Peruvian Budget Travel Bike

I love my S&S coupler bike. It’s great for bike vacations and when I can expect to spend about a week somewhere with good riding far from home. The problem is, it’s a pretty involved process to pull it apart, case it, and re-assemble. I typically spend an hour on each side of the trip.

(click on either pic for more images)

I travel a lot for work, and an simpler travel bike has been on my mind for a while. Most of the destinations I work are generally pretty flat so single speed seemed logical. I debated over Brompton, Tern, Bike Friday, and Dahon, and finally eliminated them all for one reason or another. Cost was a key driver and those just didn’t offer what I wanted (drop bar) in any reasonable configuration or price point.

I stumbled across Velolucuma bike polo bikes on eBay and starting digging. After asking a couple questions of Axel, the guy who appears to be running things state-side the idea got pretty interesting. I wanted a fixed gear bike for training and simple riding. I wanted brake mounts and a traditional road fork. I was a bit worried about the geometry, but Axel was able to adjust that for me no problem. Bike Polo angles are pretty similar to relaxed track angles which was what I was after. I did some part-nerding out and scoured eBay for the pieces I needed. After realizing I could do it cheaply, I talked more details with Axel and ordered an essentially custom frame from their hand-crafted framemakers…in Peru. I got the brake bridge instead of disc mounts and posts. I got skipped cable routing because I may actually try the thing on the track. I sent my money, ordered some parts, and waited. More detail after the jump…

6 weeks later, I had my frame and started putting it together. The coupler approach is quazi-Ritchey design. The seat tube is the same opposing tube approach. The bottom bracket instead does a sleeve and pinch. So far it seems really solid. If it works for bike polo, it’s probably fine for what I’m after. I trimmed out the bike with SRAM and Ritchey stuff that I have grown accustomed to. I probably went a little overboard on the cranks and fork (together cost a good bit more than the frame), but I figured if nothing else worked, at least I’d have a leg up on a nice track bike.

I’ve yet to travel with it, but the parts fit nicely into my S&S hard case. I’m running a 48-16 fixed for now, and will try it on the track with a 48-14 which won’t need a chain change.

So what wasn’t quite right? Well, the paint seems a little cheap. I’m not that worried about it, but it’s no Waterford. In the ordering process I had asked for bottle bosses and they didn’t happen, but I’m not that worried about it. The one thing that did cause a little concern was the rear brake boss was high. Certainly not optimal, but given that they usually have a jig setup for posts or disc mounts I can see where that might go wrong. I snugged up the hub all the way forward and still had to dremel a little extra reach into my Apex rear caliper.

On the whole I’m really happy with it. If you’re looking for a lower-cost option for traveling it’s a great place to start. Axel is very happy to help and real responsive. I’m digging it.

It costs about $1500, compared to 4 times that for a geared Ti S&S bike that the Bike Huggers normally travel with.



3 Comments

Hey Andrew,
Looks like it is TIG welded - depending on the steel they used you could just have it powder-coated for a more durable finish. Otherwise I think you should just have it reshot in a few years when it starts having larger blemishes. Hope it works well fora few years of good use.

@Tony - I think that’s where I’ll probably end up. I had real good luck with powdercoating my Coppi and it looks great. 

I’ll probably post a bit more after my first trip with this rig.

Dude, when you repaint it, do it in white and you can call it the Peruvian flake! Also, for readers just tuning into travel bikes with either a system like this, Ritchey, hinges, or S&S couples, see what we’ve done with the Modal concept…it has a rear end that allows for various setups: singled, fixed, geared, internal

http://bikehugger.com/tag/modal

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