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Tandem for son with Autism

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Tandem for son with Autism

Old 11-26-19, 03:10 PM
  #1  
Aliesmom
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Tandem for son with Autism

Hello all,

My husband is an active cyclist. We have a tandem bike that is more of a cruiser-type, and he tries taking my son with Autism out on it but would like a bike more like his Specialized with drop handlebars, to start taking longer rides with him. We found a bike on Craigslist but itís opened up a whole new set of concerns. My husband is ready to ditch the idea but I really want to make this work if we can.

My husband is 6í3Ē and my son is 6í0Ē so they are fairly well matched to get a stock tandem. We found a used Santana Arriva my husband tried on a trainer and liked it. I want him to take my son on it to try it on the road, but concerns start popping up. My son doesnít actively help with the peddling, heís basically along for the ride. (Yes God bless my husband for doing all the work!) He also wants to retrofit with handlebars so my son can sit more upright. I think that is going to throw off the weight of the bike and be a risk, is this an issue? Also to try out the bike, the handlebars wonít be this way so we wonít be able to tell until we actually bought the bike and changed it out. Also, it has drum brakes, but I read disc breaks are best? My son is 155 pounds so I want to make sure they are as safe as possible. Is brake type an issue in this situation? The bike is a large frame and I found a sizing chart that seems like they are both compatible. Any thoughts on steel vs aluminum for weight in this situation? We only have about 2000 to spend so anything super light is out of our reach. Also I want my son to be comfortable with road bumps and things.

Iíve overwhelmed my poor husband with all my questions, (Iím a researcher when buying things, sometimes too much info is a bad thing) Iíd love some outside perspective. What seems to be the best way to go about this? Heís a great dad and I want to make this happen but also want them safe out on the road. Thank you for reading.
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Old 11-26-19, 04:06 PM
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Seems as if a da Vinci tandem with their Independent Coasting System (ICS) would fill the need. A new one would be a bit above your budget, but their Grand Junction model is on sale for $2900 delivered right now and includes the ICS, front and rear discs, captain drop bars and adjustable stoker stem. Itís a fine tandem -

https://www.davincitandems.com/tandem...rand-junction/

From time to time youíll find a used da Vinci tandem for sale on Craigslist, eBay, The Tandem Classifieds ... etc. in your budget range.

I wouldnít worry too much about having your son sitting more upright, itís very common for the stoker to do so.
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Old 11-26-19, 04:09 PM
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That’s a great activity for your son with his dad if they both enjoy it. I think your fears are mostly things that you can stop worrying about. Your son’s handlebars and position will have no impact on the stability and control of the bike. If drop bars are on the rear position currently, maybe they can be turned more upright just for the test ride. Just make sure that they do ride it and thoroughly check it out before making a decision. Regarding brakes, the drum brake is probably a 3rd brake added for controlling speed on extended descents to keep the main rim brakes from overheating. If your son doesn’t help with pedaling, I’m guessing that they won’t be climbing up many long hills that would necessitate the use of the drum brake, or cause much worry over the weight of the bike. And in dry conditions, properly working rim brakes are as good as disc brakes. A steel bike is also likely to ride a bit more comfortably than one made of aluminum.

Good luck to you and them both.
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Old 11-26-19, 04:34 PM
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JV, thank you for the answers and the link to that bike. My husband will have to do some measurements but just by looking at the specs they might need a large and that bike only comes in small, medium and large/small. If i can find them a perfect combo for that price shipped Iíll find the extra funds somewhere. Do you have any other specific bike ideas?
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Old 11-26-19, 07:33 PM
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Donít give up on the L/S size Grand Junction just yet. The fit in the stoker position is very forgiving. Youíll notice the stoker top tube length is 28.4Ē in every size, which is a bit longer than average. Even the other da Vinci models that come in plain olí ďlargeĒ have that same length in the stoker compartment. The highest height of the anchor point for the stoker stem/handlebar is determined by the captainís saddle height, which wonít change with a different frame size. The difference between a L and L/S is rear seat tube length and rear stand over height. As long as you can get your sonís saddle at the proper height, the fit in the back will be the same for all da Vinci road tandem frame sizes. A longer seat post may be required.
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Old 11-27-19, 10:52 AM
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IMO, NO on the independent pedaling. A critical thing for this sort of mixed team is what is called "forced exercise," meaning that the stoker's pedals go around whether they're pushing or not. This reinforces the neuromuscular inputs to the brain and also builds a sense of participation. Post No.3 is correct in all respects. Every autistic person is different, but my guess is that your son will figure it out on his own as he becomes more comfortable on the bike. I know a number of mixed gender couples where the female is the researcher.
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Old 11-27-19, 11:06 AM
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This is actually more common than one might think:
https://autismawarenesscentre.com/a-...n-with-autism/
https://www.welovecycling.com/wide/2...n-with-autism/
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Old 11-27-19, 11:48 AM
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For your husband and son, some tandems will work well, while others will work poorly.
FIT
The front of the bike must fit your husband similar to his road bike. It's okay if he needs a slightly longer, shorter stem, or a stack of spacers to get his handlebar in the right position.
The rear of the bike should be as long as you can find. Measure the center distance between the bottom brackets. "Standard" today is 28.5 or 29 inches. I'd avoid any bike with a shorter boom tube than that. It would be easier to get your son into a comfortable position with a longer (30in or more) boom tube. Unfortunately, those are only found on custom bikes, so they don't show up on the used market very often.
Your son will enjoy the bike more if you take the time to ensure his seat and handlebars fit him well. It may require a longer seatpost, multi-part stoker stem, and/or funky handlebars.
HANDLING
Some brands and models use steering geometry that's more appropriate with a wiggly stoker. Most Santanas, older Treks and Cannondales should handle well for your boys.
BRAKES
Tandem enthusiasts have generally shifted over from rim brakes to disk brakes for a variety of reasons. Rim brakes can be adjusted (or upgraded) to stop the bike adequately. When shopping for a used bike with rim brakes, check that the rims aren't concave on the braking surface -- if they are, you may need new rims soon. If you bring home a bike that's more than 5 years old, it would be wise to replace the brake pads with new ones; clean/lube the cables; replace damaged cables or housing. Drum brakes were used as drag brakes on long descents to avoid overheating rim brakes.
FRAME MATERIAL
Steel, aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, magnesium, wood, and bamboo are all great if they're designed and built properly. They can also all be designed or built poorly.
SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS
Test ride the Santana (and other large-looking Santanas). Try to track down a Cannondale "Jumbo/Large" frame. 8-speed or 9-speed bikes probably represent the best bang for the buck.
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Old 11-30-19, 12:29 AM
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Thank you all so much for the thoughtful responses. Hubby says the ICS system might be very useful, as he reports my son likes to stop the pedals sometimes and put resistance on them, quite often during a hill climb! JV, He measured the large/small and it just might work after all. My son is 29 years old and Iím not sure he will even be able to contribute to the ride, but we can at least get him out on the road with dad.
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Old 11-30-19, 09:20 AM
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We have a DaVinci Grand Junction and like it a lot. It's our third tandem and we ride every day. In light of your son's penchant for back pressure on the pedals, etc., it might be a good choice. Your son will not actually contribute unless he pedals in sync with your husband. That is how the ICS works. But, your son can pedal or not as he pleases, and still enjoy being out on the bike with his dad. As a bonus, your husband will get a good work out . Unless you and your husband want to push your son to pedal in sync, the ICS may be a good choice for you. Based on experience, I suggest you call or email the guys at DaVinci in Denver about the size issue and get their input, unless you live near a tandem bike dealer with a lot of experience with DaVinci. The guys at DaVinci are great and I would be surprised if they do not offer some good advice to you. Let us know what you end up getting. The only similar experience to your situation I have seen is where the father and son ride a 3-wheel tandem, which has worked well for them for many years.
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Old 11-30-19, 10:53 AM
  #11  
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I have no idea about the specific considerations of cycling with an autistic stoker.
In general, I'd encourage the captain to lead the bike finding process, as he is the one that will take on the responsibility for two people and requires absolute (but potentially well-informed) trust from Stoker (and spouse).
The one thing I'd like to contribute to this thread is to also look at semi-recumbent tandems. They are do not tick some major boxes, but are a unique thing that might work well with your Stoker in other departments.

The three models out there are Hase Pino (highest level, expensive), Bilenky Viewpoint (I hear they have a more sporty geometry) and Circe Morpheus (Good quality budget option, more versatile than all others).
These tandems are usually referred to as 'social' tandems. What you get is:
  • Stoker can see straight ahead and doesn't stare at Captains back
  • Heads are closer together - easier conversation
  • The recumbent position can be quite a nice one
  • Pino and Morpheus come with a Stoker freewheel - thus Stoker can stop pedaling.
  • (Does not apply in your case, unless you, OP, fall into this and are interested: they are one size fits all = switching Stoker and Captain positions for a large/small team is easy)
What you lose is:
  • Speed
  • Road-bike style comfort/position
These things are heavier, the Captain position is closer to a city bike than a road bike. Recumbents are slow uphill, tandems are slow uphill. We find that a semi-recumbent tandem tends to combine the slowness of both.
Bottom line for us is: Long tours or sporty fast rides happen on our Cannondale, anything else on our Circe Morpheus, including short tours.

...off to taxiing my pregnant partner to the farmers market on the Circe
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Old 12-01-19, 09:22 AM
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One other option should you find a good fit with a used standard tandem, you can find a freewheeling rear bottom bracket which will give the ability for the striker to stop pedaling in a similar way as the DaVinci does at a much lower cost should you not find a used DaVinci. This would give you the opportunity to see if this will work without as large out lay of cash.
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Old 12-02-19, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul J View Post
One other option should you find a good fit with a used standard tandem, you can find a freewheeling rear bottom bracket which will give the ability for the striker to stop pedaling in a similar way as the DaVinci does at a much lower cost should you not find a used DaVinci. This would give you the opportunity to see if this will work without as large out lay of cash.
I havenít seen a freewheeling rear bottom bracket. I canít picture how that would work, but it sounds interesting- can you post a link?

Lasco makes an independent pedaling system (IPS) crankset that works well. You can use either one or two cranksets. Here are some details in my post #3 in this thread:

Stoker Coaster Crank

Also, hereís photo of our recently-sold Santana with the full IPS setup with two cranks.

Last edited by Joint Venture; 12-02-19 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 12-03-19, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Joint Venture View Post
I havenít seen a freewheeling rear bottom bracket. I canít picture how that would work, but it sounds interesting- can you post a link?

Lasco makes an independent pedaling system (IPS) crankset that works well. You can use either one or two cranksets. Here are some details in my post #3 in this thread:

Stoker Coaster Crank

Also, hereís photo of our recently-sold Santana with the full IPS setup with two cranks.
Joint Venture, you are correct on that, I don't have this but have a friend that does and I hadn't paid attention to how it actually worked. :-)

When I went into searches these were the two sites I found with the components for what you are describing with your build. I got a lot of dead links in the process.

https://store.bicycleman.com/products/ips-tandem-cranks

Bike Crank Set - Vision IPS Crankset
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Old 12-03-19, 10:00 AM
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Just poking around quickly I was able to find the IPS cranks for $200-$260 per set (two sets needed for IPS for both riders) on eBay (bellsbikeshop, planetcyclery and others), Amazon, Walmart and other places. For example:

https://www.amazon.com/IPS-Road-Rear...5385825&sr=8-2

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Crankarm-Set-Ips-Road-Ftorrr-Blk-170Mm/31976299?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=1044&adid=22222222227021107639&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=65038 118889&wl4=aud-834279576166la-110759247609&wl5=9052922&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=112549803&wl11=online&wl12=31976299&veh=sem&gcl id=CjwKCAiArJjvBRACEiwA-Wiqq2pxXSzXmf-K_eQeVR9TV5QKlkqXxbOz_tNcLQ6VL0SUmEfMcFex_xoCNqUQAvD_BwE

https://www.ebay.com/itm/IPS-Crankar...i:274095620518

You might have to use "IPS crankarm" or other various search terms to get additional returns.

The extinct ATP Double Vision recumbent tandem used a similar setup. Sun Bicycle recumbent tandem offered it too. Angletech Cycles offered these Lasco IPS cranks on some of their customized Rans tandems. However, they work on upright tandems too that can use an old-school square-taper BB. You can use one crankset or two, depending if you want one rider or two to be able to coast independently, but if using just one you'll have to convert the other crank to a right side timing chain.

You get the left and right crankarm (IPS is in the right crankarm) and a steel timing ring. The cranks are interchangeable as either front or rear. We swapped out the timing rings for lighter aluminum, added 30/39/50 Shimano 105 10-speed rings (26/39/50 also shifted great!) and added bottom brackets. If I remember, on the front I used a Shimano square taper in a 127.5 mm spindle length and it just cleared the BB shell. On the rear of our Santana Sovereign, because of the 160mm rear spacing and the ultra fat "mega size" chainstays, I ended up with a custom Phil Wood BB in 145mm length I think (don't quote me on that ... I could be wrong on that length!) and it gave a dead perfect chainline on that bike. These are wide Q-factor cranks, but that suited my wife just fine and we were able to eliminate the Kneesaver pedal extenders we had to use for her before. A bike with a narrower rear spacing and less fat chainstay would allow a narrower, but still wide, Q-factor.

If you can tolerate a wider MTB-type of Q-factor, they do work, but certainly a da Vinci has a more elegant solution that is built-in on their tandems, not added on. Their ICS can be locked out too, if you change your mind about independent coasting down the road. da Vinci ICS allows a normal Q-factor ďstance,Ē so the distance between the pedals Is not wide.

Last edited by Joint Venture; 12-04-19 at 07:24 AM.
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Old 12-10-19, 06:48 PM
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The old Shimano FFS crank sets can be had for peanuts, but not going to work with every setup. They are out there though and in a few different BB standards. Probably too bodgey for a $2000 build but just a heads up.

The thought of a pant let getting caught up in this setup worries me a little.
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Old 12-13-19, 03:34 PM
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https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vtg-New-NOS...s/184073860707

This is one the guys here.. for the cost something like this may be worth a trial run if you can find one that fits into your drive system specs.
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Old 01-03-20, 12:05 PM
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We have a Hase Pino which has, as a standard feature, independent pedaling for the stoker (who is up front in the recumbent position). The front crank is completely conventional tandem style with the timing chain on the left side. The rear crankset, for the captain, has a freewheel mechanism built into the left crankarm for the timing chain. The stoker can pedal or not pedal, but if the the stoker pedals, the captain must pedal.

There is another Pino owning family in our area that has the e-bike version of the Pino that they use with their handicapped teenage son.

Note that unless you ride in a flat area, if your child weighs much at all, the captain will need to be pretty strong for more than just pedaling. If you tandeming partner isn't an active participant in cycling then the captain has to be super vigilant in maintaining balance and maneuvering.

Best of luck with your cycling adventure.
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Old 05-31-20, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Aliesmom View Post
Hello all,

My husband is an active cyclist. We have a tandem bike that is more of a cruiser-type, and he tries taking my son with Autism out on it but would like a bike more like his Specialized with drop handlebars, to start taking longer rides with him. We found a bike on Craigslist but itís opened up a whole new set of concerns. My husband is ready to ditch the idea but I really want to make this work if we can.

My husband is 6í3Ē and my son is 6í0Ē so they are fairly well matched to get a stock tandem. We found a used Santana Arriva my husband tried on a trainer and liked it. I want him to take my son on it to try it on the road, but concerns start popping up. My son doesnít actively help with the peddling, heís basically along for the ride. (Yes God bless my husband for doing all the work!) He also wants to retrofit with handlebars so my son can sit more upright. I think that is going to throw off the weight of the bike and be a risk, is this an issue? Also to try out the bike, the handlebars wonít be this way so we wonít be able to tell until we actually bought the bike and changed it out. Also, it has drum brakes, but I read disc breaks are best? My son is 155 pounds so I want to make sure they are as safe as possible. Is brake type an issue in this situation? The bike is a large frame and I found a sizing chart that seems like they are both compatible. Any thoughts on steel vs aluminum for weight in this situation? We only have about 2000 to spend so anything super light is out of our reach. Also I want my son to be comfortable with road bumps and things.

Iíve overwhelmed my poor husband with all my questions, (Iím a researcher when buying things, sometimes too much info is a bad thing) Iíd love some outside perspective. What seems to be the best way to go about this? Heís a great dad and I want to make this happen but also want them safe out on the road. Thank you for reading.
Hello,

I know that I might be a bit late to chime in here but I have a son with autism too and entered the tandem world with him. (He is now 22 years old and is 5' 8"/ 165 pounds) When he was younger, we had a tagalong bike that worked really well and he loved riding with me when he was smaller and lighter. Once he was around 10 years old and he was getting taller and heavier, I knew we needed to try something else as it was difficult for me to control the bike and I had to constantly correct for his movements/weight shifts. As an experiment, we rented a Trek tandem to see how that went and it was really disappointing because of his inconsistent pedaling force and the need to be in the same cadence. I felt completely defeated but then heard about an option that might work for us, the DaVinci Independent Coasting System tandem.
Luckily for us, there was a dealer near us that carried them and we checked it out. One short ride on the DaVinci nailed it for us. The ICS system was exactly what we needed and allows for either the captain or stoker to pedal or not pedal. We purchased a large/small Grand Junction which we named Big Blue and did modify it a bit with me having the standard drop bars and switched out the drop bars for a flat bar for the stoker. It turned out to be a great bike for us and we rode it for several years and my wife also enjoyed riding with me when he was not available or on the rare occasion that he chose to not ride. Right when I did some refitting and upgraded to cable-actuated hydraulic brakes, he developed a seizure disorder that was a big concern for us riding on a tandem behind me and I thought we were done riding together.
After searching for additional solutions, we found a dealer in our area that carried alternative bicycles. My wife and I tried riding several tandem alternatives; full recumbent, recumbent trike, and Hase Pino semi-recumbent tandem. Nope for full recumbent, liked the recumbent trike until I tried to turn around and it had a huge turning radius, Hase Pino was the one that worked out for us. We ordered a custom Pino with the Shimano Steps system, Rohloff Speed Hub, custom paint color, which we named Big Blue Too. There was an adjustment to getting used to riding the Pino. I rode it by myself to get acclimated (It is really a fun bike to ride solo!) and there was an adjustment period to get my son acclimated to it too. After the adjustment period, my son came to like the Pino and it has been a good solution for us and our needs. The neat thing about the Pino is that it is really easy to adjust for the height of the stoker and once again, my wife likes to ride it with me when my son isn't available. The Pino does have some downsides: it is a heavy bike compared to a regular tandem, pretty expensive, has a pretty complicated drivetrain, and to transport it, we had to purchase an Atoc Draftmaster bike rack which is huge and expensive too. If you were to go with a Pino, I would absolutely go with the Shimano Steps because of the nature of the bike being heavy and "part-time" stoker.
If you haven't made a move yet, we still do have our DaVinci and were considering selling it as it has not been used since our Pino purchase. Also, if you have any other questions, please let me know.
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