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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 06-13-04, 09:45 AM   #1
tornadobass
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Go clipless?

Lately, a few people have suggested we look into a clipless pedal system for our Raleigh Companion, a comfort tandem. Most of our rides are in the 10 to 20 mile range, but we might do something longer eventually...even toying with one day of RAGBRAI this summer.

The bike now has comfort pedals and they're working okay, especially for rides that involve a few traffic stops.

Should we consider some kind of basic clipless system? If so, should we think about swapping between clipless and comfort pedals, depending on the kind of ride?

Suggestions for basic models of pedal and shoes?

Dan Berkowitz
Iowa City, Iowa
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Old 06-13-04, 10:35 AM   #2
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My recommendation is double-sided SPD pedals and MTB or touring shoes. If you think you want to hedge your bet (you don't), Shimano makes a platform/ SPD double-sided pedal.
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Old 06-13-04, 11:50 AM   #3
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If this is going to be your first clipless experience, my suggestion is to start with your single bike to get the hang of it. Falling over at a stop especially on a tandem is no fun.
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Old 06-13-04, 01:44 PM   #4
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I've yet to meet anybody who, once they got acclimated to using clipless pedals, wanted to go back.
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Old 06-13-04, 03:05 PM   #5
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I'm thinking hard about this...we just got back from a ride out in the Iowa countryside...lots and lots of hills...had to get down to our lowest gear several times to keep going...Holly asked to walk one hill, but we made it. OTOH, we hit 33.5 mph coasting downhill once and several times over 30 mph.

Hopefully, a clipless system would make part of the hills and flats easier. Probably riding more often would help, too

Dan
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Old 06-13-04, 03:08 PM   #6
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I have ridden clipless for a number of years on single bikes, but we road our tandem for a month or so before I went clipless. I installed one sided clipless pedals at the captains position so that if someone who didn't have clipless shoes (like my wife) wanted to captain one of the kids it would still work fine. I purchased Wellgo one sided pedals. Both my wife and my elder daughter (she is 10) serve regularly as stoker, so on the stoker's position I installed Power Grips. They are kind of like toe clips without the bracket. It's a wide strap that angles across the pedal. When you put your foot in it tightens down with the motion of you foot. For an explanation of how they work see:

http://www.ekosport.com/pg_benefits.shtml

So far this setup has been a good solution for our pedaling needs, and it avoids the expense of repeated clipless shoe purchases for a growing 10year old.

I hope we'll see you on RAGBRAI, my daughter and I are planning to do the whole coast to coast on our Burley Samba.
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Old 06-14-04, 02:46 PM   #7
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Do the existing pedals have toe-clips? Looks like they weren't issued with them. If you're not ready to go clipless, at the very least, get some toe-clips, esp. for the stoker. Won't buy you as much advantage as clipless, but at least you'll get the full pedal stroke. Whatever you do, don't try something like RAGBRAI on plain-old platform pedals.

Do you have single bikes with toe-clip-equipped pedals? If so, just put those pedals on the Companion for a while, to give yourself a feel. As stated above, you can then put the clipless pedals on the single bikes to "train" yourselves how to use them, and eventually swap back so the clipless pedals are on the Companion.
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Old 06-14-04, 07:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tornadobass
we just got back from a ride out in the Iowa countryside...lots and lots of hills
Hmmm, lot's of hills. You must have been riding out by Sugar Bottom or the Dam! Certainly if you rode down to Hills, you didn't see many hills :-)

I spent my first 31 years in Iowa City and North Liberty, so I know the area well. I live in Madison now where the road riding is second to none. The hills west of Madison are tough, but the views are worth the effort. I still miss the rides down there, though.

I agree with the others that clipless pedals have benefits and you should give them a try. I've used Looks all along, but I'm considering Crank Bro's Egg Beater pedals for my tandem. http://www.crankbrothers.com/products/pedals.php

Can anyone comment on the Egg Beaters.

-murray
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Old 06-17-04, 11:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue
Do the existing pedals have toe-clips? Looks like they weren't issued with them. If you're not ready to go clipless, at the very least, get some toe-clips, esp. for the stoker. Won't buy you as much advantage as clipless, but at least you'll get the full pedal stroke. Whatever you do, don't try something like RAGBRAI on plain-old platform pedals.

Do you have single bikes with toe-clip-equipped pedals? If so, just put those pedals on the Companion for a while, to give yourself a feel. As stated above, you can then put the clipless pedals on the single bikes to "train" yourselves how to use them, and eventually swap back so the clipless pedals are on the Companion.
The Companion uses plastic comfort pedals...no way to put on toe clips. I do have some old touring singles with toe clips on their pedals...I guess I could swap them around to see how it goes. I like the idea of learning clipless on a single first and then swapping them over once I'm comfortable.

Dan
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Old 07-01-04, 07:51 PM   #10
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After reading all these posts and poking around the web to learn about what's out there, we went to our LBS today. We bought Specialized Sport MTB shoes and Shimano 520 pedals. After each of us clipped in and out several times, we headed off on a short ride to the DQ. Clearly, there's an easy gain in power without too much more effort and the feet feel more comfortable as well.

We passed a group of three riders on the bike path who I thought were doing a decent pace...quite a surprise...and they smiled and called out "tandem ho!" Fun.

BTW, a quick lesson learned at the end of the trip. The usual procedure for getting off the bike is for me to plant my feet on the ground, brace the bike, and then let my wife off the copilot's seat and dismount. Well, this time, I'd just unclipped my right shoe when she decided to climb off...on the left! I got the left shoe out before the bike hit the ground, but she did a slow roll onto her back on the driveway and lay there for a few minutes, much surprised. I guess we'll need to learn an all-clear signal before she dismounts next time. Are we the only ones?

Dan
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Old 02-02-05, 06:24 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SDS
My recommendation is double-sided SPD pedals and MTB or touring shoes. If you think you want to hedge your bet (you don't), Shimano makes a platform/ SPD double-sided pedal.
If I'm not mistaken, the pedals with the platform/SPD is the M324 model that Shimano makes for first-time riders that are thinking about going clipless. We are thinking about buying these pedals but correct me if I'm wrong, "Don't tandems have odd number of left vs. right thread pedals?"
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Old 02-02-05, 06:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mhendricks
If I'm not mistaken, the pedals with the platform/SPD is the M324 model that Shimano makes for first-time riders that are thinking about going clipless. We are thinking about buying these pedals but correct me if I'm wrong, "Don't tandems have odd number of left vs. right thread pedals?"
No. Unless someone klugged-together three sets of cranks to create a tandem cross-over crankset, tandems simply require two pair of pedals (or three pair for a triplet, four pair for a quad, and five pair for a quint).

Note: There are two configurations for connecting the cranks between riders on a tandem with a timing chain.

The most simple is what is referred to as a "single-side drive" where the tandem simply uses two standard cranksets and runs the timing chain on the right side of the tandem. As you can imagine, unless you used a rear crankset with four chain rings (which can be done), the normal way that this is accomplished is by using the smallest chainring position on a triple crankset to drive the timing chainring which effectively limits the tandem to a "double" crankset. This is all that's needed for most teams that race or for folks who will not ride in mountainous terrain.

Tandem cross-over cranksets do, as the name implies, move the timing chain to the left side of the tandem, such that the powertrain "crosses over" the centerline of the tandem. These cross-over cranksets are manufactured specifically for tandems. A tandem cross-over crankset can be cobbled or klugged together using three sets of standard bike square taper cranks. The two of the drive-side cranks are mounted on the left side of the tandem and what is normally the left single crank from one of the three sets is moved over to the front right crank position. The three "backwards threaded" cranks are then drilled-out to accept a 9/16" x 20 pitch Helicoil so that the correct threading is restored to permit the use of matched pairs of pedals. While you could install left-hand pedals on right and right-hand pedals on left, you run the risk of the pedals extracting themselves unless an aggressive threadlocking liquid is used.

Last edited by TandemGeek; 02-02-05 at 06:53 PM.
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Old 02-02-05, 06:55 PM   #13
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Wow I've been considering a bicycle built for two for me an the little lady and clipless was one of the things I'd wondered about.
I knew we'd go clipless since we're both quite addiced to them for single bike use but wondered what people who've done it first hand think.
My main question is that if I were captain (captain I just learned on this thread too) would it be possible for only me to unclip with one leg and support the bike?
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Old 02-02-05, 07:27 PM   #14
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Yes at stop lights thats what we do. I ride clipless (spd mtn pedals so that I can walk in the shoes if need be) and she rides in clips but keeps her feet tucked in so we can take off quicker from stioplights.
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Old 02-02-05, 07:28 PM   #15
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What an interesting question for a "thread".....

Just like two single bikes, tandems have left-handed threads on the left, and right-handed threads on the right. So a single set of pedals will do both crank pedal holes on the back, or both crank pedal holes on the front.

The confusing difference might have entered because with crossover drive, on the right front there is a crankarm without a spider with right-handed threads, and on the left back there is a crankarm with a spider with left-handed threads. Without left-handed threads on the left and right-handed threads on the right, epicyclic motion would tend to unscrew the pedals.

Yes, you can unclip one leg and support the bike. Look at my post in Mindi Rosenthal's thread "Sidi Cycling Shoes" (?) near the bottom of the first page, and then for a broader range of opinions, use the Search function to look for threads that include the term "The Proper Method", or just "Proper Method". Feel free to ask if you have any more questions.
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Old 02-02-05, 07:34 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glowingrod
My main question is that if I were captain (captain I just learned on this thread too) would it be possible for only me to unclip with one leg and support the bike?
Yes, it is possible and in some respects it is recommended. Here is a link to a previous posting I made regarding this very subject: Proper Technique

However, like so many things about cycling and tandeming, there is no such thing as "the best (way, bike, ride, you name it)" only "the best for you".
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Old 02-03-05, 04:33 AM   #17
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We have done the power grips for a few years then we switched to Ritchey Logic Pro ATB Pedals for $49.95 from Nashbar. We like the idea that we can walk around without looking like elves. Lake MX101 Wide 2004 Mountain Shoe, around $50.00. My wife took to the ATB pedals right away. So far the combo worked for just under 950 miles without any problems. Rain, mud, bike falling and transport.
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Old 02-03-05, 06:10 AM   #18
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When I started using clipless pedals I used the Shimano PD M-324 which has a platform on one side so you don't need to clip in if you want to ride. I have since put them on an everyday rider so retain that option. There are many times I go for a quick ride to the store without my bike shoes using these pedals. I would also recommend using mountain bike shoes so you have some traction when you step down and don't slide on the metal.
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Old 02-03-05, 07:46 AM   #19
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It's fun seeing this thread return after 1/2 a year. We've been happy with the clipless pedals. My wife has started unclipping before we stop, although I prefer she stay clipped in for easier starts.

I read somewhere that a good way for the captain to hold the bike when stopped is to scoot back slightly until the horn of the saddle rests against the hip. That way, the bike is supported by more of a tripod than by two arms wrestling with the handlebars. I've used that technique quite often...it's possible to let go of the bars and keep everything steady.

BTW, I can't imagine not riding our tandem clipped in now, but my commuter bike still has the comfort pedals and I don't feel less in control for my little ride to work.
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Old 02-03-05, 05:30 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SDS
My recommendation is double-sided SPD pedals and MTB or touring shoes. If you think you want to hedge your bet (you don't), Shimano makes a platform/ SPD double-sided pedal.
Just saw these pedals on EBAY and was wondering if anyone has ever used these. Some say that these are comparable to the Shimano M324 pedals. Wellgo spd clipless/platform COMBO pedals NEW!
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Old 02-03-05, 10:46 PM   #21
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Have used toeclips/straps, Powergrips and clipless.
Clipless created a knee problem for the stoker and she went back to clips/straps.
Pilot did not care one way or the other and reverted back to clips/straps too.
As long as we have our collection of cycling shoes it'll be a while before we attempt to go clipless again. Perhaps pedals with more float could help out stoker's knee problems.
Even on my single racing bike, still use straps/clips. Cinch up the straps for serious riding. Retro? Yup, works for us!
Nice ot have choices!
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Old 02-04-05, 07:54 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zonatandem
Perhaps pedals with more float could help out stoker's knee problems.
Two words: Speedplay Frogs
http://www.speedplay.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.frog

When we first tried these our feet rotated so much that we felt like we were walking on ice or an oil slick floor for the first few miles. After a while you didn't think about it all that much. Second ride, still a bit weird at the start of the ride, but then it became a non-issue. It was only after riding them for a little while that I realized how much of a difference it made to have all that float because, a) all knee discomfort was gone and, b) if our feet didn't want to naturally rotate we wouldn't have been made so conscious about how much they were moving around when we first started to use the Frogs.

Your results may vary...
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Old 02-04-05, 09:41 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zonatandem
Have used toeclips/straps, Powergrips and clipless.
Clipless created a knee problem for the stoker and she went back to clips/straps.
Pilot did not care one way or the other and reverted back to clips/straps too.
As long as we have our collection of cycling shoes it'll be a while before we attempt to go clipless again. Perhaps pedals with more float could help out stoker's knee problems.
Even on my single racing bike, still use straps/clips. Cinch up the straps for serious riding. Retro? Yup, works for us!
Nice ot have choices!
What kind of clips are you using? I've seen those strapless clips and have considered buying those. Our Raleigh Coupe came with clips/straps but because my feet are size 12 they won't quite fit into the clips. Any suggestions?
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Old 02-05-05, 03:21 AM   #24
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Another thing to consider for those looking into clipless systems is that a few companies manufacture clip on platforms. That way you'll have platforms when you want, and double (or quadrouple if you go with eggbeaters) clipless when you don't. The platforms are far cheaper for SPDs, other systems often require the purchase of a platform and cleats.

I plan on making my own once my cleats wear.
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Old 02-05-05, 09:59 AM   #25
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Can you point to a site where I can find platforms that don't require cleats? The ones I've seen are about $25 per pair and require cleats, too.

Thanks!
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