Author Topic: Tandem bike possible with large rider in Stoker position  (Read 2986 times)

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Offline unfdad

Tandem bike possible with large rider in Stoker position
« on: May 21, 2013, 01:24:58 pm »
I am new to forums, and to this site, so please forgive anything not done correctly.  My brother (who is vision impaired) and myself are considering taking up long distance bicycling touring next year when we retire and I have a couple questions I'm hoping that can answered to let me know if this is possible for us.

My brother is 6' 4" tall, his weight is in the mid 190's, and I believe his inseam is 36”.  I am 5' 10.5" tall, my weight is in low 190's, and my inseam is 30.5”.  Since I have good vision I would need to ride in the front seat position and my brother would be riding behind me. 

•   Can a bike be configured to handle this size difference? 
•   Any suggestion on what manufacturer would be a good quality bike to look into?
•   My brother lives near Rochester, NY and I live in Jacksonville, FL…any suggestion for bike shops to check out in either of our areas?  If not then anywhere on the east coast between us?
•   Any thoughts on what we should expect to spend for a good quality bike?
•   How hard is it to transport a tandem bike?
•   Can a BOB trailer be used to pull camping gear and should a single or double wheeled trailer be considered?

Thanks for any thoughts you may be able to offer,

Don Bidleman

Offline John Nelson

Re: Tandem bike possible with large rider in Stoker position
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2013, 03:37:17 pm »
I have a friends in a similar situation. They do successfully ride a tandem together, but they had to get it custom made by Co-Motion, one of the best tandem manufacturers. Standard off-the-shelf tandems are almost always designed for a larger captain than stoker.

http://www.co-motion.com/index.php/tandems/general/custom

If you go this route, it is best if you work with a bike shop to get the measurements to custom fit you. If the bike shops are willing to work with each other, you should each be able to go to your own local bike shop. I'd recommend you visit one of the Co-Motion dealers in your area. You can find one by clicking on the "Find Dealer" link at the above cited web site.

There are a lot of options depending on whether you want couplers, belt drive, Rohloff hub, etc. Plan to spend in the $3000-$6000 range, maybe more if you go fancy.

Tandem bikes can fit on standard rear hitch racks, usually with the wheels removed to make them shorter. They can also be transported on the roofs of SUVs or station wagons. You can fly with a tandem by breaking it down if you get couplers, but it takes a long time to disassemble and reassemble, and you should buy the fairly pricey cases they sell. It will take two cases to hold it.

AFAIK, there's no problem pulling a trailer with a tandem. You can also use panniers if you prefer.

Offline unfdad

Re: Tandem bike possible with large rider in Stoker position
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2013, 04:13:04 pm »
Gosh John,

Certainly appreciate the great info and quick response.  Did not understand "There are a lot of options depending on whether you want couplers, belt drive, Rohloff hub, etc."...can you explain what options I should look for and consider to make our touring an enjoyable experience.  Also, do both people on a tandem have to peddle at the same cadance or can a bike be set up where one can peddle at a difference cadance...or even coast while the other person continues to peddle.

Thanks again!

Don

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Tandem bike possible with large rider in Stoker position
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2013, 04:22:58 pm »
You might also want to look at the Bilenky Viewpoint tandem -- see http://www.bilenky.com/#!viewpoint/cb9e.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Tandem bike possible with large rider in Stoker position
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2013, 04:58:06 pm »
Most tandems are set up so that both people pedal at the same cadence.

It's best to get a bike shop to help you through all the decisions to find what's right for you. You can also study the information available on the Co-Motion web site. You usually pick a base model from their standard selection and then select the options from there. Check out the Co-Motion Speedster line. It might be what you want. You might want a bit wider tires. The custom sizing adds $450 to the price. Couplers, if you need to travel by air, adds another $2000 and the travel case another $720. Racks add $250. The Thudbuster $140. You're above $9000 now. You don't need them, but you might want to go farther and get the belt drive and Rohloff hub.

Offline unfdad

Re: Tandem bike possible with large rider in Stoker position
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2013, 05:31:48 pm »
Wow, see this can get really involved but sounds like there are many options out there.  I did find a bike shop that's 38 miles from my brother's house that does sell, recommends, and can customize the Co-Motion bike and said it's possible to fit our situation.  I am flying up there this Aug for family reunion and will take my brother there to talk with them.

I have a good bike rack so can take the tires off and carry a tandem...but would ultimately like to do a long slow X-country ride across the northern section of US with my brother and would I be correct in assuming that the bike shop we purchase the bike from could take a box they receive new bikes in and ship our bike to a bike shop somewhere out on the west coast where we could pick it up to start our adventure?

Thanks again,

Don

Offline John Nelson

Re: Tandem bike possible with large rider in Stoker position
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2013, 06:06:16 pm »
Sure, you can ship anything.

Online DaveB

Re: Tandem bike possible with large rider in Stoker position
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2013, 06:48:43 pm »
One tandem team couple in my Bike Club has the same situation you describe, the man is vision impaired so the wife  is the stoker with the expected size and weight differential.  They seem to have no problems with their tandem.

I don't know if you need a custom tandem or just a long MTB-type seatpost in the stoker position and a very short stoke stem to give your brother enough reach.   Co-Motion does make a tandem with a three section stoker seatpost that telescopes over a huge range of heights.  It was originally designed to allow a small child to ride with an adult without a "kid-back" crank set and then adjust upward as the child reached adulthood.  Perhaps a variation on that frame would work.

Offline unfdad

Re: Tandem bike possible with large rider in Stoker position
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2013, 07:44:57 pm »
Thanks Dave,

Now understanding that this will be possible for our situation and looks like there are many options to explore.  I appreciate everyone's thoughts and look forward to anything else that I might learn from.

Don

Offline yumadons

Re: Tandem bike possible with large rider in Stoker position
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2013, 09:14:54 pm »
Don, last year my Don & I were riding in San Diego & came across the Blind Stokers doing a 3-day ride. They were so nice to us on our plain two bikes, I'd call or email someone there & pick their brain:

http://blindstokersclub.org/BSC_website/Homepage.html
« Last Edit: May 21, 2013, 09:20:12 pm by yumadons »

Offline bogiesan

Re: Tandem bike possible with large rider in Stoker position
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2013, 10:52:41 pm »
You want to seriously explore a tandem recumbent or a tandem trike before you make ANY decisions. See some fascinating systems at hostelshoppe.com.
A tandem 'bent has the stoker way behind the captain in a heads up, comfortable position. On a tandem trike, three wheels keep the unit stable at all times. It never falls over.

A tandem 'bent is a bit heavier than a conventional tandem but you're not setting speed records on this trip so that's not a factor, really. The investment is a bit steeper, too, but a good bike is worth every penny it costs. CraigsList should have a few recumbent tandems.

Look up the Northwest Tandem Association and you can also research a few tandem buying guides that may still exist.
I'm telling ya: recumbent.

I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline unfdad

Re: Tandem bike possible with large rider in Stoker position
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2013, 08:28:11 am »
That was a fascinating video on the Blind Stoker Club....would never imagine that a club would be formed for a situation such as mine and will certainly share with my brother and his wife, now I'm wondering if there are other such clubs around the USA such as this.  From reading what the Adventure Cycling Association has to offer such as organized rides and maps to plan our own itinerary I'm hopeful that my brother will get as enthused about this sport as I am getting and certainly think it is something we could enjoy doing in this short life we are given in this world.

I did research recumbent bike option last w/e and discussed with a bike shop 70 miles south of where my brother lives about this possibility...he felt that do to the weight situation recumbent tandem cycling would be too unstable for us and recommended to shop for upright tandems (which he does not sell).  I discussed with my brother and he does feel he'd rather go the conventional upright tandem route and have found a bike shop that seems very knowledgeable about bikes 38 miles from my brother's house (Geneva Bicycling Center) and we plan to take a trip to see them when I visit my family this August.

Offline bogiesan

Re: Tandem bike possible with large rider in Stoker position
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2013, 10:35:54 pm »
Sounds like youve already made up your minds.
You are talking to the wrong recumbent dealer; that's not a reasonable recommendation. There's a tandem 'bent for every cycling pair and you really want to ride one before letting someone talk you out of something about which you have said you know very little. The "balance situation" on a tandem, which may or may not be as bad as you anticipate,  is the same on any two-wheeled bike but on a 'bent you are ten inches closer to the ground so when you fall over, and you will, you don't hit nearly as hard. and you need to ride a tandem trike. There is no balance issue at all.

I recommend recumbents for three reasons. Comfort, stability and uniqueness. You want to spend 8 hours sitting on a fence post or in an easy chair? The physics of the recumbent and 'bent tandem are beyond the scope of the post but easily researched ( or just as easily ignored). And a tandem trike is an unbelievable traveling experience. But I ride a recumbent as much for the fact that no one else does as for the other two reasons. Recumbents are not for everyone. And that's good.

Hope you two find a bike you enjoy riding and helps you achievE a good touring experience. You know what they call tandems? "Relationship acceleration system on wheels." The several hundred miles you will spend together while training will test much more than your camping and tire changing skills.
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline unfdad

Re: Tandem bike possible with large rider in Stoker position
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2013, 04:18:34 pm »
Hi Bogiesan, thanks for the follow-up email!  I re-read your original reply and will check the links and do more checking.....definitely not made up my mind about anything yet and still trying to learn all the options and pro/cons of each.  You make a good case for stating that I was emailing the wrong recumbent dealer as you're obviously experienced in this situation and your points make a lot of sense.

I assume when you reference "bent" that's an abbreviation for recumbent but maybe you could help me with two initial questions.
1.  My brother is the tall person with long legs but also legally blind...he would not be able to be in the front position on a recumbent since that is where the steering has to be done from, correct?
2.  I well imagine that the trike would be stable but does this present more footprint on a road when doing touring thus may increase risks from cars coming up behind us?

Thanks again,
Don

Offline mbattisti

Re: Tandem bike possible with large rider in Stoker position
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2013, 08:29:43 pm »
you may wish to look into a PINO tandem (made in Germany I believe).  Rider in back (sitting upright) does the steering, while the person up front is in a recumbent position.