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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 03-20-13, 06:01 PM   #1
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The Aero Stoker

I've enjoyed the "Aero Bars" thread. I wonder if we can do a parallel thread on The Aero Stoker? Looking at John Cobbs wind tunnel video:
http://cobbcycling.com/aero-video.cfm
it's pretty obvious that his smoke trail would be sucked right into the stoker's chest. I know I notice small changes in my stoker's position. The parameters for the captain's aero position are fairly well known. It seems to me that an aero position for the stoker is much trickier, given the varying sizes of captain and stoker and the mostly invariable length of the stoker compartment. I've also seen more variation in stoker position on road tandems than I've seen in captain's. I'm curious about the drivers there.

For instance, I notice in Merlin's photo in the Aero Bar thread that his stoker's cowhorns seem to point down a hair, rather than up as one usually sees. It'd be nice to see photos of standard aero stoker positions, with and without stoker mounted, and how their contact points interact with the equipment. There are zillions of photos of single riders to look at and learn from, but not so for stokers. I'm most interested in comfortable, sustainable stoker positions that will contribute to increasing overall tandem averages over a long ride.

Funny how the riders in Cobb's video seem to refuse to position their helmets correctly. I wonder what that's about. I also wonder about an aero stoker helmet.

Here's us in aero position:

Stoker can't hold this position forever - her arms get tired. I'm thinking about tilting her bars down a little so she can rest more of her wrist on the bar. The bar end keeps her hands from sliding forward, so that's what she's braced against. OTOH, maybe her bar should be a little lower so she doesn't have so much elbow bend. I don't really want to go to a drop bar because that puts more forearm in the wind and she likes the cowhorns anyway. This photo:

shows a little less back angle on the stoker than on the captain, though our arm angles are similar, so maybe her bar should be lower - or maybe just angled down a little.
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Old 03-20-13, 06:55 PM   #2
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Looking for comfy stoker cowhorn bars? Check out the Profile Cobra Wing bars (same bars as Ritterview and DubT have) in this post: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...1#post15412301

Watch out, she may just lay down and go to sleep
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Old 03-20-13, 08:54 PM   #3
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Looking for comfy stoker cowhorn bars? Check out the Profile Cobra Wing bars (same bars as Ritterview and DubT have) in this post: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...1#post15412301

Watch out, she may just lay down and go to sleep
Those have apparently been replaced by the Viper Wing. We're running Profile Airwing bars with a 38mm drop now. Stoker likes them a lot, particularly the long reach to the ends. The Airwing "horns," or whatever they're called, are about 20cm long, measured from the tip to the back of the base bar. They're how she gets her hands so far forward.

Looking at her aerobar position, it looks like it should be possible to build a stoker bar that's T-ended with armrests, like Merlin is using but with the arm rests out at the end of the base bar so she could grab her bar ends the way she does now. A little more arm/hand exposure, but so close to the captain's body it might not amount to much compared with the ability to hold that position almost indefinitely.
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Old 03-20-13, 09:28 PM   #4
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You mean something like these? These are on an ultra-distance race bike so comfort takes some precedence over outright aerodynamics. It's still pretty aero though.
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Old 03-20-13, 10:01 PM   #5
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You mean something like these? These are on an ultra-distance race bike so comfort takes some precedence over outright aerodynamics. It's still pretty aero though.
Maybe something like that, though I can't see what that is. I am more interested in long distance comfort with aero benefit. If she can't hold it, it doesn't count. We're not TTing. We'd like to do some brevets or permanents and more long mountain rides and faster is always better.

Short people's fit is so different. Look at my and your stoker's back angles - not too different - yet see where my stoker's hands are. Looks like you have some nice long cranks on there.

Have any photos of the stoker's equipment?
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Old 03-20-13, 11:28 PM   #6
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Sorry I don't think I have a better picture. That's a friend of mine's bike. I don't think he still has it. What they did was to take a regular bull horn and attached some extensions for the hand holds and risers with pads for the forearms. I've also seen them take regular flat mtn bike bars and put straight Syntac clip-on's at either end.
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Old 03-21-13, 03:44 AM   #7
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I have used drop bars with mountain bike bull horn extensions added to the end of the drops pointing in. It basically simulates the old Lemond/Scott drop in bars from way back and gives you a low position that is also narrow.
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Old 03-21-13, 06:11 AM   #8
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I don't have time for much of a post but here are some pics to possibly add to the discussion:

Spanish Para Olympics used straight bar with clamp on aero bars:



This seemed to adopted for an endurance team sponsored by Wiggle in England making some endurance distance record attempts:




Then there is Lon Haldeman's record attempt riding across the US. I like that the stokers arms stay behind the captain and do not add to frontal area.



Finally taking the approach of lessing the distance between captain and stoker rather than getting low:

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Old 03-21-13, 11:37 AM   #9
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I don't have time for much of a post but here are some pics to possibly add to the discussion:

Spanish Para Olympics used straight bar with clamp on aero bars:

This seemed to adopted for an endurance team sponsored by Wiggle in England making some endurance distance record attempts:

Then there is Lon Haldeman's record attempt riding across the US. I like that the stokers arms stay behind the captain and do not add to frontal area.

Finally taking the approach of lessing the distance between captain and stoker rather than getting low:
Thanks for taking the time and having the knowledge to dig up these photos! They're great. The Spanish team looks like they are having fun. Putting on forearm pads like that is what occurred to me. Interesting contrast in position between them and the Wiggle team. The Wiggle guys look a lot lower. Looks to me like they're more flexible and have rotated their pelvises forward. Neat to see the perfect join between helmet and skinsuit. These folks are good.

The Haldeman/Penseyres tandem is more, uh, advanced than will work here. My stoker is with the program, but she's not interested in doing the Notreangelo thing.

That bottom photo looks really uncomfortable, but the engineering is interesting. Moulton?

It looks like it might be possible to cut a pair of aerobars, like my Syntace, right in front of the clamps and bolt them on inside the bend of the cowhorns. The offset pad of the Syntace or similar might then come out in just the right spot. The Syntace are adjustable for elbow placement. Do other brands do that, too? I'll have to mock it up and see which if any of Stoker's other hand positions will be affected. She needs to keep as many of those as she can. Adding those pads/bars would freak out the weight weenies, but we'd more than get it back in average speed.

The cool thing about this pad placement is that it would be a rest position. She could be in the down position whether I was or not. I can't be on the aerobars when we're around other bikes or cornering hard. Stoker could choose to be down in a paceline or almost anywhere except climbing. That might be really spiffy. We'll have to experiment and see if she and her saddle would be OK with that.
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Old 03-21-13, 12:55 PM   #10
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Even the "pro" photos above have some oddities to their setups... like the Wiggle team using front & rear disc brakes on a TT setup and the very weird cable routing coming out of the brake levers (hydraulic?).

As far as optimal TT positioning, most of the previous photos posted in this thread show the captain positions are not pushed forward anywhere near the legal limit. That may be a scary thing to do on a tandem and not for general purpose riding, but it is relevant to TT aero. The problem with the saddle in a "normal" road position is that the rider's shoulders usually remain too high (exposing the chest) and unable to efficiently lower them because the gap/angle at the waist would be adversely effected. By pushing the saddle forward, that achieves a number of TT benefits such as keeping the waist gap open allowing the rider to breath better and also lower the shoulders without strain or negative power output. Plus, moving the captain further forward provides the stoker that much more room to assume a more optimal TT position too.

For overall impression of the "pro" aero positions and ignoring equipment, while the Spanish captain appears to be the furthest forward and most aggressive, my vote goes to Wiggle which looks stable and efficient - if not a little stoker nose unfriendly.

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Old 03-21-13, 03:06 PM   #11
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Anyone recognize the wheels the Wiggle team is running? From the description and bike, I don't think they're in a TT, rather some LD record attempt, maybe similar to RAAM here. The brakes maybe help in their terrain. Also probably why they are in a normal road position, rather than TT. It is my imagination, or do they have some really long cranks on that bike? They're also not quite IP - stoker is leading by about 2 teeth. As twocicle pointed out, what a difference in opening the hip angle between the Wiggle and Spanish teams. Look how far forward the Spanish riders are compared to their seat tubes.

Spanish team is running a Gates.
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Old 03-21-13, 03:23 PM   #12
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Anyone recognize the wheels the Wiggle team is running? From the description and bike, I don't think they're in a TT, rather some LD record attempt, maybe similar to RAAM here. The brakes maybe help in their terrain. Also probably why they are in a normal road position, rather than TT. It is my imagination, or do they have some really long cranks on that bike? They're also not quite IP - stoker is leading by about 2 teeth. As twocicle pointed out, what a difference in opening the hip angle between the Wiggle and Spanish teams. Look how far forward the Spanish riders are compared to their seat tubes.

Spanish team is running a Gates.
Wiggle sponsored a tandem attempt at some long held road endurance records in Great Britain. The record for riding "side to side" or across the island on public roads has been hold for years and they were trying to break it along with many other records. Interesting they seem to have failed to break any records. The last blog post was in 2011.

Keep in mind they were planning on fast decents on wet narrow English lanes so two disks made sense.

See below for more info including some detail of equipment:

http://www.project7racing.com/records_and_events.html
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Old 03-21-13, 03:57 PM   #13
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Interesting they seem to have failed to break any records. The last blog post was in 2011.

Keep in mind they were planning on fast decents on wet narrow English lanes so two disks made sense.
So the dual disc brakes didn't make them fast enough?! Just kidding. Windy, wet roads usually do not result in records being broken.

Nice job on finding the Wiggle info. Your Google-fu is strong.
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Old 03-21-13, 04:11 PM   #14
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Anyone recognize the wheels the Wiggle team is running? From the description and bike, I don't think they're in a TT, rather some LD record attempt, maybe similar to RAAM here. The brakes maybe help in their terrain. Also probably why they are in a normal road position, rather than TT. It is my imagination, or do they have some really long cranks on that bike? They're also not quite IP - stoker is leading by about 2 teeth. As twocicle pointed out, what a difference in opening the hip angle between the Wiggle and Spanish teams. Look how far forward the Spanish riders are compared to their seat tubes.
Most of the previous aero bar usage photos in this thread, show people with decent body angles, but sitting back behind the BB in a comfy 74/74 degree seat post angle, just jacks up the chest into the wind. As a rough example, if you had a 90 degree bend at waist, your 74 degree seat angle would yield a 16 degree chest exposure. Taking those same body angles and rotating forward to near zero seat setback could provide a 0 degree (horizontal) chest. That is just an example, of course there are "legal limits" to how far forward you can push the saddle and so the "superman" positions are outlawed.

Now, if you are using aero bars for purely comfort reasons, then all this is mute. Personally I've never done any time in a wind tunnel. Our old poor man's coach in 4 man team time trial training was to tape string to our helmets and give each other feedback as we rode.

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Old 03-22-13, 06:10 PM   #15
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You just tuck your head and I'll steer from back here...
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Old 03-22-13, 07:25 PM   #16
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You just tuck your head and I'll steer from back here...

I like the aero sandals!
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Old 03-22-13, 10:26 PM   #17
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Most of the previous aero bar usage photos in this thread, show people with decent body angles, but sitting back behind the BB in a comfy 74/74 degree seat post angle, just jacks up the chest into the wind. As a rough example, if you had a 90 degree bend at waist, your 74 degree seat angle would yield a 16 degree chest exposure. Taking those same body angles and rotating forward to near zero seat setback could provide a 0 degree (horizontal) chest. That is just an example, of course there are "legal limits" to how far forward you can push the saddle and so the "superman" positions are outlawed.

Now, if you are using aero bars for purely comfort reasons, then all this is mute. Personally I've never done any time in a wind tunnel. Our old poor man's coach in 4 man team time trial training was to tape string to our helmets and give each other feedback as we rode.
There are some serious TT folks on here who might think about this. We just do somewhat competitive sport riding. My single bike experience is that simply putting on clip-ons equals about 1.5 mph at the same power, no change in position. Descending on a my single, sitting with clip-ons is very slightly faster than having my chin 2" above a slammed stem, back level. I think that whole effect is simply getting 6' of cylinder, one's arms, out of the direct wind. It also helps a hair that one can drop one's chest down between one's shoulders and also drop the head. This is harder to do in the drops because of muscular tension. I kind of have done hours in a wind tunnel - riding in the mountains, the same courses year after year.

My point is that aerobars are not for comfort, though comfort is a nice side benefit. I ride with a strong rando guy who has his clip-ons jacked up on extensions at least an inch above his bars. He can pull like that for hours. Funny that no one wants to go around him.

So I was thinking, good for the captain, good for the stoker. No titanium bolts. Almost free speed. Takes a cooperative, flexible stoker though. We're still working on it. I'll try to get some detail photos.
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Old 03-23-13, 05:57 AM   #18
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Historically people have concentrated on letting low but the big thing is frontal area so getting narrow is just as important and usually easier and more comfortable. Having high aerobars work by narrowing the profile and reducing frontal area.

You mention an additional 1.5 mph with clip-ons. At what speeds ?

I look forward to seeing your photos.
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Old 03-23-13, 06:07 AM   #19
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twocycle's post reminded me of the late great Sheldon Brown's photo below.


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Old 03-23-13, 09:23 AM   #20
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twocycle's post reminded me of the late great Sheldon Brown's photo below.


Nice superman position.

Now I'm really confused. Without somebody in the captain's seat, do we say "he's not pedaling"?
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Old 03-23-13, 09:32 AM   #21
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Historically people have concentrated on letting low but the big thing is frontal area so getting narrow is just as important and usually easier and more comfortable. Having high aerobars work by narrowing the profile and reducing frontal area.

You mention an additional 1.5 mph with clip-ons. At what speeds ?

I look forward to seeing your photos.
Around 20 mph.
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Old 03-24-13, 11:59 AM   #22
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Most of the previous aero bar usage photos in this thread, show people with decent body angles, but sitting back behind the BB in a comfy 74/74 degree seat post angle, just jacks up the chest into the wind. As a rough example, if you had a 90 degree bend at waist, your 74 degree seat angle would yield a 16 degree chest exposure. Taking those same body angles and rotating forward to near zero seat setback could provide a 0 degree (horizontal) chest. That is just an example, of course there are "legal limits" to how far forward you can push the saddle and so the "superman" positions are outlawed.

Now, if you are using aero bars for purely comfort reasons, then all this is mute. Personally I've never done any time in a wind tunnel. Our old poor man's coach in 4 man team time trial training was to tape string to our helmets and give each other feedback as we rode.
It is different between individuals, but for pure cyclists (as opposed to triathletes) there is a preference for not putting the seat too far forward. Yes there is a UCI 50mm behind the BB minimum but even without this many would still have their seat further back than this anyway. They can get their torso as low as they want and make their best power with a fairly tight leg / torso angle.
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Old 03-24-13, 12:23 PM   #23
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It is different between individuals, but for pure cyclists (as opposed to triathletes) there is a preference for not putting the seat too far forward. Yes there is a UCI 50mm behind the BB minimum but even without this many would still have their seat further back than this anyway. They can get their torso as low as they want and make their best power with a fairly tight leg / torso angle.
Just about every UCI road pro that is capable of winning a TT has a TT specific setup on or near the forward limit. Or are those pros not "pure cyclists"? Obviously those points are not intended for recreational/non-TT riding, but an observation of potential position impovements for real TT efforts.

Few if anybody can make their best power with a fairly tight leg / torso angle, because that severely inhibits breathing and blood flow, and strains the hamstrings and back muscles.

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Old 03-24-13, 01:23 PM   #24
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They will be near the forward limit but also many are not riding saddles like the Adamo which would let them get even further forward within the 50mm limit if they wanted to. The point is I do not think you would see many of them riding with 80 deg seat posts and zero or even positive saddle setbacks like the triathletes do even if their rules allowed it.
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Old 03-24-13, 10:38 PM   #25
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Details from second phase of Aero Stoker, first phase being shortening the 35 stem by 1.5":



These photos show our three basic, more aero, stoker arm and hand positions. Top row, cowhorn slanted up, bottom row, cowhorn level. We did a good ride today which a good bit of aero time. Stoker prefers cowhorn level, but overall height was too low - couldn't pedal all the way down without her head bumping my back. That's too low. These are Profile bars with 28mm of drop to the horns. We'll try a pair of flat bars. Then we'll start exploring arm pad placement. Upper arm angle when all the way down looks good.

Our averages on hilly rides are better since we started this positioning exploration.
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