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Best Tandem Bikes

Updated November 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 16 Models Considered
  • 7 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 138 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best tandem bikes

    Last Updated November 2018

    If you and your partner love to do everything together, including riding bikes, you might want to consider a tandem bike. Imagine enjoying leisurely bike rides together at a pace to suit you both. But deciding which model to buy can be a challenge, especially if you aren’t especially knowledgeable about bicycles or this is your first foray into tandem biking.

    At the top of this page, you'll find our favorite tandem bikes available right now. But first, read on to learn more about tandem bikes and how to choose the best one for you.

    A tandem bike is a great way for two people with differing cycling abilities to ride together.

    Tandem bike features

    Frame

    Making a tandem bike isn't as simple as just sticking two bicycle frames together. The frame must be well constructed in order to avoid unwanted flexibility.

    Some manufacturers of tandem bikes keep the frame stiff by making it as short as possible. But this can result in a cramped tandem that isn’t very pleasurable to ride.

    A better option is to increase the tube diameter and/or wall thickness of the frame.

    Frame material

    Tandem bike frames are constructed from a number of materials. Here, we take a closer look at some of the most popular options.

    • Alloy: These frames are made from aluminum alloy. Alloy is cheap, lightweight, and fairly stiff, but it isn't the most durable option and has a limited lifespan.

    • Steel: Steel is stronger and stiffer than alloy, so tandem bike frames made of this material are stronger and thinner. These frames also tend to be pricier than alloy frames.

    • Carbon Fiber: Extremely strong yet lightweight carbon fiber is an excellent frame material, but it tends to be pricey.

    • Titanium: Titanium is arguably the best metal for tandem bike frames since it doesn't weaken due to stress (which means it lasts longer), but it's expensive to cut and weld, so tandem bikes with titanium frames cost a lot.

    Size

    Buying a tandem bike of the correct size can be tricky, since you're looking for a cycle that fits two people who may be of very different heights. Because the captain (the person in front) must stand up and keep the tandem steady while the stoker (the person behind) mounts, she needs to be able to straddle the bike with both feet firmly on the ground. It's not necessary for the stoker to be able to touch the ground, just as long as he can reach the pedals.

    Most tandem bike wheels are 27 or 28 inches in diameter, which is ideal for touring. Choose 26-inch wheels for mountain biking.

    Wheels

    Since tandem bicycles have only two wheels but hold two people, they take twice the weight of a standard single-person bike. As such, tandem wheels are generally sturdier than average, with 40 or 48 spokes instead of the standard 28, 32, or 36 spokes.

    Front tandem wheel hubs are the standard 100mm size, most rear hubs are 145mm wide, which gives more even spoke balance and makes the rear wheel stronger.

    Brakes

    Good brakes are important on any bike but even more so on a tandem bike because there is more mass to bring to a stop.

    What's more, because the wheels are carrying more weight, and hence have better grip, tandem bikes can better accommodate very powerful brakes that would cause a standard bike’s rear wheel to lock up.

    Disc brakes on both the front and rear wheels are the brakes of choice for most tandem riders. However, V-brakes aren't a bad choice either.

    Standard rim brakes don't pack enough of a punch for most tandem riders.

    Transmission

    Casual tandem cyclists probably won’t need a wide selection of gears. But since you'll generally be reaching higher speeds downhill and on flat ground and be somewhat slower going uphill, you may find that you want bother higher and lower gears than those found on a standard solo bike.

    Some tandem bikes allow you to change the transmission to meet your individual needs.

    If you and your cycling partner are of different heights, you should also consider having different length cranks. If the crank length is too long for you, it will feel difficult to pedal quickly.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    The person who sits at the front of a tandem bicycle is known as the captain. The person who sits behind is called the stoker.

    Tandem bike prices

    Tandem bikes aren't cheap, but you shouldn't have to spend the earth to get a decent model for casual use. Expect to pay between $200 and $3,000, depending on features.

    • Inexpensive

    Basic tandem bikes are perfect for occasional use. They tend to cost between $200 and $500.

    • Mid-range

    Mid-priced tandem bikes are durable and offer a smooth ride. Most cost between $500 and $1,000.

    • Expensive

    High-end tandem bikes are designed for serious cyclists. Expect to pay between $1,000 and $3,000.

    EXPERT TIP

    Although the larger rider is usually captain, since it’s harder to control a tandem with the heavier rider as stoker, this isn’t a rule. The more confident cyclist will usually do better as captain.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Tips

    • Get a tandem bike of the correct size. If you and the person who you'll be riding with are of different heights, it's more important to fit the bike to the captain than to the stoker. Of course, the stoker must be able to reach the pedals and handlebars.

    • Look for a tandem bike with comfortable seats. This can make a big difference in how pleasant your ride is. Suspension seat posts help, as does plenty of padding.

    • Consider the type of handlebars. Flat handlebars facilitate an upright riding position and are ideal for cruising, touring, and trail riding. Dropped handlebars allow you more choice of hand position and are better for long-distance rides and racing.

    • It's useful to have adjustable seats on a tandem bike. The frame size will be fitted to the height of the captain, so the stoker will need to raise the rear seat to pedal comfortably.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    While not technically a tandem bike, a bike trailer for children is like a small bicycle that attaches to the back of a regular bike.

    Faq

    Q. What are the advantages of a tandem bike?

    A. Tandem bikes have a range of advantages for cyclists who like to ride together. First, a tandem bike goes faster than a solo bike (if you don't have to climb a lot of hills). Since you're closer to your fellow rider, it's easier to hear one another, so you don't have to yell when you want to communicate. What's more, a single tandem is lighter than two solo bikes to carry. And you only need to carry spare parts for one bike rather than two if you go touring.

    Q. What are the disadvantages of a tandem bike?

    A. Nothing is perfect, and you'll find some disadvantages to tandem bikes, too. One of the biggest issues is that they're harder to transport from one place to another. Maneuvering is also more of an issue due to the increased length.

    Q. Can children ride a tandem bike?

    A. As long as they're tall enough to reach the pedals and the handlebars, children can ride a tandem bike in the stoker position. You can also find bike trailers for smaller children that attach to the back of a solo bike, effectively turning it into a tandem.

    It can take a bit of practice for both riders to sync their pedaling cadence on a tandem bike, so don't expect to be perfect the first time out.

    Learn the lingo of tandem biking

    When you ride a tandem bike, the captain is in charge of steering and braking, but she'll still need some assistance from the stoker. The world of tandem biking has standard commands that the captain and stoker give each other. While you could make up your own commands, we'd recommend learning these standard ones because it will make it easier if you ride with other experienced tandem cyclists in the future.

    • Ready: Either the captain or the stoker may ask if the other is ready to go.

    • Cruise: This command means to stop pedaling (with the feet in the same pedal position, which needs to be agreed on by both riders before setting off) and just coast along.

    • Gear: The captain asks the stoker to take a little pressure off the pedals so the captain can change gears.

    • Slow: Both riders stop pedaling so the captain can apply the brakes.

    • Stop: The captain applies the brakes right away and both riders stop pedaling.

    • Bump: The captain prepares the stoker for a bump up ahead.

    • Go for It: Both riders pedal as powerfully as possible.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Lauren
      Lauren
      Writer
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Michael
      Michael
      Writer

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