Tandem Tips

The hardest part for most people on their first tandem ride is how to get started out. There’s obviously more than one way to “start” your tandem but we’ll give you some pointers that seem to make it easy.

We suggest the captain mount the bike first. It might even be easiest to swing one leg over the handlebars. It may sound awkward but after you do it a few times, you may find it is actually very easy. The reason we suggest this, is that if you mount in the common method of lifting your leg over the saddle, you may find you catch it on the stoker’s bars, or accidentally kick the stoker. However you do it, the captain gets on first, holding the brakes and taking a little wider stance than on a single. Wide enough, that when the stoker turns the pedals, you are not going to get hit by them. The stoker then gets on and mounts their feet into the pedals. The stoker is going to stay on like this at all future stops.

The captain then has the stoker rotate the pedals backwards until the desired pedal for starting is in a comfortable position for the captain to mount their foot. At this point you may need to lean the bike a little bit and actually rest the captain’s saddle against their hip. This is a very solid way to hold the bike. It is being held mostly by the captain’s legs, and requires little upper body strength.

Captain and stoker, then rotate the pedals until the “stroke foot” is nearly at the top of the pedal stroke. The captain give a verbal clue (“ready, set, go” or whatever you choose) and both people power that foot. At this point the captain basically stands up on the power foot and hoists themselves onto the saddle, not worrying about the second stroke. The stoker has lots of power. Warning: The captain wants to be sure not to push off two or three times with the ground foot. Once the first power is applied the stoker is continuing to turn the pedals and if the captain has a foot on the ground at the beginning of the second stroke…it isn’t easy or pretty.

Now you have both riders on the bike and the pedals turning. The captain can wait a few revolutions before getting into toeclips or clipless pedals if it takes some concentration or coasting. It is best to get thru an intersection or get up some speed and then coast for a second while you adjust anything you need to.
Stopping. When you stop a tandem you need to keep in mind that you have twice the weight of a single and the momentum is usually greater. The captain should wait until the bike is nearly at a complete stop before putting down a foot. It is imperative to be consistent with which foot is going down first. The stoker will lean to counterbalance the bike and this happens quickly and instinctively. Once you establish the habit of a particular foot, it is necessary to stick to it. Once the bike is stopped and one foot is on the ground, again the captain takes a little bit of a wider stance, leans the bike into a hip.and holds a brake. It is best to rotate the pedals, setting the power foot in the up position to start the bike.

(mirrored from R+E Cycles website)