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S&S couplers vs. tandem rack?

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S&S couplers vs. tandem rack?

Old 02-24-20, 06:40 AM
  #1  
Walter1001
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S&S couplers vs. tandem rack?

My wife and I are in the process of purchasing a Co-Motion Mocha as our first tandem. Our main concern at this point is how to transport it via car within the continental U.S. After some research and thought it appears we have two reasonable options: Draftmaster rack on back of small crossover SUV (we are both over 65, so a rack on top of the car doesn't seem a good option), or a pair of S&S couplers that would allow us to break the front third (just forward of captain seatpost and bottom bracket) off. The back 2/3 of the bike would hang quite nicely on a regular hitch bike rack; the front 1/3 would fit in the back of the small SUV. I can't imagine flying with the tandem, so two pairs of S&S couplers, while certainly an option, don't seem necessary. Co-Motion will add a set of couplers for about $1,000. A Draftmaster for a tandem is $763; a tandem plus one regular bike is $847; a tandem plus two regular bikes is $899. The difference in price between a set of couplers and any of the Draftmaster options is negligible in the context of the overall purchase. I would be most appreciative of any and all comments on this issue. Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-24-20, 07:02 AM
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PedalingWalrus
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If You are absolutely sure you won't fly with the tandem then maybe couplers are a waste of time but consider these scenarios that I collected over the short time (1 year) that I had a tandem with couplers:

What if Your car broke down and had to be left on the side of the road for a while? Quickly breaking the tandem into two manageable 'halfs' will make it fit into any truck or suv.

What if You were in the middle of a multiday tour and had to take a train or a bus? Quickly breaking the tandem into two manageable 'halfs' will make it fit better into bus bottom storage or train hooks designed for single bikes.

On the other hand, having couplers does not mean you just undo to couplers and the bike is separated. You still need to deal at least with the brake and shifting cables.
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Old 02-24-20, 07:22 AM
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We have an older Co-Motion Co-Pilot.

If you take the front "half" off of your bike, you still have to disconnect 3x cables. The cable splitters work OK but I wouldn't want to do this regularly.

I think you are better off getting a Draftmaster or maybe a Tandem Topper. The Tandem Topper sits on the roof and allows you to pivot the bike up 1/2 at a time.

I've never owned an SUV so I'm not familiar with the difficulties of roof racks & tandems.
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Old 02-24-20, 09:00 AM
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As another option. We just returned for a trip to south Florida on Saturday evening where we drove from our home in Lancaster PA to the Ft Meyers area and back. We have an Acura RDX which is a small SUV with a trailer hitch rack. I take the wheels off and turn the handle bars at 90 degrees and our standard tandem fits within the mirrors on our car. Typically I put the wheels inside the vehicle but this time I mounted them on the rack through the spokes and tied them to the frame. We've done several thousand miles with this set-up. Our Thule rack is a two-bike and it has a pin which when released you can lower the bike and have full access to the rear luggage area. Just another option which has minimal cost and perfect for those occasions when you need to transport your bike.
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Old 02-24-20, 10:15 AM
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Although I doubt you budgeted for a new/replacement vehicle as part of this project, there is a reason you see so many mini-vans at tandem rally's.

No other vehicle offers the ease of roll-in/roll out transport as a mini-van.

Good luck in your decision.
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Old 02-24-20, 10:22 AM
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We have a Subaru Imprezza. We can take the wheels off our bike and fit it inside! We've driven to bike tours with this configuration. We put a moving blanket underneath and on top and just stack our gear on top of the bike. No problem. We finally got a rooftop rack just because it's a whole lot less hassle than putting the bike inside. A rooftop rack on an Imprezza is not the same as on an SUV. But it depends on what one is doing and why. Driving to a ride start every few days is a lot different than driving cross country. The only thing I really regret about our not having couplers is not being able to take the train. We fly with the bike in a box just fine. Packing it is a hassle but I think it's a hassle with couplers, too.

I used to worry about driving in the rain with the bike on top. After doing that a few times, it seems that all that happens is that the bike gets washed.
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Old 02-24-20, 11:01 AM
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My 2 cents (worth about 2 cents):

I only break our tandem apart like you're describing when I'm forced to do so. Like when Amtrak decides they won't let me take it on the train because they're racist against slightly elongated bicycles. My frame requires four couplers to be uncoupled if I want to take a piece off, so your job would be easier than mine, but you still have cables to dissasemble/reassemble (and possibly adjust); are you going to keep the threads greased (which will get all over your car, or regrease every time you drive somewhere? Also, you're supposed to stop and tighten the couplers after biking for a little while. I like doing all this one time while on vacation. Doing it every day (or more than every day) would be less than pleasant. Note: If I was thinking of one set of couplers, I'd put them in the middle of the bike...the dis-assembly/assembly would be even more difficult as now you'd have to remove the timing chain, but storing the bike entirely inside your SUV would then be a possibility and if you did decide to fly, you could fit your tandem in a standard bike box. Or at least I think you could. The S and S website has a lot more information on the subject than I do. Note: I have a quad on order, and my road transport plan is to split it in half and hopefully slide it into a minivan. I'll post an update on how this works in a few weeks.



I haven't used a draftmaster, but I had a Sidewinder for several years. On a non-suv (normal profile car) it requires very little strength. If you are able enough to ride, you would be able to load a tandem. But if you don't already have a suitable roof rack, a sidewinder is not a huge savings over a draftmaster. As mentioned above, if you take the wheels off, a tandem is fine on the back of a single bike hitch rack. This, of course, does require a little lifting. If you have a rack that will allow you to angle the bike a little, there's very little overhang (if any).
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Old 02-24-20, 01:16 PM
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I have a Draftmaster and also have a coupled Comotion Speedster, an older one with a lateral tube that has 6 total couplers, 3 of them forward of the Captain’s seatpost and drivetrain.

I use the Draftmaster for long multi-day road trips in our Toyota Landcruiser (large SUV) which include other bikes on the rack and lots of luggage etc. using space inside the vehicle.

I use our Chevy Bolt (small crossover EV) for all other trips such as to day long events or a simple overnight excursion. I am able to fit the Speedster into the back of the Bolt (rear seat folded down) without having to remove wheels. I slide the tandem into the back of the Bolt on its left side with the front triangle hanging out the back. I then undo the front 3 couplers and 3 cable splitters, then lay the front of the bike on top of the rest with a blanket between them, and close the hatch. With practice, this process takes no longer than using the Draftmaster.

There are lots of advantages to having the bike inside the vehicle and I think having couplers that allow a quick partial breakdown of the bike come in very handy.
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Old 02-25-20, 09:52 AM
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Congrats on going for your first tandem, they are a lot of fun, and welcome to the forum. I'll offer my two cents in the spirit of adding more things to consider . Personally, I do not like to carry my bikes on the outside of my vehicle with my primary worries being: corrosion due to exposure to the weather, the possibility of damage from driving under a low structure or being rear-ended, and the constant worry about the possibility of theft. For this reason, we keep a minivan as a third vehicle expressly for hauling the tandem (as well as other things from time to time). I realize that keeping an extra vehicle, or replacing a perfectly good current vehicle may not work for everyone for a variety of reasons. We have a coupled tandem as well and just use if for travel. Considering a coupled bike to transport in a current vehicle is a great approach. With a coupled tandem you do have to deal with cable couplers as others have mentioned, which I find is not a big deal, however, there really isn't an as convenient solution for hydraulic brakes if that is something you want. If you haven't already, I would think about resale. Used coupled tandems are in high demand and command higher resale prices than non-coupled bikes. Having a coupled tandem that did NOT pack into standard cases is likely less desirable for anyone looking for a used coupled bike for travel. This may not matter if your frame is unusually small or large and in the end, it is really down to what works for you. Good luck!

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Old 02-28-20, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by oldacura View Post
We have an older Co-Motion Co-Pilot.

If you take the front "half" off of your bike, you still have to disconnect 3x cables. The cable splitters work OK but I wouldn't want to do this regularly.
You don't "have" to disconnect the cable spliters if you are just basically "folding" the bike to put inside a car or on a rack. Just leave the cables attached.

For the OP's type of use, Co-Motion's placement of couplers in front of the captain's seat tube makes for easier disconnection, as you don't have to mess with the timing chain. Personally, I like the way Santana does it better for actually packing in cases, while Co-Motion is better for quickly breaking in half for transport.

For reference, I've owned both Santana S&S tandems and a Co-Motion Mocha S&S.
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Old 02-28-20, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by oldacura View Post
We have an older Co-Motion Co-Pilot.


If you take the front "half" off of your bike, you still have to disconnect 3x cables. The cable splitters work OK but I wouldn't want to do this regularly.

You don't "have" to disconnect the cable spliters if you are just basically "folding" the bike to put inside a car or on a rack. Just leave the cables attached.


For the OP's type of use, Co-Motion's placement of couplers in front of the captain's seat tube makes for easier disconnection, as you don't have to mess with the timing chain. Personally, I like the way Santana does it better for actually packing in cases, while Co-Motion is better for quickly breaking in half for transport.


For reference, I've owned both Santana S&S tandems and a Co-Motion Mocha S&S.
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Old 04-06-20, 02:51 PM
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S&S couplings are great. Of course, they add cost and weight, but you’ve got a versatile machine suitable for everyday riding, the possibilities of flying easily to domestic and oversees riding destinations (virus issues aside) and the ability to easily break it in half to stick in the back seat of a car (yours or a rental).

However, I would not say that it’s an sensible alternative to a proper tandem rack (ATOC/Thule roof rack being the best, IMHO) for everyday use on remote-start local rides. It’s more work than you’d want to do to break apart and reassemble for everyday use.
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Old 04-06-20, 06:59 PM
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The S&S couplers will add resale value of about what you pay for them BTW.. I have owned and S&S tandem and a single bike and found that they are a royal pain to decouple and recouple, so much that I always fond a way to transport the bike wihout decoupling. I culd transport the tandem entirely assembled on our hitch rack on the back of our Odyssey minivan,a nd could package the bike in a double bike box for transit on a train.

Cood luck with the Co-Motion. I have owned 3 of their tandems and a single bike as well. They are impecably built bikes!
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Old 05-01-20, 08:54 AM
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We are in our 60ís and drive a compact SUV with roof rack. I made the tandem carrier from ash using a Yakima fork fitting that swivels. Weight is minimized by front wheel removal. We also routinely pull the seat posts out so saddles donít get ruined by rain, and replace with PVC plugs, so another weight savings. I can fairly easily put the bike up alone.
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