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  1. #1
    Loving LD kk27's Avatar
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    Titanium Coupler/ Breakaway/ Demountable Bike - UK

    A friend might be travelling back from London in December, so was just mulling over the idea of getting a coupled/ Breakaway/ Demountable bike for my LD needs & retiring my CrossCheck. Then came the thought if I'm splurging might as well go for Titanium since that one material I don't have in my stable!!

    The only breakaway bike going in retail at UK is the Ritchey breakaway. and the cross seems to be better suited for LD.

    So guys any ideas? are there some other bikes I'm missing, better or even cheaper .



    PS: My friend isn't into cycling, so can't really depend on him for searching or selection. though he'll happily carry the stuff delivered at his place.
    The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education

  2. #2
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Enigma Titanium bikes out of the UK will build you a really nice ti bike with S&S couplers. You might also want to inquire with the guys at Nevi in Italy to see if they can build with S&S couplers. Shipping to the UK should be easy.
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 09-17-12 at 10:25 AM.

  3. #3
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    I recall looking at coupler prices on some tandems a while back, and if they're in titanium, that runs the coupler price up considerably, as I recall.

    In any event, shipping anywhere in the world ought to be pretty negligible compared to the cost of a titanium frame with couplers. If it's a custom frame, you're liable to have extended lead-times anyway.

    Surly has a 26" coupled version of the Long Haul Trucker (steel).

    The popular titanium brand for the people I ride with seems to be Seven.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  4. #4
    Loving LD kk27's Avatar
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    Both Nevi & Enigma looks nice. I liked the Etape & Esprit and from the nevi stable liked the Grimsel. Enigma have clearly mentioned price but not Nevi. I'd like to have an italian job since I'm a fan of their bikes & have a classic Olmo- Steel & a Cinelli Man Machine Carbon, so adding the Italian Titanium will really make it a complete collection . though I'm sure being italian it'll cost a lot more!!!
    The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education

  5. #5
    Loving LD kk27's Avatar
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    Though I'm quite open & will happily look at some cheaper ones too... if they are there
    The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education

  6. #6
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kk27 View Post
    Though I'm quite open & will happily look at some cheaper ones too... if they are there
    Titanium is a pricey material to build frames. The moment you talk Titanium + Demountable (S&S couplers) it automatically becomes a novelty product specially built for someone (bespoke.) In Europe, there are very few manufacturers building bicycle frames with S&S couplers at this time. Given labor costs there, you'll pay a much higher premium. If you were to look into the U.S., the opportunities would quickly open up with more options and lower pricing. Many builders recently have been opting to offer frames made of stainless steel as a more cost-effective alternative to titanium. An example is this Salsa Vaya Travel which you can special order from one of their UK dealers starting this fall.

    The Enigma Etape indeed looks nice, but I don't think you can go wrong with any of those bikes, especially if you are into beautiful/higher-end/collectible bikes. Keep us posted about Nevis' response on whether they can build with S&S couplers. Out of Italy, Tommasini also builds ti bikes. Again, a big question mark on S&S couplers.

    If you open up your search to the U.S., we should be able to help you further.

    PS. If I had the money to get a Titanium bike, I would spec it just you like you're doing... a multipurpose frame with S&S couplers so I can ride it (fly with it!) around the world.
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 09-17-12 at 02:21 PM.

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    I can't recommend Seven Cycles highly enough. I have an Odonata (now called the Elium SL) with S&S couplers and absolutely love the bike. I'm taking it with me to Maui next week to ride up Haleakala.

    Seven Cycles has three dealers in England, but unfortunately none in India. If you contacted Seven directly, perhaps they could sell one directly or work it out with a shop in England.
    http://www.sevencycles.com/

    Calfee Design makes CF frames with Ti couplers from S&S and they sell direct, no bike shop needed.
    http://www.calfeedesign.com/#

  8. #8
    Loving LD kk27's Avatar
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    well have been actively in search of various options & have come across the Titanium Bikes from China (closer to home) . those from Xacd & Titan Products. I see that many have got customized Breakway/ S&S or a mix & match of both from these guys & they turned out to be decent enough! Wondering if I should go in that direction?

    Anyone from here who rides or have come across these bikes(regular or demountable) in person?
    The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education

  9. #9
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Any links to any of their demountable frames? It will be hard to find reviews with their own brand. Habanero bikes (they are in Florida) are manufactured in China. I wouldn't be surprised if they use this same factory. You can read reviews online or send a private messages to BF members who own one. Habanero's S&S frames/fork + custom geometry are about USD $3K with a four month wait. Personally, at that point, I woud rather make the leap and spend the extra dough for a U.S. made Ti frameset from Linksey, Seven, Ericksen. On the other hand, if you order directly from the factory in China the savings might be substantial.

    Edit: Habanero is not listed on S&S website's authorized builders. I would check directly with S&S before buying their demountable frames.
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 12-07-12 at 02:58 PM.

  10. #10
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    If you plan to do any air traveling, then couplers are a good idea. I've flown ten round trips so far in the past three years with my coupled fixie, and I've probably paid a total of $100 in excess baggage fees (usually on airlines that charge $25 for the first checked bag). Had I taken a normal bike, I'd probably have looked at $100-200 per round trip. The couplers added about $750 to the frame price, and the case is another $300, so it doesn't take long to amortize. I think it's even more worthwhile on a tandem, despite paying the extra $2000+ for the three sets of couplers required, not to mention the two cases you'll need.

    One fringe benefit of having couplers installed is that only competent framebuilders are allowed to build with S&S. The builder has to be certified by S&S before they can do any installations. and this involves having to send a sample of a brazed S&S coupler to the company. So this is another small indication that you're dealing with a reputable builder.

    So for Chinese-built frames, I would check with S&S to make sure the manufacturer has actually been certified! This is grist for another mill, but I am reluctant to offshore the building of my frame because it's something I have control over. This is why I had my fixie built by Rodriguez in Seattle (with a fork by ENVE), and it's also why I would never buy a Cervelo. Yeah, it's engineered in Canada, but the actual building is off-shored to China. Screw 'em.

    Luis

  11. #11
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    As Luis states, the certification process for an S&S demountable frame is key. I would hate my expensive Ti frame to split in half on a major downhill curve. They list certified builders right on their website, but I wouldn't hesitate to write them in case that they haven't updated their website, yet. Their current international list does not show anyone in China. I, personally, would not use anyone who's not certified.
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 12-07-12 at 02:51 PM.

  12. #12
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    Check out www.ravellobikes.com

    Full-sized aluminum travel road and cross bikes that fit in a 62-linear-inch suitcase that flies as standard-sized luggage, not over-sized. They are out of Tucson, Arizona, USA.

  13. #13
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    I like the Break-Away system compared to S&S (I have one of each). No special tool is required for the Break-Away, no chance for bloody knuckles (I worry about the S&S wrench slipping), no threads to keep clean (grit in the S&S couplers sounds bad) or lubed, and it is lighter/less bulky. I'm 200#+, and the B-A seems just as robust under me as the S&S.

    I do think the S&S hardcase is superior to any of the softcases, provided you have room to store it at your destination.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
    Many builders recently have been opting to offer frames made of stainless steel as a more cost-effective alternative to titanium. An example is this Salsa Vaya Travel which you can special order from one of their UK dealers starting this fall.
    "Many builders"??

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    Bilenky will S&S your TI frame for $900 (it if has round tubes (generally). (That should give some idea of the upper extra amount to get an S&S Ti bike directly. That is, it should cost a bit less than $900 to get it done at the time you purchase the frame.)

    http://www.bilenky.com/retro_prices.html

    They'll do your steel frame for $550 but that doesn't include painting.


    The Surly LHT delux (only available in 26 inch wheels) is about $1000 with S&S couplers. It appears to be the cheapest S&S bke.

    The Salsa Vaya (in stainless steel) is about $2000 for the frame. It appears to be the second cheapest S&S bike.

    You could buy a good inexpensive steel frame and have Bilenky cut it into pieces and paint it.

    As an example, a $600 frame + $550 + $400 (full repaint) is $1600 (about).

    http://www.blackmtncycles.com/

    (This, of course, doesn't help the OP since it involves US suppliers but other people might find it interesting.)

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian25 View Post
    Check out www.ravellobikes.com

    Full-sized aluminum travel road and cross bikes that fit in a 62-linear-inch suitcase that flies as standard-sized luggage, not over-sized. They are out of Tucson, Arizona, USA.
    That could be interesint but their website is awful!

  17. #17
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    "Many builders"??
    I indeed only referenced one, but I don't see the point of your being nit-picky over this. Let's clarify this by saying that it is a growing trend among higher-end builders looking to offer the feel and strength (included the easier welding methods) of steel and the beautiful bare looks of Ti without the steep price tag. KVA stainless steel and Columbus XCr in Europe seem to be the answer.

    Cinelli
    Salsa
    Firefly
    Rodriguez
    Anderson
    Cielo

    There are more out there. I bet the list will continue to grow every year. Having said this, however, I believe there will be many who will continue to seek Ti frames for other reasons.
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 12-11-12 at 07:27 AM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by anotherbrian View Post
    I like the Break-Away system compared to S&S (I have one of each). No special tool is required for the Break-Away, no chance for bloody knuckles (I worry about the S&S wrench slipping), no threads to keep clean (grit in the S&S couplers sounds bad) or lubed, and it is lighter/less bulky. I'm 200#+, and the B-A seems just as robust under me as the S&S.

    I do think the S&S hardcase is superior to any of the softcases, provided you have room to store it at your destination.
    The Break-Away system for demountable frames looks interesting, but who installs them? Even Ritchey makes it available in just one their models. S&S seems to completely dominate the market. Their dealers offer S&S couplers with a wide array of frames.

    Talking about certification, people also like S&S because they have strict guidelines for the installation of their couplers and a builder certification process. I believe this is key to gain the trust of the consumer who generally tends to leery about demountable frames. For example, one thing about the Break-Away system that worries me is the clamp (by the BB area) that needs to be replaced after it's been worn. Otherwise, it could compromise the frame. Looks weak, but it could just be me never having seen/used one first-hand.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
    The Break-Away system for demountable frames looks interesting, but who installs them? Even Ritchey makes it available in just one their models. S&S seems to completely dominate the market. Their dealers offer S&S couplers with a wide array of frames.

    Talking about certification, people also like S&S because they have strict guidelines for the installation of their couplers and a builder certification process. I believe this is key to gain the trust of the consumer who generally tends to leery about demountable frames. For example, one thing about the Break-Away system that worries me is the clamp (by the BB area) that needs to be replaced after it's been worn. Otherwise, it could compromise the frame. Looks weak, but it could just be me never having seen/used one first-hand.
    Waltworks offers a frame with the Ritchey hardware (prior to him offering it, I bought a steel S&S'd hardtail 29er MTB from him -- at the time it was only ~$250 upcharge). I saw a thread (probably on mtbr.com on the frame builders forum) in the last year or so where he mentioned using the Ritchey parts and other builders chimed in that they had used them as well. I think Walt said the castings for the seattube/headtube lugs weren't very good, and he'd fab his own in the future.

    I'd worry more about losing the downtube clamp than it breaking. The (female?) portion of the S&S couplers are held on with circlips, which makes them impossible to lose, but also makes it tough to clean if/when they get dirt in the threads.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
    I indeed only referenced one, but I don't see the point of your being nit-picky over this.
    I don't see the point in your saying something that isn't actually true! "Many" was a big claim!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
    Let's clarify this by saying that it is a growing trend among higher-end builders looking to offer the feel and strength (included the easier welding methods) of steel and the beautiful bare looks of Ti without the steep price tag. KVA stainless steel and Columbus XCr in Europe seem to be the answer.

    Cinelli
    Salsa
    Firefly
    Rodriguez
    Anderson
    Cielo

    There are more out there. I bet the list will continue to grow every year. Having said this, however, I believe there will be many who will continue to seek Ti frames for other reasons.
    This is a much-more reasonable comment.

    It seems that there are a few manufacturers that are using stainless steel. It seems that the number is increasing.

    The availability of stainless steel is interesting.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 12-11-12 at 09:46 AM.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
    The Break-Away system for demountable frames looks interesting, but who installs them? Even Ritchey makes it available in just one their models. S&S seems to completely dominate the market. Their dealers offer S&S couplers with a wide array of frames.
    The S&S couplers allow manufacturers make frames in the way they are used to doing (the same exact way they would make uncoupled frames).

    It isn't surprizing that the Break-Away system isn't common).

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    The S&S couplers allow manufacturers make frames in the way they are used to doing (the same exact way they would make uncoupled frames).

    It isn't surprizing that the Break-Away system isn't common).
    S&S isn't a bicycle manufacturer; they have an interest in seeing as many builders as possible adopt their couplers. I work a few miles away from the S&S Machine shop, and visited them 15+ years ago for some machining work, and while their couplers were available back then, they weren't as widely used as they are today.

    Ritchey's Break Aways have only been around since ~2003 (I never heard about it until ~2005/6), and as the company is a frame manufacturer themselves, probably not keen on licensing their system to every other manufacturer. I know Dahon had an MTB with the Ritchey system, but their more niche with their folding bikes, and maybe more of a presence outside the US than in.

    I was surprised that other manufacturers (at least the small builders) had access to the Ritchey parts, and if I were to have another travel bike made, would absolutely use the Ritchey design over S&S. Some bike designs might not allow for the Ritchey system (junction of toptube/seattube, clearance at the BB), but any builder who is skilled enough to attach an S&S coupler to the tubes and have it come out straight is certainly skilled enough to weld/braze the tubes into the Ritchey lugs.

    [Just looked at the Waltworks website; he now charges $500 for S&S couplers and $250 for Ritchey. I've no idea how much of that difference is in parts costs vs. labor.]

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by anotherbrian View Post
    S&S isn't a bicycle manufacturer; they have an interest in seeing as many builders as possible adopt their couplers. I work a few miles away from the S&S Machine shop, and visited them 15+ years ago for some machining work, and while their couplers were available back then, they weren't as widely used as they are today.
    I doubt S&S is making any real money with the couplers! If Ritchey was worried about competition from other manufactureres, they wouldn't license their system!

    Quote Originally Posted by anotherbrian View Post
    Ritchey's Break Aways have only been around since ~2003 (I never heard about it until ~2005/6), and as the company is a frame manufacturer themselves, probably not keen on licensing their system to every other manufacturer.
    ??? This doesn't make any sense since they chose to license their system.

    Quote Originally Posted by anotherbrian View Post
    and if I were to have another travel bike made, would absolutely use the Ritchey design over S&S.
    The benefits to the end-user might not be the same as the benefits to the manufacturer.

    Quote Originally Posted by anotherbrian View Post
    I know Dahon had an MTB with the Ritchey system, but their more niche with their folding bikes, and maybe more of a presence outside the US than in.
    They also had a road bike (no longer produced) with the Ritchey system.

    Quote Originally Posted by anotherbrian View Post
    Some bike designs might not allow for the Ritchey system (junction of toptube/seattube, clearance at the BB), but any builder who is skilled enough to attach an S&S coupler to the tubes and have it come out straight is certainly skilled enough to weld/braze the tubes into the Ritchey lugs.
    This is more than enough for builders to prefer the S&S couplers! Builders really don't have to do anything different to provide the S&S couplers.

    A builder can choose to use the much-more flexible S&S system or the Ritchey system. Not many are likely to provide for both options.

    Quote Originally Posted by anotherbrian View Post
    he mentioned using the Ritchey parts and other builders chimed in that they had used them as well. I think Walt said the castings for the seattube/headtube lugs weren't very good, and he'd fab his own in the future.
    If this is true, that would be another reason for builders not to use the Ritchey system!

    Quote Originally Posted by anotherbrian View Post
    [Just looked at the Waltworks website; he now charges $500 for S&S couplers and $250 for Ritchey. I've no idea how much of that difference is in parts costs vs. labor.]
    Don't know what you are looking at but the following is mess.

    http://waltworks.com/dev/index.php
    Last edited by njkayaker; 12-11-12 at 01:06 PM.

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    I've no idea why Ritchey has licensed his system to who he has. It appears indie builders have access to the components though.

    Owning both an S&S and a Break Away bike, and having flown dozens of times with each (so assembling and disassembling each dozens of times), I'll absolutely pick the Break Away system over the S&S next time, and would encourage others to do the same. There might be design reasons why you couldn't use the Break Away system, but for a "standard" diamond-frame style bike (which includes every Bilenky I've ever seen), it should work fine. And the Break Away hardware should be a fraction of the cost of the S&S ... the S&S coupler is a bunch of finely machined chunks of stainless steel, while the Break Away is mostly a cast lug cut in half with two pinch bolts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by anotherbrian View Post
    I've no idea why Ritchey has licensed his system to who he has. It appears indie builders have access to the components though.
    It's not clear that Ritchey is selecting the licensees. It more likely seems the licensees choose to use whatever system they deem is easier to integrate/sell. It's not clear if the Ritchey system has the same degree of qualification that the S&S couplers do. It's possible that people want the S&S couplers because they are better known.

    Quote Originally Posted by anotherbrian View Post
    Owning both an S&S and a Break Away bike, and having flown dozens of times with each (so assembling and disassembling each dozens of times), I'll absolutely pick the Break Away system over the S&S next time, and would encourage others to do the same.
    This is interesting. The availabilty of the Ritchey system does appear to be very limited. It could be better for the end-user (if they can get it).

    The S&S couplers can be retrofitted to frames while the Ritchey system cannot. If you were a builder, that might be another reason to deal with the S&S couplers over the Ritchey system.

    Quote Originally Posted by anotherbrian View Post
    There might be design reasons why you couldn't use the Break Away system, but for a "standard" diamond-frame style bike (which includes every Bilenky I've ever seen), it should work fine.
    With the Ritchey system, you still have to make the basic frame differently. With the S&S couplers, you design/build the frames the same way you'd do without (and add the S&S couplers later). It's more flexible for a small niche market.

    Quote Originally Posted by anotherbrian View Post
    And the Break Away hardware should be a fraction of the cost of the S&S ... the S&S coupler is a bunch of finely machined chunks of stainless steel, while the Break Away is mostly a cast lug cut in half with two pinch bolts.
    From your numbers (I don't have any others), the Ritchey system is 50% less than the S&S couplers. The extra cost is passed to the purchaser. Given the cost of a custom bike, it would seem that the difference is moot.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 12-11-12 at 06:13 PM.

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