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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 11-02-08, 07:48 AM   #1
Equinox
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Out of Saddle on a Tandem

Is there a method for learning how to ride out of the saddle on a tandem? Care to share how your team learned to do it? I was thinking we would start by just standing up together while coasting then graduate to standing and pedalling on a flat. Eventually, we would work our way up to standing on a climb; working up from gradual to steep. Teams that stand make it look easy, but I'll bet it's harder than it looks.
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Old 11-02-08, 08:09 AM   #2
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Something I wrote back in 2002 that may be of interest:

http://www.thetandemlink.com/articles/standing.html
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Old 11-02-08, 08:29 AM   #3
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Equinox.. Timely question for us. I am planning on learning "out of saddle" this week. Should be interesting as the only bicycle experience my wife has is our tandem since July.

TandemGeek, Thanks for the well written piece.
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Old 11-02-08, 09:03 AM   #4
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First, our cranks are out of phase stoker leading. Neither my wife or I throw the bike from side to side when standing either climbing or sprinting on single bikes.

When we first learned, we practiced standing individually. We then practiced together. Communication is important when learning. Today, if I stand my wife decides on her own if she is going to join me and vice versa. In general, I stand and then she stands right after. We do not attempt to coordinate standing or call out any commands.
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Old 11-02-08, 01:16 PM   #5
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I say UP and she stands - I can feel her going up and I follow. Works great for us. We do alot of out of the saddle climbing.
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Old 11-02-08, 06:34 PM   #6
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IMHO, its mostly a matter of just practice and trust.

Upping the gear 2-3 cogs, so the cadence goes down as the power goes up helps.

And if you can get to the point where you're dancing with the bike in unison it really is pretty cool. The stoker has to learn to relax and follow the captains lead for that to work.

But the reward is blowing by singles out fo the saddle for the town limit sprint win on the saturday morning rides.

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Old 11-02-08, 06:35 PM   #7
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For your second step, after practicing standing up and coasting, I find it easier to first try standing up and pedaling on a gentle hill in a big gear. The advantages are that the constant resistance of the hill makes for a more regular pedal stroke, and the bigger-than-usual gear for the hill and the speed, keeps the cadence lower, which reduces the frequency with which imbalances occur, and that makes it easier both to keep the bike going straight, and to diagnose the source of the unbalanced inputs. In other words, under those circumstances, it is easier to figure out the source of errors, and to correct for them. Later you can run up the cadence to what is normal for the hill and the speed.

Keep in mind that fit for the stoker can be crucial. If a stoker cannot move forward as he/she would do on a single bike, it will be impossible to get the normal bend at the elbow, and then the stoker may not pull with the arm to counter the leg motion, which then can make the captain's biceps work really, really hard. Some stokers adjust to the more upright standing position, and some don't, but if you find you are working really hard to keep the bike going straight, that can be the cause.
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Old 11-02-08, 08:27 PM   #8
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A matter of practice and trust.
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Old 11-03-08, 01:06 AM   #9
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I have found that I can stand and keep the bike stable without my stoker standing as long as I don't swing the bike from side to side and that my stoker can do the same.

So here's how I sometimes start if we are both going to stand:
As I get out of the saddle, I begin as if my stoker is not going to stand and as I feel her swing the bike, I go with that. This way I don't have to vocally advertise to other riders around us what we're going to do. Sometimes I do vocally tell my stoker when I want to stand though.

Riding an indoor stationary trainer out of the saddle helps with getting a good "no swing" technique. Riding rollers out of the saddle helps more.

Swinging the bike is natural as well as more efficient so the idea is not to totally eliminate this, but rather to give the stoker time to respond to standing or for one rider to get some out of the saddle time when the other does not wish to stand.

There. I've gone and done it.... given away my secret sneak attack.
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Old 11-03-08, 01:16 PM   #10
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As you are riding on a straight, level road, try shifting up a gear or two and just "unweight" your butt. Do this individually at first. Don't really stand up - just ease your butt out of the saddle. Think of standing up not as down or up but a degree of unweighting. With practice, you'll find that you can stand without much thought. The other advantage of being able to stand without any planning is that you can take a butt break often. Practice even when you don't "need" to.
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Old 11-03-08, 02:31 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
IMHO, its mostly a matter of just practice and trust.

Upping the gear 2-3 cogs, so the cadence goes down as the power goes up helps.
+1 on this.

I have found the key to standing climbing for our team to be using a bigger gear and lower cadence than I would use on the single. Take advantage of the extra power. Especially on short rollers, we will attack it and leave it in the big ring (or 42) and power over it. On a long climb, we will alternate sitting and standing. The standing in a big gear at low cadence is a nice change up from the sit and high rpm that seems to be the usual on the tandem. The alternating keeps you going longer on those long climbs.
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Old 11-03-08, 02:59 PM   #12
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As already stated, my first rule of climbing is to shift up at least a gear, maybe two. That takes some practice to make sure you start in the right place, because if you're in too high a gear in the first place, then shift up, you've cooked your goose.

I do remember some of our early attempts at standing. They resulted in such uncontrolled laughter that we had to sit back down in order to regain control of the bike!

It takes practice and communication. We're now to the point that I can just stand at will, and Pam naturally follows. The fact that I upshift going up a hill is probably her cue that something is about to happen, but she never misses a beat!
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Old 11-03-08, 09:44 PM   #13
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We set up or first tandem out of phase but Red Rider could never get used to standing that way. She described it as "trying to dance with someone who can't stay on the beat". Needless to say that ended our expiriment with OOP. At first we would communicate on standing but now if I stand she decides to stand or not. Sometimes we just naturally stand together sometimes I start and sometimes she does. On long climbs we take turns. We don't exactly hold still when sprinting but we don't throw the bike around either. I guess what I am trying to say is it all comes so naturally now we don't really think about it.
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Old 11-04-08, 12:18 AM   #14
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We ride OOP and stand together on steep climbs or while accelerating after a sharp turn, a stop sign or a traffic light. We stand alternatively to take butt brakes, to give tired legs a brake on long climbs, to finish (crest) rollers strong, etc.

Since our cadence is between 85 and 90 we shift up one, two or even three gears just before standing. If I want to stand, the shifting tells my wife that I am about to stand. If she wants to stand, she runs a finger up my lower back and after I shift then she stands.
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Old 11-04-08, 01:40 AM   #15
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As Red Rider notes, once you get the hang of standing up
and pedaling in low torque situations, the real challenge is
to synchronize your back and forth sideways motions.
Standing can rapidly get out of whack if the bike is
thrown too hard side to side by one or both riders and worse
for the pilot is when the pilot goes one way and the stoker
the other, which is the problem with OOP. You have to
try to put most of your momentum into up/down and less
into side to side. Think of it as running in place. On a
singleton you can throw the bike side to side with
abandon, but not on a tandem. Once you get the hang of
it you can really go up short hills and explode away from
singletons as Merlin notes. You can't jump as hard as
a singleton however, if they know what you are planning
but the top end for a strong team will be higher than all
but the strongest singletons.
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Old 11-04-08, 02:51 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by cornucopia72 View Post
We ride OOP and stand together on steep climbs or while accelerating after a sharp turn, a stop sign or a traffic light. We stand alternatively to take butt brakes, to give tired legs a brake on long climbs, to finish (crest) rollers strong, etc.

Since our cadence is between 85 and 90 we shift up one, two or even three gears just before standing. If I want to stand, the shifting tells my wife that I am about to stand. If she wants to stand, she runs a finger up my lower back and after I shift then she stands.
Nice to hear the perspective of another OOP tandem team. I agree - when Hermes shifts up, I know he intends to stand and I am ready to join him.
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Old 11-04-08, 02:54 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sch View Post
Standing can rapidly get out of whack if the bike is
thrown too hard side to side by one or both riders and worse
for the pilot is when the pilot goes one way and the stoker
the other, which is the problem with OOP.
Hermes and I ride OOP, stoker leading. We don't experience any side to side motion - rather, it feels smooth and seamless.
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Old 11-04-08, 08:17 PM   #18
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Well, that was the point, try to reduce side to side motion vector as
much as possible and use as much up-down motion as feasible.
Mandatory on a tandem with OOP and with a little practice comes
easily and works about as well as throwing oneself vigorously
and is a lot smoother. Contrast pro sprints with massive side
to side motions and 1500W short term power outputs for seconds
with classic Lance dancing for kilometers with llittle side to side
oscillation, just up and down at 400+W.
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Old 11-05-08, 10:32 PM   #19
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We're currently trying to learn. Not going all that well, since stoker can't stand on her single. But we are getting better. Sometimes we get 3-4 strokes in a row that feel nice.

It has always seemed to me that it's a question of the location of the contact patch vs. the weighted pedal. IOW, I feel the least effort on my single if I rock the bike just so that I don't feel any torque on the bars when the new foot comes down, because the new foot is then somewhat over the contact patch. When I stand without rocking, I have to use a good bit of force on the bars to "pry" the bike into staying upright, since my foot is then well to one side of the contact patch.

OTOH, I'm a natural sprinter, so I'm also accustomed to using the upper body force on the bars to pry the bike away from the weighted foot, thus increasing the force applied to that foot. However, I find that I climb with less effort if I rock the bike over earlier than I would when sprinting, so that the bike is already over then the new foot comes down. Not rocking all that far, maybe 5" to each side. Stoker is a bit freaked, since she uses the bars to balance when out of the saddle and hates it when they go back and forth. OTOH, it takes a lot of force for me to hold the bike upright against our weight shift if we don't rock.

Does any of this make any sense to anyone?
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