ITandem

Remember ITchair? It’s been wonderful, but son wants to pedal. He’s not big enough yet for a trail-a-bike/tag-along, and can’t keep up on a bike of his own. So how about I remove the footpegs and hook up some stoker cranks? I wasn’t sure it would work when I ordered the parts, but I had to try. It was a snap! It works pretty much like Stokemonkey, only children are much more expensive, much noisier, and nowhere near as powerful:
itandem
father, son

More movies:

46 thoughts on “ITandem”

  • Allan

    Hahaha… that is great.

    Instead of StokeMonkey, perhaps StokeRug-rat?

    Others?

    Reply
  • Erik Sandblom

    Thank you for this splendid entertainment!

    Are those Ergon grips? Comfortable? Is weight an issue? Is the Torpedo shifter better than the Brompton one?

    Reply
  • Todd

    Erik, those are Ergons, yes; I like them. Weight? HAHAHA! Erm, stock SRAM shifter I think, feels just like Sturmey-Archer 3-speed in Kalashnikovian robust orneriness.

    Reply
  • Holly

    Oh my god! That’s fabulous! Go Carl! Patrick sez StokeMonkey may be cheaper, quieter and more powerful—but will it take care of you in your dottering old age?

    Reply
  • Mauricio Babilonia

    Bravo! Perhaps you could call it the Mini-Monkey.
    I see the lucky little devil already rides a Brooks too.
    How do you like the Reelights?

    Reply
  • fred

    Those are some fabulous videos, Todd! I hope you’re following conventional tandem practice and communicating to your stoker when you are slowing or stopping pedal activity and shifting, among other things. My wife is not only my stoker, on our Screamer tandem, she’s also the navigator and “rear admiral.” Your son is your stoker, certainly, but he must have a rank more befitting his forward position. I suppose “forward observer” only applies if he’s not contributing his share.

    Reply
  • Todd

    Ideale, Mauricio, Rebour embossed. Love the Reelights.

    Reply
  • lizardbiker

    How cool!
    I’m wondering if I’ve missed something, though — has the Revolution done away with helmets?

    Reply
  • Todd

    Lizardbiker, I think helmets are prudent for competitive/extreme riding, for riders inexperienced or unsure of the conditions, and for routine longer hauls such as commutes where the cumulative exposure hours and “autopilot” mindlessness tendency counsel special protective measures. In most other conditions they perpetuate a culture of fear that I think “the Revolution” is about overturning or forestalling, as it has in the societies where bicycling is most prevalent, where helmets are rarest, and cycling casualties lowest. This isn’t to say that there’s no danger at all in an everyday cyclist making a slow loop on a quiet street, but to assert that they are equal to or less, more or less, than the potentially lethal dangers of, e.g., walking, bathing, cooking, etc., for which special protective gear is deemed optional at most. If I had a nickel for every biker who has more money and anxiety invested in a helmet than in lighting and routine maintenance tools, skills, and supplies, or for every motorist in denial about the relative dangers of driving and riding without a helmet… I’d start a foundation to fix that.

    Reply
  • Mike C

    Waaaaaoooowwwwww….. your son rides on an Ideale saddle…

    Talk about startin’ ‘em off right!

    Reply
  • Murray

    That’s fantastic. I bet it turns some heads!

    Reply
  • Jim

    First off, that is excellent. My daughter just stood up on her own for the first time today, without holding onto anything. I suppose a rig like this will be next.

    I’m no helmet advocate, but I have become quite habituated to wearing one. Even on my routine short rides, I feel a little nervous if I don’t wear mine, and then I feel the need to exercise extra caution. If I wear the helmet, I don’t bat an eye at risky maneuvers!

    Reply
  • Ambrose

    “If I wear the helmet, I donââ?¬â?¢t bat an eye at risky maneuvers!”

    Though I know you were typing in jest there is the false security that a helmet may provide that can expose one to more danger. A lid (as we affectionately refer to them) has to fit properly and not be damaged from drops or previous incidents or even just age.

    Having said all that I feel vunerable when I go lidless. I have had one major wipe out on a gentle winter bike ride where my front wheel went through the ice of a puddle hidden by a dusting of snow and I flew grecefully over the handle bars whacking my lidded head on the frozen track. Shaken but no serious damage.

    Of course I grew up riding bikes everyday, everywhere and doing the most stupid stunts all without a lid….

    Reply
  • Pam and Jeff

    Cooooool Carl! You seem somewhat enamoured with the idea as well. What a neat idea. Todd, your
    creativity knows no bounds. Could you figure out how to make one for two geezers, one with a
    bad knee, shoulder and hip and one with arthritic hands? If anyone can do it, it’s you!

    Reply
  • Cliff

    It works pretty much like Stokemonkey…

    Would it be possible to fit a Stokemonkey motor on my Brompton?

    Reply
  • Todd

    Cliff, I think it would be possible, with significant custom work, but not a good match unless you have some extremely unusual requirements. You hauling your family around on a trailer on your Brompton in the mountains? If not, you don’t need that kind of torque, and there are more cost-effective ways to assist bikes that will seldom be called upon to carry much more than their riders. Also, it would make the fold very cumbersome, and that would be a shameful thing to do to a Brompton IMO. Here’s a much lighter, Brompton-specific effort by the Chinese company that makes Stokemonkey’s motor: http://www.poweridestore.com/images/ebbik3a.jpg

    Reply
  • [...] Cleverchimp blog Ã?» Blog Archive Ã?» ITandem Conversion of the ItChair for the brompton so that the child pedals. Via FoldingNews (tags: folder Brompton) [...]

    Reply
  • Richard Carter

    Love the iTandem, Todd, a very neat job. But I was interested to see you’ve replaced the standard trolley wheels with souped up alternatives, are they inline skate wheels or something else – and more to the point, where did you get them? I’ve been looking for replacements for my standard-issue ones but the Brompton Eazywheels seem over-priced and anyway only sell in sets of 4.

    Richard

    Reply
  • [...] Cleverchimp: …son wants to pedal. Heââ?¬â?¢s not big enough yet for a trail-a-bike/tag-along, and canââ?¬â?¢t keep up on a bike of his own. So how about I remove the footpegs and hook up some stoker cranks? I wasnââ?¬â?¢t sure it would work when I ordered the parts, but I had to try. It was a snap! It works pretty much like Stokemonkey, only children are much more expensive, much noisier, and nowhere near as powerful. [...]

    Reply
  • Martina

    Hi Richard, Todd got them from my inline skates! You can buy an inexpensive set of inline skate wheels or just recycle an old pair of skates (available in many yard sales/Goodwill stores). [Todd adds that he considers the wheels an essential upgrade; makes pushing the bike around indoors while half-folded so smooth you'll almost never choose to fold the bike up further and lug it.]

    I test rode the ITandem with Carl this weekend and can give the inofficial Cleverchimp’s Wife seal of approval.

    Reply
  • Mike C

    Hi Cliff,

    Another option for electrifying a Brompton is to get a Heinzman motor kit from Ben at Kinetics (not sure how much it’d be to ship from Glasgow, though)

    http://www.kinetics.org.uk/html/heinzmann_kits.shtml

    (he’s apparently a one-man shop so easier to reach by phone than email)

    Reply
  • Richard Carter

    Thanks, Martina, I’ll keep a look out for a skate shop.

    I thought they would be more effective, so it’s good to hear from you that they are.

    Richard

    Reply
  • [...] Todd has documented his experiences with words, photos and movies on his blog. [Me and the girls on the Haley Trike.] [...]

    Reply
  • [...] Ã?â?¡ocuÃ?Ÿunuzla birlikte bisiklete mi binmek istiyorsunuz. Ã?°Ã?Ÿte akÃ?±llÃ?±ca bir tasarÃ?±m. ITandem. Detaylar iÃ?§in tÃ?±klayÃ?±n… [...]

    Reply
  • gwadzilla

    I think that there were front chain rings on Schwinn road bikes that had a freewheel capacity
    that would allow junior’s cranks to stand still

    oh
    where is your helmet?
    and in the video?

    okay
    we all grew up without helmets
    so I will get off my soapbox

    Reply
  • Todd

    gwad, son has no problem pedaling along with me. i, on the other hand, sometimes have trouble matching his erratic motions. he gets out of the saddle and stomps on the cranks enthusiastically! it’s all i can do to stabilize the steering as he tugs away at the bars.

    note also that if the cranks were permitted to get out of synch as you suggest, our feet could collide. besides, i think it’s important to teaching bike manners like starting with right foot high, when to spin and when to mash, etc. that our feet move in time.

    helmets, see above.

    Reply
  • Smokasushibushi
    Smokasushibushi May 3, 2007 at 10:02 am

    Todd, inspirational sh*t.

    Any chance a stokemonkey-ITandem set-up would fly on an xtracycle?

    As in, kid behind the 'pilot'stoking the rig?

    Is it feasible to have a set of cranks coming out of the axis of the Stokemonkey for a manual-assist or combo-power-assist?

    I'm recently car-free and loving it, but sometimes my 7 year old is too tired to ride along on his own bike while his two siblings lounge in the croozer 535 I drag around.

    As for bike helmets, my kids wear them on the streets... but I don't.

    I feel the false sense of security imbued via helmet takes the edge off my heightened awareness to ride defensively. So I feel 'safer' without one.

    You are at risk when you step out the door. As a pedestrian, a bus passenger, car passenger, a consumer of toxic fast-food etc. What protection does 4000 lbs of car provide when it crumples into your head? Anybody wear a helmet in a car besides a race-car driver?

    I have worn helmets on centuries because the speed involved in descent. But how fast really do you travel 'normally'? Especially with a child. Not at an insane speed, right?

    I love your concept of the stokemonkey. Can it accurately be described as ADDING TO your human power, rather than SUPPLANTING it?

    Thanks for all of the pictures of your various bike set-ups, I'm still deciding on the right combo for me.
    Right now I'm debating a Bakfiets (stoked?) with a rear seat Vs. a recumbent trike 'pedicab' type hpv.

    Thoughts?

    Reply
  • Todd

    Smokasushibushi, I don't see a way to accomplish what you propose regarding adding cranks to Stokemonkey directly. Looking at the Big Dummy, I think you could hook up child stoker cranks and run them 90-degrees out of phase with the captain's, but the snapdeck isn't an appropriate pedaling platform.

    Stokemonkey has been added to a tandem recumbent trike, however; this was a special project, not a supported application. Stokemonkey is not available for anything but Xtracycles attached to typical upright frames at present.

    Yes, Stokemonkey is meant to add to, rather than supplant your power. Unlike pedal-activated assists, however, it's entirely up to you at every instant how much of the power going to the wheel is yours, and how much is the motor's. You can go back and forth between 100% human power and 100% motor power 5 times in 5 seconds if you want, or any mix.

    Reply
  • Erik Sandblom

    If your seven-year-old is not always up to pedalling, maybe you need a tagalong bike. Velovision recently wrote about a thingamabob which hooks up your child's bike with your own. That way the child can pedal as little or as much as s/he wants. The one in this picture attaches to the seat tube, so you can't put anything on the rear rack. But the Velovision article was about something which sits on the rear axle if I recall correctly.

    http://www.whycycle.co.uk/children-towbars.htm

    So maybe you need a bakfiets for two kids, and a tagalong connector for the seven-year-old.

    You might also be interested in Velovision's family cycling special a few issues back.
    http://www.velovision.com/

    Reply
  • Bruce Alan Wilson
    Bruce Alan Wilson May 4, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Anent helmets, I'd rather look like a mushroom than be a vegetable. A good friend of mine is a rehab nurse, and what he has told me about closed-head traumas makes me fanatical about never riding bareheaded.

    Reply
  • Chris Bradshaw

    I just found your site after a friend in Ottawa pointed me to it.

    I have had a Brompton for over a year, after 40 years using other, lesser small-wheel/folding bikes as my main set of wheels.

    Although I find your rig ingenious (handmade or a kit?), I don't think a rider smaller than appropriate for a trail-a-bike to be worth counting on for power assist. Thus, the chains/pedals add cost with little benefit. And the poor fore-stoker has no freedom _from_ pedalling.

    I bought a plain-vanilla tandem this summer to get my non-bike-riding wife of 38 years to join me on outings and errands (we haven't had a car for 13 years). I toyed with getting one of the Bilecky Viewpoints, which provide for a full adult to "stoke" from in front of the captain, and have pedalling independence. This fore-stoker arrangement seems to provide the best view for both, and good communication.

    Now that my wife has suffered a minor stroke, and her right side is weaker, I have to reconsider our tandem situation. Perhaps a three-wheel recumbent tandem is worth looking at (a neighbour -- another of our local HPV people -- has one, so I can test it easily), or should I revisit the Viewpoint -- both at about $4000. At least the tandem I just settled for was used and cost me $500, money which I should easily be able to get back.

    Chris Bradshaw
    Ottawa

    Reply
  • Bruce Wilson

    If you are at all good with tools, or know someone who is, you might consider a Kyoto Cruiser http://atomiczombie.com/product-kyoto.htm

    Reply
  • neil

    Chris - I assume you mean Bilenky?
    http://www.bilenky.com/viewpnt.html

    Which looks similar to the well known Hase Pino
    http://www.hasebikes.com/ens/pino/index.php

    Reply
  • Bruce Wilson

    The Bilenky and Hase Pino look to me like much more pleasant alternatives for the stoker than a standard tandem, in which the stoker can't see anything but the captain's backside.

    I am a little concerned about balance issues, though, as balancing on a diamond-frame bike and on a recumbent are so different. (The one time I tried to ride a recumbent I almost broke my neck.) Might the captain and stoker be working at cross-purposes?

    Note, this is only my impression from looking at the pictures. If anyone has had actual experience with these, I'll certainly defer to his/her expertise.

    Reply
  • Randall

    I don't have the Bilenky viewpoint, but I do have a Bilenky cargo bike which is basically the same bike and I've taken two kids on a seat in the front and I imagine it would be pretty much the same as the viewpoint. Balance is not an issue. The problem is the motorcycle problem: Moving is no problem, but when you're stopped, and let the weight tip to far to the side it's about impossible to keep the bike up. With a stoker it should be better as I imagine they could put out a leg. I've actually wondered if the Bakfietsen solve that problem with their low center of gravity.

    Reply
  • Todd (admin)

    Chris, I agree with you that small kids are not generally effective as power assist; to the small extent that they are, they tend to upset the handling. The point is that it's fun and helps teach the child the motions of pedaling, shifting, braking, etc. They see and feel it all as you do.

    Aside about carrying kids small and large in general: many people say things like "I don't need a bike that can carry people past a certain young age because they should be riding their own bikes then. Or at least they should be able to pedal to help!" Well, I agree that if the point is "going for a bike ride" then getting the kids moving is a big part of the attraction. But when it's just transportation, such objections are a little absurd, like insisting that children be able to have their own gas pedal in a car to help with the work. Do you really want to have your 7-year old crossing busy arterials on a rainy night to accompany you to the grocery store on his or her own bike, just because he or she _can_ ride? And just because your 10-year-old is good at arithmetic doesn't mean they do your taxes, right? I expect to be carrying my children long past the age they can ride competently just as I now carry my wife and she me sometimes, for the same reasons that car drivers are often also passengers.

    Randall, you are correct that the bakfiets's low center of gravity, together with the very high bars for leverage, makes it super easy to handle at low speeds and when stopped, even fully loaded, even for people with limited upper body strength. The reason Clever Cycles hasn't carried trikes, in spite of the fact that many people ask for them, is that we think they'd mostly just drive the sales of bakfietsen after people tried both. Trikes are stable when stationary, but they tip easily in motion. Bakfietsen are stable in motion and at rest thanks to the killer stand and low COG, and just a lot easier to ride than any trike we've tried. We may eventually get some trikes in time, though.

    Reply
  • jeff

    I've been thinking about a cargo trike though I've never been on one (maybe I'll find one to ride at Veloswap tomorrow). Now I'm pulling my daughter in a trailer which works except when we want to talk with each other (which is every day after preschool). Having her closer (on the deck of a long tail or in the the front like on a Bakfiets or tadpole type cargo trike) would be great.

    The other norning I was on my way to work without her and I hit this bike/pedestrian bridge a little too hot. The bike went into a front wheel skid on the frosty surface and then went out from under me. Neither I nor the bike was hurt but if she'd been on it, it would have freaked me right out.

    Of course I could have avoided this accident by paying closer attention or choosing the near by but differently surfaced bridge that doesn't frost as easily. I'm a reasonably skilled rider and I haven't dropped a bike in years but here it happened and what if it happened with her on it, you know?

    A trike seems to offer an advantage in such situations but I can imagine that tipping one over would be very unpleasant. Maybe the low COG of the Bakfiets with its shorter distance to fall compares favorably. I'd be interested to hear from anyone with direct experience of both.

    Todd: I saw a story about Bakfietsen on Carectomy today and it had a link to your site. Very Cool. And yesterday we were at a large LBS looking at Trek "comfort" bikes for my wife. The guys in the shop were sufficiently interested in this mysterious idea of useful bikes that I got them to visit your site and Xtracycle's and Riding the Spine. That was fun. This all just might catch on!

    jeff

    Reply
  • Mark

    Todd,

    Since Workcycles carries the/a Christiania, it might not be too hard to get Dutchbikes to import them too. Yes, people might pull a Three Bears- "this bike is too small, this trike is too big... ah, this bike is just right." I assume that even though you carry both the short and long bakfiets, you sell more of the long. Possibly people are looking for even more carrying capacity?

    It seems to me that stocking even a single trike would help customers quickly narrow down on a purchase, as opposed to vacillating between a bike they've test ridden and a trike that they've only heard of. They can figure out how they want to make the tradeoff between capacity, stability, maneuverability, weight, etc., literally by the seat of their pants.

    Who knows, you might even sell some of the trikes- the Christianias are among the better ones out there (don't know about the Azors).

    Reply
  • Todd (admin)

    We made sustained attempts to bring in Christiania. They fear lawsuits, or rather, their lawyers tell them they should. It seems that in most of the world, Americans are known as the people who not only patronize McDonald's, but then sue them for serving coffee hot enough to burn if you try to drink and drive. Christiania makes a selling point of the propensity to tip with competitions to see who can ride longest on 2 wheels. Don't get the wrong idea: I don't mean to single out any upright trike design for this observation, but trikes don't ride like bikes. They are slower and they tip rather easily at the kind of speeds easily attained in places with any kinds of grades. I see trikes as "exceptional" in their ideal applications: for people who can't ride bikes or for payloads above several hundred pounds in perfectly flat places like factory floors or maybe Copenhagen.

    Reply
  • Erik Sandblom

    Jeff, studded tyres!

    I've had a bad spill on frost. It was surprising because it happened really fast. The ground got up and smacked me. I wasn't wearing gloves, and I didn't want to scratch my hands, so...

    After that I got Hakkapeliitta A10 studded tyres and can recommend them. They give me immense control even on slush-covered ice. But they turn my bike into a tank, so I seldom use them, and just try to be careful instead.

    Plowed and sanded surfaces make it a lot easier to ride through the winter, even with ordinary tyres. No salt please!

    Reply
  • Bruce Wilson

    It is stories like that about the skid that make me in favor of helmets, but that's an old argument that we've been over before.

    My main reason for coming here is to let everyone know that I finally did it. I got rid of my car. I'm now car-free. No more taxes, no more insurance, no more gassing up. I feel wonderful.

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  • Mark Stosberg

    Congratulations, Bruce!

    It took me a long time to finally let go of my car, but I'm so glad I did.

    Mark

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  • jeff

    Todd, thanks for your take on trikes. Despite what many people believe, Denver is not mountainous (though the near by mountains are :-) but it's certainly not flat either. I've seen pictures of riders having to lean pretty far to get one around a corner even on a flat - probably not the deal.

    I may find myself in Portland next summer and if that works out, I'll come test drive a Bak. The Burley + 20 year old Schwinn is gettin it done so we'll see how the winter goes.

    Eric, thanks for the tip on the tires. I also saw a review for some Nokian studded tires over at Icebike.org as well as directions for making them myself (sounds like fun). This gives me lots to think about.

    I also know there are different types of chains/wires available. I wonder if any of you has any experience with these. It doesn't snow enough here to warrant leaving studded tires on my bike all season and I don't have an extra set of wheels. It would be cool to be able to add and remove traction as needed (especially if I get caught at work in snow with my regular tires).

    Bruce, congratulations. I'm moving back toward auto independence myself. It's a distant memory now but I can imagine how you feel. And I'm with you on the helmet issue.

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  • Andy heming

    I see that the ITchair still allows the Brompton to fold properly. Does your tandemised Brompton / ITchair still fold?

    Reply
  • Todd (admin)

    Andy, it does still fold, though it adds a few steps and isn't as compact as with the ITchair alone.

    Reply
  • dimitris

    very nice work there !!!
    I just put my 3 year old son as a simple co-rider without pedaling but on second thoughts i might change that after your splendit idea ... lol

    Reply
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