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AndyGrow 08-23-05 10:11 AM

Looking to get some insight and thoughts from others who have "been there, done that" before we drop the $$$ for a tandem.

My wife and I both ride road and mountain. We also have an almost 3-year old son and his Burley Solo trailer that we use on the road.

We just recently got back into road biking after living in Alaska for 5 years. We are considering a tandem, but want to make sure it's right for us.

My wife and I both have all the cycling "gear" anyone could, clothes, helmets, gloves, etc. We both love road riding, but my problem is - she's not as strong as I am, nor can she ride as long as I can, even when I am towing our son.

We are hoping that a tandem would alleviate that problem, and still allow us a good workout. I would still want to ride solo a few times per week, to work on the more technical aspects of road riding. Plus I would want to get away from her now and then! :)

We plan on doing some centuries, as well as some road racing (tandem and solo).

So...knowing what I just told you think a tandem is right for us?

Andy and Vickie

angel 08-23-05 10:18 AM

try it you might like it.
but what do i know?
nothing about you, but what is on your blog.
i say try it. may as well.

AndyGrow 08-23-05 10:32 AM

Thanks. I didn't know I had a blog (by the way - WTF is a blog???).

Murrays 08-23-05 10:52 AM

I think you would like a tandem. My wife wasn't too excited about getting a tandem despite thousands of miles on her single. I convinced her based on putting our 5 yo daughter on the back in the future.

Now we do our weekly group ride regularly on the tandem. We still have a few fit issues we should address, but she likes the extra speed and having a rider with her on the hills :)

I think you guys would like it and you'll be able to ride with your son in a few years. I put my daughter on a trail-a-bike this year, but I'll have her on the tandem in another year or two.


Doggus 08-23-05 11:03 AM

We are new to tandeming as well. I noticed this (applies to us only):

Tandems are real fun at first. Now they are a lot of work. I get off the greyhound (our Co-Motion) and get on my single and I feel like I'm on a butterfly; so light, so nimble, so fast. I know I could ride the single all day. I'm whipped from the tandem after an hour. There is a hell of a lot of work to captaining a tandem that just ain't there on a single. In our case my wife weighs more than I do, so I have a hell of a time making sure I don't dump her at lights and such ( oh god, no one please tell her I wrote this online - I'll pay cash ). We still have not found a clean way to start the tandem. On the other hand - when I put my 60 lb daughter back there....I'm not as light and nimble as the single, but I can still move. Hills are no problem. It's not as much work.

I'm having a time adjusting to the slowing down bit. You will not be able to bring your other half up to your speed (assuming they are slower than you). You will have to meet somewhere in the middle. For us, it was below halfway for now, we'll get faster with more miles.

Perhaps it will help when we hook up with some other tandem riders in our local tandeming club. She'll speed up, I'll settle with slowing down and it might get better. I've had thoughts of dumping the Co-Mo and getting her on a single but then 1) she will still be slow 2) I don't trust her clipped into a bike (she has little coordination, throws like a girl and such :D ).

We're still trying.

stapfam 08-23-05 11:38 AM

Tandems are not for everyone. First thing is you both lose your independance. Then on top of that, the stoker has no control over a bike that is going too fast, too much like hard work, and the brakes don't work. One of you will also find that it is very hard work, and the other one will find it is tiring.
The only way to get a tandem to work is as a compromise. The strong rider will have to come down a level to the weaker rider. In fact, the best thing is to let the weak rider say how much effort to put in, when to change gears, and the cadence to run. Still sound like Fun? Luckily, the compromise does not last forever and after a few months, the compromise has adjusted both your rates so that you are both comfortable. Then you will find out if a tandem is for you.

Best thing to do is hire one for a couple of hours, then think about it, and hire for a day. Then think about your own Tandem. If it is for you, all you have to think about is what type, what make, what spec, what extras, and Wheres the bank loan.

P.S. For a great number of us,Tandems are the way to go. Can you imagine doing a 12 hour ride, and enjoying watch all the solos drop away from you, can you imagine being sworn at by the stoker for not going fast enough, but you cannot get your cadence above 120 in the highest gear, can you imagine the fun that can be had, by just jumping on the Tandem and stopping 3 hours later.

galen_52657 08-23-05 12:22 PM

A tandem is the most fun two consenting adults can have with their clothes on... I think you two are good candidates for tandeming.

The tandem is the great equalizer. She will ride longer, you will ride a little slower. Sunday, I did the 7 covered bridges tour with a bunch of other BF folks. The 62 mile metric century was the farthest and most saddle time by stoker has ever done. If she had tried to do it on her single bike, it would have taken over 6 hours of saddle time, assuming she could actually finish. On the tandem, around 4 hours of saddle time.

We were both tired at the end but did not have any trouble finishing (unlike the multitude of single riders a saw laying under shade trees...sprawled out and pouring water over their heads... ).

I say go for some test rides. There is a learnng curve but since you both ride, it should not take long.

wsurfn 08-23-05 12:41 PM

The short answer. Rent first.

The long answer. Over decade ago we rented a Cannondale MT tandem in Maine to ride the fire roads. We fought each other like cats the whole way. Too fast, where are you going, be careful, are we lost.... I was so happy to give the bike back. We rode our singles together, but it became clear we had different abilities, and desires for a work out. We worked out a system where I would ride the first half with her, then I could ride my own pace, and loop back to catch up with her in the end. Since it was not a group ride, I kind of worried about about her when she was on her own. So, now there is this internet community, and I revisit the thoughts of a tandem. I present the idea to her, and I expect a reminder of our first ride back in Maine. Instead, I get a thumb's up. I have adhered to the stoker's always right rule, and it has been great so far. She really loves it, which I have to admit I am surprised about it since she has to give up control and has a back to look at. I guess she puts up with it to ride together, but I haven't heard a complaint yet. Test drive one and find out if it is right for you.

twonbike 08-23-05 01:46 PM

I endorse everything all the above have said. We have just finished a 1700km tour in Australia on our tandem. THere is no way Sue would have even thought about it on a single. Yet we cruised it on the tandem. I prefer riding the tandem more than my single, but I can't get Sue out on it that much. Go for it. It you may it wil enrich your relationship as well. My grandson and I had our first ride together on our old tandem. A 40km fun ride. 2 stops for a rest but he loved it. Take it easy to start off with, enjoy the ride and being able to talk to each other. Foreget about spped etc until you you are a tem. We found becoming a team real easy, not having the problems I read about onthis site. We just got on and rode together. THe only thing is I can't go down hills fast I don't know, maybe working together for 30 odd years means we were a team anyway, we also paddle a double kayak, which are called divorce, with pleassure.
Cheers Brian & Sue

woog 08-23-05 01:47 PM

No one has addressed the kid angle I think. I'm in the market for a first tandem in part to ride with my sweetie, but also, and perhaps mainly, to ride with my 6yo son. He's been on a trail-a-bike for a couple of years and seems to enjoy it immensely, but its attached to my commuter bike and so isn't much fun when we decide to go for longer rides. So I justify the tandem because I'll ride it with him. Riding it with my sweetie stoking is just an added bonus. She has a single as well, so another thought in my mind is that she can ride that while the kid and I are on the tandem, and with a little luck we'll all be about equal.

galen_52657 08-23-05 02:11 PM

6 year old should be able to ride himself. Child stoker conversions are for sale on Ebay all the time. You and the kid on a tandem will prolly shred your sweetie...

woog 08-23-05 02:27 PM


Originally Posted by galen_52657
6 year old should be able to ride himself.

He can, but he's not too smooth in a paceline.


Originally Posted by galen_52657
You and the kid on a tandem will prolly shred your sweetie...

We'll see. I'm not expecting to get a ton of help from him. :)

woodcycl 08-23-05 02:35 PM

I wholeheartedly agree with all the above. I, too, am a new Tandem Captain and have a new 05' Cannondale road tandem.

This is the first year my GF has been on a bicycle other than being a kid out in the country years ago. I bought her a Schwinn Fastback Small. She has about 400 miles on it so far and does enjoy it. However, her normal speed, average speeds, distance, comfort level, etc. are quite a bit different than mine ... as I'm a 16yr cycling (on and off road) veteran. I ride a 1992 Trek 5200 single and LOVE it. I also have a Trek 8000 Aluminum mountain bike ... but don't get out on it much.

I've only ridden the new Tandem 5 times now ... and will be out on it again in about an hour. It is a LOT of fun ... and as others have mentioned, the captain will do a LOT of HARD work compared to riding the single. However, I'm starting to believe this has to do with being New to the tandem ... but even MORE so being New as a TEAM on the bike together. My GF and I had a nice leisurely 24 mile ride last night on a moderately hilly (in small chain ring 3 times .. middle most of the time) ride ... and average 17mph. Now, that is pretty good for us together on the tandem ... with hills and NOT trying in the least. We setout just to have fun. My normal average is 18 to 22 and her normal average on a single is 12.5 to 14.

I say go for it ... you will most likely really enjoy it. The learning curve and comfort curve with your teammate simply takes a while and takes patience, communication, and a desire to ride together.

Good luck ... and let us know what you decide.

AndyGrow 08-23-05 06:42 PM

Some very excellent information - thank you everyone! I contacted our closest bike shop (about 3 hours away) and we are going to try a few rides in about two weeks. We can't wait!

Thank you all very much.
Andy and Vickie

tandemonium 08-24-05 07:29 AM

We started by trying a ride-a-wreck at a local state park concession. A few months later I found a vintage Schwinn Twinn for $250 (single speed, coaster brake and front center pull) to test the waters. We had a blast and moved up to a 'dale offroad. Now we're talking full suspension tandem for next year.

Galen hit the mark when depicting the tandem as 'the great equalizer'. The captain does much more work than I expected and I love it! Think of it as cross training. When not on the tandem I prefer technical single track. After a few weeks of tandem riding I found myself pulling hills in much higher gears. You learn to really pick your lines through the rough stuff with the tandem.

We explore trails on the tandem that the wife would never have tried on a single.
Right now she has more miles on the tandem this year than several years combined on her single.

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