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Frame Choice for S&S Connectors - Advice

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Frame Choice for S&S Connectors - Advice

Old 06-01-19, 08:01 PM
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Frame Choice for S&S Connectors - Advice

I have several nice road bikes but I want a travel bike. I considered folding bikes but decided against that option. So I am going to go with S&S Connectors. I have been looking for a decent quality vintage steel framed road bike that is in good solid frame condition. Not concerned about the paint/decals since once the S&S connectors are brazed in I will need to have the frame powder coated.

I thought I wanted a vintage sport/endurance or touring frame with some decent tubing. Not to high line that I would feel bad cutting it but not a Hi-Ten frame. More like a mid-line CrMo frame double butting.

I was talking with a guy that is pretty knowledgeable about vintage bikes. He suggested I avoid a higher line frame and go with a slightly heavier frame. He thought that the thinner walled tubes may not work as well with S&S connectors. He was like get a vintage Schwinn World Tour or Fuji S-10.

This surprised me a bit. I see his logic. But it seems to me that if I am going to spend the money to have S&S connectors installed that the frame that I should find a frame with a fairly decent tube set that is worth installing the S&S connectors in.

I am would like to hear your thoughts. What type of vintage frame should I be looking for to have the S&S connectors installed in - a basic hi-ten frame either straight wall or butted or a better frame with thinner CrMo steel that is double butted?
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Old 06-01-19, 08:28 PM
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Get a bike that you like to ride. No other priority that I see if one has already settled on the issues of S&S break down and packing.

While I only have one S&S bike and only built two S&S coupled frames I have worked on/dealt with dozens of various travel bikes over the years. It seems to me that going the S&S route retains much/all of the ride/fit qualities of a non coupled bike. But at the "cost" of a time consuming packing/unpacking, not that this is an issue for me. So if one is compacting down their bike frequently and in locations that are not bike assembly friendly S&S might not be the best choice. Andy
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Old 06-02-19, 04:57 AM
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I got my S&S Lemond bike from a Trek exec, who had the brazing and painting done in-house. It is a joy to ride. I wouldn't cut a unique or "rare" frame in half, but I would absolutely suggest using a really good frame. Otherwise what's the point. It's not terribly convenient. The cool thing is that when you do re-assemble, you have your own , dialed-in bike to ride, where ever you are.

My LeMond was not ridden by Greg himself, but was ridden next to him, (not by me). As close as I'm going to get to Greg *';""$&@ LeMond's cycling greatness.
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Old 06-02-19, 05:25 AM
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I have interest in a C & V steel touring bike, finished build or needs work. I definitely want a decent frame with strong tubing and enough braze-ons for racks, bottles, fenders. I think the ideal bike for me would have Reynolds 531, Ishiwata or Columbus tubing. Also, a frame/fork that will fit up to 37 mm tires, maybe one that could be converted to 650s. This is something I am not in a hurry for, and actually do not need.
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Old 06-02-19, 07:31 AM
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I had a Co-Motion Co-Pilot (single) bike steel frame that was ordered OEM with S&S couplers and the ride was indistinguishable from a non-coupled bike. Disassemble and reassembly took some time and practice but wasn't too onerous once I got used to it. You do need a way to store and retrieve the packing case while on and after your trip.

I would recommend you buy a factory coupled frame rather than retrofitting the couplers to an existing frame. That pretty much assures the frame is made of suitable tubing and is properly aligned. The cost of the retrofit by a good, reliable frame builder followed by the repaint or powdercoat will be enough that buying a properly equipped premade frame won't be that much more. Retrofits can sometimes be dicy and I can see no advantage to a "vintage" steel frame.

The S&S web site is a goldmine of information and frame manufacturer recommendations.

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Old 06-02-19, 07:13 PM
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I'd go full custom from a builder that offers S&S as an option, like a Steve Rex. He does a lot of retrofits too though.



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Old 06-02-19, 08:56 PM
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Rodriguez '6 pack' , a custom bike built in Seattle uses a lot of them .. to get the travel size small..
406 wheels.. towards same goal ..
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Old 06-02-19, 09:20 PM
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If high end steel frames are used as examples and one is non coupled OEM but retrofitted later and the other frame is designed from the beginning for couplers what will the difference be? Of course to be fair as many specs will be the same as possible.

The non coupled but later retrofitted frame likely will have the TT and DT butt locations overlap with the coupler. In other words the tube wall will be less then the thicker ends are. The scratch built coupled frame might have tubes with shorter central sections and the couplers will sit in a end of tube wall thickness. Is this important or a significant issue?

The common wall thicknesses of butted tubes are .9/.6/.9 MMs (.035"/.023"/.035"), .8/.5/.8 and .7/.4/.7 (there are others and differing combinations of these walls but the .3mm difference is very common). I'll say here that the lightest gage tubes typically are not used for S&S frames in for no other reason that least weight is a lower priority then best ride and travel performance. So the likelihood of a .4mm wall ending up joined to one side of a coupler is rather unlikely. .5mm walls, or more, are far more likely to be found on the lighter coupled frames. Many non coupled frames have been made with .5 or .6 non butted tubing with no ill results, ASSUMING good brazing/finishing practices this can work for a coupled frame as well.

Now the from scratch S&S frame might have a shorter center section and so the coupler joint will fall on the thicker transition or end section. The gain is more strength (not that lack of strength is a common failure mode at all), more wall to tolerate under cutting during filing or overheating during brazing. (Both less likely with an experienced builder). The loss is a few grams of more frame weight. (Again) since the couplers already add far more grams this slight increase of a specific made for S&S frame seems to me as a non issue.

The only two S&S frames I built I speced short butt profiles and kept the couplers in the thick/edge of transition wall thickness sections. I placed the couplers in the tubes before the main frame was jigged up or completed. Many others will build the frame uncoupled then cut and add them, much like a retrofit is done. Andy
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