Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Grand Prairie, TX
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When you go bar-buying keep in mind that all drop bars are not measured the same: some are measured center-to-center, and some are measured outside-to-outside. If you move from a 42 c-t-c to a 44 o-t-o, you may very well have purchased the very same width. Take a tape measure.
Wider bars have slower handling and poorer aerodynamics, and, if you were on bars that were too narrow, better breathing. Lance Armstrong found much better breathing and more power when he moved to 44cms from his narrower bars.
If you are on bars that fit (center of shoulder to center of shoulder is what I remember), I'd stick with them.
When you move from a MTB (tandem or not) to a road tandem you lose almost all of your scrub friction (Bill McCready called this pneumatic trail because for stability the effects were interchangeable: you could interchange a wider and/or stickier tire for a reduction in trail to enhance low-speed stability (?)). A road tandem on moderately-or-smaller sized tires has very little resistance to rotation of the fork once it is moving because while there is sufficient traction, there's almost no resistance to rotation of the fork, particularly in comparison with an MTB with knobby tires on a surface that allows the knobs to bite. You can demonstrate this by leaning the bike left/right and watching the fork turn in response to the lean. You can get a persistent wobble just from reduced scrub friction and/or increased trail. This goes away after you get used to it, though your stoker might also have to hold a more consistent (narrowly defined) position.
A constant small wobble suggests a need for the captain to rewrite his handling/pedaling software for the tandem, and an intermittent wobble/dive left or right suggests a need for more care on the part of the stoker or the captain to hold a more constantly consistent center-of-gravity position relative to the centerline of the bike, including normal pedaling motion.
Anybody who thinks stoking is not skilled labor has not experienced the difference between a good stoker and a not-so-good one. Tandeming is a team sport, and what the stoker does, does affect the handling.