I have a Schauff Pittsburgh 2002 26" tandem which has the standard tandem drive train setup (timing chain on the left) and Shimano Deore components with 3x8 gearing.

The tandem in a train

The tandem has become my partner's and my single mode of escape during the pandemic. Because of our different heights and the sizes of the seats, he can only ride as stoker and I only as captain on this tandem. Unfortunately due to an injury, he currently needs to take it easy and can't pedal. I might be able to pedal us both around for some short trips out of town. I am aware that having two freewheeling mechanisms on a tandem is super complicated and expensive.

So, is there an easy/cheap and reversible/temporary way to either:

  • Somehow disconnect the stoker cranks from the drive train, such that they either spin freely or are fixed, such that the stoker can use them as footrests
  • Provide a different and comfortable way of adding footrests for the stoker, possibly with the pedals removed.

As mentioned, simply removing the timing chain and switching seats isn't possible for us.

  • "I am aware that having two freewheeling mechanisms on a tandem is super complicated and expensive." - does it exist? Do you have a link to an example?
    – d-b
    Apr 16, 2021 at 18:55
  • 1
    @d-b they definitely exist, I've seen one in the wild, no idea what brand though. Also bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/59856/… Apr 16, 2021 at 19:15
  • Shimano designed a drive train that had a freewheel-like assembly built into a crank. It was called Front Freewheel System (FFS). I've seen it on Schwinn Tandems in the '70's. See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Front_freewheel
    – P. Barney
    Apr 20, 2021 at 0:00

3 Answers 3


The stoker's BB has to turn because that's how the captain's power gets to the rear wheel. So there has to be a chainwheel on each side, which probably means leaving the cranks there.

You might be able to remove the stoker's pedals - there are quick-release ones that don't need a tool. However the cranks will still be there revolving.

There's probably a position on the frame which is out of the arc of both cranks, and not going to interfere with the captain's leg movements. Looks like about the X in the rear frame, you can get clamp-on fold out foot rests like these:

From https://buddybike.myshopify.com/products/fold-out-foot-pegs-for-the-buddy-bike-34-9mm-fp100-34-9-a

I thought BMX pegs might work if secured to the crank's central bolts if the pedals were removed, but they expect to bolt onto the axle buts and not spin. If you did this, the rests would wind the foot forward until it falls off the front.

enter image description here

A third option might be to simply go slower so the stoker can pedal, with minimal force. Not sure if this is compatible with the recovery needed, take it with caution. If both of you were coasting, and using an electric motor for drive then that could work too.

  • 1
    Are those the footrests that would go on the head tube with some (saddle-like) front child seats? Or something more esoteric? I'm rapidly developing an interest in tandems and the hardware to set them up for a small, easily tired stoker (now that my daughter can ride a bit, and is getting too heavy for even a large child seat)
    – Chris H
    Apr 16, 2021 at 14:54
  • If there was a way to mount the pedals in the crank central bolts that would work, as the pedal bearings would prevent them from spinning. But the threads are obviously different, so it would require either rethreading the pedals or making a custom adapter.
    – jpa
    Apr 16, 2021 at 16:47
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    @ChrisH Maybe - source is in the description text. I just googled it up originally.
    – Criggie
    Apr 17, 2021 at 9:54
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    @Erlkoenig I think I've found one. Not folding but easy enough to get on and off: hollandbikeshop.com/en-gb/bicycle-seat/footrests/… The reason the majority are a pair of single-sided rests even for bikes, is that they're made for specific models of seat that have a suitable bracket. You could probably make such a bracket
    – Chris H
    Apr 17, 2021 at 19:44
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    ... Alternatively you might be able to use something like these: hollandbikeshop.com/en-gb/bicycle-seat/footrests/… but instead of using a plate with each footrest, use longer bolts and nuts to link the 2 footrests. The ones in the picture are these: buddybike.com/BuddyBikeFeatures.html - they're meant for tandems
    – Chris H
    Apr 17, 2021 at 19:46

I solved a similar issue on my tandem. Measure the frame tubes. If you are lucky you may find one of them is the same size as a handlebar stem. In my case I bolted a 1 1/8" x 1 1/8" stem in an appropriate area for a foot rest. I then cut a straight (no sweep) 1 1/8" handlebar to about 14" long and installed it in the stem, I then added handlebar grips so my stoker's feet won't slip off and to make mounting the bike easier. The stoker can pedal as long as they can, then take a rest without cranking.


It would be a bit of a hassle, but you could swap the captain's and stoker's cranks, and run a chain from the (now) captain's crank directly to the rear wheel, leaving the (now) stoker's cranks unconnected to anything. You'd also need to relocate the front derailleur. You'd probably need a new, extra-long chain but that would be the only new purchase.

  • 3
    I'd be worried about such a long unsupported chain run, but I'm far from an expert on tandems and other very long bikes. At the very least it would likely sag onto the stoker's cranks when stopped; you'd want to make sure it didn't catch on anything
    – Chris H
    Apr 16, 2021 at 14:51
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    @ChrisH Rear wheel driven recumbent bikes usually have a very long chain (They use up to 3 regular length chains to make one recumbent chain). I've seen the builders install one or two idler pulleys on the tension side, and some kind of tubular sleeve on the non tension side. I think those could work well on a tandem too.
    – Jahaziel
    Apr 16, 2021 at 15:14
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    @Jahaziel I had a vague idea along those lines, but not enough to propose a solution, just to raise the issue
    – Chris H
    Apr 16, 2021 at 15:16
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    Also, depending on the range of gears needed while running this temporary setup, a 1x setup may offer a solution that not requires swapping the front derailleur. The frame may not have the necessary cable stops for installing it on the front.
    – Jahaziel
    Apr 16, 2021 at 15:19
  • 1
    Another possible solution for the unsupported long chain might be some kinds of chain guides used on DH bikes. There are ones that normally installed in the underside run of the chain and greatly reduce chain slap and keep the chain on the chainring. Many of them are some plastic "channel" with low friction where the chain just slides through. There are some variants that attach to the chainstay and do not require special mounting points in the frame.
    – Jahaziel
    Apr 16, 2021 at 15:24

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