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Tandem question...or two...(27 posts)

Tandem question...or two...Spinchick
Sep 18, 2001 6:25 AM
Okay let's just say Hubby decided he liked his Allegheny Highland trail ride so much that he wants to do it again and others as well. He's thinking a tandem would be a great way for us to ride together without him feeling like he's holding me back. Would I be the Stoker or Captain? Why and what are the differences in strength/skill level (if there are any)? And besides Calfee, what others make tandems (suitable for on and off road)? Finally, can you pull a tag-along or pull-behind cart on a tandem?
I'm the tandem answer man.MB1
Sep 18, 2001 6:35 AM
Usually the taller, heavier rider is in front but not always. Almost all tandems are built with a taller front position. If both riders are close to the same height switching positions is not a problem. (Some males have a problem giving up control to the little woman (surely not your guy!)). If possible the more experienced cyclist would be in front.

Santana is the largest US maufacturer but there are plenty to choose from. Cannondale, Burley, KHS, Co-Motion, Meridan and lots of others make nice tandems. Calfee is way top end, probably not a good choice for your first tandem.

Plan to spend slightly less than triple for a tandem to get the same quality as you would find in a single bike. In other words a $2500 tandem will be roughly equal to a $1000 single bike.

Check out Sheldon Browns web site for a good introduction to tandems without a sales pitch.

Yes you can pull a trailer behind most tandems.
I understand about the taller, heavier rider in frontSpinchick
Sep 18, 2001 6:44 AM
but is there a reason to have the more experienced rider in front (since this would not be the case with us)?
Sep 18, 2001 6:49 AM
There are more than twice as many decisions having to be made at any given moment on a tandem. When you come to a gravel strewn intersection at the top of a hill, with a semi-truck coming up behind and no shoulder for instance.
The captain is having to do some skilled maneuvering (for two people) while downshifting several gears and getting the pedals in the right position, etc., etc...
I think its incredibly valuable to the whole relationship to trade off frequently if both riders are close in skill level and strength.
Sep 18, 2001 6:52 AM
Well there are 30 pounds and 5 inches difference between us (he being both taller and heavier). Obviously the more we ride, the more experience he gets so we would probably stick to rail trails and towpaths until then. What about clipless vs straps? He is definetely not ready for clipless.
The fear factor. The stokers fear.MB1
Sep 18, 2001 6:53 AM
Tandems are different that singles, a good captain can stop a tandem faster than a single and always takes the stokers feelings into consideration in traffic and going down hills. An out of control captain ruins the ride for the stoker.

I am a much calmer rider on the tandem than I am on half bikes. Miss M appreciates it and really trusts me now. She often encourages me to go faster downhill for instance. When we first started riding tandems she was a little unsure of tandeming but not of my abilities.

Try to find a shop that rents or loans out tandems (they do exist) you may like it a lot. Lets see, today is the 18th, the 29th is 11 days away....just enough time to get one and ride it a few times before the NSA/OCE century.....
Hubby's longest ride this year is 20 miles.Spinchick
Sep 18, 2001 6:57 AM
He was cursing me on the way back from Ohiopyle that we chose to go "uphill" on the way back. I must have looked slightly incredulous at the thought of a 1% grade being uphill because he then said, "Uh, well, okay so I guess this isn't really considered a hill?" Think he's ready for a century???
There is a nice 13 mile route.MB1
Sep 18, 2001 7:01 AM
We rode about 30 miles on that trail and were bored spitless. Needed some hills to break it up.
Just when I'm getting warmed up it will be over. nmSpinchick
Sep 18, 2001 7:07 AM
Do the Metric or Half Century first.MB1
Sep 18, 2001 7:10 AM
Then ride with the family afterwards. It is a nice rural area with lots of roads and little traffic.

How tall are you and the ol'man?
Great idea! I'll be back early enough to pickSpinchick
Sep 18, 2001 7:53 AM
them up and still have time to make snowcones :-). I'll check into renting a tendem for that weekend. Otherwise we'll ride our half bikes.

He's 6'1" and I'm 5'6"
Blazing Saddles (now there is a name) in DC rents 'em.MB1
Sep 18, 2001 7:59 AM

looks like they have a fairly nice entry level Burley tandem available. Don't know anything about the company (Blazing Saddles that is) but I have seen a lot of their bikes around.
Thanks. Will check it out. nmSpinchick
Sep 18, 2001 8:03 AM
How do you transport one of these things? nmSpinchick
Sep 18, 2001 8:05 AM
We use a Mini van.MB1
Sep 18, 2001 8:11 AM
Pick up trucks are good too. If you take the front wheel off of a tandem you can usually carry them on trunk racks. Otherwise roof racks work well for tandems.
I'm another tandem answer man.MrCelloBoy
Sep 18, 2001 6:46 AM
MB has lots of good points.
I've ridden with a taller and heavier stoker and it IS a challenge. And we were on a heavy tandem! (In general the heavier the tandem the less you'll feel of the stoker.)
I'm 5'8' and she was 6'3".
Is that ride off road or on?
Another point, if you put the ol'man on the frontMB1
Sep 18, 2001 6:59 AM
don't be a back seat driver.

He is going to be nervous enough knowing you are a more experienced rider. Be supportive and encouraging. Trust me on this-no matter what he does tell him he is doing a good job and that you are enjoying it and that you trust him.

At least hold it until after you get off the bike.
No matter WHAT he does?Spinchick
Sep 18, 2001 7:03 AM
Well that settles it. He's going to have to ride in front since he's the ultimate back seat driver. Guess we'll have to leave the Little Stoker at home for the first few times out. Good idea about renting one though. Thanks for the tip.
Thats right. No matter WHAT!MB1
Sep 18, 2001 7:06 AM
Save it for the emergency room.
Uh, hmm. Alrighty then. nmSpinchick
Sep 18, 2001 7:08 AM
You ought to consider...MrCelloBoy
Sep 18, 2001 10:18 AM
DaVinci tandems with the independent pedaling option.
I haven't tried it but I think it can be a really interesting solution for tandem couples who are of diverse passion levels.
How would that work, exactly?Spinchick
Sep 18, 2001 10:33 AM
I like your wording "diverse passion levels."
Like this...MrCelloBoy
Sep 18, 2001 10:57 AM
Go to
They make a drivetrain that allows the riders to pedal and coast independently. So if hubby wants to relax for a bit and you want to crank up a long hill you can both be satisfied. You'll get a supreme workout while he eats candy.
The drivetrain can apparently provide a super-wide gear range while using fairly small chainrings.
If you're trying to train him to be Lance it's not going to help.
So, do you KNOW my husband? Relax and eat candy. yep nmSpinchick
Sep 18, 2001 11:00 AM
come buy mine in Durangoclub
Sep 18, 2001 10:13 AM
got a sweet singletrack-ready American Bicyle Mfg. for sale here for a grand, give or take, that's done about every ride in Durango and Moab and just smoked the White Rim. Med/Sm, Cooks cranks, Hugi tandem hub, IBC hydraulics, all good stuff. Too lazy to pack and ship it, haven't even advertised it, hoping to sell it locally. Take a fall vacation here, best riding time of the year with turning aspens. Bullets start flying second Sat in Oct, snow on the high peaks already.
Actually, in a perfect world, the stronger heavier rider is best stoking, but that seldom happens with hubby/wife teams. On the track, the stronger sprinter always gets the back seat, the rear is more rigid and is closer to the drive wheel is why.
I've seen a tandem pulling a tandem tagalong with...Lucky
Sep 19, 2001 5:01 AM
a trailer behind that. Mom, Dad and 4 kids. One big happy family; one veeerrrryyy long bike/choo-choo train. Not sure I'd recommend it, but it's been done. It's pretty common to see a tandem with either a trailer or tagalong at big bike events. Enjoy!

Kathy (stoker)
Wow 4 kids. I think I'd be riding by myself alot more :-) nmSpinchick
Sep 19, 2001 5:15 AM