What is a tandem bike?
A tandem bike is a twin bicycle, created to be ridden by more than one person. The bike was first created in the late 1890s, but since, modern technology has significantly improved its design. Today, tandem bikes are modern, well-built and suitable to be cycled both on and off-road.
Most tandems have two seats, with one positioned behind the other. The front rider, also called the pilot, usually has control over the pedals, brakes and must steer. The rear rider, also called the stoker, helps to pedal. Most tandem bikes have a long wheelbase which makes it very stable.
Perhaps surprisingly for some, a tandem bike is very efficient and can travel at higher speeds than a regular bike. This is simply because, while the power is doubled, a tandem bike tends to be lighter than two solo bikes so, weight isn’t quite doubled. Therefore, as wind resistance remains (almost) the same, the tandem tends to achieve a higher speed than a regular bike.
Tips for riding a tandem bike
Before beginning your journey on a tandem bike, it is important to decide who will be the pilot and who will be the stoker. To improve control and ensure the ride to be as easy as possible, we recommend the heavier and stronger rider to be the pilot. Adopting this order will give you both greater control over your ride and reduce instability.
Once you’ve decided who will take each role, it’s time to mount the bike and get ready to ride! Often, beginner tandem cyclists find the initial take-off the trickiest part. Don’t fret, follow our recommendations, and you’ll be confident at riding your tandem in no time.
We recommend the pilot to get on the bike first. Once on, straddle the bike with both feet firmly planted on the ground and your hands gripping the brakes on. This will prevent the bike from moving as your partner gets on. The stoker should then use the rear pedals as a step to push themselves onto the saddle and seated ready to ride!
It’s important to remember that on most tandem bikes, your pedals are mechanically linked by a timing chain. Therefore, they will move around at the same rate and, so will you and your partner’s legs. For this reason, it’s important to achieve synchronicity with your partner, most effectively through verbal communication. Before long, you’ll reach a steady rhythm and feel at ease while cycling your tandem!
Why tandems are great
Tandems encourage a feeling of togetherness. Often, when cycling regular bikes with your partner, a friend or family member, one cyclist will be stronger and faster than the other. Commonly, in this instance, the stronger cyclist rides off without the other and you become separated. Tandem bikes prevent this! Your close proximity to your partner also means it’s a great chance to talk to each other. Providing there isn’t too much wind, you can now discuss any sights you pass on your cycling route!
Tandem cycling is also a great activity to help you become more sociable within your local neighbourhood. Let’s face it, it’s not every day you see a tandem bike, but, this means it makes a great talking point. Smile and wave at passersby, and we guarantee, when you park up, your tandem bike will be the topic of any conversation!
Whether you tandem cycle with your partner or a friend, it encourages a building of trust and improves your bond! As the stoker, you must trust the pilot completely, to steer the bike, control its brakes and essentially be the eyes for both of you! Ultimately, tandem cycling is a challenge and taking this on with a partner or friend, will only bring you closer together.
Finally, tandem cycling is a great, enjoyable way to get fit. Set yourself the challenge with your partner to cycle a certain number of kilometres or, for a certain amount of time. Achieving these goals with those closest to you will make getting healthy even more rewarding! For more tips on how you can get healthy with cycling in 2019, have a read of our latest blog post.