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  1. #1
    Senior Member Bluechip's Avatar
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    What gear am I in?

    My wife and I just started talking about getting a tandem. One question that comes to mind is how does it feel to not know exactly what gear you are in when shifting. Now I occasionally sneek a peek down to see where I am. I would guess that is part of the communication thing with the stoker. Just seems a little strange to me.

  2. #2
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    You can always ask your stoker to tell you what gear you're in... although I guess that's what you inferred by "the communication thing".

    Seriously, there are quite a few "options" for gear position indicators beyond asking your stoker. You can:

    1. If you've ever raced you probably learned how to check for riders on your rear wheel without getting out of your racing tuck by looking under your left or right armpit; just ride in your drops, look under your right armpit and you'll see your entire drivetrain.
    2. Use bar-end shifters which give you a visual cue as to which gear(s) you are in.
    3. Use STI with a FlightDeck computer or Ergo with Ergo Brain computer which display your gear positions on the "dash".
    4. Use STI with Shimano's mechanical, in-line gear position indicators -- a clear plastic sleeve that your derailleur cables & housing run though that uses an orange bead fastened to the cable to indicate your gear position. Very cheap, but quite effective. Available from www.PrecisionTandems.com and a few other places.
    5. Make your own gear position indicators: http://www.thetandemlink.com/LGood/articles/gpis.html

    Or, as you indicated, you can talk to your stoker and ask her to check. If you ever have kids and end up with a triplet it gets even more entertaining since you can teach your child to tell you if the chain is in baby gear, mommy gear or daddy gear. No, no... not us. We discovered tandems well after our kids were too big and too cool to ride bikes.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 07-07-05 at 05:58 AM.

  3. #3
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    There are times I like to know what gear I'm in, and my stoker has come to know when these times are and usually will let me know before I even ask. Typically its only when we are getting down to the last gear or two going up a hill, or when I've blotched up a shift.
    The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. M.L.King

  4. #4
    Licensed Bike Geek Davet's Avatar
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    I've installed gear position indicators for both the chainrings and cogset. This allows me to keep my eyes on the road, rather than looking down between my legs.

  5. #5
    Cycling Anarchist Trsnrtr's Avatar
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    After 20 years of tandeming, I swear that my wife and I read each other's minds. She frequently tells me if what chainring we are in and occasionally which cog. She's saved us several times when approaching a steep grade by reminding me that I'm in the large ring.

    There are a lot of worries by prospective tandem owners/riders, but most are unfounded. Things that seem wierd, like starting, stopping, standing, and gear management all become second nature rapidly. Tandeming is a blast and the technical details are easily overcome!

    Given all that, you can still install a flight deck computer if gearing management is still a concern.

  6. #6
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    After you get more and more saddle time it will be second nature to you to know where you are in the rear cluster. Just a glance down at the chainwheel (if you forget which ring your in), which is pretty easy to see from the captain possition, the speed and cadence will become the "gear indicator" for you.

    I've been cycling for like 10 years now. We've been on our tandem since Aug of last year and I'm guessing it took me about 1000 miles of getting used to our tandem cadence and its gearing to be able to tell.

    Having said that, if and when I need to replace my computer on our tandem I'll get into the flightdeck so I'll not have to use my "natural gear indicator"

  7. #7
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    My wife and I have been tandeming for about 12 years. As the perfect stoker, she is back there working hard and enjoying the scenery. She really is not interested in the technical aspects of the ride, just the ride. So I really don't get help from her with what gear I am in. I suppose I could ask for that, but I don't find that I need it. I worry that it would add stress if I tell her she has to keep track of stuff like that and she may not like riding as much.

    I find myself doing that long look back when we are approaching hills or partway up one. It is always comforting to know "how many gears I have left in the bank". But as we spend more time riding, I do that less and less. That in-line indicator thing sounds interesting though.

    John

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bluechip's Avatar
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    Thanks for all of the info. Sounds like it is not a problem for most but I guess when we start looking I will try to get the flight deck unit. Sounds pretty cool. Does any one know if all ultegra brake/shift levers are flight deck capable or do you have to get them specifically for flight deck?

  9. #9
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Bluechip
    Does any one know if all ultegra brake/shift levers are flight deck capable or do you have to get them specifically for flight deck?
    Yes, they are, going back a few years as well. Campy's Ergo levers also come with the necessary 'holes' for the Ergo Brain connections as far back as '98 (a year or so before the Ergo Brain was actually available).

    More info on Flight Deck:
    http://www.branfordbike.com/computer/comp6.html#item2

    Only downside to having electronic pick-ups in the shift levers seems to be their succeptibility to corrosion when they're used by folks who perspire profusely and who don't wash out the levers after long-hot rides. The salt collects around the contacts and eventually mucks up the signals going to the computer. Again, if folks who sweat a lot flush them out after those epic, hot rides I believe it mitigates future electronics problems.

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