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Bicycle built for two is the length of a bicycle built for one


July 17, 2012

Shawn Raymond with the Unatandem

Shawn Raymond with the Unatandem

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Probably just about all of us “doubled” a passenger on our bike when we were kids, by having them sit in front of us on our handlebars. Of course, now that we’re older and wiser, we know how dangerous that was – not to mention illegal. Given that the kids of today are still open to taking passengers on their neighborhood cycling trips, however, California-based inventor Shawn Raymond has created a better way for them to do so. It’s called the Unatandem, and it’s a remarkably short tandem bicycle that is said to handle like a regular cruiser bike.

If you think the Unatandem looks like a two-seater BMX, that’s because it incorporates an oversized BMX steel frame and fork. This is matched up with beach cruiser handlebars, aluminum rims, spring saddles and caliper brakes.

The current version is the 14th prototype. In order to get the length down, Raymond moved the front wheel back – it’s back so far, in fact, that it comes between the front rider’s feet when they’re in the forward position. To keep those feet from connecting with the wheel when the bike takes corners, the cranks are angled outwards, drawing the front rider’s feet apart. This means that they’re pedaling in a somewhat splay-legged fashion, although according to Shawn, people riding the bike barely notice this. Hmm ...

The use of a small-diameter 16-inch front wheel also helps keep the splaying to a minimum.

It helps if the front rider on the Unatandem is shorter than the person on the back

Unlike a regular tandem, the Unatandem has just one set of handlebars. The rear rider reaches around the sides of the front rider in order to steer and brake with these, while the front rider rests their hands on the middle of them to keep their balance. Needless to say, it helps if the front rider is the shorter of the two – in fact, it looks like it would pretty much be a necessity.

Raymond is currently raising production funds on Kickstarter, and plans on having the bicycle commercially produced by a manufacturer in China. Assuming he reaches his funding goal and all goes according to plan, he hopes to have them available to U.S. consumers by mid-December. A pledge of at least US$550 will get you one.

The Unatandem can be seen in action in the pitch video below.

Source: Kickstarter

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth

that doesn't look very safe - anything hit in the front is going to have the front rider become intimately acquainted with the handlebars. . .

17th July, 2012 @ 02:05 pm PDT

WOW how utterly stupid.. lol.. Just put the kid on the handlebar.. Part of being a kid is having accidents..

Facebook User
17th July, 2012 @ 02:41 pm PDT

Hey, this looks great! Is it big enough for the rider on the back seat to fire a bow and arrow comfortably?

James Baal Gemmell
17th July, 2012 @ 06:35 pm PDT

Making a shorter tandem bike is a good idea there is a such thing as taking the idea too far. As a case in point this is a demonstration of that.

17th July, 2012 @ 07:04 pm PDT

This is a toy for tooling around suburban streets, exactly like in the video. It's worthless for any kind of distance. The riding position is a mess and with the small wheels and lack of suspension, this will be painful to ride on anything but the smoothest road surfaces.

17th July, 2012 @ 07:35 pm PDT

There is a certain proportion to be maintained between the seat position and the pedals for a comfortable ride. The front seat rider can seen seating in a pretty awkward backbreaking position.

17th July, 2012 @ 10:12 pm PDT

A passenger larger than a child wont be able to pedal too well. The person at the back needs to cycle with the legs open. It is no safer than carrying a passenger in front. The many pedals provide lots of opportunities to hit the front riders legs, in the event of a fall. The handle bars provide lots of dangerous areas for a childs head, or someone's ribs. All in the child in the front has no where to hop off if the brakes fail.

IMHO this is something that needs to be banned as non thinking parents will actually buy this and let their children happily ride on to serious harm. A bike like this could do very well in the third world, which is a very frightening thing.

18th July, 2012 @ 01:27 am PDT

Hmmm, a legitimate "safety" concern -- getting extra weight off the steering, especially the moving around kind -- but not quite fully thought out it seems: 2 riders = a longer bike. Sort of goes without saying.

18th July, 2012 @ 06:41 am PDT

Dear Ben, there is nothing inherently unsafe with riding double. Or please show me some statistics.

18th July, 2012 @ 06:49 am PDT

Looks similar to the 'weeride', but with pedals. I ride down staircases on my Kona with my 2 year old son strapped into his weeride seat on the crossbar :)

18th July, 2012 @ 09:07 am PDT

Might be appealing to couples while dating ;-), but looks like a marriage breaker afterwards.

18th July, 2012 @ 12:38 pm PDT

Sometimes I really do think designers are making actual jokes.

And I think this design is meant to make people laugh.

Just look at it. Small wheels, small frame, uncomfortable riding position, and it's white, the colour that represents purity (a.k.a. virginity). Tell me how this isn't a joke and I'll believe you. lol

Andy Bots
18th July, 2012 @ 04:41 pm PDT

I have to use an extra long 420mm seatpost on my 29er Mongoose mountain bike so there is no way I would pay $550 for this POS.

19th July, 2012 @ 05:26 am PDT

This looks like an extremely intimate encounter for a man and a woman. There's is no way to avoid contact...it's almost full body contact.

It would be great foreplay but would probably get you killed if you tried to like....ride it on the street or anything like that.

Florida Rj
27th July, 2012 @ 07:37 am PDT
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