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  1. #1
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    So many questions......

    Hello all. My wife asked if we could get a tandem and I really dont know the answer to this and need to do more asking. So.... here I go:

    1- Why choose tandem over single person bike? I am thinking that it will keep us closer together since she is not as fast yet nor likes long distances and I like both. Thoughts?

    2- Is there any drawbacks to tandems?

    3- What does one look for in tandems?

    4- Does the person in the back get board since they do not shift or stear? I assume its a single speed in the back?

    5- Anything to look out for when riding tandem versus single person bikes?

    Any other advice/thoughts/concerns welcome.

    thank you!

  2. #2
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Clarabelle's Avatar
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    My wife and I just ordered our first tandem. We opted for a tandem because we thought we would enjoy being able to talk to each other instead of shouting over the road noises and wind. Another reason was being able to ride at the same speed without one of us worrying over about going too slow or fast for the other. Also, my wife is having some knee problems and we thought a tandem might allow her to avoid stressing it so much. Lastly, and most importantly, it looked like fun.

    Being inexperienced ourselves, I can't say too much about drawbacks. We've learned that communication between the riders is essential. The stoker can't see the road ahead, so needs to be told about upcoming turns, hills, and bumps. Also, being around 8 feet long necessitates some changes in habits by the captain.

    As far as what to look for, a proper fit and good components are essential. We went to a bike shop that features tandems. They provided lessons and let us test one out for as long as we wanted; highly recommended.


  4. #4
    Senior Member ncbikers's Avatar
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    Boy are you lucky. In Pitts Grove, NJ is one of the largest tandem dealers around. www.tandemseast.com They Host a tandem show usually in March. Call, then than take a day and go see them. It will be well worth your while even if you don't buy a tandem. Take your riding gear with you as they will get you on a tandem (or several) during your visit

    Background: The Captain (front person) and Stoker (back person) are both peddling at the same speed. Gear changes happen off the stokers chain ring and the rear hub just like your solo. It is a "fixed drive" between the Captain and the Stoker.

    If you like being together and working at "things" together, there is a good chance you will enjoy tandems. We have talked about this and decided we know more couples who would hate tandems than couples who would like tandems. Someone is going to be in charge and someone is going to follow.

    Tandem groups are different from single groups. When you check out the tandem link suggested by tandemgeek, look at events also. Most of them will be weekend events. A lot look more like couples events than singles events. Food and ice cream are usually important. A lot of tandem groups will include where the nearest ice cream is in their instructions. A lot of people on tandems are husband and wife.

    Tandems are not better or worse, just a different activity.

    Good luck and enjoy.

  5. #5
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    1- Why choose tandem over single person bike? I am thinking that it will keep us closer together since she is not as fast yet nor likes long distances and I like both. Thoughts?
    Well, you'll definitely cycle at the same speed if you're on a tandem You each will be able to work at a rate that is comfortable (or uncomfortable if that's your preference). The stronger rider will find the tandem is faster on the flats and way faster downhill, but climbing speed tends to be near the average of the team. .

    2- Is there any drawbacks to tandems?
    The captain is responsible for the health and welfare of another soul. The stoker needs to be trusting of the captain's judgement and willing to give up "control". These are not necessarily drawbacks, but can strengthen a relationship. Maintenance is just a bit more than with a single. Acquisition cost, all things being equal, is higher. If you enjoy riding with groups, an tandem rides are not all that frequent depending upon your locale, you'll finding riding with groups of singles interesting.

    3- What does one look for in tandems?
    Depends very much on your goals, but fit would be right up there at the top of the list. You don't have to spend a great deal on a starter tandem, but if you buy one that doesn't fit it could kill the experience. Lot's of posts hereabouts or visit the suggested LBS and you'll come back much wiser in this area. Older tandems are out there and can be a very good value.

    4- Does the person in the back get board since they do not shift or stear? I assume its a single speed in the back?
    Boy, that's really a very individual thing. The shifting and steering is pretty automatic on any bike so I don't think that's a factor. The stoker can look around, listen to an ipod or similar, etc. (just don't wiggle), but as a captain I'm paying much more attention to the road (potholes, cracks, glass, etc.) than I do on my single. Physically, unless we're climbing, it's no harder than riding a single. We do use an intercom, but most teams don't and are perfectly fine without one.

    5- Anything to look out for when riding tandem versus single person bikes?
    You're going to be shifting a good deal more, at least that's what I've found. Your cadence and your stoker's might not match all that well so more shifts may be required to keep you in a compromise cadence. Starting will take some practice especially on a decent grade, but everyone who rides a tandem has mastered this. You want to make sure the brakes are really in good condition 'cause a tandem pointed downhill picks up speed very fast; on one organized ride we had three singles drafting us at 55 mph and many tandems have gone faster.

    We really enjoy our tandem. It enables us to ride together and we're doing 100K - 100mi organized rides at a reasonably advanced age (total > 130 yrs) which we couldn't be doing on our respective singles, and this after a 20+ year absence from cycling. Sometimes things go awry and you just have to deal with it; I cramp on a century with 20+ miles to go into a really bad headwind and my wife worked like a dog to get us home with my being able to turn the pedals over.

    I'd say go for it.
    Rick T
    --------
    Volagi - Triple"ized" and Tubeless
    daVinci Joint Venture

  6. #6
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    sounds freaking awesome. Some more questions:

    1) I know this might be hard to answer but is a tandem usually double the price of a single road bike? (might be a dumb question but just curious)

    2) How do you trasport a tandem?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    sounds freaking awesome. Some more questions:

    1) I know this might be hard to answer but is a tandem usually double the price of a single road bike? (might be a dumb question but just curious)

    2) How do you trasport a tandem?
    1. Roughly, assuming you're comparing bikes of similar quality.

    2. Several options:
    My favorite option is inside of a minivan, removing the front wheel and stabilizing the fork with a fork mount on a piece of plywood. We made sure out tandem would fit before we bought our Honda Element.
    If you have a stable rear rack, a tandem will only stick out about 12" on each side of the car. If you remove the front wheel the bike might not stick out at all on the side.
    If you already own a roof rack system, there are mounts to hold a tandem.

  8. #8
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    If your wife asked for a tandem then you should definitely get one.

    They make tandem carriers most popular is the ATOC tandem topper which swivels at the fork attachment so you can load the bike from the side.

  9. #9
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    Re: Question #2, Post #6: I have a Ford Ranger with a 6' bed and a large Cannondale tandem. I have one of those fork mount racks that spans the front of the bed. I can just fit the bike in diagonally with the fork in the rack and the tailgate closed. Or I can fit the bike straight with the tailgate down.

    I have also carried the bike on a typical trunk rack (Saris Bones). This is OK but not ideal. I take off both wheels and use a couple of ropes/tie downs to keep the frame from swinging around so much.

    I don't even use the offensive term "Fred." -- Sheldon "All Cyclists Are My Friends" Brown (1944-2008)

  10. #10
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    With both the wheels removed, our Specialized Sequoia fits in the back of a Jetta (with the seats folded down of course). But for short trips I just take the front wheel off and let the fork and handlebars hang out the back, secured by a bungee.

  11. #11
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    Any other advice/thoughts/concerns welcome.
    You can go really fast down hills on a tandem!

    Always a good idea to make sure the brakes are in good working order before going really fast down hills.
    RANS V3 (steel), RANS V-Rex, RANS Screamer

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
    You can go really fast down hills on a tandem!

    Always a good idea to make sure the brakes are in good working order before going really fast down hills.
    Always a good idea to also make sure your stoker is comfortable with going really fast down hills first. Otherwise you may not get them back on.

  13. #13
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dean V View Post
    Always a good idea to also make sure your stoker is comfortable with going really fast down hills first. Otherwise you may not get them back on.
    Yes, indeed. Must maintain cordial relations with the stoker at all times.
    RANS V3 (steel), RANS V-Rex, RANS Screamer

  14. #14
    Rod & Judy gracehowler's Avatar
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    PICT0029.jpgAnother way to carry a tandem
    R&J

  15. #15
    Senior Member WNY tandem's Avatar
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    We are new to Tandeming and we just love it. Being a stronger rider than me wife, I was always having to slow down to ride with her (not a good idea to drop the wife on a ride) and she would be struggling it ride faster than her comfort zone for me. Our tandem is the perfect solution for us and now that we have had the tandem for over a month, we have not been out on our single bikes yet. I say go for it!

    As for transporting it, on my wife's car we also use her Saris Bones rack with the front wheel removed. I bought a hitch rack for my car and the front wheel turns sideways to shorten it up. We tend to use the hitch rack more than the trunk rack.

    Photo5.jpg

  16. #16
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    Check out this site. It'll answer many of your questions. http://santanatandem.com/Started.html It's from Santana's website and they are real flagwavers for their products, but it's very good information. BTW, I own a Santana and love it, but the best advice is to go out and ride as many different bikes as you can. Like a single bike, you'll feel the differences pretty quickly. Tandems East is a great resource less than an hour from your house.

  17. #17
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    Some answers:

    Riding a tandem is a lot like canoeing. Does the couple like canoeing together, or do they tend to blame each other when something unexpected happens?

    The bike: Tandems are big – long wheelbase and 300-400 lbs with two riders. They are not agile – they are more like driving a truck and a trailer. They like open roads with room to breathe, not tight areas, bumps, or sidewalks. Understand these obvious limitations, and you’ll have fun. Personally, I find rail-to-trail rides ideal for a tandem.

    The captain will always have to be aware of the stoker’s needs and compromise for that person (gearing, cadence, braking, accelerating, obstacles in front of the bike (bumps, trees)). Riding in the back is nice in that you don’t have to worry about too much, but you do have to trust your captain to be thinking of you. I don’t think it is boring, it is relaxing.

    I just put the bike on a rear mount rack (trailer hitch) usually without the front tire. If I can do this in a Miata, you should have no problems. (setup rather like post #9).

    Besides, I like it when she scratches my back on those hot days…

  18. #18
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    I asked my wife (stoker) what she would say to someone who asked her what was I portent about a tandem.
    Here is what she said:

    1. You must be able to communicate.
    2. Get good comfortable saddles (not the big butt saddles but good racing saddles that are comfortable for you)
    3. Get good shorts.
    4. Get a tandem, she did not have any idea what kind, this is my department.

    We have had 5 tandems over the years and have learned a little bit about them. So my suggestion for a new team is to buy a good used tandem and then see if you like riding together. We bought an older Santana about a year ago, after an abscense of about 15 years from riding. We found that we still really enjoyed ridng together so after around 2500 miles on the old tandem we decided to upgrade. We bought a new Calfee and are completely thrilled with our choice. We were able to sell the older bike with no problem.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Bob/FLA's Avatar
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    1- Why choose tandem over single person bike? I am thinking that it will keep us closer together since she is not as fast yet nor likes long distances and I like both. Thoughts?
    *I am a pretty strong rider compared to my wife. On the Tandem I never have to wait on her, worry about her keeping up, or wonder if she is getting bored or tired. My wife never really rode before the tandem...just around the neighborhood. Since February, we have logged well over 1000 miles and are packing for our first tour...over 500 miles. When you're together, the miles FLY BY!

    2- Is there any drawbacks to tandems?
    *YES...it's hard to wipe the permanent smile off your face. Really? No drawbacks.

    3- What does one look for in tandems?
    *My wife has seizures and cannot ride a bike by herself. We needed a bike that she could ride without falling off, one she didn't have to control, one she could stop pedeling if necessary, and one I could totally contol by myself if necessary. We found a Vision recumbent tandem that met all those requirements. Each team will have their requirements, but buy a QUALITY BIKE...it will make riding so much more fun.

    4- Does the person in the back get board since they do not shift or stear? I assume its a single speed in the back?
    *I have a GPS in the stoker position to monitor speed, time, etc. She can also use it to find our next food stop. My stoker is also responsible for checking our 6, monitoring traffic and traffic lights, waving to fellow riders, keeping me hydrated and fed, and squirting rogue dogs with the water bottle. Oh yeah, she's also in charge of pictures and keeps an eye on our dog when she rides with us.


    5- Anything to look out for when riding tandem versus single person bikes?
    *Tandems are the BIG RIGS in the bike world. Nothing happens fast...starting, stopping, turning, etc.

    Best regards
    Bob
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/8981

  20. #20
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    great info.... thank you.

    How about bike fit? More important for the capitin versus the stoker? I am 6 foot 4 and my wife is much shorter then me.

  21. #21
    Old, SLOW bike rider! ;)
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    great info.... thank you.

    How about bike fit? More important for the capitin versus the stoker? I am 6 foot 4 and my wife is much shorter then me.
    Ah someone with our little problem, I'm 6 ft. and my wife, (she likes to be called the "Navigator", not Stroker), she's a strapping 5 foot with only a 26in. inseam! We tried to find a used road tandem and nothing we found would fit "both" of us. Then we started looking a "Hybrid Tandems" and found the Trek T-900 with a, 18.5/14.5 frame and YEA, it actually fit us, "Me" (pilot), yes the seat post is a bit high but it's below the "min. zone" and for her the 14.5 is PERFECT and if your back seat ain't comfortable, YOU will HEAR it, FYI! Back in our "motorcycle" days, there was a saying, "If Mamma ain't Happy, NOBODY is happy"! Keep looking till you find something in your budget, that FITS the both of you, you'll thank yourself as the miles add up, jmho, ymmv.

    Take care, RIDE SAFE, have FUN!
    B.J. Ondo
    1993 Mongoose Switchback MTB, being converted to a "comfort bike"! :)

  22. #22
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    bj: stoker doesnt have a water bottle cage?

  23. #23
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dean V View Post
    Always a good idea to also make sure your stoker is comfortable with going really fast down hills first. Otherwise you may not get them back on.
    My stoker closes her eyes. She can now keep her eyes open up to about 42. She doesn't mind going faster, she just can't watch. She's very smooth with her eyes closed, or open for that matter. This is that trust thing they're talking about. Best way to build that is to not screw up. Best way to do that is start with the simple stuff, easy rides, and ride conservatively, much more so than on a single. Which doesn't necessarily mean slow, just do everything more smoothly and earlier than on a single. Ride like a pilot, head moving, constant situational awareness, a little more room to each side. If something goes wrong, we have a discussion after about how we'll prevent that from happening in the future, just like everything else in our lives. I have screwed up a few times, but always at low speed. We have friends in our group who say it doesn't count if there's no blood. The hardest thing for us has been learning how to stand together. We do fine now, but it took 3 years.

    Perhaps the coolest thing about tandeming is that your feet are connected by the timing chain, so you feel the other person pedaling. Actually, you shouldn't feel them at all, because they should be in sync with you, but you do feel each other. So it's a little like dancing or other such things, very personal. Jealous men will holler "Lucky!" at you.

    We have a new tandem in our group with a short stoker. They bought a Co-Motion PeriScope Torpedo, base model. They didn't really need that low a stoker stand-over, but their kids will be able to stoke, too.

  24. #24
    Senior Member diabloridr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bjjoondo View Post
    Ah someone with our little problem, I'm 6 ft. and my wife, (she likes to be called the "Navigator", not Stroker), she's a strapping 5 foot with only a 26in. inseam! We tried to find a used road tandem and nothing we found would fit "both" of us.
    I'm also 6', and beloved stoker is 5', however her inseam is a whopping 28 inches. Co-Mo medium geometry worked for us, though her seatpost is pretty slammed and she has little stepover to spare:



    Tandem at Tempton Rd-test.jpg

    Our geometry does have a 2 inch longer top-tube in the stoker compartment compared to true stock geometry. This was done to move her very narrow handlebar out of the way of the Captain's wide posterior.

  25. #25
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    bj: stoker doesnt have a water bottle cage?
    Its there, look closer.

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