Author Topic: Tandems - what's the best option?  (Read 3067 times)

Tandems - what's the best option?
« on: March 15, 2017, 09:35:36 am »
We're a cycling family but not as much as I think you lot are. I commute by bike, my partner too occasionally, but we mostly go out together at the weekend irregularly. We give our4 year old the choice of walking or cycling. He goes through spells of one then switches. We also plan to tour, camping as well. We did that last summer for 2 weeks.

The question is, would a tandem suit? Which one? Is 4 years too young for the back? How much kit can one take? What happens if the child gets tired/falls asleep? How long do they usually ride a tandem? Did your kids reach a certain age and refuse to ride it? It's a big expense to find out it only has a short lifespan.

I'm just under 2m tall, can you get tandems to fit me and a 4 year old? Would such a tandem then allow my partner who is about a foot shorter than me to use it?

Would you recommend a tagalong from 4 then use a tandem later on?

I visited jdbtandems and they were great. They suggested weehoo but we don't like them. The tandems were nice though. Hase ones looked good with a very sturdy double stand that's also a pannier rack. The orbit tandems are nice looking.

They do look an expensive purchase if it doesn't work out. I looked on eBay, gumtree, etc. They all seem to be ancient tandems, viking brand or rubbish. The tandem club all seems member only so i can't see much information on it. Is there any good place to find a decent secondhand tandem? I'd want a good one for loaded touring. Which make and model should i look at?

Sorry but loads of questions so any information you care to give will be appreciated.

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2017, 01:43:09 pm »
I predict a lot of recommendations for the Circe Helios...
Getting there...

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2017, 01:45:51 pm »
Clarion's biased because he and Butterfly have a Helios.

So have we - the electric assist version. My granddaughter, nearly 7, can ride it with the saddle at its lowest.

http://www.circecycles.com/products/helios/model-container/
Basses lower the tone.

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2017, 01:47:17 pm »
I haven't got a Helios and I still think they're brilliant.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

CrinklyLion

  • The one with devious, cake-pushing ways....
Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2017, 01:59:00 pm »
The Helios was the best thing we've ever bought :)

Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2017, 02:27:07 pm »
Your basic choices are a child-back tandem as discussed, or adapting an adult one. Adaptations come mainly in two forms. Kiddy-cranks (check the various photos on that page) work for various ages, but take a bit more trouble to fit because they affect the drive train. Until I found that link, I didn't know that you could get them for newer, fat tubes.

Crank shorteners are more suited to older children, and are really quick to fit. There are two related reasons to shorten a crank - both to put the pedals nearer the rider, and to reduce the circle described in pedalling, as a big circle could be a bit much for short legs!

As children get older, you can gain the odd inch or so of extra reach by using an old-fashioned seat pin and separate saddle clip; inverting the clip to sit above the saddle rails, instead of below, moves the saddle down (because the clip is always at the same height on the pin of course). So, if the adult tandem isn't too large, you may be surprised how early a child can lose the crank shorteners.

Obviously an adapted adult tandem is more likely to meet your requirement of riding with your partner. On the other hand, if you can afford a purpose-built child-back model, that's easier. Bear in mind that stokers (even adults) don't really need to be able to touch the ground in the same way as they would on a solo, as the steersman can easily balance the stationary machine.

I don't have experience of riding with very young children. We didn't do much till ours were over 7, and then it was limited. Therefore, we only ever used crank shorteners. I have seen set-ups with side rails and all sorts.

Popular cycle-hire places, such as at reservoirs and railway paths, often include tandems in their fleets. You might do well to go along and try a day's hire as a learning exercise?

Tim Hall

  • Bright are the stars that shine Dark is the sky
Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2017, 03:09:59 pm »
The Tandem Club for sale board is open to non members as far as I know.

On the other hand, I've got a Hase Pino I might be getting rid of. Whether it would fit a four year old I don't know. From memory when The Boy was small he just sat on the seat without pedalling.
There are two ways you can get exercise out of a bicycle: you can
"overhaul" it, or you can ride it.  (Jerome K Jerome)

Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2017, 05:19:46 pm »
At four years kiddies should have no problem riding a trailer-biker. We used to happily do 10 miles at that age (including a bit of a climb or two). There was never any hint of them dropping off (in either sense).

Just to clarify your OP, are you saying that your partner will captain the tandem with child on the back, or that you and partner will ride the tandem (in addition to you piloting with child on the back) ?
Rust never sleeps

Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2017, 05:31:06 pm »
I'll be the captain (correct lingo i think). My lad on the back (or front if a Hase Pino or Circe Morpheus). Since I'm likely to be the strongest and fittest rider it makes sense for me to be on the tandem with child and fully loaded.

Later on I'm thinking my child then rides his own bike when older and my partner joins me on the tandem. As soon as he's old enough to ride a tour with us i fully expect he'll want to. At that stage we could revert to our own bikes but i like the idea of evening out our relative cycling strengths through a tandem. Initially by loading me up but later by my partner joining me

Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2017, 06:28:59 pm »
Aha !  In which I case I suspect that the Circe Helios really is the bunny for you.

Rust never sleeps

Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2017, 08:11:19 pm »
We love our Helios.  Even the cool kids say 'cool bike' or similar. I can ride it solo, with a toddler pedalling and a smaller toddler in the baby seat or with clarion stoking (he's 6' and sturdy; I'm 5'3" and fairly sturdy). I've also ridden with various age stokers (NSTN of this parish was particularly delightful) or a rack in place of the stoker seat and 2 babyseats. With the Brompton block and it's huge bag, I can carry everyday huge loads and when we cycle camped at York rally last year, I had an enormous trailer bag in the baby seat and bungeed it between the stoker bars when the stoker was asleep.

It is the best money I ever spent.  :) 
Quote from: Kim
^ This woman knows what she's talking about.

Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2017, 08:19:04 pm »
Oh, and clarion has also piloted with me stoking.

Whereabouts are you? We camp with the ALC and usually have the tandem in the car so if you wanted a test ride, we might be near you at some point and you'd be welcome to try it out. :)
Quote from: Kim
^ This woman knows what she's talking about.

Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2017, 10:29:39 pm »
ALC? I've heard of that but can't remember what ALC is.

We're thinking of test riding a few at jd tandems because we're about an hour away and they're on the way to places we go to. We're based in the north west not far from Kendal. Doubt we'll get round to that until later in the year though.

I've looked at the Helios. Isn't it a smaller wheel tandem? I like the look of orbit tandems. I like the idea of getting one with s&s bits to allow splitting it up for transport. It's an option for orbit tandems. Pricey new though, as are all tandems.

CrinklyLion

  • The one with devious, cake-pushing ways....
Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2017, 12:13:35 am »
If you ever head east, we have a helios in York (and cycle heaven have a few - a couple that belong to the owners plus an electric assist and the morpheus in the showroom too) available for testing porpoises.  Smallest stoker on ours, to date, was about 5 and the largest (in weight terms at least!) was me.  Pilots ranging from the teen at 13 years old and just over 5' tall to a 6 foot tall Deano.

Yes, it is a small-wheel one.   It rides pretty well though. Ours has done a number of 50-100km audaxes and a FNRttC as well as several years of sterling duty as the school bus/my commuter.  There is a separable version available too!

Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2017, 10:06:45 am »
How would a 6'5" frame fit on the Helios? Does it come in different sizes front and rear? It looks like it's effectively a step through frame to me at least at the back. I'm concerned that for my size there could be a lot of seat post showing and not enough reach. I'm usually on the largest sized bike a brand offers (touring bikes like surly excepted). Also if you buy new from Circe can you get different sizes for front and rear parts? I know some brands give frame sizes like 18/16 or 20/16. Do Circe do this?

CrinklyLion

  • The one with devious, cake-pushing ways....
Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2017, 10:29:36 am »
I specced mine up with Piers at Cycle Heaven.  He has one too, and is well in excess on 6 foot tall!  They genuinely are designed to work for a really wide range of pilots and stokers and I don't know anyone who has one who wouldn't whole-heartedly recommend them for family cycling - I'm quite evangelical about mine and have been known to offer test rides to other parents who I catch admiring it in the school bike sheds (and occasionally strangers in the park who have expressed an interest!).

I would say that if you're considering any distance go for one of the dropped bar options or (as I now have) flat bars with really good bar-ends.

Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2017, 10:39:14 am »
If i went for one I'd have to have drops. At a push ergon bar ends are an option. I bought a flat bar hybrid 3 or 4 years ago and realised my mistake very quickly. The lack of hand positions really affected me after anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour. Elbows and wrists hurt especially the elbow in one arm, crunchy elbow anyone?!!! Glad that bike got nicked when though no insurance pay out. Now riding drop bars.

My partner prefers flat bar though.

What are the stoker/rear bars like? What options for them?

CrinklyLion

  • The one with devious, cake-pushing ways....
Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #17 on: March 16, 2017, 10:47:53 am »
The stoker bars have plenty of adjustment options.  The whole bike does - it's designed in.  To be honest, I really (really) think that to appreciate the helios you need to get your hands on one and have a play. 

Oh, and they don't do different sizes for the frame.  It's designed to adjust to fit different sized people - like a brompton, one size fits all.   I did choose shorter cranks for mine, front and back, since the VAST majority of the time it's ridden by shortarses front and back :D

I bought new via their local distributor, which is one of my LBSs, and literally extended my mortgage to get my 'ideal' specification e.g. dynamo lighting, gears-inna-can, BB7 brakes.  It is the most expensive thing I have ever bought in my life, apart from my house.  It's also one of the most successful and good value and enjoyable purchases I have ever made :)

Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #18 on: March 16, 2017, 12:19:41 pm »
Just out of curiosity. The brut option has the rear seat b taken out and a large rack in place. If family camping it's possible to fit a tagalong to the brut setup and carry all the kit you need too. I reckon it's an option if I'm on a little tour with just the child.

Out of you Helios owners have you used different setups like the brut cargo rack? Can you easily change between cargo and normal tandem?

CrinklyLion

  • The one with devious, cake-pushing ways....
Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #19 on: March 16, 2017, 05:15:51 pm »
Turning the tandem into a cargo bike and then adding a tagalong to it?  No idea if that would work.  I wouldn't do it since I bought a tandem because I didn't particularly like the tagalong.  You can easily fit a rack to carry a couple of back rollers and a rack pack and I also have a Brompton block at the front.  That's quite a lot of luggage capacity.  There's lots of facebook photos of people using a trailer on the back too.  And you can pretty much mix and match the bits you like from different specs - I did this buying from the LBS but iirc Butterfly did likewise buying direct.

I lust after the triplet, even though my teenager is now probably a bit too big and nearly-cool to want to ride with me and his brother.  I can't afford another remortgage though :)

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #20 on: March 16, 2017, 05:50:56 pm »
Agreed.  Tandem + trailer seems like a better setup than cargo-bike + tagalong.  Not least because it gives you the option of leaving the trailer and going for a ride, but I expect it would handle better too.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #21 on: March 16, 2017, 09:28:35 pm »
http://www.circecycles.com/products/helios/model-container/#brut-8sp-2

This combined with the following.

http://www.followmetandem.co.uk/followme-tandems/folllowme_tandem.php

I think i saw large panniers somewhere and that rack could carry a lot. However I take on board your views that kid on the tandem and if needed luggage on a trailer is a better option. Just a 2 wheeled trailer though as I'm not impressed with the single wheel trailer I've used before. A horrible ride with that trailer.

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #22 on: March 16, 2017, 09:35:55 pm »
This combined with the following.

http://www.followmetandem.co.uk/followme-tandems/folllowme_tandem.php

Ah, that makes sense.  So they can use their own bike independently.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #23 on: March 17, 2017, 04:13:33 pm »
I want a follow me to increase our options, especially when touring and using a train.
Quote from: Kim
^ This woman knows what she's talking about.

Re: Tandems - what's the best option?
« Reply #24 on: March 17, 2017, 08:44:41 pm »
What's your view on followme vs trailgator? I've read a lot of good things about the trailgator but not much about the followme.