Made for Two

TandemFor several years now my husband has been thinking it would be fun to buy a tandem. Last week he finally bought one on Ebay. On Wednesday we drove up into Yorkshire to collect it, a two-hour drive each way. We had to take it to pieces to fit it in the car for the return journey.

After re-assembly we needed to set it up to suit. It came with drop handlebars and my husband found that the ones on the back interfered with his peddling action so he took them off and put straight bars on. Then he discovered he couldn’t reach the brakes too well on the front so he put straights on there too. However this resulted in not being able to operate the brakes properly at all as the levers touched the bars before being sufficiently depressed, so he put the drops back again.

Meanwhile I hadn’t got a lot of leg room at the back and a trial run up the road demonstrated that my knees kept knocking the handlebars with the constant resulting bump affecting the driver. The obvious answer would be to raise the handlebars, however this was when I learned that the handlebars were attached to the front seat post and couldn’t be raised without raising the seat, which hubby didn’t want to do!

We adjusted both seats, moving the back seat further back and the front one further forward to clear the bars and then put the drop handlebars back on the back position as the straight bars interfered more than the drops when rounding corners. With the front seat further forward the original problem was resolved.

Off we go!With the bike now seemingly set up we risked a ride up to our eldest son’s house on Saturday, a 7.5 mile round trip, with a coffee break of course. This was a bit scary but great fun, with questions such as “are you peddling?” coming from up front. We developed a pattern of verbal instructions to keep us in synch. “1, 2, 3 go” to push of, “roll” to freewheel, “pedal” to resume peddling and so on.

It was our son’s birthday and we had taken his present with us in a rucksack which hubby carried on his back – not ideal, it was rather in my face! While we were there our youngest son also arrived and the boys tried out the tandem with great hilarity, especially since they are both a bit big for it.Tandem boys

The bike is constructed so that it is smaller framed at the back and obviously this is intended for the smaller of the two using it, generally speaking the female. Traditionally the front rider is called the driver and the rear rider the stoker. Since the word stoker implies the one providing the power it seems a little strange to say the least. The driver has all the controls – steering, brakes and gears, while the stoker just sits there and pedals. Believe me it takes a bit of getting used to that you can neither turn the handlebars to go round corners nor apply the brakes to control downhill speed. Also it is rather difficult to see where you are going when you can barely see over the driver’s shoulder. I suppose it is some compensation that I was allowed to give hand signals.

By the time we got home again we were beginning to feel we were getting the hang of it and foresee some fun in the future. There is a little more work to do on it and I think I need my seat a little higher. It could also do with some new tyres and these are on order. The tandem, a French made Gitane, had sat in the previous owner’s garage for many years. We think it probably dates from the early 1980’s so we should be eligible to take part with it in some of the classic bike rallies. Often for these events people dress up appropriately and I wonder what we should wear. Strangely the words of an old Music Hall song come to mind…

“Daisy, Daisy give me your answer do,
I’m half crazy all for the love of you.
It won’t be a stylish marriage,
I can’t afford a carriage,
but you’ll look sweet upon the seat
of a bicycle made for two.”


16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. julespaige
    Jul 04, 2016 @ 14:05:53

    From a tandem to a unicycle…I’ve got one of those…
    We actually got the uni for one of our sons a few years back.
    But I can’t get the seat low enough to even try to ride it.
    I don’t do much on e-bay so I think the one wheel bike will just go to the charity shop.

    Have fun with your tandem!


    • Libby
      Jul 05, 2016 @ 14:44:06

      A unicycle! Now that is something I would like to try, but it does seem a bit of an extravagance to buy one. Shame you don’t live nearer or I would buy it off you.


      • julespaige
        Jul 05, 2016 @ 14:50:32

        I’m about 5’4″ and I can’t sit on it with the seat all the way down. I wonder how much it would cost to ship… Maybe I could find that out? Though if a small box of books costs about $20 -$30 I’m not sure what the cost would be even if the parts were disassembled to make it go into a smaller box… More in an email if I find out more about the cost to ship it.

      • Libby
        Jul 05, 2016 @ 14:53:51

        I’m maybe half an inch smaller. But sounds good. Yes let me know what you find out though I suspect if will probably cost too much and there might be import duty.

      • julespaige
        Jul 05, 2016 @ 14:58:42

        I’ll look into a few different options…and duty fees.
        Though I probably have it somewhere – please email your address so I can have a better idea on location for postal costs.

      • Libby
        Jul 05, 2016 @ 15:25:29


      • julespaige
        Jul 05, 2016 @ 15:15:43

        I’ve actually just looked at the cost of Uni’s and they range from (in the US) from about $50 to $100. So shipping might not be worth it if you can find one closer to you.
        Here’s one USA site.
        But you might find something closer your way. Like EBay UK

      • Libby
        Jul 05, 2016 @ 15:24:53

        Yes, I thought it might work out too costly. I’m sure I’ll come across a second-hand one sometime, there’s no hurry! Thanks for checking though.

      • julespaige
        Jul 05, 2016 @ 15:27:53

        At least then you could find one that you know fits! 🙂 Because if I can’t fit on the one I have you won’t fit on it either. Unless you wanted it for someone else. And I saw one for 10 pounds…And even though they don’t show the shipping cost on that UK site – you might just find something closer. Check you local bike shops too.

      • Libby
        Jul 10, 2016 @ 20:12:18

        I’m not sure I really want to buy one unless it came along at the right money. I just think it would be fun to have a go on one. I can’t imagine it would be much use – I could hardly go shopping on it! I know the ‘kids’ would love to try as well. £10 sounds cheap, I think I saw one a while back for about £50 but it was far to big for me though the kids are taller.

      • julespaige
        Jul 10, 2016 @ 20:15:50

        I’m sure it costs more than $10 to mail. So I think it will just go to the charity shop then…
        I know the one I have most likely would need a new wheel anyway.

  2. elaine patricia
    Jul 04, 2016 @ 16:53:07

    What fun !


  3. Renee Espriu
    Jul 04, 2016 @ 23:15:34

    Bravo! I don’t think I could do it! I wish you all the best.


  4. The Weekly Day
    Jul 05, 2016 @ 01:09:45

    That was a really great story! I could just see everything happening from the way you wrote it. Thanks for sharing it!


  5. Trackback: Outing No. 2 | By The Wobbly Dum-Dum Tree

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Site content copyright of Elizabeth Leaper (Libby).

Supporting the Printed Word

Read the Printed Word!
%d bloggers like this: