The bicycle like a boomerang

I’ve posted before about my own travel bike, a custom Sycip with S&S couplings. I designed the bike for maximum versatility. By changing out handlebars, rear wheels, and other peripheral components, the bike can become a road fixie, a TT bike, a touring bike, or a road racing bike. Someday I’d like to do a cyclocross race with it, just to say that I’ve done it all with that bike. I’ve been almost 20 countries with it, and it’s outlasted two relationships. It’s a great formula that inspired Byron’s Davidson Modal bike, but my bike did have a predecessor.

Sycip Boomerang.jpg

Here’s my current Sycip in front of the predecessor, just yesterday.

A few years before I had another Sycip made with S&S couplings. I designed it as a single-speed cyclocross bike; it had the Surly track dropouts without a derailleur hanger. It was a fun bike with a radically sloping top tube and big tire clearance (almost 29er class). I had that bike because I was working frequently as a travel assistant for a world-traveling musician. That bike had been to Osaka, Copenhagen, Regensburg, Warsaw, and Eindhoven among other cities. But I had to make room for my definitive travel bike, so I sold the cyclocross on eBay years ago to a woman in Texas.

Flash forward to yesterday. A guy by the name of Chris Bynum stops in with an S&S Sycip. He gigs as an instrument tech for Leonard Cohen, who’s just about to start a four month world tour. He had some questions about packing the bike in the travel case, and he came to just the right person in just the right shop out of the whole world. Why? Because it’s my old bike!

It turns out Chris bought it from the same woman in Austin that bought the bike from me. In fact, if Chris hadn’t been working a gig elsewhere in town, he probably would have been at our party we hosted with Mellow Johnny’s. We and our bikes just narrowly missed each other. So funny.

It’s cool to see my old bike. Though the bike has a flatbar rather than a drop and different pedals, it had almost all the stickers I had plastered it with years ago. I think back to my other bikes (and there’s been many); I wonder where they are now.


That’s freak’in crazy.

When you fly with a coupled bike like that, do you still have to pay extra for the bike? I am assuming the 700c wheels don’t fit inside a standard airline suitcase. Am I right?

I am interested in getting a full size coupled touring bike, but don’t know if it would be worth the money, since I would still have to pay extra to fly it on an airplane.

Any advice you have in this area would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Darren Alff

It’s awesome when you find your old rides. Just yesterday a guy on twitter that I sold my first road bike to several years ago messaged me to say the bike is still running and he recently scored 7th place in a road race on it.

Wow. Did he have a case as stickered as yours for it? Reminds me we need to post some more features on travel bikes.

Testing commenting with the new Facebook Connect shit.

No, you don’t pay extra if you use the S&S case.  The 10” deep case is exactly at the oversize limit, and almost no one gets charged for using the 12” deep case.  The wheels fit in the case and the bike frame and components fit in the space left over.  Keep in mind that some airlines charge by weight, though, so don’t overload the case with crap.

If you want to go full-touring, get the 12” case to make things easier with panniers and racks.  You might not be able to fit the racks in the case, so maybe you’ll be forced to stow them in your regular suitcase.  Every bike fits a little different in the case, so it’s hard to generalize.

If you’re only doing one trip, the cost of the bike with couplings plus the case and accessories will be steep, but if you plan on flying 3 or more times a year for the next 2-3 years, it will pay for itself.  Also, don’t underestimate how hard it is to get a taxi in a foreign city if you need them to take a full bike case.

The S&S system is just awesome.  I highly recommend.

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