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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 05-12-08, 09:44 AM   #1
72andsunny
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The next one will be custom

The stoker has much longer legs than me (and refuses to captain)...

Looking at this picture, I think her seat needs to be raised (and probably the handle bars, as well).

Anyone have any advice/recommendations?
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Old 05-12-08, 10:08 AM   #2
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Well...
There's neutral fit and then there's fit. The knee bend suggests that the seat is a bit low and the locked elbows suggest that the handlebars might be a bit low. But the smile on stoker's face suggest having a wonderful time. That being said, fit is completely individual and depends on factors that can't be determined by a photo. How flexible is stoker's back? How strong is her core? What is her most comfortable riding position?

I always carry tools on rides to make adjustments as we go. For us, fit at 50 miles out is not the same as fit at the LBS. It's taken quite a few miles to get things dialed in for both stoker and me.

(you might consider a bit more air in the rear tire...)

Cheers!
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Old 05-12-08, 10:21 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by 72andsunny View Post
Anyone have any advice/recommendations?
It's too hard to really tell from the photo, but I don't think it's so much that her saddle is too low or that the bars are even too low, she just needs a longer reach if the goal is to achieve a roadie's lower-profile riding position. Given an extra 3" in the stoker compartment she would probably be able to ride with a more flattened back and better extension... which would make her 'look' as though she has a better fit.

However, looks are always deceiving; it's mostly about making sure the rider 'feels' comfortable, isn't finding themselves sitting on the back or the front of the saddle while riding the flats, is able to generate good power, and doesn't suffer any post ride above or below the knee pain (saddle too high / saddle too low) or have problems with numb hands, fatigued shoulders, or posterior pains which are also indications that a fit is not quite right.

Stoker fit can sometimes be a tough nut to crack if your stoker isn't already a cyclist who understands what a proper fit feels like.

Last edited by TandemGeek; 05-12-08 at 10:40 AM.
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Old 05-12-08, 10:31 AM   #4
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I'm not a fit expert but I would say the seat is not too low particularly looking at her heal/toe angle. If you raise the seat that angle is just going to increase and I don't think that would be so good.
I could see where there is an opportunity to move her bars some so she can relax the elbows just a touch but over all she looks pretty confortable to me and that is all that really matters. If you make any changes - make them a little at a time particularly is she is happy as is. Good luck.

Bill J.
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Old 05-12-08, 12:11 PM   #5
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I'd agree the seat height doesn't appear low (or at least not by much) base don the pic.

A quick test is place your heel on the pedal, and your leg should be fully extended at the bottom of the stroke. ( note this is only a rough starting point.)

If you are considering a new bike, a longer cockpit in the back could be helpful. You are much more stretched out on the bike than she is. (See the angle between her torso and arms compared to yours.)

Typically, that angle should be around 90%. she appears a bit jammed up.

All that said, unless you're trying to get a low aero position, all you really need is to tweak the seat height to the point she's comfortable and you should be fine.
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Old 05-12-08, 12:45 PM   #6
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She could flatten out her pedal stroke a wee bit (heel is up); raise saddle 1/2 inch and push saddle back all the way on the rails. Relax/bend her elbows. Most stokers tend to ride a bit more upright on tandem than their single. Would not be as perfect as custom, but not as pricey either. LBS should have done a better fit/sizing job.
Pedal on TWOgether!
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Old 05-12-08, 02:39 PM   #7
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Agree, based on the photo, but not everyone will be comfortable in a racer-like position, so you may need to make allowance for other factors to dial in something that works.

After reading thousands of posts on many forums on how to fit bikes to riders, my view is that there is no perfect solution. In my view if you are relatively normal in terms of size, flexibility, weight, fitness, desired riding and injuries then a measurement-based approach modified with trial and error for function / feel and given some time and experience will get to a good position. You and your stoker have to be prepared to invest some time to get there (or employ a professional to help speed up the process). This should include all bike-rider interfaces such as shoes, cleats, bars etc.

In this process I also believe there's a degree of fitting the rider to the bike as your body needs time to adapt to spending time on the bike in exactly the same way that it takes time to work up to riding 100 miles.

Do discuss it with your stoker, take some measurements of the current position so you can undo any changes, then try some small changes one at a time, giving time to adapt.
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Old 05-12-08, 03:14 PM   #8
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Welcome to the most frustrating aspect of tandem riding from my perspective...gettting the stoker's fit correct. Her saddle doesn't look particularly low to me, and I can't tell from the picture where the saddle is sitting on the rails. If anything, you might have some opportunity to push the saddle back...I can't tell where her knees are going to align over the pedal spindle at the horizontal position, but it kind of looks to me like they might be a little forward. You might be able to raise the stoker bar a tad and keep her elbows from locking out.

If you try that, remember that as you push a saddle back, it generally can be lowered at the same time, but it's smart to only change one thing at a time, and if you do, change it only a millimeter or so each time, then have her ride several miles. If it's not feeling right, she'll probably let you know.

Here's an embarrasing story....I raised my wife's saddle last fall to take our daughter on a ride. Even though I marked the seat post height with a pencil so I could put it back again, when we started riding this spring she almost immediately started complaining about her backside hurting and going numb. After several rides, I remembered moving the saddle and decided to lower it by not more than a pencil line's width. I didn't say anything about doing so, but after several rides without complaints, I finally asked her how her butt was feeling. Her response: "Oh, I've not noticed it bothering me anymore...I guess I just needed to toughen up. It's fine now." I had to 'fess up and take responsibility for the problem in the first place.

I tell that story as a lead in to this...make adjustments if she's uncomfortable. If not, I wouldn't push my luck.
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Old 05-12-08, 04:25 PM   #9
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While initial fitting/sizing folks on a tandem is very important, there will be minor adjustments that you'll need to make in the next 500 miles. What feels great on a 10 miler may not be as great for 50 or a 100.
Agree that minute (millimeter) adjustments are the best way to go. Make one adjustment at the time and see what the results/comments are.
Heck, stoker Kay after 15,000-some miles on our current tandem asked to have her stoker bars moved out a couple millimeters. She knows what she wants and yes, carry the proper tools when out riding to make the adjustments.
Once things are 99% dialed in, the (s)miles will be easier/better!
Pedal on TWOgether!
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Old 05-12-08, 04:46 PM   #10
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IMHO (just from the picture), the bike looks a bit small for both of you. However I'm just looking at that one picture, and could be wrong.
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Old 05-12-08, 08:38 PM   #11
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To achieve a typical roadie position will probably require a higher saddle, more distance to the handlebars, and more space along the centerline of the bike, and therefore more distance between the bottom brackets. You have to move the captain away from the stoker to keep the captain's butt/back and the stoker's head from needing to occupy the same space.

The stoker's elbows are probably locked because the handlebars are too close.

I prefer to use drop bars on a tandem whenever possible to allow more hand positions and prevent the numbness/pain that can occur when only limited positions are available.
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