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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 03-14-13, 06:55 PM   #1
akexpress
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Travel bike damage survey

There has been a lot of discussions about frame materials and repairability after damage. Typically this evolves to travel tandems and getting to some place far away from home and the bike being damaged and unridable. So really this tread is a survey to actually find out how often this happens. I will start with my take on this issue. We are fortunate and cursed to have traveled with our tandem extensively. Cursed in that we live in Alaska and have to fly everywhere and fortunate that we have have taken our tandem all over the world. I think our tandem has been in and out of the cases on airplanes at least 25 times in the last 5 years. We have had exactly 0 damage save a few paint rubs. We have been on 5 Santana trips for a total of about 316 teams traveling with their tandems so about 632 single trips considering these require round trips. Plus we have done quite a few private trips with a smaller group of 5 teams. To the best of my knowledge no one has ever had any damage in transit again save the occasional paint rub. The greater fear is the lost luggage issue and I know of one tandem last year that was lost in flight and never recovered. With modern cases like the S&S cases, comotion hybrid cases and Santana cases the bikes are will protected. I would like to hear any actual damage history, because short of that I don't think it matters what your bike is made of you should not worry and ride what you want and like. FWIW we own two coupled tandems a carbon Calfee and a steel 29r Ventana mtn tandem and have the same experience with both. I am careful but not obsessive when packing and can pack either one in about and hour. both have padding custom cut and marked for location and remove all tires for packing. Each case gets 1/2 the bike and 1 wheel.
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Old 03-14-13, 11:25 PM   #2
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We had a coupled aluminium Santana last year that we only packed once and shipped for a trip. Unfortunately the billet stock for the S&S couplers on the diagonal tube was defective (or not tempered correctly) and started crumbling to powder. So we bailed on that frame and got an uncoupled scandium instead. We'll just use a Bike Pro tandem case for the future.
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Old 03-14-13, 11:35 PM   #3
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As long as the bike is well packed in a rigid case, I don't think it's an issue. Although one of our wooden box panels was fractured in Frankfurt, as well as all the wheels broken off our suitcases. It's definitely an issue for cardboard boxed or bagged bikes. I've watched baggage handlers throw bikes, boxed and unboxed, into a pile at least 8' away, and have met people who've had frames broken by baggage handlers. I don't think frame material matters all that much. Seat and chainstays seem the most vulnerable.
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Old 03-15-13, 03:44 AM   #4
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No tandem damage to us with S&S using hard case for frame & soft-side for wheels and misc. parts.

Of many friends who travel with their S&S tandems, I can only think of one that ever had frame damage and we think they may have caused it by the way they packed their frame. It was a dent in the downtube but the location and shape suggested it was caused by something inside the case being pressed into the tube.

Now, cases are another matter. While the S&S style/size cases have faired well, we know of three full-size cases that have been dropped from the cargo door of a 747 (owners watched that happen), another had a corner caved-in and a third was caved-in mid-span. No tandem damage inside the cases despite the case damage / impacts.
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Old 03-15-13, 05:56 AM   #5
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We've done about 12 flights with our S&S couple steel co-motion, normally in two hard cases, but once with the wheels and some parts in a cardboard box (to keep the weight down and to make it collapsible into the one hard case for storage and transport at the other end). No damage to report from any trip so far.
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Old 03-15-13, 07:23 AM   #6
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We've flown transoceanic with our S&S'ed tandem about 10 times. No damage to the bike other than some scuff marks on my Brooks saddle. The cases has taken some abuse but we are still using the same cases. The airline has broken 2 of the compression members but I figure they were sacrifices to the patron saint of the baggage handlers. Worst nightmare is to loose one or both of the cases in transit. That was the reason we did not get a really nice (Seven) travel tandem 2-3 years ago and stayed with a (relatively cheap) steel tandem.
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Old 03-15-13, 09:01 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tkramer View Post
We had a coupled aluminium Santana last year that we only packed once and shipped for a trip. Unfortunately the billet stock for the S&S couplers on the diagonal tube was defective (or not tempered correctly) and started crumbling to powder. So we bailed on that frame and got an uncoupled scandium instead. We'll just use a Bike Pro tandem case for the future.
The couplers on the 2002 Team AL we had were Titanium with ceramic facings. There were a total of 8 couplers on that frame w/lateral due to the double bottom tube design that predated the move to a single bottom tube w/Z-couplers. Did Santana switch to using AL couplers on their AL frames?

As for in transit damages - nada. Grey S&S cases or fullsize Bike Pro (with my internal PVC pipe cage that replaced their steel track).

Last edited by twocicle; 03-15-13 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 03-15-13, 11:12 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twocicle View Post
The couplers on the 2002 Team AL we had were Titanium with ceramic facings. There were a total of 8 couplers on that frame w/lateral due to the double bottom tube design that predated the move to a single bottom tube w/Z-couplers. Did Santana switch to using AL couplers on their AL frames?
I have seen the older coupled Alu frames with the double boom tube. Ours had the oval boom with z-couplers. I'm not 100% sure what the material was for the S&S joints. When my couplers' nuts started filling with silver powder I called S&S to ask about it. They were very quick to state that the Alu couplers were not an S&S product. Rather, Santana sub-contracts S&S to machine the parts -- sending in the billet for fabrication. I am no metallurgist, but I have never heard of titanium taking on a crystalline state of high friability. At least not with some very extreme treatment. Aluminium, on the other hand, gets brittle if it has been over-hardened.

I don't miss that coupled frame. The joints were actually plug-ugly compared to the steel, Ti and CF frame couplers with their beautiful polished lugs. Fillet brazing is nice at the main joints. But at the couplers, it looked like Franken-bike.

BTW, I didn't mean to derail the thread. I actually have relevant input regarding the OP that I forgot to write. We shipped our bike via UPS to the tour organizer who had their mechanic assemble and have it ready when we arrived. The single case has detachable casters which I bone-headedly left on when I dropped it off at the shipper. When it arrived only one caster was still attached! It's not that easy prying those things off. But, someone along the way either really wanted them or preferred to push the case along on one wobbly wheel instead of four.

I think two cases might be more manageable to all parties involved. The single Santana case is quite heavy (~70# packed) and its shape suggests a single baggage handler can manage it (and thus likely drop it). At least with the Bike Pro case, there is a much higher probability that there will be two humans involved in loading and unloading it.
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