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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I could not find much information on this topic searching through old threads. My son, 3 1/2 years old, started riding on the back of my road tandem last summer a couple of months before he was 3. He's ridden about 700 miles with me so far and he has loved all of it.

I think I would like to take him on some singletrack with me as well, but I have absolutely zero off road tandem experience. Does anyone on here have any experience with this to share?

I'm specifically wondering what type of bike set-up might be best. Should I look for a hardtail and put a thudbuster and stoker kit on the back for him? Should I look for a full suspension and just set up some type of footrest, no pedalling for him? We live in northern Indiana, has anyone ridden midwestern singletrack on a tandem and if so how did the tandem do? Sorry about all the questions, but thanks for any piece of info you can help me with!
 

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Hello Dean, there are a couple threads here with kid-stoker experiences, and they were all positive. Since you two have been riding a road tandem already, your transition to off-road tandeming will be easier. There are also a couple threads here that discuss the overall differences between riding road tandem vs. riding off-road tandem - there's some added communication, and generally the stoker can see less of the path ahead (more so if your stoker is 3.5 years old:thumbsup:).

As to the what-to-buy question, IMO look for a Cannondale. They're solid bikes but HT, so a suspension seatpost will be required. They're also reasonably cheap and have good resale if you find that the off-road stuff isn't for you. They also have decent resale if you find that off-road stuff IS for you, and you want to sell and upgrade later on.

You can also find lots of KHS tandems, often for half of what a Cannondale will cost. The only reason I mention it is because that's what my wife and I started out on off-road. It's mostly just their KHS road tandem with some offroadish rims/tires/brakes, so not ideal for steep trails (a bit wobbly, and it has road gearing). Depends on what you have available and what you think you'll want to do in the future. For us, the HT aspect of the KHS limited the trails we could ride and the speed at which we could ride them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I figured out why I was not able to find older posts. My forum settings was set to only show recent posts. I found a couple of the threads you were probably referring to.

I originally was thinking of a Cannondale, but now I've started to think that a Fandango 29er might be a better route. I'm considering the possibility of a second set of wheels for the road and using the 29er both on and off. I know it'd be a bit of a pig on the road, but I don't plan to do any centuries, or fast group rides so speed is not much of an issue. The more I think about it the more I'm inclined to go that route. Now I just need to find a used one. Anyone selling a used 29er? I think I could make either size fit.
 

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My only thing with young riders is that sometimes they won't, or do not know to tell you when they don't want to do something. Some things off-road look worse than they are - sometimes they look very bad to the young stoker, or really any stoker with limited experience. I try to keep the bumps mild, I try to not sway the bike back and forth (even on hard climbs), keep a fairly steady cadence, and I try to keep the accel./decel. mild as well. My daughter shyed away from trails where the low side of the trail was very low or far down, she did not like G-outs, and she got scared the first time I really had to stomp out some power strokes to clear a hill, so now I know to give her ample warning of pretty much anything, and she knows she can stop the whole thing and we'll walk if she wants to. We don't walk much these days, though.

-F
 

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Assuming they can reach the pedals, I think the key piece for little legs is short cranks. I simply re-drilled a cheap set and tapped the holes opposite of normal for my kid stoker setup. I made the whole thing, but you can get parts or a kit.

5543803575_d90bab3010_z.jpg

I think you should buy the best bike that suits you, and adapt the rear to fit the child. You won't have a kid that outgrows the bike, and resale would be better. I also don't think a thudbuster would do much at his weight, and suspension seems like overkill unless you want it. I'd bet by the end of the summer he won't care what he's sitting on as long as you go faster.

-Ryan
 

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I don't check in that often, therfore the week-late post...

Kiddie stoker kit, hard tail, Ti seat post:
byStickel_29erTandem_DVtrails_kiddie-mode.jpg
I looked into full suspension, but that was not necessary for our current rides. Works well on single track.
 

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I've found that if my 7 year old son is stoking, his feet can't stay on the pedals. If I strap his feet in then he's unable to step off to catch himself if needed. What are you folks using for kids pedals?
 

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shoes for 7 year old stoker

We started at 5 yrs with a combination of Power grips and old innertubes. We now use clipless pedals with modified sneakers. This pic shows it backed with a tin can lid. I have since replaced the backing with a sturdier piece of metal. Inside the shoe (under the insole) is a plate salvaged from the inside of an old pair of my shoes. This provides a solid mount for the screws.
 

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I've found that if my 7 year old son is stoking, his feet can't stay on the pedals. If I strap his feet in then he's unable to step off to catch himself if needed. What are you folks using for kids pedals?
We've been working on technique.

I know my daughter can't pedal on uneven terrain like I do - her legs are just too short for that - so I try to coast more on the bumps. She is supposed to be standing and absorbing bumps, but I think she's clenching the top tube with her legs. Anyway, she's on flats.

-F
 

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I've found that if my 7 year old son is stoking, his feet can't stay on the pedals. If I strap his feet in then he's unable to step off to catch himself if needed. What are you folks using for kids pedals?
Plastic flats. The kiddie stocker is independant, and is set up at a higher gear, so she pedals slower than I do (I tend to spin).
 

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I could not find much information on this topic searching through old threads. My son, 3 1/2 years old, started riding on the back of my road tandem last summer a couple of months before he was 3. He's ridden about 700 miles with me so far and he has loved all of it.

I think I would like to take him on some singletrack with me as well, but I have absolutely zero off road tandem experience. Does anyone on here have any experience with this to share?

I'm specifically wondering what type of bike set-up might be best. Should I look for a hardtail and put a thudbuster and stoker kit on the back for him? Should I look for a full suspension and just set up some type of footrest, no pedalling for him? We live in northern Indiana, has anyone ridden midwestern singletrack on a tandem and if so how did the tandem do? Sorry about all the questions, but thanks for any piece of info you can help me with!
Check out my ecdm tandem review on the BikeDad's website... It will answer a lot of your questions. And the tout terrain streamliner review I did. You're going to have a hard time getting a 3.5 year old to fit on the back of a tandem. Also depending on your terrain you won't have enough weight over the rear wheel to maintain traction when climbing. And your kid will get launched off the pedals on the slightest bump. Depending on your child's size, you could probably get about a year of use from either a macride or kids ride shotgun seats. Both excellent products for the 2.5-4.5 year old crowd. But honestly the streamliner will cover you from age 3ish to 8 or 9. And while expensive, it's cheaper than a tandem setup that won't work well anyways for your kids size and kids in general offroad until they're older. I won't be transitioning back to the tandem regularly for my littles until they're 7 or 8. And I say this as someone who custom built a kid stoker kit for a full suspension Ventana. See @bikechurchshuttles on instagram for pics. And definitely check out The Bike Dad's.
 

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Here is my 7 yr old nephew and myself and he carried his weight and contributed proportionately to power. Surprisingly all I had to do was drop the seat down to the very lowest position. I also had to be very careful to only ride on mostly level pavement where the pedaling was easy and I had to keep it it a pretty high gear so the pedals would not spin too fast and cause his feet to fly off. If there was ever an incline and I needed to change to low gear, I told nim to take his feet off the pedals and rest them on the top cross bar while I did the hard work.
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