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  1. #1
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    BAB vs. S&S couplers

    I going to put couplers on a second bike. I have a Dean Ti with S&S BTCs. Rock solid downhill at speed, pulling a trailer, indistinguishable from a non-coupled bike, but the couplers are big and heavy.

    Reports of riders using Ritchey Breakaway and Dahon Allegro bikes are generally positive about the BAB couplers on those bikes, which add only about 100 grams per coupler. Some report that the lower coupler threads can easily be stripped (so carry a spare coupler) ... and some riders report having to retighten the coupler during a day's ride. I can live with these shortcomings for the tradeoff in weight.

    Any other opinions of S&S vs. BAB couplers?

    Does anyone know of a source for BAB couplers?

    As a reflection on the deficiencies in the BAB technology, Dahon has introduced Interloc(k) Joint Techology, in which a tongue extends into the abutting tube. IJT will only be available (so far) on the Fuego (MTB) ... TMK not yet shipping.
    Last edited by maunakea; 04-03-06 at 01:30 AM.

  2. #2
    Bop
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    Big and heavy?

    We're talking 6.5 ounces per on 1-1/2" tubing. Less on more typical, smaller tubing (for standard couplers for steel frames). Considering the bombproof performance, in my experience, that's not much weight in the big picture. I believe I have received pretty good value for the weight and cost of the BTCs on my family's three coupled bikes. As far as the big part, I generally don't notice the couplers, in use, except when assembling or disassembling.

  3. #3
    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maunakea
    I going to put couplers on a second bike. I have a Dean Ti with S&S BTCs. Rock solid downhill at speed, pulling a trailer, indistinguishable from a non-coupled bike, but the couplers are big and heavy.

    Reports of riders using Ritchey Breakaway and Dahon Allegro bikes are generally positive about the BAB couplers on those bikes, which add only about 100 grams per coupler. Some report that the lower coupler threads can easily be stripped (so carry a spare coupler) ... and some riders report having to retighten the coupler during a day's ride. I can live with these shortcomings for the tradeoff in weight.

    Any other opinions of S&S vs. BAB couplers?

    Does anyone know of a source for BAB couplers?

    As a reflection on the deficiencies in the BAB technology, Dahon has introduced Interloc(k) Joint Techology, in which a tongue extends into the abutting tube. IJT will only be available (so far) on the Fuego (MTB) ... TMK not yet shipping.

    I've been riding a 2005 BreakAway for almost a year. Based on that time and 4 trips to Taiwan, my opinions are:
    • If anyone strips the thread on the bottom Clamp Ring screw, they are using waaay too much torque on the screw. Also, the directions say NOT to tighten the Clamp so that the pieces are pulled together. Check the web site...
    • I have never had to retighten the Clamp Ring.It has never been a problem.
    • You cannot buy BreakAway parts to retrofit an existing 1-piece frame bike, if that is your question about needing a "source". However, I did buy a spare Clamp from GVHBikes (where I purchased the bike originally) as I was worried about something happening to it while I have been traveling to Taiwan. Although I think that is where the frames come from, neither Ritchey nor Dahon sell them there.
    • My guess as to why Dahon has introduced another joint technology may relate more to having to pay royalities to Ritchey rather than fixing deficiencies.

  4. #4
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    To quote a reply I received yesterday from Dahon Tech in the Dahon Forum,
    "Yes, the InterLock joint will show up on more bikes in the future, although not the Ritchey steel frame bikes."

    BTW, Gary Hobbs built up the Dean Ti that I later had the Dean factory put BTCs on. The BTCs are the gold standard in couplers, but the IJT looks like a strong contender, and lighter ... but it may not be available as a standalone part.

  5. #5
    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maunakea
    To quote a reply I received yesterday from Dahon Tech in the Dahon Forum,
    "Yes, the InterLock joint will show up on more bikes in the future, although not the Ritchey steel frame bikes."

    BTW, Gary Hobbs built up the Dean Ti that I later had the Dean factory put BTCs on. The BTCs are the gold standard in couplers, but the IJT looks like a strong contender, and lighter ... but it may not be available as a standalone part.
    I just went to the Dahon site and found the Interlock system. While you can see the insert, you can't tell how the joint actually assembles. The only thing that I can assume is that there is some sort of external coupling (like the BreakAway or the S&S), but that the insert acts to stiffen the joint. I can see how this would be an improvement for the mountain bike, but it is likely overkill for a road bike. The joint at the seat tube is essentially like the BreakAway, but longer for more rigidity.

    As far as I can tell, there is no mention of offering the parts separately. There is also no mention of parts on the Ritchey site. Even if you did have parts, a retrofit would not be easy. The joint at the seat tube appears to require a heavier wall than what you would likely have for a regular steel (or now titanium) bike and that would need to be retrofitted. The down tube joint would need pieces added and welded in to form the flanges on the tubes. Assuming you aren't trying to do a none round tube shape with an S&S (and some are possible), it's a straightforward deal to cut the tube appropriately and weld in the coupling halves.

    I like the Ritchey system. The only problem I have against it is that you are tied to their models (or the one Dahon Allegro). Fortunately I found GVH and the had frame and forks available. I was able to have my bike built with a full Campagnolo Centaur drivetrain. Additionally, Calfee offers S&S couplers with carbon frames. I don't think the BreakAway system could be adapted in its current form without adding metal inserts.

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    @flatlander, thanks for your comments, with which I agree.

    To highjack the thread, do you see many Neobikes in Taiwan? www.neobike.com shows several full size "folders" that appear to use a BAB approach.

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    Ritchey couplers

    I believe that Ritchey sells the couplers to frame builders. If you do a careful web search, you can find custom frame builders who offer coupled frames using either S&S or Ritchey couplers. If you want to retro-fit couplers, I suggest you have the frame builder of your choice contact Ritchey to get the couplers.

    I just got the ti/carbon Ritchey road bike and love it. However, I weigh less than 150 lbs, so I doubt I will ever stress the frame enough to judge the strength of the couplers.

    If I was having a custom frame built or was retro-fitting a bike, then I think I'd opt for a combination of the Ritchey coupler system on the seat/top tube and an S&S coupler on the down tube. Note that I have seen such combinations offered by custom builders, so I know this is possible. This seems like a good compromise as you get the absolute strength and security of the S&S coupler on the down tube instead of the Ritchey clamp that still has me scratching my head (but it feels secure enough on my bike). At the same time, you get the elegant seat tube coupling of the Ritchey system. Thus, you only have half the weight and cost penalty of full S&S, but you get a bomb proof coupled frame. The only other downside is you do need to carry the S&S special wrench when traveling.

    Ira

  8. #8
    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maunakea
    @flatlander, thanks for your comments, with which I agree.

    To highjack the thread, do you see many Neobikes in Taiwan? www.neobike.com shows several full size "folders" that appear to use a BAB approach.
    I saw the Neobike at the Taipei International Bike Show, but I haven't seen any on the street. I do see folding bikes on the street sometimes, just not that one. However, I think that one breaks down by a hinge that is just ahead of the crank. There's a black knob and I think that's where you lock the hinge down.

  9. #9
    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by irablumberg
    I believe that Ritchey sells the couplers to frame builders. If you do a careful web search, you can find custom frame builders who offer coupled frames using either S&S or Ritchey couplers. If you want to retro-fit couplers, I suggest you have the frame builder of your choice contact Ritchey to get the couplers.

    I just got the ti/carbon Ritchey road bike and love it. However, I weigh less than 150 lbs, so I doubt I will ever stress the frame enough to judge the strength of the couplers.

    If I was having a custom frame built or was retro-fitting a bike, then I think I'd opt for a combination of the Ritchey coupler system on the seat/top tube and an S&S coupler on the down tube. Note that I have seen such combinations offered by custom builders, so I know this is possible. This seems like a good compromise as you get the absolute strength and security of the S&S coupler on the down tube instead of the Ritchey clamp that still has me scratching my head (but it feels secure enough on my bike). At the same time, you get the elegant seat tube coupling of the Ritchey system. Thus, you only have half the weight and cost penalty of full S&S, but you get a bomb proof coupled frame. The only other downside is you do need to carry the S&S special wrench when traveling.

    Ira
    So far, I haven't seen anything else like the BreakAway done by independents. Please put up a site or a name if you can. I'd like to check them out.

    I think that retrofitting a bike to emulate how Ritchey does the seat tube connection would be a lot of work. Your titanium model has a constant tube, whereas my steel model has what appears to be a lug on the outside of the seat tube. I assume this provides a heavier wall for welding the seat stays on and provide more strength for the seat tube connection. The sleeve at the end of the top tube appears to be the same size (OD and wall) as the top of the seat tube. I would think the OD and wall of the sleeve is different from the top tube. Your titanium model has a one piece socket that accepts the rear fork. There isn't quite as much welding concentrated into one place.

    As long as you are dealing with a bike with round tubes, retrofitting with S&S BTC's is fairly straightforward. You cut a section of tube out and then braze in the BTC's. Emulating the Ritchey method would be more difficult.

  10. #10
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    Here is the first custom builder site that mentions both S&S and Ritchey that I could find. I recall finding others, but have not bookmarked them.

    Ira

    http://www.hampsten.com/Bikes/Gravel...adabianca.html

  11. #11
    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    Thanks! That's the first I've seen of BreakAway parts outside of Ritchey and Dahon. The bike appears to be somewhere between a road bike and a cyclocross bike. However, there still isn't much choice. The bike essentially looks like a BreakAway/Allegro with what appears to be a very similar geometry and layout. Motivated by your link, I did some searching but the Hampsten link is the only thing that comes up.

  12. #12
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    Hmmm... I hope the IJT parts are also available to third parties. I'm sure the BAB parts are OK for road, audax, etc., but for loaded touring, I tend to believe the reports of flex in the BAB dt coupler. I love the IJT approach of using a small hex key and relying on tube inserts to deal with the torque of a stomper on a loaded frame. My S&S BTCs are 100% solid in such scenarios, do add about a little weight, but if you lose the BTC wrench in the boonies....

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