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How to Ride a Tandem Bicycle

Updated on October 26, 2017
stephhicks68 profile image

Stephanie has run seven marathons, including the Boston Marathon and numerous half marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks. She loves running and exercise!

Tandem Bicycles Bring Couples and Families Together

What to do with your weekends? You want to spend more time with your partner, but you also want to get a good workout in. How about riding a tandem bicycle together?

When I was younger, I romanticized the idea of riding a tandem bike with a friend, or even a love interest. We'd glide along pathways, past sunny fields, and stop for a picnic lunch. Smiles all along the way! Remember that song, "A Bicycle Built for Two"? That definitely played into my fantasy.

In reality, riding tandem may be more difficult than it appears. One quote (paraphrased) is that whatever direction a relationship is going, it will get there twice as fast on a tandem bike.

To prevent some spats and spills between the two of you, let's learn how to ride a tandem bicycle.

Tandem Bicycle

Want to learn how to ride a tandem bicycle?
Want to learn how to ride a tandem bicycle? | Source

Racing Tandem Bicycles!

Tandem bicycling with a buddy bike attachment
Tandem bicycling with a buddy bike attachment | Source

Communication is Key When Riding a Tandem Bicycle

One of the most obvious reasons that riding tandem can be an exercise in relationship building is that you are not in control! No matter if you are riding as stoker (in the rear) or captain (up front), you have to depend on and trust the other rider. Not surprisingly - communication is key.

Some tandem cyclists have likened the sport to ballroom dancing or canoeing. Its definitely a team effort. Riding tandem is not intuitive, either. You need to time your starts and stops and have agreement on speed. Expert advice is that you should start with a bicycle shop employee with tandem experience to go over the basics.

Injuries can occur when there is a communication breakdown. Examples include heading down a hill too fast, or taking a corner at a dizzying speed. If you need to take a bathroom break, or your legs are hurting, consider how it will impact your tandem partner. No wonder patience and perseverance are required.

Many options if you want to learn how to ride a tandem bicycle
Many options if you want to learn how to ride a tandem bicycle | Source

Build Relationships on a Bicycle Built for Two

Tandem bicycles can also encourage couples, friends and even co-workers to spend time together. Working out and enjoying scenery.... even touring vacation spots... can be a tremendous boost to any relationship.

If you are going to work out for an hour or two, why not do it together and get some good talks in?

Some couples have even joined tandem cycling clubs, finding friendships among others with a cycling passion. Regional rallies draw hundreds of tandem riders for group excursions ranging from 15-100 miles per day. There are alsotandem races and tours.

Whether you like road biking or mountain biking, there are plenty of options in the tandem market: touring, racing, mountain, and townie. Average cost for a tandem bicycle is about $1,500 and up.

Once you get into the sport, you'll need a roof rack, cycling apparel/shoes and a repair kit.

Don't forget bicycle helmets!

Get the Family Riding Together with a Tandem Bicycle

Tandem cycling can be a family affair, too. There are a number of products that allow your child to ride tandem with you (tandem trailers), and even specifically designed childrens' tandem bikes.

I've seen parents "commuting" to day care or school with their kids riding along on a tandem trailer. Engaging in regular, outdoor activity and no burning of fossil fuels. What a great, healthy example to set!

Your kids will love to get in on the fun. Riding tandem can teach important, real-life lessons about communication and teamwork. The novelty doesn't wear off, either. Admit it - when you spot a tandem bicycle, you can't help but stare for a moment or two!

If you're concerned about having your child behind you on a tandem trailer, there's an inventive product called the "Buddy Bike," that places the second (often weaker) rider up front in a lowered, protective position.

How to Ride a Tandem Bicycle

Have you Ever Rode a Tandem Bicycle?

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Should You Buy or Rent a Tandem Bicycle?

Although I generally prefer running, cycling is a great workout that I am starting to enjoy more. Working out on a bicycle trainer, and also getting out on the weekends, my legs (and rear) are in great shape now. I'm thinking about trying tandem cycling....

Before I take the plunge and buy a tandem bike, I think I'll first check out tandem rentals. Many tourist locations, like my beautiful hometown of Bend, Oregon, include tandems in their stock of bicycles for rent.

The outing is virtually risk-free and enjoyanle, unless you consider the potential of some skinned knees and a bruised ego!

© 2009 Stephanie Hicks


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    • john hayls profile image

      john hayls 6 years ago

      I bought the tandem bicycle few days ago. I go to outside with my friend on every week end. We are very satisfied about this. We drive the bike with enjoy.

    • profile image

      masterlite 8 years ago

      Great article, I going to start with my kids.

    • jajeisan5892 profile image

      jajeisan5892 8 years ago from Los Angeles

      nice hub. thanks

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Laughing Mom - you made me totally laugh!! I hear you!

      BT - LOL too. Love these Sunday comments.

    • B.T. Evilpants profile image

      B.T. Evilpants 8 years ago from Hell, MI

      I always wanted to try this. But even if I could find someone to ride with, my paws wouldn't reach the pedals : ( Back to the unicycle, I guess.

    • Laughing Mom profile image

      Laughing Mom 8 years ago

      I think if the hubby and I tried this, it'd be written up later in the weekly paper something about a suicide pact, two seats and a helmet.

      This is actually great info, steph. Thanks for including the videos.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi 2patricias, that is a good question.... riding on the back of a tandem, you still have to help steer around corners. But at least you'll get help doing it! Steph

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      I'm not very good at riding a bike, because I have never learned to turn corners. I had thought that it might be okay to go on the back of a tandem, but now that I have read this Hub, maybe not such a good idea?

      Thanks for an interesting Hub.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      You're telling me! I would be a bit afraid to tandem mountain bike. Rocks, roots and streams.... yikes!

    • SoManyPaths profile image

      SoManyPaths 8 years ago from West Coast USA

      Mountain biking in tandem is interesting.. That must take some extreme coordination when going downhill.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Jennifer - I have to laugh out loud at your honesty! Tandem cycling isn't for everyone, that's for sure!

    • Jennifer Bhala profile image

      Jennifer Bhala 8 years ago from Upstate New York

      I always thought tandem bike riding looked like fun, but I have never tried it and probably never will.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      @ Silver Freak - exactly!

      @The How to Hub - you're probably right that kids would do better than most adults. The tandem bikers I see around here look really intense with the gear, etc.

    • The How To Hub profile image

      The How To Hub 8 years ago from Australia

      I am willing to bet most kids would be better at this than the average adult! When I see a tandem bike, which isn't very often mind you, I always do the double take. They look like fun : )

    • Silver Freak profile image

      Silver Freak 8 years ago from The state of confusion

      It sounds like it could be a lot of fun, but only with the right partner!

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Frieda, thanks! I live in a "vacation town," so I do see them about. Plus, there are lots of parents that commute with their kids on the tandem trailers.

      JamaGenee - I agree with you! You have to pick carefully for a tandem partner.... says something, doesn't it? If you can't tandem with them, then????

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Another great read, Steph! Alas, i can't of a soul I could tandem with.  (-:

      Frieda, you're one up on me.  I haven't seen any tendems around here, and I live across from a park.  (Maybe if I would if I spent more time over there...) :}

    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 8 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      Great topic! Oddly enough I was talking about this very thing with my son the other day. I haven't seen many of them around here, but when I do, they are quite a sight and so much fun to watch the happiness in those riding them. I imagine a more connected feeling comes about when riding the as opposed to riding ones own bike with another. It's why they are so often considered romantic. Useful information on what one need so to know about using them. Enjoyed the videos as well. Thanks.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Excellent plan! I would have a lot more fun riding tandem with a girl friend than my husband anyway! :)

    • hot dorkage profile image

      hot dorkage 8 years ago from Oregon, USA

      If I were to try a tandem I would try it with a girlfriend. Then we could take turns being stoker.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Robie - LOL! I know. I seriously worry if my husband and I were to try tandem bicycling. But my friend Dianne and I would have a blast. The trick appears to be the ability to laugh off any issues.

      Hi BristolBoy - exactly why I would try renting one first! But I did read that you can get a decent tandem bike at Wal-Mart for a couple hundred, instead of over $1000.

    • BristolBoy profile image

      BristolBoy 8 years ago from Bristol

      A very interesting idea for a hub! However it is very interesting. Knew someone in our family who had a tandem bike, and as you explain it is rather expensive to buy one! Uisng it led to massive arguments which continued after the bike had finished being used - and as a result I think the tandem now never leads the shed!

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 8 years ago from Central New Jersey

      I too hummed and sang "bycycle built for two" as a kid but have to admit I have never tried it. Perhaps if I had I'd be better at teamwork and trust and maybe doing so would be good for my control issues LOL-- I never thought of tandem bikes as a therapeutic tool but I bet they would be a good one. Sounds llike good couples therapy-- healthier and cheaper than sitting in a shrink's office :-)

      Another excellent read. Thanks, Steph:-)