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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 02-27-08, 03:54 PM   #1
swc7916
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Who uses a Tandem Intercom?

We have been on a couple of rides with the local tandem club where we were the only couple without an intercom system. On one stretch of road with especially heavy traffic, I could see why; we couldn't hear each other at all. Also, many times when I have called out "bump" or "coast" I'm not show that my stoker heard me; so I'm looking into getting one and would like to know others' experiences with them. I'm thinking that clear communications is a critical safety issue.

There seems to be three intercoms specifically marketed to tandemists: a wired one called Tandem-Talk and another wired one called Tandem-Com (through PrecisionTandems.com), and a wireless one sold by PrecisionTandems.com that they call Tandem-Com 2.4 full duplex wireless which is actually a re-branded Eartec Simultalk 24G Wireless (http://eartec.com/Wireless%20Wired/24g.html). I am definitely leaning (95%) toward a wireless one. Could anyone comment on their experiences with any of these?
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Old 02-27-08, 05:14 PM   #2
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No way. I like being able to pretend I didn't hear her.
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Old 02-27-08, 05:54 PM   #3
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My daughter and I use the Tandem-Com when we're by ourselves. We don't like it in groups because when raise your voice to talk to another rider, it's to loud for the other person on the tandem. It works as advertised and we've had no problems. We love it for Time Trials as we can cheer each other on.
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Old 02-27-08, 07:26 PM   #4
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One of the things I found as a new tandem couple is that the claimed "togetherness" is really not there over about 18mph, which for us is most of the time. Maybe it is helmet-induced wind noise, but it gets real hard to hold a conversation of any kind, since I can't project my voice backwards, and I can't hear much either. I saw so many web sites extolling the "have a pleasant conversation" feature of tandems that I didn't appreciate that they must be only going 10mph.

And yet I can't really see the intercom being much use when in the company of others, which is again, most of the time.
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Old 02-27-08, 08:35 PM   #5
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It's a very personal thing. We've never felt the need for one, but then again, we don't talk a whole lot when we're out riding just by ourselves. Heck, we don't talk much on an 11 hour drive to my folks in Pennsylvania either. I would disagree somewhat with respect to not being able to communicate at speeds above 18 mph. While front to back discussions aren't usually chit-chat at these speeds, I can usually hear my wife even though, as dvs notes, I sometimes choose not to hear certain things, e.g., "slow down". Frankly, it's not much different than talking across bikes when riding with a group on single bikes. However, it does take on a different dimension when you have several couples riding side-by-side... in some cases it's like standing around the kitchen counter with two different conversations taking place and I know we've had as many as six tandems in on a discussion while clipping along in the teens at rallies.

Anyway, all of that said, we do ride with several other couples who do have the comm systems and they seem to like them... at least I assume that to be the case since they've been using them for many, many years. I suspect it's a lot like cell phones and the like. If you see me talking on mine it's rare. In fact, I sit in absolute amazement at how some people can't seem to put the darn things down. I suspect that the folks who need to feel connected are possibly more inclined to want the tandem comms, but it's just a guess.
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Old 02-27-08, 10:22 PM   #6
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Never felt the need to use a com-device. Rudy projects loud enough and Kay can always pinch his butt to get his attention!
Even on 50 mph descents we're able to communicate, if needed. We do have a very short wheelbased tandem (63 1/2" wheelbase) that puts stoker close to captain . . . hey it fits and we like being close TWOgether!
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Old 02-28-08, 12:46 AM   #7
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Old Joke:

A police officer pulls over a man riding solo on a tandem and says, "You know your wife fell off about a mile back?"

To which the man replied, "Thank god! I thought I'd gone deaf!"
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Old 02-28-08, 09:52 AM   #8
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Wow. Either nobody likes them, or people who do like them either aren't passionate enough to answer or don't frequent these forums.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jgg3 View Post
One of the things I found as a new tandem couple is that the claimed "togetherness" is really not there over about 18mph, which for us is most of the time. Maybe it is helmet-induced wind noise, but it gets real hard to hold a conversation of any kind, since I can't project my voice backwards, and I can't hear much either.
This is exactly what I have been experiencing (well, maybe we're not going over 18 mph most of the time.) When it's cold and I'm wearing my skull cap - which also covers my ears - under my helmet, it really makes it difficult to hear anything.

After our first ride with the tandem club my wife commented on how the other couples were chatting away the whole time. There were a couple of times when I thought that lack of communication was a safety issue, but this is getting better as we get more experience.

One of my concerns about these things is just the comfort (discomfort?) of wearing the headset - I'm already wearing a helmet and glasses, plus a skullcap in the winter, and I'm not sure how I'd like the headset underneath all that stuff.

If they were only $50 or so, I wouldn't hesitate getting one, but since they cost around $300, I wish I could try one first to see if was worth it.
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Old 02-28-08, 09:56 AM   #9
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We have both the Tandem Talk and the wireless Tandem Com, and we always ride with them. We're recreational riders both still working long hours, so our time on the bike is "social" downtime for us. Sometimes it feels like the only time we get to "talk", so we really enjoy using them. The wireless is big, but the convenience is worth it. I'd buy the new smaller wireless in a heartbeat. (it wasn't available at the time we purchased). Several have mentioned difficulty when riding in a group; on those occasions, we simply move our mikes down away from our mouths and have no problems at all carrying on a conversation with others. It's really wonderful to have when traveling; i.e. in sightseeing mode. We find it a nice safety feature as well, as communication is not reduced to one or two word shouts. I much prefer hearing "there's a kid on a skateboard coming down the driveway on your right..." than a shouted "watch it!!!"

YMMV....

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Old 02-28-08, 11:01 AM   #10
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Kelly and I have the Eartec Simultalk. For our short rides close to home, we normally do not use it. For longer rides we do, and we carry an extra set of batteries. The intercom works well. It allows us to hold a real conversation without me saying "What, what". I do have to be careful in a group, if I forget to move the mike before talking to someone else she lets me know it quick. The comfort of the headset is only a problem to me after about 4 hours.
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Old 02-28-08, 11:54 AM   #11
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We have one that is currently not working, and as far as I can tell, I don't think we're gonna try to get it fixed. We have mixed emotions...I love it, she could care less.

On the plus side, they do make conversation very easy at cruising speeds, and we found ourselves to be very "chatty" when using it on short and long rides.

The downside has already been addressed....
*** excessive wind noise at speeds
*** comfort on long rides
*** conversing with others does require some adjustments in volume/mike placement (which then compounds wind noise)
*** we were wired, so we always had to deal with the cords
*** it was just another accessory to deal with before we could ride
*** the headsets are the weak link in the system. They are prone to breakage (but I don't think that's our problem right now).

Don't get me wrong...I would use one again, but since ours is broken and Pam would really prefer to not mess with it, I'll just save the money and put it toward something fun.
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Old 02-28-08, 02:25 PM   #12
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Why can't someone design a system that's essentially 2 bluetooth ear pieces like used with cell phones, without the need for an external unit?

The things only have to communicate over about 30".

The units that are out there all seem to be way too clunky.

the little bluetooth headsets talk to a cellphone over a similar distance via a bluetooth connection. There's no intrinsic reason two such devices couldn't talk to each other via bluetooth.



EDIT: Apparently someone's already done it:

http://www.callpod.com/products/dragon

Last edited by merlinextraligh; 02-28-08 at 02:37 PM.
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Old 02-28-08, 03:04 PM   #13
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People seem to like them as stated here, we don't use one and haven't found a need. We often chat on rides, and it's nice to chat with other cyclists along a ride.
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Old 02-28-08, 03:08 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Why can't someone design a system that's essentially 2 bluetooth ear pieces like used with cell phones, without the need for an external unit?

EDIT: Apparently someone's already done it:

http://www.callpod.com/products/dragon
I thought the same thing. The Callpod Dragon kind of does it, but it appears to be half-duplex; you have to press the multifunction button to talk. I don't have a Bluetooth headset, so I don't know how they work, whether they have an omnidirectional mic or if they pick up vibrations from your jaw. Would there be a problem with wind noise with these things?

I guess that I could buy two Bluetooth headsets, carry two cell phones and have a 3' cell phone conversation - I have unlimited minutes within network so it wouldn't cost anything. Even a wired headset would work.
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Old 02-28-08, 03:21 PM   #15
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I noticed in the Callpod there was a button to talk. What I'm wondering is whether you can push it once and leave it open. If you've got to push each time someone talks its obviously not workable.
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Old 02-28-08, 03:48 PM   #16
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How about some string and a couple of cups tied between the two riders?
Keep it simple and no batteries required.
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Old 02-28-08, 04:15 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Why can't someone design a system that's essentially 2 bluetooth ear pieces like used with cell phones, without the need for an external unit?
I found one: http://www.soundid.com/

It has a mode called "One2One" that links the two headsets together. They even show two people on bicycles as an example of its' use!
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Old 02-28-08, 04:19 PM   #18
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We use the wired Tandem-Com and wouldn't ride without it. One of the biggest reasons I bought the tandem was to spend more time with the kids, and being able to easily speak to one another at all times is a huge plus. You can see the Tandem-Com's use in all the attached photos.

Best money we spent after the tandem purchase itself.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Daughter Stoker.jpg (99.2 KB, 63 views)
File Type: jpg Son Stoker.jpg (68.4 KB, 50 views)
File Type: jpg Son Stoker 2.jpg (87.5 KB, 41 views)
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Old 02-28-08, 05:34 PM   #19
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My Wife has no problem making her self heard at high down hill speeds.... "@*##/" SLOW DOWN!!!!!
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Old 02-28-08, 05:58 PM   #20
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I find it so easy to converse with my stoker without one, I've never considered it. I think we probably don't go fast enough.

In any case, it's certainly a whole lot easier than when we're on single bikes.
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Old 02-28-08, 08:23 PM   #21
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We don't have one, but see where they could come in handy.

The stoker is the navigator on event rides and rallies, she gives me the distance and direction to the next turn and updates for the turn coming up. Sometimes I have to ask for a louder repeat, especially when we are motoring into a head wind.

It would also be nice to have more precise communcations on some of our club rides, especially when we get into our sprint zones and other "freindly competitions".

If we ever bought an intercom, we would definitely prefer a wireless, voice activated unit and
we would promise to try, real hard, not to have private conversations about the questionable fashion sense or relationship issues of other riders .
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Old 02-28-08, 08:52 PM   #22
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We have the wired tandem talk. We ride both with it and without it but communicating is much easier with it. Heavy traffic noise or high speeds can make it difficult to talk without screaming . We do have to unplug the stoker when we get off the bike but for longer rides we like it.
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Old 02-29-08, 10:21 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swc7916 View Post
I found one: http://www.soundid.com/

It has a mode called "One2One" that links the two headsets together. They even show two people on bicycles as an example of its' use!
WOW! This looks nice! If anybody buys one of these sets, please report back to the list and let us know the pros and cons... FYI, I did try to use a cell phone earpiece once with our Tandem Talk in a pinch, but it didn't work due to the fact that the mike picked up way too much wind noise to talk over. The Tandem Com's mike has a wind noise canceling feature that seems to work quite well...


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Old 03-10-08, 08:15 PM   #24
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A question, for any of you who have some sort of tandem intercom unit....

If you put the earpiece on the cheekbone or jawbone, can you still hear with it (using bone conduction)?

I have lost a lot of hearing in my right ear, and I would like to use an intercom system with my husband on the tandem. My hesitation is that I cannot understand anyone else's speech when I have a telephone headset on my left (good) ear. I'm also afraid that I won't hear a noise like a broken spoke if my left ear is covered all the time by an earpiece.

If I use bone conduction to hear via the earpiece, then I can still hear environmental noise from my ear.

thanks, Esther
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Old 03-13-08, 03:19 PM   #25
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No - we typically ride too fast to chat. And I (stoker) like to listen to my Ipod shuffle.
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