Tandem Pages:

Tandem Bicycle Problems

Issues That Can Arise And May Need To Be Resolved Are:

Discrepencies In Skill Levels


When there is a discrepancy in cycling skill levels, the Captain and Stoker, must learn to to adjust to each individual rider's strengths and weaknesses ie experience, fitness, motivations and cycling ability.

The stronger bike rider will generally be the Captain.


Dealing With Differing Body Statures

Schwinn TandemTo be most effective, partners should be of a similar height and weight. This realistically will not always be the case and so adjustments will need be made to the tandem bicycle itself to compensate.

Coordinating Cadence and Coasting

The tandem bicycle team need to coordinate their cadence - the speed at which the pedals are turned - so that both cyclists are comfortable.

The Captain will choose the pace by the gear speed she/he chooses to use.

A faster cadence is on the whole a better, more effective technique ... and kinder on the old knee joints ... HOWEVER it is no good if they other rider is unfortable and unhappy.

Unless you have a non-standard (or exotic) tandem bicycle then you will need to ensure you and your partner coordinate your coasting and cadence.

You MUST do it simultaneously. Often the weaker or less experienced rider will want to coast more to start with ... so concessions and compromises will need to struck so both cyclists are happy and comfortable.

Standing While Cycling

Riding tandem bicycles while standing (known as honking or pumping) shouldn't be attempted until both cyclists are experienced and confident.

If it is used then it is really important to keep centred and co-ordinate any body movements.

It also helps if the tandem bicycle has been outfitted so that the cranks are In Phase ... this means having all the pedals and cranks on the bike working in syncronicity.


Ongoing Cadence Problems Between The Captain and Stoker

Solutions For Cadence Incompatibility:

If a couple can't learn to overcome any problems they may have with their cadence, because either their pedalling preferences or leg length are too dissimilar, then a solution can be found by making physical adjustments to the tandem bike itself.

    Olympic Tandem Bicycle Winners Russell And Lionel
  • One option is to individualise the crank length for each cyclist. This solution won't change the rider's pedalling habits but it will assist in slowing down a speedy pedaller and help their slower partner to keep pace.
  • A shorter crank with enable a rider to rotate their pedals more quickly.
  • A longer crank will slow down the cadence of a rider, as their rotations will take longer.
  • For the cyclist who wants a slower cadence then try outfitting your bike with 175mm cranks. If you find your cadence is STILL incompatible then fit cranks of 165mm for your slower partner.
  • Worse comes to worse you can always find more physically similar cycling buddies!

Gears And Coasting Problems

Individually Controlling Your Tandem Bicycles Gears and Being Able To Coast Independently From Each Other:


If you both desire being in control of your own destiny or in this case - gears and ability to coast separately - then you really need to buy a recumbent tandem bicycle or a s-t-r-e-t-c-h tandem (non technical name!), that has a greater distance between the riders and their cranks.

Rouxel and Dubois Tandem Bicycle Poster

It is not an option on a regular tandem. Why?

Because ... on standard tandem bicycles, the cranks have to rotate at the same velocity. If the speed of the crank rotations are different then sooner or later the pedals of the Captain and Stoker will crash into each other!


Tandem Pages:

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