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  1. #26
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    I would abandon the curb as soon as possible. When you start your primary responsibility beyond steering/balancing is getting your back end up in the saddle on that one down stroke, otherwise you'll go into coast mode very quickly. Not much of a problem on level ground, but starting on an incline it's better to have the captain miss clipping in than to coast to a halt.

    You might even consider lowering your saddle a bit initially just to insure that you don't snag your shorts in your haste to get going - a tandem FDGB, which all of us have experienced, is not relationship enhancing.

    As one of the responders ponting out you shoud downshift before coming to a stop to make starting easier. We're found 2-3 shifts to be more than enough. If I don't have a chance to downshift I'll stand for a few pedal strokes to get things going.

    You're off to a very good start. Here's to many happy tandeming miles.
    Rick T
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  2. #27
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mymojo View Post
    Find out which foot she stands up on to make personal adjustments...
    Good point. This also applies to how she prefers to get off the saddle when you've announced a possible bump. My sweetie prefers to have her right foot down; I'm trying to get her away from that because when the road has a curb you don't want to strike it with a right-side pedal. And when you've moved past a bumpy section and are ready to start pedaling again, announce it to her so her pedals don't start moving when she isn't ready.
    Real cyclists use toe clips.
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  3. #28
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    Good point. This also applies to how she prefers to get off the saddle when you've announced a possible bump. My sweetie prefers to have her right foot down; I'm trying to get her away from that because when the road has a curb you don't want to strike it with a right-side pedal. And when you've moved past a bumpy section and are ready to start pedaling again, announce it to her so her pedals don't start moving when she isn't ready.
    I would rather not have a pedal down with a bump coming. What if the bump, hole, or road debris is big enough to hit the pedal with her foot and her weight on it? Not a good picture. Pedals level is better.

    On the misunderstanding words we decided on key words to always be used for safety instructions. "Clear" is a good word. "Turn right hear" is bad - especially if it is a left turn! Just make the words very different. "Ready" and "Wait" are good for starting very different sounding words.

    Starting out we did the submarine thing repeating back to each other. I would say "Right Turn" and she replied "Right Turn" to show she heard and understood. If she needed to stop and said stop then I repeated it back so she knew we were stopping. Repeating back is a very effective way to communicate and limits distracting words. Soon we didn't need them and now little talk is required. We still use Ready and either Wait or Go as a response when starting.
    Last edited by waynesulak; 05-01-12 at 03:40 PM.

  4. #29
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waynesulak View Post
    I would rather not have a pedal down with a bump coming. What if the bump, hole, or road debris is big enough to hit the pedal with her foot and her weight on it? Not a good picture. Pedals level is better.
    Absolutely, level pedals is better, for the reason you cited and because both knees bent sends less jolt from bike through the legs to the body and thus should be easier on the bike. But we are still trying to develop that comfort zone, aren't we now?

    A separate question is this: If you do level the pedals, should you have left or right foot forward? On a solo bike it is better if the left foot is forward. The reason is that the left foot's load puts a counterclockwise (viewed from the left) torque on both of the crank/spindle joints, which is to say left arm to spindle and spindle to right crank and chainring. But the right foot's load goes into the chainring alone, not the spindle at all. So if you stand with the pedals level and the left foot forward the torque is the same as pedaling. If you stand with right foot forward the torque is reversed and more likely eventually to cause slippage between arm and spindle, damaging the joint, at least with a square taper.

    However with a tandem the captains chainring is on the opposite side. If you level the pedals with left foot forward, the captain's load on stoker's timing ring is the same as the stoker's weight, so both of the stoker's sides are torqued exactly as if they were pedaling. But the captain's torques are now backwards, i.e. the right foot is reverse-loading the spindle compared to normal pedaling. Choose one or the other, but you can't have both captain's and stoker's spindles loaded correctly.

    In our case, Sharon's knees are more comfortable with the right foot forward. And this is actually okay for the bike. It's a vintage bike with the original Peugeot-branded Stronglight crank up front but a custom crank for Sharon in back. If the reverse loading were ever to damage one of the crank joints I could replace a rear arm more easily than I could find another crank arm for the front.

    Most of that discussion doesn't count for a tandem because you can't keep both cranks happy. But you do have to decide so that you don't fight each other over pedal position when a split-second decision is required.
    Real cyclists use toe clips.
    jimmuller

  5. #30
    Bill G Bill G's Avatar
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    Well everyone has a method they like for mounting and taking off on a Tandem.

    My self and the wife keep it simple. I straddle the Tandem, apply the brakes hold the Tandem steady, she cleats in both feet places the peddle left or right side peddle does not matter at about the 1 o clock position give or take I cleat that foot in. Then I say go and we go as I cleat my second foot in. Allways smooth with no bobble sinse we started 12 years ago. Sorta came easy to us like drinking water, were lucky...

    A lot of Tandem teams I have seen over the years make this process or part of Tandem cycling way to complicated and convaluted causing akwardness and confusion between the Captain & Stoker.

    Ride Safe All,
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  6. #31
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    Absolutely, level pedals is better, for the reason you cited and because both knees bent sends less jolt from bike through the legs to the body and thus should be easier on the bike. But we are still trying to develop that comfort zone, aren't we now?

    A separate question is this: If you do level the pedals, should you have left or right foot forward?.....
    We find that often there is no time to pick which pedal to place forward. The bump is coming and does not wait for a 270 degree pedal stoke. As a result we place the pedal forward that is most appropriate.

  7. #32
    Carpe Velo Yo Spiff's Avatar
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    Went out around the neighborhood again last night. Starting and stopping is scary for her right now. She was complaining that I was pushing too hard a gear at too high a cadence for her (going about 10mph, which I had thought was a fair midpoint between our normal single bike speeds). I felt she wanted to pedal so lightly at so low a gear that the bike was coasting faster then the pedals and I was losing stability. (7-8 mph with two fatties on board) However, the rules are "the stoker is always right" and "don't scare the stoker". One thing we found was the pedals were getting away from her and she couldn't keep her feet on them. Not an issue on a single with only one person pedaling. She also had trouble giving us that initial push-off when we moved away from a stop. We decided it is time to give her the option of using SPD's as needed, so I stole the dual sided SPD/Platform pedals off my mountain bike. A learning experience for sure.
    2000 Bianchi Veloce, '88 Schwinn Prologue, '88 Trek 900, '92 Trek T100, 2000 Rans Tailwind

  8. #33
    Bill G Bill G's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yo Spiff View Post
    Went out around the neighborhood again last night. Starting and stopping is scary for her right now. She was complaining that I was pushing too hard a gear at too high a cadence for her (going about 10mph, which I had thought was a fair midpoint between our normal single bike speeds). I felt she wanted to pedal so lightly at so low a gear that the bike was coasting faster then the pedals and I was losing stability. (7-8 mph with two fatties on board) However, the rules are "the stoker is always right" and "don't scare the stoker". One thing we found was the pedals were getting away from her and she couldn't keep her feet on them. Not an issue on a single with only one person pedaling. She also had trouble giving us that initial push-off when we moved away from a stop. We decided it is time to give her the option of using SPD's as needed, so I stole the dual sided SPD/Platform pedals off my mountain bike. A learning experience for sure.
    That is true about the Stoker to a digree. The Stoker also has to understand his or her part of the deal and what there suppose to do along with the mechanics of how things flow, it can not all be on the Captain like some say. My wife and Stoker understood in detail her role as a Stoker & the mechanics of how thing's worked in detail from the get go. We spent a lot of time going over the how and how not to do things and how we planned to work around her persieved ideas of Tandem riding not being a cyclist. I think this helped our Tandem riding a great deal from the get go.( 12 years now trouble free, we love it) The Captain has to like you said take the Stokers needs into consideration or things will not work but again the Stoker has to understand and do there part not useing any cop outs because they do not understand or want to learn there role in the deal, it's an effort at first getting yoked up correctly on a Tandem for some. Tandems are not for every couple and I have seen wifes get of 10 miles into a ride and walk off pissed and quit and the Captain rides the Tandem in alone.

    I am lucky that it came easy to me and my wife from the get go as stated in other post. I have seen the problems your having give many Tandem couples problems time and time again. Planning comeplete understanding and communication of each persons role is key. Also understanding the mechanics of how things work in detail and having a talked out plan how to deal with those issues helps a great deal.. The Stoker just cant sit back there and only think they have to lightly peddle. The Captain needs to work on explaining and slowly pushing and improving the Stoker with total understanding of there shortcomings and pretty soon your a Tandem team on the go..

    Ride Safe,
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  9. #34
    Carpe Velo Yo Spiff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill G View Post
    The Stoker just cant sit back there and only think they have to lightly peddle.
    I think what was going on was that my "super light pedaling" was her "hard effort". She can't hold a very high cadence either. I do think the cadence picks up with time. I don't have a cadence sensor, but I'm pretty sure my rpm has picked up a fair amount as I've gained strength and fitness. I'm hoping the SPD's help with some of that problem of the pedals running away from her feet. If we can eventually do a touring pace of 10mph comfortably, I'm ok with that. (I normally average 13-13.5 over a ride, and cruise at 14-16)
    2000 Bianchi Veloce, '88 Schwinn Prologue, '88 Trek 900, '92 Trek T100, 2000 Rans Tailwind

  10. #35
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    You might find that conventional toe clips, perhaps even without straps, give her more of a sense of comfort. They'll hold her feet in place somewhat but whe'll have no fear of rremoving them from the pedals quickly if necessary.
    Real cyclists use toe clips.
    jimmuller

  11. #36
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Your team will get there with patience.

    Cadence: Her hard effort was probably less cardiovascular, than difficulty in keeping up with the cadence, especially not being clipped in. The stoker is in absolute control of her effort which is independent of cadence. I ask my stoker to provide sustainable effort with two exceptions: starting on a steep hill and short, steep pitches. I'll keep the cadence between 85 and 92, but if we're tired the upper end might be a bit much for her. I know she feels sometimes that we're not going anywhere climbing at higher cadences, but if we go below 80 and anything steep it can take a lot out of my legs.

    Speed: on anything approaching flat you'll be faster on the tandem than on your single once you find the right compromise that allows you both to contribute.

    Starting: I can see with your wife not being clipped in (or using something like mini-clips) would make it difficult to apply starting oomph, but your weight alone on the pedal should get you both going. There is some art to the start, so to speak, for us normal mortals since the captain has to steer, balance and get pedaling all at the same time, but it will come with practice.

    Stopping: without the stoker thinking you're going to fall over is job 1, but it's also important for the stoker to say balanced with her feet on the pedals. Are you comfortable stopping? You're braking, coming out of the saddle and putting one foot on the ground in one motion while keeping the bike almost vertical.

    Summary: every team needs to figure out what works best for them.
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  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yo Spiff View Post
    I think what was going on was that my "super light pedaling" was her "hard effort". She can't hold a very high cadence either. I do think the cadence picks up with time. I don't have a cadence sensor, but I'm pretty sure my rpm has picked up a fair amount as I've gained strength and fitness. I'm hoping the SPD's help with some of that problem of the pedals running away from her feet. If we can eventually do a touring pace of 10mph comfortably, I'm ok with that. (I normally average 13-13.5 over a ride, and cruise at 14-16)
    Been following this thread, as we're somewhat new to tandems ourselves (purchased in January). Just re-read the whole thread.

    Two things come to mind....no focusing on any pace until the stoker is comfortable, and try toe clips first, instead of locking the the stoker's feet to the pedals with SPDs. Purchased some of those yesterday for our two tandems.

    I've got it double bad ....an 8 or 9 year old on a Trek T900 (depending on which child is stoking), and then my wife on a second tandem (a Phat Limo) following us with the other little one. Not only am I training the stoker, I'm having to go at the speed of the other tandem so they know where we're going, and providing info to my stoker AND the captain of the second tandem.

    We went to White Rock lake over this past weekend. Average over 16 miles was 8mph (and I told NO ONE . But....that's OK, as we were having fun. Now....when the competitive kid gets some more seat time...she's itching for some long distances and always begging to go faster. Can't wait for that!...BUT....I gotta!

  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yo Spiff View Post
    Starting and stopping is scary for her right now.
    *Stopping* shouldn't be that bad. FWIW, when we stop, the stoker's only job is that once I call "stopping" she stops pushing on the pedals and allows me to rotate them around to where I want them so I can click out. Once I'm out, I put my foot down and hold the bike up so she can click out and get off.

    I think SPDs (or any other kind of clipped, clipless or other system to keep her feet attached to the pedals) will be a big help. Once the stoker's feet are attached to the pedals, the only thing that should matter to her once you're going is cadence. It shouldn't matter how hard you are pushing or what gear you are in. If you want to apply 10x the force to the pedals that the stoker does, that's fine.

    I don't know how precise your sense of cadence is, but I found it to be a huge benefit to have a computer with cadence on the tandem. We actually bought two Cateye Astrale 8's and spliced the wires so they both run off the same set of sensors. This way the stoker has her own display -- with cadence -- right in front of her. I quickly found out that her cadence comfort range was *way* narrower than mine. I'd prefer to be 100-115. She is comfortable from 85-95. I learned to watch the display, and when we get to 95, shift. Being a little low (e.g. 82) is much better than being too high. The display helps her, too -- once she can see you shifting and keeping the cadence low for her, she will appreciate that. If she doesn't have a reference for how fast the cadence it is, she might just subjectively feel like it's too fast all the time. After all, however accurate *your* sense of cadence is, hers is less accurate -- she may not have the foggiest idea what it is. After watching the display a little, you will both be able to have an accurate conversation about what you want the cadence to be.
    Last edited by WheelsNT; 05-02-12 at 12:13 PM. Reason: fix typo

  14. #39
    Carpe Velo Yo Spiff's Avatar
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    That makes sense about the dual cadence displays. Might be an upgrade in the near future. For now I am using the computer from another bike that I had a spare mount kit for and can do dual tire sizes.
    2000 Bianchi Veloce, '88 Schwinn Prologue, '88 Trek 900, '92 Trek T100, 2000 Rans Tailwind

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    "Went out around the neighborhood again last night. Starting and stopping is scary for her right now."

    I would highly recommend finding a deserted Junior College Parking lot and just spending enough time on starting and stopping to get over this. I think you should be able to start two different ways... The first where you straddle the bike, brakes locked, she clips in both feet, you then clip in one of your feet, and then you start with one downstroke and you land on the seat. Depending on the speed you generate, the bike will either be wobbly or stable...if wobbly, I say, go round, and we put in a complete stroke or two before I clip in the free foot. It's important to have enough speed to be stable before worrying about the captain getting clipped in.

    The second start is when we are on a downhill and we both have our right foot clipped in and left foot on the ground... one downstroke should be enough to generate enough speed for both of you to get on the seat and clip in.

    We stop both ways, either stoker remaining clipped in with both feet (typically at a stop light for example) and Captain with one foot on the ground. Alernative is if we are arriving at the bakery (!!!!!) when we both unclip left foot and come to a stop with both of us putting that foot on the ground.

    Stoker now has something to say: (She's Theresa) Stoker, you need to know learning this is SHEER TERROR. The first time we went up our neighborhood hill I was so scared I just bit my tongue and whimpered. The second time we went out we were more than halfway home on a 16 mile trip before I started breathing normally! You are doing great just by consenting to go out!! However, IT REALLY IS WORTH IT!! You can actually talk to your spouse, you and he can both work as hard.....or as little as you want, and you still both get there at the same time! I's say it took me about 5 or 6 times, (with a pep talk from another stoker), to feel somewhat comfortable. (That "feeling comfortable" did not include getting out of the saddle......that took another few months or riding regularly).....Anyway, it really is worth it. Hang in there and realize you can get to comfortable with enough time.

  16. #41
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat from CA View Post
    I would highly recommend finding a deserted Junior College Parking lot and just spending enough time on starting and stopping to get over this.
    Very good idea. It doesn't have to be any place special, just a road or lot quiet enough that you don't have ot worry about traffic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pat from CA View Post
    ...Depending on the speed you generate, the bike will either be wobbly or stable...if wobbly, I say, go round, and we put in a complete stroke or two before I clip in the free foot. It's important to have enough speed to be stable before worrying about the captain getting clipped in.
    Absolutely. If you don't generate enough speed, crank the pedals a bit more. However one thing that surprise me totally when we were starting was just how stable the bike was. I suppose every bike is different but ours requires less steering than a solo bike to keep it stable. It just stays up, and that makes starting seem much easier than one might have guessed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pat from CA View Post
    Stoker now has something to say: ...you and he can both work as hard.....or as little as you want,
    Would your captain agree with that sentiment after he, err I mean both of you, huff and puff up a long hill?
    Real cyclists use toe clips.
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  17. #42
    Carpe Velo Yo Spiff's Avatar
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    We are going out for an actual ride in the morning, some sightseeing and photography at the coast. Not expecting to travel very far or very fast. I think we have the basics and we just need experience to get comfortable and adept at it all. I'll make sure to post a pic of our first adventure.

    The idea of both of us unclipping and putting a foot down won't work for us, as she's substantially shorter than myself and she needs to get on the bike with me holding it up. If we keep with it, a bike even a size smaller might be needed eventually.

    Thanks again for all the tips.
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  18. #43
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    Did our first real ride yesterday. 13 miles around Port Bolivar. Not much traffic, so it was good for working out our communications. We did have two incidents, however.

    The first time was her fault. We were coming to a stop and she was holding the right pedal up, preventing me from putting my right foot down. Lesson: When stopping, stoker does what the captain needs, and if she doesn't, then I apply more force to put the pedal where I need it.

    Second time was my fault. We had stopped and I felt the bike lean as if she was getting off, so I obliged and did what I thought she wanted, and leaned over so she could get off. We both got dumped in front of witnesses to our clumsiness. She was still clipped in and had been shifting around. She hurt her shoulder, but will be ok, maybe a little sore in the morning. Lesson: Don't make any assumptions and wait for verbal confirmation of what the stoker wants me to do.

    And some pics:

    Port Bolivar, Fort Travis by Yo Spiff, on Flickr


    Port Bolivar, South Jetty by Yo Spiff, on Flickr


    Port Bolivar by Yo Spiff, on Flickr


    On the road by Yo Spiff, on Flickr
    2000 Bianchi Veloce, '88 Schwinn Prologue, '88 Trek 900, '92 Trek T100, 2000 Rans Tailwind

  19. #44
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yo Spiff View Post
    Did our first real ride yesterday. 13 miles around Port Bolivar. Not much traffic, so it was good for working out our communications. We did have two incidents, however...
    Well done, YS. Good to get out, isn't it? About the incidents, yes the captain should dictate what the pedals do and the stoker should follow. But it also helps if you have decided ahead of time how you will do it most of the time. As for you leaning the bike over, it's probably best if you always keep the bike up with your feet on the ground, and she climbs off without needing the bike leaned over. That removes any ambiguity of what you (plural) intend to do.
    Real cyclists use toe clips.
    jimmuller

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    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    Well done, YS. Good to get out, isn't it? About the incidents, yes the captain should dictate what the pedals do and the stoker should follow. But it also helps if you have decided ahead of time how you will do it most of the time. As for you leaning the bike over, it's probably best if you always keep the bike up with your feet on the ground, and she climbs off without needing the bike leaned over. That removes any ambiguity of what you (plural) intend to do.
    I agree on holding the bike until VERY VERY sure the stoker is off. Also applies to starting. I never take either widely spaced foot off the ground until I verify stoker is settled. We done a lot of miles and I always ask Ready? and wait for a response before lifting either foot. "The stoker is always right" might be the first rule of tandeming but it is followed closely by "Do not drop the stoker"!

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    YS, the other guys have been kind. In my opinion too kind.

    YOU DROPPED YOUR STOKER!

    YOU BLAMED HER FOR HAVING HER FOOT IN THE WRONG PLACE!

    In my opinion you should be demoted from captain to buck private.

    You have violated the key commandment, "communicate", if I would have dropped my wife on one of our first rides she may never have ridden with me again.

    Now for some suggestions:

    A 13 mile ride may be a bit long for a new rider. When we started riding a tandem again after having not ridden for around 6 years we started out with 4 miles and then 6, 8 etc. we then rode 10 mile rides for a week or so and continued to build a little bit at a time, we just got back from a 40 mile ride and had a great time and a great ride.

    When I saw your picture I thought you were going for a 100 mile ride with all of your racks, bags, camel baks etc. I would again suggest that for the first few weeks you keep you, your stoker and the bike as uncluttered as possible. You have enough to be concerned about piloting the bike and keeping your stoker happy. If momma is not happy no one is happy.

    Not for starting and stopping. If you have a petite stoker and you are a big strong guy then Bill McCready's method will work fine. That is having the stoker clipped in and staying clipped in when starting and stopping.

    That method does not work for us! We tried it and my stoker does not like it. Now she trusts me as a captain, having sat behind me for thousands of miles on motorcycles and tandem bicycles but being clipped in starting and stopping takes us out of our comfort zone.

    Here is what we do:

    1. We always start and stop with our left foot on the ground, some plant their right foot, whatever works best for the team, we always mount from the left side so it is natural to have our left foot on the ground.

    2. I get on first and clip my right foot in (right pedal down, we ALWAYS STOP WITH THE RIGHT PEDAL DOWN), she then gets on and clips her right foot in.

    3. She tells me she is clipped in. We rotate the right pedal backwards to the 2:00 position, back up a little and push off, she lets her left leg hang loose while I clip in. After I am clipped in i will maybe rotate the cranks a turn or two, I move the left pedals ( must be in phase for this to work, as new riders I highly recommend in phase so you know where her pedals are at) to the bottom of the stroke so she can clip in. When she is clipped I she announces that she is "in" and off we go. It is much simpler than it sounds. It works perfectly for us.

    When we are riding and approaching a turn I would initially announce, "Right turn, right pedal up" etc. I still announce the turns, she now knows which pedal. Ends to be up.

    When stopping we always stop with the right pedal down, if necessary I will say right pedal down,
    preparing to stop, we both unclip our left foot and hang our left foot down preparing to stop. Now I rode off road observed trials motorcycles for years and the idea is to ride an observed section without putting your foot on the ground, we were taught that where your head goes, that is where your foot goes, so if you are leaning left it is a good idea for your head to be on the left side of the bike.

    For us it works, and in thousands of miles we have never fallen over.

    I am not being mean, I am sharing some hard learned facts, that have helped us to completely enjoy riding our tandem together and hopefully will help you and your stoker.

    We are senior citizens who have raised 7 children and are now enjoying riding and being retired.

    My stoker is sitting here with me and said that it will take some time for her muscles to adapt to riding the bicycle, that includes her legs and posterior muscles. She also said to make sure that she has comfortable shorts and a comfortable seat. And to build miles slowly.

    Wayne and Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    As for you leaning the bike over, it's probably best if you always keep the bike up with your feet on the ground, and she climbs off without needing the bike leaned over.
    Unfortunately, she's too short for that. If we stick with the tandem, I'll be looking for a smaller frame for the next bike. For now, I have to lean it over for her to mount & dismount.

    Took my nephew out on it around his neighborhood this morning. It was a lot easier, as he's taller, stronger and a lot lighter. We can fix two of those issues for my wife, given time. She's still going to be stumpy, however. No starting off with both us having a foot down on this bike.

    A lot of these little things we need to communicate about, we are not realizing until things happen. Such as where my right leg needs to be when stopping. For a while, she was getting on, then rotating the cranks into my knees. (OW!). We've now found a position that works for both of us and she doesn't need to rotate after mounting.
    Last edited by Yo Spiff; 05-06-12 at 12:02 PM.
    2000 Bianchi Veloce, '88 Schwinn Prologue, '88 Trek 900, '92 Trek T100, 2000 Rans Tailwind

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    Everyone will have a thought about what works for them on starting and stopping, and you folks will be no different -- you'll develop your own method that works for you. Along the way, you really should read Bill McCready's post on starting and stopping if you haven't already: http://www.precisiontandems.com/artpropermethod.htm


    Maybe not everything he says will work for you, but there will probably be something in there that will help. In our case, we read through it together. I adopted his method of securing the bike with your hip, so my start method is spread the legs wide (so they can't be hit by the pedals), lock the brakes, and sit right down with the right side of my tail on the top tube with the nose of my saddle jammed against my right hip. In that position, it's impossible for the bike to fall in either direction. With the bike secured, stoker puts one foot on a pedal and swings the other leg over the back wheel until she can sit on the seat. The pedal she steps on doesn't need to be at the bottom since i have the brakes locked. She then spins the pedals around as she gets clipped in, and finally delivers the right pedal to the 2:00 position. I then clip my right foot in and then ask, "Ready?". She responds, "Ready." Then I say "Go" and we start. YMMV, but Bill McCready's post is a good, thought-provoking read.

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    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yo Spiff View Post
    Unfortunately, she's too short for that. If we stick with the tandem, I'll be looking for a smaller frame for the next bike. For now, I have to lean it over for her to mount & dismount.

    Took my nephew out on it around his neighborhood this morning. It was a lot easier, as he's taller, stronger and a lot lighter. We can fix two of those issues for my wife, given time. She's still going to be stumpy, however. No starting off with both us having a foot down on this bike.

    A lot of these little things we need to communicate about, we are not realizing until things happen. Such as where my right leg needs to be when stopping. For a while, she was getting on, then rotating the cranks into my knees. (OW!). We've now found a position that works for both of us and she doesn't need to rotate after mounting.
    I will agree that you must do whatever works for the team when starting. Some like the stoker clipped in some don't and that is fine. I do want to add however that the stoker clipped in method (otherwise unfortunately called "the proper method") works well for us and my stoker is not that much smaller than me. I am 5' 8" and my stoker is 5'6" and weighs within 30 lbs of me. Notice how I do not divulge the top secret stoker weight. More importantly I have used it with my son who is 6' and outweighs me by 50 lbs with very little bicycling experience.

    I have pasted a copy of Bill's rather long winded "the proper method" below. If you are going to start with the stoker clipped in then I suggest you read it, then memorize the major points. I will not give you a test but your stoker by her actions eventually will. It is not the only way to do it but it is one way that does work especially when starting when the bike is part way up a steep grade.

    The Proper Method
    by Bill McCready

    Should my stoker continue to put a foot down at signals and/or help to launch my tandem from a stop?

    Bill's Primary Rule of Tandeming settles this and most related questions. It's very simple. Only five words to remember. After discovering The Method nearly thirty years ago, I perfected the present wording of Bill's Primary Rule of Tandeming a few years later. Use it to settle all tandem disputes. Are you ready? The next line you read is Bill's Primary Rule of Tandeming:
    The Stoker makes no mistakes.

    From this primary rule virtually all other points of tandem etiquette can be derived.

    Actually Bill's Primary Rule of Tandeming sounds better when you put a dramatic pause between the third and fourth words:

    The Stoker makes... ... no mistakes.

    I was never in the Navy, but I've been told if a steersman runs the ship aground while the Captain is asleep in his bunk, it's the captain's fault. My rule of tandeming is one step better. Instead of fixing the blame on a tandem's captain, my rule simply absolves the stoker. When a problem does occur, a tandem captain is invited to attempt to shift the blame to such things as traffic, terrain, equipment, atmospheric conditions or even planetary alignment. But pox on any captain who would ever be so wrong-headed as to malign a stoker!

    (This from someone who has ridden as captain and stoker with thousands of partners.)

    What does this have to do with starting and stopping? Plenty. Stokers aren't responsible for balancing the bike (why should they be?). Asking a stoker to put a foot down when they can't control the brakes is expecting too much. Having them help with the re-launch when they can't steer is even w orse. Besides, once you eventually come to truly believe "the stoker makes no mistakes" it becomes clear that stopping and starting the tandem is not their problem.

    And while I hope this posting causes readers to smile... I am NOT joking. If you want me as a stoker (and I'm a good one) don't expect me to uncleat at signals and don't give me any brake levers. As a stoker I pedal, contribute to worthwhile conversations and (when advised) provide hand signals . If you're not abusive and ask nicely, I'll advise you of traffic or tell you what gear you're in. And if you overlook the occasional misdirection, I'll even agree to help navigate. But please don't presume that I can somehow choose a line through a corner, assertively weave though traffic, se lect the proper gear or stop the bike at a signal. Face facts--I can't steer or see the road in front of the front tire. In short, it isn't my job to "drive the bike" and I therefore refuse to take responsibility.

    Some people might think The Method demeans stokers. Bull. The best tandem teams are not composed of riders who somehow crimp their individual styles enough to coexist on a two-seated bike with only one set of controls. The best tandem teams are TEAMS where each rider appreciates their individua l role and responsibility.

    And this is especially true if you ride with a spouse. When the average married man strikes his thumb with a hammer, he immediately blames his wife. Wives, because of superior intelligence, soon learn to leave a room when husbands open a toolbox.

    So two decades ago, when I bought a bike shop and started introducing married couples to tandems, I soon realized that the method I had developed long before marriage (I bought my Parsons racing tandem before my sixteenth birthday) was truly The Method for married couples. If you want your stoker to continue to ride tandem with you, don't EVER point the finger of blame. And the best way to avoid blaming your stoker is to start by understanding that it really isn't ever their fault: The Stoker makes no mistakes.

    Because of dozens of lectures I've presented at tradeshows, rallies and dealer meetings over the past fifteen years, The Method is now taught to most beginning couples when they visit an American specialty shop (Malcolm is from the UK). The very first sentence of my riding instructions to beginni ng couples may help illustrate my central theme of this posting: "The captain straddles the bike with legs spread wide and locks the brakes." I then explain that a captain needs to remember to do this so a stoker won't knock them over or roll the bike forward as they climb aboard. I then tell the captain that if he forgets these instructions and, as a result, is goosed by his saddle and falls onto his top tube, it's not the stoker's fault.

    After I'm sure the captain understands that his backside and family jewels are at risk, I continue with: "And the captain must keep their legs spread until the stoker has both feet in the clips." At this point I turn to the prospective captain and say, "Let's see if you're still with me on this. Whose fault do you suppose it is if the pedals somehow spin around and bloody your shins?"

    So I'm sorry if John Schubert bowdlerized my instructions when he wrote "The Tandem Scoop." Do I believe John was restating my instructions? Absolutely. I remember when John visited Bud's Bike Shop in 1981 and learned The Method. My memory is especially vivid because I was Schubert's first stoke r. A year later John purchased his first tandem (a classic marathon-style Santana) which he still rides with his lovely wife, Anne. John and I have argued tandems often through the years and I sincerely was honored when he mailed me an inscribed copy of his excellent book. I recommend it highly .

    Exceptions (?) to The Proper Method

    I've received nearly 50 responses to "The Proper Method." I'm glad most of you enjoyed it. A very few respondents wanted to insist upon or ask about exceptions to Bill's Primary Rule of Tandeming: "The Stoker makes no mistakes." Here are some additional thoughts:

    John Dante correctly remembered a further portion of The Proper Method from when I taught him to ride a tandem at a rally some years ago. This has to do with using your hip to hold the bike in a more vertical position. I omitted this from my earlier brief (by my standards) posting--since a lot o f you seem to be enjoying this thread, here's a further portion of my instructions to new tandem riders.

    My test-ride sequence includes a short ride with the each customer. I always ride with the prospective stoker first and 98% of the time this is the wife/girlfriend. During a pleasant ten-minute ride I make it a point to warn women "guys develop bad habits while riding single bikes."

    After we've finished her test ride, it's his turn to be my stoker. I ask her to stand-by and watch while we get started. After repeating the basic "here's how the captain gets on the bike" demonstration I gave ten minutes earlier, I tell him he must get on the same way his wife did earlier--by p utting a foot on one pedal and swinging the other foot directly onto the opposite pedal--like getting on a horse.

    When the husband is totally clipped-in (if he's wearing cleated shoes, I'll insist he lock-in), I ask him to raise the left pedal halfway for me. As soon as the pedal is cocked I turn to his wife standing next to us on the curb and say, "Remember how I warned you that guys develop bad habits from riding a single bike?" As she nods I raise my left foot to the pedal and slowly start to lean the bike to the right.

    "I don't know why," I state (as the bike leans further) "but for some strange reason guys always want to..."

    At this point I'm usually interrupted by frantic movement from a panicked stoker, who more often than not, has managed to free his right foot and plant it on the ground. I calmly turn to him and say, "Stokers are supposed to leave their feet in the pedals--go ahead and clip back in, I won't drop you."

    After he hesitantly reholsters his foot, I turn back to the wife and continue from the beginning... "Remember how I warned you that guys develop bad habits from riding a single bike?" She smiles as I again start to tilt the tandem towards my right foot. By now she understands my joke and struggl ing to control her composure while her husband fights panic on a bike that's leaning ever-further earthward. "I don't know why," I continue "but for some strange reason guys always want to lean a bike waaaayyyyyy over before they start to ride. And if you're the stoker, it feels like the captain is going to drop you. But you shouldn't worry when he does this to you--and he will do this to you--it only FEELS like he's going to drop you. Of course I didn't do this to you when you were on the tandem because there's a technique a captain can use to get started without leaning the bike. An d once I'm sure I've gotten your husband's attention--have I got your attention back there? --I'll demonstrate the proper technique."

    Because the tandem is now leaned at a precarious angle, husbands are invariably eager to learn my no-lean starting technique.

    What is this technique? Simply use your hip to anchor the top tube.

    Captains should NEVER EVER rely on arm and shoulder strength to hold up their stoker: doing so causes you to need to lean the tandem, which in turn causes the stoker to want to put their foot down. Fear or mistrust--NOT a sense of teamwork--is the real inspirations for those stokers who unclip at stops.

    (In the following lesson I'll continue to follow the customary practice of left-footed starts--If you lead with your right foot, simply exchange my rights and lefts).

    After a stoker signals their readiness by proffering the captain's left pedal (my techniques for tandeming don't require verbal commands, questions or answers), the captain changes from the "spread-em" position (to keep his shins from being bloodied) to the one-foot-in-pedal position. The correct way to do this is for the captain to bring his right foot closer to the centerline of the bike, then, after shifting all his weight to his right foot, he lifts his left foot up onto the pedal while simultaneously dropping his left hip onto the top tube. The captain now shifts 90% of his weight t o the left hip. The bike is leaned only very slightly (maybe 5 degrees?) and the right foot remains flat on the ground. If you're going to remain in this position for more than a couple of seconds, slide your hip back along the top tube until the nose of your saddle is wedged to the outboard edg e of your left jersey pocket. If you've done this correctly (and it may take a little bit of practice), you should now be able to take your hands completely off the bars. The tandem can't fall to your left because the top tube can't pass through your leg, and the wedged saddle keeps the bike fro m falling to your right. The trick is to use the weight of your body (through your hip), and not your strength (through your arms) to secure the bike. Because the bike is anchored mid-frame instead of being held by pivoting bars at the forward end, the stoker can now do handstands on the rear sa ddle without knocking you over. While relative weight is a consideration, as long as your stoker doesn't exceed twice your weight, holding them up should not be a problem.

    In fact, when I captained my Santana Quint with fellow members of the Claremont City Council (three of the four didn't even own a bike), combined stoker weight topped 750 pounds. We started with nine feet in the pedals and only my right foot on the ground. Because we rode in parades, there were lots of starts and stops. My four stokers not only left their eight feet in the toe straps, they were free to turn and wave to the crowds with both hands. If we had fallen in front of hundreds of constituents, whose fault would it have been?

    Answer: The Stoker(s) make no mistakes.

    Teams who "prefer" putting two feet on the ground at stops invariably do so because the captain has never mastered The Proper Technique. A captain who anticipates the stoker's assistance will retain bad habits learned from riding a single-bike. When a captain leans the tandem at every stop, the stoker reflexively puts a foot on the ground. Does a stoker do this through a sense of teamwork? Nope, it's self-preservation.

    A couple of respondents believe The Proper Technique was developed to overcome stoker ineptitude. Others may think it's a plot to feed a captain's insatiable hunger for control. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Proper Technique was developed by all-male go-fast tandem teams as a com petitive strategy to beat racers on single bikes. When I first started riding tandems, the guys I rode with all wore slippery-soled racing shoes with nailed-on cleats. With toe clips and old-fashioned cleated shoes it was necessary to reach down and loosen two toe straps before removing our feet . After starting we not only had to coast to get our feet in the clips, we had to then reach down and tighten both straps before sprinting. Here near LA, where long portions of our training routes had a traffic signal on every corner, a tandem with two cleated riders simply couldn't keep up with singles in stop-and-sprint traffic. Initially, leaving the stoker strapped-in was a daring riding technique reserved for coordinated teams. Once we mastered The Proper Technique, we realized it's easier and safer than the obvious method used previously.

    Safer? Absolutely. Because stokers can't see the ground or accurately gauge the exact instant the tandem will come to a complete stop, stokers will (sooner or later) misjudge a landing and make a misstep. And if the captain was depending on the coordinated effort of the stoker, the team will tumble to the pavement. While most teams will someday fall over at a stoplight no matter which method they use, this incident is far less common with teams who don't rely on coordinated efforts.

    But the best reason to use The Proper Method is not to win stoplight sprints or to avoid superficial scrapes and bruises. The best reason for the stoker to stay clipped-in is so both riders understand exactly whose responsibility it is to control the bike. Without this demarcation, in a moment of pain and embarrassment the average captain (like the average husband who hits his thumb with a hammer) might lash out at his stoker. There are hundreds of husbands with wives who no longer ride their tandem--avoidable mishaps and misplaced blame are problems all tandem riding couples should work to avoid.

    This is why an inseperable relationship exists between The Proper Technique and "The Stoker makes no mistakes." It's impossible to absolve the stoker of all blame when the stoker's efforts are required at every stop.

    Are there any exceptions to Bill's Primary Rule of Tandeming?

    Nope. Not one.

    If you think you've discovered an exception to "The Stoker makes no mistakes," I'm certain a closer examination will reveal a captain who should've known better.
    Last edited by waynesulak; 05-06-12 at 08:49 PM.

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