Tandem bicycles are more than the storied bicycle built for two. Although they are great for couples who just want to ride together, and for riders of different skill levels. They also do well as parent and child rides.
They are very popular with some riders who enjoy riding as a team and they can be very fast with teamwork and practice.
On a tandem bike the front rider (or pilot) is responsible for steering and setting the pedal cadence and the rider in the back (or stoker) is mostly pedal power.
They use more rugged components then a standard bicycle to accommodate the demands of higher loads and more severe duty. The frame and brakes (some use disc brakes) are two of the main areas where the demands are most obvious but the chain and the rims need to be beefed up as well.
The stand over height is lower than most bikes to enable the riders to mount and dismount more easily.
It is very important that the riders practice, as a team, away from traffic in order to ride safely. The handling is different then a conventional bike since a tandem has a much longer wheel base. Also the stoker must yield to, and move with, the captain. Synchronization is the key to riding safely.
They can be configured as a road bike with dropped handlebars and narrower seats and this is usually the choice of riders that are primarily interested in speed. But, they are more commonly configured as a comfort or cruiser bike with raised handlebars, a more upright riding position, and wider, more padded seats.
With a tandem there is no more puffing to catch up with the front rider or looking over your shoulder to see where the heck your companion is. You can communicate with each other easily which is a safer way to ride as well.
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