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  1. #1
    Senior Moment Litespeed's Avatar
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    Balance on startup

    My husband and I have ridden our tandem for approximately 4 years now. He is always the captain and I am always the rear admiral. I'm to small to be captain and I wouldn't want to be anyway. My husband has a slight problem when he first wants to clip in with balancing the bike. When I first get on the bike and clip in, then I tell him "ready" so he can get his first foot clipped into the pedal. This is where he has some problem. I have noticed that it will take him about 3 small tries before he can actually lift his foot high enough to get onto the pedal, even though it's in the down position. He said balancing the bike with me on it makes it a little harder to keep the bike centered. We have tried both standing and then starting to get on the bike at the same time, but we are so wobbly that I'm afraid we would really have a good chance of dumping the bike. Any suggestions? Eventually we will keep trying to practice both getting on the bike at the same time, but in the mean time what do we do?
    Last edited by Litespeed; 06-01-08 at 12:21 PM.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Make sure hubby has both brakes applied and stands with both feet flat on the ground while stoker gets seated/clipped in.
    After stoker's seated/clipped he then clips in his preferred foot while still holding onto both brakes.
    When he clips in, he does *not* look down at the pedal . . . foot shouldl find proper position.
    Hope this helps.

  3. #3
    Don't mince words Red Rider's Avatar
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    Cgallagh clips in his left foot, cocks it to his desired start position, and puts his weight on his right leg. I climb on, clip in, let him know when I'm ready, and off we go. What makes the difference is that he's already clipped in before I even mount, so he's balanced and ready for me.

    I hope that helps...
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  4. #4
    Senior Moment Litespeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    Make sure hubby has both brakes applied and stands with both feet flat on the ground while stoker gets seated/clipped in.
    After stoker's seated/clipped he then clips in his preferred foot while still holding onto both brakes.
    When he clips in, he does *not* look down at the pedal . . . foot should find proper position.
    Hope this helps.
    That is pretty much how my husband does it, except he does look down at the pedal. I think he's afraid if he doesn't look down his foot will slip off the pedal before he gets clipped in.
    He does make sure that he is crouched down on the top tube when I get on.
    Cats are people too.

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    We all have a really bad habit, tandemwise, when we ride our singles that we lean the bike when stopped.
    No big deal. On a tandem BIG PROBLEM. I've gotten better over the last 18 months at finding my first pedal but since I only ride less than 20% of the time on it I have to think.
    Stopped at lights and getting rolling is automatic and smooth but that first mount up is slower than I like since I don't wish to start the day on the wrong foot.
    I'm sure by the time I get to be ZONA'S age I will be smooth as silk.

  6. #6
    Tandem Mountain Climber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rider View Post
    Cgallagh clips in his left foot, cocks it to his desired start position, and puts his weight on his right leg. I climb on, clip in, let him know when I'm ready, and off we go. What makes the difference is that he's already clipped in before I even mount, so he's balanced and ready for me.

    I hope that helps...
    Same here.

    I barely feel the weight of the stoker contributing any lateral force doing it this way.

    Easy as pie.

  7. #7
    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Litespeed View Post
    He does make sure that he is crouched down on the top tube when I get on.

    My wife mounts the bike like you would mount a horse; she stands on the left pedal and swings her right leg over. I keep my legs spread and kind of straight, otherwise she will hit me in the shin when she brings the pedal around for me to clip in. Also, I jam the nose of the saddle into my rear so that I don't have to rely on my arms to balance the bike. I don't know how high he brings the pedal to clip in, but maybe he could try not raising it so far.

  8. #8
    DoubleTrouble cgallagh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rider View Post
    Cgallagh clips in his left foot, cocks it to his desired start position, and puts his weight on his right leg. I climb on, clip in, let him know when I'm ready, and off we go. What makes the difference is that he's already clipped in before I even mount, so he's balanced and ready for me.

    I hope that helps...
    I also slide my left hip back so that I am balancing the bike with my right leg holding pressure on my hip to stabilize at the same time holding both brakes tight. Works every time.
    Two blondes walked into a building-You think one of them would have seen it.
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    I spread both of my legs to get them out of the way of the cranks. I then sit on the top tube. The saddle is against my right hip, the top tube is against my right leg. The bike can't lean right because of my leg, it can't lean left because of my hip.
    The stoker then gets on and does whatever is needed to clip in and feel comfortable.
    I then clip in my right foot. The bike can't lean left because my left foot is down. It won't lean right because my body and all my weight is on the left side. I then move the pedal to the top and we are off. The stoker gets us up to a stable speed and then I clip in my left foot.

  10. #10
    Senior Member brewer45's Avatar
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    When Malkin and I switched to OOP, we went on a ride of about 3 miles, mounting, starting, stopping, dismounting about 100 feet. It was surprisingly EXHAUSTING, but the repetition helped our technique significantly. You might give it a try.

    Cheers!
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  11. #11
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Litespeed View Post
    ? Eventually we will keep trying to practice both getting on the bike at the same time, but in the mean time what do we do?
    Unless you can find a more experienced team who can critique your starting and stopping method who could offer some suggestions as to where flaws may exist in your technique, e.g., stoker moving around, captain leaning bike to one side, lack of communication.... just stick with one method or the other and work it out.

  12. #12
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    We are probably doing it all wrong but we both clip in on the right and give 3 counts as pushing forward and both mount the bike at the same time. I clip in first (stoker) and then the captain as we are beginning to pedal. With the DaVinci I can pedal while he is clipping in. So far it has been working for us. We both unclip the left when stopping and straddle the bar while waiting for the lights to change. We have ridden 500 miles so far with only a few beginner mishaps. Tandeming is so much fun ! Our DaVinci rides like a dream! Have a great summer!

  13. #13
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    After 33+ years as a tandem duo, we actually have to think/visualize what we do to explain it in words!
    Amazingly when you get your act TWOgether it's something you do without thinking.

  14. #14
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    We use zonatandem's method described above in post #2. It gives me good control of the bike, lets my stoker get all settled and totally ready to go, and provides a steady launch platform to leave from.
    Bill J.

  15. #15
    Ride it like you stole it WheresWaldo's Avatar
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    I have tried many of the ways mentioned here to start our ride and clip in. We are now to the point that we both start with the right foot on the ground, we both clip in our left foot swinging the crank around to the 10:00 position, push down once slide onto the saddle then clip in the right foot. Don't even think about it, just do it. No balancing while starting, no sore arms at long stop lights. No accidentally falling over while trying to hold still.
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  16. #16
    TWilkins
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    I actually had to go out and get on the bike before I could articulate our method.....

    Captain applies both brakes and straddles the bike with both feet flat on the ground. Make sure there is clearance to rotate the pedals or your shins are gonna get nailed. Stoker climbs on and clips in. With the brakes still on, I lean back enough to catch the nose of my saddle with my right hip. As I lift my right leg to clip in, I use my right thigh against the top tube to push toward the left (counterbalanced by the saddle against my hip, so the bike can't really go either direction). Downward pressure on the pedal allows me to mount.

    It sounds counterintuitive to be able to clip in with the right foot while keeping pressure on the top tube, but it is possible.

    Practice is the key....whatever method you use. You mentioned that you've been riding the tandem for 4 years, so I would really take a hard look at whether you're trying to be consistent in your starting method or doing it differently every time.

    Slap me if this seems insensitive, but I can see where starting would be more difficult if one or both of you are heavier or have some flexibility issues.

    Take heart, though, I consider starting and stopping the hardest aspect of riding the tandem.
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  17. #17
    SDS
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    WheresWaldo's post has it exactly right. It's hard to argue with the idea that starting off two feet (one captain foot and one stoker foot gives both riders more control over their own fate) isn't safer than starting off one captain foot. Safer stopping too. Using sticky-soled MTB or touring shoes is safer than slick plastic soled racing shoes because the MTB shoes are more likely to stick instead of skidding.

    Once you've committed to starting off one captain foot and one stoker foot, leaning the tandem like a single bike makes a lot of sense. Us tall guys tend to forget that the 10.375-10.75" bottom bracket height standard on tandems is a much greater fraction of a stoker's inseam. You may HAVE to lean the bike so the stoker isn't sitting on top of sensitive parts being squished by the top tube. You steer under the lean to the degree necessary at the start. Everything (pedals, saddle, bars) is proportionally higher for a stoker because of the 10.75" BB height.

    Timing a start is better than counting on it to work. Starting in a medium gear (too low gives insufficient speed, too high is too hard to start) you (the captain) say, "1,2, 3, go," and give a half stroke to the bottom of the pedal circle with the strong legs (both on one side, of course) that were already clipped in. That brings the other pedals up to the top of the circle, where you both clip in while coasting. "I'm in, you're in (in the form of a question or a statement, depending on certainty)," and then "go."

    For a stop, the captain will say "3,2,1, stop," while applying the brakes. On some given number, usually
    "1", you both unclip. A slight steer away from the unclipped feet ensures that you will gently tip that way, and on "stop" the bike stops and the feet touch the ground.

    I have seen a few people drop their all-the-way-clipped-in stokers over the years. Sometimes slippery-soled racing shoes were implicated as well. They often work if the foot goes straight down, but with a little bit of angle, they will slide right out from under you. It's a long way down for a small stoker. I have yet to see a two-foot-down team fall over, though to be fair I have seen a few starts by beginning teams that required a stop and a restart, owing to problems with coordination between the members.

  18. #18
    ES&D t4mv's Avatar
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    Same as WW and SDS, here. I've tried all the methods mentioned and with the variety of stokers I get, clipping in left and pedaling a 1/4 turn to get rolling then clipping the other foot in works most consistently with all of them, even in city traffic. You're going to just have to sort it out and see which feels most comfortable for you.

  19. #19
    Senior Member brewer45's Avatar
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    Ah the art and science of riding a tandem! Ask a question about the science of tandeming, and you'll get a specific and accurate answer that meets the standards of good science.

    Ask a question about the art of tandeming and you get many answers gathered from the collective experience of the board participants (it might be interesting to count the miles of experience--start with zona's 250k).

    I find the following concepts from outside my cycling experience to be rather useful to help us be a happy tandem couple.

    1) In his book The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, Charlie Papazian repeats his motto constantly: Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew. Riding a tandem can be a pretty challenging experience for newcomers (or even seasoned pros!). However, tension and worry are not useful responses for either making beer or riding a tandem. So trite as it might be, it's still a good general starting point: Relax. Don't worry. Ride your tandem.

    2) Early in my brewing career, I planned my brews rather carefully and attended conscientiously to the science (recipes and techniques) of brewing. I had pretty rigid expectations for the outcomes of my efforts. The end product was sometimes exactly like I planned--alcohol content, color, bitterness, malt character, etc. But more often, the end product was only somewhere in the neighborhood of what I had planned. When I missed the mark (i.e. the outcome didn't meet my expectations), I'd feel somewhat disappointed, but would manage to choke the stuff down anyway. Then I had what I call the Homebrew Epiphany: It's okay to plan carefully and brew conscientiously, but let go of rigid expectations of the final product. Enjoy the outcome whatever it is. This changed my experience from "that's not what I wanted," to "that's a yummy brew!" For our first century ride, we planned carefully and set some general expectations for breaks, water and food, average speeds and time on the course. The ride took 2 1/2 hours longer than we planned, I ran out of water at a rather bad moment, and we both missed some spots with the sunscreen; but we had a wonderful ride, finished the century (actually 108 miles, but who's counting?), and made some new friends along the way. Enjoy the experience you're having even if it's not the one you planned and expected.

    3) In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig suggests that one way to approach quality is, "Make yourself perfect, then just act naturally." This phrase was "borrowed" and modified by Betty Edwards in her book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: Make yourself perfect, then just draw naturally. I borrow it once more and change it to: Make yourself perfect, then just ride naturally.

    4) Malkin turned me on to this final idea when we were talking about my experiences as an English instructor at the university. What is a good student? A good student is one who makes the instructor feel like a good instructor. What's a good instructor? A good instructor is one who makes the student feel like a good student. You can apply the trick to any pair. A good child is one who makes the parent feel like a good parent; a good boss is one who makes the employee feel like a good employee (and vise versa for each). So what's a good captain? A good captain is one who makes the stoker feel like a good stoker; and a good stoker is one who makes the captain feel like a good captain.

    So that's a long way around to these suggestions for all questions concerning the art of tandeming:
    Relax. Don't worry. Ride your tandem.
    Enjoy the experience you're having even if it's not the experience you planned (expected).
    Make yourself perfect, then just ride naturally.
    Make the captain/stoker feel like a good captain/stoker.

    Cheers!
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  20. #20
    Ride it like you stole it WheresWaldo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brewer45 View Post
    ...snipped for brevity...

    So that's a long way around to these suggestions for all questions concerning the art of tandeming:
    Relax. Don't worry. Ride your tandem.
    Enjoy the experience you're having even if it's not the experience you planned (expected).
    Make yourself perfect, then just ride naturally.
    Make the captain/stoker feel like a good captain/stoker.

    Cheers!
    Well said!
    "Never use your face as a brake pad" - Jake Watson
    The Incidental Cyclist - Cycling in and around Union County

  21. #21
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    I find that I put one foot down, stay on the saddle and stoker stays clipped in. That way it's easy to make a smooth start as the stoker gets us going while I pedal with one leg until clipping in the second.

    Problem I had was that in traffic at a junction there is a lot of pressure to get going and out of the way, and freewheeling at 2mph while captain got the second foot clipped in didn't endear us to motorists.

    I would normally get the foot on the pedal but couldn't clip in with the cranks going round. Then I rode my track bike to work for about 18 months through city traffic. Now I can clip into the pedals while they're going round without looking, no problems. It's just down to practice and if you practice 25 times a day 5 days a week you will succeed quickly (There are a lot of stop lights on my route).

    I would also recommend using pedals that are known to be easy to clip into - I have Time RXEs on the tandem. Also well-maintained genuine Shimano SPDs work well, much better than the Ritchey clones I used to have.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by dvs cycles View Post
    We all have a really bad habit, tandemwise, when we ride our singles that we lean the bike when stopped.
    No big deal. On a tandem BIG PROBLEM.
    Maybe it is a matter of degree, but I lean the bike slightly to the left after Susan clips in, while I clip in my right foot. Doesn't seem to be a problem at all. I'm very tall, and our tandem wasn't custom built for us, so the top tube is about halfway down my thigh. I normally hold the top tube against my left thigh, with the nose of the saddle on the outside of my left butt cheek. I do that even with both feet down, which requires standing a bit to the right of center.

    It seems to me that NOT leaning the bike would be an invitation to disaster, if it started falling to the right after I have clipped that foot in. So I always lean it far enough to insure that it won't fall to the right.

    I'm not sure what the problem is in the OP, but to safely clip one foot in, it seems to me that one way or another the captain must have some way to safely support the bike using only one leg.

  23. #23
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    . . . and remember to appreciate your stoker; so bring her a bouquet of flowers with a note " . . . just because!"
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrfish View Post
    I find that I put one foot down, stay on the saddle and stoker stays clipped in.
    Fo me there is no way to be able to put one foot down and stay on the saddle.... maybe on the tip of my toes...

  25. #25
    Tandem Mountain Climber
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    Quote Originally Posted by cornucopia72 View Post
    Fo me there is no way to be able to put one foot down and stay on the saddle.... maybe on the tip of my toes...
    Slide forward of the saddle.

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