Are you and your partner thinking about a tandem? If so, maybe the following will be valuable to you. I ride a tandem with my partner Brian. He is the Captain (sitting in the front) and I am the Stoker (sitting in the rear). We ride a conventional tandem - one that has a timing chain on the left side of the bike - that "ties" us together.(1.)
Probably the question women ask most often as potential stokers is about having "given up control" on the bike. And, while ostensibly that is true since I don't have any control over the shifting or braking of the machine - the REALITY is that as the stoker I have a LOT of control. Without my cooperation the bike won't climb, won't steer, and will make it incredibly difficult for the captain to handle. And, since my safety and enjoyment is dependent upon my captain doing his job, I need to do mine.
Tandem riding is about teamwork. We find it very satisfying to climb a steep hill together or complete a long ride on a hot summer day. The tandem, being the "great equalizer" as we like to call it, has made it possible for me to vastly improve my cycling abilities while still being able to ride with my partner. It allows us to lose that whole "hurry up, I'm waiting for you" scene as he circles the intersection for the umpteenth time or the "wait for me" agony as I struggle to keep up after many miles out on the road.
We often tell potential tandem teams that whatever direction your relationship is going in the moment will only be emphasized when you introduce a tandem into the fray. So, if everything is peachy a tandem will be wonderful. If things are a bit rocky, a tandem could push you right over the edge!
Here at HubBub Custom Bicycles, we suggest that you find a demo tandem and take at least three rides together. The first ride is almost always a bit rocky as you get the hang of starting, stopping, leaning together. The second ride is almost always better and by ride number three we think you'll be able to make an informed decision as to whether tandem riding is for you.
A quick note here on tandem "fit." Captains, your tandem will probably be a better fit if you sit a bit more upright so that you have better control over the front end. Stokers, make sure you hands clear your Captain's hips so you don't annoy him! (or her if the Captain is a woman!) While you can certainly use your road bikes as guides, make certain you find a competent professional to assist with your final fit.
(1.) [The exception is the Independent Coasting Systems that allows a stoker to coast while the captain pedals (and vice versa). There are couples who find that this system is an excellent solution, especially when the Captain and Stoker have extraordinarily mismatched capabilities. Sometimes, it is the only solution that a Stoker finds fitting and so, if it means the difference between riding together or not - go for it!]
For more information:
Tandem@Hobbes -- The Internet Mailing List for Tandem Bicycle Enthusiasts
Web archive: http://hobbes.ucsd.edu/tandem (be sure to read AAA_README!) If you want to receive a digest or individual messages from this list on a daily basis, you may subscribe at the web site. Be prepared for a ton of stuff, though. There are usually some interesting "threads" and always a LOT of commentary.
Also, if you are interested in using Campagnolo Ergo-Power shifters with your Shimano drivetrain, check out Brian's solution. Works for us!
Hope to see you ON THE ROAD SOON!
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