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  1. #1
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    Tandem for bigger stoker

    Does such a thing exist ?
    All the tandems i've seen until now are for a bigger captain, but my girlfriend doesn't like to be in the back and i don't care, so...

  2. #2
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    Depends on the amount of difference in height, weight, etc.

    With a recumbent tandem pretty much either one can take either place.

    With a more conventional design, if the stoker compartment is large enough [varies by maker] you should be able to do it with seat post and stem adjustments, to a point. The first tandem couple I knew at all well had female captain, male stoker. He was blind, and it took some persistence with the local bike shop to get them to work it out. I don't know whether anyone at that shop actually rode tandem, but their initial response was more of an "it can't be done".

    The limitation on seat post and stem adjustments is that on nearly all conventional tandem designs, the stoker's stem is attached to the captain's seat post. This limits how high the stoker's bars can be. In addition, the possibility of the captain's legs colliding with the stoker's bars introduces some design constraints as well.

    If, like us, your height is nearly a foot greater than hers, you're pretty much limited to something custom, or recumbent. And I'm not sure about the custom option.

    There is also the question of weight ratio. If you weigh substantially more than she, don't try to use "The Proper Method" to start and stop: instead use the "One foot each down" method.

  3. #3
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    Thanks WebsterBikeMan, i'm new to tandem cycling but i'm very interested in it, hence my questions.
    I'm 171cm (5'7"), 65kg (145lbs), and she's 158cm (5'2"), 55kg (120lbs).
    I undestand the reasons why the captain is usually the bigger, but the opposite usually works for us (in a canoe, i'm in the front as i paddle harder and she's steering).

  4. #4
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    Adding to your stated heights the assumption that you're "average" for your heights, the difference in leg lengths is likely only a few cm, if that. Women typically have significantly longer legs for their heights than men. But that's only typical. If that's the case, your main concern will be making sure there is enough distance between the stoker saddle and bars - some stoker compartments will be tough to fit into. There are some tandem riders up your way, but I don't know about shops where you can get a test ride. If you can find someone close(ish) to your size who has one, it would be great to give it a try.

    There's also an outfit up in Ottawa that rents fairly decent tandems, might be able to get some experience that way. I think they sell their bikes as the season wears down, so I don't know what they actually have right now.

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    We went through this too. We also wanted to be able to switch positions in the event that an old shoulder injury came a-calling. We decided to go with a custom frame from Tango. It helped that the builder was a neighbor of ours. The bike weighs a bit more than would be the case the big guy as dedicated captain. This is largely to make it stiff enough to accommodate a 190 lb stoker up high (6'2") with a short (5'6", 130 lb) captain and also to allow for an independent stem for the stoker's bars (more length and tubes). We also put the shifting and disk brake under the stoker's control. Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing. We both get a good view on our rides which really makes it a lot more fun for us. I always feel sorry for the women stokers who ride all day with their faces practically on their captains' hineys.

    You two are close enough in size and light enough that you should be able to get something "off the shelf" to work. Go for it!

  6. #6
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Check out any of the Co-Motion Periscope models . . . ultimate in adjustability including seatpost-within-a-a seatpost, adjustable stoker stem and pilot stems . . .
    Was able to set up a tandem for a team that wanted to switch positions: he 6'2", she 5'2".

  7. #7
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Also, I would pay attention to the handlebar/brake lever setup (up front). Your GF's single bike may have special levers or shims to bring the levers closer to the bars. Controlling speed on a steep descent can be tiring on the hands/forearms on less than a good road with switchbacks. Best setup would allow descending on the drops where the lever location affords good mechanical advantage. I've got what I consider a good "cockpit", but I can't comfortably brake from down there; with my medium-sized hands braking from the hoods is a workout. I suspect Montreal affords some pretty good hills
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    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    So my wife and I are both larger built (clyde/athena) and we're both fairly tall, I'm 6'2, she's about 6'. Is there a production tandem that's built for us? I've been trying to get her to go for rides for me but I like to ride fast for a workout and she prefers to cruise around, so I thought if I could find a cruiser style tandem it's something we could do together and I could ride hard a different time on my own.

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    Thank you all for these useful information. I have found 2-3 shops in montreal who rent tandems, i'm gonna give it a try.
    Good call rdtompki : she has trouble reaching the brake levers from the hoods on her road bike, one more thing to look out.

  10. #10
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by himespau View Post
    So my wife and I are both larger built (clyde/athena) and we're both fairly tall, I'm 6'2, she's about 6'. Is there a production tandem that's built for us? I've been trying to get her to go for rides for me but I like to ride fast for a workout and she prefers to cruise around, so I thought if I could find a cruiser style tandem it's something we could do together and I could ride hard a different time on my own.
    You should be able to ride a large/large production tandem. As with ValVal, you'll have to watch the space in the stoker compartment. There are several manufacturers that make a large/large (Co-motion, DaVinci, Bilenky, Santana). But when you say cruiser style, that narrows the field a LOT. Most cruiser style tandems are made in "one size fits some". KHS Tandemania comes in two sizes, and several of their models would fit the description of "cruiser style". Hard to say whether either size is large enough without trying one on - at least I don't see any geometry information on the site. Cannondale makes a Jumbo/Medium, which may fit. They do have geometry on their site.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ValVal View Post
    Thank you all for these useful information. I have found 2-3 shops in montreal who rent tandems, i'm gonna give it a try.
    Good call rdtompki : she has trouble reaching the brake levers from the hoods on her road bike, one more thing to look out.
    Hi ValVal,
    we were looking for a new tandem in Montreal last year. From our experience, I must say that the few shops in Montreal that are selling & renting tandems are not tandem-specific shops (by that I mean that generally nobody in the shop has actual experience in riding a tandem). By consequence, the service, advice, and adjustments they are able to provide to (prospective) tandem riders are not of very good quality. We actually got quite discouraged.

    Don't know about the shop in Ottawa, but if you are serious about tandeming you should consider either going to the US (gear-to-go tandems in Saranac Lake seems closest) or to Toronto (MBS Tandems in Mississauga). In places like that test-riding and shopping for a tandem will be completely different story. That's just our experience - we got a Co-motion Primera + 1st class service in Toronto in May and we are now so happy.

  12. #12
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by himespau View Post
    So my wife and I are both larger built (clyde/athena) and we're both fairly tall, I'm 6'2, she's about 6'. Is there a production tandem that's built for us? I've been trying to get her to go for rides for me but I like to ride fast for a workout and she prefers to cruise around, so I thought if I could find a cruiser style tandem it's something we could do together and I could ride hard a different time on my own.
    Rent, beg, borrow a tandem first. If you like to ride hard you might not enjoy a cruiser-type tandem as much. Used decent road tandems are around, your wife can work at any sort of level she prefers and you'll probably get more enjoyment out of riding something closer to your single. My wife works steadily, but not necessarily really hard except on bigger climbs. Still we're able to enjoy 100K and 100mi organized rides at a combined age of 130. Comfy saddles, of course, are everything: the Selle An-Atomica was a game-changer.
    Rick T
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  13. #13
    Senior Member CHAS's Avatar
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    Considering a Co-motion Periscope Scout for a 5'7" (in the morning) and a 5'4" (on a good day) team.

    1. Is the Scout good enough for upgrades if we like it that much?

    2. Would we have to stay with the 26" wheel model?
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    Homophobia is so gay.

  14. #14
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHAS View Post
    Considering a Co-motion Periscope Scout for a 5'7" (in the morning) and a 5'4" (on a good day) team.

    1. Is the Scout good enough for upgrades if we like it that much?
    Yes.
    Quote Originally Posted by CHAS View Post
    2. Would we have to stay with the 26" wheel model?
    I presume you ask because the geometry for the 26" small is smaller than the geometry for the 700c small.
    First question is "why are you afraid of 26 inch?". There's a long back-and-forth on which is better in some way, and there are good arguments either way.

    But the real answer is to look at which of your (4?) frames fits you best, and then get the horizontal distance right. That includes top tube and stem. The reason they make a shorter top tube version in 26" is that they can get away with it without toe strike issues.

  15. #15
    Senior Member CHAS's Avatar
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    After looking at the geometry either would fit me. Will have to get a tape on the other guy.
    Wonder if the 700c model could also use 26" wheels. Disk brakes might make that easy.
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    Homophobia is so gay.

  16. #16
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    A picture says a thousand words

    I am visually impaired so I ride in the back. Obviously from the picture I am not light. The bike is a standard size (med/med)DaVinci. The photo was taken on the second day of 150 mile ride.


    Last edited by arrowman; 10-08-10 at 07:10 PM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member CHAS's Avatar
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    The DaVinci is the color I want. Now I only need to find a stoker.
    Pivot 5.7
    Rawland Drakkar 650B love it with 38mm Soma tires
    2009 Specialized Roubaix Ultegra
    Santana Fusion Tandem
    2010 Specialized TriCross
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    One knee scoped so far.

    Homophobia is so gay.

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