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Pro - you stay together while you ride.

Con - both riders can't be in control of their bike.

My wife is 8 years younger and a very strong rider. We do much better on single bikes, especially since I got a rear view mirror. She didn't like not being able to handle her bike and rode leaning to the left to see over my shoulder which drove me nuts. She found steering and braking difficult when she captained.

We went back to single bikes and I ride a utility bike with bigger tires, racks, etc. to even the speed. I can also carry lots of stuff, which is handy. The mirror lets me see when I'm pulling away so I don't have to slow and wait which is very bad for her morale.

Our ultimate joy from the tandem was riding with our sons when they were younger. It was a fantastic experience on group rides and helped build closeness through shared effort and accomplishment. We haven't ridden ours in at least 7 years, but the memory of riding with the boys makes selling it unthinkable.
 

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Endorphin Junkie
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GaylePruitt said:
My husband, Ron, and I are considering a tandem to ride together. I would like to know what the pros and cons are for husbands and wives on a tandem. Also, I need advice on buying a tandem.
The saying goes that a tandem will take your relationship in whatever direction it is going, but faster. Another saying is, "Captain, keep thy stoker happy." A happy stoker likes to ride the tandem. An unhappy stoker would rather be on a single bike.

My ex and I had a tandem (no, it's not the reason we split), and we quickly found communication is absolutely essential for both to enjoy the ride. The captain has a better view of what is ahead, and the stoker can usually only see what is on the sides. The plus is that I saw a lot more wildlife, and interesting views. The downside is that what is going by beside you looks like it is going much faster that it does when you look ahead. Try looking out the side window of your car, vs. the windshield. The sensation of speed in the back is much faster. So, Captain, if your stoker asks you to slow down, don't take it as a critique of your bike handling skills. It can be a little scary back there with very little control. I made him promise to slow down if I asked, even if he thought everything was fine.

If one of you rides with a high cadence, and one rides with a low cadence, you need to decide in advance how your are going to deal with that. There are kits which permit different cadences, but I have never tried one. I believe it would make standing climbs difficult.

My ex and I were both fairly fit, but not racer-fast. We tended to average about a mile an hour faster on the tandem, and could ride further with less fatigue. We finished a century on the tandem once with a lot more energy than I normal finish one with. A tandem has the weight of two bikes and riders, but only a little more rolling resistance and wind drag than one bike. The simple physics is that you do less work than two individuals, unless those two are drafting in a paceline. Even then, the stoker is closer to the captain's wake than a following rider would be. A tandem generates one heck of a wake for those lucky enough to draft one.

I don't know if anyone sells a tandem with only rim brakes, but don't count on that unless you live in Florida or someplace equally flat. With rim brakes only, it is too easy to overheat your rims and blow off a tire. Disc brakes came along after we bought ours, but I wouldn't get anything without them now, at least not where I live.

Climbing in the standing position is easier if you go up one gear over what you might use alone. It's easier to stay smooth and in sync at a lower cadence. Practice in a parking lot with a slope to it. It took us about an hour to master it. At first, he had to announce a change to standing, but after a while, I was able to read his body. He tended to drop his left shoulder just a bit as he would start to stand. It's a little like dancing.

Although the captain should announce potholes, a suspension seatpost for the stoker takes care of a lot of bumps.

In the back, I was in charge of navigation and food. We would clip a cue sheet to his center back pocket with a small chip clip, so I would keep track of turns and tell him what to watch for. I would also unwrap energy bars and pass them forward. We considered our tandem the "party bike," and took it to many organized rides.

Loaded touring on a tandem has one drawback - you have the same pannier space as one rider. Pack light or get a trailer. We did two weeks in Germany with panniers, but stayed at inns to reduce the load.

That's all I can think of for now. Good luck!
Kathy :^)
 

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Resident Curmudgeon
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Great post by Lucky. Just a few things I'd like to add.

1. Tandems are hard on parts. Got something you think can't be broken? Hah!Put it on the tandem.

2. Parts for tandems are sometimes hard to find, although the internet has pretty much negated that.

3. Riding a tandem is a lot like driving a semi. They don't accelerate quickly, don't climb well, but once you get them up to speed you can really roll. Where it's flat, you have the power of 2 and essentially the wind resistance of 1.

4. Tandems can be difficult to store and transport.

5. I do not wish to sound negative here. Tandems are great fun! It's an ideal way to erase the disparity between two riders. Get one, but get a good one. You'll have a blast.
 

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new tandem owners...soon

we're getting a burley tosa soon (about a week) and can't wait. both myself and fiance ride...i'm a bit more fit and like to go faster, but she's picked up the sport well and i'm worried she may be a bit bored back there.

but she does like to take pictures so that'll be something and i've got a bike computer with cadence so hopefully that will help us keep in sync.

check out http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdisplay.php?f=44

tons of great tandem info.

john
 

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Incredibly slow
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Have you ridden one yet? Some bike rental shops have them, and while they might not be the best fit at least you would be able to determine whether or not the two of you are compatible with a tandem. Apart from the fact my wife can't ride at all, I know we couldn't co-exist on a tandem. On the other hand, I know a couple that have been riding a tandem over 10K miles/year for a few decades.
 

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Do you both have past experience as cyclists? Do you tend to work on the same project well together when joining forces to accomplish something? Good communication in general? If the answer is neutral to yes on these .. then you have a much better chance right-away.

I bought a 2005 Cannondal Road tandem last year for my GF and I. I really enjoy riding the tandem. My suggestion to to take a little time and try and find a good used tandem ... that way, if it doesn't work out, you aren't paying for the initial depreciation of the bike as if you had bought a new one. If you buy new, get a decent one.

Here is a site with LOTS of tandem specific information that helped me a LOT:

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tandem/index.html

Good luck!

P.S. There are some tandem specific forums and sub-forums available also that helped me tremendously.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
as you know, my ronnie is quite radical on the bike

woodcycl said:
Do you both have past experience as cyclists? Do you tend to work on the same project well together when joining forces to accomplish something? Good communication in general? If the answer is neutral to yes on these .. then you have a much better chance right-away.

I bought a 2005 Cannondal Road tandem last year for my GF and I. I really enjoy riding the tandem. My suggestion to to take a little time and try and find a good used tandem ... that way, if it doesn't work out, you aren't paying for the initial depreciation of the bike as if you had bought a new one. If you buy new, get a decent one.

Here is a site with LOTS of tandem specific information that helped me a LOT:

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tandem/index.html

Good luck!

P.S. There are some tandem specific forums and sub-forums available also that helped me tremendously.
my hubby rides quite a bit. he has even toyed with the idea of delivering pizzas on bicycles. he oves the bike that much. he would have quite an advantage over me. ow does that effect the equation.
 

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GaylePruitt said:
my hubby rides quite a bit. he has even toyed with the idea of delivering pizzas on bicycles. he loves the bike that much. he would have quite an advantage over me. How does that effect the equation?
I'm an avid cyclist and my wife is not; my fitness is much better than hers. We had a tandem on loan for about a year and we LOVED it. Lisa did suprisingly well as a stoker and didn't really have much trouble matching my cadence. She was, of course, producing much less power, but could certainly keep her feet going in circles with mine. And that's all I really cared about. We got along great riding together.

It was a mountain tandem with knobbies, but we could still manage a respectable clip on the MUT (where we mostly rode). I was stoked. She was stoked. We wanted to buy it, but didn't have the money, so it eventually went back to it's owner.

Fast forward a few years and we have money for a tandem, or a solo bike for her. We got the solo bike, and in some ways it's been a disaster. For us, the tandem was MUCH more fun to ride together and it saw more use than her solo bike does now.

We're currently saving for a tandem...

Hope this somehow helps.
 

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I don't know where y'all live, but find somewhere and rent a tandem for a day, even if it's a beach crusier type single speed with a coaster brake. Best to try one for $15-$40 then to blow $500-$10,000 on one then hate it and having to try to sell it.
 

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More tandem info here: http://hobbes.ucsd.edu/tandem/MemberLinks.html

Maybe you can find someone near you with a tandem who would let you take it for a spin, or take each of you out on it to see what it is like. We had friends with a tandem, and they let us borrow it for a ride. In the first 10 seconds, zipping down the driveway with no steering input, I almost asked to bail out. Then I got a grip on myself and enjoyed the ride. We bought a used one after that.

Kathy :^)
 

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I don't own a car and my tandem has been great for my girlfriend and I to get around town. I live on capitol hill in denver and rolling a few miles on it for a bite to eat is great. Its a cool old Schwinn Twinn Deluxe. Heads turn everywhere we go and we get big smiles from people in cars. (being on a bike, that took some getting used to)

She isn't near the cyclist I am but when we hop on it we do great together. We take it slow and ring the bell. She'd never like tandem riding on a road bike style rig but this is perfect. Its a fun bike and we have plenty of fun on it. Plus neither of us worry much for having a couple drinks and hopping on it. Yea not totaly legal but we won't kill anyone either.

Tandems are a love-hate situation. Other advice to rent one first is right on. Some will never like it, some will love it all the time. If you're thinking about going high end road style on it check out Paketa. PM me and i can hook you up with the guy that specializes in the custom tandems. Mag is perfect for a tandem frame. Light, strong and great dampening.
 

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I've done a lot of tandeming, and with only two exceptions, both guys with very different ideas on how to ride, I have had a lot of fun with every stoker I've taken out. It is a together thing, competitive riding is left at home, tandeming is social.

Common concern is all the stoker can see is the back of the captain. True only if the stokers neck doesn't move. Most of my guests have commented on how much more they see as stokers than on the solo bikes.

I tell my guests to just keep their feet moving, not to work or try to impress me with their strength, just try to be invisible on the pedals, so that when we have to climb, they have the power and energy ready to go.

Tandems get far more courtesy from autos than solo bikes

My late wife used to direct traffic from behind. She would turn and look at the cars, either motioning them to pass or not as the circumstances required. She was also a big help with merges and some other odd traffic situations.

On the road tandem, we needed electronic assistance in the form of a "Tandem Talk" to be able to communicate w/o shouting. For whatever reason the MTB tandem didn't need it, even while riding in traffic.
 

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Test Ride before you buy!!!

The best theme that has come out of all the posts is “Test Ride”. Test ride first, shop for a quality bike second, and buy used and save $$$. It is uncommon to find a couple that will be compatible on a tandem; the reason you don’t see lots of tandems out on the road, and why you can buy a nice used bike cheap. It takes a special individual to entrust total control of the bike to the captain. The cycling ability disparity between two riders is a minor issue compared to the trust factor. My wife and I have logged thousands of miles on our tandem both on road and off-road, and in several countries. We cycle in group rides and tour on our tandem. Fortunately my wife has no interest in piloting, and just enjoys stoking and checking out the scenery.

Most important rule of a Tandem team; “It is ALWAYS the captain’s fault”. Understanding this simple rule will resolve 99% of all issues.

Best of luck with your Test Ride!!!
 

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What CFBlue said re: Tandem Talk is an excellent suggestion. I'm a little hard of hearing, due to the fact that I've played in bands for 5 decades, and I'm also old enough to remember how the pyramids were erected. It's VERY annoying to always have to shout, (in my case usually saying, "WHAT??"). The tandem talk, or similar will nicely eliminate this aggravation.
 

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Summer of 2003 I saw a tandem recumbent of all things on the Cedar Lake
trail here in Minneapolis and it appeared that they had some sort of accident.
I was commuting home from my then-job at the time and came across this
behemoth lying on its side. I stopped to help.

Turns out that this was their first time riding it and the stoker was actually
visually impaired and this was the property of some sort of school or group
home, I didn't really figure it out but a roadie was helping bandage the stokers
arm which was bleeding due to the fall.

This thing was... HUGE. It had disc brakes fore and aft and they ended up
getting up and riding away and it seemed like it had a couple of things that
might have made it easier for communication: the stoker seat was slightly
elevated above the plane of the pilots' seat so the stoker could actually get
a view of the road ahead.

If I remember correctly it was a BikeE tandem - it must have weighed in the
60-75 pound range since I helped the roadie lift it up so the pilot and stoker
could remount.

The other thing - it was probably like riding a B-52 and both the pilot and stoker
had never ridden a recumbent before (and the stoker had never been on a bike
ever in his life!).

The size and oddness of the ungainly configuration though produced more stares
from passersby and other riders (and motorists) who glared at the thing with a
slightly awed look - might be fun to rent something like that but I can't imagine
finding a way to cart it around much less storing it.
 
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