Skip to main content

How to Ride a Tandem Bicycle

Tandem Bicycles Bring Couples and Families Together

What to do with your weekends? You want to spend more time with your partner, but you also want to get a good workout in. How about riding a tandem bicycle together?

When I was younger, I romanticized the idea of riding a tandem bike with a friend, or even a love interest. We'd glide along pathways, past sunny fields, and stop for a picnic lunch. Smiles all along the way! Remember that song, "A Bicycle Built for Two"? That definitely played into my fantasy.

In reality, riding tandem may be more difficult than it appears. One quote (paraphrased) is that whatever direction a relationship is going, it will get there twice as fast on a tandem bike.

To prevent some spats and spills between the two of you, let's learn how to ride a tandem bicycle.

Tandem Bicycle

Want to learn how to ride a tandem bicycle?

Want to learn how to ride a tandem bicycle?

Racing Tandem Bicycles!

Tandem bicycling with a buddy bike attachment

Tandem bicycling with a buddy bike attachment

Communication is Key When Riding a Tandem Bicycle

One of the most obvious reasons that riding tandem can be an exercise in relationship building is that you are not in control! No matter if you are riding as stoker (in the rear) or captain (up front), you have to depend on and trust the other rider. Not surprisingly - communication is key.

Some tandem cyclists have likened the sport to ballroom dancing or canoeing. Its definitely a team effort. Riding tandem is not intuitive, either. You need to time your starts and stops and have agreement on speed. Expert advice is that you should start with a bicycle shop employee with tandem experience to go over the basics.

Injuries can occur when there is a communication breakdown. Examples include heading down a hill too fast, or taking a corner at a dizzying speed. If you need to take a bathroom break, or your legs are hurting, consider how it will impact your tandem partner. No wonder patience and perseverance are required.

Many options if you want to learn how to ride a tandem bicycle

Many options if you want to learn how to ride a tandem bicycle

Build Relationships on a Bicycle Built for Two

Tandem bicycles can also encourage couples, friends and even co-workers to spend time together. Working out and enjoying scenery.... even touring vacation spots... can be a tremendous boost to any relationship.

If you are going to work out for an hour or two, why not do it together and get some good talks in?

Some couples have even joined tandem cycling clubs, finding friendships among others with a cycling passion. Regional rallies draw hundreds of tandem riders for group excursions ranging from 15-100 miles per day. There are alsotandem races and tours.

Whether you like road biking or mountain biking, there are plenty of options in the tandem market: touring, racing, mountain, and townie. Average cost for a tandem bicycle is about $1,500 and up.

Once you get into the sport, you'll need a roof rack, cycling apparel/shoes and a repair kit.

Don't forget bicycle helmets!

Get the Family Riding Together with a Tandem Bicycle

Tandem cycling can be a family affair, too. There are a number of products that allow your child to ride tandem with you (tandem trailers), and even specifically designed childrens' tandem bikes.

I've seen parents "commuting" to day care or school with their kids riding along on a tandem trailer. Engaging in regular, outdoor activity and no burning of fossil fuels. What a great, healthy example to set!

Your kids will love to get in on the fun. Riding tandem can teach important, real-life lessons about communication and teamwork. The novelty doesn't wear off, either. Admit it - when you spot a tandem bicycle, you can't help but stare for a moment or two!

Scroll to Continue

If you're concerned about having your child behind you on a tandem trailer, there's an inventive product called the "Buddy Bike," that places the second (often weaker) rider up front in a lowered, protective position.

How to Ride a Tandem Bicycle

Should You Buy or Rent a Tandem Bicycle?

Although I generally prefer running, cycling is a great workout that I am starting to enjoy more. Working out on a bicycle trainer, and also getting out on the weekends, my legs (and rear) are in great shape now. I'm thinking about trying tandem cycling....

Before I take the plunge and buy a tandem bike, I think I'll first check out tandem rentals. Many tourist locations, like my beautiful hometown of Bend, Oregon, include tandems in their stock of bicycles for rent.

The outing is virtually risk-free and enjoyanle, unless you consider the potential of some skinned knees and a bruised ego!

© 2009 Stephanie Marshall


john hayls on February 07, 2012:

I bought the tandem bicycle few days ago. I go to outside with my friend on every week end. We are very satisfied about this. We drive the bike with enjoy.

masterlite on September 10, 2009:

Great article, I going to start with my kids.

jajeisan5892 from Los Angeles on April 22, 2009:

nice hub. thanks

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 19, 2009:

Laughing Mom - you made me totally laugh!! I hear you!

BT - LOL too. Love these Sunday comments.

B.T. Evilpants from Hell, MI on April 19, 2009:

I always wanted to try this. But even if I could find someone to ride with, my paws wouldn't reach the pedals : ( Back to the unicycle, I guess.

Laughing Mom on April 19, 2009:

I think if the hubby and I tried this, it'd be written up later in the weekly paper something about a suicide pact, two seats and a helmet.

This is actually great info, steph. Thanks for including the videos.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 16, 2009:

Hi 2patricias, that is a good question.... riding on the back of a tandem, you still have to help steer around corners. But at least you'll get help doing it! Steph

2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on April 16, 2009:

I'm not very good at riding a bike, because I have never learned to turn corners. I had thought that it might be okay to go on the back of a tandem, but now that I have read this Hub, maybe not such a good idea?

Thanks for an interesting Hub.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 09, 2009:

You're telling me! I would be a bit afraid to tandem mountain bike. Rocks, roots and streams.... yikes!

SoManyPaths from West Coast USA on April 09, 2009:

Mountain biking in tandem is interesting.. That must take some extreme coordination when going downhill.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 06, 2009:

Hi Jennifer - I have to laugh out loud at your honesty! Tandem cycling isn't for everyone, that's for sure!

Jennifer Bhala from Upstate New York on April 06, 2009:

I always thought tandem bike riding looked like fun, but I have never tried it and probably never will.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 06, 2009:

@ Silver Freak - exactly!

@The How to Hub - you're probably right that kids would do better than most adults. The tandem bikers I see around here look really intense with the gear, etc.

The How To Hub from Australia on April 06, 2009:

I am willing to bet most kids would be better at this than the average adult! When I see a tandem bike, which isn't very often mind you, I always do the double take. They look like fun : )

Silver Freak from The state of confusion on April 05, 2009:

It sounds like it could be a lot of fun, but only with the right partner!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 05, 2009:

Hi Frieda, thanks! I live in a "vacation town," so I do see them about. Plus, there are lots of parents that commute with their kids on the tandem trailers.

JamaGenee - I agree with you! You have to pick carefully for a tandem partner.... says something, doesn't it? If you can't tandem with them, then????

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on April 05, 2009:

Another great read, Steph! Alas, i can't of a soul I could tandem with.  (-:

Frieda, you're one up on me.  I haven't seen any tendems around here, and I live across from a park.  (Maybe if I would if I spent more time over there...) :}

Frieda Babbley from Saint Louis, MO on April 05, 2009:

Great topic! Oddly enough I was talking about this very thing with my son the other day. I haven't seen many of them around here, but when I do, they are quite a sight and so much fun to watch the happiness in those riding them. I imagine a more connected feeling comes about when riding the as opposed to riding ones own bike with another. It's why they are so often considered romantic. Useful information on what one need so to know about using them. Enjoyed the videos as well. Thanks.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 05, 2009:

Excellent plan! I would have a lot more fun riding tandem with a girl friend than my husband anyway! :)

hot dorkage from Oregon, USA on April 05, 2009:

If I were to try a tandem I would try it with a girlfriend. Then we could take turns being stoker.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 05, 2009:

Hi Robie - LOL! I know. I seriously worry if my husband and I were to try tandem bicycling. But my friend Dianne and I would have a blast. The trick appears to be the ability to laugh off any issues.

Hi BristolBoy - exactly why I would try renting one first! But I did read that you can get a decent tandem bike at Wal-Mart for a couple hundred, instead of over $1000.

BristolBoy from Bristol on April 05, 2009:

A very interesting idea for a hub! However it is very interesting. Knew someone in our family who had a tandem bike, and as you explain it is rather expensive to buy one! Uisng it led to massive arguments which continued after the bike had finished being used - and as a result I think the tandem now never leads the shed!

Roberta Kyle from Central New Jersey on April 05, 2009:

I too hummed and sang "bycycle built for two" as a kid but have to admit I have never tried it. Perhaps if I had I'd be better at teamwork and trust and maybe doing so would be good for my control issues LOL-- I never thought of tandem bikes as a therapeutic tool but I bet they would be a good one. Sounds llike good couples therapy-- healthier and cheaper than sitting in a shrink's office :-)

Another excellent read. Thanks, Steph:-)

Related Articles