Out of Phase Pedalling Benefits On A Tandem Bicycle: Best Performance

By: Alex Bristol

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Out of Phase Pedalling Benefits On A Tandem Bicycle: Best Performance

Looking to make the most out of your Tandem Bike and get the best out of phase benefits while you’re cycling? 

Well, you’re at the right place. 

Riders can choose to synchronize their pedaling in both in-phase or out-of-phase pedaling. Each rider can crank at the same or opposite clock positions to get the most out of their pedaling. 

I’m here to break down all the crucial benefits of out-of-phase pedaling and why you should implement it while using a tandem bike with friends or family. 

Let’s jump in! 

First things first, what is a Tandem bike? 

A Tandem bicycle is a twin bike designed to be ridden by more than one person. There are often multiple seats and multiple sets of pedals, so more than one rider can use them. 

The term ‘Tandem’ refers to the seating arrangement rather than the number of riders and has been around since the mid-1880s. It allows for two cyclists differing in strength and ability to ride together. 

The faster rider won’t need to stop or slow down to wait for the slower one, and the slower one doesn’t need to struggle to keep up. It’s a perfect balance. 

What does out-of-phase pedaling mean? 

When riding a tandem bike there is a Captain (person who rides on the front seat) and the Stoker ( the one riding at the rear seat of the bike). 

While the riders are pedaling in an out-of-phase configuration it means that the Captain’s and Stoker’s pedals and cranks are not coordinated to turn in sync. 

So the Captain’s pedals are vertical and the Stroker’s pedals are horizontal. This can also be referred to as the 90 degrees out of phase. 

Benefits of using out-of-phase pedaling: 

A steady supply of energy to the wheels: The sequential pedal thrusts of both the Captain and Stoker alternatively provides sufficient energy and prevents riders from getting too tired and putting strain on limbs. 

Less strain during climbs: During hill-climbs using an out-of-phase configuration means there is less strain placed on the drive-train of the bike. This means less strain on the pedals, cranks, bottom bracket, chain, derailers, rear sprocket, rear hub, chain wheels and much more.

This is because the force is being applied alternatively and not at the same time. This also allows the riders to conserve energy as they cycle. 

Drawbacks of using out-of-phase pedaling: 

Quite hard to master: This method can be quite tricky to get your head around as both the Captain and Stoker are constantly moving and pedaling in different rotations, which can get quite confusing. 

The captain needs to be aware of the Stoker’s pedal position: When turning the tandem bike the stoker needs to be aware of the Stoker’s pedal position when going to make a turn otherwise this can cause a crash if not. 


Using a tandem bike is a brilliant way to get out with family and friends, especially those who vary in cycling level. It allows a perfect balance between fast and slower riders to work effectively and easily. 

Out-of-phase pedaling as it supplies a steady stream of energy when done correctly. It prevents riders from getting fatigue as you are both pedaling alternatively and conserving your energy by cycling this way. 

Give it a go in your next tandem bike ride and you’ll love the difference it makes to your ride. 

Happy Pedaling!