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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 06-03-08, 05:53 AM   #1
bh357
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Advice on Stopping Smoothly - How to Inspire Stoker Confidence

My wife and I are very new to tandeming, with probably about 50 miles under our belts. We've gotten to where we can start off with her (stoker) in the pedals, i.e. I can balance the bike well enough so she's comfortable. (this is as follows: me support the bike with left thigh against top tube and left hip against saddle, straddling the top tube low, she gets on and feet on pedals, she brings right pedal up to 10:00 position, I clip in right foot, 3...2...1... we both kick off with me lifting myself up to the saddle and clipping in when we are at a comfortable speed)
Stopping is another story. Everything I've seen suggests that stopping is just the opposite of starting. What I'm struggling with is going from stopping the bike to getting to a position where I can support her and the bike without leaning. So, for now we stop by both putting our left feet down.
Any advice on how to learn to stop the bike smoothly and get to a good position to support the bike smoothly without leaning? The only thing I can think of is for me to go out solo and drill stopping smoothly with no leaning.
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Old 06-03-08, 06:42 AM   #2
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The only thing I can think of is for me to go out solo and drill stopping smoothly with no leaning.

I spent several rides on my single bike looking at my "leaning problem" and working to resolve it before we started having stoker Malkin stay clipped in. Then when we switched to OOP, we went on a short ride starting and stopping about every 100 ft to practice starting and stopping with stoker Malkin clipped in AND out of phase. It was exhausting, but we learned what we needed to do. Finally, stoker asked that I stop more gradually--the initial complaint was that at the end of a long ride, her arms were tired and my aggressive stops made things worse. But as I've worked to plan stops more carefully and be smoother and more gradual, I've discovered that this makes it much easier to keep strong control of the bike, which makes iteasier for Malkin to be generally more comfortable in the stoker compartment.

...oh, and ride a lot.

Cheers!
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Old 06-03-08, 06:54 AM   #3
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Any advice on how to learn to stop the bike smoothly and get to a good position to support the bike smoothly without leaning?
Assuming you and your stoker are of average size, you're technique will improve over time: just stick with it and take it all in stride.

Right now you're both learning to work as a team and probably doing a few things that are working against that goal, i.e., does your stoker still look around you or move about as you approach your stops? As your stoker's confidence grows -- and that'll just take time and good behavior on your part -- they tend to relax more and learn to move with the ebbs and flow of the tandem. As that happens everything will get easier and seem more intuitive.

Finally, not to burst your bubble, but many of us who have been riding tandems a long time still find we lean the tandem to one side just a bit. However, as teams we compensate for it in other ways, e.g., stoker sitting just a bit off-camber to center their weight. Moreover, all of this can become even a bit more challenging as you head off into unusual terrain where you'll need to adapt your technique for uneven steeply crowned roads, downhill or uphill starts and stops, and perhaps even some off-camber roads where you'll find you need to put down the foot that usually stays in the pedal.
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Old 06-03-08, 07:37 AM   #4
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My wife and I have ridden tandems together since 1976. We both put our left feet down every time that we stop. Frankly, I don't see an issue.
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Old 06-03-08, 09:47 AM   #5
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When we stop my stoker/wife stays clipped-in. I weight 185+/- and she is 120+/-.
As we approach a stop I first click down to the gear combination that I want to start from after the stop... then since I'm a 'right foot down guy' I kick that foot out of its' pedal just as we near the stop. At the point of complete stop the right foot is on the ground with the knee locked straight as a post...I hold the STI brake levers at "full on"(and they stay that way until we launch), I am LEANING the bike slightly to the right against the inside of my right thigh with the point of my seat against my but for me to relax against. With the slight lean of the bike there is no balancing act needed and while my stoker usually stay still it she does move unexpectedly it usually doesn't cause a sudden panic for me. While we are stopped we rotate the cranks so that my left foot/pedal are at 10.00 o'clock so that we ready for launch when it is time to go.
This process is how we were instructed when we bought our first tandem in '90. It works for us but that doesn't make it right for everyone although I do recommend it. Most important is try to practice for a while in a safe (soft?) location and it will become second nature.
Good luck, Have fun
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Old 06-03-08, 10:05 AM   #6
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We use the exact approach described by specbill above with the exeption that we're left foot down. One thing I might add is that I always make sure to approach the stop with my right foot at the bottom of the pedal circle so to minimize movement of my body as I stand down.

As noted above, it takes practice.....one other thing....if you're wearing road shoes, I highly recommend that you ditch them for the tandem in favor of mountain shoes. The last thing I want to do is slide when I'm trying to stop the bike with Pam on behind and I feel about six times more confident in shoes with some grip to them. Others may differ....
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Old 06-03-08, 10:07 AM   #7
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IMHO, it's not possible to support the bike safely with one foot without leaning. If you don't lean, then the slightest move by the stoker tips the bike toward your clipped foot. Disaster. I go for 10-20 lbs. weight on the down foot. If we are stopped for a long light, I'll put down both feet. That gives the stoker more freedom to wiggle a little and makes her more comfortable. When I put down both feet, she immediately rotates the cranks to give me my favorite pedal at 10:00. She always stays clipped. We can then start in an instant. She uses one-sided road pedals and I use 2 sided SPDs. This minimizes weight while giving us the fastest, surest clip-in for uphill starts.
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Old 06-03-08, 02:29 PM   #8
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+1 on mountain bike style shoes and pedals. Solid foot placement is a big deal on a tandem and road bike shoes will slip out from under you in a heartbeat. Folks warned me about this and I did not take it to heart. ' learned the hard way on a damp morning at a slightly up hill intersection in San Luis Obispo. Dang near tore my leg off..pulled things I didn't know I had. Thank goodnesss my stoker is light or they would still be putting my goodies back together!

Bill J
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Old 06-03-08, 02:38 PM   #9
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I start and stop just like I do on my single. Stoker stays clipped in. Bike commute every day, and all of this stuff comes super easy
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Old 06-03-08, 02:41 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the replies.
I already wear mountain shoes and pedals (Crank Brothers to be exact), even on my road bike. My wife currently is using platforms, but we'll put her clipless pedals (also mountain) on when she's feeling ready.
Size-wise, I'm 5'11", low 150s; she's 5'9", and a bit heavier than I am.
Once the bleeping rain lets up, I'll take the tandem out solo and work on stopping smoothly and transitioning to holding the bike.
Worst case, we know that we can stop both putting our left foot down with no issue.
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Old 06-03-08, 08:15 PM   #11
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To each their own...my stoker perfers road shoes and pedals...the solid feel of the shoe and the larger platform of the pedal (we use SPDs), so I for sure wouldn't be ruling out trying Crank Brothers Quattro or Candy pedals....or even Acids as a start point.

My biggest issue is consistently stopping to one side...and I'm supposed to make that with the right foot down as any lean to the left (left foot down) moves her out into traffic which makes her feel unsafe...so I am surprised with all the left foot down... And I find I need to lean a little as the first thing upon stopping is for the stoker to rotate the left pedal to 10:00 and SPD marks up the back of my calf aren't pretty...
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Old 06-04-08, 08:13 AM   #12
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My biggest issue is consistently stopping to one side...and I'm supposed to make that with the right foot down as any lean to the left (left foot down) moves her out into traffic which makes her feel unsafe...so I am surprised with all the left foot down...
I find that if I put my right foot down the bike needs to be closer to the traffic. There needs to be room for a place to put my foot. Left foot down means that my foot is closer to the traffic. Remember that the right edge of roads usually are in not so good shape. Not a good place to put your foot.
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Old 06-04-08, 04:23 PM   #13
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"IMHO, it's not possible to support the bike safely with one foot without leaning." I totally agree and that's exactly what we do. However, since bh357's wife is taller (and heavier?), he may find it really hard to balance the bike without her putting a foot down. My stoker is significantly smaller than I am, but I still notice that my hands/arms get much more of a workout on the tandem than on when I ride the half bike.
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Old 06-05-08, 07:12 AM   #14
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"IMHO, it's not possible to support the bike safely with one foot without leaning." I totally agree and that's exactly what we do. However, since bh357's wife is taller (and heavier?), he may find it really hard to balance the bike without her putting a foot down. My stoker is significantly smaller than I am, but I still notice that my hands/arms get much more of a workout on the tandem than on when I ride the half bike.

Based on my limited experience, I agree with the quote about supporting the bike with one foot down. I have no problem supporting her with both feet down, and when starting I keep both down until she's ready and offers up the right pedal. I clip in, give a 3...2...1... count (which will likely greatly shorten as we gain experience), and we go. I can definately feel the "unsteady" feeling when I only have one foot down.
I can definately feel her moving around as she situates herself on the saddle and pedals, but nothing that will throw off the balance.
I'll work on stopping smoothly and transitioning myself to a position to support her and the tandem. If I can get that down so she's comfortable staying in the pedals, I think I'll follow Carbonfiberboy's advice to some extent (both feet down if we'll be stopped for more than a handful of seconds, one foot down to make a legal stop at a sign, or if any car coming through the intersection is just about to clear).
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Old 06-06-08, 10:20 AM   #15
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Either method one/both feet down will work. Stoker Kay stays seated/clipped in.
We tend to use a mix . . . short stops (stop sign/ quick traffic light) one foot down. Longer stops, including long traffic lights, both feet down for pilot.
The key is when stopped to apply/hold the brake(s).
At longer stops, stoker can lift butt off saddle or re-arrange/wiggle a bit . . . but no hula dancing back there!
When you get more miles under the tires, these things become second nature.
bh357: looks like U-2 have your act TWOgether!
Pedal on!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 06-08-08, 10:28 PM   #16
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specbill and twilkens have it exactly right... If you are putting your left foot down have the right foot all the way down and at stop keep the brakes on... a slight lean is ok with my stoker but anything more than that causes a compensating lean in the back....seriously... a captain-stoker combination develop communication that does not take words... If I click out and want the stoker foot down too I simply wave my foot off to the left side and I quickly hear her clicking out too... If we are approaching a stop light I tend to try to time the light... results of too much time on the single bike...and we are sometimes going very slowly... that could freak a lot of stokers...the key to that is the right gear...a very easy gear sometimes pedalling it slowly against some brake pressure... anyway... she knows at that speed to do nothing...its my problem to keep us rolling or to get my foot down and any extra motion in the back is not going to help things! We have several thousand miles in...much of it loaded with touring gear that adds that certain little extra bit of excitement at slow speed... but keep practicing and trying to relax...
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