What is a Tandem Bicycle

Different from a conventional bicycle, Tandem bicycle is a special kind of a bike or a bicycle which allows more than one person to pedal and ride the bike. Though Tandem generally refers to two seater bicycle, it is also a generic term used for triples (three seater) and quads (four seater) and can also be extended to almost ten seaters which would be a large tandem bicycle. The seating arrangement here is to sit one behind the other. There are two or more sets of pedals and handlebars.

The person who sits in the front position controls the speed and the direction of the cycle and is rightly called the “captain, steersman or a pilot” whereas the pillion rider who only pedals as per the captain’s instructions is called the “stroker, rear admiral or navigator”. Since the stroker cannot see the road directly, the captain has an additional responsibility of warning the stroker of bumps and pitfalls on the road, apart from controlling the brakes and steering.

 The double pedaling power in a tandem bicycle helps in more frictional loss and better speed. However the wind resistance is the same as a normal bicycle. On flat surfaces and down slope, the power of both the riders helps to overcome the wind resistance whereas for an uphill the coordination between the two is very important which becomes slightly difficult if both the riders are of varying physical abilities. Therefore an effective cycling on a tandem bike requires a pair of experienced people which would help them to cross even hundred miles easily. Sometimes even a non verbal communication including weight shifts or changes in speed and pedal should be familiar among the pair.

One of the main purposes or rather uses of a Tandem bicycle is attributed to the competitions like Paralympics involving blind and visually impaired enthusiastic who can be a stroker with a fully fit captain. Various other reasons of using a Tandem bicycle could be as under-

  • A parent and child can go cycling maintaining a speed and distance as much an adult can perform.
  • With a better speed, more than one person can reach the same destination, well before on time.
  • Tandem can be shared between couple for a mutual cycling experience.
  • Finally twp people with different physical strength and stamina could enjoy a common ride together thereby not changing their individual way of pedaling for the other. Ultimately work is completed with reduced efforts.

Having existed for more than 1000 years now, Tandem bicycle is made more functional for transportation as well as for recreational purposes.