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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 06-16-09, 10:26 AM   #1
DCwom
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Captian gear feedback

Now that we've racked a few miles on our new tandem my list of learning points has gotten reasonable small, but one of my most troubling things as captian is being decoupling from the drive train. I can no longer look down to see the front derailer alignment, nor hear when something is amiss at the cassette all the way in the back. To make things worse my stoker has never been really tuned-in to the drive train even on her single, and I'm forever saying, do you hear something? Thankfully the shifters have indicators that give me an idea of the relative position of the front derailer and the indexing on the rear has been spot-on.

So my question is has anyone devised a system to get good feedback from your stoker about the drive train?
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Old 06-16-09, 11:31 AM   #2
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We don't have gear indicators on our bike. Ours has bar end shifters. Early on, I asked my stoker to listen to and look down at the front derailer. If the chain was rubbing, she would say "trim".

After a while, I got better at hearing the front derailer and can now (for the most part) trim the front derailer on my own.
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Old 06-16-09, 12:39 PM   #3
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I can hear our FD if it is rubbing. I can try trimming either way to make it quiet. I can also hear our RD if things are not right. Had to make a slight adjustment mid-ride and the drivetrain became quiet. The only noise that I get happen when I am in the middle ring and using the bottom 2 cogs (11,12) because the chainline is such that the chain catches/rubs just a bit on the large chainring. My single does this too, so that tells me that it is time to coast or switch to the large chainring and a bigger cog. I have a gear indicator setup for the rear shifter. I can tell which chainring I'm in based on speed and approximate gear in the back. Our other tandem has a flightdeck computer. I find that the new tandem with campy shifters is easier to get the trim just right in the front.
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Old 06-16-09, 12:45 PM   #4
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My wife and I have been on a tandem for about 4 weeks. I would say "welcome to the club". When I initially got some cable stretch I had a devil of a time with the cassette, but if you're indexed a properly adjusted RD should not be a problem. Very hard for the stoker in any event to see the RD.

My FD is not indexed (it's a quad) and I'm still working on getting a feel with the Campy Ergo shifters. Work with your stoker in terms of trimming and I think the feel will develop. Go out on the bike by yourself on a quiet road and "look between your legs" (but don't spend much time there!). I've asked my stoker whenever I shift the FD to call out the chainring number which does help.
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Old 06-16-09, 01:27 PM   #5
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My stoker gives me feedback like "your killing me", that is my indication that i need to get to a smaller and gear and ease up. I usually only hear that in the beginning of the season though. On our daily training ride today I did not hear that once and it was our fastest time yet! But seriously we are new to this also. We just started riding late last summer. I had serious issues with shifting, the FDR would rub on the big ring and a few of the back gears would not always land. I took the new Burley back to Tandems East for a tune up and it shifts like butter, always true. I haven't even thought about the drive train and shifting since. If you bike is new take it in for a tune up - did wonders for me.
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Old 06-16-09, 10:54 PM   #6
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We use barcons and (at age 76) my hearing is still good enough to hear chain rub or noise on cassette. If I don't, my stoker (she's a kid at 74), would tell me.
After a few thousand miles you'll know if things don't sound right.
So keep your ears clean/tuned!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 06-17-09, 01:03 AM   #7
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Quite new at tandeming too, but with years of riding/racing solo I've developed a keen sense of feel/hearing etc when gears and F or R Ds are not right.

My VI stoker is very quick to tell me if something's not right and as we get better as a team we're finding he doesn't have to ask me to change up or down I'm doing that just before he asks, which really is an amazing experience, we're quickly becoming a well tuned machine.
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Old 06-17-09, 09:59 AM   #8
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That's why I love the flightdeck. It tells me what gear we are in. I can usually hear or feel if somethings rubbing. Hmm, can't always hear the stoker.......
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Old 06-17-09, 10:18 AM   #9
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That's why I love the flightdeck. It tells me what gear we are in. I can usually hear or feel if somethings rubbing. Hmm, can't always hear the stoker.......
Me too.

Flight Deck computers come into their own on a tandem. In addition to the gear indicator the "virtual cadence" function gives a clue as to when it's time to start pedaling again after coasting down a hill.
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Old 06-17-09, 01:00 PM   #10
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Even though our drive chain is Ultegra and XTR, I put on one of the DA inline indicators. I can look at the front, but stoker knows to say granny, middle or big if I ask. With the Ultegra FD, I don't need much trim, but I know from what cog I'm in when I need it and just adjust accordingly.
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Old 06-17-09, 01:32 PM   #11
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I've experienced the same thing as the OP. I can barely hear when things are off. On my singles I watch my front deraileur closely and can hear the slightest rubbing. With the tandem I can just barely hear when the front deraileur is rubbing. This is the single thing about riding a tandem that I find a downer.
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Old 06-17-09, 01:57 PM   #12
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I can pretty much always hear if the FD or something in the back end is rubbing.

I've also got pretty good at looking down and back.

Doesn't seem like a huge issue for us...
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Old 06-17-09, 03:41 PM   #13
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...nor hear when something is amiss at the cassette all the way in the back. To make things worse my stoker has never been really tuned-in to the drive train even on her single, and I'm forever saying, do you hear something?...
I understand what you are asking. I wish I could hear better than I do. However the reality for me is that if we are moving with any speed my hearing is further degraded by the wind in my ears and I do not hear if the rear is clicking from a misaligned chain from a rear shift to the next one or two larger cogs that didn't quite make it. We use a wide range cassette 11-34 and while I think the shifting is quite good given that spacing the shifting is not exceptionally crisp and it doesn't always make a clean shift just because I've clicked the brifter lever. So after a mis-shift, my wife will say, "It's not quite in."

My wife is very annoyed by the noise so she tells me quickly. Since your wife is not sensitive to it I would suggest the following.

Put your bike in a stand and sit down by the stoker crank. Shift the rear to one of the smaller cogs. While pedaling, with your wife there with you, listening, grab the rear derailleur cable under the boom tube and pull it sideways out toward you to move the derailleur and shift the gears up and down. By pulling more or less on the cable you can make the derailleur be slightly misaligned and make the noise that you want your wife to listen for. Hopefully, when she learns what noise she is to be sensitive to, she will be able to give you feedback.

Bloomington, IN
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Old 06-17-09, 04:15 PM   #14
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"It's not quite in."


Sorry... I couldn't help it
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Old 06-17-09, 10:47 PM   #15
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Years of working in heavy industry before the advent of hearing protection has damaged my hearing somewhat. I count on Red Rider to tell me if there is chain rub. She also lets me know when I am "killing her". We communicate well and I count on her for feedback. We are definitely a team.
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Old 06-29-09, 07:35 AM   #16
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So my question is has anyone devised a system to get good feedback from your stoker about the drive train?
If I can't hear the noise, it doesn't bother me.
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Old 06-29-09, 09:48 AM   #17
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My captain is deaf in one ear so even if he hears something 'not quite right', he has no idea where it is coming from. If something is askew and he doesn't notice (rare), it is my responsibility to alert him. I'll yell "trim" if chain is rubbing; "X ring" if the FD skipped; "chain off" if we dropped chain (we'll coast while I reach down and try to put it back on), etc.

Keep asking your stoker 'do you hear something?" if you feel something is wrong. She'll eventually develop that mechanical ear, even if she isn't mechanically-inclined. I might not always know what is wrong with the bike, but I can tell my captain when something isn't quite right (ie creaking bottom bracket).

For shifting and preferred cadence... that is different. I'm more of a spinner than he is, especially at start of season. If he is grinding it out and I'm not happy with the cadence, I'll slap him on the butt. If he continues to smash through, I just let up (a lot) on my effort. If he wants to smash his way up the hill, so be it, but he isn't going to get a whole lot of help from me that way. I find this to be less of an issue by ride #2 of the season. Having computer that reflects cadence helps him in this regard because he knows where I am happiest and when the butt-slapping will commence.
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Old 06-29-09, 11:14 AM   #18
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I've had that problem. Currently I'm setup with bar end shifters and while I can hear the front rub, I can't hear the back much at all. If it's way off I can hear it, but if it's just an occasional tick I haven't a clue. I'm still working on a solution to that.
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Old 06-29-09, 09:17 PM   #19
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So my question is has anyone devised a system to get good feedback from your stoker about the drive train?
When we have to make a quick shift that requires easing off, its usually a down shift from big ring, to middle or middle to small. If we're in the big ring, I ease up, shift, & call out "middle ring?" & she confirms "middle" as we make the shift or "SMALL!!!" when I've accidentally over shifted on occasion. If we're in the middle ring, and I do it right, I call out small, we ease up to shift and she confirms by calling out "small". Shifting up from small to middle & middle to big only requires my calling out "middle ring" or "big ring". Shifting up is much less problematic.


Our Campy set up sometimes needs trimming to the FD that's immediately apparent to me and I guess the right direction four out of 5 times when we occasionally get a click If there's any other noise going on in the rear, she lets me know right away as she's very much attuned to the fact that noise is drag, drag is friction, friction is more work, and I make the adjustment right away.
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