Biking

The 5 Best Tandem Bikes – [2020 Reviews]

The world is a much cooler place when we help each other out, and two person tandem bicycles are no exception.

Tandem bikes can foster relationships, divide the work of peddling between two people, help teach new riders how to balance and turn, and are accessible for people of different abilities. Not to mention,riding with a partner can be more fun than riding by yourself.

To help you choose we have done the research on the top tandem bikes so you don’t have to. Let’s get started!

Best Tandem Bikes

 Schwinn Twinn Tandem Wheel BicycleKent Northwoods Dual Drive BikeBurley Piccolo Trailer Bicycle
editors choice
Wheel Size:26”26″20"
Speed:21 speed21 speed7 speed
Brakes:Disk BrakesRim BrakesNone (trailer)

For more of my top biking recommendations, have a look through these popular Outside Pursuits guide links: Bike Helmets, Bike Locks and Bike Racks.

Quick Answer: The 5 Best Rated Tandem Bikes For 2020

  1. Schwinn Twinn Tandem Wheel Bicycle
  2. Kent Northwoods Dual Drive Bike
  3. Burley Piccolo Trailer Bicycle
  4. Kulana Lua Single Speed Tandem Cruiser Bike
  5. Kent Northwoods Tandem Bike

Our reviews of the top rated tandem bikes, with our comparison table and buyers guide, will help you choose the right one.


Tandem Bike Reviews

The Schwinn Twinn Tandem bicycle is ready to introduce you to the world of tandem cycling. The low, step through bar is easy to navigate for any size rider and the aluminum frame keeps everything lightweight.

You will enjoy the extra boost of speed inherent to tandem bikes on the two 2 inch wide 26″ diameter tires on a variety of terrain.

The fork of the bike incorporates suspension to help the front tire absorb surface changes and bumps along the way. A comfortable ride continues with the bike’s fitness style seats.

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Although the Twinn is a solid ride, it is not exactly built to handle tearing up a mountain bike course. It has a strong mountain bike appeal though, and functions well off road, street, and around the neighborhood.

The bicycle comes in two different frame sizes, medium (20″ front, 15.5″ rear) and large (22″ front, 18″ rear). Aside from the frame sizes, the seat and handlebars adjust to accommodate a wide variety of riders.

It is the best choice if  you are looking for a child-friendly tandem option. The Twinn’s overall reliable construction, ease of use, and thoughtful construction set it as the best tandem bike on our list.

 

Schwinn Twinn Tandem Wheel Bicycle at a Glance:


  • Wheel Size: 26”
  • Speeds: 21 speed
  • Brakes: Disk Brakes
  • Other: Front Fork Suspension

Out of all the choices on our list, the Northwoods Dual Drive Tandem holds its own as the best tandem road bike for its price point.

The Northwoods is a high quality tandem bike with a durable cruiser-style frame. It features a 21-speed drive train and Revo twist shifters. The gear design will help you power up steep hills, while the pull V brakes ensure a safe and quick stop.

Sitting at around 65.8 pounds, it is a hefty but solid option.

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The Northwoods bike comes with a pair of spring gel saddles and dual water bottle holders – a convenient addition for those who plan on staying hydrated.

This bike is also easy to assemble, and even simpler to ride.

While it may not perform as smoothly on a rugged terrain or mountain trail, it is right at home pedaling across town, along the coast, or on the average walkway.

Northwoods Dual Drive Tandem Bike at a Glance:


  • Wheel Size: 26″
  • Speeds: 21 Speed
  • Brakes: Alloy Linear Pull V Brakes
  • Other: Comes in green

Piccolo Trailer Bike

Burley Design’s Piccolo Trailer Bicycle is the best option for those looking to bring their kids along for a ride.

Retailing at around $380, this trailer bike is designed to carry one or more children in positions that closely resemble that of a tandem bicycle rider.

With its lightweight aluminum frame, front splash guard, and patented rear rack-based hitch connection system, this bike is safe for child riders and comfortable for adults.

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The Piccolo features a 20-inch wheel for smooth rolling and 7-speed twist-shifter for versatile terrain. Its adjustable handlebars and seat posts allow for maximum comfort.

This bike is recommended for children ages 4-10, weighing up to 85 lbs, with a recommended 2-1 adult weight-to-child weight ratio.

The bike also comes with a 5 year frame warranty and a 1 year hitch and rack warranty in the case of defects.

Best bike for riders of all ages.

 

Burley Design Piccolo Trailer Bike at a Glance:


  • Wheel Size: 20”
  • Speeds: 7 Speed
  • Brakes: None (trailer)
  • Other: Comes in green and blue

Looking sharp and ready to roll, the Kulana is an awesome example of just how fun it is to ride a tandem bike. You will totally stand out on the cruiser-style bright yellow ride.

It fits a range of risers from 5’4″ to 6.2. The back cross bar is a bit higher, which might make it difficult for some riders to get on and off the back seat.

It is the only fixed gear bike on our list, which is appealing if you are a beginner when it comes to bikes. The fixed gears are easier to maintain and more streamline, although you lose the advantage of choosing the right gear for your elevation.

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This is a great cruising tandem, and awesome way to enjoy a large park, or rail-trails.

Yellow fenders will do their best to protect you from mud and puddles so it is easier to enjoy the bike in all types of weather.

The Kulana is the least expensive choice on our list, so if you are eager to see if you would enjoy a tandem bike, but want to test one out for a bit first, this is a great choice for you.

Best budget tandem.

 

Kulana Lua Single Speed Tandem Cruiser Bike at a Glance:


  • Wheel Size: 26”
  • Speeds: 21 speed
  • Brakes: Rear Coast
  • Other: Front and rear fenders

 

Kent Northwoods Tandem Bike

The Northwood’s Drive tandem sports a cruiser body with a flashy more bmx style paint job. As with most of the bikes on the list, it is fully adjustable and fits even small riders.

The bike is built to last with a strong, heavy frame (29″ front, 20″ rear) and straightforward twist shifters. Although the seats are not quite suited for all-day riding, they are easy to switch out to your preferences.

One of the special features of this bike is it comes with two water bottle holders- a nice accessory which eliminates the extra step of finding one.

For its price point, this is an awesome bike. It brings solid construction, durability and ease of use together to be the best tandem bike.

Kent Northwoods Dual Drive Bike at a Glance:


  • Wheel Size: 26″
  • Speeds: 21 speed
  • Brakes: Rim Brakes
  • Other: Comes with two water bottle holders

Tandem Bike Comparison Table

Tandem Bikes Wheel SizeSpeedBrakesRating
Schwinn Twinn Tandem Wheel Bicycle26”21 SpeedDisk brakes4.1 / 5.0
Kulana Lua Single Speed Tandem Cruiser Bike26”21 SpeedRear coast3.9 / 5.0
Kent Northwoods Dual Drive Bike26”21 SpeedRim brakes3.6 / 5.0
Northwoods Dual Drive Tandem Bike26"21 speedPull V brakes4.1 / 5.0
Burley Piccolo Trailer Bicycle20"7 speedNone (trailer)4.5 / 5.0

How to Choose the Best Tandem Bike- Buying Guide

Best two person bike

There are a few specific factors unique to tandem bikes that you should consider before purchasing.

Deciding on the Right Model

Size & Fit

When you size a tandem bike, it needs to fit both riders and the fit will be different than on a standard bike. For one, the captain will need to be able to set both their feet down easily while holding the bike steady at stops.

Whoever you plan on mainly riding with, fit the bike to both people. Seats and handlebars can only compensate so far, so start with ensuring that the frame will fit both people.

If there is a big difference in height between the two riders it might require you to invest in a custom set up.

There are also devices called child stoker kits that adjust the height of the crankset so children can pedal along more easily. With the kids seating peddling behind you, you always know where they are. Tandems are a great way to build rider confidence and awareness in younger riders.

Overall, tandems are an awesome way to bike with children.

Frame & Fork

For tandem bikes, you don’t have to spend too much time worrying about the frame and fork. However, two key things to take into consideration are padding and suspension.

Suspension, similar to your car, works as a shock absorber between the bike and bumpy surfaces. A bike with good suspension, such as those listed above, will allow the rider to tackle increasingly demanding routes.

Bike Gears

When you’re just starting out, gears are more of a luxury than a necessity. They won’t impede learning how to balance, accelerate or brake, but are unnecessary for total beginners.

The 21-speed gears of the tandem bicycles listed above will be more than enough for the average rider.

Accessories 

Accessories are an important yet often overlooked aspect of purchasing a bike.

Mirrors and reflectors are a great way to add visibility for both riders, and decrease potential safety problems. If you plan on touring, see if the bike is able to fit your favorite saddle bags or racks.

Each of our chosen bicycles allow riders to switch out handlebars and seats to according to personal preference. You may be able to swap out other items, like water bottle holders or mirrors with bikes you already own, but double check the specifications before doing so.

Mechanical Basics

Pedals

Tandem bikes either have one drive train that both riders peddle in unison, or independent drive trains allowing each cyclist to pedal at their own pace. All of the options on our list are single drive train bicycles.

The front and rear pedals are connected to the drive train by two chains on the bike. Chains rotate on both sides of the bike, one side for the captain and the other for the stoker.

With a tandem bike, you have twice the weight and power behind the bike which increases the speed past what is capable with a single bicycle.

Brakes

Extra speed equals extra danger and the need for solid brakes. Disc brakes, rather than rim brakes, in the front and back of the bike add security to the stopping power of the bike. Front and rear rim brakes controlled by the captain also do a nice job at stopping the bike, however it might take a little longer to brake safely.

Some bikes are equipped with a static break to help slow you down safely when accelerating down steep hills. If you live in a particularly hilly or mountainous place, a static break might be a good addition.

Rider Roles

Rider roles are an especially important part of tandem bike riding, due to the teamwork involved. When riding, each rider must choose a role: the captain or the stoker.

The captain, the cyclist at the front, is steering, braking, and navigating the bike as the two riders pedal along.

Usually, the taller, heavier rider is the captain because it helps balance the bike out. Because the captain must stand and hold the bike steady during stops, it is easier to manage if you are the taller rider.

It is also the captain’s job to communicate to the stoker upcoming obstacles, and turns. Because of the increased length, turning a tandem is a bit of an operation. The captain needs to lead the team through wider anticipated turns to avoid falling over.

The stoker, or the cyclist in the back, is responding to the navigational moves of the captain and “stoking” or providing power to the bike.

Contrary to how it might seem, stokers are not along for the ride (otherwise they would be called “freeloaders”). For one it is difficult to not put any effort in, because if the captain is peddling, the pedals spin under the stoker’s feet.

It is also usually easier for the stoker to keep watch behind the bike, then for the captain to turn and look past the stoker to see what is happening.

The stoker will take on the impact of bumps from rough roads or potholes because they sit over the rear wheel, and they cannot always see what is coming.

Both cyclists need to work together to maintain balance and speed.

How to Ride a Tandem Bike

 

FAQs About Tandem Bicycles

Q: Is it difficult to ride a tandem bike?

A: At first it is difficult to ride a tandem bike. Hopping on a tandem bike in the middle of heavy traffic for the first time is not something that you want to do. As someone who lives near an area with several tourist bike rental joint, it is amusing to bystanders and frustrating for riders.

Remember that the difficulty does not lie exclusively in the technical logistics of the bike, but also in the ability for the riders to pedal and ride together. Give yourself and your partner time to learn to work the bike together in a low-stress environment at first, and establish a communication plan.

Q: Can a tandem bike be ridden by one person?

A: One person can peddle and ride a tandem bike, although it will be harder than one person on a single bicycle. You probably would not want to ride it on your own very long, but it would be manageable in a pinch.

Q: Are tandem bikes fun?

A: Yes, of course just like riding a regular bicycle is fun! Riding with a partner makes it possible to reach higher speeds more easily than a single bicycle. On a tandem bike, riders can balance and manage their strengths and weaknesses making for a smoother and more enjoyable trip.

Riding the same bike together also eliminates having to keep up with a partner or worry about being left behind. As always, cycling is a great way to get yourself outside with a partner or friend and enjoy a beautiful day and exercise. 

Q: Can tandem bikes have more than two people? 

A: The word tandem actually refers to the arrangement of riders, one behind the other instead of side to side, not the number of riders. Although all the bikes on our list are for two people, there are tandem bikes built for 3, or 4 people. A tandem bike can even fit 8 people!

Q: Does the back rider need to pedal?

A: Yes, of course they do! Just like other fit-for-two activities like canoeing, riders are able to manage and balance power to do things like take a break or cycle between power and normal peddling. It is pretty difficult for the stoker to just put their feet up and enjoy the ride. If you are looking for that experience, a rickshaw or a wagon might be a safer investment.

Summary

You have considered your teammate carefully, learned how to choose a good tandem bike for you, and now you are finally ready to go on your next adventure!

Tandem bikes do not have to empty your savings. They are an amazing way to have fun doing something you might already love with people you enjoy.

Rideability
Features
Value

The Schwinn Twinn Tandem Bike is our Editor's Choice for the best tandem bike with its rideability, features and value.

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Richard Remick

I am an avid traveler and adventurer, I love skiing, snowboarding, hiking and camping in Colorado in the Dillion area, and when I am in Florida you can usually find me on the water either paddleboarding or kayaking. My recent passion is scuba diving, I got certified a few years ago and "get wet" as frequently as I can.

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