by Karl Rosengarth
The purpose: This bike is designed for the frequent flyer who wants to travel with a serious, off road companion. The Co-Pilot's frame comes in two pieces, allowing the bike to be disassembled and packed into a 26x26x10" case that can be checked onto the airline disguised as normal luggage. If you travel with a bicycle and the sum sucking airline recognizes it as a bicycle, they'll charge you $40 (each way.)
The price: Complete bike with standard travel case $1995 (hardcase upgrade add $75.) Frame only $935.
The ride: The Tange double butted chromoly tubing gave no indication that it had been cut in the middle and then rejoined with S and S Machine's innovative "Torque Coupling". The ride "feel" was similar to other chromoly frames I've ridden.
Good all-around handling. The geometry is conventional: head angle 71.5, seat angle 74, size 16", top tube length 22", chainstay length 16.9" and bottom bracket height 11.75".
For a guy who's turned more than a few wrenches, the bike was relatively easy to disassemble, pack, unpack and reassemble. Instructions were adequate in this area. Those unfamiliar with bicycle nuts and bolts may want to have a more experienced friend help them through their first assembly.
The torque coupling, built by the S and S Machine Company is a well designed piece of precision CNC machining. The beveled spline teeth on either side of the frame coupling lock together securely to produce a joint that is stronger than the tubing itself. These folks actually had data to show that the coupling was stronger and stiffer than the tubing (in tension and in torque testing.) With the exception of my initial ride, the torque coupling never loosened up on me, despite hard riding on rocky terrain. I suspect that I did not have it tight enough the first time.
Slipped the bike right past the airline baggage check dude-he can collect that $40 from some other chump. Fit the bike into the trunk of that compact rental car that was waiting for me at the airport-no problem.
Chromoly frame hand crafted in the U.S. of A. The fit and finish of the Co-Pilot was very good.
Dislikes: No easy way to quantify how tight you've got the torque coupling. This led me to under tighten the coupling on my first ride (it was a bit loose by the end of the ride.) Once re-tightened, however, it held tight throughout several weeks of harsh testing. Tip: honk down hard on the coupling to start. Checking the coupling after every ride makes sense to me.
There are dozens of foam pads for protecting the frame tubes and the couplings. Unfortunately, the foam pieces aren't labeled. The hardest part of packing the bike was trying to figure out where all the foam pieces fit (it all seemed soooo simple as I tore them off to unpack the bike.)
A special spanner is required to tighten the torque coupling. One more tool for the absent minded to misplace.
Components of note: Stuff good enough to take some abuse without giving you much in return. Much LX stuff: HS, BB, crankset, derailleurs, canties and hubs. Mavic 217 rims, Gripshift SRT600, Dia-Compe P-7 brake levers. Rock Shox Quadra 21-R up front.
Special notes: Co-Motion stocks the Co-Motion Off Road in 16, 18.5 and 20" frame sizes. In addition to building this two piece traveling kinda bike, they've been hand crafting tandem and single bike frames since 1988. Co-Motion isn't the only frame builder to embrace the S and S Machine torque coupling. Its worth noting that Co-Motion is part of a long list of reputable builders who have started building frames with the torque coupling. Co-Motion is one of the few builders who have torque-coupled frames in stock for immediate delivery, (others typically build to order.)
Contact: Co-Motion Cycles 541-.342.4583. S and S Machine 916.771.0235. - The Ghost of an American Airman
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