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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 12-19-09, 06:07 PM   #1
bobthib
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Almost Lost it today! 8^0

This AM went out on the half bike on the Sat AM Club ride. The cool weather kept the "stiffs" away as my dad used to say. It was a 42 mi hammerfest. I broke a spoke on the back wheel about 3 weeks ago and had a old wheel on. Had to open the brakes since it was a littel out of true. As a result I was used to a pretty soft rear brake.

This afternoon I fixed the spoke, washed the bike, and decided the Tandem looked sad and needed a little attention. Decided to take it out for an 8 mile spin. Couldn't find a stoker, so it would be a solo. Took off down the street and was tooling along at 19 -20 when I came upon a 90 deg right turn. Grabbed the rear brake and.... Yikes! The rear end broke loose! It slid out, but there were no cars coming so I let off the brake and it took and I re-gained control.

That was a scary moment. Anyone else want to share similar story?
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Old 12-19-09, 08:56 PM   #2
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My wife / stoker previously would get worked up when the rear wheel would lock up on the mountain tandem. NBD nowadays.

She's does gasp when the rear steps out or slides along a log though. It's typically a long way before the back tire climbs up and over.

BTW it was cold for us here this morning, but it did not snow...

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Old 12-19-09, 09:16 PM   #3
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Suprised no one commented that nobody one was on the back, I get that one when I take the tandem on the train downtown to meet my wife after work.

The other problem I have had is pedaling around a corner and bashing the stoker pedal into the road. I hate it when that happens.
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Old 12-19-09, 10:05 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by jnbrown View Post
Suprised no one commented that nobody one was on the back, I get that one when I take the tandem on the train downtown to meet my wife after work.

The other problem I have had is pedaling around a corner and bashing the stoker pedal into the road. I hate it when that happens.
Indeed, I was very surprised that no one commented, esp since I stopped a several lights, and most people had their windows open since it was in the mid 60's. I had a few quips ready too.
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Old 12-20-09, 10:15 AM   #5
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Riding the tandem solo is a "front brake only" affair, and you don't have to worry about an "endo" cause the bike's too long.

(Now for some fun!) A road tandem's rear brake, regardless of design, serves little more function than that of a drag brake anyway. There's simply too much mass in motion for a rear brake to have any significant effect. If you have a really, really strong rear brake, all it does is lock up the rear wheel without adding significantly to the braking force.

Keeping in mind that I'm not one of the "pocket protector people" and can't quote the physics of it, my best guess would be that the front brake on a tandem is some 85% of the stopping power, and the rear brake adds more to symmetry than to actual braking.
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Last edited by Onegun; 12-21-09 at 06:17 AM.
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Old 12-20-09, 07:08 PM   #6
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You may be right if you are equating braking with stopping the tandem in an emergency situation. As far as slowing down as was the intent of the OP, braking with the rear wheel is what we use by far the most... and very effectively. Without a stoker the rear brake should not be relied on at all on a tandem.
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Old 12-21-09, 05:29 PM   #7
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Actually, I have about as much time riding solo as I do with a stoker, more or less. I'm pretty careful about modulating the brakes properly. It was just that I was "used to" the loose brake on my half bike and I momentarily forgot which bike I was on. It's those times when several little things all come together to create a catastrophic situation. Luckily there was no car coming. That would have been the third little thing that, by it self was not big deal, but....
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