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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 04-14-10, 08:33 PM   #1
AcesFull
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Questions about tandem purchase: Height and fitness issues.

Me: Captain, cycles 3-4x weekly, former commuter, reasonably fit dude 5'8".

Her: Stoker, cycles recreationally and slowly with her kids. 5'10".

Plan to ride some road, some packed limestone trail (former RR line).

Recommendations?
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Old 04-15-10, 12:55 AM   #2
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What is the question?
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Old 04-15-10, 04:49 AM   #3
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For road surface I would recommend a 26" wheel. I have a Co-Motion Mocha with 26" wheels and it works well on limestone trails and on the road. I use 26 x 1.5 tires that are tougher and soften the ride although the larger tires give up some speed on the road.
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Old 04-15-10, 05:23 AM   #4
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What is the question?
I suppose I did fail to ask an actual question...

Was wondering about finding a bike that would fit our needs as far as height differences, since the bikes I've seen at the local shops all expect a stoker who is shorter than the captain. Also, just wondering about recommendations in general, although I spent a bit more time on this forum and got more info from my reading. I suppose all the pics of dads and very small kids answered any concerns I had about differing levels of fitness. Feel kinda dumb about that one, to be honest...
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Old 04-15-10, 07:00 AM   #5
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As the shorter partner with better fitness you can be the engine and she can be the driver :-) We ride a hybrid tandem; a road frame set up as a hybrid, with flat bars and wider tires (700x32). We ride many rail-trails and roads (we choose trail over road when possible) and the 32s work fine). As for the differing fitness level it does matter because there needs to be compromise, with kids its pretty obvious that the parent knows they are going to be picking up a greater share of the load, but between adults its important to have the an understanding of each others expectations.
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Old 04-15-10, 07:16 AM   #6
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As far as the height difference goes, you have the choice of something stock with her seatpost well extended - her arms and torso are probably shorter than yours - or there's always custom. And yes, you can make it work. The last couple I heard from who wanted a shorter captain than stoker made it work, although they had to be assertive. He was blind, so she insisted on being captain.
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Old 04-15-10, 07:24 AM   #7
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My husband and I are the same height and weight. I prefer to be the stoker since he has the advantage in upper body strength. When we started looking into tandems last summer, I was concerned about getting a good fit. In many of the photos I see of tandem couples, the captain is very often taller than the stoker. I do not have the same amount of lateral space riding as a stoker that I do on my single. I am comfortable, however, with the amount of space that I do have, and, much to my surprise, I am finding that I would much rather ride the tandem than ride my single!
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Old 04-15-10, 07:33 AM   #8
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There is at least one other team in this forum that the captain is shorter than the stoker... I think they own a Calfee, so it may have been a custom frame.
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Old 04-15-10, 07:46 AM   #9
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Your description fits us, though we're probably 20 years older. We had basically the same problems when we started looking for a tandem a couple of years ago.

We found a Burley with a Softride that works for us. However, I had to have a stem riser. Also, she had to have a pretty high rise on the stoker bars. The local "tandem shop" in Dallas-Fort Worth area was zero help on a set of stoker bars to fit her. Precision Tandems fixed us up long distance after a few pictures and measurements. We were pleased to find a 26" wheeled tandem for a starter bike. I have no toe overlap, and it's easy to keep upright at low speed while turning.

Next year we hope to upgrade and it will probably be a custom build, maybe with 26" wheels.

There is a picture of our bike in this thread http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...afe-for-tandem
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Old 04-15-10, 07:49 AM   #10
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Recommendations?
Where do you live... in general, i.e., near Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, TN???
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Old 04-15-10, 09:04 AM   #11
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How about a Co-Motion Periscope

The Co-Motion Periscope has a wide range of adjustable in the stoker position. The dual telescoping seatposts gives a lot range to adjust. There are 2 frame sizes for the captain.

Good Luck

Last edited by miniapple3; 04-15-10 at 03:18 PM. Reason: fix typo
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Old 04-15-10, 09:59 AM   #12
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The Co-Motion Periscope has a wide range of adjustable in the stoker position. The dual telescoping seatposts gives a lot range to adjust. There are to frame sizes for the front.
I thought the main advantage of the periscope was to allow particularly small stokers as well as normal-sized ones - that wouldn't seem to help in the current situation.

My wife and I are very similar sizes, I'm maybe 1" taller, we're both around 5'8". We both have rather short legs and longer torsos, this doesn't cause many problems in getting single bikes to fit well, but it has turned out to complicate things with our tandem a little.

We've found that the stock length of the stoker's compartment on our Co-motion Speedster is actually a little on the short side, to get the same reach as on our single bikes, we use a stoker's stem of just 110mm, plus the stoker's seatpost is a ThudBuster, which has a decent amount of setback. This puts the stoker's bars right under the captain's seat; we might put the stoker's bars 1cm higher if we could, but that just isn't possible, but we're OK with that because they are JUST high enough where they are.

I'd therefore recommend not only thinking about seat tube lengths when choosing a frame, but also top tube lengths. I did this when we bought our frame, and the captain's top tube length is what I would have on a single bike, but now that I have to use a zero setback seatpost to keep out of the stoker's way, I have to use a 2cm longer stem than I would normally so that I maintain the same reach. It was hard to consider what length of stoker top tube would be needed before we bought it and had got used to the bike, because the stated length of a stoker's top tube is not really comparable to the equivalent dimension on a single bike. I made the assumption that since even the largest stock Co-motion frames have the same length stoker's top tube, then this size cannot be particularly short.

If we were to get another frame, we would get it custom made with the same seat tube lengths, but 2cm more on the stoker's top tube, and 1 or 2cm more on the captain's top tube. However, we'd then probably not be able to use the Gate's carbon belt drive that we have on this bike, the frame might flex a tiny bit more, and it would be harder to pack in the S&S travel cases, so there are some advantages of what we ended up with, and I'm not entirely certain that I'd want to give up these advantages since we have now been able to get it to fit almost perfectly.
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