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  1. #1
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    Front-recumbent tandems.

    I'm thinking of things like Hase's or Bileney's, where the stoker is in front in a recumbent position and the captain is behind in a DF configuration. Has anyone had any experience with them?

    On the one hand, the stoker has a better view. On the other, s/he has everything coming at him/her with no control, which could be scary.

    Also, balancing on a recumbent and on a DF are two very different things. With the stoker trying to balance one way and the captain another, doesn't that cause problems?

  2. #2
    Tandemania tandemania2's Avatar
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    For the best stoker view, go back to back.

    Last edited by tandemania2; 11-19-08 at 01:06 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by tandemania2 View Post
    For the best stoker view, go back to back.

    That looks like the cycling version of the Pushmepullyew from Dr. Doolittle.

    Some people get nausiated when they ride backwards.

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    Tandemania tandemania2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elkhound View Post
    That looks like the cycling version of the Pushmepullyew from Dr. Doolittle.

    Some people get nausiated when they ride backwards.
    Some do indeed. My stoker doesn't though and prefers the back to back riding to our regular tandem. She gets a 180 degree view and enjoys talking to people we pass. People ask her if she minds not being able to see what's ahead and she answers that she really can't see much facing forward anyway. She is in a much better position to spot traffic for me on the back to back. I can usually judge the speed and distance of overtaking traffic by the volume and pitch of her voice when she says, "Car back!"
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  5. #5
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    Hey, if it works for you, great!

  6. #6
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elkhound View Post
    I'm thinking of things like Hase's or Bileney's, where the stoker is in front in a recumbent position and the captain is behind in a DF configuration. Has anyone had any experience with them?
    I have a Counterpoint Opus II, which is more or less the original semi-recumbent tandem. I use it as a second car, for taking my daughter to soccer games and that kind of thing; and for recreational rides with either my daughter, or my son, or my wife. They all love sitting out front.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elkhound View Post
    On the one hand, the stoker has a better view. On the other, s/he has everything coming at him/her with no control, which could be scary.
    My wife thought she would hate it. But she loves it. There is a trust issue, kinda like being the passenger in a car, but (apparently) you get over it!



    Quote Originally Posted by Elkhound View Post
    Also, balancing on a recumbent and on a DF are two very different things. With the stoker trying to balance one way and the captain another, doesn't that cause problems?
    Oddly, no, it doesn't! You know, one doesn't exactly balance a bicycle; rather, you steer into a perpetual fall, always keeping the bike under you. The stoker, sitting out front, does not have too steer, and doesn't have to balance at all. My son likes to lean over to the side and look behind us; when he does that, I don't even know what I do to compensate, but it's no problem either way.

    When we get on, I hold the handlebars steady while the stoker climbs on; once s/he is settled, feet clipped in &c, I push off just like on a regular bike. Stoker isn't allowed to pedal until I have my feet set, but stoker can hear and feel it when I start pedaling, so verbal communication is not even necessary. Stoker, being right in front of pilot, can hear everything said. It's a little harder for pilot to hear stoker talking, especially at speed.

    I fell over once while piloting the Opus II. I was turning too sharp, my daughter's foot hit the front wheel, I couldn't steer, and over we went. This only happens with a very short stoker, of course (my daughter is small for a 9-YO). This was about 6 weeks ago. My elbow still hurts. My daughter just put her feet on the ground as the bike went down, like hopping off a swing set. Didn't bother her at all!

    All in all, I couldn't be happier with mine.

    Search the forums for Counterpoint, Opus, Semi-recumbent, etc. There is also a Taiwanese version, Performer Family Tandem or something; you'll find a post about that somewhere.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    I have a Counterpoint Opus II, .
    What are the drawbacks to a semi recumbent? How is it at high speeds or on sprints? Climbing? On bad / unpaved roads?

    I want to try one, it does have some clear advantages. On our standard tandem our distance per ride is limited by time on the saddle for my stoker, once stoker is tired the ride is no fun, even if captain can take most of the pedal load. On a semi-recumbent looks like the stoker can really relax if he/she wants to.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]www.tangotandem.org

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xanti Andia View Post
    What are the drawbacks to a semi recumbent? How is it at high speeds or on sprints? Climbing? On bad / unpaved roads?
    Good question. If they're so wonderful, why doesn't everyone use them?

    You remember the joke about the two guys riding a tandem through West Virginia?

    "Peddle harder; I hear banjo music."

    (I am from West Virginia; I'm allowed.)

  9. #9
    Senior Member Stray8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tandemania2 View Post
    For the best stoker view, go back to back.


    Nice! All the stoker needs now is a tailgun....

  10. #10
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Rode the Counterpoint years ago, both as stoker and as pilot.
    As pilot it is more like riding a mountain bike with a more upright position. Stoker sits in front of you, so you can whisper 'sweet nothings' into her ear! Felt it was a bit on the slow side.
    As stoker, was able to get more oomph out of the pedals by pushing my back into the seatback. Ideal position for folks who are camera nuts. At first you feel a bit more vulnerable as you are sitting up front without any control, but you soon get over that.
    Some were available with independent pedal cadence (extra freewheel/cassette).
    Certainly a viable option for stoker who wants an unobstructed view and does not like to ride upright.
    As for mounting, dismounting, stopping the bike: do it same as a standard tandem. Piilot gets on first, holds both brakes and both feet flat on the ground. Stoker gets seated next and off you go. At traffic lights/stop signs stoker stays seated and clipped in.
    The wheelbase is considerably shorter than a standard or a 'bent tandem.
    Definitely a niche item in the tandem niche market, so due to low production the price can be rather high.
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  11. #11
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xanti Andia View Post
    What are the drawbacks to a semi recumbent? How is it at high speeds or on sprints? Climbing? On bad / unpaved roads?

    I want to try one, it does have some clear advantages. On our standard tandem our distance per ride is limited by time on the saddle for my stoker, once stoker is tired the ride is no fun, even if captain can take most of the pedal load. On a semi-recumbent looks like the stoker can really relax if he/she wants to.
    All good questions!

    My Opus II handles beautifully at high speeds; my wife and I hit 39.5 mph on a downhill a couple Sundays ago, and at that speed the thing felt perfectly stable. But it's rare we hit any kind of high speeds, mainly because the pilot (that's me) sits completely upright, so the aerodynamics are rather bad. I can't speak to sprints; but I assure you, when both riders exert themselves, you can get that thing moving very quickly. My Opus II has a conventional Northroad style handlebar, like an old 3-speed, which is comfortable, but the way the handlebar is set up, directly behind the stoker's seat, limits its movement. I'm not sure there would be room for a drop bar there. Some of the newer semi-recumbents have a goofy looking high-rise handlebar, which I haven't tried; I suspect it has the advantage of swinging wide around the stoker, allowing for a shorter wheel base etc. But as I say, I haven't tried it.

    We haven't had problems climbing; there is some truth to the lore that recumbents are bad for climbing, but one can overcome that by spinning a low gear; and on the semi-recumbent, the pilot can still stand up and hammer if that's what's required. Even so, on some steep hills our speed has dropped to 6 mph.

    Bad / unpaved roads? Now you've hit the nail on the head! Whereas a DF bike rider can always lift him/herself up off the saddle, the recumbent rider does not have that option. I always try to avoid bumps, and warn the stoker when I know we're going to hit one, but inevitably there are bumps, and they are uncomfortable for the stoker. For this reason alone we have refrained from riding off-road. We have ridden on dirt and gravel roads, and the bike handles fine in those conditions, if you can handle the noise (Ouch! Ow! Ooof!) coming from the stoker.

    Other disadvantages? Well, it is big and heavy; it easily weighs as much as two ordinary touring bicycles. And it is very long. I have not tried transporting it by car, and wouldn't much want to. If we wanted to ride the bike across the country, for example, I really don't know how we'd get it out to Seattle or wherever we wanted to start from.

    The farthest my wife and I have ridden so far has been about 50 miles, at an average speed of about 15.5 mph. We could have gone plenty farther if we'd had more time. You're quite right: the stoker can relax. On the Opus, the stoker does not need to pedal if s/he doesn't feel like it, so we have never encountered a situation where the stoker was too tired to continue.

    I think the main reason you don't see them more often is that being custom made, they are expensive.

  12. #12
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elkhound View Post
    Good question. If they're so wonderful, why doesn't everyone use them?
    Fashion over function...

    It's the same reason you see very few recumbents, why most road tandems use 700c wheels vs. 26" wheels, why folks want to run low-spoke count racing wheels even if they're not racing, and why some consumers are willing to pay $250 for a pair of bib shorts that aren't appreciably better than the $80 models for folks who don't spend 6 hours a day on a bicycle wearing sponsor provided apparel.

    I have no interest in recumbents, but I see folks struggling on upright bikes and tandems all the time who would probably be better off, get more enjoyment from and ride further on a 'bent. Same thing goes for the daVinci tandems with ICS and the Counterpoint / Viewpoint / Harmony designs: there are clearly folks out there who would really be better off on these somewhat non-standard designs but who don't want to look odd or stick out. Conformity is a powerful thing...

    Now, it is also true that the Counterpoint / Viewpoint / Harmony tandems are expensive... which is also of good tandems: low-volume, made-to-order anything will always be more expensive than batch or mass produced items that leverage economies of scale. As for the quality of these tandems, it's about as good as it gets. I'm pretty sure most of the original Counterpoints and subsequent handful of Harmony models marketed under license by AngleTech were built by a well-known Seattle-based frame builder and the folks at Bilenky build all of the ViewPoints under some kind of obscure licensing arrangement with Jim Weaver, the inventor of the original Counterpoint.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 11-20-08 at 10:13 AM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    Fashion over function...
    ... under some kind of obscure licensing arrangement with Jim Weaver, the inventor of the original Counterpoint.
    Weaver's patent expired about five years ago.

    The patent on independent pedaling systems is not set to expire for some time. Presuming the owner pays the necessary fees, it will remain in force for close to a decade.

  14. #14
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WebsterBikeMan View Post
    Weaver's patent expired about five years ago.
    True, but there were purportedly some issues well before that happened. It was a strange and strained relationship as best as I can tell.

    [erroneous info redacted]
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 11-20-08 at 10:06 AM. Reason: erroneous info redacted

  15. #15
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    True, but there were purportedly some issues well before that happened. It was a strange and strained relationship as best as I can tell.
    On the internet I have read more than one account of why Weaver got out of the bicycle business. It's clear that some people don't know what they're talking about (including me). Do you have any first-hand information to share?

    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    However, the folks at Bilenky really did a lot to take the original design to an entirely new level...
    I've heard that too, but have not seen any specifics. Can you add anything?
    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    ... the addition of the optional dual transmission that affords independent gear selection and pedalling.
    is not a Bilenky innovation; my original Opus II has that.

  16. #16
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Do you have any first-hand information to share?

    Only second hand... which ties to the majority of what's on the 'net regarding a nuisance suit by a second-hand Counterpoint Presto owner that made the bike biz more of a hassle than it was worth, noting that like a lot of folks, Jim did bicycles as a hobby-turned-business and had other interests and a full-time career in music.

    I've heard that too, but have not seen any specifics. Can you add anything?

    I stand corrected on the independent, dual drive system: it was part of the original patent. Not sure why I associated that with Bilenky today (Brain Fart) and, in that respect, the "refinements" by Bilenky are probably just that... minor tweaks to the seat and a few other things unrelated to the basic and original design. Most of what I'm trying to recall was based on some discussions I had with someone who was very close to Jim and the Counterpoint Opus several years back.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 11-20-08 at 10:12 AM.

  17. #17
    rhm
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    My information is of a similar quality. Looking at his website I gather that Bilenky has tried numerous different frame configurations, so you have the option of BTC's (couplers), two 20" wheels rather than a 26" and a 20" (mine came with a 27"!) and so on. Mine is very nice indeed, but he makes even nicer ones....

  18. #18
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    The Hase version of the semi-recumbent tandem is called a Pino. My wife and I were seriously considering getting one, and while doing so I discovered pinoforum.de, which has a bunch of dedicated users contributing to the discussions. Most of it is in German, but there is an English section, and many of the Germans will respond to questions asked in that section, too.

  19. #19
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    The Pino introduced a full titanium model a few years back . . . beautiful!

  20. #20
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    The Pino introduced a full titanium model a few years back . . . beautiful!
    That is true, but the titanium version is not in their 2009 catalogue. The new ones are mostly aluminum, they are still offering a steel frame but it looks like they may be trying to phase that out.

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