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  1. #1
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    Tandem riding to me

    A friend and I bought a tandem mnt bike last year just on a whim (I have had a road tandem for years). We had just done the SM100 and my friend said "hey wouldn't it be neat to do this on a tandem?" I bit...sure let's do it even though I am a cautious rider and said I would never do the SM100 since it scared me.

    I have many types of bikes (fixie, road, 29er, 29er single speed, cyclocross, road tandem) and enjoy all of them. Little did I know that what a rush it would be...a new challenge...a blast. We do get a number of comments and laughs and have heard the word "g*y, but I really don't care what people think. For those of you who have spouses that ride I take my hat off for you. There are not many brave/trusting enough to get on the back of a tandem let alone a mnt tandem. When I bought the tandem I figured I could get my wife on it (no...not on trails just gravel and greenways). She does not bike (mnt) but I think there is still hope (for greenways and gravel) We did the same with a tandem kayak. I have not gotten my 13 or 15 yr old out there but plan to soon. They are smooth on the road tandem. My buddie has taken his wife who mnt bikes a lot but will not get on a trail with him. Only greenways and roads (loves having him be designated driver while bar hopping)



    Every time I ride the tandem it is a neat experience. Sometimes I (we) can't stop laughing as we tackle a tougher trail. It is also a lot of fun passing people on single track. I do think it would be neat to ride the continental divide on it

  2. #2
    PMK
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    We have heard plenty of negative remarks. Often those can be silenced if the trail is in any way tandem friendly.

    We dealt with this at festival group ride with one certain ride leader. He is a horrible ride leader in general.

    Small group of intermediate riders. Initially they all want to be in front of us, thinking the tandem will hold them back. Those that have previously ridden advise differently. Off we go. On these sections the singles get hung up, having left enough distance I ask ahead for them to get to the trails side.

    As we transfer to another section of trails, the ride leader says how we can't ride those because of the tandem. I, in my best FU manners say you ride what you can, don't worry about us. So mr smarty pants leader gets us to the trails entrance. Offers his advice to all. Leader heads in, tandem is cleared by all single bike to ride in front. Off we go. come to the technical climb we were warned about, ride leader did not make it, the shock on his face as I yelled forward to move had him frozen, I rolled past putting our tires almost against his leaned bike and he had to watch us clean the section. He no longer speaks to us. Now that kind of stupid attitude is really what is wrong.

    All of us are a freak show, we accept it, both good and bad. I can only imagine how many people everyone here have had photos taken by just people we don't know and post them where ever.

    Glad you are enjoying the bike at your level. Heck with anyone that see it wrong. Mountain stokers are very special, everyone of them.

    PK

  3. #3
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    Yup, quality time with friends or family is what mountain biking is all about. All that on a tandem makes it even more special. We don't make every obstical we try but that doesn't stop us from trying. Someone stating that something isn't doable on a tandem gets us really excited and now we must try it. 9 out of 10 times they are absolutely WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Enjoy your tandem with your buddy and significant others.
    Ed and Pat Gifford
    the Snot Rocket tandem

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by eischman View Post
    Every time I ride the tandem it is a neat experience. Sometimes I (we) can't stop laughing as we tackle a tougher trail. It is also a lot of fun passing people on single track.
    This is a big part of it for us. It's crazy fun.

    We don't really get derisive comments (at least out loud), but we do get a number of backhanded compliments and some less-than-complimentary snarks. Mostly I just think the people that say them are jealous (or have a wife/SO who'd have no interest in sharing the experience, which is probably much the same thing).

    In the end, the snarks get quashed when they ask "You guys can't ride x trail on that thing, right?" and we can reply "We clear that trail," or "We clear everything in this park."

  5. #5
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    Smile Don't count out the tandems

    Many years ago, in the 1990s, I was still racing mountain bikes but had introduced my wife to tandem mountain biking. Within months 90+% of all my riding was on the tandem with my wife. One warm sunny Saturday morning a couple of local university summer students working in our small town got my name from a local bike shop. Since I knew a lot of trails to ride locally these 20-22 year old students showed up at my door wanting to go for a mountain bike ride. I asked them to wait a few minutes and I would be right back. I then opened my garage door and exited with my tandem and my wife. The look on the faces of these young men was classical. "Leave the wife at home and get a real bike to ride"!
    We mounted our tandem and within 5 minutes were at a trailhead despite our guests lack of enthusiasm. After a fast decent across a snowmobile bridge we turned right to climb a technical rocky section. Both of our experienced student riders spun out and fell over and as they were getting up we rode past them on the tandem. Seeing the look on their faces was worth the effort. All you tandem riders out ther know how much harder is is to climb on a tandem mountain bike but single riders often tell us "yeah but you have twice the pedal power so it must be easier"! After some great riding with the single bikes we came to a STEEP downhill with deep ruts followed by a 90 degree turn at the bottom. Our single rider friends braked hard and looked for a way to slide down the slope. I politely asked them to move out of the way, sailed down on the tandem, made the sharp turn, crossed the so so bridge, and dismounted to wait for our cycling friends. If one picture was worth a thousand words this was it. Two young men with wide open mouths looking at a couple of old farts dispelling all preconceptions about tandem mountain bikes.
    As a couple on a tandem there are a boat load of couples who are far superior riders than we will ever be. My hope is some of the prejudices out there will be less frequent as more of us are out on the trails. HAPPY RIDING

  6. #6
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    I was browsing web vids and one of them had a tandem bike. It got me asking why?... so here I am. The idea intreagues me. I (someone with no tandem experience) would like to ask what about "it" makes it something you want to do??
    Is it the team work? Is it the increased difficulty (much like single speed)? Perhaps it makes the trails you have ridden many times new again? Is it a way for a much more experienced rider to ride with a much less experienced rider? Maybe there is a trust component (for the person on the back as they cannot see as well)?
    Probably some of the experience is not capturable by words, but give it a try...

  7. #7
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    There are going to be as many answers to that as there are responses. For us, a large part of it is that we can do it together. That means being together, but it also means doing it together.

    It's not the same as being on two single bikes, neither the togetherness (on singles, since I don't need to warm up, I'm gone on the first half, but my stoker takes a while to warm up so she's ahead on the second half), nor doing it together (on a single bike you can be with a group, but you're doing the work by yourself).

    It's more fun, period. I'm convinced all the people out on the trails have give us (my stoker, specifically) snarky remarks are just jealous. Jealous with cause, but jealous all the same.

  8. #8
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    Smile

    Any 2 riders often have different abilities and you are now able to even out any dissimilarity on a tandem. My wife would not do 1% of the offroad trails we have ridden if she was on a singe bike. I need her massive power output in the back, perfect balance, total trust and so on in order to make it work. For my simple way of thinking, unless you are a very lightweight team, climbing on a tandem is the equivalent of an 18 wheeler climbing a steep grade! The payoff is that same 18 wheeler descending with a long wheelbase. You often encounter a situation where you never pedal and float down single or doubletrack at speeds you never imagined. Just try to be respectful of your stokers wishes and slow down if they request it. I know of not a single tandem team that has not received smart alec remarks from single riders. Who cares! We are having a great time with a shared moment of accomplishment. As a bonus I always have my best friend riding with me and not frustrated 2 miles back on the trail trying to catch up.

    If you ride a mountain bike tandem you run the risk of loving it! If you try it let the group know how it works out for you. Best of luck!
    SOMETIMES SLOWER CAN BE BETTER

  9. #9
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    As we got older...we became grandparents...One awesome comment that came from our off-road tandem friends that here goes by the name Malacyrus or something like that.

    We passed a few single riders at a festival / big group ride. Both tandems overheard a single rider complaining how he just got passed by a tandem, Jamie on the tandem behind us let's the young single rider know, he was just passed by Grandparents...all he did was laugh.

    At whatever ability level, whatever terrain, regardless of the weather, tandems are fun for those that understand them. We ride together, accomplish together and fail together. Riding a tandem is somewhat of an equalizer. Any trail we ride is more difficult and more effort for me, This no 22 pound mtb, this is a 200 pound machine to steer, power and stop. As for the back seat, if you ask, she will share that she does get scared sometimes, but enjoys the ride knowing she is riding some trails she would not attempt on her single. We have good days and bad days. We argue while pedaling. But when it's time for serious focus to ride a section, we do that as a team.

    Check the photos (first two photos are the same trail / drop, the third photo is a different trail, CLJ captured that during our New Years weekend ride with them)...Look at the fear in the girls face...and she loved every moment. In the drop photo you can see her determination and commitment. FWIW, she is super afraid of heights, she foolishly has trust.

    Tandem MTB's with a stoker you enjoy and can ride with are one of the best kept secrets of MTB riding.

    JK & PK
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Tandem riding to me-copy-alafia-ftf-2010-049.jpg  

    Tandem riding to me-copy-alafia-ftf-2010-060.jpg  

    Tandem riding to me-copy-boyette-drop-img_2673.jpg  

    Reps! We don't need no stickin' reps!

  10. #10
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    Wow Paul, that last image looks really steep. I know how photos tend to flatten things out too.

    Well look at it this way, if Jeanne is on the same bike as you at least you aren't going to to run into her. That's more than I can say for the rest of us but we are usually so far behind it isn't an issue. I guess unless you are lapping us.

    All kidding aside, I think the togetherness part is where it is for us. There was so much of me waiting for her, and her ridding faster than she really capable, or wanted to, in an effort to keep up w/me. As a bonus, in the process of riding mtb tandems we have meet some really great people. Face it, if tandem bikes are eccentric then tandem mtbs are more like eccentric squared. It takes a special type and it is not for everyone.

    In just one year of riding tandems we have ridden several mid-length (50 miles to 100k) off road events and a couple road centuries. Not to mention the countless miles in between. I just don't think we both would have completed them unless we were together on the same bike. I have seen couples ride there single bikes together but it is something very different on a tandem. At the least it seems to boost my stokers morale. She has the physical part in her in most cases but sometimes she just doesn't let it out.

  11. #11
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    malaclemys, your post about riding with your wife is a virtual copy of this household. The tandem, be it off-road or road has us start together, finish together, succeed and fail together. And most times, compared to a single bike, as the other guy was asking, it is more difficult to ride the trails single bikes rides, and more intense because we as captains are responsible for the stoker. For those that don't tandem, that stoker can make or break your handling skills, besides "more power" mine is a huge part of making the bike do what it needs to. Yes she gets scared, but trusts in my words that if I don't feel comfortable we won't ride it. That doesn't stop her from saying I'm crazy though as she high fives me or pinches my butt after some technical section.

    malaclemys, thanks for the kind words but you and your wife and CLJ with his wife are always right there. Jeanne and I are not that fast, just having fun.

    As for the last photo, Chris took the photo @Balm Boyette and got a great shot. Boyette has a bunch of steep drops, most follow the drop with a narrow short roll out with an immediate climb. Not as steep, but often to the same height or level.

    See you this weekend at TDF.

    PK
    Reps! We don't need no stickin' reps!

  12. #12
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    Smile

    Great pics. I realize the drop is WAY STEEPER than the picture shows. Impressive handling skills by the captain and a brave stoker. Lots of experience and trust needed before a new team attempts this. I won't show my wife these pics before the TDF! Great ride. Looking forward to meeting some of you talented teams this weekend

    Cheers John and Arienne
    SOMETIMES SLOWER CAN BE BETTER

  13. #13
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    If I could ever clearly articulate clearly how tandeming affects our relationship, and how it enhances it, I'd never have to advertise again! It's why we ride tandems, which led us to building tandems. And it's such an intangible, yet so worth it.
    I've had a lot of guys tell me at demo events that they ride their mountain bikes to get AWAY from their SO. When I hear those comments, I kind of feel sorry for the guys because they ovbiously don't have the same kind of relationship that I do, where I WANT to spend time with my partner.
    PMK, there is an upper age limit to sandbagging, you know...
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  14. #14
    PMK
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemNut View Post
    PMK, there is an upper age limit to sandbagging, you know...
    Um, ok, not quite sure what that means...we just have fun.

    PK
    Reps! We don't need no stickin' reps!

  15. #15
    PMK
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    Quote Originally Posted by tndmnuts View Post
    Great pics. I realize the drop is WAY STEEPER than the picture shows. Impressive handling skills by the captain and a brave stoker. Lots of experience and trust needed before a new team attempts this. I won't show my wife these pics before the TDF! Great ride. Looking forward to meeting some of you talented teams this weekend

    Cheers John and Arienne
    I don't recall TdF being more than an xc type ride. Nothing really technical, a few switchbacks and climbs, but pretty much tandem friendly. The weather will be an equalizer...this team will be frozen after about 30 seconds of pedaling if the weather forecast remain the same.

    See you there.

    PK
    Reps! We don't need no stickin' reps!

  16. #16
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    Ill reiterate what several have said already. Riding a tandem evens the abilities of the riders. My wife and I are very closely matched in fitness, she can ride her bike UP a hill in about the same time as I can. Riding down, shes slower, riding single track, shes slower, riding in a straight line on a road were about the same. The big deal for us is that we get to ride TOGETHER!

    We have ridden tandems for years. Started on the road and on one particular occasion of riding a not-so-smooth dirt road, she asked if we could turn our DaVinci tandem into a MTB tandem? After a bit of thinking and discussing, it was decided that we COULD put wider tires on it and a suspension fork, but that would likely adversely affect the steering and stand over. So we scrapped that idea and began talking to Alex at MTBtandems. Several months later we took possession of our Grinch Green Ventana tandem and now 4 years later, we rarely ride our road tandem.

    Its pretty amazing what you can ride on a tandem. But it all starts with trust. My bride trusts me and our abilities. Its actually why we tried tandem in the first place. She does not like to steer, brake or otherwise have to maneuver the bike. The cool part is that she now gets to experience riding trails that she never would have attempted on her own. We get to share the accomplishments: climbing some rough trail that others are walking, finishing races faster than we expected, or completing some event that we wondered if we could? We also have many funny stories about passing people on the trail or in a race it is a bit validating at times and I wish I had a camera to get some of their expressions

    Riding tandems (specifically mtb) has been transformational to our relationship and our lives. We've made some great new friends too. Many people think were nuts and maybe we are, but we sure do have a good time! I think thats what its all about right?

  17. #17
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    Wow. Great responses and some great photos. Thanks so much for taking the time to share some of the experience with me. Gonna have to demo one with my wife!

    Typically what do they weigh? I was thinking about 3 or 4 times the weight of one bike.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikestok View Post
    Wow. Great responses and some great photos. Thanks so much for taking the time to share some of the experience with me. Gonna have to demo one with my wife!

    Typically what do they weigh? I was thinking about 3 or 4 times the weight of one bike.
    Think LESS than 2 nicely equipped bikes But it depends on the build (how much do ya wanna spend?).
    Our full suspension 29" wheel Ventana is just shy of 43lbs.

  19. #19
    PMK
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    FWIW, the black Ventana sits south of 44 pounds if I remember correctly.

    PK
    Reps! We don't need no stickin' reps!

  20. #20
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    I would never think to give a snarky remark to a tandem - that is so... I dunno.. juvenile?
    I have only seen road-tandems in person, and even then I thought it took alot of trust/ anticipation/teamwork.

    I saw this a while back, and it looks so fun and intimidating (to me)




    I think it'd be a hoot and exhilarating - I'd be so nervous taking on either position - stoker/captain.

    *A Question to you tandems that have trained or brought on a stoker who is less experienced...
    Do you give them a brake in the beginning? or it that just more risky for steering input?
    Honestly, you just take a deep breath and say Fuck it.

  21. #21
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    I couldn't imagine giving a brake to the stoker, but I have read about it being done.

    In many cases, a lot of the fear could be alleviated by riding on the road first, even on a MTB tandem. Starting slow, riding slowish, getting used to riding a tandem, how it moves, etc.. From there, build your communication system and move to gravel paths/fire roads when the stoker feels confident.

    Our first tandem was a road tandem, which we used for about five years before transitioning to our first MTB tandem.

  22. #22
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    Smile Stoker Brake

    A drag brake on a road tandem is common on cycling events when you have several miles of descending and often reach speeds well over 70 mph. That said I have never had one mounted for any of our tandems, road or mountain. Some friends of our, who log in more miles in a year than we do in a decade, have a rear brake mounted on their road tandem. On one trip they were descending a long grade and on a hairpin turn the stoker braked without telling the captain. They went down like a sack of potatoes suffering major road rash. This is my bias AGAINST ever mounting any brake for the stoker! Just respect your riding partner and don't go faster than what they are comfortable with. Just my 2 cents!
    SOMETIMES SLOWER CAN BE BETTER

  23. #23
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    To us, MTB tandeming is all about trust. Trust and teamwork come from both positions, Captain and Stoker. Realise your actions from either position affect both. Most sucessful teams that we know are very similar in situation. One is very happy to relinquish control(Stoker) and the other willing to take responsibility. I ,as Captain would not make a good Stoker since I am used to being in control. We have discussed switching positions on open ground or trails but my stoker always states she is happy where she is. Our trust on the tandem has not come overnight and as Captain I do my best not to breach that trust. These days when we get to a questionable section of trail and I ask if she is comfortable riding it I mostly get "If you think we can do it, lets go for it". We started out agreeing if one of us wanted to walk an obstical or section of trail that we would walk it no questions asked. Yes, I am a little stronger and more experienced than Pat but the tandem allows us to do things together that we would never get to do on single bikes. I can't think of anyone I would rather ride with.
    Ed and Pat Gifford
    the Snot Rocket tandem

  24. #24
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    We have a drag brake on our road tandem. Helps in exactly the situations described above. Though we installed it after only hitting 45mph. Again, keeping your stoker happy and comfortable is what it's about. She wasn't happy with 45mph, so on went the solution.

    Not really a MTB tandem solution, but I've never had brake issues on our Ventana.

    Quote Originally Posted by giff07 View Post
    These days when we get to a questionable section of trail and I ask if she is comfortable riding it I mostly get "If you think we can do it, lets go for it".
    HA! It's the other way around here. There's stuff my stoker is happy to try, that I am not willing to ride. Perhaps it's more because I can see it and she really can't, but she's been game for more stuff than I have.

  25. #25
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    Smile Tdf

    We rode the Tour de Felasco on Saturday and really enjoyed the trails. We met some new tandem couples who enjoy being together on the same bike so it is always a positive experience. It was a bit colder than we thought so thanks a million to Chris Judd for loaning me a balaclava! We had a few major mechanicals, 2 broken chains, and eventually toasted our rear hub so we had to walk 6 miles. It was a sunny day with nice single track so no sense complaining. The first time we broke our chain 2 of the other 3 tandem teams in the event helped get us going with a quick link. The kindness of willingness of other tandem teams to help each other out has been something we have experienced repeatedly for our last 18 years on the bike. We never got a chance to thank all the other great teams who helped us out on the trail so THANKS AGAIN AND WE HOPE ALL YOU FOLKS FINISHED THE RIDE HEALTHY AND HAPPY! Despite our challenges we enjoyed the experience.

    As an aside I was thinking of getting the tandem repaired here in Florida instead of hauling it all the way back up north. What local bike shops around the Ocala/ Gainsville area would people recommend that are familiar with offroad tandems?

    Thanks John
    SOMETIMES SLOWER CAN BE BETTER

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