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Do you find riding a tandem easier or harder than your single?

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Do you find riding a tandem easier or harder than your single?

Old 09-01-22, 08:28 AM
  #26  
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Ride more on a half bike before tandeming.
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Old 09-01-22, 10:10 AM
  #27  
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Different teams have different ways of starting. We use the same as yours, @Carbonfiberboy. I get on and straddle the bike and hold it up. She gets on the saddle and positions the cranks for me. Even though I'm right-handed, I seem to be left-footed, so she puts the left pedal up for me to start. We don't need vocal cues; she can tell when I pedal or coast.
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Old 09-08-22, 06:39 AM
  #28  
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There is no universal answer for this question. In great measure it depends on your team and individual functional threshold power measured in watts/kilograms, ( and w/ surface volume for flat terrain.)

There are some limits to a tandem including drivetrain power loss for the captain, and coordinating as a team. However both of those tend to be minor compared to w/kg.

For us, when we were competing my ftp was about 4w/kg. My wife’s around 2.2 w/kg. Because I’m bigger than she is, the combined w/kg was around 3.5 w/kg. Thus as a tandem team, we climb slower than I do on a single, but faster than she does on her single.

On flat ground, the aerodynamic advantage of the tandem is enough for us to make us slightly faster on the tandem than I am on a single, and dramatically faster than she is on a single. One summer, I did the same weekly TT series, about half the time on my single and half on the tandem. We were consistently about half a mph faster on the tandem.

For two equally strong riders, the tandem will be much faster on the flats, than either on a single bike.

All of this adds up to the tandem is easier for my wife, but harder for me, particularly if there’s lots of climbing.

So, the answer to the question depends on the two people riding the tandem
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Old 09-08-22, 06:41 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Different teams have different ways of starting. We use the same as yours, @Carbonfiberboy. I get on and straddle the bike and hold it up. She gets on the saddle and positions the cranks for me. Even though I'm right-handed, I seem to be left-footed, so she puts the left pedal up for me to start. We don't need vocal cues; she can tell when I pedal or coast.
Heresy. There is only one ďproper methodĒ for starting off on a tandem.😏
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Old 09-11-22, 11:35 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Heresy. There is only one ďproper methodĒ for starting off on a tandem.😏
This is a true statement!

My answer as a lady stoker is riding the tandem is easier than single bikes. Our tandem weighs less per person than our single bikes do by about 4lbs as we ride old, lugged steel bikes which aren't known for being featherweights, so maybe that has something to with it on my end. We are faster on our tandem for any given route and every route we ride has climbing as we live in a valley. We both like the same cadence so we are efficient in that sense. My captains answer to this question is they both are the same. He makes circle and neither feel any harder or any easier to him.
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Old 09-14-22, 02:39 PM
  #31  
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Hard to give a single answer to that question.

Riding a tandem is harder mentally, in that I need to consider the wants/needs/safety of 2 people instead of 1. On the other hand, there's someone to talk to and to share the burden of decision making, which eases the mental burden, sometimes considerably. I'd say that, on balance, riding the tandem is slightly harder mentally.

Physically, I ride differently on the tandem vs on my single. My wife learned to ride as an adult, so she doesn't have the instinctive balance/coordination that those who learned to ride as kids do. She's also somewhat fearful of speed and riding near drop-offs, even if we're not that close and even if there's a guard rail or wall. Our tandem rides, therefore, are generally more leisurely than my solo rides. We don't poke about, but we rarely hammer, either - our rides are more Z2-3 than Z3-4 (using Friel's old zones, if that means anything to anyone, anymore). I have to make a conscious effort to work hard, even on hills, when I'm riding the tandem, even though our power to weight ratio is lower on the tandem. So I'd say that, on balance, riding the tandem is significantly easier than riding my single, but that's more due to how I ride, not what I'm riding.
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Old 09-23-22, 05:19 AM
  #32  
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Let me start off by saying I found this site and totally love it I haven't put my phone down in 3 days. I have been on a road bike for over 30 years and converted over to a fixie to be on an even playing field with my girlfriend that rides a hybrid on 30 mile charity rides or a couple 40 to 50 mile bike path rides.. we just purchased a co-motion Java and I converted the tires over the 42c road tires. We have been on four rides so far and on slight inclines or declines we are much faster than our other bikes having some issues with climbing. I always climb by getting over the bars and we can't get in sync with both of us standing to climb. I live in the Northeast, there are a lot of hills, never climbed a hill sitting on my seat. I'm not sure if my stoker is not putting enough effort into it or this is just the way a tandem works. Other than this minor issue we totally love it and are addicted to it. We are doing a Burlington Vermont trip in 2 weeks with the hopes of doing the Allegheny passage in the spring.
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Old 09-23-22, 07:09 AM
  #33  
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We've been riding a tandem together in northern New England for 25 years and never get out of the saddle. We tried once on our old tandem; we got a new tandem this year and tried it once more. Just doesn't work for us and I don't think it matters. On a single you can often blast down a hill and hammer up the next - that just doesn't work on the tandem. Instead, I shift a lot and we have very wide range gearing with a low of 30/42. Get used to just taking your time to get up the hill - there are some steep ones around Burlington!
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Old 09-23-22, 09:05 AM
  #34  
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Climbing in a standing position takes time to master. When we first stood the bike was all over the road, us not being in sync. We found that if the stoker stood first it was easy for the capt. to blend in. That made it much easier. 30 years later, easy enough. Practice makes perfect.
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Old 09-23-22, 09:44 AM
  #35  
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Here's a question: Shouldn't the stronger rider be in the back on a tandem? Someone told me that years ago, but all the tandems I see with M/F couples, the guy is captain in the front. I know I would be a nervous wreck with my wife driving the bike, but isn't that the logical way to go?
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Old 09-23-22, 11:51 AM
  #36  
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person who packs more weight in front.
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Old 09-23-22, 12:03 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by mkane View Post
Climbing in a standing position takes time to master. When we first stood the bike was all over the road, us not being in sync. We found that if the stoker stood first it was easy for the capt. to blend in. That made it much easier. 30 years later, easy enough. Practice makes perfect.
Same here. We needed the whole road when we first practiced out of the saddles. After much practice, I got to the point as captain where I can keep the bike on the fog line if necessary. Iím fine piloting if the stoker wants to stand while Iím seated, but the opposite is difficult for me. If I want to get out of the saddle, I ask the stoker if she wants to stand. If she says yes, I count to 3 and sheís up by the time I stand, and stays up until she sees me sit back down. If she wants to sit sooner than that, she lets me know.

Itís a good skill to have not only for maintaining momentum on short, steep climbs, but also for butt breaks on long stretches of road. An important element is selecting the right gear just before standing, which is often 2-3 gears higher than sitting, depending on the grade.
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Old 09-23-22, 03:14 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by Chinghis View Post
Here's a question: Shouldn't the stronger rider be in the back on a tandem? Someone told me that years ago, but all the tandems I see with M/F couples, the guy is captain in the front. I know I would be a nervous wreck with my wife driving the bike, but isn't that the logical way to go?
Never heard that one. For most of the time that they've existed, almost all tandems (other than a small proportion of custom tandems) have been designed with the expectation that the larger (and probably stronger) of the two riders is in front.

Whoever would argue for the stronger rider being in back has a fundamental misunderstanding of how tandems work.
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Old 09-23-22, 03:17 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by Yamato72 View Post
Even with excellent fitness my wife cannot keep up with me on half-bikes.
Unicycles?
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Old 09-25-22, 01:22 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Never heard that one. For most of the time that they've existed, almost all tandems (other than a small proportion of custom tandems) have been designed with the expectation that the larger (and probably stronger) of the two riders is in front.

Whoever would argue for the stronger rider being in back has a fundamental misunderstanding of how tandems work.
Well, he was in the bike industry so maybe, like everything else, opinions and best practices change over the decades. Or maybe he was just being contrarian, which would not have been unusual.
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Old 09-25-22, 07:03 PM
  #41  
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My wife and I after taking 5 days off, isolating, because we caught COVID-19 (before we knew we had it, we were riding daily with the illness for probably four days already, went out on a tandem ride yesterday.

This was the first time out on the tandem in a year. I dusted it off and applied some goop remover on a dirty microfiber rag to get off a majority of the tar, energy drink overspill, sweat scabs, and assorted grease accumulations, and gave it a quick rubdown along the way making a safety inspection. Aired up the tires, cleaned and luber the drivetrain, measured chainwear (totally shot), examined the chainrings (toast), and inspected the rubber and brakes, and took it for a solo spin ( always a wobbly wake-up call at 6:30 ).

She was good to go.

​​​​​​It was the wife's idea - if we share this illness, we'll share the first recovery ride.
​ride

And so we did. It was an on purpose flat ride of 40 miles and 1100' of climbing. Well that was pretty fun actually. We even had a flat! Fixed it okay too.

​​​​​​The bike has 32mm tires on it now. We did some gravel. These are much nicer than the 28mm tires we always used to ride back in the day.

Next weekend we are riding a 60 mile ride with friends on the tandem So this was the shakedown ride. After that, I'll service the drivetrain.
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Old 09-26-22, 05:44 AM
  #42  
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Thanks everybody for the advice on climbing. Did a charity ride in Western Massachusetts yesterday with lots of hills tried the one two three count and both stand. It worked out well I just got to remember to gear up before the two of us get over the bars. Also, did a lot of the slow and go staying on the seat. It was a fifth ride it seems every ride is getting easier. We are both addicted to the tandem riding. Would really like to meet up with other tandem riders on group rides if it's possible.
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Old 09-26-22, 10:41 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by bblair View Post
I ride my single 4-5,000 miles a year. Tandem with the Mrs. about 500 a year, mostly flat and bike path.

30-40 flat tandem miles feels like 60 hilly single miles! We are not big folks, probably 250 pounds combined. Our tandem is old, but so are we.

Is it just me?
To answer your question: Ďharderí (not to say MUCH harder). Due to the fact that I (m) generate more W and W/kg than my wife and yes also our tandem weighs considerable more than 2x a solo bicycle of mine. But the tandem allows us to make bicycle trips together
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Old 09-26-22, 04:12 PM
  #44  
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Harder for me. Easier for her.

That's why we bought a tandem all those years ago. With our different abilities we can still ride together.

Brent
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Old 09-27-22, 07:23 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Never heard that one. For most of the time that they've existed, almost all tandems (other than a small proportion of custom tandems) have been designed with the expectation that the larger (and probably stronger) of the two riders is in front.

Whoever would argue for the stronger rider being in back has a fundamental misunderstanding of how tandems work.
Not sure youíre considering all the aspects of how tandems work. I understand the argument that the larger, presumably physically stronger rider should be up front. Definitely makes it easier to control the bike, particularly in a situation that calls for an immediate emergency maneuver.

However, there is also the issue of drive train power loss. drivetrain loss for the Captain is greater than for the stokers. The figures Iíve seen are around 2% for the stokers, and 7% for captain. Thus, you can capture 5% of the power difference between the two riders by putting the rider with the larger power output in the back.

Sp if the goal is to go fast, such as in a TT, and the smaller rider is physically strong enough to cope with handling the bike with a larger stoker, it makes sense to put the higher power output rider in the back.

Of course itís going to depend on the relative differences in weight, power output, upper body strength, bike handling ability and confidence, as well as the teamís goals and priorities. But the question is more complex than you make it out of you do understand all aspects of how tandems work.
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Old 09-27-22, 07:55 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Not sure youíre considering all the aspects of how tandems work. I understand the argument that the larger, presumably physically stronger rider should be up front. Definitely makes it easier to control the bike, particularly in a situation that calls for an immediate emergency maneuver.

However, there is also the issue of drive train power loss. drivetrain loss for the Captain is greater than for the stokers. The figures Iíve seen are around 2% for the stokers, and 7% for captain. Thus, you can capture 5% of the power difference between the two riders by putting the rider with the larger power output in the back.

Sp if the goal is to go fast, such as in a TT, and the smaller rider is physically strong enough to cope with handling the bike with a larger stoker, it makes sense to put the higher power output rider in the back.

Of course itís going to depend on the relative differences in weight, power output, upper body strength, bike handling ability and confidence, as well as the teamís goals and priorities. But the question is more complex than you make it out of you do understand all aspects of how tandems work.
On a bike tour last weekend, I met a family riding a quad! They had a nice rhythm on the flats and looked like they were having a great time. The dad up front must have tired shoulders this morning.
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Old 09-27-22, 09:46 AM
  #47  
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We bought a tandem at the beginning of the year as my wife isn't comfortable enough to ride on a single bike. We have been doing about 30-40 miles everyday to get into shape. As a captain and being fitter, I do find it more tiring cycling with cross wind as I need to stay more focused on keeping us pointing straight and upright. Like what others have mentioned above, hills on the tandem are tough for me as I'm usually pulling more weight and on shorter gears to favor the higher cadence my wife prefers. On relatively flat terrain, we thoroughly enjoy it as we both push each other and can go much faster/further. Another advantage I have experience with the tandem bike is being able to rely on each other if one person bonks. There was a time I went full gas for too long and bonked before getting back to our car. My wife was able to push us back to our car at a pretty decent pace.
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Old 10-06-22, 08:40 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by DLag View Post
We bought a tandem at the beginning of the year as my wife isn't comfortable enough to ride on a single bike. We have been doing about 30-40 miles everyday to get into shape. As a captain and being fitter, I do find it more tiring cycling with cross wind as I need to stay more focused on keeping us pointing straight and upright. Like what others have mentioned above, hills on the tandem are tough for me as I'm usually pulling more weight and on shorter gears to favor the higher cadence my wife prefers. On relatively flat terrain, we thoroughly enjoy it as we both push each other and can go much faster/further. Another advantage I have experience with the tandem bike is being able to rely on each other if one person bonks. There was a time I went full gas for too long and bonked before getting back to our car. My wife was able to push us back to our car at a pretty decent pace.
Last weekend we did a sixty mile ride on the tandem. This was a group birthday ride for a friend who turned 60, hence the course.

Anyway, on more than a few occasions, my wife told me to spin faster, and actually complained that we were going to slow. Now these were a pleasant things to hear.

The stoker is in great shape in part because the pandemic forced her to work from home which provided more opportunities to get in a daily ride. That hasn't changed for her.

So I discovered that she really does like to spin faster than I do. This might have changed over the last 5 years because we stopped road riding. During the last years I mostly ride a single speed mountain bike, and a single speed commuter bike. These bikes have turned me into a masher.

Getting on the tandem really woke up my legs. We were trying to sell it - but haven't been trying very hard - to be honest, I want to keep it. Now she wants to keep it too and we have plans for a hundred miler before the end of the year.

It's got a 9 speed Ultegra drivetrain. It's going to get a new chain, cassette and chainrings on pretty soon.

On the last ride it didn't feel like it was harder for me, the captain. Our ride was pretty flat overall. We did 3500' of climbing. It was during the climbs where the stoker called for a higher cadence. Also she didn't like getting dropped by the single riders!

The stoker was a total power house and cheer leading section! However, I did get a few calles to slowdown on the downhill.
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Old 10-12-22, 05:23 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
drivetrain loss for the Captain is greater than for the stokers. The figures Iíve seen are around 2% for the stokers, and 7% for captain. Thus, you can capture 5% of the power difference between the two riders by putting the rider with the larger power output in the back.
Where did you see thes figures? Caused by the longer chain?
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Old 10-12-22, 06:29 AM
  #50  
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Check out this thread: Power loss in transmission

ASU-GT did laboratory testing using power meters for both stoker and captain. I believe this was part of their study using tandems for treating people with Parkinson’s IIRC.

He reports a 6% power loss for the Captain and 1.8% for the Stoker. Not sure his results ever got published.

I recall reading similar numbers elsewhere, but haven’t taken the time to run them down.

Presumably, the difference is both the Captain’s power and the Stoker’s power are subject to the losses inherent in the chain, bearings in the derailleur, and bb, freehub, . Then the Captain’s power is subject to additional loss from a second chain, and bb. Also, I would think, there could be some loss from twisting forces as the power transfers through the stoker’s crankset.
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