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  1. #1
    Member Co-Mo's Avatar
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    Hey stokers, "light hands" eh.

    Well, last night was a monumental one for our team. My wife/stoker and I've been trying to gel as a team since Aug of '02. We've gotten better every tour since but, have not mastered the art of climbing. I'm the natural climber of the team as I've got all the power. My stoker is more endurance oriented as she's got a marathon background in her pre cycling days.
    Since being married (working on three years now) she's fallen in love with cycling. Then I had to go and throw a wrench in the works and make her learn a ton of new things by getting a tandem. Well, I didnt want to keep throwing constant instruction at her as I'm sensative to a stokers possition of having no controll so, I've given her time to learn on her own the many things it takes to be a "high end stoker" (what ever that may mean).
    Reason for the email is: Last night on a hill climb without warning, the bike just stopped struggling/jittering/drifting on me. Our Co-Motion seemed to have finally figured out rythm and rocketed up the climb with the slight rocking motion of how it's done on a single. At the top I asked my stoker how she felt (knowing she'd tried something new) and she said "did that help you on the climb, better or worse?" She'd lifted out of the saddle by about and inch or two, and not tried to fight the bike and muscle it for leverage. She powered up the climb letting the bike "use her for leverage" and do what and where it (bike and captain) wanted. She's learned a very HUGE lesson, what I'll call "the art of light hands". How to be fluid on a climb and not fight the bike.
    I guess I could have tried to explain this to her sooner but, I dont think she'd have been able to master it until now as WE needed to be "at a certain place/level" in our teamwork b/4 it would have been possible. This is also going to help her in a huge way climbing on her single bike as she'll now know how it's supposed to feel.
    Seeing as this may help one of you teams out there I thought I'd pass it along. Aint forums great!
    Last edited by Co-Mo; 03-12-04 at 07:45 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    climbing/tandem

    Howdy from Tucson!
    Another, less conventional method, of climbing easier (for us-2) is having the pedals set up 90 degrees out of phase (OOP).
    There is always a pedal going over the the top, reduces tandem sway/flex and stoker can stay seated. Pedaled in-phase one year, OOP 28+ years. Guess which way we prefer it?
    Disadvantage: only ONE rider can stand at a time and no tilted-way-over racing corners as you may hit a pedal on pavement.
    Try OOP fo a couple weeks, you may like it, eh.
    Rudy & Kay/Zona tandem

  3. #3
    My own worst nightmare
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    Does it matter if the pilot is 90 degrees "ahead" of the stoker, or vice-versa?

  4. #4
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    OOP or 90 degrees out of phase

    Howdy from Tucson:
    Stoker's pedal is usually 90 degrees behind the pilot's pedal, thereby creating a quick follow-up power stroke behind the pilot.
    There is left or right footed OOP for the pilot, depending with which foot he prefers to clip in first.
    Example: I am 'right footed'; to start up, pilot mounts bike, stands with both feet flat on the ground and spread wide apart and holds both brakes. Stoker mounts bike, gets seated and clips in. Stoker then rotates pedals by s-l-o-w-l-y pedaling backwards. When pilot's right pedal hits 10 o'clock position, she stops pedaling backward. Pilot clips in right foot. Stoker's foot will be in 2 o'clock position. We push off.
    For 'left footed' pilots follow same procedure but with left pedal in the 10 o'clock postion and her left pedal in the 2 o'clock position. Push off.
    It is actually harder to explain it than to do it!
    At stops or traffic light, stoker remains seated and clipped in while pilot can put one or both feet on the ground. It makes for easier starts and easier climbing for us.
    Try it for a few weeks, you may like it!
    Rudy & Kay/Zona tandem

  5. #5
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Co-Mo
    Reason for the email is: Last night on a hill climb without warning, the bike just stopped struggling/jittering/drifting on me. Our Co-Motion seemed to have finally figured out rythm and rocketed up the climb with the slight rocking motion of how it's done on a single. At the top I asked my stoker how she felt (knowing she'd tried something new) and she said "did that help you on the climb, better or worse?" She'd lifted out of the saddle by about and inch or two, and not tried to fight the bike and muscle it for leverage. She powered up the climb letting the bike "use her for leverage" and do what and where it (bike and captain) wanted. She's learned a very HUGE lesson, what I'll call "the art of light hands". How to be fluid on a climb and not fight the bike.
    I used to have a problem with stoker that used to rock the tandem. In fact it was becoming impossible to ride on slow uphills offroad, as the rocking movement was affecting the steering so much that it was impossible to control. This was cured, by the stoker putting hands on the pilots waist. This cured the problem completely, but was not very pleasant having a 14 stone muscular bloke put his hands around my slimmer, more athletic, male torso. A compromise was reached in that he nows puts his hands in the centre of the bars, hence getting less leverage and no rocking. It works.

    Incidentally, we have now changed roles as the tandem is better balanced with him up front, and the problem nows comes in that he is still rocking the tandem. I am a "naturally" smooth rider, and it bugs me that the tandem sways from side to side, even at low pressure riding, so has anyone got a cure for for this problem?

  6. #6
    SDS
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    The general cure for uncoordinated pedaling is to place a premium on the skill. Soooo....try one-legged pedaling to encourage the recruitment of unused muscle groups, and once that is done well (both legs, mind you), have him do some long-mileage racer training rides at high levels of effort, preferably in tight packs. Long mileage will require an efficient pedal stroke, or it will be impossible to finish the ride, at a high speed. A high level of effort will require an efficient pedal stroke at a high cadence, i.e., 90 rpm or more, or insufficient power will be made to stay with the pack. Lastly, in a tight pack there is no room to wobble. You have to ride perfectly straight and track the turns as though you are on rails. The problem will be to find a pack of any age that will accept him in his current condition. In short, you are looking to transform him into an accomplished single bike rider / racer type.

    Ever wonder why handlebars are the width that they are? Turns out the answer traces directly back to the ratio of strength between the arms and the legs, and the spacing of the foot/pedal centers off the centerline of the frame. That spacing acts as a lever, luckily short, and the longer lever of the handlebars allows the arms to counteract the push from the legs, so when your foot pushes down on the front of the stroke, a pull on the handlebars keeps your body from tipping away from the foot that is pushing down. To deny the use of your arms is to throw away power, because then you have to reduce the effort put out by your legs, or you'll tip away.

    Ever watch anybody strong, experienced, and coordinated, going uphill fast while standing, or even on level ground? Look close and you'll see bulging biceps, as the arms pull up to counter the leg's downstroke.

    So why don't we see stokers doing this on a tandem? Well, part of the problem is that without a custom overlength stoker compartment, it's hard to stand up and move forward to put the bend in the elbow that lets the biceps work.

    The other part of the problem is that anything less than the aforementioned long-mileage / souplesse / racer level of coordination and efficiency tilts the bike with hard efforts, particularly standing. And as soon as the bike tilts, the steering wants to dive that way, a problem exacerbated by the high-trail steering geometry found on some tandems, because the lever arm between the contact patch of the front tire and where the steering axis intersects the ground plane is a little longer.

    Anybody in DFW who didn't make it out to the FWBA Mineral Wells ride today (Saturday, March 20) missed a great ride in the best hills to be found in NTex. There was a 65 mile relaxed pace ride, and the 75, 102 and 135 mile long rides, with the long ride including Cherry Pie Hill (Hwy 4 northbound to Palo Pinto). We had about 70 bikes start together, including two tandems.

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