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.
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.