I love riding my tandem. Whether with my wife or my six-year-old, we are riding together, enjoying each other’s company and conversation, and keeping fit at the same time. Tandems are great equalizers. I am an avid rider, who rides thousands of miles a year. My wife only rides the tandem. She has no interest in riding a single bike. While my son does enjoy his single bike, he doesn’t do any serious riding on it. When we ride our tandem, no one lags behind as each of us contributes as much as he/she wants to our unified effort.
On a tandem the front rider or captain does all the steering, shifting, and braking. The rear rider or stoker has the freedom to sit back and enjoy the scenery, plot our course on a map, or ride hands-free as my son loves to do. As my wife often says: “I’ll just be back here looking pretty.” The only requirement is that the stoker must maintain the pedal cadence of the captain. There are tandems with independent pedaling systems where one need not even do that.
One of the other wonderful benefits of riding a tandem is the speed. With two people pedaling tandems are capable of much greater speed than a single bike. A reasonably well-coordinated tandem team can smoke the fastest single bike rider even though we are a bit slower on hills. Another related benefit is that with two people working together we not only ride faster we do so with less work. One can ride further and longer than on a single bike.
Even though I enjoy riding my single bike, there is nothing I would rather do than riding a tandem with my wife or my son. I am currently trying to convince my wife that what we really need is a triplet so that all three of us can ride together.
Doug MacKenzie of Belmont Wheelworks says: