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Thread: Travel Bike Wishlist

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    Default Travel Bike Wishlist

    I know there's been some discussion on other threads, but I'm eager to see if the forum (@ginacico ?!) can help me navigate these completely foreign waters.

    As I have to travel from time to time, I'm investigating the option of buying or building a travel bike.

    I think I want a frame with S&S (aka BTC) couplers that can fit into the 26x26x10 standard-luggage-sized case.

    The only immediate option I knew about was the Surly Travelers Check, but the geometry is not quite right for me (72.5 STA is 1 too slack) and I'm a bit loath to spend $1000 on a frameset that won't fit right. So I might do a custom ti frame instead with couplers. Or maybe there are some other off-the-shelf offerings that fit better. I've started the research but it seems like most of these solutions are custom.

    As much as I love disc brakes (and had finally gotten my road, gravel/'cross/commuter, and MTB on hydro disc!), I think that rim brake might be the best practical choice here. I view road mechanical disc as an incremental upgrade (unless carbon rims are involved) and it sounds like hydro with a breakdown frame would be a huge pain in the butt. Not to mention rotors needing to come off for packing and just generally taking this from a quick re-assembly job into something quite a bit more involved.

    I'd like to keep the cost to around $2k for the complete bike. Planning to get a used groupset or buy an inexpensive complete bike with a 105 or better 11-speed group and then sell the frame. I will probably add $200-300 to that budget if I decide to build my own wheels rather than pick up some used wheels off of FB/Craigslist. The nice things about rim-brake road components is that they're a dime a dozen these days.

    Anyone else done this recently or have general pointers? Anything you think deserves some upfront consideration if spec'ing a custom frame? -- e.g. probably internal cable routing doesn't make sense? I know there are some cable couplers that I need to investigate too.
    Last edited by hozn; 12-02-2016 at 11:47 AM.

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    I was just talking to a cowoker about this yesterday. He was quoted $1100 extra to add couplers to a custom Seven dream bike. I think that's about what Bilenky chargest to retrofit an existing frame. If that's the going price, $1100 for a new Surly Traveler's Check seems like a bargain. Could a zero setback post help with the STA?

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    Quote Originally Posted by EasyRider View Post
    I was just talking to a cowoker about this yesterday. He was quoted $1100 extra to add couplers to a custom Seven dream bike. I think that's about what Bilenky chargest to retrofit an existing frame. If that's the going price, $1100 for a new Surly Traveler's Check seems like a bargain. Could a zero setback post help with the STA?
    Good point on the relative value! -- So, the 73.5 assumes 0-setback. For a 72.5 I would need a 10mm forward offset post or a 5mm forward and then jam the saddle all the way forward on rails. (A saddle with lots of adjustment room in the rails could work too, but it's not a great first choice.)

    I'm also not thrilled about canti bosses, but I could get TRP mini V brakes and I guess it would open up tire choices a bit (I imagine I'd just have to deflate bigger tires if trying to fit in the 26x26 box), but I feel like I'd be better off focusing this on just road tires. If I want a gravel bike, I would really want disc brakes.

    I see that the Salsa Vaya also has a travel edition ...

    Waltly will build a custom ti frame with 2 couplers (which essentially look the same as S&S couplers) for $1250. So that's close enough to the Surly that I might just do that to get what I want. Some risk in making sure they know what they're doing about where to put the couplers so it will fit, but it looks like they've done this before.

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    (I guess someone wanted a ss/fixed-gear travel bike?)

    2 couplers add $550 to their frame price (standard rim-brake road frame $700).

    They also offer a version where you only pay for a single coupler ($275) and then it bolts around the seatpost. I don't know if this has a name or whether this would actually fit in the box.


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    Here's a pretty sweet example of the latter:

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    I guess I should just ask them for the contact info for that buyer so I can discuss with him/her the practicality of using hydro discs on a travel build!

    Edit: I see that this latter design is actually how the Ritchey Breakaway splits, which does apparently fit in travel-sized luggage. So that's good. That drops my price down to $950 for custom ti road frame, so that sounds like the clear winner here so far.
    Last edited by hozn; 12-02-2016 at 01:09 PM.

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    That's pretty amazing, that a coupled custom Ti road frame that will fit the current "it" tires costs less than Surly.

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    The Vaya Travel was a 2015 offering, and doesn't appear to be in the Salsa lineup anymore. It also wouldn't give you the STA you want. Seven makes a travel line with all kinds of options from steel to Ti, but the prices start at nearly $5000; I couldn't see anywhere that they offer a frame only option, either.

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    FWIW, I've heard from a few people that the S&S couplers are a PITA, and not worth doing unless you fly a lot and also can't live without a perfectly fitted full size bike. For infrequent travel, even the ridiculous airline fees are less than the couplers. (Note: I've also heard horror stories about broken down bikes being charged the bike fee because it's a bike.) I've settled on renting a bike at the destination rather than spending an extra minute in an airport.

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    So, of all the wishes on the wishlist, the one that's going to kill just about any deal is the STA. Just sayin'. anything below 72-ish degrees is 'tarck bike' or CRITMONSTER type geometry for most things 700c-wheeled. 71/73 bikes have been the norm for so long it's hard to get anything far outside that without going custom.

    If we're including more "normal" geometry bikes, don't forget Ritchey breakaway frames. Most QBP-backed shops can order Ritchey frames (but not bikes), IIRC Ritchey's dealer stipulations.

    I think at the end of the day to smartest money (for as much as you'll use the bike) will be to go Waltly - and it looks like the less expensive setup is similar to the seat cluster on a Ritchey, but using an S&S style coupler on the downtube.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    FWIW, I've heard from a few people that the S&S couplers are a PITA, and not worth doing unless you fly a lot and also can't live without a perfectly fitted full size bike. For infrequent travel, even the ridiculous airline fees are less than the couplers. (Note: I've also heard horror stories about broken down bikes being charged the bike fee because it's a bike.) I've settled on renting a bike at the destination rather than spending an extra minute in an airport.
    Of the customers I've dealt with that run S&S coupled bikes, the biggest thing I've ever noticed was that those bikes get beat to shit just dealing with the process of travel. I've known a handful of partially painted Serottas/Sevens with S&S couplers and they end up looking like they got dragged behind a dump truck after a few years of breakdown+TSA+setup+ride+breakdown+TSA for every trip. Oh - and the typical cable couplers are a gigantic PITA. Better to run slotted cable stops everywhere (if you're going custom) and partially decable the bike to pack it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Meatmotor View Post
    So, of all the wishes on the wishlist, the one that's going to kill just about any deal is the STA. Just sayin'. anything below 72-ish degrees is 'tarck bike' or CRITMONSTER type geometry for most things 700c-wheeled. 71/73 bikes have been the norm for so long it's hard to get anything far outside that without going custom.

    If we're including more "normal" geometry bikes, don't forget Ritchey breakaway frames. Most QBP-backed shops can order Ritchey frames (but not bikes), IIRC Ritchey's dealer stipulations.

    I think at the end of the day to smartest money (for as much as you'll use the bike) will be to go Waltly - and it looks like the less expensive setup is similar to the seat cluster on a Ritchey, but using an S&S style coupler on the downtube.
    Ah, I probably wasn't clear there. I need a 73.5 seat-tube-angle (which is what the Ritchey Breakaway has). This still seems to be pretty common for road bikes, but it does often happen that for sizes larger than 56 the seat tubes are more slack. Most people have femurs that are more in proportion, I guess I can work with 73 too, but 72.5 is making the adjustment more than I can usually get on a saddle without some forward-offset help. Of course, I can ride a bike that has me too far behind the pedals for a few days, but I just balk a bit at buying a frame that I know ahead of time isn't quite right

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    I guess you could always get a tri style seatpost that lets you have forward setback but otherwise I'd agree with the Waltly. I've never used S&S couplers before.

    A mullet set up with a front mech disc might be easy-ish to travel with. The cable wouldn't have to be removed, and you could use centerlock for quicker removal/install. Wouldn't really matter if the lever was squeezed during transit (unlike hydro!) A little goofy looking but perhaps the best of both worlds. Depending on the fork you could fit wider tires too for gravel/etc. (In my experience the rear tire width doesn't matter as much anyway as long as it's puncture resistant.) And even with a QR fork you can easily use any existing thru axle wheels with an adapter.

    Also just sharing my experience: I bought my folding bike about 5 years ago under the premise I'd fly with it for free (amongst other premises), but I only ever did it once. Every other time I ended up just renting/borrowing a bike at the destination (BYO pedals, shoes, helmet, etc.). Faffing around with an extra suitcase at airport transfers, etc. and then having to dis-/re-assemble parts of the bike while on vacation just never seemed quite worth it. I'd consider sending my full-size bike in advance if possible (BikeFlights or similar) ahead of dealing with actually flying with a travel bike - although that still involves re-assembly, risk of damage, etc.

    If I were to pick a travel bike again I'd probably stay with a folding bike but a SS/FG and probably belt drive (greasy chains in suitcases/hotels = yuck), and a front disc brake. (Obviously this wouldn't work for the Alps or Colorado, etc.)

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