TANDEM FOR MIXED HEIGHT CYCLISTS

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Tin_Hat
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TANDEM FOR MIXED HEIGHT CYCLISTS

Postby Tin_Hat » 17 Jun 2012, 10:27am

My partner and I are interested in trying a tandem as I am a stronger cyclist then her but we like if possible to bike together.

Is it possible to get a tandem which would suit my 6 foot 3 and 33 inch inside leg as well as her 5 foot 0 and 26 inch inside leg...or am I being a bit optimistic? Also, is it possible to have different crank lengths on a tandem for the pilot and stoker?

thirdcrank
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Re: TANDEM FOR MIXED HEIGHT CYCLISTS

Postby thirdcrank » 17 Jun 2012, 10:34am

It's common for the back of a tandem to be sized smaller than the front, although I've never seen it the other way round. (You can even go down to "kiddyback.")

Subject to the very limited availabilty of different length cranks, you can have different lengths for each rider.

If you have been unable to find what you want off-the-peg, you will need a specialist tandem builder.

Although we have some keen and experienced tandem riders on here, the Tandem Club is worth a look:

http://www.tandem-club.org.uk/

Brucey
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Re: TANDEM FOR MIXED HEIGHT CYCLISTS

Postby Brucey » 17 Jun 2012, 11:51am

this is one sort of solution;

Image

The Hase Pino is similar;

http://www.tandems.co.uk/products.php?plid=m3b5s78p94&rs=gb&vid=183 (no affiliation)

as is the 'Bilenky ViewPoint'. There are others, too...

http://www.browncycles.com/tandems.htm

Perhaps not these though...

Image

Image

I notice that both trek and co-motion do tandems with a bigger-than-normal difference in front to rear sizes, these may be worth a look too. The Dawes Duet is in a similar vein;

http://www.tandems.co.uk/products.php?plid=m3b0s76p301

As a general point, I'd say that tandems can be very good fun but that they are not for everybody. Whichever one you buy, there is a chance that it just isn't the right thing for you, and the tandem will have to be sold on after just a few uses.

This risk can be mitgated by ;

-hiring a similar tandem
-buying used
-buying a 'starter' tandem
-buying from a shop where they have an agreed 'buyback' policy.
-going for rides each with an experienced 'captain' or 'stoker', to see what it should be like once you get the hang of it.

The Dawes is an interesting tandem because it is a 'starter' tandem in many respects, but it is both good enough for some uses, and can be improved through upgrades. If push came to shove and you had to sell it, you would lose afew hundred pounds, but this is better than losing a similar proportion of a few thousand.

hth

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

thirdcrank
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Re: TANDEM FOR MIXED HEIGHT CYCLISTS

Postby thirdcrank » 17 Jun 2012, 12:18pm

Brucey wrote: ... As a general point, I'd say that tandems can be very good fun but that they are not for everybody. Whichever one you buy, there is a chance that it just isn't the right thing for you, and the tandem will have to be sold on after just a few uses.

This risk can be mitgated by ; .


as with any other important decision, making really sure that all parties are in complete agreement. You can carry somebody along at the talking stage but it's a lot harder out on the road. (There is a picture somewhere on here of a very happy stoker.)
=========================================
Found it:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=54994&p=459191

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RickH
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Re: TANDEM FOR MIXED HEIGHT CYCLISTS

Postby RickH » 17 Jun 2012, 2:36pm

We have a Circe Helios tandem which for us is mainly a "grandchildren transporter" (I'm hoping to try my 4 year old grandson out in the stoker role soon when weather & time coincide as his legs are now within the size range). The quoted sizing is 26"-37" inseam for the captain & 16"-36" for the stoker so you are both (just) within the limits for both seats. The are fixed with QRs so provided you both use the same pedal attachment system so you could swap places easily if you felt so inclined. Unless they've changed the spec it comes with 160mm cranks front & back which may be a bit short for you (but helps with ground clearance) but I've not found it a noticeable problem compared to the 170s I run on my other bikes (but I'm only a shorty with a 29" inseam).

Rick.

thirdcrank
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Re: TANDEM FOR MIXED HEIGHT CYCLISTS

Postby thirdcrank » 17 Jun 2012, 3:12pm

Tin_Hat

(You may already know this; if so accept my apologies if it unintentionally sounds patronising.)

As I said above, there's no technical reason why the cranks need to be the same length. The only thing that is usually* the same is the size of the chainwheels on the chain connecting the front and rear chainsets. Unfortunately, cranks made Maureen Lipman style in all the sizes are now a rarity, even for solo's. For tandems, this is aggravated by the fact that with the normal crossover-type drive (ie chain from front to back going down the nearside of the bike) you need special pedal threading on all but one of the cranks. (ie The front chainset has the chainwheel on the LH crank so both need to be threaded opposite to normal. The rear chainset has chainwheels on both sides so the LH crank has to be threaded opposite to normal.) This means that even if you could source something like some NOS TA Cyclotouriste equipment (which was made in all the sizes) it would have to be the tandem version to be any good.

If you want to make a significant reduction in crank length, it is possible to have new holes made further down the crank by somebody such as Highpath but I don't think it's cheap. It used to be possible to get "crank shorteners" (perhaps it still is) but AFAIK, they make a big increase in the Q factor (the distance between the pedals.)

* I originally wrote "has to be the same," but somebody would explain how it is possible.

David Cox
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Re: TANDEM FOR MIXED HEIGHT CYCLISTS

Postby David Cox » 17 Jun 2012, 5:34pm

[quote="thirdcrank"]It's common for the back of a tandem to be sized smaller than the front, although I've never seen it the other way round. I often pilot a Longstaff made to measure tandem owned by the stoker. Cranks are the same length of course but the front top tube is dipped a bit to accomodate pilots of widely different heights and standover requirements. The rear end is absolutely optimised for the dimensions of the stoker/owner. Sometimes it feels like you are the chauffeur of a Downton Abbey style 1913 limo but it works well.

Mistik-ka
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Re: TANDEM FOR MIXED HEIGHT CYCLISTS

Postby Mistik-ka » 17 Jun 2012, 6:25pm

Most tandem makers build bikes with a tall/short frame that will work for you. (I'm a foot taller than Cathryn.) We looked seriously at a Thorn when we were planning to get a tandem, and they certainly have a model that would fit us. We also contemplated the Hase Pino; my brother and his partner have one that we're hoping to take for a trial run when we visit England next year (to go touring with our S&S coupled DaVinci). The usual set-up has the stronger partner captaining from the front saddle (with all controls and responsibility for keeping the rig upright when stopped) but certainly there are couples where the smaller person captains from the front and the larger, stronger partner provides power from the stoker's saddle; this is often a solution when the larger partner is visually impaired. There are all sorts of rules about how to ride a tandem; rules, of course, are made to be broken.

Even in a full tuck position my back and shoulders block a 20 degree arc in Cathryn's forward vision, but this has not turned out to be a big disadvantage: Cathryn says it's well worth it to be able to really watch and enjoy the scenery from the stoker's saddle while I stay focussed on the road and traffic.

If you can afford it, a custom frame can be wonderful. In our case the fit of the bike is perfect for each of us, and we've got a dropped top tube in the stoker's compartment so Cathryn can mount and dismount easily despite the limitations of her arthritic hips.

DaVinci makes beautiful (though expensive) cranks http://www.davincitandems.com/comp.html ranging from 150 to 200 mm. Cathryn rides with 165 mm cranks while mine are 175 mm. We don't know if it really makes a difference, but we have no difficulty balancing our pedalling effort despite my greater muscle mass and strength. We just guessed at these dimensions based on the 170 mm cranks with which we were riding on our solo bikes, and Todd Shusterman at DaVinci confirmed that this spread would probably be helpful. (Speaking of helpful, Todd has been great.)

We thought it was a good idea to rent a tandem before taking the plunge. It turned out to be the most expensive ride of our lives: when it was over I said hesitantly "Well?..." and Cathryn grinned and said "Yup!" and our fate was sealed. We're only into our first year on the tandem and have absolutely no regrets. It's much more fun to ride together than on two separate bikes, and although it requires a lot of patience and compromise at the outset, when we get it right it's like dancing! (Not something to undertake with a less-than-rock-solid relationship: tandems are often referred to as "divorce machines". Others sum it up more wisely by suggesting "wherever you've going as a couple, you'll probably get there faster on a tandem.")

Thirdcrank's suggestion of the Tandem Club forum is a good one, and there are a lot of good discussions and a 'sticky' with very useful links in the Bike Forum's tandem section: http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdisplay.php/44-Tandem-Cycling

Our tandem was a fortieth wedding anniversary present to ourselves. We should have got one decades ago!

~ David

stewartpratt
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Re: TANDEM FOR MIXED HEIGHT CYCLISTS

Postby stewartpratt » 17 Jun 2012, 8:08pm

I am 6'5" and my wife is 5'1". We have a Thorn Raven Adventure which suits us; I have 175mm cranks and she has 165. I think when we were shopping for a tandem the only other one that looked clearly viable on paper was a Cannondale. It was my size that was harder to accommodate than the wife's, so you may find more options.

robs
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Re: TANDEM FOR MIXED HEIGHT CYCLISTS

Postby robs » 17 Jun 2012, 10:25pm

Another option is a TandemTwo'sDay made by Bike Friday, as a folding tandem they can be made to accomodate nearly any size. Mrs Robs has loads of room and enjoys just looking around at the scenary, it's a comfortable good handeling ride despite the BMX size wheels.
Cheers, Rob.

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Re: TANDEM FOR MIXED HEIGHT CYCLISTS

Postby Vorpal » 17 Jun 2012, 10:51pm

Thorn have different length cranks on their tandems. You can order what suits within standard crank lengths. The child back tandems come with cranks drilled at two positions to accomodate a wider range of stokers. I believe that the same type of cranks are available for their other tandems.
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TonyR
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Re: TANDEM FOR MIXED HEIGHT CYCLISTS

Postby TonyR » 17 Jun 2012, 10:58pm

We started with our children at four years old on the back of the tandem and me at 6ft6 on the front. We had no problems. In the early days we used crank shorteners on the rear but as the children grew up we removed them and gradually lifted the seat posts. So for the two of you it should be no problem getting a standard tandem to fit both of you. The only thing is for stability the bigger person needs to be on the front.

Tin_Hat
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Re: TANDEM FOR MIXED HEIGHT CYCLISTS

Postby Tin_Hat » 18 Jun 2012, 1:13pm

Thanks very much to everyone for the comments, advice and funny pictures! Much appreciated and very useful. We'll have a hire or a few hires and see how we get on.

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bikes4two
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Re: TANDEM FOR MIXED HEIGHT CYCLISTS

Postby bikes4two » 19 Jun 2012, 6:45pm

Just a comment on crank length. I'm the 6ft captain & Mrs at 5ft 0" my stokerj. Our Santos tandem was supplied with 175mm cranks for both & we happily toured several thousand miles.

Then she got a solo with 165mm cranks & almost immediately commented on the easier pedalling action. After researching the subject we decided to go for shorter cranks on the back: 160mm in fact.
As I write from our hotel in Toulouse at the end of a 1400km tandem trip, her unequivocal view is that the shorter cranks have provided a much improved riding experience in terms of leg & body comfort & ability to maintain sustained pedalling for longer periods.

Now I know that's subjective, but I've been told that under no circumstances should I fit the 175mm back on.

PS cranks supplied & shortened by JD Tandems.
Without my stoker, every trip would only be half a journey

Tin_Hat
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Re: TANDEM FOR MIXED HEIGHT CYCLISTS

Postby Tin_Hat » 19 Jun 2012, 9:57pm

Thanks for the comments on cranks Bikes4two, after achilles tendonitis I had my audax bike set up for me by Mike at Bike Dynamics who changed the stem and the position and height of my saddle. He explained that the length of the crank is also very important as it determines the angle to which the knee is subjected. Whilst my cranks at 175mm suit me fine he explained (when fitting Ruth on the Brompton) that ideally her cranks should be I think, 145mm to 150mm, but also that a crank of this length would be very difficult to get. He did explain though that as women are so much more flexible in the legs than are men, 170mm cranks on the Brommie would be OK for a journey up to 25 miles-ish. Any more than that could start to cause problems.

Thanks again for the comments and advice, all gratefully received.

Andrew