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  1. #1
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    Tandems, Where do we start?

    Hello Everyone,

    My Wife and I are looking into getting a tandem. I use to ride a lot till about 5 years ago when my work schedule left me no time to ride. (I know, I should of left the job because of that) So two months I started to riding again and fell in love with it all over again. I'm riding about 15 miles a week building back up, and I have been enjoying it very much. So I have a love of cycling and I want to share it with my wife, and she wants to share it with me. She has never really been into cycling, of course she know the basics and that is always a good start. The one thing I do know is that it has to be comfortable or she isn't going to want to go on long rides. Also I am trying to build myself up to riding in the Solvang Century/Half Century ride next year and told her there was a tandem category too, so we may want to try that next year.

    So, where do we start? We have different skill levels and different interest levels. I figured I would Captian and she would be the Stroker. I have already learned that the Stroker is Always right. What are some good first steps? And of course we are on a budget so, what would you suggest? Is it better to get a cheap tandem and see if we really like it? Or would getting a better bike make the experience better?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Senior Moment Litespeed's Avatar
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    My husband and I had never ridden a tandem before we bought ours. You didn't mention if you and your wife have ridden one before, if not, definitely get a good experienced person to take you and your wife on your first tandem ride. It is completely different then a single. I sure wish we had, we almost didn't make it. My husband rode the tandem at the bike shop by himself and thought "no problem" When I got on it was a whole different ball game, we swerved and swayed like we were drunk, luckily no one saw us. By the time we were at the end of the street and my husband went to put his foot down, he almost dropped us both, not realizing how much you CAN'T lean the bike. We were both quite shook up and didn't really know if we should get back on and go back up the street. After we took it down to a parking lot and rode it there (about an hour), my husband finally got the hang of it and did a lot better. At one point before we ever bought the tandem we were going to rent one, sure glad we didn't or we never would have bought on.

    You might look into used tandems first. Check out your local bike shops or ad's in the bike magazines.

    The one thing my husband really had to learn was that what I say goes. You definitely don't want to frighten your wife, which isn't hard to do on a tandem unless she really likes speed. My husband tried to get me to bump up the speed but he soon found out I wasn't happy and was about to quit. He decided that he would go at my speed and make me happy. Like they say, it's no fun riding a tandem by yourself. Now that he can "flip the switch" and just cruise with me he is happy too. I can do the mileage but just not a lot of downhill or high speed. He now knows that if he want's to speed, to get on his single and have at it. This has become a good thing for both of us, we are both happy and can enjoy each other's company. Good luck finding a tandem and I hope you and your wife enjoy it as much as we do now.

  3. #3
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Strongly recommend you get instructions/test rides from an EXPERIENCED tandem couple/shop. We teach tandeming, and have literally taught over a hundred couples the ins/outs of the sport in Tucson.
    Check out Bud's Bike shop in the LA area if that's anywhere near you. Check the internet for tandem shops near you that have tandems to test ride and qualified tandem riders to teach you.
    You can be taught in 1 hour what would take you 3 months to learn/experience on your own.
    Good luck!
    Rudy & Kay/Zona tandem

  4. #4
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    You AND your wife may wish to peruse some of the articles from our collection of "Information for First Time Tandem Buyers & Riders" links, with an eye towards the titles that catch your eye. http://home.att.net/~thetandemlink/LearningCenter.html

    The first time buyer's tips will help lay the foundation for your tandem search, bearing in mind that a realistic budget number will be very important as the price range on tandems is quite wide.

    As Rudy noted, Bud's Cyclery in downtown Claremont, California -- just east of Pomona, CA, and a few blocks north of I-10 -- is the home shop of Santana Cycles, Inc, aka Santana Tandems. While the brand selection is limited to pretty much new Santanas and some other trade-in brands, they usually have test ride tandems in a full range of sizes that they can draw from to run you and your wife through the "Santana Test Ride" process. This is without exception the best way to approach your first tandem experience. You'll be under no obligation to buy a Santana tandem from Buds or anywhere else, but you'll walk away with a much better understanding of the basics and the highest probability of a positive test ride experience.

    Finally, just so you get off on the right foot, let me offer two minor corrections to information in your initial post.

    1. The term used for anyone riding behind the captain is "Stoker" not stroker.
    2. Bill McCready's Primary Rule of Tandeming is, "The Stoker Makes No Mistakes". It is often times mis-stated as either "the stoker is always right or never wrong", both of which are not exactly true. You can read Bill's entire explanation of his rule in this article (which is included in our collection at www.TheTandemLink.com):
    http://www.gtgtandems.com/tech/propmethod.html

    Good luck, ask lots of questions, and keep us posted.
    Last edited by livngood; 07-20-04 at 08:24 PM.

  5. #5
    Up there! AdrianB's Avatar
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    Good advice overall from the Tandem Geek above - but on the stokes vs stroker debate it all depends on if the one in the back is pedalling or massaging the captain
    Visit http://www.rooview.com.au a personal, independent and honest restaurant guide for South Australia!

  6. #6
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    Litespeed,

    Thank you for the great advise. I am really got to have that perspective.

    Quote Originally Posted by Litespeed
    You didn't mention if you and your wife have ridden one before, if not, definitely get a good experienced person to take you and your wife on your first tandem ride. It is completely different then a single. I sure wish we had, we almost didn't make it.
    No, we haven't ridden on before. So getting a good person to take us sure sounds like the way to go. I am very use to a single, so I will need to learn to adapt.


    Quote Originally Posted by Litespeed
    The one thing my husband really had to learn was that what I say goes. You definitely don't want to frighten your wife, which isn't hard to do on a tandem unless she really likes speed. My husband tried to get me to bump up the speed but he soon found out I wasn't happy and was about to quit. He decided that he would go at my speed and make me happy.
    Yes, this is the one thing that I have read, and have taken to heart. I appreciate your feedback. Knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do.


    Quote Originally Posted by Litespeed
    This has become a good thing for both of us, we are both happy and can enjoy each other's company. Good luck finding a tandem and I hope you and your wife enjoy it as much as we do now.
    Thank you very much and Happy Cycling
    Last edited by TheKellys; 07-21-04 at 03:26 PM.

  7. #7
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    Mark,

    Quote Originally Posted by livngood
    You AND your wife may wish to peruse some of the articles from our collection of "Information for First Time Tandem Buyers & Riders" links, with an eye towards the titles that catch your eye. http://home.att.net/~thetandemlink/LearningCenter.html
    Thanks for the great information. I am sending my wife all of the URLS for this forum and the links you mentioned as well. Hopefully she will post questions she has as well

    It really does sound like the "Santana Test Ride" is the way to go. And Claremont is only 10 miles away so that will work out perfectly. It sounds like good instruction is the difference between a great experience and a really bad one.

    Also, thank you for helping me get my newbie knowledge correct. I truly do appreciate it, as I wouldn't want to offend anyone.

    Thanks, and Happy Cycling

    -Russell

  8. #8
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Glad you are only 10 miles away from Bud's Bike Shop, and as Mark L. noted you are not obligated to buy there.
    We would suggest, after the instructions/test ride, that you try some other brands of tandems also at other shops.
    There are differences between brands, not only in price but design/componentry/handling as well. And if you decide on Santana, be sure to go back to the nice folks that did all that teaching on how to ride 2-gether!
    Good luck!
    Rudy and Kay/Zona tandem

  9. #9
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    We just jumped right in. We tested a tandem from a shop that was renting them. We didn't like that bike, but knew right away that we'd like to have our own tandem. We decided on a Trek T2000. We knew that if we bought the T1000 & really like it (as we expected to), then we knew we'd want to upgrade it & it would cost us more to sell that bike & buy another one than to just buy the better bike in the 1st place. We made it our Christmas gift that year. Make sure the bike is fitted for both of you. You'll likely need adjustments for seats (usually the ones that come with the bike will need to be replaced as they are usually not very comfortable), stem adjustments, etc. for rider comfort.

    No one showed us how to do anything on the tandem, but our rules are a little different than most. While many say that the stoker is always right (or something similar) on our bike it's Whatever the captain says goes. He's the driver. He's in charge of maneuvering through traffic & keeping us safe, so he makes all the decisions. As the stoker if I see something ahead I'll say so, like we were riding the other day & there was a long line of cars at a stop sign & I could see pedestrians up ahead cutting between the cars (not a crosswalk). I told him there were pedestrians cutting across so he was ready to react if necessary.

    When we have to stop I (stoker) unclip first, then captain unclips. We both step down at a stop. Many teams have the stoker stay clipped in, we feel we are more insync & have better control our way. No way is right or wrong as long as it works for both of you & you both know what to do. The other day we were riding & our front tire went flat. I immediately unclipped BOTH feet. When we finally came to a stop the bike started to lean to the left, we always lean to the right. I had my foot unclipped & was able to grab the ground & stop us from tipping over into the road. If I had remained clipped in, then we would most likely have fallen over. We always have the captain mount the bike first, then stoker. Reverse it when getting off. Sometimes something will happen & my husband tries to get off the bike quickly & I have to remind him that I need to get off before he does (not like riding your single & you can do whatever you want, you have to remember there's someone behind you).

    It's nice if your trip is scenic, or has a destination. If you're wife isn't used to longer rides, then plan a stop along the way. We've gone out to ride & stopped at a restaurant for lunch, get an ice cream cone, etc. It breaks up the trip, you can cover more miles & gain confidence.

    Riding the tandem is the only way we can stay together on a ride. My husband is a much better rider than I am, even though we both have singles. He rides more miles than I do & is much faster, so on 2 bikes we are both riding alone. On a tandem we can enjoy the ride together.

    It's great that your wife wants to share cycling with you! That means that you'll be able to work together on your own methods to make tandeming work for you & be enjoyable to both of you (you'll make mistakes, you'll learn from them & go on). You'll have to be patient with her as she increases her cycling ability, but if you help her improve her skills then she'll be enjoying herself & will want to ride more & more. So your initial patience will pay off in the the long term. Enjoy!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem
    Glad you are only 10 miles away from Bud's Bike Shop, and as Mark L. noted you are not obligated to buy there.
    We would suggest, after the instructions/test ride, that you try some other brands of tandems also at other shops.
    There are differences between brands, not only in price but design/componentry/handling as well. And if you decide on Santana, be sure to go back to the nice folks that did all that teaching on how to ride 2-gether!
    Good luck!
    Rudy and Kay/Zona tandem
    This sounds like a good plan. I would definitely be more inclined to buy from the folks that took the time to teach us. In fact, we are extremely loyal that way. Again, Thank you everyone for the great advice.

    -TheKellys
    Happy Cycling

  11. #11
    Seņor Member Tom_The_Bikeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheKellys
    My Wife and I are looking into getting a tandem.

    She has never really been into cycling, of course she know the basics and that is always a good start.

    We have different skill levels and different interest levels. I figured I would Captian and she would be the Stroker. I have already learned that the Stroker is Always right.
    Good start. (i.e. realization that stoker(s) are ALWAYS right.

    Take a test ride on a normal tandem. Take a test ride on a *NICE* normal tandem. Attempt to take a ride on a ViewPoint tandem (see http://www.bilenky.com/viewpnt.html)

    See if she's still interested. Communication is *the* key to having a good tandeming relationship (well, to any relationship, but you can get physically damaged if you don't communicate riding a tandem)

    Basically, ask, and invite. Try before you buy. My wife OKed a counterpoint click here for a big picture when she was 6 mos pregnant. She was adamant that she wouldn't go if she had to ride at my cadence...

    We're off for a 10 day ride to Geneva with a rented tandem (we're renting our tandem to a couple who's coming with us) that you can view here: click here for a big picture

    Let me know if you have any questions, and I'll try to answer them when I can. If you want to be CERTAIN, send me a private message.

    Take care, and good luck,
    Tom

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