Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

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Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby AquilaNegra2 » Sun May 29, 2011 8:07 pm

Has anyone ever had a Scout use a tandem bike to fulfill the Cycling requirements?

Yes, it may be "assumed" to be a regular bike for the rides, but I'm wondering if a tandem is acceptable. Or is this one of those merit badge counselor decisions? I'm asking because we have an (older) Scout who wants to ride with us, but is very inexperienced and not exactly the outdoorsy-type. We have a tandem available, and an experienced athletic Scout willing to pair with him. I'm not the counselor, and it's only her second time counseling the badge. What would you do?
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby FrankJ » Sun May 29, 2011 11:07 pm

It would have to be a special situation for me to accept that if I was his councilor. IE a disability that would keep a scout from safely riding a single.
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby smtroop168 » Mon May 30, 2011 12:05 pm

AquilaNegra2 wrote: What would you do?


Say no.
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby Quailman » Mon May 30, 2011 1:51 pm

In the case of a disability I'd rather see him use an adult tricycle than a tandem. Not all scouts can meet the requirements of every badge.
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby smtroop168 » Mon May 30, 2011 2:54 pm

Quailman wrote:In the case of a disability I'd rather see him use an adult tricycle than a tandem. Not all scouts can meet the requirements of every badge.


Sorry Quailman...
Scouts must meet current advancement requirements as written for merit badges, all ranks, and Eagle Palms. The scout is expected to meet the requirements – no more and no less, and he is to do exactly what is stated. Some allowable substitutions or alternatives are specifically set forth in official literature such as disabled youth may be approved for alternative badges they can complete.
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby wagionvigil » Mon May 30, 2011 2:58 pm

smtroop168 wrote:
Quailman wrote:In the case of a disability I'd rather see him use an adult tricycle than a tandem. Not all scouts can meet the requirements of every badge.


Sorry Quailman...
Scouts must meet current advancement requirements as written for merit badges, all ranks, and Eagle Palms. The scout is expected to meet the requirements – no more and no less, and he is to do exactly what is stated. Some allowable substitutions or alternatives are specifically set forth in official literature such as disabled youth may be approved for alternative badges they can complete.

Lets see we had a scout with only part of one hand and no legs below the knee do climbing MB.
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby FrankJ » Mon May 30, 2011 4:22 pm

There is nothing in the cycling merit badge that would specifically prohibit adult trikes or recumbents, some of which have three wheels. 50 miles on a big wheel might be a little difficult. Tandems or not specifically prohibited and they are definitely bicycles, so a strict no more, no less approach would have to accept them. The must you could expect that the scout is to demonstrate proficiency in the front seat that has the brakes & gear control.

The issue have with tandems & the MB is in the spirit of the fitness part of the merit badge, but that is not really spelled out in the requirements.

Going off topic a bit, I wonder if the cycling merit badge will be updated to include mountain bikes. Currently it is really geared for the roadies.
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby Mrw » Mon May 30, 2011 7:49 pm

Having spent 10 years riding as a stoker on a tandem (the one in back) I can assure you the stoker does just as much work as the captain (person in front).

In addition, stokers are often in charge of reading the map or cue sheet while the captain steers, shifts, brakes, etc. When we started riding tandem, my (now ex-) husband and I had very different fitness and levels and he was a far more proficient rider than I was. Riding tandem both significantly improved my fitness level and my riding overall when I did get back on a single bike.

I see no reason whatsoever why doing the badge on a tandem would detract from the experience and learning. If the boy is capable, I would want to see that he could ride a single and knew the rules of the road, but tandem for the distances would not concern me at all.
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby Quailman » Tue May 31, 2011 6:06 am

I don't see how a scout can be individually measured on the road test in requirement 6 if he's part of a tandem pair. It seems to me that if he can't ride a bicycle or tricycle* on his own, perhaps he should consider other merit badges. That's what I meant when I said "Not all scouts can meet the requirements of every badge," not that accommodations should be made.


* I specified adult tricycles because some time ago I inquired in this forum about the possibility of my son, who has no balancing ability due to his cerebral palsy, riding his. The overwhelming consensus was that the MB is called cycling, not bicycling, and that it should be allowed. He aged out without trying.
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby smtroop168 » Tue May 31, 2011 6:07 pm

From my National POC: The Cycling merit badge pamphlet makes no reference to the use of a tandem bicycle in fulfilling the requirements. The book makes reference to BMX bikes, comfort and hybrid bicycles, mountain bikes, and road bikes in Chapter Two. Since references to certain bikes is made, and they did not include tandems, they are not allowed. Had there been NO mention of different bikes then National left it open for the possibility of a tandem.
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby wagionvigil » Tue May 31, 2011 6:09 pm

:D
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby Mrw » Tue May 31, 2011 9:18 pm

Not trying to belabor the point or cause an argument, but it would likely never occur to most tandem riders that they are not riding road bikes. (Or mountain bikes as the case may be, although those are much more rare than the road variety).

We had a kid finish a cycling badge on a tandem a few years ago. He had done the shorter rides on a single, but got an opportunity to try something new and took it. And the guy captaining the bike made him work far harder than he would have done by himself too!

I guess I am just not seeing what about riding a tandem would invalidate the accomplishment. Many of the week-long bike tours run around the country require a child under 12-13 years old to ride tandem with an adult. So if your scout rode 300-400 miles in a week on tour, but did it with a parent on the back of the tandem, you would not allow any of that towards a badge?
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby FrankJ » Tue May 31, 2011 10:12 pm

MRW has persuaded my on this one. She clearly has the experience to justify her judgment. My main experience with tandems is drafting them. Well ridden they fly. Almost as much fun as drafting fire trucks. :!: I did not really think about this before, but the cranks are tied together. So even if one rider is doing most of the work, the other is pedaling at the same rate. This could motivate the less fit to become more fit. (If that makes sense) Any way this a case where an experienced MBC can make the requirements fit the situation while staying with the no more no less requirement. The main point of the merit badges is to ignite interest in a subject.

As far as what the MBC book says... The requirements stand on there own. What is written in the book cannot change them. I would not go too deep into implied meanings. It could be the authors thought that tandems are obviously bicycles and did not need mention. It could be the authors were just sloppy. (Not to say that the BSA has ever published a poorly written document) My hat is off to anybody who ride 50 miles on a BMX in a day. Come think of it riding my full suspension mtn bike 50 miles in a day is a bit far. 50 miles on the road with it would tear up the tires.

Completely off subject: I am doing BRAG (Bicycle Ride Across Ga) next week. About 400 miles. One way to earn the cycling merit badge in a week. Throw in a service project and get your 50 miler as well. (actually you need to do a little more to earn the cycling merit badge, but if you include ride prep, all the requirements get done.)
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby smtroop168 » Wed Jun 01, 2011 6:15 am

I went and got the answer to the original poster's question. Tandems are not allowed so allowing a scout to get the MB using one is subtracting from the requirements.

If MRW and FrankJ want to make their case to change the Cycling MB then there is a procedure in the new GTA to do that. Tandem Canoeiing is allowed for Whitewater so maybe you can use that as part of your position.
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby Mrw » Wed Jun 01, 2011 6:51 am

Clearly the authors of the MB pamphlet have never ridden a tandem then! I will not be the one to tell the troop at the school for the blind their kids cannot earn this one riding on tandems.....
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby FrankJ » Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:20 am

smtroop168 wrote:I went and got the answer to the original poster's question. Tandems are not allowed so allowing a scout to get the MB using one is subtracting from the requirements.


Sorry, They must not be reading the same requirements I have. If they want to make that interpretation, they are free to update the merit badge.
Saying the procedure to change a merit badge is in the new GTA is pretty much the same as saying there is no current procedure for suggestion merit badge changes. :)

It might be helpful to explain just which requirement a tandem subtracting from and how.

BTW I have never personally have this issue come up. Tandems are not inexpensive. They tend to be owned by cycling enthusiasts. Anybody that has one probably also has already has the skill set to earn the cycling merit badge many times over.
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby WeeWillie » Wed Jun 01, 2011 11:58 am

Requirement 6 is a road test to demonstrate that a Scout is ready to take the various trips in subsequent requirements. With that in mind what consitutes "experience"? If he needs further experience, he should try 1, 3, 5 mile trips until he is ready for his first trip for record.
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby smtroop168 » Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:53 pm

FrankJ wrote:
smtroop168 wrote:I went and got the answer to the original poster's question. Tandems are not allowed so allowing a scout to get the MB using one is subtracting from the requirements.


Sorry, They must not be reading the same requirements I have. If they want to make that interpretation, they are free to update the merit badge.
Saying the procedure to change a merit badge is in the new GTA is pretty much the same as saying there is no current procedure for suggestion merit badge changes. :)

It might be helpful to explain just which requirement a tandem subtracting from and how.

BTW I have never personally have this issue come up. Tandems are not inexpensive. They tend to be owned by cycling enthusiasts. Anybody that has one probably also has already has the skill set to earn the cycling merit badge many times over.


There is a current procedure, but it's always seemed to be a mystery. The new GTA has a paragraph telling folks how to request changes or add new MBs.

IMHO its subtracting because it tandems aren't allowed now so by allowing tandems, you are letting a scout use an unapproved bike.
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby smtroop168 » Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:01 pm

Mrw wrote:Clearly the authors of the MB pamphlet have never ridden a tandem then! I will not be the one to tell the troop at the school for the blind their kids cannot earn this one riding on tandems.....


Can't answer that only to say the folks that National uses to evaluate any of the MB requirements are subject matter experts for that badge.

Scout with Disabilities must complete all of the requirements for earning the MB. If they can't, they can ask for Alternative MBs through their local council.

I'm the messenger here and as I said if you're passionate that tandems should be included make your case and send it to merit.badge@scouting.org
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Re: Cycling - Tandem Bikes?

Postby FrankJ » Wed Jun 01, 2011 11:30 pm

I still do not see it. Reading the requirements, it references bicycles. The requirement do not discuss what is an appropriate bike or give a list of approved bikes. The merit badge book is not required reading so its text is not part of the requirements. A tandem is definitely a bicycle. It goes on to say they must be legally registered if your state requires that. A tandem will fit into that too. If somebody asked about the best choice of bikes to ride 50 miles & given a choice between a BMX or a tandem... Recommending the BMX would be very bad advice; they are not meant for distance riding.

I am not trying to make the requirements easier or remove anything from the merit badge. I am just reading the requirements and trying to only require what is there.

If the authors are going to be that particular, they need to write better requirements.

So the people you spoke to, are they the experts that wrote the cycle merit book or the administrators of the merit badge program given their interpretation of the requirements?
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