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Stoker Says No....

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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!

Stoker Says No....

Old 05-10-15, 12:41 PM
  #1  
Binky
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Stoker Says No....

Last December, just before I had to leave the country, I picked up a tandem bike and started to get it into shape. Finished off with new tires and cables, fresh grease in the bearings, and a good cleaning. Thanks to all here on the Tandem forum for information and suggestions.

The weather turned warm and I got my wife out on it last week.
First time on the Tandem.

She hated it.







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Old 05-10-15, 01:14 PM
  #2  
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Perhaps you, the pilot, must learn how to ride and communicate properly on a bicycle-built-for-2?
Then invite her for short spin out for a nice lunch?
This advice from a pilot/stoker duo of 40+ years, ages 82/80 that still ride TWOgether.
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 05-10-15, 01:23 PM
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chris ss
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They (being tandems) DO take some getting used to, for both the Capt + Rear Admiral. I hope you (plural) are able to give it another try. Without knowing if there were particular aspects of it that she didn't enjoy, it's a little hard to offer much other than general encouragement to take it easy, give it a couple tries before hanging it up, and +1 to LOTS of communication. It takes a while to be able to ride together smoothly. I've often compared it to being in a canoe together, or ice skating arm in arm, or dancing really close together. It usually starts out VERY tippy, and every move that either of you makes rocks the other one, which is usually pretty unnerving. You gradually learn to move less, communicate more, and "trust" each other's movements ...

Anyway hope you + she get another try + come to enjoy it together.
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Old 05-10-15, 05:14 PM
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Actually, the ride was very smooth and the big Benotto was a good fit for both of us and rolled smoothly.

We only rode about 6 kilometres (3 miles) out and back to check it out and I liked it.

I think its just that she has some VERY fine bikes of her own ... and she says she would rather be in control of her own bike than sit behind me and enjoy the sight of my back.


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Old 05-10-15, 05:47 PM
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My Stoker had a similar response when we bought our first tandem. It took a while before she came around (I was lucky in that I could ride with my kids). What we have found, and have heard related by many long time stokers is that they have come to love being the stoker because they can enjoy the scenery and not have to worry about paying attention to the road, traffic, brakes, shifting, etc. You might entertain giving the stoker some responsibility such as control of the drag break, Route navigation, etc. In our case, the stoker is responsible for paying attention to what going on behind us - namely approaching traffic and keeping the co-riders we are riding with in sight, making sure I am faster than the approaching dog. Whatever you do, make it fun. Good Luck!
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Old 05-10-15, 08:11 PM
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Yep. Control issues. Some have 'em, some don't. One of my favorite sayings is that all human relationships are, at bottom, about control. She should captain, you stoke. If you're stronger than she is, she might like that. I've seen successful teams where the captain was quite a bit smaller than the stoker.

My guess is that the Benotto might not be as stiff as a modern frame. Stiffer makes a difference.
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Old 05-10-15, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Yep. Control issues. Some have 'em, some don't. One of my favorite sayings is that all human relationships are, at bottom, about control. She should captain, you stoke. If you're stronger than she is, she might like that. I've seen successful teams where the captain was quite a bit smaller than the stoker.

My guess is that the Benotto might not be as stiff as a modern frame. Stiffer makes a difference.
Hmmmm..... the Benotto is certainly twitchy compared to the squat modern tandems with 26-inch wheels, but it feels like a normal vintage Ishiwata or Tange frame bike to me.

Oh, well.... Is no big deal.

We will persevere with the tandem and I will attempt to get her back onto it at some point.
I have been riding it solo - but it is a tad heavy for one.

The issue, as I said, is that she has at least half-a dozen really nice vintage bikes, including a Cannonade ST600, a Peugeot Success, and a Trek 720, and some other neat stuff, that she prefers....

It was a small investment and worth a try.

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Old 05-10-15, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Binky View Post
... and she says she would rather be in control of her own bike than sit behind me and enjoy the sight of my back.


Binky
Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Yep. Control issues. Some have 'em, some don't. One of my favorite sayings is that all human relationships are, at bottom, about control. She should captain, you stoke. If you're stronger than she is, she might like that. I've seen successful teams where the captain was quite a bit smaller than the stoker.
That and a tendency towards motion sickness settled it for my wife and I. She rides captain (at 5'6",130 lb) and I ride stoker (at 6'2" 180 lb). She gets a better view (as do I ) and we have four eyes on the lookout for trouble (mostly bears, deer, turkeys and elk where we ride).

If you decide to try this, our experience is that success is dependent on the stoker riding "quietly". In this case, quietly means not steering from the rear and not moving the bike around; you're a large, high load and that's tough to control. Regularly riding rollers is highly recommended.
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Old 05-10-15, 09:14 PM
  #9  
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Thanks for all of the scathingly brilliant advice and encouragement. I will keep the Benotto Tandem around for a while. Both of my daughters, now on vintage Bianchi and Miele, are potential future users.

I have found that the denizens of the Tandem forum are among the most literate and well-meaning people I have ever encountered in a public forum.

So much polite... - and such nice grammar and spelling.

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Old 05-11-15, 03:31 AM
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Dean V
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Quitting after 3 miles seems rather premature to me. I would try and encourage her to give it a decent go. Say, several hundred miles over a period of time. Tell her she can quit then if it is still unenjoyable.
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Old 05-11-15, 05:32 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by Dean V View Post
Quitting after 3 miles seems rather premature to me. I would try and encourage her to give it a decent go. Say, several hundred miles over a period of time. Tell her she can quit then if it is still unenjoyable.
I told Mrs WPH she could quit after 2 trips to France and a Transam plus 3 Alpine Classics and the back road from Perth to Albany. We are working our way through the list starting with 30km spins around Lake Joondalup when there is a spare moment.
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Old 05-11-15, 07:14 AM
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chris ss
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Originally Posted by WPH View Post
I told Mrs WPH she could quit after 2 trips to France and a Transam plus 3 Alpine Classics and the back road from Perth to Albany.
whew - if you can "make that hold," you must have some very wonderful approach to marriage that we'd all appreciate you sharing!
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Old 05-11-15, 04:30 PM
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I had just the opposite situation. My Stoker wanted us to ride a tandem in the worst way. It took about a year of convincing on her part before I agreed to try it. We bought a used Co-Motion and learned to ride it that first summer.We had fun and the riding was very different than our singles. Now we're on our second tandem a new daVinci In-2-ition road tandem and love it!
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Old 05-11-15, 04:35 PM
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My stoker/wife had a very nice single and it hung up for close to 20 years as she did not wish to sell it.
But riding an average 10,000 miles a year on our tandem(s) she finally asked me to sell it.
It took us at least 3 months before we really got the hang of it as there were few other tandem folks around to talk to.
We did start out on a then heavy tandem in 1975 (Follis) and graduated to custom tandems a year or so after that.
So far 240,000+ miles . . . 100+ centuries . . . and 60 years of happy marriage!
Pedal on!
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Old 05-11-15, 07:52 PM
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My wife is a control freak and the type A of the relationship. But she is a GREAT stoker!

She doesn't try to balance, and follows my cadence, but she doesn't like as high of a cadence as I do. She trusts my "Captaining" and I respect her Stoking.

:
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Old 05-11-15, 10:16 PM
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Ha there should be a Stoker Taxonomy. For mine it would be:

"Stoker (Reluctant, Masher, Individualistic.)"

Or maybe a Meyers-Briggs type of classification if four opposing characteristics could be agreed upon.
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Old 05-12-15, 02:01 PM
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I fit the Control Freak, Masher category.
My husband is the Laid Back, Spinner.
Contrary to our Tandem Myers Briggs, I'm the stoker, he's the pilot.
At 6ft 3, there's not much of a view over his back. Going for a drinks bottle requires me to bury my nose in his back.
We're 6 months into tandem ownership.
We both thought I'd hate it.
Fortunately I have discovered another hitherto hidden characteristic - Speed Freak.
Suddenly the tandem has its attractions. )
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Old 05-12-15, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by SuzGuy View Post
I fit the Control Freak, Masher category.
My husband is the Laid Back, Spinner.
Contrary to our Tandem Myers Briggs, I'm the stoker, he's the pilot.
At 6ft 3, there's not much of a view over his back. Going for a drinks bottle requires me to bury my nose in his back.
We're 6 months into tandem ownership.
We both thought I'd hate it.
Fortunately I have discovered another hitherto hidden characteristic - Speed Freak.
Suddenly the tandem has its attractions. )


My wife wife admits to being a control freak, but her highly competitive side won over her control freak side when she saw what is was like on the tandem. Now her single gathers dust.
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Old 05-13-15, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Ludkeh View Post
I had just the opposite situation. My Stoker wanted us to ride a tandem in the worst way. It took about a year of convincing on her part before I agreed to try it. We bought a used Co-Motion and learned to ride it that first summer.We had fun and the riding was very different than our singles. Now we're on our second tandem a new daVinci In-2-ition road tandem and love it!
Around the time I joined this website, I met a blind woman online. She mentioned belonging to an athletic club for blind runners that also had priority to rent tandems at no cost to members in Central Park, NYC. Our second date, on a nice Saturday in September, was to take a few laps around the park on a rental tandem. I had never captained a tandem before. The brakes were horrid! Worn to the point of near uselessness. She had ridden tandems before at the residential school for the blind and with friends on holiday in Europe where she is from. She loved the afternoon. I was put off rentals after that experience, so I suggested we buy a very cheap tandem of our own, I trusted my bike mechanic skills enough to be able to make something we could enjoy out of it.

You have to imagine this, we've known each other less than one week and we are making a joint purchase of an object with no re-sale value whatsoever. Ten years ago Craigslist hadn't the kind of go to status that it has now. It wasn't on my radar. After some research I decided we should buy a department store tandem. We got a Kent Dual-Drive and I remain convinced that this is the best entry level path for a couple unsure about the whole thing. It is the best looking and performing of the department store level tandems, which is not all that many, three possibly, or four, if you include the Electra tandem and that one is $800 and not a department store quality bike anyway.

The following spring we were looking for a tandem that we could do the Five Borough Bike Tour with. Through this forum we learned of a team that had test ridden a 2005 Raleigh Coupe but passed on it, because it was too big. The store was in upstate but as it turns out they had a sister store in the city and we had it about a week later. We still have it. Last year we hardly rode it, but the Kent we ride every day. We ride the two miles to her job every morning and I ride back solo, swap for one of my five singles and set out on my own commute. We live in Portland now (6 years). We gave the first Kent away went we left NYC and bought a new one as soon as we arrived in PDX. It is still going strong, everything steel has been upgraded to aluminum, and it has fenders and a rack, like a proper Portland Commuter bike. It has axle nuts for a Bob Yak and all the grocery and light to medium shopping is carried in the trailer.

We joined a bike club of just tandem teams and only recently did another team with a blind stoker arrive. To be honest, I think the o.p. will have a hard time getting his wife to ever enjoy being a stoker or a captain! Captaining is not for the faint of heart or the low of upper body strength. The handlebars of our Kent are 28" wide. The handlebars of the Raleigh when it was new (flatbar) was 24". The FSA Gossamer Wing bars that are on it now are closer to 15" wide (44cm). The loss of leverage with the narrower handlebar has a definite effect on handling. The majority of tandems on the road are rocking drop bars and those with female captains and male stokers are putting an immense amount of pressure on that captain.

Getting the daughters interested may save the Benetto from being a White Elephant. The spouse may jump on now and then out of a spirit of wifely obligation, kind of like she has been doing so far.
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