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mooncricket 02-18-09 08:40 AM

Have You (pilot) Ridden the Tandem Solo?
If yes, how much faster/slower were you compare to when you rode with your stoker (on your usual route)?

PMK's how fast thread got me wondering... :)

When we ride, my stoker always claims that she put in over half of the energy to get us from A to B. Though, of course, since we have ICS, I have often caught her eating: ie. peeling oranges, chomping on apples, munching on whatever (carrot sticks, raisins, grapes, etc). I rarely eat while in the saddle, and I don't mind her doing so, but her claim had me rofl :))

Anyhow, our usual time for our ride is 3 hrs.

One day, I had the chance to ride the tandem solo on the same route. My time 1hr 30 min.

We had a good laugh over that, and now she brings only one pocketful of fruits instead of two.

rishardh 02-18-09 09:40 AM

I ride it solo whenever I swap components or do adjustments. I dont do a full ride though since it's only a test ride. I guess this does not count but I am definitely faster going solo. I noticed that the tandem handles totally different without the stoker. Very twitchy. Once I even stopped and checked the stem/handlebar clamp to make sure it's straight.

merlinextraligh 02-18-09 09:53 AM

On flat ground, I can't imagine that a tandem would be slower sans stoker, if the stoker is putting out any power at all, and is in even a slightly aero position.

The amount of aerodynamic drag added by the stoker isn't that much, and it wouldn't take much power output at all to overcome that.

Now going uphill you could be slower with a stoker if the stoker's w/kg resulted in a team w/kg that was lower than the captain's.

sch 02-18-09 10:07 AM

Well, FWIW, I posted about an adventure last June where I, stoker, hopped off the
back of the bike at a rest stop, pilot didn't notice I was gone for about 3miles which
included some moderate rollers and a long flat.
Lots of implications there, which I have carefully avoided working out.

rosiewoodboat 02-18-09 10:49 AM

I regularly pilot our Burley Duet sans stoker 10 miles to pick up my wife from her shop. I find it very enjoyable and relaxing, and also gives me time to bond with the cycle in ways that might annoy my stoker such as experimenting to find the limits of cross-chaining, etc.

I don't really find it to be significantly slower than say my 1990 Miyata 1000 LT, and I'm about 30% slower than riding with my stoker.

The only caveat is that I must be much more careful to not pedal strike the stoker pedal; riding sans stoker I tend to pedal through corners as I do (must!) on when riding fixed....

wobblyoldgeezer 02-18-09 11:06 AM

Used to ride my daughter to school on the tandem (not far) and ride back solo, ride it solo to pick her up and ride back with her. (That was back in my self-employed freelance days, on days when I wasn't out with clients). Speed was normally about the same, but that was when she was young.

With spouse or now older and stronger kids, there's no comparison - much faster with the full complement of pedallers.

But - spouse and I used to regularly ride the UK's biggest organised bike ride, London to Brighton, about 60 miles, on the tandem. Again, quicker on the tandem than the times we did it on singles - except for the final climb, a hill called Ditching Beacon. Spouse used to hop off and walk it, and I used to spin up it solo. It was steep, she didn't like it, and it was easier at less than 8 mph to ride solo than to use the extra upper body strength to keep 2 people balanced at low speed.

(Plus it gave me many opportunities for merciless teasing)

zonatandem 02-18-09 11:37 AM

Being a freelance writers we get to test many brands/types of tandems.
Captain would always ride the new steed solo to check out its idiosyncracies; ride the tandem full tilt and hit brakes, see how it behaved up/downhill, etc. Only after that would stoker get on (smart woman!).
Have ridden our tandem(s) solo many times.
Longest distance was 40 miles. We were doing a century event in New Mexico with loads of hillwork. Weather took a fast turn for the worst with dark/low scudding clouds and high wind. Had neglected to bring raingear and stoker was not looking forward to getting wet and chilled to the bone in the mountains. So suggested she'd get in the sag wagon with 40 miles to go, while pilot pedaled on.
Stomped on it for the 40 miles and did finish without getting soaked.
Can pedal our tandem as well without stoker; nice to have all the extra gearing in the mountains as my single is not geared as low. But do miss my stoker's pedal input!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

rmac 02-18-09 12:12 PM

My stoker had to leave early on a large, supported, multi-city tour. Therefore, I had to ride the tandem 55 miles back to the starting city without her. I averaged about 2 mph faster and 3 cpm (comments per mile). I push a lot harder riding solo than together. After getting used to the handling, the tandem was very stable. The ride was very flat so I don't know the effect of the heavy tandem on climbing. I think my stoker's contribution would overcome the added weight and I would be pushing harder on a climb.

ftsoft 02-18-09 01:50 PM


Originally Posted by rishardh (Post 8381916)
I ride it solo whenever I swap components or do adjustments. I dont do a full ride though since it's only a test ride. I guess this does not count but I am definitely faster going solo. I noticed that the tandem handles totally different without the stoker. Very twitchy. Once I even stopped and checked the stem/handlebar clamp to make sure it's straight.

I've noticed this as well with our Co-Motion. I stopped and checked the first time. I can't recall this being the case with our old Motobecane, but it was a lot heavier.

mooncricket 02-18-09 08:05 PM

After a month touring on the tandem, I thought my single road bike had something amiss as well and stopped several times to check :)

I wonder if it's much harder to guess/gauge the stoker's output when riding ICS than it is when riding a regular tandem (I've never ridden a regular tandem).

So far, ICS has been good for us since she's not interested in being a serious cyclist. She enjoys being outside, taking in the view, and working up an appetite. All fine with me, I enjoy our time together.

One thing though, I find that I get saddle sore more often on the tandem. Not enough time standing up.

zonatandem 02-18-09 11:11 PM

Whenever riding a tandem solo, the first 100 feet can feel a bit wobbly/light, then pilot gets into the rhythm and all is fine.
A few times hopping on my single I end up communicating with a non-existing stoker . . . usually end up smiling.
Of course do get the occasional "hey, you lost somebody" comment when riding our twicer solo.
We actually had a guy in town a few years ago that rigged up an old tandem with solar panels on back instead of a stoker . . . worked just fine. Now that's innovative!

djembob02 02-19-09 01:14 AM

I ride my triplet solo about 3 times per week, when picking up our daughter from school (only 2 miles away). When we first got the triplet, I actually used to ride it solo on some group rides. At that time, my only other bike was a far inferior 20 year old Sears road bike. Riding a 60 lb bike on the hills sure got me into shape fast. Admittedly, I might be a little crazy, but it was fun and it actually didn't take long before I was right in with the group.

On this year's MS150, my stokers decided they needed a break and decided to SAG for about 10 miles. I was feeling just fine so I rode solo. Those were the easiest 10 miles of the trip for me even though it was the hilliest section.

Regarding speed, my rear stoker (spouse) is considerably less fit than me. She is thin, but not very active. My daughter (7) is my middle stoker. She is beginning to help me when I specifically ask, but generally just lets me push her feet around. Speeds are based on our experiences in group rides in the area. Plenty of moderate hills.
All 3 of us: 15 mph
Me and daughter: 17 mph
Solo on triplet: 18-19

stapfam 02-20-09 04:27 PM

Never really thought about speed on the Tandem- but I am the stoker. I occasionally take the T to the LBS and ride it solo for the 20 miles round trip. Only place it feels heavy is up the 10% slopes. No slower but it does feel heavy.

And the best comment I had from the Pilot when he rode it solo back from the LBS one day- He missed the turbo coming in on the hills.

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