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Tandem | Getting Started From a Stop Tutorial

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Tandem | Getting Started From a Stop Tutorial

Old 09-20-21, 08:01 AM
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Hypno Toad
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Tandem | Getting Started From a Stop Tutorial

As captain, I've found starting from a stop the most stressful part of managing a tandem. I found this great tutorial video (this YouTube channel has a lot of great tandem info/videos).


Anybody other tips or tricks you've found to have a successful start from stop?

I'd also be interested to hear what others have found challenging with a tandem ... captains or stockers

(if this thread is redundant .... sorry, I looked but didn't find one in the forum)

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Old 09-20-21, 08:06 AM
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my only probem is when I jsut stop and have to go right away and I dont have the peddle in position. like when a car stops for us when they ahve the right of way and I am just coming to a stop.
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Old 09-20-21, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by fooferdoggie View Post
my only probem is when I jsut stop and have to go right away and I dont have the peddle in position. like when a car stops for us when they ahve the right of way and I am just coming to a stop.
Totally agree, a quick stop-start is difficult!

Another thing I'm learning .... On a single bike, I'm typically good at remember to down shift coming into a stop .... and with the tandem, I'm learn to ALWAYS down shift before a stop.
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Old 09-20-21, 10:11 AM
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I know that video shows the usual recommended method, but we find it much easier to both stand over the bike, engage our left feet at 10:00, and go from there - after a ďready?Ē signal of course.
That stokerís saddle looks way low!
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Old 09-21-21, 12:43 PM
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My stoker is fairly small so she gets on and clips in while my feet are on the ground, then I start us off in a normal fashion with her boosting us forward. She stays clipped in when stopped at intersections, etc. It does require care and some muscle at times.

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Old 09-21-21, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by due ruote View Post
That stokerís saddle looks way low!
All the saddles look low. My knees hurt just watching that.
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Old 09-21-21, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Hypno Toad View Post
Totally agree, a quick stop-start is difficult!
Learning how to track stand is a plus. If you donít want to learn the whole track stand thing, learning how to very slow roll (like less than walking speed) is a good skill to have.

Another thing I'm learning .... On a single bike, I'm typically good at remember to down shift coming into a stop .... and with the tandem, I'm learn to ALWAYS down shift before a stop.
I seldom downshift on a single. When I rode with kids about a million years ago, I never downshifted but my stoker was only slightly heavier than a touring load. My recent reintroduction to tandem in on the other hand is with a stoker who weighs a bit more. I forget to downshift at my own peril.
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Old 09-21-21, 08:18 PM
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From the Wizard of all things bicycle.

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/tandem.html
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Old 09-21-21, 11:08 PM
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The Proper Method
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Old 09-22-21, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Learning how to track stand is a plus. If you donít want to learn the whole track stand thing, learning how to very slow roll (like less than walking speed) is a good skill to have.
Track stand a tandem ... ... My single track stand skills are shaky, and my stoker has no interest in track stands. That said, the slow roll is a great tool I've been happily using.
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Old 09-22-21, 05:40 PM
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The (ultra) slow roll is a great skill to have, and when you get it nailed, starting and stopping need not produce anymore stress on a tandem than they do on a single. Part of the problem (I think) is that the average team just does not get the hours in to really get these skills dialed in. We are a blind stoker, partially sighted captain team, and are 99% car free, so every weekday commute is on a tandem, plus errands, shopping, recreation. Adds up to quite a bit of time to make it all pretty instinctive.
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Old 09-23-21, 07:16 PM
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I think part of it is knowing what to expect. The tandem is heavier. It is larger. It will feel more unstable because in addition to those two things (more unwieldy), instead of getting going by yourself, two people need to be in sync. I could get my own bike going in my sleep. A tandem... requires effort (at least to me, though in my case it probably doesn't help that my stoker is taller and heavier than I am).

COMMUNICATION above all. This is especially important if one has a stoker with visual impairment, but also for anyone because there's too much coordination that needs to happen with tandeming to just assume you'll be thinking the same all the time (or, as a captain, to assume your stoker is looking at what you're doing and interpreting it correctly).
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Old 09-23-21, 09:16 PM
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We've always used the Proper Method. Both of us have clipless pedals and thus Stoker is always clipped in, unless we are stopping for a longer period of time. In that case. Captain puts both feet down and says, Down!. Stoker then also unclips and puts both feet down (or not, it's her choice.) To start, Captain says, "Pedal" and Stoker presents Captain's left pedal at 10:00 and Captain clips in to that pedal. If we've come to a quick stop, Captain will put the right foot down with the left pedal at 6 o'clock. To quickly restart, Captain can either yank the left pedal into position, or more nicely, say "Pedal", and then both riders bring the left pedal to 10:00.

Yes, not remembering to downshift during a sudden stop will bring a remonstrance from Stoker because in the Proper Method it's Stoker who moves the bike almost alone until Captain clips in the second pedal, and Captain had better hit the clip perfectly every time.

The wonderful thing about all this is that, unlike on a single bike, it's easy to start a tandem on a 10% grade, IF stupid Captain has remembered to shift all the way down before stopping. If that's impossible, both riders dismount and Stoker holds up the rear wheel while Captain downshifts. Then the start proceeds normally.

We both love riding the tandem, partly because of the teamwork necessary, and partly because the thing will really move if we push. Our very favoritest thing is descending rollers. Tandems rule on descending rollers.
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Old 09-23-21, 11:02 PM
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Iíve done blind stoker events a few times and prior experience is key. I think an average person who might ride a bike occasionally for fun will be fine. Theyíll just go along with it. Anyone who does MTB or other goofy riding will adapt fast. If your victim has never been on a bike or has roadie habits, it can be a problem. My most memorable was a guy who stopped pedaling at the bottom of each stroke. He had been a skateboarder, not sure if that was why. Another who was a former roadie did well with a briefing: we are going to start left foot on the ground, right pedal forward, crank and launch and get seated, Iíll call pedal or coast, etc

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Old 09-24-21, 06:32 AM
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Our team is on the heavy side and I am not comfortable stabilizing the bike with my tip-toes while sitting on the saddle. I straddle the bike with both feet firmly planted, My stoker gets clipped in and brings the left pedal to the 10 o'clock position, or if not, I will say "set me up". When we are are ready, I will say OK and wait for a response then bring my left foot to the pedal and release the brakes and we both push the pedals from the 10 o'clock to 6 position and stop pedaling. While this is going on I am raising myself up, positioning my aft end on the saddle and bringing my right foot to the pedal and we natural start pedaling then. It is quite disconcerting if the stoker doesn't stop pedaling at the bottom of that first stroke while I am hoisting my mass upward. Our method is not unlike most of what is describe above with the exception of the pedal stop at the 6 o'clock position.

There isn't just one way to start. I've observed many tandem teams start in different ways and they all seem to be successful. I surmise that the teams that don't have a successful staring method are the teams you never see.

(and yes, the video at top looks like the seats are way to low for those riders).
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Old 09-24-21, 09:22 AM
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It's funny, as a leftie I start with my right foot rather than left as you all do. Does putting your right foot down create issues with the side of the road and imperfections? I'm always inside from that.
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Old 09-27-21, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul J View Post
It's funny, as a leftie I start with my right foot rather than left as you all do. Does putting your right foot down create issues with the side of the road and imperfections? I'm always inside from that.
I'm happy both stoker and captain plant our right foot at a stop. I've never had a problem with bad footing, but I won't ride the gutter ... keeping far enough from the damaged shoulder to have good footing.
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Old 09-27-21, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul J View Post
It's funny, as a leftie I start with my right foot rather than left as you all do. Does putting your right foot down create issues with the side of the road and imperfections? I'm always inside from that.
as I righty I put my left foot down. I must be backwards.
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Old 09-27-21, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul J View Post
It's funny, as a leftie I start with my right foot rather than left as you all do. Does putting your right foot down create issues with the side of the road and imperfections? I'm always inside from that.
My wife starts with her right foot and I start with my left. It causes some minor issues during mounting but once we get rolling (and stopping), I put right foot down and she follows.

She starts with the right foot because she has ridden bikes that are far too big for her most of her life. When your legs are short and itís a long way down from the bike, putting your left foot down is on the uphill side of the road crown so itís a slightly shorter reach. Itís not something those of us who are fortunate enough to have properly fitting bikes have to worry about.
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Old 09-27-21, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul J View Post
It's funny, as a leftie I start with my right foot rather than left as you all do. Does putting your right foot down create issues with the side of the road and imperfections? I'm always inside from that.
I've been strictly a right-foot down person, both on the tandem and single bike, ever since a rider I knew had her left foot run over by a pickup truck while stopped at a light. And yes, one does have be be careful of the footing, and it's a bit of a PITA because the road to the right will always be a little lower. Still, it's a good thing to be leaning away from traffic.
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Old 09-27-21, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I've been strictly a right-foot down person, both on the tandem and single bike, ever since a rider I knew had her left foot run over by a pickup truck while stopped at a light. And yes, one does have be be careful of the footing, and it's a bit of a PITA because the road to the right will always be a little lower. Still, it's a good thing to be leaning away from traffic.
Sounding a bit like a broken record here, but I suspect the woman put down her left foot for the same reason my wife does. Itís due to riding bikes that are far too tall for them. I put down my right foot so that if I topple over, I fall away from traffic. My wifeís reasons are equally valid and due to a lifetime of ill fitting bikes.
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Old 09-27-21, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Sounding a bit like a broken record here, but I suspect the woman put down her left foot for the same reason my wife does. Itís due to riding bikes that are far too tall for them. I put down my right foot so that if I topple over, I fall away from traffic. My wifeís reasons are equally valid and due to a lifetime of ill fitting bikes.
There are quite a few right foot people, their reason being that the road crown makes it easier to right foot, which is very true regardless of bike fit.

I'm not completely in agreement with your reasoning about falling, though. I don't think we've ever fallen toward the down foot, though we have fallen away from the down foot several times. Perfection is very difficult. "Several times" out of maybe 100,000 stops isn't too bad, but it only takes once, which does terrify me to a certain extent. It eases my mind a bit that we try to never come to a stop with moving traffic beside us and falling away from the down foot only happens in that last instant as we come to a stop. We try to minimize risk, but it's always there.
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Old 09-27-21, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Alcanbrad View Post
Our team is on the heavy side and I am not comfortable stabilizing the bike with my tip-toes while sitting on the saddle. I straddle the bike with both feet firmly planted, My stoker gets clipped in and brings the left pedal to the 10 o'clock position, or if not, I will say "set me up". When we are are ready, I will say OK and wait for a response then bring my left foot to the pedal and release the brakes and we both push the pedals from the 10 o'clock to 6 position and stop pedaling. While this is going on I am raising myself up, positioning my aft end on the saddle and bringing my right foot to the pedal and we natural start pedaling then. It is quite disconcerting if the stoker doesn't stop pedaling at the bottom of that first stroke while I am hoisting my mass upward. Our method is not unlike most of what is describe above with the exception of the pedal stop at the 6 o'clock position.

There isn't just one way to start. I've observed many tandem teams start in different ways and they all seem to be successful. I surmise that the teams that don't have a successful staring method are the teams you never see.

(and yes, the video at top looks like the seats are way to low for those riders).
I'm not, either. I always have my saddle adjusted so I can't put both feet on the ground. This is absolutely no problem on my single bike, but on the tandem... I've yet to get used to feeling stable enough to start out standing like that. So my method is ridiculous: I hitch myself up to the saddle, but off to one side so I have one foot on the ground and the other on the pedal. Then I LEAN way over toward the pedal side so my weight is sort of evenly over the saddle. And off we go and I can then shift my weight fully onto the saddle. It looks super-ridiculous but it's what works if I don't want to have the saddle too low. (You would think I'd be smart enough to just have us start out next to a curb so I can put my foot there and get higher and could possibly start in a more normal-looking position...)

(Stoker has clipless pedals; captain's pedals are flat. I am definitely not confident enough to want to have to worry about remembering to unclip/doing so correctly if we have to come to a sudden stop.) And yes, we both start with a foot down; I honestly don't know if I could keep the bike steady if she was all clipped in while we were at a standstill.

And yeah, often I forget to stand wide enough for the pedal to clear (also, I have short legs) and get whacked in the calf with the pedal, lol. Probably should specifically request the pedal the way all of you do...


Originally Posted by Paul J View Post
It's funny, as a leftie I start with my right foot rather than left as you all do. Does putting your right foot down create issues with the side of the road and imperfections? I'm always inside from that.
As a righty, I prefer my right foot up if given the choice (but prefer to put my right foot down when I stop). To me this makes sense*, as I can put the power on the pedal with my dominant (and probably slightly stronger) foot/leg-- and likewise when stopping, can "land" on my dominant (and probably slightly more coordinated) foot. Sometimes we alternate, especially since her other captain tends to prefer to start with left foot up. For a while she said she felt more stable with the right foot on the ground as we started out, but IIRC now she prefers left foot down.


*Then again, I do a lot of weird things that just make sense to me but don't match the conventional "handedness." I wear my watch on my right wrist, because to me it has always felt natural to look at my dominant wrist. When turning, I tend to do so clockwise (which is usually a thing left-handed people do; right-handed people tend to turn counter-clockwise), and this may be because somewhere in my subconscious, of course I turn toward my dominant side. Etc. (Turning as in, if walking or running and you want to change direction 180 degrees, the way you will naturally turn to accomplish this. In my case, it also comes out in the way I jump and spin in figure skating, and which way turning feels more natural/easy to me in dance.)
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Old 09-28-21, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
There are quite a few right foot people, their reason being that the road crown makes it easier to right foot, which is very true regardless of bike fit.

I'm not completely in agreement with your reasoning about falling, though. I don't think we've ever fallen toward the down foot, though we have fallen away from the down foot several times. Perfection is very difficult. "Several times" out of maybe 100,000 stops isn't too bad, but it only takes once, which does terrify me to a certain extent. It eases my mind a bit that we try to never come to a stop with moving traffic beside us and falling away from the down foot only happens in that last instant as we come to a stop. We try to minimize risk, but it's always there.
My comments about falling away from traffic are more related to single bikes than to tandems, although it does apply to tandems as well. Falls at stops are usually related to disengaging a foot from pedals. If you are struggling to remove your foot (clipless or toe clips, Iíve done both), Iíve found you tend to lean the bike towards the side that you are struggling with. For me that means the right foot.

I suspect that toppling over to the left on a tandem is probably related to either the stoker or captain or both, trying to avoid falling by leaning away from the fall. Honestly, Iíve only ever crashed once on a tandem when the bottom bracket tube high centered on bump (I probably shouldnít have been riding it off-road).
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Old 12-04-21, 11:11 PM
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PaulGrun
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Originally Posted by Paul J View Post
It's funny, as a leftie I start with my right foot rather than left as you all do. Does putting your right foot down create issues with the side of the road and imperfections? I'm always inside from that.
We start with whichever foot happens to be down. My stoker stays clipped in, so which foot goes down when coming to a stop is pretty much up to me, coulx be either one.
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