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So why do tandems proverbially climb slower ?(22 posts)

So why do tandems proverbially climb slower ?AllUpHill
Sep 30, 2003 7:26 PM
That is, supposedly slower than the individual riders would climb? I've never ridden a tandem -- maybe that's obvious from the question.

More bike weight per person? doubt that's it. What, they're usually 25 lbs per person at most? That's not enough to explain it.

Hard to synchronize your power when standing?

Effort sharing problems, as in one of the riders is inadvertantly (or intentionally :-) slacking off, putting a larger load on their partner?

On a side note, I've looked at the custom 5-person tandems on the santana website, and wondered what kind of peak speed you'd see if you got the 5 fastest sprinters in the business out on a long flat. Any guesses?
re: So why do tandems proverbially climb slower ?wily in pacifica
Sep 30, 2003 9:19 PM
There are a few reasons that tandems might seem like they climb slower. I am in a tandem club and a majority of the couples are married couple or boyfriend/girlfriend couples.
One of the reasons that tandems might seem to climb slower is that usually one of the pair is an avid cyclist and the other only rides on the tandem. If you looked at the speed of the avid cyclist while riding the tandem then more than likely he/she would be climbing slower. However, the non avid cyclist would probably be climbing faster then they usually do.
In general, tandems climb at an average of the two cyclists.
Another reason is that one rider may have a different climbing style compared to thier partner. Since they both must pedal the same cadence one may not be as effective as the other while on the tandem, whereas, on thier own they may be just as capable a climber.
An additional reason is coordination.
As the captain on tandems, with many different stokers, I can tell you it is a handful when both riders stand and crank up a hill. So a majority of tandem teams will sit down and spin up a hill rather than attack it. Especially since one of them is likely not an avid cyclist and is just out to have a nice ride.

As far as five guys on a tandem, belive me it will be a handfull and would take quite a bit of practice to feel comfortable. I have a triplet and when you get three guys on it it can be a handful. It handles much better once you get it up to speed and is a bit hairy at slower speeds. You would also want to get 3-5 guys that ride similarly, especially if you have five and want to really move. Most folks who have longer tandems got them for their families and not to see how fast they can get them to go. It would be scarey as hell to get a triplet up to speed on a downhill then have to come to a quick stop. Plus it would take a captain with a lot of experience and a couple of fearless stokers.

Willy in Pacifica
Excellent Reply - you hit all the points (nm)GeoCyclist
Oct 1, 2003 3:58 AM
With the right pair, It's sometimes hard to hang onbimini
Oct 1, 2003 4:51 AM
Even though I don't ride a tandem I have been in pacelines lead by tandems many times. All the above is true. It depends on who is on the tandem.

If the right pair of cyclist is on the tandem, they are tough to stay up with, even on hills.

The fastest paceline I have ever been in was led by two tandems, both with a pair of racing cyclist that clearly worked together regularly. We covered 30 miles in less than an hour in the flats with a cross wind. When we hit the hills, the speeds did not drop much. It was tough to hang on during the steep climbs. I finally got dropped, total spent, at the 5th or 6th significant hill.
re: So why do tandems proverbially climb slower ?Ironbutt
Oct 1, 2003 8:15 AM
A few years ago my wife and I borrowed a tandem from one of our club members. It fit her pretty well, but was too small for me. As we have radically different cycling styles, we were not sure about our compatability on the tandem. We never did achieve unity on the thing, but when we were on it we easily cruised at 22 mph, which is way faster than she could do on her single. The longest ride that we did together was a metric century, and while we were still friendly after the ride, she wanted to know how soon we could return the tandem to it's owner. I took the hint. There are a couple of tandem couples in our cycling club, and they can easily outrun all but the very fastest riders on singles. And if the distance is over 50 miles, those racers had better hang on, they are going for the ride of thier lives!
It doesn't feel like the 2nd rider doubles the power.dzrider
Oct 1, 2003 5:00 AM
I've ridden a tandem with experienced riders who were able to vary our styles to work well together. We were not able to stay with riders on climbs that either of us could stay with as single riders. On flats and rollers the aerodynamics are better than 2 single bikes and there is much less wheel resistance so using the added power to increase rolling speed from 18 to 24 mph and keep it there is way easier than on a single bike.

Once we'd start a hard climb, it felt like the added weight made way more difference than the added power. We became much like a fit, strong, 320 pound rider. We could roll like hell, but never climb with the lightweights.
I love tandems!DougSloan
Oct 1, 2003 6:36 AM
I have blasted through a few double centuries sucking tandem wheels (like 27 mph on the flats). Best thing about them is that they are courteous enough to slow down on the hills, too, so that overall we can ride together. You best be ready to jam at the summit, though...

I love tandems!wily in pacifica
Oct 1, 2003 7:19 AM
Since a lot of time we slow down on the uphills a lot of riders will pass us going up. One clue to the singles... Never pass a tandem at the top of a nice downhill. Just wait a second and jump n the back. Not only will you get a great ride down but then the tandem does not have to worry about blowing you off the road as they go buy.

Another reason two fit cyclist might not climb as well as a similarly fit single rider is that the tandem riders do not know how hard their partner is working. You need good comunication between the two to know if your partner wants to, or can, go a bit faster or harder. As a single rider you know in your head if you have anything in reserve.

Here is a picture of my team on the triplet.

Willy in Pacifica
I love tandems!wily in pacifica
Oct 1, 2003 7:23 AM
Another picture two years later. Picked the girls up from school and ride to the beach for ice cream.

The gang from Pacifica
Ever drive a stretch limo?Starliner
Oct 1, 2003 8:27 AM
That's got to be the cutest picture I've ever seen on this site. It's such a looong way back to the rear derailleur - how much of a hassle is it to keep it tuned up? And keep the chains on? No lightweight wheels, no wimpy brakes for this kind of rig -
Ever drive a stretch limo?wily in pacifica
Oct 1, 2003 10:04 AM
The Triplet has two EBB's to keep the timing chains tight but the front der is on the last seat tube so not much difference from a single bike. Just all of the cables are longer. We have 32mm tires and if they are slightly underinflated it gives a VERY smooth ride. Plus, if you hit a dip I feel it in the front but it takes a while before the rear wheel hits it and since it is 6-7 feet back it barely registers.

I use to ride it with Jaci (now 6) on the rear and Gabi (now 3.5) in the rear seat on the rack. I had a problem with Jaci pulling her shoe out of the toe clip so now when we ride a long ride she wears her soccor cleats which works like the old bike cleats. Plus they are black and look like little Nike bike cleats.

It has 48 spoke wheels front and rear and a canti rim brake on each. Plus it has a drom/drag brake on the rear for long steep downhills but we havent' tried getting up any yet.

When Jaci was 4 she would ride 40 miles no sweat on the back of my tandem and we have hit 45 MPH in the right places. Now all three of us are riding along Canada Road in Woodside. It ends up being about 16-20 miles and they are fine and willing to go further. Great workout for me since I am basically riding a 130-140 pound bike. Jaci does help by standing on the hills. They both now have the Camelbak Steeters which are 35oz and if you fill them with Gatorade they will drink plenty. But then you have to be sure you are near the occasional bathroom. We are powered by Tootsie Power. Nothing gets them going more than the promise of a Tootsie Pop. We sing songs and on downhills they yell "Bombs Away"

Here s a picture of us on the old tandem after doing the Paradise Loop in Marin with the Tri Club.

Willy in Pacifica
Oct 1, 2003 11:55 AM
all your tandems're set up with kidback and extra pair of cranks. I end up setting up mine with front drive and I prefer it this way.

The draw back every time you adjust tention you need to move front der; need chain guide half way btw cranks and rear. And yes, it takes longer to adjust shifting. The advantage no extra cranks, I can move kidback adapter lower down when need and all combos from 52x32 to 30x11 can be used.

CP (in MD :)
Oct 1, 2003 9:58 AM
They actually contribute any power on that thing? Or, is the idea simply to give them something to do? (Serious question, actually, as I have a 1 yr old and another on the way.)

power?wily in pacifica
Oct 1, 2003 10:12 AM
When Jaci (now 6) and I started to ride when she was 3.5 she was just along for the ride but she is required to pedal with me since we are all linked up by the chains. One day we were climbing out of Sausilito toward the Golden Gate Bridge on a club ride when I felt a little wiggle in the rear. On a tandem any movement by the stoker will be felt by the captain. I asked her what she was doing and she said she was standing up to help me up the hill. Well you should have seen the smile on my face. Now if I ask her for help on a hill I can feel her kick in and I think she can almost carry her own weight.
Ive never figured it out, but theres some reason why they donthuez
Oct 1, 2003 9:27 AM
climb as fast as a single. On flats its obvious they have a HUGE advantage, but up the climbs it seems like it should be about equal.... What is it?? If you get two fit climbers that can climb fast seated they should be able to hang right?? But they cant.

Cool picture by the way. Thats awesome they get picked up from school like that!
Inspiration for all us dads...biknben
Oct 1, 2003 9:47 AM
Unfortunately, my wife doesn't share my passion for bikes. A setup like yours is not in my future.

My near 4 YO is fine w/ traiing wheels and is experimenting without them. I daydream about getting her on the back of a tendem and doing rides together.

What are the ages of your little ones in that beach picture?
Inspiration for all us dads...wily in pacifica
Oct 1, 2003 10:18 AM
You don't need your wife to get a tandem to ride with your 4 year old. Actualy my wife rarely rides any more so I ride with my girls or with a blind frind of mine.

We just had girl #3, Lauren, 4 weeks ago so she will go on the rear rack in a year and I am already saving up for a S&S Quad

Willy in Pacifica
Ive never figured it out, but theres some reason why they donthuez
Oct 1, 2003 10:25 AM
climb as fast as a single. On flats its obvious they have a HUGE advantage, but up the climbs it seems like it should be about equal.... What is it?? If you get two fit climbers that can climb fast seated they should be able to hang right?? But they cant.

Cool picture by the way. Thats awesome they get picked up from school like that!
Ritchey Fan?peter in NVA
Oct 1, 2003 1:26 PM
I have the same shirt, plus 4 Ritcheys. Have any Ritchey stuff like his tandem?
Ritchey Fan?wily in pacifica
Oct 1, 2003 2:01 PM
I have a older Comp rigid MT bike and a SwissCross I use for commuting. He has not built tandems for quite a while so most of them will be older steel and mostly 26" MT type.

In the one picture with my wife and I wearing the Ritchey Jerseys there is actually another one on Jaci under her jacket. It is a Med which ends up going down to her feet and is long sleeve on her.

Jaci and I have a few matching jerseys. If I can find a small or extra small they work pretty good.

She and I also wear the same 2xs Giro Exodus helmet. I have two in silver and two in blue/green. I have been looking all over Ebay for another in either color for Gabi to wear. The pinhead sizes go fairly cheep.

Willy in Pacifica
Jerseypeter in NVA
Oct 1, 2003 3:16 PM
I've had that Jersey at least 7 years and its the most comfortable one I've ever had. I have an on old Ultra Mtb,
fillet brazed rigid P22, fillet brazed Road Classic, and the SwissCross. Spend most of my time on the cross but do some epic mtn rides on the P22. Probably never will get suspension.
they're less efficient..cyclopathic
Oct 1, 2003 9:53 AM
lack of synchronization makes them less efficient. More energy lost to counter bike/other rider. Even if you ride with a couple who can smoke you on climb, you'd know for sure that each of riders would have been faster on single.