We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How do I Ride a Tandem Bicycle?

By Alison McAdams
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Tandem bicycles are specially built for two riders and include two seats, two sets of pedals and two handlebars. The more experienced tandem cyclist, or the one with the greatest upper body strength, is best suited to ride in the front seat as "captain" of the bicycle. The captain is responsible for controlling the bike's direction and speed while warning the back seat rider of upcoming obstacles, bumps, and gear shifts.

The rear rider or "stoker" is mainly a source of extra cruising power for the bike. Stokers must be very careful to keep their weight centrally balanced while cruising, and lean to one side only on turns. A stoker who isn't well-balanced could tip the entire tandem bicycle over.

Initially, the captain should ride a tandem bicycle alone to get a general feel for the bike's performance. Starting with a burst of speed is important for driving the bicycle in a straight line; captains should make sure to practice the following steps before riding with a stoker:

  • Begin by standing astride the frame with both feet on the ground and the brakes locked.
  • Rotate the pedals so that one pedal is nearly at the top position.
  • Releasing the brakes, place a foot on the topmost pedal and push down hard, lifting up the lower body high enough to get onto the saddle.

Starting up with a rear rider is a similar process, except that the captain begins with an extra-wide stance over the frame and tilts the bike against one thigh so that the stoker can mount and safely rotate the pedals. Once the stoker has alerted the captain that he is mounted and ready, the process continues as above, with both riders pedaling fast as soon as the captain has pushed off. A brisk speed is recommended for driving the bike in a straight line and reducing knee strain.

Standard tandems require that both riders either simultaneously pedal or coast. When slowing down to stop, stokers must be sure to keep their weight balanced on the center of the frame and not to take their feet off the pedals until the captain signals to do so. The stoker dismounts first.

Tandem bicycles are similar to a single-rider bike, but they do take a little extra practice. If you enjoy bicycling, but have only ridden alone, tandems might be a option worth pursuing!

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By yournamehere — On Aug 31, 2010

Does a folding tandem bicycle work the same as a normal one? Why does it fold? Is that just for storage purposes, or is there another reason for them to fold up?

By musicshaman — On Aug 31, 2010

Does anybody know where I can buy a tandem bicycle in Willesden Green? I really want to find a used tandem bicycle to start out on, but I have no idea where to start. I mean, do they have tandem bicycle shops or what?

I've advertised on craiglist asking for people with tandem bicycles for sale, but nothing yet -- any tips?

By rallenwriter — On Aug 31, 2010

I've always wanted to try my hand at riding a tandem bicycle, but I've never been able to find one. I think the ones that look really cool are the recumbent tandem bicycles.

Recumbent bicycles on their own are cool-looking, but a tandem one -- that's just awesome.

By millhouse — On Aug 31, 2010

Are tandem bicycle wheels any different than regular bicycle wheels?

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.