What kind of titanium do you use and why?
Our frame tubes are made from 3Al-2.5V titanium, which offers excellent forming and welding characteristics. Machined parts of the frame — head tubes, bottom bracket shells, couplers, dropouts, cable stops, bottle bosses — are made from 6Al-4V titanium, which is a little bit stiffer for cleaner machining. Machining and welding titanium require cleanliness, patience, and attention to detail. Bicycle frames made of titanium can be lightweight, laterally stiff, vertically compliant, and durable. These properties make titanium a perfect choice for fully custom or low volume production bicycles. At this time, we make all of our frames to order. Even our “semi-custom” models have 48 variants, so it’s not practical for us to keep complete frames in stock.
Are titanium tandems noodley or whippy?
We’ve gotten this question a lot. In short, titanium tandem frames can be very flexible, but they don’t have to be. We’ve engineered the lateral and torsional stiffness of our tandem frames such that the riders should not notice lateral deflection of their cranks under load. In other words, it’s “laterally stiff” like one would expect from a high-end carbon or aluminum single bike. We’ve seen plenty of tandem frames of all popular materials that would be less stiff under load.
What finishes are available?
Our basic and most popular finished is “brushed titanium”. From a distance, this finish appears bright, reflective, or polished. Up close, however, you’ll see grain lines from the scour pads used to create the finish. This finish is highly resistant to scuffing. If scratches or wear marks develop, the finish can be quickly restored with Scotch Brite (i.e. kitchen scour pads). Our anodized graphics are applied to the brushed surface.
“Bead blast titanium” is a gray matte surface. Anodized graphics really pop from a bead blast background. The bead blast finish is durable, but it does show dirt, grease, and spilled sports drinks more than the brushed finish.
What is titanium anodizing?
Titanium naturally forms a thin oxide layer when exposed to air. The thickness of that oxide layer can be changed to reflect different colors of light. The result is a colorful finish that’s just as durable and lightweight as the rest of the frame. Because the colors we see are the result of this natural phenomena, we can produce a limited range of colors. The titanium anodize color options are: bronze, brown, purple, periwinkle, royal blue, sky blue, straw yellow, gold, and pink. We can fade any adjacent colors in that list, too.
How many couplers should we get?
Each pair of couplers adds roughly 1lb to the frame weight. Prices for complete bikes with couplers include luggage, padding, and cable splitters or extended brake hose.
A tandem with 1 set of couplers packs quickly into an EVOC XL or Thule Round Trip Pro single bike case. The advantages over no couplers are: case fits in a taxi; can fit the bike in a trunk, train, or boat if needed. Domestic airlines charge $75 and up per flight with these cases. $150/flight is typical for transatlantic travel. Thrifty travelers may opt to fit the frameset in an Orucase Airport Ninja or B2, while carrying the wheels in a separate double wheelbag or S&S softcase.
A tandem with 2 sets of couplers costs a little more upfront, but pays for itself in a few flights. We recommend 1 S&S hardcase and 1 S&S softcase with this option. Within your baggage allowance, these always fly free. A bonus with 2 sets of couplers is that the front half of the bike can be removed without adjusting the sync chain, which can be handy for quick train or car trips.
How tight should the couplers be?
Tighten the couplers with the included coupler wrench. Lean on the wrench with about 60lb of force at the end. If needed, you can get more leverage by inserting a 3/8 inch square or 6, 8, or 10mm hex key into the coupler wrench.
Each time you put the bike together, tighten them after your first hour or so of riding. Tighten the couplers again every 100 hours of riding, or more frequently if you’re on rough roads.
How often should I clean the couplers?
The threads and teeth of the couplers must be clean of all dirt or grit before assembling. Dirty couplers are likely to creak.
Clean dirty couplers with a rag or paper towel. Apply fresh pure Teflon grease (such as the Extreme Fluoro grease included with each coupled bike).