The tandem bicycle is an iconic piece of transportation that was first invented back in the 190s by Mikael Pederson. Since that period in time, we’ve seen tandem bikes permeate pop culture as a sort of wholesome hobby for romantic couples in movies. If you are reading this then you probably wouldn’t be surprised to know that there is a whole world of serious tandem cyclists out there. Many people can be intimidated by the large and heavy bicycles but you really don’t have to be. So if you and a friend, or significant other, want to go for a tandem ride, take a look at a few of the better models on the market.
A few of the top options on the market.
Much like single rider bikes, there are a variety of different sizes and styles to fit your needs.
Kent Northwoods Dual Drive Tandem Bike
If you don’t want to spend your time combing through catalog after catalog for a tandem bike then you can end your research here. Kent Northwoods’ has developed one of the premier tandem bike options available for those interested in a more comfortable cruising model. You have a 21-speed drive train, twisting shifters, and gel saddles for optimal comfort. The wheels on this tandem are 26 inches, which is perfect for cruising. This bike has a steel frame and supports two full grown adults.
Pacific Dualie Tandem Bicycle
This striking silver tandem bicycle has 26-inch wheels and a silver frame. The bike weighs in at 57 pounds and it can handle up to two full grown adults. Again we see Shimano’s patented 21-speed shifters with alloy brakes, cranks, and wheels. This mountain bike style frame has raised bars in front and lowered bars in the stoker position for maximum relaxation while peddling around. Though this model is slightly heavier than some of the other options on this list it makes up for that because it is so darn sturdy. With large wheels and a heavy duty frame, you can easily handle some rougher terrain.
Giordano Viaggio Tandem Road Bike
This tandem bike has a 20inch front and 16inch rear frame size and the whole model weighs in right at 42lbs. This model is lighter than the two prior entries mostly due to the aluminum body instead of steel. Giordano is a well-known brand in the world of cycling and they didn’t let their guard down while developing their tandems. You’ll see a host of familiar names in the parts section: Shimano shifters and derailleurs as well as KMC chains. With easy to adjust seats you can fit riders as short as 4’6 without too much trouble, allowing for some parent-child riding if you so desire. Giordano has worked wonders here with the Viaggio and this is the perfect entry level tandem bicycle.
Kulana Lua 26″ Tandem Comfort Cruiser Bike
The final bike on our list is the Kulana Lua, a brightly colored and heavy duty tandem bike. There are leisurely tandem bicycles on the market and this one has to take the cake. This large cruiser has comfortable seats, easy to reach pedals, large wheels, and a heavy duty frame that screams ‘stability’. You have rear coaster brakes here to help ease your braking stresses and the relaxed positions of the seating will keep you comfortable for the duration of your ride. This is a visually stunning ride with a bright yellow body and it is one that will keep people looking out for you while you are on the road. Big enough for adults but small enough for kids to ride with their parents, the Kulana Lua is one of the best models on the market.
Why consider a tandem bicycle?
While tandem bicycles definitely carry with themselves a specific social connotation, the canoodling partners, they are far more than that. Listed below are a few common reasons as to why you should consider jumping on the tandem bicycle bandwagon.
- Riders with different abilities can ride together.
If you are a world class cyclist but your friend or significant other is just getting into the exercise then a tandem bicycle is the perfect way to get them involved. Tandem bicycles are team oriented and they help to create both camaraderie and a fitness connection. Also consider cyclists who are uncomfortable riding solo in certain areas, like crowded city areas. The person who is too afraid to take the lead can ride in the back (stoker position — we’ll get into later) and let the lead cyclist take charge.
- Tandem bikes are great for riders with disabilities.
If you are visually impaired, partially or otherwise, then hitching up with another rider for a tandem bicycle can be a great way to get out there and experience the joy of cycling. There are also many other minor physical disabilities that would prevent riders from getting on the pavement with an adult tricycle and tandem bikes offer a solution for all of them. Just put the stronger or more capable rider up front and enjoy the experience.
- A tandem bike ride is a great relationship builder.
If you feel like you don’t get to talk to your significant other enough, or that they don’t always listen to what you have to say, then get out there on a tandem bike. The mechanics of riding a dual seater require you to have open and clear communication. Getting in tune with one another on the bike paths will get you in tune for the rest of your day-to-day activities.
- They are a great workout.
A tandem bicycle literally has double of everything that a regular bike will have. This makes tandem bikes heavier, a little bit harder to ride, and a whole lot more intense when you are first starting out. The workout you get while going uphill or traversing harsher terrain will leave you sweating and burning calories — perfect for the couple looking to improve their fitness. However, when you are going downhill or on a paved road then tandem cycling is the most comfortable experience you’ll have on two wheels.
Key Terminology for tandem bike riding.
Alright, so we’re pretty well introduced to the world of tandem bicycles but there is still a lot more to learn yet. As you go about researching your first tandem bicycle purchase you are going to run across a ton of terminology that probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to you. No matter how casual tandem bikes may seem, there is a lot going on to make them operate. So in order to operate them efficiently, you need to understand the different key terms.
Alright, so we’ve pretty much covered this term. A tandem is just a bicycle that allows for multiple riders. Typically the most common tandem bike will have two seats but there are three and four seaters out there. The more people you add to the bike the more difficult it will get.
Now we are talking about the actual positions on the bicycle. The stoker is the rider who sits in the back of the tandem bike. The stoker is the more relaxed position and typically simply includes pedaling and enjoying the view. More serious riders will have the stoker in charge of maps and handing out supplies. The stoker should never stop pedaling, however, without telling the captain in the front seat.
The captain has to be the most advanced rider between the two because their job is to handle all of the duties that cycling requires: steering, braking, shifting, and pedaling. The captain has to make sure they are trusted by their stoker and they must always be in complete communication with one another.
Tandem bicycles don’t brake the same way that a single rider unit does. They utilize this thing called the drum brake which is connected to the rear hub. This can be utilized to slow down over a longer period of time without the riders worrying about destroying their rims.
A few words on upkeep
While any bicycle, tandem or otherwise, is going to entail upkeep the facts are pretty clear that tandem bikes will keep you busy. The more you ride your bike the more features you are going to wear out over time. From your brakes to your suspension and everything in between. That is why it is so important that riders take the time to learn the ins and outs of their bike while opting for higher quality components. While this can be seen as a negative to some people, it is also an unlikely strength. Tandem bikes have so much room for customization that you and your co-riders can pick specific parts that cater to your riding style, spending extra money where necessary to get the best available gear.