The Hippo


Nov 16, 2019








Susan Hollinger rides tandem with husband David Hollinger. Courtesy photo.

Find a Tandem Bike

Here are some local bike shops that carry new or may carry used tandem bikes, or can order one for you. 
The Bike Barn (33 S. Commercial St., Manchester, 668-6555, 
Colonial Bicycle Co. (419 South Broadway, Salem, 894-0611; 775 Lafayette Road, Suite 5, Portsmouth, 319-1688, 
Cycles Etc. (288 N. Broadway, Salem, 890-3212; 450 Second St., Manchester, 669-7993, 
Durham Bike & Sports (72 Main St., Durham, 397-5140,
Exeter Cycles (4 Portsmouth Ave., Exeter, 778-2331, 
Goodale’s Bike Shop (14B Broad St., Nashua, 882-2111; 1197 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 644-2111; 19 Triangle Park Drive, Concord, 225-5111,
Gus’ Bike Shop (55 Lafayette Road, North Hampton, 964-5445,
Jake’s Bike Shop (580 Mast Road, Manchester, 666-4527.
Likin Bikin Bicycle Shop (Salzburg Square, 292 Route 101, Amherst, 249-5737; 5 Monument Square, Alton, 875-7141, 
Maverick’s Square Adaptive Cyclery (141 Route 101A, Amherst, 554-8260,
Ocean Cycles (76 Lafayette Road, Hampton Falls, 926-5757,  
Papa Wheelies Bicycle Shop (635 Islington St., Portsmouth, 427-2060, 
Philbrick’s Ski, Board & Bike (161 Portland Ave., Dover, 742-9333,

Built for Two
Ride with a partner on a tandem bicycle

By Angie Sykeny

 There’s an old adage about riding a tandem bicycle.

“The saying is, ‘Whatever direction your relationship is going, you will get there faster on a tandem bike,’” said Susan Hollinger, a New Hampshire tandem cyclist and president of the Eastern Tandem Rally, a group of tandem enthusiasts hosting rides and events in the Northeast. 
A tandem is a bicycle designed for two people to ride at once. It has two seats — a regular seat and a seat directly behind it — and two sets of pedals, linked so they turn together and at same rate.  
“You’re not independent at all,” Hollinger said. “It requires the two people to work together in sync and to communicate to move the bike and cover the distance. And it’s incredibly fun.” 
Partnering up
Riding tandem is a great option for two people who want to get outside and be active together but who have different physical skills or endurance levels. 
“The bike is an equalizer,” Hollinger said. “One [rider] may be a competitive cyclist and the other may like to go slower, but the bike does all the equalization, so they get [to their destination] at the same time, and no one feels like they’re bugging the other person or waiting for them to catch up.” 
Tandem cycling also gives riders an opportunity to socialize and spend more quality time together, as opposed to riding individual bicycles side by side, where the riders may fall in and out of earshot and are focused on keeping the same pace with each other.   
From a fitness standpoint, Hollinger said, many people tend to ride harder and for longer distances when riding tandem. 
“I think it’s because you’re just having fun the whole time,” she said. “It never really feels like work.”
Staying in sync 
On a tandem bike, the person riding in the front seat, also known as the captain, handles the primary maneuvering actions like steering and shifting gears. The captain is typically the more experienced cyclist. The person riding in the back seat, also known as the stoker, acts as “the engine,” Hollinger said, simply providing additional pedaling power. 
Tandem cycling requires a significant amount of communication between the two riders. Verbal communication may include the captain informing the stoker about a change in terrain that lies ahead or when he is about to switch gears, or the stoker telling the captain when they want to glide or do standing pedaling. There is also a lot of nonverbal communication that comes with practice, like learning how to lean in unison with your partner and match his weight distribution when making turns.  
“Starting out, you have to talk to each other a lot and tell each other what’s going on,” Hollinger said. “But over time, you don’t have to say as many things aloud. You communicate intuitively and through body language.” 
Types of tandems 
Tandem bicycles are available in many of the same styles as single-rider bikes; there are ones for casual cruising and street riding, fitness and racing, and even mountain biking and hill climbing. 
“The Mount Washington Hill Climb often has several tandems that do it,” Hollinger said. “There are tandem bikes built to do that. They have a lot of gears so people can take them up steep hills. They’re very sturdy and well-designed, and they hold up well.” 
When it comes to cost, tandem bicycles span a wide range but are typically more expensive than single-rider bikes. A good-quality tandem bicycle may cost between $1,000 and $10,000, Hollinger said. If you want to try before you buy, there are some bicycle shops and outdoor recreation venues that offer tandem bicycles to rent. Many beach resorts also offer simple cruiser tandems to rent and ride. 
“Those are what you think of as the classic ‘bicycle built for two,’” Hollinger said. “It’s a different thing altogether from the world of tandem fitness biking, but they’re usually very manageable, and it can be a lot of fun to just take one out for the afternoon and tour around the beach.” 
Hitting the road 
If you’re just starting out with tandem cycling, it helps to be comfortable and confident riding a regular bicycle first. Riding a tandem is about as physically demanding as riding a regular bicycle on level terrain. At an incline, however, it can be more challenging because having two riders creates more weight to push up the hill. 
“It’s like an 18-wheeler truck; it moves slowly uphill,” Hollinger said. “But the downhill makes up for it. You fly downhill very fast on a tandem.” 
It’s best to learn on a flat, paved surface with little traffic, such as a large parking lot or a quiet back road. Then, when you go for your first real ride, start with a manageable distance like 10 or 15 miles. 
Ideally, you should spend your first few rides as the stoker, with a captain who is experienced with riding a tandem. 
“If you’re going to be riding on the back, it lets you feel what it’s like to not steer or shift,” Hollinger said, “and if you want to ride on the front, you can get a feel for what the captain is doing so you can tell if it’s going to be comfortable for you.” 

®2019 Hippo Press. site by wedu