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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 10-12-22, 01:04 PM
  #51  
longpete
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Interesting thread. I think the bigegr rolling resistance(prportional wit the weight) has a big part in making tandems slower uphill. Also the differnce in power and experience between the tow riders has a roll. We have an E-tandem and a normal tandem. On the E-tandem the balance. She can ride much longer distances and the differnce in power plays a smaller role. But on real steep climbs it changes again. Notice : we always ride i a low eco mode with high rpm to maximize distance possible with battery.
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Old 10-12-22, 04:58 PM
  #52  
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1) Tandems aren’t slower uphill than singles, for the same w/kg of the riders.

2) why would a tandem have more rolling resistance than two single bikes. Given equal tires, and proper inflation rolling resistance is going to be a function of weight. If anything carrying the same weight on 2 tires versus 4 would reduce not increase rolling resistance
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Old 10-13-22, 11:08 AM
  #53  
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Riding a tandem is different. Offroad even more. We ride a fullsuspension even onroad. Different factors play, but most important : all tandems are different, singles are mostly the same.

That's not only about power but also about weigth. Dressed and packed : me 100kg, she 53.

1/The weigth distribution over the front and rear wheel : normally around 60 rear 40% front. Our tandem 51 rear, 49 front. I feel the extra rolling resistance on the front wheel and less grip in mud on the flat in the rear

We ride the grippiest tyre wit the softest compound in the rear. A large front tyre(2.6) is too large : burping, sidewalls breaking away etc. I ride 2.4 with up front 0.4 bar more pressure than the rear tyre.

Rear tyre : the larger and the more profile the better. Upfront I need a enduro tyre casing, the rear weride a down countruy or cross country tyre.

If I climb standing I feel the extra rolling resistance of the front wheel.

2/ Most captains lose extra energy because controlling a tandeml is much harder. After long rides it' s never my legs that hurt, but arms and torso.

3/Climbing standing on the pedals has not the same efficiency as on a single. We are good at it, but coordination eats energy.


On the flat there's an aereodynamic advantage. But two single riders used at riding together at a wheel distance of a few cm have this also, but a bit less. First thin I learned when starting to ride with a tandem.

Forget everything you learned on half bicycles. If you discuss with another tandem rider without knowing their weight and the geometry of the bike it's all nonsense.

Even tandem builders don't often really know about how a tandem will react when you change geometry things.
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Old 10-13-22, 02:25 PM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
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 Parkinsonís 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 havenít taken the time to run them down.

Presumably, the difference is both the Captainís power and the Stokerís power are subject to the losses inherent in the chain, bearings in the derailleur, and bb, freehub, . Then the Captainís 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 stokerís crankset.
Hah, haven't been back to this thread in a couple of weeks. Glad someone was able to give some perspective on why what I had heard many years ago might make sense.
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Old 10-21-22, 05:04 PM
  #55  
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I think a lot depends on the terrain and how fast we want to go.

I have not posted in this forum for quite some time but used to be a regular poster. Started riding tandems in 1980 with my wife. We have toured, trained on and raced the tandem on flat and hilly courses. And we each have power and other metrics when riding.

The last time we road the tandem was 2018 in Tahiti and we did a 55Km mass start road race. Then we toured the islands.
Lately, we have been racing team time trials and this year won the SoCal State championship open team time trial for two person mixed trial riding individual TT bikes. I suffered immensely in that race. If you asked me after that race, I would say the tandem was a cakewalk.
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Old 10-22-22, 07:46 AM
  #56  
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I have an Daymak electric tandem and a Trek single. The single is easier to handle and a lot more maneuverable. The Tandem is a LOT more fun and gives me a chance to bike with my GF, who doesn't bike on a single. Our pedals on the tandem are individual so we can pedal at different speeds. We use is for exercize and the motor helps with hills and times when we run out of enegry. It's still easy to handle, but doesn't have the turning radius that a single has. We are slow cruisers and don't need the flexibilty of a single.
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Old 11-19-22, 08:07 PM
  #57  
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We have been riding together for 40 years.
I do find the tandem to be harder in that I am much stronger than my wife.
Coordinating cadence and standing is more challenging than on my single.
going uphill is slower, flats no so much. We do enjoy it a lot and so these things are no problem at all but do take extra consideration.
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Old 11-24-22, 10:27 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by Sorcerer View Post
It's not just you.

My spouse and I used to tandem a lot; me as captain and her as stoker. We did many centuries, tours, and fully loaded tours, but we have retired the tandem.

It was always my impression that as captain the drivetrain consumed a number watts of noticeable proportion. On top of that, there is a power differential between the two members. The stronger does more work. This is really significant on slow steep grinds, especially when one of the riders tires before the other.
When I am riding alot to prepare for big rides or gravel races and I take the mrs on a tandem ride with a big climb (1000' in 20mi is close by) it just destroys my legs. It is a 2 day recovery. I'm used to riding a power meter any time I'm single but have no feel for what I'm putting out on that tandem. You get no acceleration and have no sensation of input/output. I think that when she tires out, I'm grinding really hard and don't even realize it. Or maybe the effort spikes are sharper as soon as the grade increases? Not sure but for that reason I'll opt for flat terrain on the tandem when I don't want to deal with that recovery time.
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Old 11-24-22, 12:39 PM
  #59  
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All of this sounds familiar.

Even though my wife is taller and, um, has more to her than I do, I am captain and she is "rear admiral" and she's very happy with the arrangement. I think the biggest reason is a disparity in saddle time - she's done a few thousand miles (over half on the tandem), whereas I have over 70,000. She's happy to sit in back and not have to worry about shifting, steering, etc., and she doesn't try to steer from the back seat. I estimate I work about 20% harder on the tandem than riding one of my (not very light) single bikes, and we meet in the middle on cadence (70 - 75 rpm), but it's just great to ride together. We have a Santana Vision with 26" wheels - the lateral frame stiffness is wonderful, as it makes the tandem very predictable in terms of handling (I've owned lower-price tandems with whippy frames in the past, and those can get downright unnerving).

Unfortunately for the past few years her knees haven't allowed her to ride any type of bicycle, including the tandem. Until then, it sits quietly and patiently, awaiting only a top-off on tire pressure to begin another adventure.
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Old 11-24-22, 12:55 PM
  #60  
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Geezer down town built a Tandem E-Bike for his local rides. Really nice bike, I'll try to post some pics. Anyway, he says now when he and his wife are ridding there are two sleepers on it...
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Old 11-29-22, 08:05 PM
  #61  
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We ride both a mountain tandem and a road tandem. Here are my thoughts:

Things that are easier:
1. My wife knees often get pretty sore when climbing steep hills on her single bike. She can spin with lots of power for long distances on the tandem, but she lets me take more of the load on really steep sections, thereby reducing the stress on her knees.
2. Comradery makes for easier long days.
3. We are really comfortable and happy on the tandem, which means that we get more quality time together than on single bikes--which enhances our relationship.
4. While she pedals just as hard as she does on a single bike, she enjoys the mental freedom and relaxation of being able to look at birds, plants, etc.
5. Staying together means that either one of us can ride to our own power levels, depending on our moods, which makes it easier to focus on the ride--not on trying to stay together.

Things that are harder:
1. Nobody wants to dump their stoker, so the extra vigilance of watching the trail or road is mentally harder than on a single bike.
2. My wife is a capable mountain biker, so she knows how to use her weight to help work the bike on technical descents, but I still need to put a lot more upper-body effort into the bike to keep things smooth.
3. At first, we needed to learn how to work the bike together, which required more physical and mental effort--but we're now insanely coordinated, so it's gotten much easier.

Things that are pretty much the same:
1. With the same effort, I'm a bit slower on the tandem than a single bike, and my wife's a bit faster. We both tend to ride our single bikes and our tandem like we mean it, so we probably don't push any harder or softer than we do on our single bikes.
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Old 11-30-22, 02:25 PM
  #62  
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I just received a PM question about my post, but the system apparently doesn't allow newbies like me to respond to PMs until I've made enough posts. So, I'll answer it here.

Here's the question: The part we haven't figured out yet is what to do when we go off road. Nothing crazy, but more like bikepacking down some singletrack. I've seen videos of tandem downhill racing and the captain seems to be calling out the turns to the stoker so they can do...something. Lean in anticipation of the turn maybe? It almost seems like the stoker is doing the turning and the captain is just moving the bars to keep up. I haven't found anything that explains how this properly works...do you know of any YouTubers or anything that explain how this or do you have any words of wisdom?

Riding a tandem on technical trails is definitely challenging--and really fun & rewarding when it all comes together. Here are some thoughts:
1. A lot depends on the skill of the team. My wife and I both rode mountain bikes a lot before buying a tandem, so we both understood how to move our weight around. The goal is to translate this knowledge to the tandem. If you or your stoker don't have much single-bike experience, it's going to be a much bigger learning curve to successfully ride technical terrain.
2. As the pilot (our preferred term for the rider in the front), I didn't require that much adjustment, especially since I had experience riding a loaded bikepacking rig. But I had to learn where the back wheel is (WAY back there!), so that I could get it to track around rocks, roots, and follow the correct line. I also had to learn how to not set up my stoker for pedal strikes, since she can't easily position her pedals to avoid rocks.
3. One of the things that my wife figured out pretty quickly was to watch my hands, and to essentially pretend that she was steering. This was HUGE, since it allowed her muscle memory to kick in from riding a single bike. I think that this was probably the most crucial factor of riding smoothly--whether moving slowly or quickly. Once she discovered this, we practiced on the road by making quick turns.
4. Feeling the bike is a great way to determine whether you're in sync. On our first few rides, I couldn't understand why our bike felt so bendy. After all, it just didn't seem plausible that a Cannondale 29er tandem (with that HUGE boom tube) would ride like a limp noodle. Well, we quickly learned that noodling was a sign that we were basically "steering" in opposite directions or trying to compensate for each other's movements too much. Pay attention to this feeling, and figure out why it's happening so that you can get on the same page.
5. As a more aggressive rider, I was used to leaning my bike harder in turns than my wife. She was actually really excited to learn that it was possible--and it's actually helped her be a better single-bike rider. The lesson here is that riding a tandem has the potential to help teach each other new skills. But there's a really important caveat here (see next point).
6. I learned very quickly not to make my wife feel vulnerable, EVER. A scared or uncomfortable stoker will do all the wrong things with their body weight. As a pilot, you need to give your stoker every reason in the world to trust you--and trust is hard-earned but easily squandered. If you push too hard, or crash, it's not fun for your stoker. While I'm generally happy to crash my single bike by pushing limits, this is never a good idea on a tandem. My goal is to never crash. Take your time to build your skills together, since you will both need to learn to be loose and strong at the same time (never tense).
7. Learn to crash together. Yes, we've crashed a handful of times. But we developed a protocol ahead of time, so all but one crash was pain-free for my stoker. Basically, if the bike is out of control, your stoker should feel 100% comfortable bailing off the back. The pilot needs to go down with the ship, but the stoker should practice quickly getting off the back of the bike--which is actually pretty easy, especially of the pilot sacrifices themselves to keep things upright as long as possible.
8. The only hard crash that we've ever had was due to my error and inattention. We were cutting across a grassy field, and I tried to bring the bike onto a paved path at a stupid angle--especially considering that the grass was wet. We went down so quickly that neither of us had much time to think. The lesson here is to NEVER let your guard down as the pilot. Unanticipated crashes are truly the worst!
9. When necessary, the pilot should announce their intentions. This will change over time as you get in tune with each other. I used to call out damn near everything, but I don't need to as much anymore as she's learned my piloting style, and I've learned what she can see & anticipate. But I still call out bumps, technical areas, or anything that she can't see that will require cooperation to navigate.
10. Once you achieve blissful flow, you'll really start to realize how much a good stoker is actually steering the bike. Not that long ago, my wife and I had a very revealing moment. We decided to stop at a picnic table for a break. The only thing is, there were several tables ahead of us, and we didn't confirm which table we were heading for. She steered left, and I steered right--and hilarity ensued. The takeaway is that she can basically steer the bike herself, which demonstrates how useful it is to work together.
11. Last, but not least, I really hate the term "captain." It just implies too much authority and hierarchy. I'm the pilot because I have to point the bike and stop it. My stoker isn't subordinate. We're a team, so we work together. But I realize that not everyone is the same. A really imbalanced team, with a strong & experienced pilot pared with newbie stoker, might require a more defined "chain of command."
12. OK, this is really the final point: Everyone is different, so find what works for you! While my wife and I are solid our bike with each other, we might totally suck if paired with other riders. Most tandeming advice that I've read is pretty biased towards one team's experience (including mine!), so take the time to figure out what works for you.
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Old 11-30-22, 07:39 PM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by TobyGadd View Post
I just received a PM question about my post, but the system apparently doesn't allow newbies like me to respond to PMs until I've made enough posts. So, I'll answer it here.
Holy amazeballs, thanks for all that! I thought my question was maybe drifting too far off topic, but after reading all that, maybe not.

1. She's not and never has been a mountain biker, so perhaps my singletrack adventures need to remain singlebike and we'll continue to enjoy pavement and gravel where we blossom.

4. Great tip for when things feel noodly. When a maneuver goes particularly well I'll compliment her on it, and she always says all she did was nothing...just fought her urge to lean and stay centered even though her brain was telling her not to.

6. Yes fully agree that a happy comfortable stoker is key, both to the joy in the trip and the smoothness of the ride.

7. We've also had our first crash, low side on a banked sandy turn that as it turned out was way deeper and softer than it looked on approach. I don't think I could have made that turn on my single bike in hindsight. Anyway, it was soft and forgiving, we weren't going fast, and there was no copay involved so not bad overall experience. I also learned to dial back the confidence meter a notch or 3 and not try that again.

9. We've done lots of announcing to the point it sounds like a running commentary, but she never minds the extra words. Putting her in clipless has cut down on lots of the real tedious stuff (coasting...ok go.....shifting up...etc)

10. Love the picnic table story, I think we will try that out in controlled conditions next time we go out and see how it feels as a lesson and reinforcement.

11. No offence intended, we're just using the terms as told to us, but point taken and I kinda like pilot better too for the reasons you said.
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Old 12-01-22, 02:02 PM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by dmwill View Post
Holy amazeballs, thanks for all that! I thought my question was maybe drifting too far off topic, but after reading all that, maybe not.
Yeah, I guess I went a little overboard there. Glad that some of it was useful.

Originally Posted by dmwill View Post
1. She's not and never has been a mountain biker, so perhaps my singletrack adventures need to remain singlebike and we'll continue to enjoy pavement and gravel where we blossom.
Depending on how you both feel about it, there's probably no explicit reason why you can't try some easy mountain biking to see if you can figure it out. Maybe help her learn how to transfer her weight by riding progressively more swoopy gravel. Tell her to think of your hands as hers.

Originally Posted by dmwill View Post
9. We've done lots of announcing to the point it sounds like a running commentary, but she never minds the extra words. Putting her in clipless has cut down on lots of the real tedious stuff (coasting...ok go.....shifting up...etc)
If she appreciates it, you're probably doing it right. Especially as you're building skills, more communication is generally better.

Originally Posted by dmwill View Post
11. No offence intended, we're just using the terms as told to us, but point taken and I kinda like pilot better too for the reasons you said.
I was really taking a tangent to rant about the common usage--not to you. Sorry for getting sidetracked.
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Old 12-12-22, 02:04 PM
  #65  
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The thing I wasn't expecting is how much more of a mental load piloting a tandem is, my stoker has had brain surgery and having to navigate and coordinate our efforts leaves me mentally tired. Things that you do solo without thinking such as changing to a lower gear when slowing for a junction or traffic lights, or clipping in, all seem to ad up on a long ride.
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Old 12-13-22, 12:23 PM
  #66  
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One thing I have noticed is that being so close during our ride makes for easy conversations. Riding seperate bikes we would have to get side by side to chat but then obstacles or cars make it necessary to file back in single file even if we were in the middle of a discussion. Lots of interuptions. I wanted to say this makes life harder because my wife can delegate more honey do's that are on her mind and I can clearly hear them! lol
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Old 12-31-22, 04:09 PM
  #67  
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I find it harder buts that only because I have a six year old on the back of the tandem who likes to wiggle around and doesn't really add much in the terms of peddle power.
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Old 01-02-23, 12:41 PM
  #68  
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My tandem is as comfortable as my single for me. Maybe even more comfortable. Consider a comparison between riding your single and riding your tandem without a stoker onboard. I've done a few rides on my tandem without a stoker and my speed and such isn't much different than my single. Then when you add your stoker into the equation the difference is the two of you combined.

I actually don't care how fast I am. I am putting out the same wattage and getting the same amount of exercise on either bike. But on my tandem I get to do it with my wife, and it's all worth it to get to do it twogether.
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Old 01-02-23, 02:00 PM
  #69  
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Originally Posted by turbozinke View Post
I actually don't care how fast I am. I am putting out the same wattage and getting the same amount of exercise on either bike. But on my tandem I get to do it with my wife, and it's all worth it to get to do it twogether.
That also describes us. We both ride however hard we want to, and the bike goes whatever speed that ends up being. That said, we do sometimes get a little competitive with other riders we happen to cross paths with.
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Old 01-03-23, 10:17 AM
  #70  
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If you need some winter bike riding stories to pass the time, you might go read some of Pamela Blalock’s stories about racing tandems uphill. They’re not full of discussion about the physics of it all, but she has great real-world stories about tandems, terrain and two very strong riders. (I vaguely recall they’ve won the Mt Washington hill climb a few times.) Most of us won’t come close to duplicating what they have done on tandems, but it’s good to get that perspective.

in this post, she mentions the idea that climbing on a tandem averages the effort of the two riders.

“Our experience is that the tandem averages out our climbing speeds. So on a pure hillclimb, our time will be about half way between the times we'd post individually. For rolling terrain, we get a great advantage from momentum and the extra power, and can at times fly along much faster than Fear Rothar would alone.”

You’ll find other comments about the topic on both her blog and the older website.

https://blayleys.blogspot.com/2012/0...m_01.html#more
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Old 01-03-23, 07:48 PM
  #71  
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Originally Posted by CaliTexan View Post
If you need some winter bike riding stories to pass the time, you might go read some of Pamela Blalockís stories about racing tandems uphill. Theyíre not full of discussion about the physics of it all, but she has great real-world stories about tandems, terrain and two very strong riders. (I vaguely recall theyíve won the Mt Washington hill climb a few times.) Most of us wonít come close to duplicating what they have done on tandems, but itís good to get that perspective.

in this post, she mentions the idea that climbing on a tandem averages the effort of the two riders.

ďOur experience is that the tandem averages out our climbing speeds. So on a pure hillclimb, our time will be about half way between the times we'd post individually. For rolling terrain, we get a great advantage from momentum and the extra power, and can at times fly along much faster than Fear Rothar would alone.Ē

Youíll find other comments about the topic on both her blog and the older website.

https://blayleys.blogspot.com/2012/0...m_01.html#more
Just reading those names caused immediate flashbacks to the old tandem@hobbes e-mail list, where the Blayleys were frequent contributors. T@H was a very helpful and informative forum in its time for bicycles with seating equaling or exceeding the number of wheels where n>1. My wife and I stayed current with that list during our high-tandem-mileage times of the late 1990s.
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Old 01-08-23, 09:32 AM
  #72  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I got us a tandem in hopes it would equalize us. I thought that since my spouse has less strength and stamina, we would be able to go for longer rides. Well, it does equalize us, but not by increasing her time but by decreasing mine. Oh well, we still have fun. I think there are probably a few factors at play.
So true!
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Old 01-08-23, 10:51 AM
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This is a good discussion.

I really like the idea of calling the rider in the front as a co-pilot and the one in the rear as a co-pilot as well. Or maybe pilot and bombardier, LOL.

It looks as though my bombardier and I will be taking up the tandem again this year as we have plans for me to refurbish the drivetrain, put a lower gear in while I'm at it, and do some rides and bike camping with it.

As tandem acolytes we humble ourselves to serve the needs of our small two person teams. Human x2 is only human after all. Tandems teams camp together when they cramp together.

I vaguely recall how towards the end of the longer more grueling rides we used to do my mood might sink. Over the course of a day in various states of comfort and discomfort, satiety and hunger, thirst, soreness, temperature, navigation issues, and what have you, there was always an unspoken dedication to the task which we shared that I now realize is something special about tandem riding. It's awesome.

It is possible for the crew to mutiny when things become untenable. For example, before GPS one could really get lost and run out of water on a scorching summer day. Of course this scenario happens to a pair of single bike riders as well. But when you're on a tandem both riders share the same consequences. Tandem teams cannot split up. That's a commitment right there.

I haven't ever really been on a ride in the stoker position. One of the reason's we stopped riding the tandem is that it slowly dawned upon me that being a stoker is really difficult and if I didn't want to do that, well then how could we keep doing it? One thing for sure is that physically we are not identical. My wife experienced terrible saddle soreness issues when riding more than 6 hours after reaching a certain age. We tried standing frequently, and became proficient at it (BTW standing sprints on a tandem are exciting sometimes). We even made rules about how frequently we should stand.

To some degree I theorize that comfort could be improved with alterations to the stoker's position, saddle, and handlebar choice. We've tried all sorts of things. We've had three tandems. But there's only so much that can be done. A tandem won't be as comfortable as a single bike because the stoker cannot simply spontaneously move independently. Neither can the front pilot. I do think that there is a large enough compartment on our tandem for us to try a wide variety of adjustments on the stoker position.

For these reasons, and others not yet stated, riding a tandem is probably harder for the stoker too. When I first read the title of this thread I automatically related to this as the person on the front and steering. Now I realize that the question is really addressed top the tandem team as a whole. This begs the question, which I won't try answer, which rider has it harder on a tandem?

The communication between riders on a tandem is very important. It can be hilarious sometimes yelling at each other into the wind. We always mounted the computer on the stoker's handlebar. I'd ask for information sometimes, but usually I just looked forward to anything volunteered. My theory was that I didn't want to try looking at the speedometer when I should be looking down the road.

Among the best parts are the simple conversations and observations along the way.

Our moods would go through an entire cycle of seasons on long difficult rides and I do recall coming up empty sometimes when searching for optimism and trying too hard to keep spirits high. This is comedic fuel in retrospect. If things aren't managed well, a ride can come to the hurling of passionate invectives, insults, and moments laden with sullen contempt. We survived these things too. You can tell when someone is faking it or trying too hard. I've noticed that in myself too. Tandems force an open honesty, eventually, if you ride them enough.
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Old 03-24-23, 09:17 AM
  #74  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
1) Tandems arenít slower uphill than singles, for the same w/kg of the riders.

2) why would a tandem have more rolling resistance than two single bikes. Given equal tires, and proper inflation rolling resistance is going to be a function of weight. If anything carrying the same weight on 2 tires versus 4 would reduce not increase rolling resistance
"read : https://www.bicyclerollingresistance.../crr-load-test

Conclusion

Our simple conclusion is that the CRR of bicycle tires under different loads is non-linear and increases at higher loads.Our CRR at different speeds tests also showed us that CRR increases at higher speeds. When we combine the load and speed test results, we can conclude that the simple formulas used to calculate the total rolling resistance from the CRR value of a (bicycle) tire need corrections for the non-linear response under different loads, speeds, and air pressures."

Finally proof for something I felt since I started to ride a tandem. On tandem rolling resistance is higher : "CRR of bicycle tires under different loads is non-linear and increases at higher loads"
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Old 03-24-23, 06:24 PM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by longpete View Post
"read : https://www.bicyclerollingresistance.../crr-load-test

Conclusion

Our simple conclusion is that the CRR of bicycle tires under different loads is non-linear and increases at higher loads.Our CRR at different speeds tests also showed us that CRR increases at higher speeds. When we combine the load and speed test results, we can conclude that the simple formulas used to calculate the total rolling resistance from the CRR value of a (bicycle) tire need corrections for the non-linear response under different loads, speeds, and air pressures."

Finally proof for something I felt since I started to ride a tandem. On tandem rolling resistance is higher : "CRR of bicycle tires under different loads is non-linear and increases at higher loads"
makes total sense that higher load equals higher rolling resistance. That doesnít begin to say that for a given load, the rolling resistance of a tandem on two tires is higher than two singles on 4 tires.
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