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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 02-16-05, 05:42 PM   #1
jrisles
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Our First Ride Together

Hi Guys

Great to come back here again and get re-acquainted.

I refer you to my previous post

Well some of you may remember my last post regarding the my purchase off ebay. I live in Australia and purchased a used Cannondale Tandem in America .. the tandem arrived at my home 2 weeks ago in and yesterday was the first opportunity that we have had to take it out on the road for a ride. We rode for about 15km which is a little over 9miles for you Americans We did have a little ride on it one night on the windtrainer just to set it up for saddle height etc.

I was the Captain and my wife was the stoker. Coming out of our driveway and riding down my street which has a very little decline for about 600m i was a little bit wobbly & that caused a little bit of nervousness which didn't help. Amazing how even the slightest of declines seem steep when you are not confident. The last thing i wanted to do was crash this thing on our maiden voyage. Well we got to the bottom of the hill ok and on the flats my confidence started to rise. The tandem i thought was a little "twitchy"??

We will both need to spend more time in the saddle for our confidence levels to rise but overall we were able to generate some good speed on the flats. The other issue i had was when i want to stop pedalling or coast and didn't inform the stoker she would keep pedalling so sometimes i found some resistance when attempting to stop pedalling .. something we will need to get use to. Also turning the tandem is again something different that i will need to get use to.

Riding a tandem is definately different to riding a single as all you experienced tandems owners already know but having ridden singles all my life it was a funny feeling. I have ridden a tandem once before about 10 years ago .. it was a friends tandem and i remember correctly it was a Burley Rock n' Roll but definately i am sure it wasn't as "twitchy" as this one.

Overall the experience was a positive one even if we were both a bit shakey. I know our confidence will build with more rides. We will keep our rides short and local until we are comfortable before going on some extended rides.

Just thought i share this with you all.

cheers
Jeff
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Old 02-17-05, 06:59 AM   #2
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Jeff,

Every time I get on my tandem after a week or so of single riding, I have to remember what I am doing! But you two will be in sink soon enough.

With regard to the 'twitchy' handling:

First keep riding the bike and try to see if sadle time smooths things out
Second, I remember and confirmed from your link that the fork is not stock on your bike. It could be that the rake on the carbon fork is not the same as the stock fork and you have lost some trail, which may have changed the bike's handling.

If the bike's handling is a problem, maybe you could contact the seller and see if the stock steel fork is available. You could order a stock replacement fork from Cannondale or purchase another carbon fork with less rake.

But, after you take her out a few more times, you may grow accustom to the way the bike rides.

Keep us posted!
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Old 02-19-05, 08:18 AM   #3
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Jeff
interesting reading your candid comments about first rides on your new used Cannondale. We planned to pick one up in LA in April enroute to Europe for a six month tandem tour but had to defer owing to shoulder and neck problems. We are reasonably fit but have spent all of ten minutes in the car park on a tandem. Nevertheless sold on the idea. Would be interested in your further comments on your next introductory rides.

Given our changed circumstances I was considering importing the Cannondale Mountain Tandem and would therefore be interested in your costs for import duty, GST, transport, insurance, handling and any other costs to bring the bike home.
Thanks
Go well.
Pierre
Perth
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Old 02-19-05, 01:42 PM   #4
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Congratulations on getting that beautiful lightweight tandem home. I tried to sort back through the links to see if it looked like it had a hot-rod fork, but I guess that now it is not an active ebay item that that would not work.

Mark and I disagree on whether or not high-trail forks are twitchy. I say they are, he says they are not. My experience is that I have never been able to get going fast enough to get what I consider to be neutral handling out of them. For me, when the bike leans, the fork tends to steer that way if it has a lot of trail, and it is harder to keep the tandem straight than with a lower trail fork (hotrod fork=1.95" of trail or more, Santana 1.85", considered neutral, old Cannondale 1.75", very stable indeed, but then of course you have to work harder to get it to turn). I suspect this is influenced by the center of gravity of the tandem, with higher being twitchier, and it is certainly influenced by stoker movement: if your stoker has perfect balance in the plane of the frame, all that matters is your movements, and you can get away with more trail, just like on a single bike.

So there are, I think, two possible sources for your observation of "twitchy": 1) the fork, with this varying over time and by brand for production and add-on forks, and 2) the stoker, particularly in comparison with a single bike. Cures for this can include more experience, time on a single bike on rollers, and various feedback strategies like putting the tandem on top of the fogline stripe (white stripe on the outside of the lane, do you have those?) and telling the stoker to keep it there.

When you are going to coast, and for various other activities, you have to announce it or ask for it or agree on it. With a lively fork, that may include reaching for a water bottle too.

Somewhere, way back, there is a thread on tandem commands/communication (can't remember which). Going to see if I can find it and add the title of the thread to this as an edit. I have a vague recollection that there was something tacky or that I didn't agree with, in the thread.

edit: having looked into this, I think my second post in the thread "Scared" is pretty good.

Yes, I still have bronchitis. No, I am not riding. No, I am not happy. 154 days until Mount Evans and I am getting fatter.

Last edited by SDS; 02-19-05 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 02-19-05, 04:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrisles
Riding a tandem is definately different to riding a single as all you experienced tandems owners already know but having ridden singles all my life it was a funny feeling. I have ridden a tandem once before about 10 years ago .. it was a friends tandem and i remember correctly it was a Burley Rock n' Roll but definately i am sure it wasn't as "twitchy" as this one.
Wait until you find yourself riding tandems all the time and then jump back on your single; now that's when it REALLY gets freaky!! I regularly find that when I've been off the single for a while I'll routinely skid the rear tire coming to a stop and often times pull the front end off the ground when attacking the first hill or sprint: loosing 3' of wheelbase and 130lbs of rider/bike weight will do that to you.

That said, your point of reference -- the 26" fat tire Burley Rock & Roll -- was a pretty solid ride compared to your Cannondale with its narrow, high-pressure 700c tires/wheels. However, on the bright side, the C'dale with the Reynolds Ouzo Pro tandem fork with its 5.5cm of rake should give you pretty good low-speed control, despite the initial "twitchy" feeling. If you want to feel a twitchy tandem I'll let you borrow one of ours; the only thing twitchier at slow speeds in my stable is my track bike. Of course, our long-trail tandems are like rockets on rails once they get going and they're really easy to track stand.

Less I digress, anyway by now you have probably taken a few more rides and I suspect that you and your stoker are beginning to get more comfortable with the tandem and each other. Enjoy.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SDS
Mark and I disagree on whether or not high-trail forks are twitchy. I say they are, he says they are not.
Are you talking about this Mark??? See comments above. I think we may have gotten wrapped around the axle on lexicon in the past (stability a slow vs high-speed) but don't recall ever making the case that long trail tandems like a Co-Motion (2.15" - 2.25") or our Ericksons (> 2.3") aren't a handful at slow speeds for first time riders. In fact, I've often joked that some tandem dealers use Co-Motions to sell Santana and Burley tandems by putting new teams on the Co-Motion first, then offer a Santana or Burley with their shorter trail, better slow-speed maneuverability, and inherent resistance to "stoker steering".

As for never getting a neutral feeling out of a long-trail bike, bigger / taller teams like you and your usual stokers sometimes never do. In fact, most road bike designers even make a point of steeping up their head tubes to reduce trail on their larger frames for that very reason. In fact, we often times ride with one couple who are both extremely tall, who have a pair of Co-Motion tandems, and the stoker's a rocker: having watched him man-handle the steering, I've often suggested they'd do better with one of the Ouzo Pro Tandem forks to cut down the trail. Regardless, with a few exceptions, most teams will adjust to what ever they ride in short order.
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Old 02-19-05, 05:12 PM   #6
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Yup, everything you said is exactly right. The only thing that has changed for me is the stokers: if I get one who balances in the plane of the frame, and internalizes the balancing associated with pedaling, there is no contribution to the steering and it doesn't really matter what the trail is, except that then a little more is indeed helpful in starting turns. Thing is, though, that turns and hills are pretty scarce where I live. We get out in the country, which still starts close to my house, and it can regularly be miles between turns, often more than 5 miles. Picking a fork for turning is not a priority.

If I didn't often pick which tandem I take out according to size, I might pick to match the fork to the stoker skills. The old Cannondale with the 1.75" of trail (?) is far less of a handful with a wiggly stoker.
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Old 02-21-05, 11:22 PM   #7
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Hey, I'm just happy that there's one more tandem in Australia. Glad it made it here ok, and hope you post regular updates.
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Old 03-27-05, 07:55 AM   #8
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Latest Ride Update

It is Easter over here and we have been cruising on our tandem everyday so far & boy what a great ride we had today. We hammered it today. About 50k (or 30mi) of undulalations. Confidence has built up tremendously for the both of us over the past month or so since we have acquired the tandem. We hammered it today and man it felt great. The weather also has been fantastic.

But the most unusual thing happened today. We were cuising along and the cadence was smooth, there was no wobble what so ever, my stoker was very quiet on the back, the bike "felt" very light and for a moment i felt as though i was riding a single or there was no stoker sitting behind me. This feeling lasted for quiet awhile and i just had to look back to ensure that my wife was still sitting behind me. Sure enough she was still there. I don't know why i needed to do this .. it was pretty silly .. but i couldn't believe how light & smooth the tandem was feeling (as though i was on a single). I am also riding more like a single now .. leaning into fast corners whilst still pedalling etc. I can EASILY now reach for my water bottle and drink out of it whilst still riding, before i would stop the tandem to take a drink because i was so wobbly and unconfident.

The corners that i first nervously navigated when i got the tandem are now no longer a problem. The first time i took these corners i felt like i was driving a semi-trailer .. I am still a little unconfident screaming down a hill. I am still softly applying the brakes so as not to go too fast. But this too will abate over time.

The "twitchiness" i explained in my first post is no longer present. I suspect it had to do more with my inexperience than the forks etc. Or alternatively, the tandem could still be a twitchy tandem but it could be that i am now use to it?? Cruising at low speeds is also not an issue .. we cruised into a park today where there were heaps of cars all vying for a car park and i had to take it real slow .. and today i didn't have a problem with the slow cruising speed (approx 10km/hr or 5mi/hr).

In all, today has been about our 6th time out on the tandem. My wife IS still enjoying it which IS still a good thing. We even experimented in getting out of the saddle today when going up a hill .. we need some more work on this .. ... but i think it is going to work for us.

Just wanted to provide you with an update. Given that tandems are hideously expensive to purchase brand new over here in Australia .. i feel so lucky to have scored what i believe to be an excellent 2nd hand tandem. Although the tandem is about 10yrs old you would have no idea by looking at it .. it has been meticulously maintained. I have gone over it with a fine tooth comb and can see no visible signs of fatigue. The tandem feels really "solid" and glides effortlessly along the flats. We can get up some real good speed on the flats.

As you can tell from the post we are really enjoying the experience and are just having a wonderful time together. My wife has even told me that she now feels so much more confident riding a bike & more confident riding in traffic since she has been riding with me. A tandem is really a great teaching aid for those who have been cycling for years and have a partner who have seldom rode .. or haven't really been taught to ride properly.

I also noticed that TandemGeek reposted the ebay link of my tandem. It appears to still be active. If the link becomes inactive I will then post the pics on this thread.

Happy Easter to you all

cheers Jeff
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Old 03-27-05, 09:38 AM   #9
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There's a good chance your wife's pedaling/balance have improved, which is why she disappeared and the twitchiness went away. Stoking IS a skilled occupation.

New stoker out today....when it stops raining. First time out for the Cannondale J/L I use for smaller stokers in about two years. Couple tune-up items left, and I am ready.

197 lbs, no flu, no bronchitis, life is so much better.
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Old 03-27-05, 05:00 PM   #10
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Congratulations on your new ride. We just got a tandem a month ago and I definitely felt the same "twitchy" feeling you describe. Now I'm feeling almost the opposite. It feels like it's on some kind of time delay. My single bike is very responsive to any rider input. The difference is like getting out of a sports car and into a very large, underpowered truck with no power steering or power brakes. Today was our fourth time out and we're getting a little better, even though I dropped her for the first time. I was a little distracted because we had gotten off of the designated route and didn't balance the bike well when we stopped to check the map, with her clipped in. Luckily I was able to break the fall some and she didn't get hurt at all.
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Old 03-27-05, 09:47 PM   #11
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To the Awesome Aussies:

All it takes is time in the saddle . . . and don't forget: COMMUNICATE!
Back in the 80s, we did test riding for C'dale; we rode a prototype tandem for 3 months . . . it took another 2 years before production started up.

Pedal on TWOgethert!
Rudy and Kay/Zonatandem
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