Originally posted by dread
What is the proper way to stop a tandem?... Is there more than one method? And if so, is one better than the other?
The proper way is the way that works best for you. Yes, there are quite a few ways to stop a tandem, including the FDGB method. In theory, "The Proper Method" is a more controlled and predictable way to start and stop a tandem and it reinforces the basics of good tandem team skills: Teamwork, Communication and Predictability. However, if a team finds it uncomfortable or awkward than it's certainly not better for them.
FDGB = Fall Down Go Boom.
The key to acheiving and maintaining balance and control on a slow moving tandem, i.e., while starting and stopping, is minimizing unnecessary movement on the bike.
Let me digress into tandem philosophy for a moment: The constant theme you'll find in replies to questions on tandem riding techniques will always come back to a few basic things: Teamwork, Communication and Predictability. As you can imagine, these things all take practice to achieve for all but a very few gifted teams. However, once achieved they all equal up to confidence in each other's abilities or, more simply put, mutual Trust. Once a team has trust in each they tend to be more relaxed and comfortable on the tandem and that's when teams can really begin to refine their riding techniques and acquire grace and smoothness in their riding style. You don't have to achieve grace and smoothness to have a good time on a tandem, but the more you do you'll find it makes you a more efficient team. Enough philosophy...
Whether intentional or not, the title of your thread implies that you have probably read articles regarding Bill McCready's "The Proper Method" (TPM) for stopping and starting: http://www.gtgtandems.com/tech/propmethod.html.
While Bill didn't invent TPM, he has certainly done more to ensure the technique is widely used by requiring his Santana dealers to teach the method to all their customers as part of his Certified Test Rider Center program. As best I can tell, no one else has ever taken the time or done as much to fully describe and teach alternative methods.
I like TPM because it reinforces the tandem basics -- Teamwork, Communication and Predictability -- during the two most challenging events that occur in an otherwise uneventful tandem ride; the start and stop. Quite simply, by having the stoker firmly settled in the seat with no reason to shift their weight around a team eliminates half of movements that can make starting or stopping a tandem a challenge. As teams practice TPM they reinforce the basics each time they start and stop. For tandem captains who ride with a variety of different or "guest stokers" (aka. stoker tramps), TPM reduces the learning curve for stopping and starting to a short conversation before the first crank is turned that goes something like this: "I'll get on the tandem first and hold it steady and then you climb on and clip-in both feet. Don't clip-out either foot until it's time to stop and get off the tandem. We'll stand and coast about every 15 minutes so we can both stretch our legs and give our butts a break. Any questions?"
Now, even if you don't use TPM -- and there are certainly some reasons not to -- at least strive to develop a technique for your team that you can fine tune into a repeatable, synchronized process that minimizes unnecessary body movements as you start and stop. That's all there is to starting and stopping as well as climbing and just about anything else you do on a tandem. As a team, decide before hand what techniques you'll use during your rides, agree on who says what to whom and when so that you move in-sync, and then just do it. Critique yourselves often and adjust your technique until you're satisfied then practice, practice, practice. Watch how other teams ride and try to adopt the things that work well for them and make sure you're not doing some of the things that make them look awkward. Over time, as your technique continues to improve and becomes old hat you'll find the verbal cues and commands are replaced by predictability and instinctive actions that are the hallmark of seasoned tandem teams. It is not at all unusual to hear tandem teams who have been riding together for some time say things like "we communicate through the pedals", "I just kind of know when he's going to shift" or "when he stands I stand".
The Bottom Line: Stick to the basics and you'll do fine. Ultimately, whether you putting your right foot or left foot down, how far before a stop you remove your foot from the pedal, how far you ride from a start before clipping in your foot are things that are neither right nor wrong so long as they work for you.
Note: This is something I wrote in reply to a question on another list several years ago. However, I thought it might be of interest.