Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Tandem Cycling
Reload this Page >

Learning to love ICS?

Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

Learning to love ICS?

Old 07-09-23, 04:59 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2023
Posts: 7
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Learning to love ICS?

Hi all,
My wife and I have been tandem riding for 30+ years, always on conventional tandems where the captain and stoker pedaling are linked together. I now have a DaVinci tandem with ICS. We've put about 500 miles on then new bike, and its taking us a while to get used to the independent pedaling.

So anyone who has gone from conventional to ICS, please share how you transitioned. Did you eventually learn to love ICS? Hate it? Advantages/disadvantages?

rbwilliams is offline  
Old 07-10-23, 10:30 PM
Senior Member
ahultin's Avatar
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Bonsall, Ca
Posts: 679

Bikes: 2003 Cannondale Jekyll 1000, 2014 Fuji Finest 1.5 (wife), 2008 Fuji Finest 1.0 (Daughter), 2012 Fuji Cross 2.0 (son), 2011 Cannondale Road Tandem 2

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 57 Post(s)
Liked 27 Times in 17 Posts
Originally Posted by rbwilliams
Hi all,
My wife and I have been tandem riding for 30+ years, always on conventional tandems where the captain and stoker pedaling are linked together. I now have a DaVinci tandem with ICS. We've put about 500 miles on then new bike, and its taking us a while to get used to the independent pedaling.

So anyone who has gone from conventional to ICS, please share how you transitioned. Did you eventually learn to love ICS? Hate it? Advantages/disadvantages?

My use case is likely different than most but as you've gotten no responses ill post my thoughts.
I ride as a sub captain for a club that pairs sited captains with vision impared stokers. As such, I ride with multiple different stokers on multiple different tandems. One of those stokers had a calfee built carbon DaVinci with ics. Surprisingly I don't have the data saved on that bike but would say we did ~1000 miles on it, and only went a little over half of those miles before locking out the ics.
The plus as i saw it was the ability of the stoker to coast at will but the loss was huge. With a vision impared stoker much of the communication ultimately is driveline transmission. The stoker can feel the shifts/backing off/ramping up/etc. This seemed to be lost in the ics. Bringing the pedals up and in sync prior to a corner had to be verbalized which doesn't always work. The stoker who owned this bike had some vision so he would constantly try to look down at the cranks to confirm we were in phase. It was just not optimal. A little over half way thru the miles we put on that bike we requested the lock out kit from DaVinci (which he was very hesitant to sell as ics is his baby). This made it better but then the rest of the non standard drivetrain showed it's issues.
thay bike was ultimatly sold and replaced with a di2 calfee dragonfly.
For a sighted team of differing fitness levels i could see the ics as filling a gap and allowing them to continue to ride and the benefit may outweigh the downsides.
ahultin is offline  
Old 07-11-23, 09:34 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 5,743
Mentioned: 25 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2320 Post(s)
Liked 612 Times in 445 Posts
Yeah, I saw this thread too and said, "eef, this one is a hot potato, I'm not going first ...". Maybe not oddly enough, we are also a team with a blind Stoker. Our second date was on a tandem supplied by the local Achilles group that matches blind Stokers with sighted Captains. I had never even seen a tandem in real life before, but I got the hang of it quickly enough. That bike did not have ICS, but the brakes were worn to the point of danger. We immediately made a plan to get a tandem of our own. We've been living car free and riding a tandem pretty much everyday for 15 years now. We have four, and none have ICS. It only comes up when someone asks why not ICS? 'J' is quick to point out that half of our communication is through the timing chain, and although we have five or six commands we use regularly, including a 'stopping' command, sometimes there isn't time to verbalize a warning. The suddenly stopped pedals is plenty warning but with ICS a valuable method of coordination is lost.
Leisesturm is offline  
Likes For Leisesturm:
Old 07-11-23, 12:57 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2023
Posts: 7
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks for the responses. You pretty much nailed it. We had only ever ridden a non-ICS bike until we got the latest daVinci. I was told that we'd learn too like the ICS and that we didn't know how much we would appreciate the 'freedom' that ICS gives us.

Well, that's not how we're feeling right now. Having ridden tandem for over 30 years, we've taken the timing chain communication for granted. We only need a verbal communication if something weird is happening - shifting onto the granny gear, emergency stop, bump coming, "Oh! look at that".
But for all other partner riding:
- leg down around a corner
- leg down, unload off the saddle to stretch together
- unweight a pedal to lighten a shift
- feel your partner really pushing on the pedals
- standing while climbing ( how do you even do that if not in sync??)

And there's the added complexity of the ICS gear.
The chain rings are half as big as a normal bike - that means they will wear out faster. And the sharper curve of the chains around the smaller sprockets will wear the chains faster.

So, we're still learning about ICS, but so far, I would not recommend it.
rbwilliams is offline  
Old 07-11-23, 03:58 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 75
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 17 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 38 Times in 23 Posts
We had a cannondale when we were first married and enjoyed it for 5 years. After 20 years and our kids independent, we got back into tandeming. Because of fitness differences and size differences we tried out a number of used tandems. When we found a DaVinci ICS my wife fell in love with it. The ICS helped my wife feel more stable upon starting, stopping, and not paying attention. When starting she could pedal without causing me any issues getting into my pedals. (SPD) On stopping she could stop pedaling before me when she got worried about not stopping fast enough. And, sometimes she just doesn't want to pedal. Yes, it isn't as efficient with only one person pedaling. Yes, it takes more effort/concentration for the stoker to keep to the captain's rotation. But, it definitely helped a less practiced stoker work when we are both strong A type personalities.

Independent of the ICS I have found that Davinci has a very wide range of crank lengths. I am short legged and ride a 165 on all of my bikes. My wife has shorter legs. And, she has a hard time keeping up with my cadence sometimes. So we messed around with crank length to fit her legs and her comfort level with my cadence. She is on a 150mm now. Smaller circles are easier to keep up when the cadence is high. Davinci has both triple drilled arms (like 170/150/130mm) and a wide variety of lengths in 2.5mm increments that I was able to find used. So not directly related to ICS but it put us on the path of significantly different lengths and more comfort riding together.

I can easily see why a couple who has ridden many miles with many starts/stops together would be annoyed by ICS. But there are advantages with ICS for less practiced couples or more casual rides (ie kids?) or other scenarios where you want to be in sync on your stroke or 90 degrees off you stroke at different times. We like it and my wife won't ride anything else. =)

sdodd is offline  
Old 07-15-23, 12:14 PM
Full Member
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 266
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 80 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 39 Times in 32 Posts
We have been riding tandems for almost 40 years. We have 3 tandems, 2 DaVinci’s with ICS and 1 tandem without ICS. We ride every day. Unquestionably, there are pros and cons to both setups. I suspect how much you like or dislike ICS depends on how and where you ride and the capabilities and personalities of the 2 riders. For us, we prefer the ICS. My stoker likes having control over her pedals in a sharp turn or going over an obstacle. Otherwise she worries whether I’ll make sure her pedals clear. One poster mentioned some disadvantages of the smaller chain rings. Yes, but the upside is additional ground clearance which comes in handy for us on occasion.

I like to be able to stand up and take a break while she pedals (and watches other cyclists wondering how we can do that). I have been cycling in a city my whole life. My stoker would never ride a single bike in the city. It makes her less anxious on a tandem to have control over her own pedals. All 3 of our tandems are different. We think it is good mentally for us to ride different tandems on different days.
Finally, my experience indicates captains on non-ICS tandems do not hear “she’s not pedaling” as often as captains on ICS tandems. Who would want to miss out on that
jethro00 is offline  
Old 07-15-23, 03:18 PM
alpine cross trainer
Ludkeh's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Central New York
Posts: 289

Bikes: Specialized Roubaix, Quintara Roo Sendoza, DaVici In-2-Ition Tandem,

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 21 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 20 Times in 8 Posts
We switched from a traditional tandem to a da Vinci Design In-2-ition about 10 years age. I was a avid cyclist but my wife only a casual rider. We found that once we switched our riding was much more fun. My wife was able to relax more, reach for a water bottle without upsetting the flow,get off the seat and rest her butt,ect. The occasional mismatch in cadence at times becomes unimportant once you get used to it.Short comings on either one of our parts were not amplified do to the ICS's forgiving nature. We'd never go back to a non-ICS! We electrified our tandem a few years back. Now that we're 75 yrs old our riding years have been extended and the fun factor is the same as when we were youngsters!
Ludkeh is offline  
Old 07-22-23, 01:15 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2005
Location: SFBay
Posts: 2,333

Bikes: n, I would like n+1

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 127 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 131 Times in 106 Posts
As with anything, it depends. Most stokers Iíve ridden with learn to talk through the pedals. Some on the first ride, but most others eventually. My wife, despite more than a decade of on and off tandem riding with me, has never learned to talk through the pedals. I need to call every shift, bump, coast, etc. and she will be caught off guard if I do not. When she pauses to adjust her seating position she stop pedaling with one leg straight as on her single and this straight knee results in me lifting her unexpectedly off of the seat. Call it silly, but itís what it is. ICS solves or greatly reduces these issues. I canít put reverse pressure on the pedals to slow her pedaling during a shift, but with her I need to call the shifts anyways. Turns arenít an issue as I call those so my stoker can signal and she does naturally lift the inside pedal during the turn.

As an added bonus, ours is an older DaVinci set up with a 4 speed front. Iíve swapped the driven gears to give us a lower than 2:1 ratio. Paired with the large front gear range I still have a reasonable top end while having a lower low gear than I would be able to on a normal drivetrain. Having a less fit stoker and a 20% grade on the ride home is possible with this.

For the vast majority of stokers other than the one Iím married to I prefer a normal drivetrain. One of these days Iíll come up with a nice way to lock it out or let the ICS do its thing mid ride.
jccaclimber is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2023 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.