FAQS

Do you have questions about off-road tandeming? If so, see below for some answers to the most frequently asked questions. If you don’t see the question or answer you’re looking for, email your question to us here at MTBTandems.com. And we’ll be adding the best questions and answers to this page regularly.

Are you an experienced off-road tandem team? Have some tips or info that might be helpful to others, especially new teams? Feel free share your knowledge! Just email us with you $.02 worth. The person(s) submitting the best tip each month will receive a modest prize.


WHY MTB TANDEMS?

For most of us, so we can share the fun and comaraderie of mountain biking with someone. Sometimes it’s because two riders who want to ride together are of different skill and/or fitness levels (at least when they start riding tandems; tandeming seems to bring both partners to a new level together!).


 

WHY?

Because it’s fun – what better reason?


 

I DON’T LIKE GETTING DIRTY; CAN I STILL RIDE OFF-ROAD?

Yes. By choosing the terrain and the weather conditions, you can ride lots of off-road trail and stay clean. However, the first time you come home covered in mud, chances are, you won’t be able to stop grinning, you’ve had so much fun.


 

WHO’S IN CONTROL?

Both of you. The captain brakes and changes gears, but both have control over pedaling, steering, negotiating obstacles, etc.


 

WHAT IS THERE FOR ME TO DO?

Lots. Tandeming is a team effort and doesn’t work if both members don’t take part. Apart from negotiating the trail (see skills section), the stoker can also navigate, feed the captain, operate the cycling computer, give the captain a back/neck/shoulder rub, switch water bottles for the captain, take photos and ride no-hands.


 

WHY IS THE COST AND PRICE RANGE SO HIGH?

You’ll see a large price range in just about any sport. Basic pricing for tandems is higher because it’s a small market and subject to the basic laws of supply and demand.


 

WHY EVEN TRY AND RIDE OFF-ROAD?

It’s fun.
If your spouse rides off-road and you don’t, it’s a good way to get the same enjoyment he/she does
If your spouse rides off-road and you don’t, it’s easier to pick up the skill on the back of a tandem than on a single bike.
It’s way more interesting than road riding.


 

HOW OFF-ROAD IS IT REALLY?

As off-road as you want it to be. there are all sorts of trails, from wide, double-track dirt roads to narrow single-track trails. If a single biker can do it, so can a tandem, in most cases. In some situations, a tandem can negotiate obstacles that a singe bike can’t.


 

I WANT TO SEE WHERE I’M GOING; HOW DO I COPE?

This is probably the hardest thing to get used to. You have to trust your captain. It’s in his/her best interests to ride according to your comfort level. If you’re not enjoying yourself, you won’t continue to do it. In some cases, you can use curves in the trail to look ahead to see what’s coming. You can also lean out and look around the captain, as long s you tell him/her first. Sometimes, it’s more fun not knowing what’s coming.


 

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT AND ENJOY TANDEMING, ESPECIALLY OFF-ROAD TANDEMING?

COOPERATION, COMMUNICATION, CONSIDERATION.


 

DON’T I/WE HAVE TO BE GOOD AT MOUNTAIN BIKING?

While having good mtb skills makes the transition to tandeming off-road easier, it’s not necessarily a requirement. After all, learning new skills and experiencing new thrills (or spills) is at least half the fun. Many teams of average or even below-average skill have become very good off-road tandem teams. Why? COOPERATION, COMMUNICATION, CONSIDERATION. Are you beginning to see a theme here? Lemme ‘splain…
COOPERATION: A tandem bike reacts to the actions and movements of both riders. So unless both riders are cooperating, the bike gets confused. Neither rider can make a tandem do something very well if the other rider isn’t helping. Something as simple as starting and stopping the tandem can be much more complicated and difficult if both riders don’t cooperate.

COMMUNICATION: Since the stoker can’t always see what’s coming up, the captain has to communicate obstacles, larger bumps, dips, drops, neck-deep water crossings, and anything else thay may affect the stoker. It may be something as simple as a small log across the trail, or something more interesting, such as large pile of logs across the trail. After all, it’s much easier to make a tandem do what you want it to do (ride over logs, for instance) if both riders are trying to do the same thing.

CONSIDERATION: Some riders are stronger, braver, more skillful, and/or less sensible than others. If you’re sharing a tandem, you must consider your partner’s level of strength, courage, sill and common sense when deciding where, what, how long to ride. After all, it’s got to be fun for both riders. If you aren’t considerate of your partner, you probably won’t be riding tandems together for long!

On the Proper Training of Tandem Captains -http://www.bikeaholics.org/CaptainTraining.html


 

HOW DO WE HANDLE OBSTACLES?

Refer to the skills section. Remember, communication is vital.


 

MY SPOUSE IS A RABID MOUNTAIN BIKER; HOW DO I ENSURE HE RIDES AT MY COMFORT LEVEL?

You have to communicate what that comfort level is, but you also have to trust your captain when he/she says, “Trust me.” Off-road tandeming is a give-and-take activity; you have to be willing to give a little and your captain should take heed of your concerns.


 

HOW DO WE GET ON?

The captain holds the bike steady while you settle yourself in the saddle and clip in (or position your feet on the pedals). The captain then gets on and starts riding like on a single bike. (My favourite.) Both you and the captain clip in, then, on the captain’s cue, push the pedal down and place your butt on the saddle. The second foot is clipped in when convenient after the bike is moving. This method is the most like getting on a single bike for both the captain and the stoker. The captain starts riding slowly without you. You run beside the bike, grab the handlebars, then launch yourself onto the saddle. (This is a very advanced technique and is included here to show you just what is possible.)


 

HOW DO WE GET OFF?

The captain unclips and puts a foot down to steady the bike. He/she gets off the saddle and puts both feet on the ground. You dismount. (My favourite.) Both you and the captain unclip simultaneously and put the same foot on the ground.
You unclip and launch yourself off the back of the bike, hitting the ground running. Very fast but tricky method for getting around un-rideable obstacles in the shortest time.


 

MY SPOUSE WANTS TO ENTER A RACE WITH THIS THING; HOW DO I TELL HIM HE’S NUTS?

You don’t. Chances are, you’ll be the only tandem in the race and it is really just an opportunity to ride in a festival atmosphere. What makes it fun is all the looks and comments you’ll get. Not to mention everyone’s cheering each time you ride through!