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‘IS IT TRUE THAT TANDEMS DON’T SLOW DOWN OR STOP VERY WELL?’ Once again older tandems were often fitted with a third brake, usually in the form of a drum brake on the rear wheel. The traditional cantilever and caliper brakes on steel rims didn’t offer enough braking force to safely control a tandem on the descents. The third brake, usually stoker operated, was designed to be used as a drag brake. This would also help prevent the rims getting too hot. Drag brakes were also very heavy and made it difficult to remove the rear wheel. Modern brakes in the form of either V-brakes or disc brakes are more powerful. Tandems are now capable of stopping much quicker and with the extra weight over the back wheel


compared with a solo bike you can pull the brakes on hard without locking the wheels up. We do still fit a third brake on most tandems but nowadays it is used more as a parking or emergency brake if necessary.


‘DOES THE PERSON ON THE BACK HAVE TO PEDAL?’ On a modern conventional tandem both riders have to pedal at the same rate i.e. both pairs of legs rotate at the same speed, assuming the same crank lengths are fitted. This does not mean that both riders have to put the same amount of effort in. This is one of the many advantages of tandem riding, both riders can apply as much or as little effort as they wish.


‘I’M MUCH TALLER THAN MY PARTNER, WILL WE GET A TANDEM TO FIT US?’ In the vast majority of cases the answer would be yes. Most production tandem frames are designed so the taller rider sits at the front and a shorter rider on the back. There are lots of modifications that can be made to accommodate different height riders and ensure a comfortable riding position. Older tandems tended to have either horizontal top tubes which made it difficult for shorter riders on the back or they used a ‘lady back’ frame design that made the frame feel very flexible. There are now some great adaptations available to accommodate the taller rider on the rear.


Cycling Kit for Lady Stokers RUTH HARGREAVES DETAILS HER CYCLING KIT REQUIREMENTS


Shorts are the most important piece of cycling kit. The first rule is not to wear any under wear underneath your shorts, as this can cause chaffing and prevent the shorts from wicking away sweat. There are a huge range of cycling shorts on the market, our advice is choose shorts designed specifically for women, the padding is a different shape to men’s. Also ladies shorts will fit better, they are cut for women’s figures, so the waist bands are often deeper and the leg grippers less tight. In the winter you might wear padded tights, or ¾ length shorts or unpadded tights on top of your normal padded shorts. If you are planning on wet weather riding then invest in some waterproof over trousers too. The next contact point to address is your


Cycling World Magazine


hands. Obviously for winter riding you need gloves to keep warm, and in fact if it’s really freezing out ski gloves are good choice, you don’t need to brake or change gear on the back so your winter gloves do not need to be particularly tactile. I would also recommend wearing cycling mitts for the summer, mitts have padded palms and will provide greater comfort when resting on the handlebars.


Helmets – whether to wear one or not is a personal choice. I always wear a helmet and you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a good fitting, lightweight, well vented helmet. Don’t be tempted to buy one online unless you know exactly what you want, not everyone’s heads are the same shape. I would always choose a


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helmet that has enough room to fit a buff or helmet liner under as well, this is essential for cold weather cycling.


What to wear on your top half? For winter any good thermal wicking base layer will do the job, if you suffer from the cold, then add a mid-layer such as a fleece and then finish off with a water proof. For summer riding anything that does not hold the moisture is ideal.


Feet – this is another extremity that


suffers from the cold. And there is a whole host of solutions for keeping warm. My personal choice is wool socks, cycling shoes and a really good pair of over shoes. Waterproof socks are also popular and you can even get heated pads for hands and feet if you really suffer badly.


January 2015 I Cycling World 107


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