Tandem Bicycles: Love Machines or Divorce Accelerators?

Tandem bikes can affect their riders in mixed ways. Pedal with caution.

By Chris Roberts
|  Monday, May 7, 2012  |  Updated 4:49 PM PDT
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Cyclist Killed in Hit-and-Run Arthur Jacobs

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Such an intimate ride may be a recipe for disaster, or a relationship building experience.

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The tandem bicycle is not always a love machine, according to the Oakland Tribune.

Sharing the dual duties of a two-person pedaler means coordination, cooperation and avoiding some hills, where the heavy bicycles are just not designed to go. And for a couple unwilling to compromise -- sharing space so intimately that one misstep can mean a painful fall -- may be a recipe for disaster.

Yet for some riders, the bicycle built for two has been a crucible for a strengthened bond, as in a closer relationship through collaborative cycling, the newspaper reported.

The two people sharing a tandem bike are the captain -- the front rider -- and the stoker -- the rear rider. The heavier person rides up front for stability and steering, and the lighter person provides the majority of the person-power to propel the rig forward, the newspaper reported. The conflict arises when the stoker bemoans a lack of control for all the effort put in, and the captain tires of direction from the rear-seat driver, according to the Tribune.

Couples interviewed by the newspaper described enhanced situations thanks to their tandem cruisers.

"That whole 'divorce machine' thing -- I fully believe that's an urban myth," said Bryon Price, who owns Crank2 tandem cycles in Pleasanton, which produces custom-made tandem bikes.

And maybe the double bikes are merely a harbinger of things to come, good or bad.

"My nickname for tandems is a relationship accelerator," Dick Matthews of Los Gatos told the newspaper, who rides with his wife, Donna, in the eastern Sierra every year for the Almaden bike club. "Whatever way your relationship's going, a tandem will get you there faster."

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