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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 03-02-09, 10:11 PM   #1
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Do I really need these wide handlebars?

We picked up a used Arriva last week. It's an XL and fits up well since I'm 6'1" and my wife is 6' even. The bike came with 45cm captains bars and a 47cm cow horn bar for the stoker.

I usually ride a 42 and the 45s seem pretty huge. I can see wanting a wider bar for extra leverage balancing the bike at stops, but I'd rather go to a 44 or 42 and get a fit more like my road bike.

Same thing for the back, the cow horns are pretty huge. My backside fits easily between 42s which would be much better for my wife, so I see no reason not to change them out.

But what about the front end? Can I go to a 42 also and still have good leverage on the bike or is it normal to use a slightly wider bar?


(all measurements are c/c)
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Old 03-02-09, 10:23 PM   #2
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... normal to use a slightly wider bar?

What's normal? I think that conventional thought is to have a bit wider bars for leverage up front, but if have decent upper body strength to handle a narrower bar, that's okay. I personally think that if the stoker is really smooth, that narrow (or normal width) bars are less twitchy when the captain moves around.
The wider stokers handlebar is for those of us captains that might be a bit wide and don't wish to:
A) have the rear bars against our rears reminding us how wide we are.
B) have the stokers hands mashed between the bars and our rears.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle ... I mean Reduce, Use, and Cycle.
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Old 03-04-09, 03:43 PM   #3
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I too got a tandem with 46 handlebars where as I ride 42. Found it very uncomfortable even with a shorten reach. Switched them to 42 and couldnt be happier. I found I could steer better too with the 42.

Yes, if the stoker handlebar will not interfere with the captain's pedaling strokes you can swap them out to a smaller size.
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Old 03-04-09, 04:13 PM   #4
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I have 44's in the front and 42's in the back. The back is a Profile bullhorn that is slightly tapered inward towards the horn tips. My wife likes to ride more upright, so they are a little narrow for my hips when her hands are on the horns. I'm changing hers out for a Profile 44. If you want the 42's, I'll make it worth your while. They are less than a year old. Here is the Profile site
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Old 03-04-09, 04:38 PM   #5
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Thanks Rish & VG,

I'm definitely going to put on 42s for my bars. I bought some Easton EA70 bars, but still have to get a 1/25" to 31.8mm captain's stem and I haven't sat down and figured out the angle and length I want yet.

My wife wants to ride the cow bars for a few more weeks before we swap around her stuff, but I'll be having to get a new stoker stem too, since I don't want to deal with anymore 25.4 handlebars. The beauty is the new stems have screw off fronts, so I can change stoker bars from cow to drop really quickly depending on mood and who is riding.

Plus all that those stems and bars are ratty looking and un-polished or un-anodized ( I can't tell if they're Al or steel) and are getting replace with nice looking black fittings.

VG, I don't think I'm going to go with 26.0 for the stoker stem based on the availability of 26.0 and 31.8 bars. Still looking at what's available....
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Old 03-04-09, 05:11 PM   #6
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Something to keep in mind about the stoker's bars - while your hips may fit between them while standing, your experience on the road may be slightly different.

1) Your stoker's hands on the bar will narrow that width somewhat.
2) When you put your foot down while waiting at a light, you may find the bar restricts movement to the side.
3) When leaning into a corner, if you rotate your inner leg and point your knee into the turn, you may find the bar restricts your movement.

Your mileage may vary, but the above was my experience and caused us to go up a size. As for the captain's bars, go with what's comfortable for you.
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Old 03-04-09, 11:10 PM   #7
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Alu or steel bars? Simple check:
Put a magnet to 'em. Sticks to steel but not alu.
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Old 03-05-09, 10:22 AM   #8
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IMO your tandem should fit just like your roadbike in all aspects including handlebar width.
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Old 03-18-09, 09:34 PM   #9
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I am on the contrary side to mose of the experiences posted. I am 5'11" and switched out 42 captain bars to shallow drop 45s. Very happy with the switch. For me, it was not the added leverage (minimal if you do the math), but the wider bar stance gave me more room on the top of the bars for a good handhold and especially made steering a little slower and less "sensitive" when in the drops. We are casual riders not racers (anymore) so the wider bars well suited our maturing riding style. They did feel funny at first but I got used to them quickly and really love them. I am NOT thinking of going to a wider bar on my single though as it does ride well just as it is.
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Old 03-19-09, 11:35 PM   #10
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Last year I switched out of standard flat bar to the widest the LBS had. Was OK, but I am changing them out to my (narrower) Scott AT-4's, reclaimed from a little used commuter half bike. Hoping to gain some new hand positions and somewhat less of the 'Longhorn' look.
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Old 03-21-09, 01:13 PM   #11
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Surely the width of the bars is dictated by the width of one's shoulders; I am 6ft with broad shoulders and have 46in bars on the front and 42 for my wife/stoker.
I am thinking of going from 44in to 46in on my solo bikes as this should improve my breathing.
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Old 03-21-09, 01:21 PM   #12
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Why would you need more leverage on a tandem?

It doesn't take a lot of strength to turn the bars, and for leverage on hard standing climbs, you're probably riding the tandem just as hard as your single.
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Old 03-23-09, 08:01 PM   #13
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My tandem partner tells me that where he most needs the leverage is when starting the tandem and steering sort of straight and somewhat upright,
and when stopped, with him balancing the tandem upright while I am seated and clipped in.

Some couples can coordinate starting where both people have 1 foot on the ground - we are not one of those couples.

My partner also reports that the arm strength used when muscling the tandem comes in handy when he's riding singletrack on his mtb.
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