Considered the perfect combo between cycling obsession and teamwork, the popularity of tandem bikes is growing. The idea of riding with someone and not doing the heavy lifting alone makes these bikes tempting to buy. But are tandem bikes worth it?
Tandem bikes are worth it despite being expensive, bulky, difficult to ride uphill, and more demanding maintenance-wise. That’s because they are easy and fun to ride, safer, faster downslope and on flats, more efficient, and suitable for teamwork.
There are also several other advantages of tandem bikes which I’ll explore in this post. I’ll also share the downsides to help you decide if a tandem is worth getting or not. But before I do, let me explain slightly what a tandem bike is and the types.
In a rush? Find my most recommended tandem bicycles on the hotlist below!
3 Best Tandem Bikes On Amazon
- Schwinn Twin Classic Tandem: Best for two adults
- Kulana Lua Tandem Bike: Alternative best for two adults
- Angeles MyRider Tandem: Best for two kids
What Is a Tandem Bike?
The tandem has a Latin origin, meaning two or more horses harnessed in a single line. Bike manufacturers took the concept and came up with the bike that allows two or more riders to sit behind each other that we call a tandem bike.
Other manufacturers, however, use the term tandem to refer to a bike where riders sit side by side instead of one in front of the other. Note, however, that side-by-side tandems are not popular.
A traditional tandem bike features two seats. The captain, who controls the bike, occupies the front seat and issues commands to the rear rider (also known as the stoker).
In addition to steering the bike and directing the stoker, the captain should make the stoker feel safer and have fun cycling. So, in the case of a parent and a kid, the parent is the captain while the kid is the stoker.
Overall, the role of the stoker is to supplement the captain’s pedaling power. Other duties of the stoker include taking photos, reading maps, communicating with the captain, and passing things to the captain.
Different Types of Tandem Bikes
Essentially, we’ve two types of tandem bikes:
1. Twinny Tandems Bikes
Twinny tandems refer to tandem bikes where two adults sit one in front of the other. They are the most typical types of tandem bikes, and a perfect example is the Schwinn Twinn Classic Tandem Cruiser Bike.
This cruiser tandem bike is perfect for two adults where the captain’s height is 70-73 inches, while that of the stoker is 60-67 inches.
2. Kivo Tandems
Kivo tandems have the same design as Twinny designs, but they only accommodate one adult and a child. Overall, the adult can be the captain or stoker, depending on the tandem design.
For example, the PFIFF Collecttivo 24 Tandem allows the parent to sit back as the child takes the captain’s seat. This tandem enables a parent to inspire confidence in the kid quickly.
Are Tandem Bikes Worth It? (Are Tandem Bikes Good?)
Let’s review the pros and cons of getting a tandem bike.
Why Tandem Bikes Are Worth It – The Pros
Here are ten reasons tandems are worth getting:
1. Easy to Ride
Tandems don’t require as much energy as regular single bikes as it’s not one person pedaling but two or more. So, it’s easier riding a tandem than a standard bicycle, especially if it’s on flat ground or downhill.
The only places you may have an issue are uphill and in tighter spaces, as I’ll share.
2. Fun to Ride
Riding in twos is more enjoyable than riding in ones, especially with a mate, family member, or friend. You can crack jokes, share stories, and challenge each other as you ride.
3. Safe to Ride
Two people riding a tandem bike means having two pairs of eyes on the road, thus safer than one person riding one bike. Also, since the two of you are riding it, it is unlikely that both of you will lose control at the same time.
4. Faster Downslope and on Flats
Since two people are pedaling the bike instead of one, they all put their energy into the ride, enabling them to accelerate. Besides, it’s an opportunity to encourage and challenge one another, allowing you to go faster.
Overall, you’ll go faster downslope and on flatter grounds as it’s easy to pedal.
5. More Efficiency
Since tandem bikes call for the input of at least two people, they require less effort to maneuver and accelerate, thus energy saving. Their energy efficiency allows you to ride faster and longer, cover more ground, and shed more calories.
6. Encourage Teamwork (Physical Connection)
A tandem bike allows two people to connect and act as a team. They can pedal cohesively or take turns, and that brings them together.
That is one of the reasons tandems are suitable for couple bonding. Together, you can accomplish more than riding separately.
7. Great For Introducing Kids Or A Scared Adult Into Cycling
Kids find it easier to ride a bike when they do it with an adult. Luckily, a tandem offers you that. Instead of backing out instruction and holding a kids’ bike as your kid try to ride independently, you get to ride with them, and that enables them to learn fast.
It’s also an excellent way to introduce an adult who is too scared to ride a regular bike.
8. Suitable for Some Riders with Disability
People with poor vision and some physical disability can occupy the stoker seat and enjoy riding. They can help the captain pedal and have fun.
9. Good for Cardio Workouts
Tandem bikes, like other bikes, allow you to exercise, and that’s good for your heart. The more you ride, the more you exercise your heart muscles and improve circulation.
That makes these bikes good for seniors who prefer a low-impact cardio workout.
10. More Secure than Regular Bikes
Tandem bikes are more secure than traditional bicycles. Thieves are likely to find them bulky to unlock and carry. They also create much attention, given that they are less common, and thieves don’t like that.
Now, here are the drawbacks that come with tandems:
1. High Price
Tandem bikes are not cheap. Some cost the price of two regular cycles. For that reason, some customers don’t see them as economical. They would rather buy two traditional bicycles instead of one tandem.
But How much does a tandem cost?
Depending on the model and size, budget adult tandem bikes cost between $500 and $1,000, but high-end options cost over $1,500.
Tandem bikes are bigger than regular bikes as they feature at least two seats and two handlebars. That also means they are heavy.
Overall, their bulkiness makes them harder to carry into the bus, train, or plane. So, they are less convenient for frequent commuters and travelers.
Additionally, their bulkiness makes them challenging to turn on tight streets. Generally, both riders have to work cohesively to turn, which is never easy.
3. Challenging Uphill
Controlling a tandem uphill is not easy as it is downslope or flat ground. It takes more effort to do it as the bike is heavy.
4. Not Best for Cargo
While tandems can carry two or more passengers, they are not the best for cargo.
5. More Maintenance
It’s more expensive to maintain a tandem than a single bike. Its spare parts are costly, and it has more parts to service than a regular bicycle.
So, Are Tandem Bikes Any Good?
Tandem bikes may be costly to purchase and maintain, bulkier and strenuous to ride uphill or turn, but they bring so much to the table that makes them good.
Let’s face it, what bike can allow you to ride with a mate, friend, kid, or someone with a disability? The answer is a tandem bike.
In addition to that, tandem bikes are secure, safer, fun, easier to ride, and pretty fast downslope and on flats. So, yes, tandem bikes are good.
Who Should Get A Tandem Bike?
Not everyone should get a tandem bike. For example, tandem bikes are not suitable for the following groups of people:
- Independent riders
- Those targeting highly intensive cycling workouts
- Two inexperienced riders
In contrast, tandem bikes are best for these groups of people:
a) Two Adults
Couples, in particular, can use tandems for cycling for fun, bond, teaching each other to cycle, or commuting. However, these bikes are not just perfect for two adult couples. They are also best for adult friends, family members, and colleagues.
Here are the various recommendations on Amazon for two adults:
- Kulana Lua Tandem Bike – Best adult tandem cruiser bike for recreational riding and short distance urban commuting
- Schwinn Twin Classic Tandem – Alternative best tandem cruiser bike
- Pacific Dualie Adult Tandem Bike – Best adult tandem mountain bike for trail adventures
- Giordano Viaggio Tandem Bike – Best adult tandem road bike for on-road fitness cycling and urban commuting
b) One Adult and One Kid
As I mentioned earlier, a parent can also ride a tandem bike with a kid.
c) Riders with Certain Disabilities
Riders with poor vision or physical disability can take the stoker seat and ride a tandem as long as they can pedal.
d) Two Kids
Two kids can ride a kids’ tandem bike so long as one is older and more experienced than the other. One perfect example is the Angeles MyRider Tandem (View on Amazon).
This tandem bike is generally best for kids between 36 months and 8-10 years.
People Also Ask
1. In General, Is It Easier to Ride a Tandem Bike?
Tandem bikes are generally easier to ride than regular bikes because they require the energy input of two people. It’s usually easier to pedal them and accelerate. Their challenge is cornering, as they need more turning space.
2. Are Tandem Bikes More Efficient?
Tandem bikes save on physical energy, thus more efficient. You can ride faster and cover more mileage without using so much energy as you ride as a team.
3. Are Tandem Bikes Fast?
Tandems are faster than regular bikes on the downslope and flats as they are easier to pedal there. They are, however, slower in tight sections and upslope.
Are Tandem Bikes Worth It? Closing Thought:
Tandem bikes may be costlier, bulkier, challenging to ride uphill, and demanding maintenance-wise, but they are worth it for their advantages. That includes being easier, funnier, safer, energy-efficient.