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  1. #1
    Senior Member DanRH's Avatar
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    I know this has been talked about here, but...climbing speed on a tandem

    I've never been a fast climber on my single. When I do climb on a single, I'm usually out of the saddle, 70% of the time, especially when the grades go double digit. 4-6 MPH, usually on steep and extended climbs. That's my zone.

    Since I started riding tandem last summer, I've noticed just we achieve just about the same speed, maybe slightly less.

    So, what speeds are most of you seeing when climbing?
    Dan Hertlein http://danhertlein.com
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  2. #2
    Used to be Conspiratemus
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    I can't see any speed when climbing: the numbers on my computer go all fuzzy when my eyes are full of sweat and tears and I'm starting to black out.
    "I did not know that!" -- J. Carson

  3. #3
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Depending on fitness level of the tandem duo, it usually is a bit slower climbing on a twicer than on a single.
    Our speed at 9,200 elevation with 6 to 7 % grade was a s-l-o-w 3.5 mph . . . slow enough to have a fast caterpillar make a successful trip between our front and rear wheel.
    The descent? Add 40+ more mph!

  4. #4
    Senior Member DanRH's Avatar
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    Thanks . I feel better!
    Dan Hertlein http://danhertlein.com
    2009 daVinci Design Joint Venture 700 Tandem
    2007 Independent Fabrications Steel Crown Jewel Single
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by conspiratemus1 View Post
    I can't see any speed when climbing: the numbers on my computer go all fuzzy when my eyes are full of sweat and tears and I'm starting to black out.
    That is why we do not have a computer any more. Regardless how fast we are going, by definition it is fast enough!

  6. #6
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    At near sea level, 5 mph on the steeper climbs is about it. That's why we got the 26 ring up front! We use 26X34 on the same climbs I use 30X25 on my single. But we have just as much fun, if not more, and we do it together.

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    When we go out for a ride we look for 4-5 hills just for the fun of it. They are not very long so we crank up the hills. I find that when I'm out on the tandem it feels like I go faster with the wife as she adds to my effort. Hopefully later this summer we will take the bike up north (NH) and attack some of the longer hills/mountains. We're only 51 so we ride for health and the challenges.

    I'm sure a monster climb will require we adjust our attack. But hopefully we will have the time between now and then to increase our strength and endurance before we head up north.

  8. #8
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    I think that tandem climbing speed has to do with physics, team psych and team synergy. Common wisdom is that a team will do well to climb at about the average speed of the two riders on their singles. (If rider A can climb a given hill at about 12 mph, and rider B can climb the hill at 6 mph, then team A+B should be happy to climb at 9 mph.) In my experience, however, good team synergy and a different-than-single psych can help the slower rider rise to the challenge and let the team climb faster than predicted by that simple formula. OTOH, if the stronger rider accepts that a slower speed is inevitable (whether due to simple physics or relationship dynamics :-), he or she might ease up and adopt a smell-the-roses attitude. In that case, the team might climb more slowly than their hypothetical average. Note that neither approach or result is better than the other. As long as both members of the team enjoy the ride, they are doing what's right for them.

  9. #9
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeriderdave View Post
    I think that tandem climbing speed has to do with physics, team psych and team synergy. Common wisdom is that a team will do well to climb at about the average speed of the two riders on their singles. (If rider A can climb a given hill at about 12 mph, and rider B can climb the hill at 6 mph, then team A+B should be happy to climb at 9 mph.) .
    In practice, this is probably pretty close to true. However it's thrown off to a degree if the riders are of different sizes.

    It would be more accurate to say that a tandem team will climb close to as fast as a single rider who's watts per kilogram are equal to the watts per kilogram of the combined tandem team. ( reason it's only close to as fast is drivetrain efficiency losses, and team coordination issues.)

    So the actual climbing speed of the team will divert from the mean of their single bike climbing speeds torward the speed of the heavier rider.



    For example Team A with a 200lb captain that can climb at 12mph, and a 100lb stoker who climbs at 6mph should be able to exceed 9mph.

    Team B with a 200lb captain that climbs at 6mph, and a 100lb stoker who climbs at 12 mph will not be able to do 9mph.

    In fact modeling that example with an 8% grade yields a speed for Team A of 10.9mph, and only 8mph for Team B.

    http://www.noping.net/english/
    Last edited by merlinextraligh; 04-12-10 at 11:27 AM. Reason: add link
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  10. #10
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    I think the answer is depends. IMO, one has consider climbing speed over a significant time. Since you live in the bay area, have you climbed Old La Honda? We can climb OLH in 25 minutes - 3.35 miles, 7.2% average grade and 1290 vertical feet which equates to ~8 mph or 3088 fph. This is a hard effort and slower than either one can do on our singles. A 27 minute time or 7.4 mph and 2850 fph is easier. If we choose an easier, shorter hill, our tandem climbing times approximate the average of our singles.
    Last edited by Hermes; 04-12-10 at 05:20 PM.

  11. #11
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    This is a hard effort and slower than either one can do on our singles.
    I'm somewhat surprised that your tandem climbing speed would be slower than the speed of the slower of the two of you alone. I guess if you have two riders that are pretty evenly matched on w/kg, the efficiency disadvantages result in the slower speed. And there's no real averaging effect.

    For us, we definitely climb on the tandem slower than my single bike speed, but faster than my stoker's. In other words, for us the averaging effect is greater than any efficiency losses.
    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.

  12. #12
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    holy smokes, 25 minutes for old la honda on a tandem? wow, that's moving!

    i've been up that road a gazillion times (since i used to live in the peninsula area), and don't know long it took me, but i know i'd have been perfectly happy with 25 min. on my road bike!

    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    I think the answer is depends. IMO, one has consider climbing speed over a significant time. Since you live in the bay area, have you climbed Old La Honda? We can climb OLH in 25 minutes - 3.35 miles, 7.2% average grade and 1290 vertical feet which equates to ~8 mph or 3088 fph. This is a hard effort and slower than either one can do on our singles. A 27 minute time or 7.4 mph and 2850 fph is easier. If we choose an easier, shorter hill, our tandem climbing times approximate the average of our singles.

  13. #13
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    I'm somewhat surprised that your tandem climbing speed would be slower than the speed of the slower of the two of you alone. I guess if you have two riders that are pretty evenly matched on w/kg, the efficiency disadvantages result in the slower speed. And there's no real averaging effect.

    For us, we definitely climb on the tandem slower than my single bike speed, but faster than my stoker's. In other words, for us the averaging effect is greater than any efficiency losses.
    I think doing long climbs on the tandem near / at FTP is about how each team member manages fatigue. On a single bike, one has options and chooses when to load up the legs, spin more, stand and etc. On the tandem, we are locked into whatever the captain decides is best. Also, OLH is a tough climb with switchbacks featuring 15 to 24% bumps. So it takes practice on that climb to learn where to push, conserve and burn matches.

    Quote Originally Posted by JSNYC View Post
    holy smokes, 25 minutes for old la honda on a tandem? wow, that's moving!

    i've been up that road a gazillion times (since i used to live in the peninsula area), and don't know long it took me, but i know i'd have been perfectly happy with 25 min. on my road bike!
    OLH is the benchmark climb on the Pennisula. Each year, we have a low key hill climb series where we climb the major climbs in the area. Here is a calculator developed by one of our riders for local climbs plus a couple of other famous climbs in Europe. http://www.drdmserver1.com/timspage/PowerCalc.html

    If I select OLH, plug in 200 pounds and 200 watts, I get a climbing speed of 5.9 mph and a time of 34 minutes which is a great time on that hill. The gold standard is 20 minutes and the p/1/2 men climb it in 17-19 with a couple of guys in the 15 to 16 minutes. I still need a lot of work.

  14. #14
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    i'll be out there in the fall and will have to take a crack at timing it, maybe have a grudge match with a buddy of mine who lives in the area and is in the low end of that range you posted (his fastest recorded time was 18:37). that's another way of saying he'll be sitting down, stretching, and eating lunch by the time i crawl my way to the top...

    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    OLH is the benchmark climb on the Pennisula. Each year, we have a low key hill climb series where we climb the major climbs in the area. Here is a calculator developed by one of our riders for local climbs plus a couple of other famous climbs in Europe. http://www.drdmserver1.com/timspage/PowerCalc.html

    If I select OLH, plug in 200 pounds and 200 watts, I get a climbing speed of 5.9 mph and a time of 34 minutes which is a great time on that hill. The gold standard is 20 minutes and the p/1/2 men climb it in 17-19 with a couple of guys in the 15 to 16 minutes. I still need a lot of work.

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