Those who tandem together, stay together. Or not, as these double person bicycles are aptly nicknamed “the divorce bike” because of the level of communication they require to master.
With that being said, tandem bikes are a great way for two people of different cycling skill levels to ride together without somebody being left behind.
Unless you’re sitting on the back end of the bicycle, that is. Even then, the beauty of the bicycle made for two is that you’re physically connected to your co-rider, so you’ll be cycling together in tandem in no time.
Any bicycle that has a second seat at the rear is a tandem bike, but there are a number of other features that differentiate these two-seater two-wheelers, depending on the make and model.
However, if you’re only just beginning to dip your toe in the waters of tandem biking, it can be difficult to know which factors make a bike best suited to your needs.
Luckily for you, we’ve found five of the best tandem bikes that are currently available to show you the best of what tandem biking has to offer.
We’ve reviewed each of them and compiled them in a list for you to compare, and we’ve also included a useful buyer’s guide for your convenience.
If you’re in a hurry, then put your pedal to the metal and keep reading to find out why we chose the Schwinn Twinn Classic tandem bike as our top pick.
OUR TOP PICK
Firstly, we looked at this Twinn Classic tandem bike manufactured by Schwinn.
It was selected as our top pick because it combines both comfort and style with athletic ability, so whatever your reason for wanting a tandem bike, it’s sure to impress.
An aluminum, low-step tandem frame provides all the structural support that two people on one bike would require, with the addition of a lugged fork for ultimate directional control.
The brakes are manufactured using alloy and feature calipers, so you’ll have unparalleled stopping power as you ride, just in case that directional control proves tricky to master.
Dual-density grips are also provided, and all the overall design of the bicycle is classic yet attractive whilst also providing comfort on longer rides. Ergonomic saddles are stylish as well as supportive for a more enjoyable riding experience.
Shift between 7 speed Shimano twist shifters smoothly, as the rear derailleur ensures seamless transitions from each gear into the next.
You won’t have to worry about any bumps in the road with the 26-inch urban tires, which are lightweight for faster rolling as well as being durable, with Schwinn alloy cranks, pedals, and wheels.
The single drawback to this double-seater bike is that it’s tricky to assemble, and it has recommended height guidelines are recommended, which are anywhere between 5’6” to 6/1” for the captain, and 5’0” to 5’9” for the stoker.
- Aluminum frame
- Smooth gear changing
- Alloy caliper brakes
- Comfortable for smaller riders thanks to low step-through
- Lightweight and durable tires
- Great value for money
- Tricky to assemble
Designed for coasting along the beach, you can ride this Kulana Lau tandem bike whilst watching either the sunrise or sunset, basking in that golden hour glow.
The oversized fork is perfect for taking to the seaside, and the whole design screams “beach vibes” so you won’t be out of place down at the seafront.
Front and rear fenders protect the whitewall 26-inch tires as well as bringing a laid-back feel to the already charming vintage look of this tandem bike, combining practicality and aesthetic in one fell swoop.
There are 7 Torque Drive speed twist shifters which help encourage you to adjust to your surroundings rather than relying on the bike to do all the hard work for you, so you’ll be a better cyclist after using this tandem bike, too.
The rigid suspension means there’s nothing that can slow you down when you’re cycling along, and a Hi-Ten steel cruiser frame supports both riders in a comfortable, upright position with handlebars that are easy to reach.
Simply sit back and enjoy the ride. Although you might want to pedal a little, too.
Rear and front brakes are featured on the bike to bring you to a halt swiftly and safely, with a linear-pull brake style.
They’re effective even in wet weather conditions, so you can ride even on rainy days without worrying about being able to stop when you need it.
- Attractive design with a vintage feel
- 7-speed shifters
- Effective rear and front brakes
- Customers love how fun and enjoyable it is to ride
- Complimentary assembly available at certain locations
- Not the most lightweight bike
Another Kulana Lua tandem bike we absolutely loved is this yellow ray of sunshine, a great choice if you’re looking for a bold statement - even bolder than riding along your favorite cycling route with an extra person behind you, we mean.
You’ll be sure to draw a few eyes.
The sleek, attractive design includes rear coaster brakes, which gets rid of the need for messy cables so as not to detract from the neat, seamless design.
The stoker will have no issues reaching the cruiser handlebars (provided you’ve paid attention to the recommended heights before purchasing) as they allow for upright, balanced riding positions which is far more enjoyable for both riders.
Extra large cruiser spring seats provide additional comfort, so you won’t walk away from this tandem bike feeling achy and sore.
Plus, the Hi-Ten steel tandem frame features an oversized fork, although some customers do report that it’s not as durable as it could be.
Unlike the previous Kulana Lau model we looked at, this only offers a single speed. This is perfect for anyone who’s been more recently converted to the tandem way of cycling, as it’s easier to use and maintain than a 7-gear bike.
The front and rear half wrap fenders add to the vintage style of the bike whilst also providing practical protection against any puddles in your path, so wet weather needn’t put you off taking your bike out for a ride.
- Attractive, bold design
- Perfect for the beach
- Single speed means it’s easier to maneuver
- Protective fenders
- Occasionally delivered with parts missing
The next tandem bike we looked at is one from Kent Northwoods, a popular brand among cycling enthusiasts.
Their tandem bike is a great runner up to the other models we’ve looked at so far at a much more affordable price.
It’s a great heavy-duty option that has a durable, cruiser-style frame, although it does mean that it packs a bit of extra weight which can be cumbersome to carry when you’re not in motion.
The low standover heights of the frame (29 inches for the front and 20 inches for the rear) mean you can easily and comfortably mount the tandem bike, and spring saddles ensure you’re in for a comfortable ride once you’re seated.
If you’re looking for plenty of gears, you’ll be pleased with the 21-speed Shimano Tourney drivetrain and Revo twist shifters that the bike includes.
Other features, such as the alloy linear pull V brakes, add to the overall durability of the bike and are built for long-lasting use.
Additionally, there are dual water bottle holders that are conveniently located so you can stay hydrated while you’re cycling.
- Affordable option
- Cruiser frame
- 21-speed shifters
- Comfortable spring saddles
- Difficult to assemble
- Heavier than other models
Our last review is of another Kent Northwoods tandem bike, featuring a striking neon green and black design.
The steel frame is high-quality and the cruiser style means it’s suitable for a range of cycling trails, including your local beach or around the neighborhood.
Experience comfort while you cycle thanks to spring gel seats, with easy-to-reach water bottle holders to store your favorite drink for when you need a rest break.
The kickstand is another useful feature, allowing you to prop the bike up while you pause.
Every component of the bike is built with durability in mind, including the 21-speed drivetrain, alloy linear pull V brakes, and the frame itself.
Revo twist shifters are also reliable, as are the 2.1-inch tires which are extra wide to help reduce the effects of bumps in the road.
The workout doesn’t start until after you’re on the bike, as it’s easy to mount thanks to the frame’s low standover heights which allow you to get a leg up without effort.
Perfect for couples or close friends who enjoy cycling together, customers love the fun and enjoyment this tandem bike provides.
- Excellent value for money
- Gears shift easily
- Comfortable and easy to mount
- Straightforward assembly with useful instructions included
- No parts replacement service
Best Tandem Bikes Buying Guide
Despite their surprising speed and agility, tandem bikes have come to be associated with spending quality family time together, or as a fun idea for a date if you’re looking for something a little different from the typical wine and dining experience.
The utter silliness of them equals sheer hilarity, and what sounds more fun than that?
They’re also a great choice for any sport or cycling enthusiast because they have a superior ratio of force to weight, as well as having an aerodynamic drag that is only slightly more than what you’d find on a single bike.
This means you’re able to travel at much faster speeds on the flat, and even faster when cycling downhill. Two sets of legs are better than one, after all.
There are plenty of other advantages to taking up tandem biking, so we’ve put together this handy buyer’s guide to help you find the best model for your needs now you’ve decided to take the plunge and purchase a new set of wheels.
Types of Tandems
Just like regular bicycles, you’ll find different types of tandem bikes for different situations.
The most common types include road, touring, gravel, and MTB bikes, but there is a wide range of other styles to choose from.
- Road tandem bikes aren’t the easiest to start off with if you’re new to tandem biking. Their compact frame means you’ll be up close and personal with your co-rider, and together you can achieve great speeds. Trust is important in your partner and your wheels, so make sure you have both before attempting to ride one of these!
- Touring tandem bikes are much more flexible and can be used for many different types of rides. They often feature longer wheelbases which allow for larger tires.
- Gravel tandem bikes can handle off-road riding and are a relatively newer option on the tandem bike market. They have a durable, compact frame and are similar to road tandems in size.
- MTB tandem bikes are longer in length and have larger tires that are perfect for off-roading. Advanced suspension systems allow for flexible movement as you bounce along the roads. You might want to hold on tight to the captain, on this one!
The frame makes up the main body of your bike, and as such it’s one of the most important parts to consider when deciding which type of tandem bike to buy.
Firstly, you should consider the material it’s made from, as this will indicate how durable your tandem bike is, as well as how easy it is for the captain to control.
Advances in modern technology and tandem design mean that tandem bikes are easier, more stable, and more comfortable to ride than ever before.
Where the cheap steel frames of tandem past were wobbly and unreliable, today you should aim for one with enough lateral stiffness or rigidity to hold you and your co-rider upright.
Most commonly, you’ll find frames made from steel, aluminum, carbon, and occasionally from bamboo these days, and there is a range of different sizes available, which brings us to our next point…
Finding the Right Fit
The second most important thing to think about when purchasing a new tandem bike is that it’s the right size for you and your co-rider.
Although they’re often adjustable, this is only to a certain extent and there are usually fewer options to choose from when it comes to frame sizes than you’d find with a single bike.
Finding the perfect fit can be even more difficult for riders with significantly different heights, therefore your bike may require certain adjustments in order to be suitable for you both to ride. Always check the product specifications as these will indicate which size is best for your height.
It’s also worth remembering that because of the role of the captain and their part in holding the bike steadily upright whenever you come to a halt, they require enough space to spread their legs to support the bike and the stoker, who often remains seated.
You should have plenty of them, or your legs will get tired. Just kidding. Brakes are another extremely important element of the tandem bike as they can reach faster speeds than their solo counterparts, and therefore need a reliable stopping method.
Check to see where the brakes are located on your bike - some offer both rear and front brakes and even a third for extra stopping power. They need to be positioned where you can easily reach them when needed, another reason that getting the size right is essential.
Just like with a single bicycle, when riding a tandem bike you’ll want to choose one with an appropriate number of gears to suit the speed at which you’re cycling. Think about the areas you’ll be using your bike most often, as this will influence the number of gears you need.
Because tandems are powered by the force of two people peddling, with the aerodynamic drag that’s not much more than a single rider, you can reach a reasonable speed when on the flat, in which case you’ll appreciate having some higher gears.
On the other hand, the increased heaviness of extra material on the bike and a second rider means smaller gears are also worth having.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are tandem bikes hard to ride?
Tandem bikes can be tricky to get used to at first because you have to learn to balance with two people instead of one.
They may be more difficult than single-person bicycles, but once you’ve mastered the basics they’re not inherently hard to ride.
What are the captain and the stoker?
This refers to your position on the tandem bike. The captain (also known as the pilot or steersman) rides up front, whereas the stoker (also referred to as the navigator or rear admiral) brings up the rear.
The captain is responsible for controlling the shifting and keeping it balanced both when it’s in motion or when you’ve stopped to pause, and the stoker is in control of the brakes, steering the direction of the tandem bike, and pretty much everything except shifting.
What are tandem bikes used for?
We’ve already mentioned how they can be a good family activity or a fun first date, but tandem bikes are popular for a number of other reasons.
For example, they can be a good option for tourists when you’re traveling around cities with a friend or partner.
They’re also used for sporting events, including races in the Olympics and Paralympics, due to their aerodynamic ability.