioned steps don't mitigate the bouncing / discomfort you might consider fitting a set of shorter cranks for your stoker, e.g., 165mm if she's riding 170mm. Shorter cranks reduce the circumference of the pedal circle making it easier for stokers to keep up captains who like to spin at a higher cadence.
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Old 06-27-07, 07:36 AM   #5
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I think you're experiencing a pretty common problem, especially with stokers who aren't necessarily strong or experience riders when they start tandeming. When we started riding the tandem, I figured out pretty quickly that my wife and I preferred different cadences, and since the captain's job is to keep the stoker happy and comfortable at all times, I did my best to keep the cadence at something she could live with. In terms of compromise, however, I concentrated on keeping it at the upper threshold of her comfort zone (which happened to be just a few revolutions below mine) most of the time. I say most of the time, because I was able to throw in a few cheats every ride and inch it slightly above her zone for short periods without her saying anything.

Over time, as her comfort with riding the tandem increased, so did her cadence. I can now time my shifts to keep us between 92 & 98 rpm, with occasional jaunts into the 105 range without causing her any discomfort. By now she has learned that we can go further with less energy used by staying in the middle chain ring and spinning than by mashing a higher gear at a lower cadence.

Another thing you might think about is whether her cranks are the right size. If she's pretty short, you might want to go to 165mm cranks. I think 170's are pretty common for the stoker on most tandems.

Give her time and be patient. If she's as good a stoker as my wife, she'll catch up pretty quickly.

Last edited by twilkins9076; 06-27-07 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 06-27-07, 01:43 PM   #6
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Tandem riding is a compromise- for both of you. At least it is at first. One rule is that the stoker dictates the pace- effort and cadence. I have recently taken on board a new stoker- and a new role for me as Pilot. With my regular pilot- we have a cadence of 95 to 100 and as we rode the Tandem so much- this transferred to our solos. However- with the new stoker- he likes it at around 75- Or at least he used to. In just 3 rides- this has risen to 85- or dropped for me to that level- and we are both comfortable. I would like to go a bit faster- but a few more rides and we will be back to somewhere near the level I prefer.

In the meantime- the new team's speed is somewhere near what it used to be with the regular pilot- Effort going in on the ride is about the same and we are now back to leaving the solos for dead.
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Old 06-27-07, 01:56 PM   #7
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Patience/compromise = tandemteam!
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Old 06-27-07, 02:31 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the help.

I have been compromising. Making her comfortable is always the first order of business.

I probably won't change the crank lengths but I will keep it mind if things don't work out with time. Right now I just think of it as a power workout for my legs.
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Old 06-27-07, 03:15 PM   #9
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Explain to her why faster cadences are better. Then assuming all the bike fit issues are addressed, do some fast pedal intervals with her. Very light gear at 110-120 rpm. Start out at a minute and work up to 8 minutes.

They'll feel really bouncy at first, but once you can do a set of 5x8, spinning 90 rpms feels like a liesurely stroll.
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