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DIY Bike Coupling without Welding

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DIY Bike Coupling without Welding

Old 10-18-13, 01:13 PM
  #1  
bwgride
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DIY Bike Coupling without Welding

I was considering a bike frame with S&S couplings, but it occurred to me that a less expensive option is available. Seat posts are held in place by seat clamps, so seat clamps can handle quit a bit of weight. Moreover, seat posts come in many sizes to fit the inner diameter of various tubes. Therefore, it should be possible to cut a bike frame as if adding SS couplings, but instead use internal sleeves made from seat posts, and join the frame with seat clamps.

Below are images of my first attempt to couple a bike using seat clamps (well, hose clamps temporarily) and seat posts cut to length. The frame I used was one I bought for commuting and found I disliked the frame due to lack of derailleur hanger and use of forward horizontal dropouts. So this was a perfect frame for me to try the coupling idea.

I bought an inexpensive rotary tool (<$20), and used four other tools: a drill, file, pipe cutter (could use hacksaw instead), and grinder (to smooth cut seat posts). Each of these can be bought inexpensively, and the drill and grinder aren't necessary. I also bought one 28.6 seat post to serve as the down-tube internal sleeve (from which I used a section about 4.5 inches long). I had an unused seat post of 26.6 which I used to make an internal sleeve for the top tube. The diameters of the top tube was 29mm and down tube was 31 to 32mm.

Things I learned with my first attempt:

1. The rotary tool (Dremel copy) is works very well. Obtain reinforced cut-off wheels, go slowly, and it is possible to get a clean cut without marring the bike paint.

2. One of the internal sleeves for either the top tube or down tube must be able to move completely inside the bike frame tube otherwise the bike halves cannot be mated. I found the top tube internal sleeve much easier to move on this particular frame because the bottom tube had a internal ridge (perhaps from forming the tube). To move the internal sleeve I drilled two holes into which I can fit a screw driver. I use the screw driver to move the internal sleeve from one tube to the other for mating. When I do this again, I will probably add some type of handle to make this more permanent and easy.

3. When cutting tubes to form the clamping area, first mark tubes with marker in line so the cut areas can be aligned for making the sliding of the internal sleeve easier.

4. Strong quality seat post clamps are needed on down tube due to tension there. May also consider adding bolt through sleeve and tube on both halves to help mate down tube and prevent any slipping, although so far the inexpensive seat post ($4 shipped each!) clamps are holding. Instead of the bolt idea, I will probably use four clamps, two on each side of the down tube, to help hold it in place. Since seat post clamps usually have a lip, that will have to be removed from the clamp so it can fit flush with the down tube.

5. Inside of some frame tubes may have ridge that must be cut out or filed to make internal sleeves move more easily.

6. Pipe cutter mar bike paint, maybe better quality or larger pipe cutter wouldn't. Maybe use hack saw or rotary tool for cutting tubes in half for less paint loss.

I am sure that as I further experiment with this idea on other frames, better approaches will be found, and if so, I will share those as well. If others decide to try this, please post your ideas too and images too.

Images are in this post and the next post that follows.
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Old 10-18-13, 01:14 PM
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Old 10-18-13, 01:48 PM
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The use of hose clamps are scary.

get back after a year of riding it, with a touring load, over rough roads ,

to demonstrate it being reliable..

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-18-13 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 10-18-13, 02:36 PM
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Set up a big jump at the bottom of a tall hill and just go for it man! Let us know how much sweet air you get!
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Old 10-18-13, 04:49 PM
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I can't actually see any significant issue except for the use of the hose clamps.

Maybe acquiring some cheap seat post collars from eBay might be a more effective solution. You can adjust the inside diameter with some deft filing, and they certainly would tighten with more closing force than the pipe clamps.

Other than that, it's a steel frame, they are, I presume, steel seat posts, and they all seem to fit together OK.

I have bookmarked on another computer an old page by a guy who built a mini-bike using the jointing principles you have used here, for everything down to the seat stays. It worked for him; however, the seat clamps were replaced by brazed-on lugs which added security to the whole deal.

I am interested in you reporting back on the test rides -- any movement in the joints, any twisting of the frame, and issues with steering, and so on. But I sincerely would suggest using seat post clamps instead of the hose clamps.
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Old 10-18-13, 05:38 PM
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I think the big challenge here is going to be keeping the frame properly aligned. My guess is that the hose clamps won't work and that even with seatpost clamps it may be a challenge. At first glance, the idea is similar to the one used by Ritchey Breakaway frames:



There are important differences, however. Notice that the Breakaway has a flange on one tube which is inserted into the large tube. This design will be less likely to twist out of place than inserting a length of seat tube, which won't have a positive connection to either tube. The Breakaway design is also better because it places couplers at right angles to each other: one is on the vertical seat tube and one is on the horizontal down tube. Again, this should reduce twisting better than placing both couplers on horizontal tubes.

S&S couplers are usually placed on the top and down tubes, but they contain "teeth" which are designed to prevent the coupler from rotating once the two halves have been mated:

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Old 10-18-13, 08:13 PM
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this technique is similar to the Rene Herse Demountable, which is a proven design. You might want to add the external sleeves that RH used.
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Old 10-19-13, 07:32 AM
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I agree with Rowan, try seatpost clamps.

Or, take a look at how Panasonic does it. The photos look like they use an outside clamping tube instead of the internal tube that you are using on the downtube.
http://www.yellowjersey.org/posd7.html

Yellow Jersey recently moved.
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Old 10-19-13, 10:49 AM
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That looks truly insane. But also brilliant.

At the very least, I'd go w/ steel seatpost clamps. There's usually a little lip on the clamp to prevent it from sliding down the seat tube. That lip could be easy ground off in order to allow it to slip over the tube completely. Your internal sleeves look like they're long enough to spread the forces over more of the tubes, which is good I suppose. I guess time will tell if the system is reliable. It's ideas like these and garage tinkering that leads to some cool new ideas and developments.
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Old 10-19-13, 01:13 PM
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those couplers have indexing marks on them a lot like the cylinder of a revolver...

OP don't use hose clamps, if you have to, use t-bolt clamps
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Old 10-19-13, 03:26 PM
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& dont put too much value in the eschewing all brazing ..
braze in the doubling sleeve and the pinch bolt fittings on the outer tubes .

Richey's breakaway always reminds me of the couplers for Irrigation piping
or the Hose stuff we used to pump the grape juice around at the Winery
at Fall-Crushing time. ..

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-19-13 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 10-19-13, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
& dont put too much value in the eschewing all brazing ..
braze in the doubling sleeve and the pinch bolt fittings on the outer tubes .

Richey's breakaway always reminds me of the couplers for Irrigation piping
or the Hose stuff we used to pump the grape juice around at the Winery
at Fall-Crushing time. ..
To be honest, I had never seen the principle of the Richey breakaway system before, and you are right, it does lean quite heavily on irrigation couplings.

It is a very simple but very effective system, from what I see, and certainly I haven't seen any complaints anywhere from users about them deteriorating.

There has been considerable food for thought for me in this thread.
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Old 10-19-13, 06:27 PM
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I now have a few miles on the DIY clamped bike. I've tried it both on and off road. While riding off road I have intentionally ridden over holes, roots, and things that will cause a bump in an attempt to jar the frame as much as possible, but I am riding cautiously so my speed off road is usually 8 to 10 mile per hour. I've also ridden off a few curbs to test that as well.

Note that I weigh 220 lbs.

I am riding the bike as pictured in the last image (Coupling-14.jpg) of the second post with temporary hose clamps for the top tube and two seat post clamps on the down tube.

I can report that the seat post clamps on the down tube seem to be holding very well. It is difficult for me to judge whether there has been any slippage, if there has, it has been no more than 1 mm or less. The top tube, which is held with the inexpensive hose clamps, has not budged. There is no creaking or play -- the frame feels as firm as if it had not been cut and joined via clamps. As noted, I weigh 220 lbs and I feel no frame flex beyond what I felt in this frame prior to cutting it.

As I noted in my original post, the top tube hose clamps are temporary, so for all recommending that I not use those, thanks, I do have plans to use seat post clamps with a future frame.

Now that I have proven to myself that this system works, my next step is to obtain another frame with vertical dropouts and derailleur hanger. I've got a few targeted for purchase so I hope to get this second test started within two or three weeks. The changes I plan on this second bike are simple and few: (a) make the clamp area on the down tube longer and use two or three seat post clamps per side to ensure a very strong and robust fit (this will require removing the lip from several seat post clamps); (b) use seat post clamps on the top tube; and (c) try to make the cuts neater in appearance.

I intend to use this second bike as a commuter so it will carry my 220 lbs plus 10 to 30 lbs of work material several times per week. That should be a good test. I'll report results once I begin.

For those who still doubt this approach, do note that there are a number of bikes manufactured with similar clamping ideas:

(a) unterhausen noted the Herse demountable

http://classiccycleus.com/home/new-b...s/bike-friday/
http://midlifecycling.blogspot.com/2...mountable.html
http://www.flickr.com/photos/2567121...7626696269995/

(b) Arvon Separable

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...le-is-Complete

(c) Bike Friday tandem

http://diabloscott.blogspot.com/2008...ay-family.html

(d) Velo Lucuma PoloLoko travel bike

http://www.velolucuma.com/index.html

(e) Panasonic OSD tour

http://www.yellowjersey.org/posd7.html
http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/aks13291/26519598.html

If you look around on the net other examples can be found.

The primary benefit of the approach I show above is the ability of most anyone who wishes to turn an old steel frame into a travel bike without the use of brazing, welding, or expensive couplings.

Last edited by bwgride; 10-19-13 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 10-19-13, 07:48 PM
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hmmmmm, and I just dropped $700 to have S&S couplers added to my 520-not to mention another small bundle for a custom paint job-grrrrrr
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Old 10-20-13, 12:30 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by bwgride View Post
I now have a few miles on the DIY clamped bike. I've tried it both on and off road. While riding off road I have intentionally ridden over holes, roots, and things that will cause a bump in an attempt to jar the frame as much as possible, but I am riding cautiously so my speed off road is usually 8 to 10 mile per hour. I've also ridden off a few curbs to test that as well.

Note that I weigh 220 lbs.

I am riding the bike as pictured in the last image (Coupling-14.jpg) of the second post with temporary hose clamps for the top tube and two seat post clamps on the down tube.

I can report that the seat post clamps on the down tube seem to be holding very well. It is difficult for me to judge whether there has been any slippage, if there has, it has been no more than 1 mm or less. The top tube, which is held with the inexpensive hose clamps, has not budged. There is no creaking or play -- the frame feels as firm as if it had not been cut and joined via clamps. As noted, I weigh 220 lbs and I feel no frame flex beyond what I felt in this frame prior to cutting it.

As I noted in my original post, the top tube hose clamps are temporary, so for all recommending that I not use those, thanks, I do have plans to use seat post clamps with a future frame.

Now that I have proven to myself that this system works, my next step is to obtain another frame with vertical dropouts and derailleur hanger. I've got a few targeted for purchase so I hope to get this second test started within two or three weeks. The changes I plan on this second bike are simple and few: (a) make the clamp area on the down tube longer and use two or three seat post clamps per side to ensure a very strong and robust fit (this will require removing the lip from several seat post clamps); (b) use seat post clamps on the top tube; and (c) try to make the cuts neater in appearance.

I intend to use this second bike as a commuter so it will carry my 220 lbs plus 10 to 30 lbs of work material several times per week. That should be a good test. I'll report results once I begin.

For those who still doubt this approach, do note that there are a number of bikes manufactured with similar clamping ideas:

(a) unterhausen noted the Herse demountable

http://classiccycleus.com/home/new-b...s/bike-friday/
http://midlifecycling.blogspot.com/2...mountable.html
http://www.flickr.com/photos/2567121...7626696269995/

(b) Arvon Separable

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...le-is-Complete

(c) Bike Friday tandem

http://diabloscott.blogspot.com/2008...ay-family.html

(d) Velo Lucuma PoloLoko travel bike

http://www.velolucuma.com/index.html

(e) Panasonic OSD tour

http://www.yellowjersey.org/posd7.html
http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/aks13291/26519598.html

If you look around on the net other examples can be found.

The primary benefit of the approach I show above is the ability of most anyone who wishes to turn an old steel frame into a travel bike without the use of brazing, welding, or expensive couplings.
Bravo!!
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Old 10-20-13, 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by LuckySailor View Post
hmmmmm, and I just dropped $700 to have S&S couplers added to my 520-not to mention another small bundle for a custom paint job-grrrrrr
It is gonna be so pretty...
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Old 10-20-13, 12:45 AM
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We have also built "demountable" framesets... it is still a good deal of work to do the custom design and in this case the mission was to fit the bike into a 20 by 20 box for travelling.

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Old 10-20-13, 01:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
We have also built "demountable" framesets... it is still a good deal of work to do the custom design and in this case the mission was to fit the bike into a 20 by 20 box for travelling.

That's a great looking bike and design.
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Old 10-20-13, 04:06 AM
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I really appreciate the moxy that it takes to plan it, then go ahead and do it! So many ideas die at the purely academic stage out of fear.

Such an idea may be a good one for hybrids and MTBs with relatively thick tubing. I have some concerns about approaching the butted sections in thinner tubing, but I've never actually DONE anything like this.

Have you found a workaround for the rear brake cable?
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Old 10-20-13, 05:48 AM
  #20  
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I have thought of pipe unions for a long time. It may add weight and need a wrench to tighten and loosen it.
Actually, the S&S coupler is a special purpose pipe union.
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Old 10-20-13, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by ak08820 View Post
I have thought of pipe unions for a long time. It may add weight and need a wrench to tighten and loosen it.
Actually, the S&S coupler is a special purpose pipe union.
The S&S coupler was originally designed as a coupler for human joints...
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Old 10-20-13, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by DiegoFrogs View Post
Have you found a workaround for the rear brake cable?
There are several options.

For derailleur cables I plan to use these:

http://www.davincitandems.com/comp.html#split

daVinci also makes a brake cable splitter, but I am not sure that is needed. If using v-brakes one could release the cable from the pinch bolt when disassembling the frame, or one could remove the one brake arm to which the cable attaches.

At this point I think I will use cantilever brakes. This yoke hanger forms a natural quick-release of sorts since one only has to pull the brake yoke cable up to release it from the brake line:

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Old 10-20-13, 12:15 PM
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You may get away without needing a rear brake splitter if all cable housing stops are slotted
to allow you to remove that portion of the cable run , from the rear section of the frame.
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Old 10-21-13, 11:14 AM
  #24  
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It is gonna be so pretty...

Yep! Sun Shiny pretty! LOL
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Old 10-21-13, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by bwgride View Post
There are several options.

For derailleur cables I plan to use these:

http://www.davincitandems.com/comp.html#split

daVinci also makes a brake cable splitter, but I am not sure that is needed. If using v-brakes one could release the cable from the pinch bolt when disassembling the frame, or one could remove the one brake arm to which the cable attaches.

At this point I think I will use cantilever brakes. This yoke hanger forms a natural quick-release of sorts since one only has to pull the brake yoke cable up to release it from the brake line:

This makes a lot of sense, especially if combined with the slotted cable stops.

Last edited by Rowan; 10-21-13 at 03:36 PM.
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