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Old 04-23-08, 08:39 PM   #1
virgilnilson
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BTCs, worth it?

The guy at my LBS pretty much convinced me to pass on getting BTCs installed on my new Surly LHT, and encouraged me to just get a nice bike case instead (he showed me some $350 3 layer case).

They seem like a huge headache, as we spent about 10 minutes trying to find shops in our area that would do it, then he told me it may need to be repainted, that the frame tubes may be tapered so the BTCs may need to be placed in odd places/not be placeable at all, and that it could take up to 12 weeks to get the bike back.

Finally he made the point that the BTCs aren't going to make my bike more compact than the diameter of my tires.

I have never traveled with a bicycle, will the few extra inches afforded me by the BTCs (maybe many extra inches?) do something for me when it comes to flying?

We may also at some point store our bikes in an airport locker in Europe, will they be able to fit without BTCs? Would they be able to fit even WITH BTCs? (I admit I have never looked at an airport locker)

I have not yet bought the case, and I realize that even if I got BTCs I would need to also buy a case on top of their cost. However I am still open to the idea of getting them if somebody has some persuasive reasons.
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Old 04-24-08, 12:31 AM   #2
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Sorry virgil, but I'm a bit short on the initials there. What does BTC mean? I am presuming something like ???? Tube Coupling?
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Old 04-24-08, 12:42 AM   #3
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Sorry virgil, but I'm a bit short on the initials there. What does BTC mean? I am presuming something like ???? Tube Coupling?
+1

BTC?
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Old 04-24-08, 12:51 AM   #4
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I pretty sure he means Bicycle Tube Couplings.
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Old 04-24-08, 12:53 AM   #5
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BTC = Bicycle Torque Coupling

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_Torque_Coupling

http://www.sandsmachine.com/spec_ssc.htm
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Old 04-24-08, 01:02 AM   #6
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With S&S Bicycle Torque Couplers your bike packs down into a 26"x26"x10" case, which is just at the limit of the airlines' dimensions for a "standard" (i.e. not "oversized") piece of luggage. Thus, you save on charges they would normally apply to large bike cases. If you get the soft-sided case, it collapses down to a 26"x10"x2" bundle that's easy to stash when you're not using it.

Whether it's worth the cost depends on how much you'll be travelling by air and taking your bike with you.

It's expensive as a retrofit, mostly because (a) the frame has to be cut and the couplers put on (steel, Ti or carbon only), (b) the frame has to be repainted afterwards. If you're buying a new bike, however, they can be quite cost-competitive. When I was shopping around in 1995, a custom Steve Rex lugless steel frame with BTCs was quite affordable.

In terms of performance, yes, you pay a weight penalty of about 0.5 lb. for a standard road frame. The coupler-ed tubing, however, is stronger in bending and torsion than the original tubing. The helical teeth on the couplers ensures that it's a very secure connection, even when the collars may be inadvertently left loose. You do have to exercise care to lubricate the threads on assembly as they're made of stainless steel, which galls easily.
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Old 04-24-08, 02:01 AM   #7
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Ahhhhhhh! Most of us are familiar with S&S couplings, but BTC had me stumped.

In that case, virgil, just get a bike box from an LBS and use that. Then get another at the other end for the return trip. It saves the hassle of what to do with a big bike case. I've travelled a bit by air with my touring bike without drama and using only bike boxes sourced from LBSs or the airlines themselves.
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Old 04-24-08, 02:47 AM   #8
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It is easier to fit the S&S box into a taxi, compared to a bike box.
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Old 04-24-08, 04:07 AM   #9
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As to storing in airport lockers in Europe... is that still possible? I might be wrong, but I thought all lockers in places like trains stations and aiports had been removed as a security measure. There may be paid-for storage at a counter similar to that in Hong Kong and Australia, but I don't recall seeing similar in Charles de Gaulle or Heathrow.
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Old 04-24-08, 05:23 AM   #10
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I haven't put any btc's on my tourer/commuter, but according to this website, the lht needed to have the top tube replaced because the tube is ovalized.
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Old 04-24-08, 07:23 AM   #11
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I have a BTC on my Surly LHT and I love it. (fc above is wrong and the top tube on the LHT doesn't need to be replaced. The coupling fits perfectly and looks great.) I love my coupled bike and it is great for traveling. It allows me to fit the bike into a case that is less than the 62" (26x26x10) airline requirement. Otherwise they charge $100 extra per ticket ($200 round trip). The BTC pays for itself after about 3 round trips on planes. Yes you will spend about $600 for the full package (BTC, painting, and case, but if you travel a lot with the bike, then it is worth it.) Go to this web link and it explains everything.

http://www.bicycle-touring-guide.com...-coupling.html

If you are going to travel once or twice, then consider shipping the bicycle. If you want to ship a full size bike then read this web link:

http://www.bicycle-touring-guide.com...-shipping.html

I had my bike done at Bilenky.com (they do excellent work). Their web site is

http://www.bilenky.com/

Bilenky has an excellent article on packing your coupled bike:

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

John
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Old 04-24-08, 07:55 AM   #12
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Surly is selling a stock Cross Check with S&S couplers installed. Not a LHT, but definitely tour worthy - especially for lightweight tours and another option to consider.
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Old 04-24-08, 08:51 AM   #13
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I have an S&S coupled bike (Waterford, not Surly) and highly recommend getting the couplers if you can afford them. You will not notice that you are riding a coupled bike.

While it is easy to focus on putting the bike in a box and taking it on an airplane, I find that being able to uncouple the bike makes it much easier to get into car. This means that I can carry the bike in a car without a bike rack. I can ride somewhere and get a ride back in someone's car. I do this far more often than packing into a case, which is quite an effort and something I avoid unless it is absolutely necessary.

As for what to do with the box, it depends on whether I am taking the bike/box on an airplane round-trip or just one-way. If I ride to my destination, my wife packs all her stuff in the bike box and flies out with it, we enjoy a few days vacation together, I pack the bike up, and we return home. If it is a round-trip, I store it at my arrival/departure point. For my upcoming trip to France, I intend to store it at the hotel I'm staying at on those nights.

I've never had to ship my bike box (either full or empty) anywhere. However, I wouldn't hesitate to do so if I needed to get the bike/box somewhere without carrying myself.

Ray
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Old 04-24-08, 10:40 AM   #14
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I've never had to ship my bike box (either full or empty) anywhere. However, I wouldn't hesitate to do so if I needed to get the bike/box somewhere without carrying myself.

Ray
As an alternative a bit of packing tape and some cardboard will turn into a bike box without too much effort.
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