S&S coupling

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Anonymous's picture

"...fit a ti Seven or Litespeed with an S&S coupling?

I am going to want to take my new bike (whatever it will be) with me everywhere. Why not make it portable?

Question for you already-coupled cyclists out there (Rob, Catherine, Pam...): How long does it take to dissassemble or reassemble the bike?

How careful do you have to be in moving it around?

Any other advice?



I hear that disassembly and reassembly are more complicated and time-consuming than advertised, and that to fit in a small suitcase the left crank arm must be removed.

Also, only round tubing may be used in making the frame.

Decisions, decisions!"

Anonymous's picture
Peter Storey (not verified)
S&S Musings

"Would you...fit a ti Seven or Litespeed with an S&S coupling?

Maybe. BTCs are a pricey add-on, so it depends on how often you'll actually fly the bike vs. how long you'll own it. BTCs also add about a 1/2 to 3/4 lb. to overall bike weight. Ride-wise, that's nothing, but it may (or may not) affect your ooh-aah-lift-it-with-a-finger perception of the bike.

I suspect that BTCs are more often found on steel bikes, especially tourers, because people expect to own them longer --- folks who go for the latest technology tend to trade up more frequently. Just a hypothesis; I have no data.

I am going to want to take my new bike (whatever it will be) with me everywhere. Why not make it portable?

A coupled bike in its case is not a small (or light) piece of luggage. The cases alone weighs well north of 10lbs. My impression is that most people who thought that they would pack and haul the bike for two-day business trips have been disappointed -- Bike Fridays, Airnimals and Swift Folders have tended to work out better. The i-BOB archives have covered this ground extensively.

How long does it take to dissassemble or reassemble the bike?

My coupled bike is a tourer. FWIW, I need at least 1.5 hours to (dis/re)assemble it each time, but that includes dealing with fenders, front and rear racks, and lights, as well as keeping track of numerous small bolts, keeping touring tools separate from ""case"" tools, etc. It's also a tall bike, so I have to pull the right crank, turn the stem backwards, pull the seatpost, etc. It's worth it for a vacation, but rarely for a weekend.

OTOH, I would guess that an unaccessorized modern racing bike in a small size could be in or out of the case in under a 1/2 hour. It does go faster with practice.

Relative to your other thread, 650c wheels will make the bike easier to pack.

How careful do you have to be in moving it around?

Mine has flown the Atlantic seven times in an S&S soft (backpack) case, each time without damage other than some paint chips around the drop-outs. Pack carefully, add prayers, and you should be OK.

I hear that . . . to fit in a small suitcase the left crank arm must be removed.

Actually, it's the right crank. Not because of the crank arm, but because the radius of the chainrings makes the frame effectively taller.

Check your measurements carefully. If I understand the design of the new 10-sp Dura-Ace/Ultegra cranks, you can't remove the right crank without removing the bottom bracket as well. I don't think I'd want to have to do that, especially as the resulting crank/BB unit is an odd shape to have to jigsaw into the case. For conventional cranks, self-extracting crank bolts are a great convenience.

Also, if packing may be tight, you might want to ask Seven/Lightspeed/whomever about the advisability of repeated assembling and disassembling carbon seatposts, bars, stems and steerers. I pose the question in ignorance: I don't own any carbon parts myself, but I'm mindful of all the dire warnings that the Mfrs slather all over this stuff.

Also, only round tubing may be used in making the frame

And the draw back is . . .? I seem to recall that nothing beats a round tube for strength and stiffness relative to the amount (weight) of material used, and that the ""benefits"" of aero profiling are negligible except on no-drafting TT bikes. But I'm sure someone will disagree -- vociferously, no doubt.

Hope this helps

Anonymous's picture
a former editor (not verified)
coupled, but not to cat or pam ;-)

since numerous ti builders offer the btc couplers (seven, serotta, ti cycles, merlin, dean, etc. -- don't know about lightspeed however) what do you perceive as the down-side to getting the btc's? weight? they weigh less than an extra, filled waterbottle. cost? ok, they're about $400+ depending on the work done on installing them (i had mine custom-carved and polished to match my lugs), but saving $80 each way on shipping a full-size bike adds up if you travel frequently.

you don't need to be any more careful with a btc-coupled bike than a non-coupled bike. in terms of riding the bike is as secure and stable when riding as a non-coupled bike. in terms of travel, other than the caveats i mention below i've used the soft case with no problems travelling to florida and italy.

it takes me about 20 minutes to pack or unpack my single-speed. add about 5 minutes for my derailleured bike. you won't need to take your crankarm off to fit it in the case. i don't and your bikes are smaller than mine.

i've heard (admittedly from a btc builder) the ritchey break-away isn't quite as secure due to smaller area of contact and stuff like that. but this may be more theoretical than actual.

the only advice i have on btc-coupled bikes: get the hardshell case. i got the backpack case and it gets heavy on your back after a brief time. plus, it's wide and cumbersome. you don't make many friends with it while moving through a crowed airport and i've banged into doors when i'm not paying attention.

caveats on btc-coupled bikes: in this day of the t.s.a. geniuses inspecting everything, expect your case to be opened and everything taken apart to check for explosives and contraband. not only did they open mine, they took apart my bullseye hubs (you only need a small allen-key to disassemble them). i kid you not. another time they bent my spokes when they put my wheel back in the case and closed it. and they scratched both my bikes, but if you're getting a ti frame that's not a problem.


Anonymous's picture
Bryan (not verified)
portable road bike frames

Carol, you might take a look at the Ritchey Break-Away road bike frames at:


I read that they made a titanium version for a bike show, but for now they're steel (3.9lbs) and come with a carbon fork. They sell the bag that you would use to check the bike on an airplane. They say 10-15 minute tear down and same for assembly.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Thanks Bryan and Peter

Appreciate all the details.

Peter, I do have a Swift Folder that I've traveled with--sturdy, fun bike though a little heavy (and thus for me very slow). The manufacturer is making an aluminum model now that I have been meaning to check out. This bike really is a 15-minute reassembly. www.swiftfolder.com

Bryan, the Ritchie looks nice. The smallest frame they make is 48cm with a 52 cm top tube, though. If I was only a couple inches taller it seems I could have my choice!

Maybe I need to rethink the likelihood of having one bike for all seasons (two counting the fixed gear, of course). Another impossible dream? How about having more bikes and a bigger apartment to put them in? With a big kitchen and a park view? Oh wait, the Hallerman/Martones beat me to it. ;)

Anonymous's picture
Herb Dershowitz (not verified)

Carol, just returned from Mallorca with 2 riders that brought bikes with S&S couplers. One was a Ti, the other steel. They said it was stressful assembling and disassembling the bikes. The amount of time it takes depends upon how often it's done. I must admit, though heavy, it was easier for them lugging the S&S case than a regular hard shell.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Thanks Herb

I've pretty much ruled out the coupling, based on these reports. And I'm close to ordering my new bike--details to come.

Welcome home, though I'm sure you'd rather still be over there. Ready to climb some hills?

Anonymous's picture
David Blume (not verified)

I'm in Mallorca right now. The riding is outstanding. I have my S&S Waterford (8 yrs old) with me. I use it enough to be pretty good a building it up and breaking it down. It takes me about 45 mins each way. I've been happy with it and with practice you can get it in the hard case with the crank on. I have a 62cm and that's the largest size that fits in the standard case. One recent problem is that post-9/11 security always opens it up and sometimes they crush my wheels when they close it.

Anyhow, no need to bring your own bike to Mallorca. They have plenty of high end rentals here...carbon, etc. Orbea's everywhere. For other places though its nice to have your own ride.


Anonymous's picture
Gary Katz (not verified)
S and S coupling on damaged frame

This may be a dumb question, but....
Can a damaged part of the frame be cut out and replaced with an S and S coupling?
I have a frame that is damaged just about where the S and S coupling goes on the downtube.

Anonymous's picture
Gary Katz (not verified)
Answer to my own question

While rereading Carol's initial post, I saw that the tubing must be round. The frame in question is an ovalized aluminum Raleigh R-800, thereby relegating my question to mere academic interest.


Anonymous's picture
David Regen (not verified)
re: S&S couplings don't work with AL

It is not possible to modify an aluminum bike for S & S couplers. After aluminum frames are welded, they are heat-treated, which hardens the metal and relieves stress. Once heat treated, you can’t weld it again. Second, the fittings have to be the same material as the frame (or at least pretty close); the couplings for steel bikes are stainless steel, and the couplings for Ti bikes are…Ti. Aluminum might distort a lot more easily under the welding heat, and after heat treating, the couplings might not be perfectly round anymore.

Anonymous's picture
Peter Storey (not verified)
As I understand it . . .

Santana (the tandem people) underwrote the R&D and tooling costs (or some portion thereof) to permit an Al coupling. The hitch is that Steve S (of S&S) gave them the exclusive right to that technology for some period of time, so for now it's tandems only. Anyone know more (like when????).

Anonymous's picture
el jefe (not verified)
Another option...

...for someone who wants to travel often yet have a dependable bike for everyday use is an Air Friday, the titanium beam bike. It fold small enough that it fits in a carry-on bag. The wheels each get their own bags so in today's climate there still may be a problem and either the wheels or frame may need to be checked. It only takes about 15 minutes to disassemble and 20 to re-assemble, more with the TV on.

The bike takes a little getting used. With the titanium beam, poor pedaling style will make you very bouncy, but it will force you into riding smoother eventually.

I found that it handled as well as any other road bike. The downside is that it doesn't work for loaded touring, nor is it legal in races any more.

The 9 speed Dura Ace bike in the Petite size weighs in at 17.9 pounds without pedals or saddle.

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