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trail-a-bike vs. tandem

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trail-a-bike vs. tandem

Old 05-01-06, 04:00 PM
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xroader
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trail-a-bike vs. tandem

(This post is cross-posted from the Family and Rec Forum)

My daughter (8) has autism and so will probably never be able to safely ride a bike alone. We currently have a trail-a-bike which she rides with me. However she is getting a little big for it (we have a year or so left on it without some modifications) and also a little over-confident. She will often sit with both feet on one side, or grab the frame instead of the handlebars and ride is like a broom (damn you Harry Potter!). She will also sway side-to-side to make things a little more interesting (for her, makes it near impossible for me to keep a straight line)

As CigTech says, she "loves the go fast" so I really want to keep her on a bike, but as she gets bigger safety is becoming more of an issue.

Anyway, I'm looking for advice about tandems. Would a tandem be more, or less, stable with a semi-cooperative stoker than a trail-a-bike? Anyone ride with a similar child? Thoughts and comments?
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Old 05-01-06, 04:08 PM
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Haven't done it with a special needs child, but I have ridden with a trail a bike and with my daughter on a tandem. We switched from a trail a bike to a Bike Friday tandem at about the same age. As Captain you have more control of the bike on the Tandem, than with a trail a bike. At about 60 pounds it becomes hard to muscle the trail abike where you want it to go. On the Tandem, I can pretty much make the bike do what I want with or without my daughter's cooperation.

The problem with the tandem is that she will have to pedal to your cadence, unlike the trail abike where she can pedal backwards, coast etc. You might consider a tandem that allows independent pedaling.

I would strongly consider clipless pedals so that her feet don't fly off the pedals inadvertantly. My greatest fear would be of her falling off. One time I nearly ejected my daughter with a few hard pedal strokes she wasn't expecting.
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Old 05-01-06, 04:16 PM
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As she outgrows the trail-a-bike, a tandem is the logical answer for her (or and adult) to cycle with you .
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Old 05-01-06, 07:18 PM
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If you don't go the trike route, which is a great idea if your stoker will be fidgety, then I would agree on the independent pedaling tandems. DaVinci is one manufacturer that I know of. I believe Santana makes a system too but I can not recall. Others will hopefully chime in on that if you are interested in that route.

My personal experience with the DaVinci has been excellent. I prefer it for tandeming with riders of different strength and skill levels. As merlin pointed out above, tandeming requires a synchronization that the trail-a-bike does not. The independent systems allow you to retain the single bike pedaling feel. I had not thought about the inadvertent pedal ejection part, but that won't happen on the independent systems. DaVinci's start at about $3650. They do not come up often used. I do not know much about the other indepedent systems or their costs.

I am in your area apparently. Send me a Private Message if you would like to try ours. Otherwise you would likely have to make a trip up to Mt. Airy Cycles to try one.
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Old 05-01-06, 07:33 PM
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Tandems and an autistic child

Hi XROADER I have a 9 year old autistic son. We still have the tag a long but recently I bought a tandem. My son is doing great. I placed some toe straps and taught him to keep his feet on the pedals and within the toe straps. These are actually Wynwood type attachments that work on top of the SPD pedals. I bought them off of the Performancebike.com website. Just remember to keep the cadence low. Another option is buddybike.com. The owner of the patent is a parent of an autistic child and founder of The Victory School. The bike is an interesting concept and I have ridden one of the buddy bikes at The Victory School´s field day. Feel free to contact me at anytime if you want to talk more. Good luck!!!!!
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Old 05-01-06, 09:55 PM
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We just bought a Buddy Bike for my 10 year old son who is hypotonic. He's fine on his own recumbant trike but when I tried him on a trail a bike he was much amused when he could wag the dog so to speak. The Buddy Bike has been great so far and he loves it. I have had to switch out the pedals for ones with clips as my son was having issues keeping his feet on the pedals. There is a discount provided for children with special needs. I just posted my own thread with photos if you are interested.
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Old 05-02-06, 03:03 AM
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The buddybike looks like the way to go certainly. Anyone know of one in the Washington DC area that we could try out?
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Old 05-02-06, 09:03 AM
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If you get a Tandem, I suggest getting a frame size with a stoker position low enough that she can pedal without using a child-stoker-kit. If you put her up on a tall frame with a child stoker kit, her side-to-side movements will have alot more adverse effect on the handling.
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Old 05-02-06, 05:52 PM
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Ben There - Thanks for the advice. We have found one (with a child stoker kit) to test drive and we'll see how hard it is to control. Would like to test drive both configurations (and a Buddy Bike) before we decide.

Thanks to everyone for all the advice (here and in private messages) I'll post agin here in a few weeks and let everyone know how the test drives go.
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Old 06-03-06, 03:18 PM
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Thought I would post an update. Here is a picture of my daughter and I on the BuddyBike that we bought for here. She loves it! She doesn't pedal much, but will for a bit at the beginning, then puts her feet up on the foot rests. After a while she will give a shot again. Two problems riding we her this way - sometimes she will hold her feet at about the 9 o'clock position and let the pedals hit her feet as she tries to get in snych for peddling again, no big deal, but does make it a bit of challenge when going slow/uphill. Also when she is feeling devious (often) she will "ride" the pedals, making me life her whole weight on my downstroke while she rides the opposite pedal on the upstroke. At least I get my workout in -
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Old 06-04-06, 12:08 PM
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How about one of those semi-recumbent tandems, with the upright captain? It seems like she'd have a lot less influence on balance sitting down low like that. Plus, she'd have a front-row seat. I have no experience with them, but that was the first thing that jumped in my mind.

http://www.bilenky.com/viewpnt.html
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Old 06-04-06, 05:31 PM
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Have ridden the old Counterpoint-style tandem, both as stoker and pilot. Agree with waterrockets, it could be a better solution than the BuddyBike, which she again will outgrow in a few years.
Have ridden with 'less-abled' folks on tandems and it is a most gratifying experience.
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Old 06-04-06, 07:03 PM
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The counterpoint-style looks good, we will keep that in mind. She definately will outgrow the buddy-bike, but for now it is good solution - the proximity allows me to watch her closely and make manual adjustments to her position (flip the foot pegs down, adjust her foot on the pedal, etc) At this point she would be dangerous on a counter-point because she would stand up in the seat, hang off the edge, etc. The main thing from my point of view is that she is having a blast and is safe - when she gets a little better, we'll look at a counter-point. Thanks everyone for the advice.
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Old 06-17-06, 09:22 PM
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I've recently installed new tires with a street tread pattern tires on our Buddy Bike and it has helped handling and made pedalling easier. The trick is finding a tire with a similiar sidewall height. Our local bike store found a Specialized tire that would go to 80 psi that has worked well.

On the pedalling issue, the pedals with cages have made a world of difference and my son is officially in charge of getting us moving. I think you also might try to raise the seat height for your daughter.

Here is a photo of our Buddy Bike.
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Old 06-18-06, 05:15 AM
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Wannaride,

We may raise the seat a little, but can't much, her feet are on the foot rests in the picture not on the pedals. We tried cages, but she kicks out of them and then they bump on the ground because her pedals are so low. I think I will try "clipless" pedals though that should do it.

She really loves it though.

Thanks for the post
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