Stoker's Tutorial

The stoker is the tandem bike’s motor. He/she should give a steady output of power, with some held in reserve for when bursts of speed and power are needed, like for short climbs or catching green lights. A stoker needs to be smooth and predictable in the saddle while pedaling. At first, this takes more deliberate focus and concentration. On occasion, you’ll need to shift body position, zip a jacket, or grab a water bottle. But, you need to do so without unbalancing the bicycle. Never attempt movement or conversation while the captain is handling the bike in heavy traffic or tight spaces. In the beginning of the partnership, ask or tell the captain before reaching for a water bottle or taking your hands off the handlebars. You might say, “Is it okay for me to get a drink?” To ensure clear communication, wait a moment for a response. That way, the captain is ready to compensate for the weight shift on the bike. If this is unexpected, it’s harder for the captain to keep control. In extreme cases a crash could occur. Frequently, change your hand position on the bars throughout the ride. Since you won’t be shifting or braking, the tendency is to forget to move your hands around. This may result in sore elbows and shoulders, and numb fingers. Also, keep your elbows slightly bent. This will absorb road vibrations and help the bike go in the intended direction. Keep your body in line with the bicycle’s centerline. Lean with the bike as you go through corners, keeping your shoulders parallel with your handlebars. Take notice of your captain using the brakes. If you get fired up and want to go faster when it may not be the right time, you need to feel the brakes come on and slow down. To save energy, ask your captain to call out for more or less power. There will be plenty of appropriate times to open up the throttle. When dismounting, you get off the bike first. Then, stand holding onto the saddle. Keep towards the rear of the bike to give the captain more room to get his/her leg over the bars. If you stand too close to the front of the bike, you could mistakenly get hit with a swinging leg. If your captain does something that you don’t like, be sure to speak with him/her personally. Being nervous and scared during a ride is not fun. Tandem cycling is built on trust. If you don’t feel that your captain is competent then you need to find another captain. At the same time, remember that captains aren’t perfect and mistakes do happen. People who are overly critical will lose partners. Please read the Captain's Tutorial. You’ll be a better partner if you are knowledgeable about both tandem positions.