Tandem FAQ PDF Print E-mail


Tandems are twice as much fun!!!

Why would I want a tandem?

  • A tandem equalizes the different performance levels between two riders to allow them to ride together at the same speed.
  • It enables two cyclists to stay single file on the road and still be close enough to talk easily.
  • Because there is a single rider in front, the wind resistance is less on a tandem allowing it to be faster than the slowest rider would be on an individual bike.
  • Allows families to include younger children by riding safely behind a parent.
  • Tandems are an easy solution for staying together on large group rides such as RAGBRAI.
  • Tandems can include inexperienced or visually impaired riders by riding behind an experienced cyclist.
  • Because I want to include the "ULTIMATE BIKE" in my collection!
  • Why is riding a tandem different?
  • The two riders have titles. The front person is called the "captain" and is responsible for steering, balance, shifting, and braking. The back person is the "stoker". The stoker's jobs include adding power, watching traffic, map reading, throwing the bike off balance, and criticizing the captain's driving skills.
  • Most production tandems are built for the larger person to ride in front, because it is easier to balance.
  • Both riders pedal at the same time, because the pedals are synchronized together.
  • A stoker cannot see directly forward, but can easily see to the left and right.
  • Because of the combined weight and lower wind resistance, tandems descend a hill very quickly.
  • Because of the additional coordination needed, a tandem is often slower going up a hill.
  • It is warmer for the stoker to ride behind a captain in cold weather.
  • A tandem has greater resistance in strong cross winds.
  • For both riders to stand up while climbing a hill on a tandem, it takes experience and combined coordination.


What different types of tandems are available?

Upright style trail or ATB: $800 - $2,000

Full touring: $4000 & up

High performance & racing: $4,000 & up
High performance ATB: $3000 & up

There are many fine production tandems available from Co-Motion, Raleigh (cruiser type only), Trek (cruiser type only). We would like to explore your needs to help find the most suitable model for you.

What are the most important features?
A tandem needs to have a lot of frame strength and rigidity because of the combined weight and the extra length of the frame. Usually the higher the price of a tandem, the less the weight and greater frame strength.

It is important to pick a frame that has ample rear length. This is important to correctly position the stoker's body for comfort on longer rides.

It is usually necessary for a tandem to have a greater range of low gears to offset the difficulty on hills. A triple crankset is standard on most models.

Good brakes are a necessity! A set of cantilever brakes are generally adequate for most riding conditions. A rear wheel drum brake may be necessary for heavy loads on mountainous terrain.

Index shifting is especially important for a smooth shift because of the difficulty in hearing chain misalignment. Hyperglide type gear tooth profile is very important when down shifting under power.

Integrated shift & brake levers like Shimano's STI or Sachs Ergo Power levers are convenient. They allow the captain to keep his hands on the bars for better control. This
type of shifting allows you to change front & rear gears at the same time.

Wide handlebars (44 to 46 cm.) are preferred for the front (to help the handling and balance), and for the rear (to allow room for the captain's thighs).

Any style of pedal will work fine, but clipless pedals allow the convenience of quick placement and release. Toe straps and clips will tend to occasionally drag on the road.

Strong wheels are "wheely" important! It is common for 48 spoked wheels for heavy loads and extreme durability. Other choices would be 36 or 40 spoked wheels for faster

Tires are generally wider than singles and need to be inflated 10-20 psi. higher. We recommend at least 28C or 1 1/8" for general road applications.

Greater stoker comfort can be added with a suspension seat post or get the ultimate ride with a Softride beam.

How can we involve our kids?
A child stoker kit is available for most tandems to adapt the rear crankset to a higher position for kids as young as 3 or 4 years old.

Tandems are a great way to share the task of pulling a child's trailer.

It is even possible to custom order a triple bike for three riders.

How do I transport a tandem?
Enclosed hauling in vans or trailers is the easiest. We can fit two tandems in an extended length Dodge Caravan or Honda Odyssey and still allow seating for four passengers.

Roof racks are available with a tandem adapter mount from Thule, Graber, and Yakima.

Pickup trucks and small trailers can be adapted for a secure fit.

It's even possible to remove both wheels and fasten a tandem to a rear car carrier.

Are there tandem clubs?
There  aren't any clubs in the Black Hawk County area, but we have a growing number of tandem owners. We try to inform everybody of other tandem enthusiasts and encourage group rides. The PIGS (Paired Iowans Going Somewhere) were formed in 1994. They occasionally have a newsletter called “PIGS Tales”.

The Tandem Club of America publishes a newsletter with articles, up-coming events, and classified ads. Ask us for a membership form.

Tandem rallies are a great time. A tandem club in the Midwest will host the Midwest Tandem Rally yearly over Labor Day weekend. Ask about this year's rally.

Is there a market for a used tandem?
Yes! RAGBRAI has made tandems an expanding area of cycling.

Used tandems are hard to find, because both riders have to be sized to the bike. Both front & rear frame size is important. Don't put money into a bike that doesn't fit!

Why does Europa have tandem consultants?
Tandem bicycles are a specialty division of cycling. It is very difficult for a store salesman to be knowledgeable about all the specifics on all of Europa’s products. We have been tandeming since 1987 and are anxious to share what we’ve learned. We ask that you email or call to make an appointment with us. Besides tandem consulting, Cindy works @ home coordinating projects & events for Europa. Russ is not employed at Europa, so we need to schedule appointments to meet you @ Europa. Come prepare d to test ride! We’ll spendtime on sizing and explaining the different models. We’ll help you find the tandem that best fits your needs!

Cindy & Russ Dodd
Tandem Consultants
319-277-0734 Europa or 319-266-9505 Dodd’s at home
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it at home or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it at the store




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