Author Topic: Stoker vs Pilot  (Read 2688 times)

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Stoker vs Pilot
« on: August 27, 2019, 11:56:35 am »

Looking at photos of mixed tandem crews, in nearly all of the photos, the man is on the front, and the woman riding stoker.

As someone who has never ridden a tandem. I'm wondering if there is any reason why this always happens?

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2019, 12:12:37 pm »
Men are, on average, taller than women.

On a conventional tandem[1], stability (particularly when starting and stopping) is greatly improved by having the taller rider with the strongest arms on the front:  Their job is to support the bike and the stoker until it starts bicycling.  The stoker's job (in addition to being Always Right) is to provide a burst of power to get it up to speed as quickly as possible, while the pilot controls the wobble and sorts their own feet out.

But also, patriarchy.


[1] The small-wheeled Circe Helios is a notable exception, and is extremely forgiving of short pilots and heavy stokers.  MTB geometries tend to be a bit less wobbly, too.  Different rules apply with recumbents, trikes and other exotica, where leg length or ability to shift weight around when cornering may be a more important factor.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

telstarbox

  • Loving the lanes
Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2019, 12:22:03 pm »

But also, patriarchy.
 

See also: straight car-owning couples where the man nearly always drives.
2019 🏅 R1000 and B1000

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2019, 12:24:38 pm »
See also: straight car-owning couples where the man nearly always drives.

Well the crash testers don't usually crash test with a 50th percentile woman dummy in the drivers seat, if they even test with them at all.

But that's off topic...

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2019, 12:28:49 pm »

But also, patriarchy.
 

See also: straight car-owning couples where the man nearly always drives.

My grandparents did this chronically, which baffled me because my grandmother was a strong-minded woman who drove ambulances during the war.  Of course that might have been the reason.  Then she had a stroke and it became academic.  I don't think I ever saw her drive.

My parents too, but to a lesser extent (they'd swap on long journeys, do the sensible thing when picking up or dropping off[1], and when they eventually had two cars, the car's usual driver[2] would do the driving).


[1] The little swapping-sides dance you see people do at railway stations always baffles me.
[2] Of course in straight two-car owning couples, this generally means the Big Man Car gets used for longer journeys.  In my parents' case, the Big Man Car was usually at the wrong end of the driveway and prone to mechanicals, so this was less of a factor.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2019, 12:29:41 pm »
Tandems work better with the bigger, heavier rider in front. Steering control, aerodynamics, weight on the wheels, most ways of assessing ‘better’. If the riders are equally sized, the stronger rider should generally be on the back. There have been several tandem teams with the woman in front but rarely when the woman is noticeably smaller, usually because of blindness.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2019, 12:32:29 pm »
There have been several tandem teams with the woman in front but rarely when the woman is noticeably smaller, usually because of blindness.

And sometimes couples where the larger rider is blind may be unable to control a conventional tandem properly (or at least sufficiently confidently) for this reason.  There are Darkside alternatives that people aren't always aware of...
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2019, 12:34:40 pm »
There is a thriving paralympic tandem racing scene but recumbent options don’t exist for them.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2019, 12:44:21 pm »
There was a well- known couple from the Southend club I think, that rode with the taller woman on the front. As others have said, it’s about size/ aerodynamics and weight distribution.
In track racing ( that I did) it may be about tactical experience and just how mad you are :-)

Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2019, 02:18:54 pm »
We've seen interchangable crews, and envied them. There are tactical advantages to being able to swap. I once overtook a tandem in the wee-small hours where the stoker was fast asleep, her head rested on his lower back. We found it funny - but he pointed out "We'll swap over later and it'll be my turn for a nap".

Men tend to have more upper-body strength than women (it's a tendency, OK? I'm not being genderist here, don't shoot me!) and most of the balancing, wrangling, and wind compensation comes from the Pilot. I sure as hell know this when we've had a break from tandemming and I've lost all my upper-body fitness.

There's no hard and fast rule though - it's about the team, not the gender. ISTR on Damon's 2015 PBP video, the pilot of a female team had shermers, so they swapped roles.

Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2019, 02:26:14 pm »
... If the riders are equally sized, the stronger rider should generally be on the back...
That's interesting. My husband and I are sufficiently similar in size that we should be able to ride a tandem either way round (given quick-release seat adjustment - there's a difference in leg length). He's the stronger rider though. I think he'd hate being on the back because he likes to go down hills a lot faster than I do.
We've only been on a tandem once and didn't get on at all well with it - but I don't think we had long enough to get used to it.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2019, 02:39:29 pm »
Whichever way your relationship is going, a tandem will get you there faster.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Phil W

Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2019, 03:47:20 pm »

But also, patriarchy.
 

See also: straight car-owning couples where the man nearly always drives.

Unless returning from the pub

Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2019, 03:55:13 pm »
CBH passed her test around 10 years ago and has driven me just once and that was when I was unable to drive after having had a fall. She says she prefers it when I drive as I have had a licence for some 35 years and, despite owning a BMW, don't drive like a twat.

However, I do wish she wouldn't sit in the back and make me wear a cap when I drive her. 

Anyway, returning to cycling, if anyone ever wants a stoker, I would love to give a it a try: I am a short arse so would fit in well behind!

Cats to the left of me, cats to the right of me, cats sitting on my keyboard making far more sense than I do.

Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2019, 04:12:59 pm »

But also, patriarchy.
See also: straight car-owning couples where the man nearly always drives.
Unless returning from the pub
God, we resemble this remark... my excuse is that he likes driving and I don't. I do drive sometimes other than when he's had a beer. Matters are complicated by the way hire car companies charge you stupid amounts to have a second driver so most of the time we don't bother.

Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2019, 07:14:32 am »
Agreed to all previous posts, but there is also another reason. In many (but not all) tandem couples, one of the rider was already an experienced cyclist beforehand, while the other is a beginner. It is always easier to ride a tandem when the experienced cyclist is on the front seat.

Some folks here know that S and me are very differently sized. Both of us would be happy to swap positions, but it would require a radically different machine!

A

Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2019, 08:59:03 am »


There's no hard and fast rule though - it's about the team, not the gender. ISTR on Damon's 2015 PBP video, the pilot of a female team had shermers, so they swapped roles.

It was towards the end of the 2011. They were Swiss, and the usual stoker swapped over at the tops of hills, and then swapped back as climbing isn't as affected by Shermer's. I did a bit of guiding downhill for a Shermer's affected solo rider in 2007. He was still climbing better than me, and it was a long way out, around Le Ribay. I would have finished out of time if I'd stayed with him. Heather insisted I sleep 90 minutes at Villaines, and by the time I woke up, he'd gone off on his own.

Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2019, 10:03:34 am »
I once did a fairly long ride (500 milesin 24hrs)on the front at 6ft1,12st with my son 6'5 14st on the back without problems.Exit Stage Left may have a picture.

Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2019, 10:31:41 am »
I once did a fairly long ride (500 milesin 24hrs)on the front at 6ft1,12st with my son 6'5 14st on the back without problems.Exit Stage Left may have a picture.

No one said it was impossible to do it that way. It's just a bit easier when the heaviest rider is on the front. Before I met S, I learned riding a tandem by volunteering for a group of visually impaired people. I was assigned to a guy who was over 120kg, with zero cycling experience. I was 85kg at that time. The first rides were, let's say slow and erratic to be polite, and the tandem-shaped object we were sitting on didn't help much, but after some time we managed to ride over 50 miles in a relatively comfortable manner!

Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2019, 10:34:35 am »
I once did a fairly long ride (500 milesin 24hrs)on the front at 6ft1,12st with my son 6'5 14st on the back without problems.Exit Stage Left may have a picture.

Before my time Rod. The best I can find is from a 12 in 1990, on a site devoted to time-trialling legends. Interesting driveline, nice socks. It's a fine example of 'patriarchy' in action.


Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2019, 11:04:19 pm »
See also: straight car-owning couples where the man nearly always drives.
Doesn't always have to be patriarchy. My wife has a "Why keep a dog and bark yourself?" attitude to these things.

Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2019, 09:47:10 am »
MrsC nearly always drives (unless we are going to the pub or eating out, in which case I drive). She likes driving, has no problem staying awake on very long drives (I do). It just makes sense.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Manotea

  • Where there is doubt...
Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2019, 09:58:17 am »
Stoker v Pilot?

I'm no expert but AIUI the pilot usually wins...

Thank you for listening to my joke. :)

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #23 on: August 29, 2019, 10:09:02 am »
I once did a fairly long ride (500 milesin 24hrs)on the front at 6ft1,12st with my son 6'5 14st on the back without problems.Exit Stage Left may have a picture.

You two were close enough in size that putting the big bloke on the back would be no trouble and might have been an advantage.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: Stoker vs Pilot
« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2019, 10:24:05 am »
Stoker v Pilot?

I'm no expert but AIUI the pilot usually wins...
I don't know. My wife had less confidence in my bike handling than I did, when we rode together. Made for a tandem that wouldn't quite go round corners like I thought it would. No comment on whose judgment was right, mind you ;D

I have heard it said that the best stoker is one who doesn't know how to ride a bike, and will therefore not attempt to steer from the back.