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Tuscany on a Tandem
By Mike Miller - (contact)

Bicycle Basics # 8: How many speeds does that bike have?

Every time I go out on a tour I get the question -- " How many speeds does that bike have?? " ---------

Or they ask is that a 10 speed?? What they are trying to figure out whether they know it or not is -- how many gears do you have? So I thought I would answer that by giving a basic lesson on the drive train of a bicycle.

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1. Front Dérailleur
2. Rear Dérailleur
3. Rear sprockets (cassette)
4. Crank arm
5. Front Sprockets (chain-rings)
6. Chain
7. Pedal threads

They are the basic parts and are pretty self explanatory: Derailleur: There are two such mechanisms: a front derailleur and a rear derailleur. The front derailleur moves the chain between the selection of gears on the crankset; the rear derailleur moves the chain between the selection of gears on the rear wheel.

Chain: The loop of links that connects the front gears to the rear gears.

Freewheel: The set of rear gears. Freewheels and freehubs have a confusing overlap of terminology. In a general sense, the freewheel is the set of gears that the chain turns in order to apply drive forces to the rear wheel.

Crankset: The mechanism that is turned by the rider's feet. It consists of two lever arms called crank-arms, one to three gears called chainrings, and a bearing assembly that the crank arms rotate around called the bottom bracket.

Bottom bracket: The bearing assembly that allows the crankset to rotate in the bottom-bracket shell.

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The chain-rings on our Tandem have 3 choices in front

On a tandem we get asked a lot, "Do you both have to pedal at the same time all the time" -- in a word YES. There is a timing chain that connects the front set of pedals with the rear set. So... we are perfectly synced together.

Advanced info- Tandem Bicycle Set Ups

There are two types of set up for a tandem's pedals and cranks.

They are INPHASE (most tandem bicycles are like this), and OUT OF PHASE.

INPHASE

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In Phase-----When the pedals and cranks of both riders are in sync with each other, so ... if the Captain's pedal is up then so is the Stoker's.

It is an popular set up because:

The Captain and Stoker ride in unison, giving a real sense of teamwork. Manouvering the tandem bicycle at a slower pace is easier.

Hitting the pavement with a pedal is less likely because the crank can be manipulated to an upright position simultaneously. Pumping is much easier when riding in sync.

A downside to having your tandem set up INPHASE is that on hillclimbs tandem bicycles can stall when both your cranks are in an upright position and no pressure is being applied to the pedals ... thus you can lose momentum in your wheels and come to a standstill.

OUT OF PHASE The advantages of using an OUT OF PHASE set up are: A steady supply of energy is being supplied to the wheels by the sequential pedal thrusts of the Captain and then the Stoker, alternatively.

During hillclimbs an Out Of Phase configuration can mean there is less strain placed on the drive-train parts of the bike,because force is being applied alternatively and not all at the same time. An Out Of Phase set up can be a bit more tricky to master because the Captain and Stoker are constantly moving and pedalling in different rotations to each other.

The Captain also needs to always be aware of his / her Stoker's pedal position when attempting to turn the bike ... or the pedals may strike the pavement and cause a crash.

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Out of Phase --A tandem set up in an OUT OF PHASE configuration essentially means that the Captain's and Stoker's pedals and cranks are not coordinated to turn in sync ...
For example when the Captain's pedals are vertical then the Stoker's pedals will be horizontal. This particular set up is called '90 Degrees Out Of Phase' ... for obvious reasons.

Bernice and I switched about 2,000 miles ago to Out of Phase and absolutely love it.

In conclusion-- We have 30 speeds (gear choices) 10 sprockets in the rear and 3 up in the front give us a total of 30 to choose from. On really steep climbs sometimes we wish there were more.


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"Tuscany on a Tandem" Copyright © 2010-2014 By Mike Miller - (contact). All rights reserved.
Page was created on August 31, 2010 09:39 PDT, last updated on August 31, 2010 10:07 PDT
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