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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 09-19-04, 05:14 AM   #1
NZLcyclist
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Giving it a whirl

This Friday I am picking up a hire tandem from a place in Auckland City, and chucking it on the bike rack (will have to take wheels off!) and I will also have my single in the boot. I am then picking up my girlfriend, and we are heading North to join her family at their holiday home. We are going to try out tandem riding over the weekend while we are away, but I am also taking the single so I can get my serious sunday mileage in. I am thinking of putting my SPD-SL pedals on the tandem (I am captaining), but I put the question to you - should I try platforms first, and should the first ride be a solo spin just to get used to the gearing and any little quirks it might have, or just get on and go. I do want to end up riding clipless by the end of the weekend, as that is how I like it.

If all goes well, we are hoping to hire a touring tandem (if we can get one) over the christmas holidays and hitting the road. All this has come up just today but we both love the idea, as during the school terms we often go for 2 weeks or more without seeing each other.

Cheers,
Brendon
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Old 09-19-04, 07:20 AM   #2
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I would ride it with what you're used to wearing in the way of shoes & cleats IF you plan to ride the tandem as hard as you do your single bike. If this is a cruiser-type tandem and/or you'll be out for a gentle ride you could forego the cycling shoes.

However, if you do ride with your platform SPuDs and road shoes, but be very mindful that you'll be responsible for holding up the weight of youself, your stoker, the tandem, and in the future any luggage attached to the tandem. Thus, firm footing for starts and stops is rather essential so make sure you still have good grip from the non-slip rubber base and look for a section of debris-free road surface where you can put a foot down when you come to a stop.

For many tandem teams who don't fancy themselves racers or who aren't actually racing, mountain bike shoes with recessed cleats are often the rule of the day for clipless footwear. Not only does it give you better footing on starts and stops, it recognizes that tandeming is often times more closer to touring where walking around off the bike is very common and made easier by the recessed cleat.
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Old 09-19-04, 01:16 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by NZLcyclist
I am thinking of putting my SPD-SL pedals on the tandem (I am captaining), but I put the question to you - should I try platforms first, and should the first ride be a solo spin just to get used to the gearing and any little quirks it might have, or just get on and go. I do want to end up riding clipless by the end of the weekend, as that is how I like it.
I don't know about you, but I find it very difficult to ride any bike, without my SPD's. I am used to them and no problem unclicking them and there hasn't been a problem for the last 10 years. However, I do have problems with trainers on bikes, as my feet move about too much, or actually fall off the pedals. I would go with what you know and fit the spd pedals from the word go.

That first initial ride should be the Pilot on their own, No need for any great distance, but get used to the turning circle, steering and brakes, They will all feel different on a Tandem. That first ride should also include a bit of practice on starting and stopping the Damn thing, even on your own, but remember that when you get a stoker on board, the feel of the Bike will change.
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Old 09-19-04, 01:21 PM   #4
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And something I've found helpful at stops with the stoker clipped in is to lean the horn of my saddle against my hip rather than wrestling the bike upright with two hands. That way, I'm sort of a tripod with the bike and supporting it takes little effort. I guess that also calls for good traction from the shoe that's down on the ground.
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Old 09-19-04, 04:44 PM   #5
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OK so the stoker stays clipped in....except she'll have platforms does it make it easier to take off with the stoker already clipped in/feet on pedals? this is going to be fun I have pretty good stability with my SPD-SL cleats, I am sure I'll manage.

CHeers,
Brendon
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Old 09-19-04, 05:54 PM   #6
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"....does it make it easier to take off with the stoker already clipped in/feet on pedals?"

The one thing you can be guaranteed-of with that question is a lot of heat, but maybe not a lot of light.....so before another keystroke I want to recommend that you hop off to Mark's website "The Tandem Link", and read Bill McCready's article "Tandem Starting and Stopping-The Proper Method."

That having been said, there are two things I want to say on the subject:

1) The method that works right for you every time is the right way. Just keep in mind that footwear changes may influence this, ex., as noted above, slippery-plastic-soled racing shoes might change your strategy to be different from sticky rubber-soled MTB/touring shoes. Don't let anybody else tell you, you MUST do it one way because other ways are impossible. This is entertaining in the short term, but not objectively useful.

2) If you believe that you are a team, and that the stoker (rear admiral!) is not some sort of powerplant buried in the bowels of the vehicle and not an equal partner, then it is pretty sensible to put one foot down per rider on the same side of the tandem.

Actually all of this is pretty self-evident in the first 15 minutes, but if you are bound and determined to appear as though your level of expertise is vastly in excess of any tandem-related challenge, it wouldn't hurt to study up a little ahead of time.

The other thing you can do is to sneak up on challenges with little-bitty baby steps, so you are never taking any big leaps into the unknown. First thing you can do when you both get on the tandem, for example, is to do a bunch of starts and stops.
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Old 09-19-04, 09:46 PM   #7
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Howdy from Arizona!
Suggest that you use pedals and shoes from your single (not brand new stuff). Do a bit of riding 'solo' to learn what it's like to handle a lo-n-g-e-r wheelbase. Do some turns, stopping, maneuvering, etc.
Then have stoker mount up and clip in (in her own old pedals/shoes). Count 1-2-3 and you're off (probably a little wobbly at first).
Key to being a tandem team: Communicate!
You will tell your stoker all you are going to do next: like coasting, pedaling, shifting, braking and call out all bumps, as she cannot see them.
Tell stoker what direction you are turning; she does all the signaling for that and for slowing and stopping too. That lets you keep both hands on the bars.
When stopping for traffic signals/signs, stoker stays seated/clipped in.
Dismounting a tandem can be a bit of an experience too.
Call out 'stopping.' Hold both brakes, put both feet flat on the ground. Only then will stoker dismount. When she has dismounted she needs to walk away and say "off." Only then can your throw your leg over your seat (and watch out for her handlebars!). This walking away of the stoker prevents you from giving her a karate kick in the torso as you dismount. However some pilot's like throw their leg over their own front handlebar which negates the karate kick problem. Your choice!
A bit of a leaning curve but you'll manage just fine!
Go for it Kiwis!!!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/Zona tandem
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Old 09-20-04, 07:24 AM   #8
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Dismounting a tandem can be a bit of an experience too.
Call out 'stopping.' Hold both brakes, put both feet flat on the ground. Only then will stoker dismount. When she has dismounted she needs to walk away and say "off."
Oh, yeah... I second that. If the stoker starts to dismount before the captain is unclipped, the bike can be too much for the captain to hold up. Our first time out went fine until we got to our driveway. I unclipped my right foot and she started to get off on the left side. No way I could hold the bike up and over we went. I didn't hit the ground, but she ended up on her back on the driveway, quite surprised. That hasn't happened twice But watch for the same thing at stop signs. Unclip far enough ahead.

Dan
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Old 09-20-04, 03:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tornadobass
Oh, yeah... I second that. If the stoker starts to dismount before the captain is unclipped, the bike can be too much for the captain to hold up. Our first time out went fine until we got to our driveway. I unclipped my right foot and she started to get off on the left side. No way I could hold the bike up and over we went. I didn't hit the ground, but she ended up on her back on the driveway, quite surprised. That hasn't happened twice But watch for the same thing at stop signs. Unclip far enough ahead.

Dan
Amen, brother! We did the same stunt. My scab just came off this morning.

Doc
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