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Hi all

i have a cycle keen 13 yr old daughter and we were thinking if doing a big ride in France in the summer. Possibly Calais to Nice doing maybe 100km a day with loads of stops. I’m a lot stronger than she is and one thought was to maybe try to do it with a tandem. My idea is that I can put in more work than her and we can have lots of chats

she rides a 52cm bike and me a 58.

I have no experience of riding tandems so hence the posting.

Any  thoughts?

Thanks in advance 

 

 

Andrew

 

 

14 comments

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John Stevenson [428 posts] 6 months ago
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That sounds eminently doable. For a tandem pair who are reasonably in synch, 100km really isn't very far unless the terrain is extremely hilly. 

Riding tandem is very different from riding solos; I strongly suggest you hire one and see if you get on with it before throwing yourselves in the deep end. 

Have a read of our guide to tandems, which I edited and contributed to.

https://road.cc/content/buyers-guide/234741-buyers-guide-tandems-everyth...

Come back to me here or find me on Twitter if you've got specific questions.

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janusz0 [343 posts] 6 months ago
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You'll appreciate her help up the hills, you can easily do all the work on the flat.
I've found that one problem is cadence. My sometime tandem partner can't cope with my high (to her) cadence.
Every cyclist finds being stoker hard until they learn to curb the urge to steer the tandem. Early on, the pilot may find their saddle pointing sideways.
Give her tasks like signalling and navigation to make her feel important.
Try riding as stoker yourself.

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A_Moses [12 posts] 6 months ago
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"Every cyclist finds being stoker hard until they learn to curb the urge to steer the tandem"

Tandems should come with rear bars that turn freely - a bit like the steering wheel toys you can buy for little kids to play with in the car (Maggie Simpson has one).

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hawkinspeter [3616 posts] 6 months ago
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janusz0 wrote:

You'll appreciate her help up the hills, you can easily do all the work on the flat. I've found that one problem is cadence. My sometime tandem partner can't cope with my high (to her) cadence. Every cyclist finds being stoker hard until they learn to curb the urge to steer the tandem. Early on, the pilot may find their saddle pointing sideways. Give her tasks like signalling and navigation to make her feel important. Try riding as stoker yourself.

Sometimes you can work around the cadence issue by using shorter cranks for the person that is struggling.

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/tandem2.html

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gusstrang [11 posts] 6 months ago
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Do it! You will love it - and so will she. I have done a few tours in UK and France with my teenage daughter and full camping gear.

 The stoker on a tandem can't anticipate bumps and it is more difficult to get out of the saddle to relieve sore backsides, so it is a good idea to keep the mileage down and have frequent stops. Good cycle shorts for the stoker are a must - unfortunately, my daughter is less keen on them but came round to using a pair under her fashionable leggings.

Brittany Ferries have a ferry from Poole to Cherbourg and you can then return from Caen to Poole after doing a circular route. We left the car in a multistorey right on the side of the terminal. This worked well for us and the ferry guys were great at making sure we were safe. Brittany ferries even publish a number of suggested routes on their website. Caen is also a good arrival port as there is a long cycle path down the side of the river to Pegasus Bridge and beyond. 

We haven't used shorter cranks or crank shorteners. She seems to manage fine without. As it is only me who puts their feet down, she uses toe clips on platform pedals. 

The Tandem Club are a very useful source of information and many people sell second hand machines on there too. 

Give it a go.

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Stratman [167 posts] 6 months ago
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There’s a similar story on Alpkit’s website about a father and son with a Cahoot tandem, and now with his daughter as his son has outgrown it.

https://www.alpkit.com/deeds/project-grandmas

Seems like a good idea (bit tandems aren’t cheap)

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LastBoyScout [594 posts] 6 months ago
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Think I commented on the buyer's guide above, but couple of points to note when riding the tandem:

1 - Nobody expects you to be on a tandem. Drivers will (may!) see you coming, but not your daughter on the back. Look out for drivers pulling out/changing lanes that won't realise there's another metre of bike behind you and could scare the bejesus out of your daughter and/or clip the back wheel and have you both off. Those orange lollipops that stick out of the sides may look daft but might help with this.

2 - If you do try riding it on your own, same point above applies, with the extra problem of the back brake being practically useless, especially if it's wet, as there's no weight over the wheel - as I found out when I ended up drifting one round a roundabout when the back end stepped out.

 

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Racingt [1 post] 6 months ago
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Hi, I cycled a lot with my son, initially on a tandem (aged 2 3/4), then solos. At age 13, I was stronger than him too. The following year we rode in the Alps and he climbed Izoard, which was a life experience he will never forget. It wouldn’t have been the same achievement on a tandem. He liked the independence of his own bike, and probably would not have liked to be back on a tandem. Regarding strength, it will come to her and quickly, in the meantime, perhaps you should travel a little slower than you would like, maybe carrying the majority of the luggage to even things up.

one point regarding tandems, (I have owned two), the comfort is markedly poorer than a solo, with hugely lower distances possible before saddle soreness. A saddle used on my audax bike for 10 hour rides gave 1.5 hours of comfort on a tandem. The stoker also suffered.   Depending on your daughters weight, it may not be an issue for her, but it may be for you!

Hope this helps, if I was in your position, I probably wouldn’t buy the tandem. You will certainly build life long memories though, by taking that trip with your daughter, and you should take the opportunity whilst it is there!

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Rod Marton [125 posts] 6 months ago
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A couple of comments on the above.

I've ridden a tandem with my children, and whilst it's a supremely comfortable experience for me, for the stoker it is a much harder ride with the added problem that you can't see the bumps coming. Whilst communication is very important and you should warn the stoker of all upcoming hazards, this doesn't always work. So I'd recommend a suspension seatpost at the rear.

I've crossed the Alps on solos with my wife, who is not as strong a rider as me (not really a cyclist, to be honest) and this worked very well with me carrying all the luggage. She was still a good bit slower than my normal pace, but letting her control the speed and distance meant that she could get there, even if it sometimes it felt like dawdling to me.

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iandusud [132 posts] 6 months ago
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I would highly recommend a tandem as a way of riding with two people of differing strength. Also communication is much better and easier. My wife of thirty years and I, who have both cycled regularly all our lives, got a tandem earlier this and we love it. Before getting the tandem we rarely rode together, as I am a much fitter/stronger rider, and when we did I found it frustratingly sedate on the flat and pushed her up the hills. We now enjoy cycling together as not previouly possible. We get out most weeks for ride and have had weekend trips to the North York Moors and Swaledale. Comments about comfort for the stoker are valid and a suspension seatpost is a good idea along with a saddle that works well for the person concerned. Re the price of a tandem, they often often sell very cheaply s/h on Ebay. I saw an Orbit Routier in lovely condition sell for £180 recently!  

Let us know how you get on. 

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ConcordeCX [1088 posts] 6 months ago
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I've done a couple of long tours with older teenagers and their fathers. It's a great experience for everyone and once they realise they're not on mountain bikes the teenagers very quickly out-paced the old men.

 

For tandems these look ideal to me. It seems to me that they remove the stoker from only having the back of the pilot's neck to look at. Tandemists I've shown it to love the look of it. It's a very joyous picture; I found it on the web some time ago, don't know where, and I don't know who makes these, but they look great.

 

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hawkinspeter [3616 posts] 6 months ago
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ConcordeCX wrote:

I've done a couple of long tours with older teenagers and their fathers. It's a great experience for everyone and once they realise they're not on mountain bikes the teenagers very quickly out-paced the old men.

 

For tandems these look ideal to me. It seems to me that they remove the stoker from only having the back of the pilot's neck to look at. Tandemists I've shown it to love the look of it. It's a very joyous picture; I found it on the web some time ago, don't know where, and I don't know who makes these, but they look great.

A reverse image search brings up these sites (amongst some others):

https://www.roulcouche.com/page/page.php?id=pino

http://www.cycleszen.com/tandem-couche.html

and this site looks relevant too:

http://dandyhorsemagazine.com/blog/2017/05/01/riding-tandem-with-your-8-...

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Rod Marton [125 posts] 6 months ago
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ConcordeCX wrote:

I've done a couple of long tours with older teenagers and their fathers. It's a great experience for everyone and once they realise they're not on mountain bikes the teenagers very quickly out-paced the old men.

 

For tandems these look ideal to me. It seems to me that they remove the stoker from only having the back of the pilot's neck to look at. Tandemists I've shown it to love the look of it. It's a very joyous picture; I found it on the web some time ago, don't know where, and I don't know who makes these, but they look great.

 

That's a Hase Pino.

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janusz0 [343 posts] 6 months ago
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I've seen Hases in the UK, but the similar UK one I've seen at cycle shows is the Circe Morpheus.
http://www.circecycles.com/products/morpheus/