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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 01-18-09, 05:18 PM   #1
Nanomite
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Tandem wannabe

Since I'm hell bent on getting my wife to ride (the CAAD9 didn't work out.. different story) and Charmed mentioned how she started Tandems basically doing nothing but talking on the phone, I thought I'd try one. A woman I work with has one... but it's a freaking recumbent tandem.... meh. And then I realize a bud had one stashed for the past decade in his garage. So I get it (borrow) and ride it alone. Gears are a mess and loose chain. The LBS does a tune up yesterday and we rode it today. I'm pretty clear about the back seat person needs to stay straight. Like a motorcycle rider. I also got it that I need to state my intentions or we are going to get divorced of this hobby soon. Tandems are pretty cool though and if you can get 2 people in sync, it must be awesome.

So here's the problem. I got this weird wobble thing when we pedal. She knows to sit still and she is. When we coast (and I state coast) we are golden. Oh man, tandems have momentum. I couldn't get her above 8mph on her comfort cruiser. Today she saw 20. I asked and she said she was ok but I couldn't see the look on her face. Anyways, back on topic, the only thing I can see is that the pedals are not in sync. Is this critical?

Thanks for any ideas!
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Old 01-18-09, 06:06 PM   #2
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, the only thing I can see is that the pedals are not in sync. Is this critical?

Thanks for any ideas!
Pedals in sync, or out of sync is a matter of preference. There are a lot threads about it.Riding with the pedals 90 degrees out of phase has advantages. (i.e, one of the riders is always on a power stroke eliminating the dead spot).

On the other hand, in phase, makes it easier to stand,and corner, and may engender confidence from both riders feeling "in sync".

You can easily derail the timing chain and put it back on in sync to experiment with what works best for your team.
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Old 01-18-09, 06:58 PM   #3
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Also make sure she isn't giving you upper body feed back. I see some couples that use their upper bodies in sync and everything is fine. I you pedal with a quiet upper and she doesn't it can be a hand full.
I'm lucky both me and my wife are spinners and sit quietly while pedaling.
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Old 01-18-09, 07:16 PM   #4
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In- or out-of-phase is a question of personal preference and easily changed.
Could also be that either the pilot or stoker is trying to overpower the other's pedaling effort (most likely the pilot as you seem to be the morer aggressive rider). Even out the effort and your problems may be history.
Also, have ridden the Roland Mt. bike tandem years ago and found it to be very jerky response in the steering at slow speeds, especially going around a corner. Determined that those big knobby tires were the problem at slow speeds. At high speeds, they just howled like crazy.
Remember you're at bit new at this, so it takes patience and a few miles to get your act TWOgether!
Pedal on!
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Old 01-19-09, 09:34 AM   #5
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You may be feeling what you describe as wobble because the pedals are out of sync. When we first tried it, and again after we had ridden in sync for a long while, the first several miles felt pretty ....well for a lack of any other way to describe it....out of sync.

Put them in sync and try again. You'll find that stopping and starting will be quite a bit easier if you're in sync.

Beyond that, remember that she's got to trust you up front, and you can do a lot to instill that trust by communicating nearly everything you're doing as captain.

Have fun, and good luck!
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Old 01-19-09, 04:33 PM   #6
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Thank You!

I synced the pedals and the wobble was still there. Then I asked her not to pedal so hard and the wobble went away. I think she was just trying to hard. We are just ridding a mile or so right now and I'm trying to communicate and accommodate as mush as possible.
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Old 01-19-09, 06:37 PM   #7
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Also, different bikes, of different sizes have different amounts of stability. So if you want a keeper you might want to look at the different types of tandems and see which one fits you better. If you decide this is fun try to find a tandem dealer near you where you can try out different types of tandems. For instance, we thought Santana's drove more like a Lincoln, while Co-Motion were closer to BMWs. Some teams prefer the more solid feel, others like the quick handling. We have a Co-Motion Sky Cap (cappuccino with couplers). My captain was way bigger than me, so I could do calisthenics on the back and make little difference in how stable the bike was. But for folks that are closer to the same size, I'd think the type of bike would make a difference.
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Old 01-19-09, 06:58 PM   #8
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seat height?

Of course if her seat is a bit high then this can also cause here to shift weight while pedalling...?

it takes a while...

have fun
m
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Old 01-20-09, 12:10 AM   #9
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It helps a lot if both riders pedal similarly, both in terms of cadence and where they apply force during the pedal stroke. Your stoker, being fairly new to sport riding, probably pushes hard on the down stroke and then not during the rest of the stroke. I can't tell from the photo what sort of pedals those are. Clipless pedals, with force applied somewhat evenly around the stroke, make the ride smoother.
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Old 01-20-09, 12:15 AM   #10
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I think she was just trying to hard.
sounds like your stoker wants to make this work out, and doesn't want to hear any of those "she's not pedalling" comments!
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Old 01-20-09, 06:07 AM   #11
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sounds like your stoker wants to make this work out, and doesn't want to hear any of those "she's not pedalling" comments!

I agree with the comments above.

When riding off road, overall things are all good in moderation. When we need a big effort I ask and it usually happens. Things that cause grief, is the stoker standing or moving their weight without notice, stoker standing will immediately plot a new course if I'm not ready or aware. Without hesitation I'll ask if she stood up or moved to a new position by lifting all her weight on the pedals.

Though usually not as bad, is the stoker peeking around my shoulder. This is usually ok, excepting when they misinterpet an upcoming corner.

On the road, we do much better with things folks are saying here, somewhat balanced output with cranks in phase.

Don't give up easy, it takes a few miles to find perfect harmony.

PK

Last edited by PMK; 01-20-09 at 04:44 PM. Reason: my spelling was really bad today in the a.m.
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Old 01-20-09, 01:18 PM   #12
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If, as the captain, you stay relaxed you can absorb a whole lot of movin' around in the back seat. I would ride with a 5-year-old stoking and a 2-year-old in a baby seat... they would get to goofing around and really shift a lot of weight.

Riding with an erratic stoker is kind of like riding in a wind storm... stay relaxed, let the bike lean, but keep the course steady. You're the cap'n - you have the handlebars, so you have the control.
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Old 01-20-09, 07:27 PM   #13
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If, as the captain, you stay relaxed you can absorb a whole lot of movin' around in the back seat. I would ride with a 5-year-old stoking and a 2-year-old in a baby seat... they would get to goofing around and really shift a lot of weight.

Riding with an erratic stoker is kind of like riding in a wind storm... stay relaxed, let the bike lean, but keep the course steady. You're the cap'n - you have the handlebars, so you have the control.

Yes this... can't be stated better.
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Old 01-21-09, 02:22 AM   #14
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Advancing the captain's pedals by 90 degrees should reduce the wobble. Unless your stoker is considerably shorter than you, the photo suggests that the stoker's seat is too low any may contribute to the wobble. Raise her seat and advance your pedals.

Riding a tandem is like dancing a waltz. Once you get it right, it's wonderful!
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