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  1. #1
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Tandem Versus Single Bike Performance

    Last week, Velodiva and I spent a one week vacation cycling in Southern California with friends Sevenrider and his wife. We decided to take both our tandem and singles. My wife wanted more single work due to upcoming road races. It was a great time cycling with friends and enjoying an area where we used to live for 16 years.

    By happenstance, we collected some interesting data comparing tandems and singles riding over the same course. Since cycling is very individualistic and condition dependent, YMMV by a lot. However, we thought we would share the information.

    The other interesting point is that both my wife and I have been training and racing at the velodrome. So our spin is very smooth and 100 cadence seems easy. This was the first time on the tandem in a couple of months.

    The ride along the coast from Carlsbad to La Jolla is one of our favorites and is pretty flat except for the climb up Torrey Pines Hill and then the descent into La Jolla.

    The first time we did the route, we used the tandem but limited the ride to the top and Torrey Pines hill and then returned. The next day, we rode the singles and cycled from Carlsbad to La Jolla for lunch.

    Results...based upon Garmin 705 data.

    The active riding time from Carlsbad to the top of Torrey Pines hill was essentially the same both days. It was one minute shorter on the singles but within the margin of error. The division of work between the singles and tandem was about the same and maybe we pulled a little more on the singles than the tandem did. Riding with the other tandem on our singles or on our tandem did not seem to change the time. Clearly, as a group, we were limited by each others fitness / strengths and weaknesses. Our general impression was no advantage to the tandem or singles in this case.

    Hill climbing...there are numerous threads and debates about hill climbing on a tandem versus climbing on a single.

    I took some data points off the Garmin. Since we did not plan this, I do not have lap times and had to use estimates for a start and finish. The climb up Torrey Pines hill is approximately 1.6 miles long at an average grade of ~5% with some sections at 7 and 8%.

    Tandem:
    Time: 8:13
    Typical Climbing Speed: 10 mph
    Gearing 39/25 or 39/22
    Level of Effort: Slightly above threshold
    Team weight: 280 pounds
    Bike weight: bike, water, bag, tools, rack other stuff ~42 pounds

    Velodiva:
    Time: 8:19
    Typical Climbing Speed: 10 mph
    Gearing 39/23 (my guess)
    Level of Effort: Slightly above threshold
    Weight: 108 pounds
    Bike weight: bike, water, bag, tools, other stuff 18 pounds

    Hermes:
    Time: 8:33 (I slowed down a little at the top to see where V'Diva was)
    Typical Climbing Speed: 10 mph
    Gearing 34/21
    Level of Effort: Slightly above threshold
    Weight: 172 pounds
    Bike weight: bike, water, bag, tools, other stuff 18 pounds

    The times are all within my the error of my ability to select start and finish points on the graphs and note times. Even though the tandem was faster, it is well within the margin of error so for this climb, we did not see any advantage or disadvantage to the tandem or singles.

    Our spin / cadence and power on this trip was the best ever. There may be something to riding a fixed gear bike, or more than likely, track racing and training at high cadence and power.
    Last edited by Hermes; 05-04-09 at 12:38 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Thanks for posting. I found it interesting.
    Sheldon Hall
    Greenfield, IN

  3. #3
    Buh'wah?! Amani576's Avatar
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    This is the reason why my next bike is going to a fixed gear.
    -Gene-

  4. #4
    SWS: Small Wheel Syndrome kb5ql's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    Last week, Velodiva and I spent a one week vacation cycling in Southern California ...
    Interesting. I was comparing our individual/tandem efforts up Old La Honda and have come to a similar conclusion. I would say we're in the 28-30 minute range up OLH on average. Thanks to my stoker, I consistently get the best results on the tandem. The slowest is the Bike Friday, with my plastic bike somewhere in the middle.

    Great info. Thanks!

  5. #5
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amani576 View Post
    This is the reason why my next bike is going to a fixed gear.
    -Gene-
    Riding / racing fixed gear at the track is fun and a great workout.

    Quote Originally Posted by kb5ql View Post
    Interesting. I was comparing our individual/tandem efforts up Old La Honda and have come to a similar conclusion. I would say we're in the 28-30 minute range up OLH on average. Thanks to my stoker, I consistently get the best results on the tandem. The slowest is the Bike Friday, with my plastic bike somewhere in the middle.

    Great info. Thanks!
    We have climbed OLH on the tandem but not recently. I was wondering if we would get the similar results on OLH where the tandem time was equal to the average of our individual times.

  6. #6
    Senior Member mkane77g's Avatar
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    I like climbing with the tandem with the extra motor

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