Tandems – what do I need to know?

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  • Tandems – what do I need to know?
  • bencooper
    Member

    Most parts will be okay to use – you’ll need bits of a tandem chainset, and longer cables of course. Triple definitely a good idea, as getting out of the saddle is a more advanced tandem skill.

    AlasdairMc
    Member

    I’m thinking about a tandem so I can take a disabled relative out as a stoker. I’ve never owned one before, so haven’t a clue where to start.

    I have a spare 29er at the moment, and have seen a 29er tandem frame that would fit the bill. What do I need to think about in terms of spec, i.e. can I continue to use all of my existing parts (assuming compatibility)? Is a triple advisable?

    Can I run tubeless or does weight limit on the rims (probably Flows) become a consideration? Carbon fork with a 29+ tyre or is suspension preferable? At most we’d be riding on gravel, never anything as interesting as a trail centre.

    Premier Icon schmiken
    Subscriber

    Wheels do need to be tough, lightweight XC stuff will die quickly. Reliable hubs are a must too, we use a Hope Pro2 (20mm) on the front and a DT Swiss 540 (tandem rated) on the back. Forks will take a battering, but any decent freeridey type fork should be OK.

    Definitely get a triple and don’t try and save weight on lightweight chains and cassettes, they won’t last.

    Lizzie and I run Middleburn tandem chainsets on an otherwise XT drivetrain with decent cables (loooong cable runs) and a Deore 10 speed cassette and chain. Get a braided hose for the rear brake, much improves braking performance, with 200mm rotors. They will get very hot otherwise if you scrub speed off down a slope.

    Think that’s about it, but any questions, do ask!

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    At most we’d be riding on gravel, never anything as interesting as a trail centre.

    You probably don’t need a suspension fork then? As long as a rigid fork can take the strain, which I’d probably be worried about now I write it. Nice thing about suspension forks is that they are available in formats to take serious punishment – seems to me off-road tandems tend to run freeride/dh forks along with wheels, brakes and the rest of the kit…?

    Premier Icon Sundayjumper
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    Is a triple advisable?

    Hell yes. Essential I’d say. Tandems are great fun but they are hard work uphill so make sure you’ve got some nice low gears !

    Premier Icon chipps
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    If you run a triple (or double) then you’ll need tandem cracks, with a crossover drive etc.

    How committed are you to owning a tandem? (With my best ‘are you sure you want a puppy?’ voice…)
    They’re big, expensive and they’re an acquired skill and taste. I’d suggest renting or borrowing one for a few times to make sure you gel as a riding pair. Not all pairs of people are compatible…

    Having said that, if you find you like it and you get on well as a pair, then go for it. Don’t worry about tandem weight, go for DH brakes and wheels, consider a suspension seat post for the stoker, get low gears (and high ones) and prepare for a fun time.

    Premier Icon Clover
    Subscriber

    I love being a tandem stoker, pedalling is my main skill. All the thrills without having to steer, change gear or brake…. You are offering your relative a good time!

    Being on the same lead foot really helps and is the first thing to get right.

    Tandem crashes are entertainingly slow and giggly. A tandem at full tilt is proper fast. And everyone smiles and waves at you.

    AlasdairMc
    Member

    Thanks for your responses – definitely giving me some food for thought.

    How committed are you to owning a tandem?

    I’ll only be buying one if I think she likes it enough to consider the investment, but I’m hopeful it can become a shared hobby. My dad is also getting back into biking so he could take her out on it, but we shall see…

    Good shout on the braided hoses, I hadn’t thought about that.

    Premier Icon slowoldgit
    Subscriber

    Where are you? There’s one here in Wessex you could have a test ride or two on, tj’s rules.

    The back of a tandem has a harsher ride, and the stoker can’t see what’s coming. So you’ll need a suss seatpost and good communication.

    mt
    Member

    All you need to know about ridding a tandem…………………….never ever miss an opportunity to stand up, ever.

    They are great if you have the right people together. You need to work at it, remember to say sorry when you get it wrong and forgiven when they say sorry. Once you get yourself round that you’ll soon work yourselves into a great team. We loved ours (injury forced sale, a major downer for us) and you’ll be surprised where you can go off road. The positive vibes you get from others is great also. You will get sick of “there not pedalling at the back”. Go and hire one for a test ride a couple of times, then go for it. We were a husband and wife team and derived much satisfaction from our rides, mate of mine takes kids from his school with sight (and other) issues and cannot decide who gets the most out of it, him or the youngster. Bet it both in equal measure.

    So that long winded set of words means, DO IT.

    There is a place in Gargrave, nr Skipton whole give you loads of advice and hire you a tandem.

    Premier Icon slowoldgit
    Subscriber

    I’ve seen a couple power past me, dancing on the pedals: it was impressive.

    The first few rides are when you build trust in each other, remember a punch in the kidneys can be effective but will cause offense.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    On the other hand, my in-laws recently got a cheap tandem, sort of hybrid style generic leisure bike spec. They are very part time leisure cyclists and seem to have no trouble pootling around rail trails after a few goes.

    thecaptain
    Member

    You can’t use any old single bike fork, only the beefiest or purpose-designed tandem forks are up to the job. Also, check the rear hub spacing, 145mm dishless was fashionable for a time, my three tandems are 135, 140 and 145mm! Suspension seatpost should be fine for you, make sure there’s enough space for one (short travel road bike versions exist if you are short on clearance).

    Yes you need a triple and crossover if you want to ride anywhere non-flat.

    MTBtandems.com is the go-to place for everything you need to know.

    thecaptain
    Member

    Tandem crashes are entertainingly slow and giggly.

    When picking your way round technical off-road, sure. Not remotely true when you’re flying down a gravel track (or road) and don’t make it round a corner. Build trust gradually!

    Premier Icon slowoldgit
    Subscriber

    I assumed you were getting frame + forks. Downhill weight transfer and braking forces could be about double those on a half bike. There aren’t many suss forks rated for tandems.

    esher shore
    Member

    we assemble these (from a kit, after custom frame painting) for a charity that takes disabled children riding on Sustrans type trails

    TheBrick
    Member

    Where do you run the rear v brake too?

    antigee
    Member

    think about how to transport it if not riding from home – used to have a people mover and could shove it in the back with the seats down – large SUV now and quite a tricky grunting fit – built a roof rack up years ago but got fed up with the lifting – looking at getting a custom built towbar mount rack – wheels off rack but will need a light board and SUV is wide enough for overhang to be legal

    Premier Icon schmiken
    Subscriber

    We run a V brake as well as a rear disc to prevent boiling fluid on long downhills. We can use the V brake as a drag brake to scrub speed safely and use discs for proper stopping.

    Premier Icon slowoldgit
    Subscriber

    I’m thinking of getting a rear V-brake for those Oh-Shit moments. The passenger would be allowed to use it under instruction from the driver.

    timber
    Member

    We got one on a budget off here as an extra toy and so that we could do more longer rides together.

    Need to know where you are going, they take a bit more effort to turn around. But a lot of fun to learn on, as mentioned already, slow comedy crashes.

    Ours is an old Dawes Double Edge and has Marzocchi dirtjumper forks (steel steerer, but could do with some 20mm lowers), big un hubs and old M4’s.
    Been out of use a while as rear brake seals popped before moving house and meaning to get a proper disc mount welded as well as correcting ovalised dropout and more tyre clearance if possible.

    Will probably follow up that braided hose recommendation too.

    Do you have to consider rider weight more with tandems?

    I ask because I am supporting a client at work who is is visually impaired following a brain injury. She wants to get back into cycling

    However she and her brother who will be riding up front are both heavy.

    The care report has recommended a tandem but has only quoted 400 for this. . . .I can’t see that getting much of a bike let alone a tandem

    Premier Icon schmiken
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    We bought our Ventana from these guys (Ruth and Jon). Both super knowledgeable and amazingly helpful!

    http://www.tandems.co.uk

    Premier Icon leffeboy
    Subscriber

    Some sort of suspension seat post is nice if you want to ride off-road. We had telescopic one for a while but changed to a thudbuster and that’s been brilliant. The person at the back can’t always see what’s coming

    Premier Icon slowoldgit
    Subscriber

    Ms Wench – Charlotte’s Tandems may be able to help, ISTR that’s the sort of help they offer.

    (edit)
    http://www.charlottestandems.co.uk/

    Premier Icon JohnClimber
    Subscriber

    Love ours (although getting the wife out on it is a struggle at times)

    Here’s a rear facing shot of the wife enjoying Coed Y Brennin’s Blue trail

    Go with the flow……………..

    [video]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vNoSuGgKJM[/video]

    mt
    Member

    I wish we still had ours and could use it!

    If anyone needs a tandem carrier for car roof bars let me know, you can have it free. Also roof rails for a Volvo XC70 (obviously).

    Premier Icon singlespeedstu
    Subscriber

    All you need to know about tandems is they cause equal amounts of laughing and swearing.
    Great fun when you’re feeling the flow together, more like fighting each other when you’re not. 😉

    [video]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMXXaKgrom8[/video]

    thenorthwind
    Member

    If anyone needs a tandem carrier for car roof bars let me know

    I’m interested – would they fit a normal estate (Volvo V40 here)? Whereabouts are you?

    highlandman
    Member

    2nd vote for short travel thudbuster on the back.
    In better weather and visibility in the summer, we use lighter 42mm road tyres, Hope hubs (steel freehub) and 36h, 650b Mavic EN519 rims on a 26″ Dawes double edge; great fun, have done some sportives on it too for a laugh. We run its original 48 spoke, 26 inch wheels as a tougher set for winter, with MTB semi-slicks.

    Premier Icon leffeboy
    Subscriber

    Argh, beaten to it by thenorthwind. Wouldn’t mind a proper rack as using a modified single thule at the moment

    Premier Icon slowoldgit
    Subscriber

    I have a Pendle rack (no, not for sale) which I think is rather good. Though I haven’t tried any others.

    Enjoy…

    http://www.pinkbike.com/u/jacks0n0/blog/two-by–craigieburn-new-zealand.html

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