Tandems, recumbents popular in cycling | TheUnion.com

Tandems, recumbents popular in cycling

“Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do…..you look sweet, upon the seat of a bicycle made for two.” Remember that song? Well, we are seeing a lot more tandem bicycles on the road today and for a good reason. Couples who like to ride but have different strengths and abilities may find it a challenge to ride when they’re on separate bicycles.

But riding together is easy on a tandem. I recently asked the wife of a local tandem couple why she liked riding a tandem. She said “because I never have to play catch-up.” The faster rider doesn’t need to wait for the slower one and the slower rider doesn’t need to struggle to try and keep up with the faster rider. Riding a tandem turns cycling into a mutual activity.

The front rider is called the “captain” and the rear rider the “stoker.” The captain is responsible for steering and ensuring that both cyclists are happy and safe. The stoker, while pedaling, can take pictures, sing songs, smile a lot, have a good time, and try not to steer.

It’s been said that wherever your relationship is going, it will get there faster on a tandem. There has to be good communication between the two so each knows what is happening ahead on the road, or when shifting the gears. After riding several miles together, a good team develops a special level of non-verbal communication. If one person tries to impose his/her will over the other, things will not go well.

You might see variations of tandems on the road: A regular bicycle with the back half of a second bike hitched on the back, a “triple” tandem, and recently seen at two organized rides, a “quint” bike, for five people. It looked like a limo and had to take very wide turns. I have friends who are avid cyclists who have two children. They bought a tandem and attached a kiddy trailer. There are so many tandems or variations of tandems on the road that tandem rallies are held around the country.

Some like recumbents

Recumbent bicycles are designed so that the rider sits back in a full seat with legs in a horizontal position. People with back and or neck problems may find recumbents more comfortable. Local recumbent cyclists say these bicycles are easier on the hands and they experience less wrist, neck and saddle pain. The seats are light and comfortable with back and buttocks fully supported. There are basically two kinds of steering: handlebars are under the seat or above the seat. The gearing is the same as a regular bike.

There are many variations of recumbents, so it is important to try several first. It usually takes about 15 minutes to get the hang of riding a recumbent. Climbing hills may be slower, but you can make up the time going downhill.

Recumbent touring is a wonderful way to see the scenery, simply because your head is in a more natural upright position. Also, you may well find yourself less tired at the end of the day. Recumbents are more noticeable on the road because of their unusual shape. An orange flag flying above the seat helps make them more visible. You might also see them with a “fairing,” a big plastic windshield covering the front half of the bike providing wind protection.

Overall, recumbent bikes are faster, having set ALL the land speed records.

Tandems, recumbents, road bikes, mountain bikes….there are many options to choose from to have lots of fun and exercise with friends and family.


Gail Shierman is a local and international cyclist and belongs to the Sierra Express Bicycle Club. For more information about bicycling and the club, go to the club Web site athttp://www.sierraexpress.org.

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