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  1. #1
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    Trying out of phase

    We had our first anniversary of tandeming the other day, and in celebration (?) I shifted from nearly-in-phase (captain leading 5 degrees) to 90 degrees out of phase (captain leading).

    Having read many endorsements of the out-of-phase life, but also a number of comments tending the other way, I decided to suggest a trial period, which we're now in. To summarize, the main points are: more even drive train wear, better feel of contribution for stoker, easier start/stop (?); harder to climb out of saddle, need awareness at speed bumps/humps, harder to communicate "through the pedals".

    The idea is 2-3 months and then a decision, now that we've had a full year of in-phase.

    Initial reactions:

    Mine (captain):
    - getting started takes a bit of getting used to, but not a big deal (we're "Proper Method" (tm) folks);
    - when she really pushes (esp. out of saddle) and I don't, I feel myself being slid forward and back in the saddle
    - down-shifts are quicker, in the sense that I [I]usually[I] had to shift down two, but up one. The second gear I had to shift down was to compensate for the speed lost to soft-pedaling. Without the gap in the power stroke, I can now shift down just one.
    - I think our average speed is slightly higher (this has a lot to do with this particular team, I wouldn't expect it to generalize).
    - I feel her power more - if I let up I almost feel her jerking my feet around. I think we had a slight drop in rotational speed (not enough to cause us to coast) at the low-power point in the stroke. Now that's gone.

    Hers (stoker):
    - More of an opportunity for an aerobic workout. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but it doesn't have to. It's related to the notion of being able to feel her own power contribution better.
    - A little getting used to starting (pedal position changed).
    - I think she's made up her mind that we're not going back...

    The communication through the pedals thing has never worked as well for us as for some other couples. We've not yet tried any significant hills, but I'm sure we'll get plenty of chance. I certainly wouldn't mind if I got a measurable increase in chain life.

  2. #2
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    We've had our tandem a little over a year and also just gave out of phase a proper try and really liked it. We briefly experimented with out of phase quite early last year, but my stoker wasn't at all keen then - her main complaint being that it was very off-putting seeing my legs offset to hers all the time. Having got a few thousand kms on the bike now, we decided to give it another shot when we took the bike out a couple of weeks ago after it's winter rest.

    The feeling when moving away from a stop was a bit weird, but WAY more effective than doing so in phase, so that was a big positive. When climbing a gradual grade, I really felt our power was being applied more efficiently and my stoker said that she also preferred the feeling. When we found a steeper climb, I did what I often do and stood up for a short period while my stoker remained seated. I wasn't sure how well that would go, but she said that it was way better than when we did the same thing while pedaling in phase. Apparently, the oscillation in pedal speed during the revolution when I was standing made it hard for her to put power in during her downstroke when we were in phase because the pedal was being whipped away from her. But doing this out of phase felt way better to her (I didn't notice any difference in this situation).

    For some reason, my motions being offset from my stokers is no longer off-putting for her. She couldn't say why that had changed, but I think it may be due to more experience on the tandem and a greater level of overall comfort and ease.

    We're therefore sold on out of phase, and we'll be keeping it that way at least for a while, maybe permanently. Starting is better, seated climbing is better, and climbing with only the captain standing is better. It does look a bit odd compared to pedaling in phase, but to most people tandems look a bit odd in general, and looks are of very minimal importance.

  3. #3
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
    We've had our tandem a little over a year and also just gave out of phase a proper try and really liked it. We briefly experimented with out of phase quite early last year, but my stoker wasn't at all keen then - her main complaint being that it was very off-putting seeing my legs offset to hers all the time.
    Ah, yes, I recall that comment as well. As captain, I rarely notice the visual effect, except when looking at our shadow. But she did say it wasn't as nice visually.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
    It does look a bit odd compared to pedaling in phase, but to most people tandems look a bit odd in general, and looks are of very minimal importance.
    I think a big piece of why most folks do it in phase is that most folks do it in phase. Bikes are usually set up that way, and if you ask no questions, and don't hear from someone who thinks out of phase is better, you're not likely to try it.

  4. #4
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    We had been riding out of phase for several years and loved it. Then we had an accident that took us out of commission. Several months later and with a brand new titanium half hip we got back on the bike but I had some pain on my hip that we thought could be related to being out of phase. So we went back on phase but the pain continued to the point that I had to have a second surgery. We have been riding on phase for the last 2 or 3 weeks this time with a full new hip. Before tonight's ride I am switching back to out of phase to see how it feels. We will report later....

  5. #5
    Neophyte Caribou2001's Avatar
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    Ouch - good luck with that hip.... I've got 3 titanium screws holding my femur together, and it took ~4 years before I got past the daily pain... now, at 5.1 years it only hurts now and then... Are you doing physio to try to get it back into shape?
    It's that time of year again... I'm trying to get some donations for the June 2010 Ride 4 Heart any donations of $1 or more are greatly appreciated!!! (click the blue link text to donate for me). If I reach my funding goal I'll make it a full century by repeating the upper loop an extra time.

  6. #6
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    OOPers?!!
    Glad some more tandemistas are giving OOP a try!
    Been tandeming since 1975 and our first tandem was delivered with pedals in-phase (IP).
    That tandem taught us what we liked/disliked about that first twicer.
    Less than 2 years later we designed our first custom tandem and we experimented with out-of-phase (OOP).
    Tried 180 degrees OOP . . . not much difference; then 90 degrees OOP with captain leading . . . EUREKA!
    We discovered easier starts and quicker acceleration from a dead stop; definitely easier climbing for us. Less tandem sway/flex when stomping on the pedals; less wear on some components.
    Been told "you'll hit a pedal when cornering" . . . not so. When hanging a corner captain has pedal up whichever way he is turning, thus putting stoker pedals out of harms way.
    "You'll bash a pedal hitting a speed bump" . . . maybe. Have done that exactly once; we were crossing the border from the US into Mexico 32 years ago; we did strike a pedal on an extra-ordinary high speed bump. Nowadays the speed 'humps' are nowhere near as high.
    We suggest you give OOP a try . . . you *may* like it.
    We've now pedaled over 225,000 miles OOP . . . guess we like it!

    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  7. #7
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    This thread is inspiring me to try OOP. We flirted with OOP once on our daVinci during a climb and it felt pretty good. We've tried it briefly since, but really haven't persisted long enough to draw any conclusions. Maybe we'll give it a shot on a few flat miles during Saturday's century.
    Rick T
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  8. #8
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    This was only the second time in about three months that we went out on the Thursday night ride. Last week we had a hard time hanging with the "fast" guys. Tonight it was a lot easier. I told my wife that at this rate in a month or two we could be pulling the train a good chunk of the time. She reminded me that tonight we were riding OOP and that she thought that that would account for a big deal of difference between last Thursday and tonight. Either way we felt great!!

    As I said before we rode OOP for several years. Then we "rode" IP for the last eight months. Tonight, standing together after stop signs and such felt much better (smoother) than last week when we were riding IP.

    The pedals hitting the pavement problems mentioned by Zonatandem are very real and also if you are in the aero position trying to gain maximun speed in a downhill. Other than that we do not see any reason to ride IP.

  9. #9
    TWilkins
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    We found that we get most of the benefits of OOP with a lot fewer of the difficulties by setting the bike up with Captain leading by 45 degrees versus the full 90 degrees. It sure makes starting and stopping a lot less awkward for the stoker.

    Been riding that way for three years now and prefer to not go back!
    Tracy Wilkins
    2011 Trek Madone 5.2
    2005 Burley Duet Tandem
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    www.springfieldcyclist.com

  10. #10
    Senior Member RochMNTandem's Avatar
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    So,,, for a novice - mechanically how do I go from IP to OOP? Relatively new to tandem bikes. Other than wiping the chain down and lubing I've hardly looked at the chain and sprockets that connect the front and back crank. I want to give OOP a try.

  11. #11
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RochMNTandem View Post
    So,,, for a novice - mechanically how do I go from IP to OOP? Relatively new to tandem bikes. Other than wiping the chain down and lubing I've hardly looked at the chain and sprockets that connect the front and back crank. I want to give OOP a try.
    Loosen or remove the sync chain and then reinstall after you realign your cranks so that the captain's cranks are leading by 90*.

    More on a way to 'cheat' by derailling your chain without touching the eccentric: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...=1#post8710015

    Somewhere else in the archives are several posts on this subject, but given that the search engine has been made worthless under new ownership and chances to the hosting software / servers, I'll be darned if I can get any results where half are "none found" which is utterly insane given just my own 5k plus posts.

  12. #12
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    It's relatively easy to pedal cranks backwards and insert athin flat head screwdriver by stoker's chainring to pop off the cross-over chain without getting your fingers inolved.
    While not in the manual as a 'recommended' procedure it works fine and is less hassle than removing crank or loosening/tightening the eccentic.
    This method sorta proves that an eccentric is not really necessary and like our appendix, we could live without it!
    Most folks have the captain's pedal leading by 90 degrees; note, captain can push off with either left or right foot first; stoker's pedal stroke will give that extra oomph to get tandem rolling from a dead stop. An improvement for many folks from the IP version take-offs
    Just our experience . . ..
    Pedal on TWOgethert!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  13. #13
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    When wiping the chain, if you apply just the right amount of side pressure a little way upstream of the captain's chainring you'll find it will derail. Re-railing is not quite as easy, as you not only want it on, but you want it on the teeth that put the cranks in the desired phase relationship. Took me two tries to get 90 degrees.

    Alternatively you can do it when you were taking the chain off anyhow - to more thoroughly clean it (if you do that), or to replace it - which you will need to do some day. As our timing chain was less than half way through its useful life, I chose the first method.

  14. #14
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    Somewhere else in the archives are several posts on this subject, but given that the search engine has been made worthless under new ownership and chances to the hosting software / servers, I'll be darned if I can get any results where half are "none found" which is utterly insane given just my own 5k plus posts.
    Apologies for going off topic, but you should try using Google instead; to search within the bikeforums domain only, you can enter "site:http://www.bikeforums.net/" after your search terms (or go to the 'Advanced Search' interface and enter the bikeforums address in the lowest input box). That should yield much more useful hits than BF's own search function does.

  15. #15
    Senior Member mkane77g's Avatar
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    How does OOP feel when standing. We stand most of the time while climbing.

  16. #16
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    For us it feels very natural, even and powerful to stand together while climbing and accelerating… we have trouble sprinting out of the saddle but I think has to do with my wife getting a little too apprehensive when we fight against singles for the road sign finish. It took us several months to master standing together. Most couples that try it give up on the skill and do not stand together or abandon OOP altogether.

  17. #17
    Senior Member mkane77g's Avatar
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    Going to set the tandem OOP and not say anything, let the stoker discover this new phenom on her own.

  18. #18
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mkane77g View Post
    Going to set the tandem OOP and not say anything, let the stoker discover this new phenom on her own.
    That's a Bozo-No-No in our tandem cycling partnership.

    Everything we do on the bike is predicated on trust and no changes are made unless we've talked about it ahead of time. If I've had to make a change during post ride maintenance, I back-brief Debbie on what was changed and what, if any, difference there might be.

    I do this because I know that I've always gotten pretty bent out of shape whenever someone's messed with the set-up on my stuff (e.g., bikes, cars, motorcycles, sailboats, ice skate blades, snow ski waxes, etc...) which, in each instance, prompted me to stop letter other folks work on my stuff.

    We've played around with Out-of-Phase as well; however, we discussed it beforehand, during the rides, after the rides and even decided to switch it around during rides as part of our assessment process.

    Anyway, different strokes for different folks....

  19. #19
    Senior Member mkane77g's Avatar
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    While weve been riding tandems 20 yrs. and married 30, I have to agree with you, not such a good idea. On her single bike, she sometimes has a few nagging pains, and I make adjustments accordingly. Sometimes she notices adjustments as little as 1/8", but if the nag goes away, sucess. And she does plenty of tough rides, brevet's, hills, 8500' in 95 miles. She would notice OOP, but she might like it. Now I just need to keep the pedals out of the ground. Climbing out of the saddle will be very interesting.

  20. #20
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    For us, we prefer in phase: 1) feels more coordinated climbing out of the saddle. 2) easier to clip into the pedals, 3) no conflicts getting the captain set up for a power stroke starting out, 4) no worries about banging a pedal in a turn.

    I'd bet 2,3,and 4 are manageable with more time and practice, but we just don't see enough advantage to bother.

    Also, I think it may be harder to regulate effort riding in a paceline OOP. Not enough experience to draw a firm conclusion, but my initial impression is that my stoker has more feedback from the pedals on when to push hard and when to ease up to be smooth in a paceline in phase than out.

    So we're going back in phase. As soon as I take the time to do it. (which is just a touch more time consuming with the belt drive).
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

  21. #21
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    Always IP always will be.
    I think it helps us to be in sync.
    Especially since we have doing it for so long.
    Tried OOP once for about 5 minutes and that was enough.

  22. #22
    Senior Member mkane77g's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    For us, we prefer in phase: 1) feels more coordinated climbing out of the saddle. 2) easier to clip into the pedals, 3) no conflicts getting the captain set up for a power stroke starting out, 4) no worries about banging a pedal in a turn.

    I'd bet 2,3,and 4 are manageable with more time and practice, but we just don't see enough advantage to bother.

    Also, I think it may be harder to regulate effort riding in a paceline OOP. Not enough experience to draw a firm conclusion, but my initial impression is that my stoker has more feedback from the pedals on when to push hard and when to ease up to be smooth in a paceline in phase than out.

    So we're going back in phase. As soon as I take the time to do it. (which is just a touch more time consuming with the belt drive).
    how long have U been riding OOP? Just curious, as we do lot's of climbing standing

  23. #23
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    We road OOP all last season. Had tried it a little before, but really went the whole season trying it. We seemed to be able to gauge our own efforts easier, OOP than IP. We don't climb standing. The Mrs. is more comfortable with the standing now, and we are working on that this year, so I don't have feedback on the climbing aspect. Like TG, we even tried mid ride to see how the difference was. Early on, we thought it was better, but by the end of the season, we found for us our performance was better IP. We did give it a solid try, and did like the feel. No issues cornering, as when my outside foot is down, stokers are level. If i lean the bike that much, I will have bigger issues than hitting a pedal! The biggest negative for us was that when we do coast, I have a tendency to coast level, lock the tube between my knees, which forces my stoker to coast one leg down, which was causing comfort issue for my stoker.

  24. #24
    Senior Member brewer45's Avatar
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    Stoker Malkin and I have been OOP for about three years now. We really like how OOP smooths our cadence, and I have the impression (although no data to substantiate it) that we have more power on the mild hills we ride. I also have the impression that the bike is easier to control because the amount of flex is substantially reduced. And, I suppose, we've simply grown accustomed to the feel of OOP and will probably never return to IP. Our combined age is just over 100, we weigh about 325 pounds, and we ride about 2k miles per year for pleasure (i.e. not a competitive bone between us).

    We're generally flatlanders and almost never stand. When we do, it's usually one or the other--never both. Once Malkin clips in on the stoker seat, she stays clipped in until we stop for a break or complete the ride. We learned this requirement when working on starts and stops. This creates a slight disadvantage on the start because stoker's power stroke is delayed by 1/4 turn, but we've never been jackrabbits off the start, so it doesn't bother us. This also puts additional responsibility and accountability on captain during intermediate stops (stop signs, traffic lights, etc.), as I have to keep the bike vertical and stable with one foot down. This can be particularly difficult for me after a long ride, so I usually put both feet down if we're going to be stopped for more than a minute. We've hit a pedal once--turning over a speed bump.

    Bottom line for this team is that there are simply no appreciable disadvantages for us to ride OOP, only advantages.

    Cheers!
    2008 Red Co-Motion Speedster Co-pilot (Redster)
    2009 Surly LHT (captain's commuter)
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    2007 Giant FCR2W (stoker's commuter)
    1980's NOS Legnano (stoker's toy)
    1970's Stella rebuilt as fixed-gear (captain's toy)

  25. #25
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mkane77g View Post
    how long have U been riding OOP? Just curious, as we do lot's of climbing standing
    A few weeks. I'm sure like anything it gets better with practice. And we've climbed standing OOP; it just doesn't feel as well coordinated to us.

    One problem however that I don't see how to address OOP is "rocking" or "dancing" with the bike. When you're getting after it out of the saddle you're pulling up on the bars on the side you're on the down stroke on the pedals. OOP this would result in the stoker wanting to lean the bike one direction, and the captain another.

    Thus OOP it would appear you have to keep the bike straight upright as you pedal, which is going to be somewhat of a limiter on maximal efforts.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

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