Tandems have been around since the early 19th century. The first tandems were mainly custom-made racing machines, but thanks to modern manufacturing techniques, tandems can be made relatively cheaply and in a variety of styles.
There are a large variety of tandems available, including road, mountain and cruiser styles. Road and mountain tandems range from full-featured race machines to long-distance bikes, and cruiser tandems are stylish and practical for everyday use.
A tandem bike can generate double the power of a conventional bike thanks to the two riders. Tandems are equipped with special components such as durable wheels and powerful brakes, which are especially important for high-performance styles. Mountain and road tandems usually have multispeed gearing, while cruiser tandems can be multispeed or single-speed.
Each rider has a specific title and specific duties. The "captain," or front rider, must steer, brake, shift gears and generally control the bicycle. The rear rider, otherwise known as the "stoker," is the main source of power.
Riding a tandem safely and efficiently takes practice. The riders must be in constant communication and must work together as a team. The captain must always let the stoker know what is happening (turns, stops, bumps, etc.), and the stoker must also give the captain input into how the ride is going.
Tandems are a great way for cycling enthusiasts to encourage beginners to take up the sport. They are also ideal for friends or couples who enjoy cycling together. Finally, tandems are useful in helping reluctant riders enjoy the sport of cycling.