Steve Bilenky hooked up with S and S Machine at the end of 1993 to see if Bilenky Cycle Works would be interested in using the torque couplings as an option on our custom bicycles. We thought it looked like a pretty good idea, and figured we had nothing to loose but whatever hours we spent on a prototype travel bike.
This bike is the one we made with our first sample set of Torque Couplings. It is a variant of Steve Bilenky's Clubsman design with 26" road wheels, and it is sized for Steve. The 26" wheels give a really lively ride and allow plenty of standover clearance for shorter riders. Steve uses it most days to commute the two and a half miles to the shop. I have put a lot of miles on this bike myself running errands around Philadelphia and other cities. I love this bike but Steve loves it more. The sport/touring geometry lends itself to quick handling in traffic, and fitted with wider tyres the wheels are suitable for our treacherous streets. Tubing is Reynolds 531 with round chainstays and 753 seatstays.
We are convinced that the couplings don't affect the ride, and in fact we have had prospective customers ride this bike just to demonstrate our work, not because they have originally come to us looking for a travel bike. The frame is comfortable and sprightly.
We have taken this bike from Philadelphia to trade shows in Chicago, L.A. Seattle and England. We have also sent the bike to several potential customers to evaluate. I also use it to demonstrate packing travel bikes in the cases, so it has been assembled and disassembled many times. Now almost three years old it has a few scratches but it is a great ride and it shows no signs of any wear or problems with the couplings. The frame has a powder coat finish which makes a lot of sense for a bike like this that is always being taken apart and put back together. These finishes are also a lot more attractive than they used to be.
These days we would probably change the configuration of the braze-ons from what this bike has. Our experience with the coupling system has allowed us to experiment and figure out that mountain bike style top-pull cable routing works best with the couplings. Of course, some people prefer the conventional road set up that this Clubsman has and that works pretty well with the quick cable disconnects that are now available.