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Do many ride often or enjoy riding their tandem SOLO ?

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Do many ride often or enjoy riding their tandem SOLO ?

Old 10-27-20, 04:13 PM
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preventec47
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Do many ride often or enjoy riding their tandem SOLO ?

I've just put mine back on the road after about 15 years and maybe it is old age but riding and testing it solo is pleasurable kind of like me of riding in a limousine
compared to sports car, sailboat compared to motor boat etc, Primarily, it has a nicer shifter than all my other single bikes and that is the place I think where
you feel your bike more than any other. But yea, I am slowing down.
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Old 10-27-20, 04:56 PM
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I ride mine solo pretty much every time I ride. Usually it's to pick up my primary stoker, who lives about 15 minutes away. Also did it routinely when commuting and dropping kids off at school. Riding the triplet solo got a lot of attention. I find adapting to the differential handling occurs without much effort, but one really has to remember how quickly the rear brake is going to skid with no weight on it.
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Old 10-27-20, 06:24 PM
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Our tandem's frame and fork is designed to ride like a single when the stoker is aboard. Without her, it's hard from me to steer an even vaguely straight line. Plus the rear brake issue. So no, I don't do that. 20003 Co-Motion Speedster with the Wound Up carbon fork which was an option that year..
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Old 10-28-20, 07:08 AM
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yes ours feels so weird when alone and the front fork is so harsh without the right weight compressing it.
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Old 10-28-20, 07:56 AM
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Our first tandem in the 1980s was a cruiser by Trailmate. When we went to pick it up, we could not get it in the car. So, for its maiden ride, I had to ride it home solo, not a short ride and on busy streets. Naturally, it was raining. That experience did not engender an affinity for riding tandems solo That said, when we stop at a grocery store sometimes on our morning ride without the panniers, and my stoker decides to pick up a long fresh loaf of French bread, she walks the rest of the way home and I ride solo. One does not risk really good French bread.
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Old 10-28-20, 10:49 AM
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Concerned about Downhills

I sometimes ride our tandem to pick up my stoker a mile away. It's a little weird but I suspect things would smooth out with a longer ride Of course, braking is very different with so little weight on the rear tire.

To answer the perennial question of 'who's pedaling,' I have from time to time thought about riding one of our regular routes just by myself to see how average speed would be affected.

There is one climb here in Tucson that we do frequently. On my single I can do it in about 39 min. The same climb on the tandem with stoker aboard takes about 55 min. I suppose the time riding up alone on the tandem would fall somewhere in between. Knowing the time would fill in a few questions about our different abilities and might help our training.

However, the thought of turning around and then flying down that hill scares the heck out of me. Even just coasting, it's no problem to hit 35-4O mph.

The braking of the tandem would be so different I would think it might even be dangerous I have never actually tried it. Any thoughts?
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Old 11-01-20, 12:13 AM
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I used to ride our Co-Mo solo to work whenever my commuter bike was out of commission. Used to, because I don't commute now, with Covid and all. It's always strange for the first few blocks without the stoker--feels really twitchy in the steering. Then it smooths out and is a joy to ride. Almost wouldn't know it's a tandem. I think the odd steering is in the brain, which continues to command certain steering inputs even without the stoker's weight, for a while, but then which quickly readjusts. I favor the front brake, so the back-brake skid isn't an issue.
When we were touring in Washington state in August, I'd often ride solo from our campsite to go to the grocery store or get firewood (or beer) and same thing--really wobbly for a minute or two, then smoothed out.
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Old 11-01-20, 02:47 PM
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Be careful with the front brake when there's no stoker on the bike. Hit it hard enough especially on a descent, and the rear wheel can lift and the bike can jackknife. IIRC a rider was killed that way on one of the big organized rides in California years back. My tandems are tough to control with no stoker, I've only done it up and down the block when making adjustments to this or that.
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Old 11-02-20, 09:37 PM
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Originally Posted by joeruge View Post
The braking of the tandem would be so different I would think it might even be dangerous I have never actually tried it. Any thoughts?
Braking on a solo tandem is definitely different. You have to much more substantially rely on the front brake because the rear will skid quickly, though I find this to be manageable as I know it is going to happen. And the bike would jackknife if you hit the front brake too hard moreso than single would, though I've never experienced this. I would certainly be more careful on a very extreme descent than I would be on a single, but I can't think of a descent that I've ridden that I wouldn't ride on a tandem solo in dry conditions. Wet would be a little more dicey.
I've ridden hundreds of miles on a tandem or triplet solo over the last 15+ years in reasonably normal conditions and can recall no instance where I felt in any more danger than I would have on a single. Might even have gotten more room from cars because of the novelty, particularly riding the triplet solo.
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Old 11-03-20, 02:54 PM
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I was aware of the potential of rear wheel lock-up when riding a tandem solo. Since the rear brake would be practically useless going downhill, I figured you'd have to more gingerly rely on the front brake, so you wouldn't lock up, skid and possibly flip. But I hadn't considered 'jack knifing.'

In my experience, it is quite difficult to skid a front wheel on a tandem when riding two-up. And it even takes quite a lot to lockup a rear wheel. All things considered, the braking coming down a long descent seems a lot safer two-up on a tandem than even a softer single.
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Old 11-04-20, 07:39 AM
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I do this sometimes between campsites and food. Both our tandems are quite stiff and solo was always fine. However, must only load front panniers with groceries, weight in rear without stoker causes instability. And generally, observers are (instinctually?) required to let me know that I have lost someone, which overrides the "she's not pedaling" urge. When together, one of us goes into grocery stores while the other watches the bike -- a nice side benefit of a tandem. When solo, I am always paranoid about theft in these conditions.
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Old 11-04-20, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by IPassGas View Post
, must only load front panniers with groceries, weight in rear without stoker causes instability. .
I cannot quite understand how this can be since a stoker in the rear is far heavier than most groceries and you say provides the stability. not arguing just
seems to be contradictory in a way. What is the difference ?
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Old 11-04-20, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by bwebel View Post
Braking on a solo tandem is definitely different. You have to much more substantially rely on the front brake because the rear will skid quickly, though I find this to be manageable as I know it is going to happen. And the bike would jackknife if you hit the front brake too hard moreso than single would, though I've never experienced this. I would certainly be more careful on a very extreme descent than I would be on a single, but I can't think of a descent that I've ridden that I wouldn't ride on a tandem solo in dry conditions. Wet would be a little more dicey.
I've ridden hundreds of miles on a tandem or triplet solo over the last 15+ years in reasonably normal conditions and can recall no instance where I felt in any more danger than I would have on a single. Might even have gotten more room from cars because of the novelty, particularly riding the triplet solo.
There are certainly a lot of different opinions here about riding solo, but In my recent experience I would say that any solo rider on a tandem can stop shorter
than any single bike rider both with good working brakes because the single bike rider upon heavy locking will fly over the handle bars in a flip with the bike whereas
the tandem will be much less likely to do so because of the extended weight in the rear holding the tail down. It was in April 1985 that I last flipped over the handlebars
during a panic stop on a Fuji road bike. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I have never locked up the front tire on my tandem so I dont know if it is impossible to flip over but I can come to a stop in a much shorter distance when riding solo. ( or at least I am willing to squeeze the handles much more aggressively :-)
I have never attempted a panic stop with a stoker on board. I try to always look far enough ahead to anticipate any required slowing or stopping.
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Old 11-04-20, 08:35 AM
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True, does seem contradictory. I suspect the stoker is a mass which lowers the harmonic frequency of oscillations, in addition to the stoker's motion which disrupts oscillations. Whereas, the captain's mass at the front (stoker agrees that this is certainly a mass), and the mass at the rear (groceries) tends to enhance bike's normal mode of oscillation at a noticeable frequency.
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Old 11-05-20, 08:32 AM
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I rarely ride my tandem solo for three reasons:
1) lots of hills around my house. The really long wheelbase means less weight on the rear wheel. Traction is really bad in the wet / leaves / all the time in Oregon
2) The DaVinci ICS drivetrain means my stocker cranks / pedals are not directly connected so I can't position them for any lean in corners
3) Plenty of single bikes to ride. No commuting or other needs to haul my tandem somewhere without my stoker.
But, I will say that I do like how interesting and luxurious the ride is when I'm on the tandem by myself. Seems very comfortable!
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Old 11-13-20, 02:31 AM
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I actually enjoyed riding my old cannondale RT2 solo but mainly because it was great fun to hoon it up. I found that you could lock the rear super easy and get it to skid, do 180s etc. Loved it. The front brake was really set up well and could also lift the rear wheel too.

My new Davinci feels quite different so I don't play with it the same way. But I still take it out for a spin solo every now and then.

I definitely agree with the earlier post about loss of traction under power on hills and such. That's been a much bigger problem for me than brake skids.
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Old 11-13-20, 02:13 PM
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I occasionally ride a tandem solo a few times each year, mostly to pick up my stoker or after dropping her off. I have always found it very stable at speed. The stories above about jack-knifing are new to me, never heard of it before. I will be a little more cautious in the future.

I do have a funny solo riding story I believe I have told here before: I had just set out from the house solo on the Tandem headed to meet my wife who was a few miles away. I was a couple of houses down my road when I hear a noise and look over and see a knocked over garbage can and a black bear sitting on his butt with a ripped open bag of kitchen garbage in his lap. I was probably only doing 5 mph or so and passed him within about 6 feet between us. Our eyes met and we stared directly at each other as I pedaled by. The bear never moved from his position and I didn't change my speed or direction. It was very surreal. Afterwards I chuckled as I thought that I was glad he had some food and that when he saw me alone on the Tandem that he had probably hoped that I was not in the circus out looking for a new partner for an act.
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Old 11-14-20, 06:50 PM
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I've done short test rides solo on our tandem but that's it. The bike has two cantilever brakes and that's all, and they are adequate for us. In fact, I'm impressed with how good they are. I think they would be fine if I rode the bike solo. But our bike is kind of a dog, and I don't see any appeal to ride it solo. Maybe I'll try it now that you asked. But it weighs 50 pounds.
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Old 11-29-20, 03:50 PM
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The dynamics of a stoker-less tandem are less than ideal. I quickly noticed that, for example, a left turn of the wheel causes the front end of the bike & frame to swing right slightly. Not an ideal feeling. Doesn't create a feeling of stability at all. That plus the unweighted rear wheel makes for non-ideal riding dynamics.

I was riding my son to school one year and returning solo on the road tandem. On the way back, I began experimenting with riding no hands. Riding no hands with an experienced stoker is nothing too major. However, riding no hands solo is a completely different beast! It took me a while to identify the reason why and dynamics. What I found was that when mashing the pedals, the front wheel became unstable immediately. Lots of wheel wobble. Well, after some riding, I discovered the cause: bottom bracket sway. Without a stoker, a no-hands-riding captain will tend to rock the bottom of the frame with each pedal stroke. This causes front wheel oscillation. I solved the problem by simply grabbing the stoker handlebars at my hips and holding the bike vertical and preventing the side-to-side wobble. This made no-hands riding possible. This phenomenon was unexpected and something I hadn't identified in over 20 years on tandems.

The more you know!
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Old 12-02-20, 02:31 PM
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I did this occasionally, definitely enjoyable experience, but I felt stupid
First of all, I picked up the tandem from the seller alone, then I have taken it to a bike co-op for a service, and several times I have "delivered" my stoker to work or pick her up after.
The steering feels a little wobbly for the first few minutes, but that's something you get used to. Never had a problem with traction, perhaps super-sticky veloflex masters helped in that aspect. I like how 'soft' the bike feels compared to a single (due to the rear wheel being so far from the captain's saddle), and solo it goes almost as fast as a single road bike. Never considered that braking would be a problem, perhaps because our tandem's centerpull cantis barely work to begin with.
I have considered welding a custom mega-pannier-rack going from the stoker's bars to the rear rack mounts in case I would ever need a cargo bike... that would justify riding it alone.
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Old 12-03-20, 08:51 PM
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Like other contributors my solo tandem riding experience is the odd drop off pick up trip with accompanying few minutes of wobbling until my brain adjusts. There is a fellow who rode a tandem solo all around the world picking up random passengers on the way think he started in NZ, https://www.freedomseat.org/about looks like he has a great journey
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Old 12-03-20, 09:08 PM
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Touring on a tandem so you can bring passengers, now that's a worthy idea!

Long ago when I had a bike mechanic job, a customer came in with his tandem. He didn't have a girlfriend or wife. He said he rode the bike in Central Park and picked up women. He told me which saddle was most liked among his passengers, and I thought if anyone has a good sample size, he does.

I'm still not warming up to the idea of my taking a fun ride on my tandem alone. One problem is the weight of the bike, and another is that my position is too scrunched on it.
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