Friday, October 07, 2016

How to Buy a Tandem Bicycle - The Interview

(Continued from  How to Buy a Tandem Bicycle - Part 1)

When I met my wife Linda, I was already an avid cyclist with a half dozen years of riding.  And I already owned a tandem.  While Linda was new to cycling, it soon became our common activity, and her interest grew with our relationship. We tried a few rides on my first tandem, and quickly knew we had out-grown it.  We sold that first tandem, and had a quality road tandem before our first wedding anniversary.

Where will your tandem take you?
While it is not a hard and fast rule, many new tandem couples are starting later than Linda and I, after family and careers are established. And it is common for the there to be an avid rider in the mix, looking at the tandem as way to make their riding more inclusive with their partner.  That difference in interest is what makes your tandem interview so important.

A tandem is unique a form of togetherness for a couple.  Having a conversation of what you are both looking before your first ride is the first step in your successful tandem adventure. It is part of what I call the T’s and C’s of tandem riding; Teamwork and Trust, Communication and Compromise. Whether they know it or not, that is what keeps the best teams together year after or year.

Your tandem interview starts with about a dozen questions.  You may have asked these already, or you may assume you know the answer.  Don’t be surprised if these questions result in even more questions. The most important thing is for you both to vocalize and discuss your answers.

Why are you looking at a tandem?

Are you looking for an equalizer for two cyclists with different paces?

Is your partner new to cycling? (Or, are you both new to cycling?)

Are you two strong riders looking for a fast bike?

Are you planning on tandem riding with children (or grandchildren)?

What type of bikes are you riding now?  (Road, recumbent, hybrid, or off-road?)

Will it be your exclusive bike, or just another bike choice? (Or the exclusive bike of one the team?)

Are you thinking of touring?  And by touring, do you mean carrying gear and tent, or a professionally led and catered trip, or something in between? And do you both agree on a definition of touring?

Will your travel with your tandem involve airlines?

How will you transport your tandem to rides?  (Or home from the shop?)

Where will you store the tandem?

What shoe and pedal system do you use?

Do you like matching outfits?

Remember, there are no right or wrong answers, they just give you insight, and help avoid bad assumptions. Hang on to your answers, and keep revising them throughout your shopping process.

Another benefit of the tandem interview is to help you avoid unexpected sticker shock items, like a tandem car rack, or to avoid buyers remorse; for example, not having picked a tandem (or accessories) ready for air travel.

Later down the line, your tandem dealer may well ask the same questions*, so having answers will save time, and avoid distractions while you are trying out different bikes.  (*Yes, this list was my typical tandem test ride interview.)

Part 3:  Find a Tandem Mentor

(This is adapted and updated from a series of articles I wrote for Recumbent and Tandem Rider magazine a few years ago.)

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