Hej på dej!!
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Utah, USA
Bikes: Ritchey Road Logic, Della Santa Corsa Speciale, Renn DeWitt Custom, da Vinci Joint Venture, Ritchey Comp All-Rounder, Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen, Crescent Professional
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Oh yes...practice without a stoker...or on a single bike if you can. I've been riding single bikes seriously for 25 years now and have tens of thousands of miles on the saddle of all kinds of bikes, but even then, tandem shifting is something a little different.
The principles are the same, regardless of how many gears you have or what type of bike (assuming you don't have an internally-geared hub...but those are pretty rare). I have bikes that range from 5 gears (kids bikes) to 32 (daVinci tandem) in my stable, and they all work pretty much the same way.
onroule's advice is good about just sticking to one chainring, the middle, for most of your riding until you get some experience under your belt. Use the small ring when you have to...preferrable before you have to. Don't wait to the last second (like you can on a single bike) before you grab for that bottom chainring. With a tandem, if you try and shift while you're on the hill and both straining hard, you may well be in for an unhappy surprise (like it just won't shift at all, or if it does, you'll get the dreaded "chain suck" where the chain gets sucked down between the frame and the crankarm).
Don't forget to let your stoker know when you're about to shift the front--especially since I imagine he is the stronger of the two of you. Shifting the rear under load is one thing--it can be done, but not recommended for long-term life of the chain--but shifting the front under load can easily result in all kinds of nastyness--like broken chains, derailleurs, and bent chainrings. Even though my stoker is only 9 years old and 60 lbs, I usually let her know to lighten the load when we shift the front.
Last edited by Eurastus; 06-23-04 at 10:50 AM.