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We have recently bought a tandem and the rear wheel skids out when riding. Any idea why this happens?

Comment below: When we are riding along in a straight line and there is an uneven surface it does this a lot. The heavier rider is on the front of the bike.

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    When does it skid out? Pedaling from a stop? Turning? Stopping? Just pedaling along in a straight line?
    – freiheit
    Apr 25, 2011 at 16:56
  • Is this a classical upright tandem, or some sort of recumbent? Jun 16, 2012 at 12:21
  • Are you both standing on the pedals when this happens? Jun 16, 2012 at 13:38
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    What kind of brakes do you have on this tandem? In particular, do you happen to have a rear drum drag brake?
    – R. Chung
    Jun 17, 2012 at 18:06
  • Is this a MTB-style tandem or a road tandem? What are your tyre pressures? What is the rear tyre like? Some photos may help. Since this question is 5 years old now, have you found anything further ?
    – Criggie
    May 21, 2016 at 3:28

4 Answers 4

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The captain's weight hardly pushes the rear wheel down at all, while the stoker's weight is almost completely on the rear wheel, so check their weight is positioned correctly. If the stoker is standing up, this can shift weight off the rear wheel, making a skid more likely. Standing up on tandems is "advanced", some would add "insanity".

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Not enough weight is on the back of the bike. Try riding the bike without a stoker and see if you get the same behavior out of the bike.

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I think it may have to do with the pressure in your tires. I experience this in an overloaded bicycle as the tire pressure drops (over time) the rear wheel will sometimes feel like it is slipping out from under me on uneven surfaces even if I am not breaking and the surface is dry. I never had this problem with higher pressure tires, it only has begun since changing to wider schwalbe marathon supreme tires.

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Yes, more detail about your riding scenario will help. Are you trying to ride it alone at times? Tandem wheelbase length could be an issue if you are going solo. Also, if you and the other rider are not leaning into turns correctly with each other, then this can be causing skid/balance issues.

One last thing - the heavier rider may need to be in front. The front wheel is all your stopping power and so their weight will stablize the front end. If there is a great deal of weight difference in the riders, then you will have to experiment which position allows most comfort and handling.

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    I'm downvoting because you haven't answered the question. Or even waited until the question can be answered.
    – Мסž
    Apr 27, 2011 at 5:10
  • When we are riding along in a straight line and there is an uneven surface it does this alot. The heavier rider is on the front of the bike. Thanks
    – krystina
    Apr 27, 2011 at 9:27

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