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Thread: Stoker Shifting

  1. #1
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    Stoker Shifting

    We recently bought a used tandem and we are in the process of replacing some components. Being the captain on only a few rides so far, I find the need to steer, brake and shift to be a bit daunting ... but not impossible. The shifters are bar-end shifters and in order to change gears I need to take my hand off the handlebars and then fiddle with the lever position until I get the shift completed and the chain not "clicking". Doing a double shift is a long two-step process with more fiddling.

    My wife, the stoker, seems to be in a better position to handle this task. I have two questions:

    1) What are the downsides of stoker shifting vs. captain shifting from a team perspective. We need to communicate anyways. The stoker's view of the road is not perfect, but she can see the upcoming landscape (roadscape).

    2) What kind of modifications would be needed for such a switch. I'd just move the same bar-ends to the rear and then I would need to get some mount-able shift-cable stops to keep the lines oriented correctly on the frame.

  2. #2
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Rear stoker shifting?
    Been tandeming since 1975 and have seen exactly ONE tandem set up that way.
    Captain has to tell stoker when to shift as she does not have a full view of the road. In a tight situation the delay between telling the stoker to shift and the actual shifting can be disadvantageous (like a sudden steep hill as you round the corner).
    We use barend shifters (by choice) and they work great. Not an issue to get hands on the drops to shift when needed. With STI it can be easier if your are ridng on the hoods when shifting, but not when you are in the drops near the end of the bars.
    The mods would be mounting the barends to stoker's drops, then having appropriate cable stops ($$) brazed on.
    An small advantage would be that you could use single bike rear der cable instead of tandem specific.
    You would need to communicate/coordinate shifting/braking (assuming you keep brake lever for pilot.
    Suggest that you keep captain in control of shifting/braking.
    As you gain tandeming experience/miles, all this will become second nature.
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  3. #3
    Year-round cyclist
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    When I got my tandem, I rode it a couple of times solo. Then, the first ride I did with a stoker – a whopping 3 km ride – felt terribly long. Then, after 2-3 rides, things settled down and were OK.
    So my advice would be to hang in there.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  4. #4
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    I would also suggest riding with barends alone. Equip a single bike with them or ride the tandem alone. After a few hundred miles you wont even think about shifting.

    Also, as you get miles in on the tandem, you and the stoker will relax and be more comfortable on the tandem. Yes, it helps to have a stoker that rides "quietly" and doesn't steer from back there.
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