tandem bicycle is one that can be ridden by more than one rider. A very
interesting vehicle, the origins of the tandem bicycle can be traced back to as
early as the late 1800s when the first patent for a
tandem bicycle was made. Tandem bicycles are
especially popular among serious cyclists who go on long tours on tandem
bicycles. Two or more people put in effort into pedaling the bicycle, and can be
relatively easier to propel than the normal bicycle.
Though the change in effort-weight ratio isn't much,
some riders prefer tandem bicycles purely for the fun factor. Also, tandem
bicycles find their uses in bicycle races for the
visually impaired where one of the riders has good
eyesight and guides the other rider who is visually impaired.
It should be noted that to really make use of the tandem bicycles' advantages, all the involved riders should be accustomed to tandem cycling and must also be of similar strengths and skills. Good co-ordination between riders is a must in tandem cycling and if absent can become a real pain for the riders! It is common practice to link the two cranks in a tandem bicycle so that both turn at the same rate.
There is also some conventional terminology associated with tandem bicycles. The rider in the front does the job of steering the bicycle and is called the steersman or the captain. The other rider at the rear just pedals and is called the stoker or the rear admiral. Tandems with more than 2 riders have names based on the number of riders they can accommodate. A triplet can have three riders, a quadruplet will have 4 riders etc.
Like the conventional bicycle, the tandem bicycle has also been subjected to a lot of
innovation. Consequently there a variety of tandem bicycles available. There is the one with independent pedaling where each rider propels one wheel respectively. There is then the recumbent tandem bicycle with the seats in a recumbent position. There is also the 'buddy bike' which allows a kid to be seated in the front. Apart from these, there are also a variety of tandem bicycles in different countries.
Tandem bicycles have their own devoted following and also a small number of passionate manufacturers. Though not very useful for conventional transport, these bikes can be real fun when cycling in groups!