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Joined the club, need tips on starting

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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

Joined the club, need tips on starting

Old 01-17-21, 07:10 PM
  #1  
Barry2 
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Joined the club, need tips on starting

I ride a road bike (3,500 miles last year)
Wife rides a comfort bike occasionally.
Problem has been that joint rides tend to be way slow due to our differing abilities.
We were wondering if a tandem might be a solution, but were put off by the prices.

Today I spotted a Cannondale Tandem locally for $300. Now I've spent more than that on a bad meal.

So home it goes.
I removed the ugly battered and torn paint protection film and underneath was a very nice 1994 MT3000... Score (I think).

Had several failures-to-launch, but did get rolling once.
Any tips or tricks to easy the wobbles when starting out?

Thanks

Barry
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Old 01-17-21, 07:46 PM
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PaulGrun
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Oh my - you're going to get a boatload of advice on this one, and most of it is all different. :-) So let me start the ball rolling by describing what works for us.
To start, I am 5'11" and 220 lbs, and my lovely stoker is 5'3" and 120 lbs. It's quite simple for me to hold us upright. What works for us is that she stays clipped in *always* unclipping only when she's getting off the bike. When starting out, I clip in with one foot, and backpedal until that foot is at the top of the stroke. Then I simply push off. We're both pushing down on that pedal, and we're off. It's a simple matter after that for me to clip in the other foot. The advantage to this scheme, for us, is that she is providing power right from the get go to get help get us moving quickly.
That's what works for us.
What works for you might partly depend on the disparity of weight between the two of you, and whether she's comfortable/trusting enough to stay clipped in all the time.
I know many, many couples who do it very different. For those teams, they both put one foot down, and when it's time to take off, they recite some variation on "one two three GO", and they're off.
At the end of the day, there simply is no 'right way', there's only the way that works for you.
But please trust me when I say that, with a little bit of practice and a little more time on the pedals, those wobbles WILL go away and you'll find yourselves riding together smoothly and effortlessly and marveling at the pleasures that only working together as a team on a tandem can bring.
Good luck!
ps - nice score on the Cannondale! Those are mighty fine bikes.
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Old 01-17-21, 07:48 PM
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merlinextraligh
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Originally Posted by Barry2 View Post
I ride a road bike (3,500 miles last year)
Wife rides a comfort bike occasionally.
Problem has been that joint rides tend to be way slow due to our differing abilities.
We were wondering if a tandem might be a solution, but were put off by the prices.

Today I spotted a Cannondale Tandem locally for $300. Now I've spent more than that on a bad meal.

So home it goes.
I removed the ugly battered and torn paint protection film and underneath was a very nice 1994 MT3000... Score (I think).

Had several failures-to-launch, but did get rolling once.
Any tips or tricks to easy the wobbles when starting out?

Thanks

Barry

theres the proper method:
The Proper Method

While I hate the name, it works for us. Captain balances the bike with both feet on the ground. Stoker puts both feet on the pedals. Then Captain puts
one foot on a pedal and gives a power stroke, and off you go.

It works for us, and we use it in critical situations, ie starting on a steep hill, or needing a quick start in traffic. But we also can start with both of us off the saddle and one foot on.

So its what works for your team and the situation, with no one approach proper

Last edited by merlinextraligh; 01-17-21 at 07:52 PM.
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Old 01-18-21, 08:43 AM
  #4  
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Welcome to the clan! We had the same situation with very different abilities, now these many years later she considers herself a full-on cyclist. I hope you experience is similar to ours. Care for her and make sure everyone is having fun. Distance and speed will come in time. We are preparing for a ride down the west coast this summer from San Fran to San Diego.
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Old 01-18-21, 11:12 AM
  #5  
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I second, third, and fourth the methods already described. Stoker is clipped in, captain has one foot clipped and is ready for a downstroke and the other is on the ground.

Couple of other thoughts:
1) As a captain I use Shimano SPD soft tread mountain bike/touring shoes when I'm on the tandem. The SPD is a small cleat and the cleat is recessed into the shoe. This means I have normal 'shoe' traction when pushing off. (instead of my other shoes with Campy/Look/Shimano large cleats that are in contact with the ground when I start)
2) I usually count down 3-2-1 when we start. Gives the stoker the chance to get balanced and ready
3) when practicing you might want to find somewhere with a slight downhill decline instead of a flat or uphill. Helps get the method down more easily
4) practice starting in different gears. Something too low and you are 150 rpm with little resistance. Something too high and you are 30 rpm and falling over because you can't pedal without leaning the bike. On the tandem I am usually in a much lower gear starting than I am on my single.
5) *PERHAPS* try your starts and stops on a grass/manicured lawn type scenario. the softer ground makes balance a little easier and falling less painful. I had the opportunity to be at the olympic training center for a cycling week and we spent a couple of hours in a grass field. We were practicing what happens when bike wheels touch and how to safely overcome the tendency to crash. Yes, I fell, many times, but my body didn't have gravel embedded into it and my bike was no worse than it started.
6) KNOW that it is possible and that your team just has to find the way that works for you. Don't get frustrated that you can't do it, just take the time to practice with the knowledge that you can have success.

Other suggestions are more extreme - a fork with more trail to decrease sensitivity, a smaller bike that is easier to handle, different handle bars or bar positions for the captain, etc. Or, for most extreme, get a davinci with the independent coasting system so the stoker can pedal during starts and the captain can just concentrate on steering/balancing and getting clipped in.

good luck!
simon

Last edited by sdodd; 01-18-21 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 01-18-21, 12:42 PM
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1. Load up the stoker.
2. Slight incline.
3. Count down, stoker gets the speed on (Atomic Batteries to power, Turbines to Speed)
4. Clips... Hell no. Not yet.

We'll give it a go. It's like learning to bike all over again. Except they don't make training wheels in my size!

Thanks all

Barry
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Old 01-18-21, 01:14 PM
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Let us know how it goes!

And after you get the starting and stopping down, you can practice your track stands... =P (Joking, my stoker would kill me if I even tried)
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Old 01-18-21, 10:23 PM
  #8  
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I tried riding in the stoker position one time...it didn't go well. We couldn't keep a straight line. I figure it was an issue with me in the stoker position.

We started on a tandem but my wife rides a single now. When she rides her single there is hardly any side to side movement of the bike even when she is out of the saddle. Basically I think the stoker needs to focus on staying steady a lot more on the tandem than the captain (no scientific basis for this statement). If they are swinging the bike or steering the bike it responds.

It's a delicate thing to tell someone who has no control that they need to stop moving and trust. I know I couldn't when I was sitting in the back seat.
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Old 01-18-21, 11:07 PM
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On our Santana:

I'll straddle the bike and hold it steady, she then straddles her end.
We both engage our left feet in the SPD pedals, and I'll call out "power", which basically just means move the pedals into the forward position.
Then "pedal!", we push down on the left pedal to get rolling, and if one of us needs the cranks to stop for a second to get the right foot in, we speak up.
Never fell over or anything, even when we were newbs.

We're aware of the idea of her being fully seated and attached while I hold the bike up, but our way seems more natural to us, and more like a team effort.
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Old 01-19-21, 02:49 AM
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https://www.precisiontandems.com/artpropermethod.htm
Here you go! Score!👍

https://www.precisiontandems.com/bra...2015_quint.MOV
VIDEO OF QUINT - LOAD UP AND ROLL!

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Old 01-19-21, 10:39 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by Barry2 View Post
4. Clips... Hell no. Not yet.
Barry
My stoker (wife) was of the same point of view. Until we were in the LBS buying some riding shoes for her, and another couple who ride a tandem told her the same thing that I had been saying: being clipped in means that you will not get smacked by the crank arm because your feet will not slip off the pedals. Or even worse, slip off and hit the ground.

We bought the Shimano dual sided pedals which have a platform on one side and an SPD mountain bike clip on the other. After riding with them once or twice, she would never ride on the platform side. We replaced pedals those with some nice Ritchey single sided pedals that are compatible with the SPD cleats. The Shimano pedals are a good place to start.
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Old 01-19-21, 10:45 AM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by DangerousDanR View Post
We bought the Shimano dual sided pedals which have a platform on one side and an SPD mountain bike clip on the other. After riding with them once or twice, she would never ride on the platform side. We replaced pedals those with some nice Ritchey single sided pedals that are compatible with the SPD cleats.
I've ridden "clips" since you had to reach down and release the leather strap on each foot. I feel unsafe if not clipped into a bike.
But this tandem thing is a whole new level of uncomfortable.
We will get there, likely with dual sided SPD. I already have the shoes and can walk in them after the upcoming argument.

Barry
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Old 01-19-21, 05:56 PM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by Barry2 View Post
I've ridden "clips" since you had to reach down and release the leather strap on each foot. I feel unsafe if not clipped into a bike.
But this tandem thing is a whole new level of uncomfortable.
We will get there, likely with dual sided SPD. I already have the shoes and can walk in them after the upcoming argument.

Barry
We started for the first number of months with flat pedals and then moved to clip-less. My wife/stoker used Frogs which have very little tension and I use SPD Shimano's flat on one side and clip-less on the other. Sometimes we are riding in tricky situations and I'll clip out and ride on the flat for that little part.
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Old 01-19-21, 06:22 PM
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We started with our e tandem without the cranks locked together.Plus she had not ridden a bike in 40 years and she is blind. we rode it down hill to a parking lot that was empty (pandemic helped) and road around in big circles for about 2 miles starting and stopping and turning. I use big Platform peddles with spikes so no need for clips. but with the extra power from the motor it is easy to overpeddle or have the power too high and throw the chain off. lots of learning for sure.
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Old 01-20-21, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by act0fgod View Post
I tried riding in the stoker position one time...it didn't go well. We couldn't keep a straight line. I figure it was an issue with me in the stoker position.
Basically I think the stoker needs to focus on staying steady a lot more on the tandem than the captain (no scientific basis for this statement). If they are swinging the bike or steering the bike it responds.
This is a very, very good point, and I think often overlooked. It really does take a special mindset to be able to be a tandem stoker. It requires emotionally setting aside the idea that someone else is steering, and that means resisting the urge to try to twist the handlebars or muscle the bike around ... even subconsciously. It really requires just, 'letting go'. That maybe from whence comes the 'wobbling' you described.
One thing to try is to ask the stoker to rest just her fingertips on the handlebars. (That will also work especially well when you get to the point of climbing together out of the saddle.)
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Old 01-20-21, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by PaulGrun View Post
This is a very, very good point, and I think often overlooked. It really does take a special mindset to be able to be a tandem stoker. It requires emotionally setting aside the idea that someone else is steering, and that means resisting the urge to try to twist the handlebars or muscle the bike around ... even subconsciously. It really requires just, 'letting go'. That maybe from whence comes the 'wobbling' you described.
One thing to try is to ask the stoker to rest just her fingertips on the handlebars. (That will also work especially well when you get to the point of climbing together out of the saddle.)
my blind wife had no problem with this she felt the turns now and stops.
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Old 01-21-21, 12:46 AM
  #17  
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The “Proper Method” was more important in the days of clips and straps. If the stoker did not clip both feet in before starting she would have to get the loose foot into a moving pedal. Easy if she rode track but ...
if the captain had to stop pedaling so she could get her foot in, it would quickly become obvious that it would be easier to just have her get both feet in before starting.

if you are using clipless, or no cleats at all, it probably doesn’t matter how you start.

And yes, you can do a trackstand. Not long, but long enough to do a full legal stop at a 4-way while right of way gets figured out.
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