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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 11-04-07, 04:53 PM   #1
gosmsgo
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Tandem Communication?

Hi all,

I am searching the forums before posting so many times!!

Anyway, my wife and I just went for our first tandem ride with a loaner from the LBS. I would say things like, "slowing down" or "coasting" or "stopping" as we rode.

IS that the normal thing to do? How you you captains and stokers communicate during the ride so you know when to start and stop pedaling?

Thank you
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Old 11-04-07, 05:11 PM   #2
sch
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Communication is always a good idea, such things as bumps in road, unavoidable holes
for which "stand" is the watchword, shifting chainrings up or down and synchronizing effort
when starting are facilitated by communication. Stoker might also want to chime in when
pilot fails to down shift fast enough on a hill or keeps the torque higher than desirable or
rarely if cadence is too high. Some stokers may take exception to downhill speed and
communication at higher wind noise can be a problem. Pounding on the pilots back may
suffice. When I want to stop pedaling, after riding together for the past year, I now just
put a little back pressure on the pedals as a signal, and then a little forward pressure on
the pedals to signal readiness to pedal again. This mostly occurs when crotch burning
mandates a short bit of standing on longer rides. It takes a few hundred miles to establish
what each riders tolerances and needs are. On our first rides the pilot would pedal all the
time, up hill and down with cadences in the 70-80 range. Now we coast much of the time
when down hill speeds hit 30mph and I can stand up and ease the crotch. Our cadence is also a much nicer 85-100 rpm. Pilot says 'stand'
when we come to short hills and I know that in two turns of the pedal he will rise up and
we usually synchronise quite well. For that matter if you are riding with other cyclists
announcing 'slowing' or 'standing' is a good idea as the bike will always slow a bit when you
stand up. Shifting under high torque can be chancy, so the stoker should understand on
hills that an announcement of shifting (esp CW) means to back off a little til the shift is
complete. Pilot will also learn early that when coming to a stop cognizance of what gear you are in and what gear you will need to start back up means down
shifting while coasting toward a stop, so tell stoker 'shifting' when doing so as
stoker is not always aware of immediately ahead road conditions.
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Old 11-04-07, 06:40 PM   #3
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+1

some of our common phrases (can come from either rider):
standing (just standing, not standing and pedaling as we don't do that yet)
can you/I need to shift
I need to coast
it's been 5-10 minutes, need to stand?
i'm blowing up
my foot/calf/quad/hamstring is cramping

stoker specific:
ouch
signaling (a turn)
brakes?
can you shift into a higher/lower gear

captain specific:
descent/hill/curve/etc coming up
are we in the middle ring?
shifting
right/left turn
hole
bump
cadence is 100, is it ok?
"my back... can you itch ... up up left left ah" - the benefit of being in front.

You can say quite a lot in a short time if you need to. Comfort (gearing and standing/sitting) is most often mentioned since it occurs frequently but speed (i.e. going too fast or drafting a vehicle too closely) is the deal breaker for us. Everything else isn't as serious.

cdr
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Old 11-04-07, 07:11 PM   #4
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Yes, such communication is normal, especially for new teams. You'll find that you also do a lot of communicating through the pedals and with captain body language. If you ride together often and long enough, non-verbal communication will take over. I don't know when we stopped, but after close to fourteen years together, my stoker and I almost never verbalize coasting, shifting, or standing. It just happens. A lot like dancing with a long-time partner, I guess (though I'm not much of a dancer :-).

Have fun and good luck,

(BikeRider) Dave
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Old 11-04-07, 09:15 PM   #5
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Proper communication is the key to becoming a good tandem duo.
If pilot does not communicate, stoker can get her revenge . . . pinch his butt; pull his shorts down over his saddle, etc.
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Old 11-05-07, 08:02 AM   #6
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One thing I'd like to add, without being too far off topic I hope, is that my wife and I are long time users of a wired communication system. These are available in a couple of flavors, "TandemTalk" being the one that most people have heard of. A system like this makes communication effortless, and since it is so easy, you communicate far more than you would without it.

The only real drawback I've found to using one of these systems is that you are wired together, and that takes some getting used to, mainly when getting onto and off of the bike. It's well worth the effort. There is at least one wireless system available, and I've thought about trying one of those some time.

There are many benefits to being able to communicate this way- we used to do a lot of what I would call "competitive pack riding", and when things get wild and wooly, its nice to be able to tell your stoker to get ready to sprint for the county line sign (or whatever) without having to yell it over your shoulder at 30mph and alert the rest of the crowd to be ready to grab your wheel for a leadout.

Or: If you're on really good terms with your stoker, you will sometimes find yourself involved in quiet and very interesting discussions of things that might happen after the ride

At any rate, after having used one of these things for years, I'm really surprised that I don't see more tandem teams equipped this way, and I can highly recommend using one. Neither I nor Terri would consider riding without our intercom unless there was some very good reason for it (like battery crapout).

The two brands I am aware of are TandemTalk and TandemComm- I've used both, and have a preference for the TandemComm, mainly because it is a smaller unit and can use rechargeable AAA batteries. Conversely, I prefer the headsets that come with the TandemTalk.

Rick
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Old 11-05-07, 08:52 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
; pull his shorts down over his saddle, etc.
Another good reason to wear bibshorts.
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Old 11-05-07, 03:14 PM   #8
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Wife on travel, took my old half bike out for the first time in 2 years. I found I would not stop pedaling until after I announced (out loud) "COAST", ...

Jack
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Old 11-06-07, 12:43 PM   #9
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If pilot does not communicate, stoker can get her revenge . . . pinch his butt; pull his shorts down over his saddle, etc.
I get spanked when I am a bad boy
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Old 11-08-07, 10:11 AM   #10
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Here is an article I found useful when I was researching tandems last year before we got ours.
http://www.gtgtandems.com/tech/propmethod.html
I try to adhere to this as much as possible and so far have not had the conflicts that I witness with other tandem teams. I use my single to compete and boost my ego and the tandem is all about keeping her happy or there will be no tandem.
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