Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Ventura County, CA
Bikes: Steve Rex, Santana
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Prohibitive = about the cost of airfare for another person.
The last time we went to Paris with our uncoupled tandem we built a version of a softcase - smaller and lighter, with an aluminium frame to accommodate the bike frame and a few parts. The wheels and anything heavy went into a wheel case. At the time, the trick was to get the weight of each baggage item to be under 50 lbs. With an uncoupled tandem you can't do much about the baggage size, but you can part out the weight among your other baggage. All our bags were under 50lbs, but we still had to pay a bicycle fee of 150 Euros or Dollars, I can't remember which. While the case turned out well and it was kind of fun to put together, it is probably cheaper to buy something off the shelf and pay the overweight charge. Your results may vary.
One of the first things we did after arriving home from this trip was purchase a coupled tandem. We decided we were going again, but not with THAT bike!
A coupled tandem can go places an uncoupled tandem can't and for that reason alone couplers can be worth the cost. Couplers look great to me every time I hang my bike in the spaces for singles on the train. Remember, it is not just the plane that you will have trouble with when touring. It is every transfer. Want to tour the California Coast? Just pop on the Pacific Surfliner with a coupled tandem. No couplers, well that's a problem. Want to tour Europe? Most trains will allow bagged bikes the size of singles - no couplers - that's a problem.
A coupled tandem allows for more flexibility when touring, and isn't that what touring is all about?
I am very pleased with my coupled tandem and will never again purchase a tandem without couplers. Then again, like pel said above, if it is your only way to go then don't let that stop you from going.