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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 03-23-13, 01:15 PM   #1
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Stoker never ridden a bike before

A friend of mine told me he and his girlfriend were interested in riding a tandem, but she never learned how to ride a (single) bike. My stoker is very comfortable riding a single bike. Does anyone have any experience teaching a non-rider to be a stoker? Any tips I should pass along?
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Old 03-23-13, 09:19 PM   #2
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I've taken kids who don't yet know how to ride on the tandem and they've been fine. So long as there are no balance or panic issues, it should be okay. Just have them hold on securely to the handlebar and either pedal along or not (by keeping off the pedals for non ICS tandems).
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Old 03-23-13, 10:09 PM   #3
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I can definitely answer this one: My stoker/wife had basically never ridden a bike or at least largely forgotten how to (she suffered a stroke about 10 years before we met and hadn't ridden since). To be honest, she has always been a great stoker and might even have been easier to learn to tandem with than an experienced cyclist. When we first bought our tandem (having never ridden one), I first tried it out with a friend who was an experienced single bike cyclist. I was all over the road and found steering extremely difficult, and my wife was quite nervous after watching us how it would be for her. Once she got on the bike, however, I found it far easier to maneuver with her than with our friend. Lacking any experience with bikes, my wife made no attempt to steer as we went through turns (as our friend had tried to do, forcing me to counter steer and fight their input), and learned to respond to my style of riding directly through the timing chain. Her cadence quickly matched mine, and she almost entirely adopted my riding style because she didn't know anything else.

When I've read some threads on here about how people communicate with their stokers, and commands they use, I was actually quite surprised. While we do talk a good bit while riding, it is rarely one of us giving commands about the ride itself. Instead, the vast majority of our communication on the bike is non-verbal. My stoker knows to soft-pedal instantly if I start to do so, making shifting seamless. If I start to coast for any reason, she instantly does as well. When stopping (one foot down for me, she stays on the saddle and clipped in) she just waits without moving around till I start to pedal and immediately pushes as hard as possible unless I slow to clip in my second foot. I don't tell her whether I'll clip in on the first pedal stroke or later (depending on traffic), she just seems to know. I think she is truly the perfect stoker because all of her habits were developed around being my stoker.
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Old 03-24-13, 04:05 AM   #4
Mike Ayling
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As with Budhaslug's wife Mary had never ridden a single bike in her life. I think this is actually an advantage because there is not the usual instinct to try and balance the bike by wiggling the handlebars. Mary has excellent balance and has been a ballroom dancer and a rock climber so after the initial apprehension we were fine. Keep in mind that in the initial stages the stoker handlebars are primarily just some place for the stoker to rest his/her hands and there should be no problems thereafter.

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Old 03-24-13, 12:07 PM   #5
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Have taught over a hundred couples how ride 'in tandem'.
The easiest to teach are stokers that have never ridden a bike.
No bad habits to unlearn, no pre-conceived notions.
Just follow verbal instructions from seaoned pilot when on the bike.
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Old 03-24-13, 12:49 PM   #6
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I agree with zonatandem. My stoker rarely rode a bike before we got a tandem. She learnt my pedaling cadence and trust me to deal the mechanics of steering and shifting. She just pedals when we are in motion.
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Old 03-24-13, 05:49 PM   #7
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Diane was had rarely ridden, and trusted me. We read "the Proper Method" and follow it. We have never had any problems, except saddle soreness. She did go through ten different saddles ranging from extremely low cost to moderately expensive before she found one she liked - actually one of the cheapest.
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Old 03-24-13, 06:53 PM   #8
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took my granddaughter for a ride. Wasn't quite as smooth as my wife due to her squirming around at times, but certainly wasn't difficult. I can't see why a novice rider couldn't be a successful stoker.
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Old 03-24-13, 11:04 PM   #9
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The only totally inexperienced stoker my captain has ever ridden with was my grandfather. We had ridden our new tandem 1100 miles to attend my grandparents' fiftieth wedding anniversary and he wanted to try riding on it. I was amazed at how smoothly my wife handled his 275 pounds of girth as they rode along. I agree with the folks who already posted: the easiest stokers to train are the ones who haven't ridden.
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Old 03-28-13, 07:10 AM   #10
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Thanks to all for your comments and info. I will pass this along and post the experience my friend has with his girlfriend.
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