Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => Gear Talk => Topic started by: tbessie on November 16, 2017, 03:10:17 pm

 
Title: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: tbessie on November 16, 2017, 03:10:17 pm
Hi all...

So I currently have two touring bikes - one is a Bruce Gordon Rock n' Road Tour; the other is a Surly Long-Haul Trucker that I had chopped into two and S&S couplers put on.

I like them both, but I'm currently attempting to consolidate my road and touring bikes.

For the touring bikes, I decided to get a custom-made titanium frame to cut down on weight, S&S-coupled, and as part of this I want to choose brakes and wheel size to better fit in the S&S case.

I visited the frame-maker last weekend, and discussed options with him. I asked him how he felt about getting 26" wheels and mechanical disc brakes to reduce packed size for the bike in the case. He said that that might work, though he felt that 26" was slowly dying, and that 27.5" (650b) might be a better choice. He also showed me a cantilever brake he thought might also work well (a Paul Racer Medium brake).

If any of you have an S&S coupled bike and have some knowledge in this regard, what do you think would be best for 1) compact size in S&S case and 2) future-proofing (to some extent) the bike?

As it is, my current coupled bike is 700c with cantilever brakes, and the wheels barely fit in the case (and I have to remove the tires), and the brakes poke up and get in the way a bit. I'm not sure if other styles of cantilever brakes, or even mechanical disc brakes, would make it easier, as I haven't tried them yet. Also, the builder commented that sometimes packing in a case could dent the disc rotor, which wouldn't be a fun thing as it could cause uneven brake performance, noise, etc.

I was thinking that caliper brakes would probably be the least bulky, but I've been told that they aren't dependably strong enough when, say, going downhill fast fully loaded.

So - any opinions, thoughts, or suggestions?

- Tim
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: DaveB on November 16, 2017, 05:28:09 pm
I had a 56 cm Co-Motion single with S&S couplers and 700c wheels and 700-23 tires  The wheels with tires would just fit. I did deflate the tires but did not have to remove them.  As to brakes, regular road caliper brakes pack easily with no problems. 
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: tbessie on November 16, 2017, 05:49:32 pm
I had a 56 cm Co-Motion single with S&S couplers and 700c wheels and 700-23 tires  The wheels with tires would just fit. I did deflate the tires but did not have to remove them.  As to brakes, regular road caliper brakes pack easily with no problems.

I generally ride around a 56 as well, so we're likely similarly sized.

The 700c wheels on the Long-Haul Trucker don't fit with the tires on, even if deflated, and they're only 32mm tires.  Perhaps my packing stills aren't as good as they should be. :-)

What do you think about road caliper braking power on a fully loaded bike?  They seem discouraged.

- TIm
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: RussSeaton on November 16, 2017, 06:12:36 pm
I was thinking that caliper brakes would probably be the least bulky, but I've been told that they aren't dependably strong enough when, say, going downhill fast fully loaded.

I don't know who told you this, but its nonsense.  Until the last couple years, every touring bike used cantilever brakes.  Or in the olden days maybe they used center pull calipers.  Most of them made it down every mountain road in the world just fine.  I'm sure someone crashed on the way down, but I don't know if it was due to bad brakes or bad steering or some other reason.  Cantilever brakes wok just fine on a loaded touring bike in the Dolomites, Alps, and Rockies.  These are the only mountains I've ridden my cantilever braked loaded touring bike.  Hit 60 mph down the Rockies.

As for 26" wheels and tires going the way of the dinosaur, I don't think so.  Its not as trendy now as 29" or even 650B, but its still a world wide standard tire size.  Look online and you will find many, many, many 26" tires being sold by every single bike shop in the world.  In every part of the world.
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: tbessie on November 16, 2017, 06:20:33 pm
I was thinking that caliper brakes would probably be the least bulky, but I've been told that they aren't dependably strong enough when, say, going downhill fast fully loaded.

I don't know who told you this, but its nonsense.  Until the last couple years, every touring bike used cantilever brakes.  Or in the olden days maybe they used center pull calipers.  Most of them made it down every mountain road in the world just fine.  I'm sure someone crashed on the way down, but I don't know if it was due to bad brakes or bad steering or some other reason.  Cantilever brakes wok just fine on a loaded touring bike in the Dolomites, Alps, and Rockies.  These are the only mountains I've ridden my cantilever braked loaded touring bike.  Hit 60 mph down the Rockies.

I think you may have misread what I wrote - I'm talking about calipers, but you're talking about how well cantilevers worked for you... were you saying that calipers worked great on fully loaded touring bikes, or cantilevers, or both, or...?

- Tim
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: RonK on November 16, 2017, 07:48:31 pm
Personally I can't see the point of having S&S couplers. Unless you are travelling regularly they don't seem good value. And then you have to store the case or forward it to your end point.

But if I was building such a bike today I would choose 650B wheels and disc brakes. With cantilever brakes I've had some very anxious moments trying to rein in my loaded bike, hands cramping from squeezing the levers.

I built my current bike with disc brakes and they have definitely been a big improvement, so I can now descend at speed with confidence, knowing that when I arrive at a hairpin bend I'll be able to slow enough to take it safely.

 If you are concerned about bending the discs, build the wheels with centerlock hubs and the discs will be easily removed when packing the bike. Even 6-bolt discs are no great effort to remove if necessary. I always remove my discs for travel.
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: tbessie on November 16, 2017, 08:04:32 pm
Personally I can't see the point of having S&S couplers. Unless you are travelling regularly they don't seem good value. And then you have to store the case or forward it to your end point.

Well for me, it makes sense; I take my bike for trips overseas, and I use public transport to get all my gear and the bike to several places before I eventually assemble and disassemble it.  Lots of trains I use don't allow fully-sized bikes onboard (eg. TGV trains).  Getting to and from the airport with several large bags AND a bicycle would be impossible for me.  The only way all that lugging around on public transport and to/from the airport works for me is to have the bike in a case.

Yeah, assembling and disassembling is kind of a pain, but the way I travel, it ends up being easier.

Quote
But if I was building such a bike today I would choose 650B wheels and disc brakes. With cantilever brakes I've had some very anxious moments trying to rein in my loaded bike, hands cramping from squeezing the levers.

I built my current bike with disc brakes and they have definitely been a big improvement, so I can now descend at speed with confidence, knowing that when I arrive at a hairpin bend I'll be able to slow enough to take it safely.

 If you are concerned about bending the discs, build the wheels with centerlock hubs and the discs will be easily removed when packing the bike. Even 6-bolt discs are no great effort to remove if necessary. I always remove my discs for travel.

Do you use hydraulic or cable disc brakes?

- Tim
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: RonK on November 16, 2017, 09:15:57 pm
Do you use hydraulic or cable disc brakes?
I use cable disc brakes. I'd prefer hydraulic, but the price of hydraulic drop bar levers is too steep.

So I have a 2x10 setup with Sram Apex levers and TRP Spyre calipers.

I'm not sure about the practicality of hydraulic brakes on a coupled bike, however I believe quick connectors are available.
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: Inge on November 17, 2017, 12:50:12 am
Wheel size if you can get it to fit in a case my choice would be a 29er for it runs more smoothly than 26" + it gets slowly more and more difficult to get 26" tyres across the globe.

As for brakes I have BB7 discbrakes on mine and like them very much since they are easy to repair and give plenty brakepower. If I would have to replace these brakes I would probably go for https://www.trpcycling.com/ (https://www.trpcycling.com/) since they are semi haudraulic but still very easy to repair.
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: DaveB on November 17, 2017, 08:34:10 am
Wheel size if you can get it to fit in a case my choice would be a 29er for it runs more smoothly than 26" + it gets slowly more and more difficult to get 26" tyres across the globe.
29er wheels (ISO 622) are the same as 700c but with even bigger tires.  My 700-23 wheels and tires barely fit in the S&S case and then only after mostly deflating the tires.  Anything bigger would be hopeless.

650B/27.5 (ISO 584) wheels would fit even with reasonably large tires and, of course, 26" wheels (ISO 559) and tires would be a slam-dunk.  While 26" wheels and tires have tires are no longer "fashionable" for MTBs they will be widely available for the next several decades so that isn't a consideration.

Another but less likely wheel choice is 650c (ISO 571) which are available in road width rims and tires and would fit the S&S case easily but are relatively rare.  They were used on road bikes intended for smaller riders several years ago but you don't see them very often these days. 
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: Pat Lamb on November 17, 2017, 11:11:18 am
Consolidate bikes?  What are you thinking!?!?!  :)

I've taken my S&S bike on at least one business trip a year since I bought it; it's paid for the couplers, at least, on airline fees.

My bike takes 700Cx28 tires (might fit 32s, I've never tried), and I've never had trouble stopping as much as 300 pounds with the road calipers.  The rear stays on the frame, the front comes off the fork (since I have to take the fork off my bike to fit it in the case), and the brakes have never been a problem fitting in the case.  You or your builder will have to look around a bit to find the long drop brakes for larger tires, but they are available.

I like to tour with 32-35s, but the fun (travel) bike is pretty good with 28s.  Rear wheel fits with the tires deflated.  I'll usually deflate and remove the front tire if it's going on a plane, because TSA is barely competent to close the case.  They can't be bothered to replace the tops of the case spreaders, which pop off if the front tire is still on the rim, and then bad things happen when the gorilla baggage handlers get hold of the bike case.

During off hours on travel, I like to sample local bike shops.  I've seen 650B tires in exactly two shops.  26" slicks are a little more common, but not much.  I mention this because I've needed to replace tires on multiple tours and trips; almost every LBS in the US will have a 700C tire that will work.  (I don't know about foreign shops.)  You may be better than I at checking the bike over before it goes out on a trip, or you may want to carry a spare tire as part of your kit in case you wear one out or slash a tire.  Sitting in a motel room, looking at the bike you lugged over there, and thinking, "I have just what I need to fix this in the bedroom back home" is not fun.


Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: RussSeaton on November 17, 2017, 02:36:52 pm
I was thinking that caliper brakes would probably be the least bulky, but I've been told that they aren't dependably strong enough when, say, going downhill fast fully loaded.

I don't know who told you this, but its nonsense.  Until the last couple years, every touring bike used cantilever brakes.  Or in the olden days maybe they used center pull calipers.  Most of them made it down every mountain road in the world just fine.  I'm sure someone crashed on the way down, but I don't know if it was due to bad brakes or bad steering or some other reason.  Cantilever brakes wok just fine on a loaded touring bike in the Dolomites, Alps, and Rockies.  These are the only mountains I've ridden my cantilever braked loaded touring bike.  Hit 60 mph down the Rockies.

I think you may have misread what I wrote - I'm talking about calipers, but you're talking about how well cantilevers worked for you... were you saying that calipers worked great on fully loaded touring bikes, or cantilevers, or both, or...?

- Tim

I guess we have some confusion.  When I say caliper brakes I mean all brakes that are not disc brakes.  When you say caliper brakes you mean only side pull or center pull brakes.  OK.  Cantilever brakes are a form of caliper for me but for you they are their own category.  OK.  We agree disc are completely separate.  Long ago, back when Adventure Cycling started and did the 1976 Bike Centennial, your caliper brakes were the only brakes used by all the touring bikes that rode across the USA in 1976.  Cantilever brakes existed, but most or all brakes on touring bikes in the early years were center pull caliper brakes.  Google center pull caliper brakes to see a picture of them.  They are about the same as side pull caliper brakes except the cable attaches to the caliper arms in the center instead of off to the side like you see on all side pull racing bikes.  I have not read many stories of all the 1976 cross country riders dying while descending the mountains.  So apparently center pull caliper brakes work just fine for stopping loaded touring bikes going down mountains.  Caliper brakes are more than dependably strong to stop a loaded touring bike going down a mountain.  As for bulkiness, I've never given this much thought about brakes.  No brakes, caliper, cantilever, or disc are bulky.  But I suppose caliper brakes take up the most space and are the most bulky.  Although maybe disc are close with the discs and pads.  Cantilever are the least bulky.
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: Pat Lamb on November 17, 2017, 04:00:23 pm
Russ, thanks for explaining your language.  What you call "caliper" brakes includes everything I've seen called "rim" brakes.

I think the point Tim was making w.r.t. cantilever brakes was that the way they stick out makes it difficult to pack his bike in the case.  That's why I was mentioning that my caliper brakes (what you prefer to call "sidepull") are adequate for stopping and easy to pack.

Packing an S&S bike is one of the few times I've wished I were shorter.  If I were shorter, I could leave the crank on and just take off the pedals.  Maybe I could even pack the bike without taking the fork off!
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: tbessie on November 17, 2017, 04:32:22 pm
Thanks for the explanations, folks!  Yeah, by "caliper brakes", I meant the kind of rim brake most commonly found on road bikes, eg:

https://static.evanscycles.com/production/components/brakes/product-image/969-638/shimano-ultegra-r650-dual-pivot-brake-caliper-front-EV175376-9999-1.jpg

... and by "cantilever" brakes I meant ones like this:

http://chainreactioncycles.scene7.com/is/image/ChainReactionCycles/prod70117_IMGSET?wid=500&hei=505

The latter are what I currently have on my touring bikes.  They do tend to stick out and get in the way when packing up my S&S coupled bike in its case, and I was hoping to find something that is easier to pack and takes up a minimum of space, doesn't stick out, and is just as good as far as braking power on a fully loaded bike as the cantilevers.

- Tim
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: tbessie on November 17, 2017, 04:33:22 pm
Packing an S&S bike is one of the few times I've wished I were shorter.  If I were shorter, I could leave the crank on and just take off the pedals.  Maybe I could even pack the bike without taking the fork off!

I know the feeling - my bike's around a 56cm in size, and things are pretty difficult to pack in the case.

- Tim
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: RussSeaton on November 17, 2017, 06:57:33 pm
Maybe I should change by category of brakes.  Disc, Caliper, and Cantilever.  But on the concept of them sticking out too far and not fitting in a case, there are VERY different widths of cantilever brakes.

These are the traditional, wide, stick out to the side cantilever brakes.

https://www.competitivecyclist.com/avid-shorty-ultimate-brake?skid=AVI0091-BK-FRO&CMP_SKU=AVI0091&MER=0406&CSPID=0914&mr:trackingCode=69399CAA-E481-E511-80FA-0050569475F3&mr:referralID=NA&mr:device=c&mr:adType=plaonline&mr:ad=185070668574&mr:keyword=&mr:match=&mr:tid=pla-379278108929&mr:ploc=9017849&mr:iloc=&mr:store=&mr:filter=379278108929&CMP_ID=PLA_GOc014&CSPID=0914&utm_source=Google&utm_medium=PLA&k_clickid=204b292b-32e3-44e7-8b19-411e35d48305&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIp8ik6uTG1wIV3rfACh0jtA_qEAQYAiABEgJiyfD_BwE

http://www.jensonusa.com/Tektro-CR720-Cantilever-Brake/?utm_source=FRGL&utm_medium=organic&pt_source=googleads&pt_medium=cpc&pt_campaign=shopping_us&pt_keyword=&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIgK3RzefG1wIVB7bACh0SFw8ZEAQYBSABEgJR5fD_BwE

And these are much narrower cantilever brakes.

https://www.niagaracycle.com/categories/shimano-cx50-front-rear-cantilever-brake?utm_source=TPA%20On%20Google%20Shopping&utm_campaign=Top%20Placement%20Ads%C2%AE%20(SPLA)&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=People%20Searching%20For%20Bike%20Parts&utm_content=Google%20Shopping&product_id=9685&device=c&loc_physical_ms=9017849&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIzeDvzeTG1wIVHLbACh3O2gxAEAQYAiABEgI3OfD_BwE

http://www.treefortbikes.com/product/333222363680/1233/Avid-Shorty-Ultimate-Cantilever.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&adpos=1o5&scid=scplp3332223636809143&sc_intid=3332223636809143&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIxJHO1OXG1wIVjLrACh3ZnQVzEAQYBSABEgIxcPD_BwE

It seems to me the much narrower cantilever brakes would eliminate this problem of fitting into the bike cases.
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: driftlessregion on November 19, 2017, 08:34:37 pm
"I know the feeling - my bike's around a 56cm in size, and things are pretty difficult to pack in the case"
Try packing a 64 cm with fenders and racks!
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: tbessie on November 20, 2017, 12:38:40 am
"I know the feeling - my bike's around a 56cm in size, and things are pretty difficult to pack in the case"
Try packing a 64 cm with fenders and racks!

That sounds like it would be well-nigh impossible!
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: tbessie on November 20, 2017, 12:39:44 am
... It seems to me the much narrower cantilever brakes would eliminate this problem of fitting into the bike cases.

Thanks much, Russ!  Good suggestions!
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: staehpj1 on November 20, 2017, 07:57:01 am
Personally I can't see the point of having S&S couplers. Unless you are travelling regularly they don't seem good value. And then you have to store the case or forward it to your end point.
Yeah, it depends on the usage.

For me couplers are of little to no benefit since I typically fly to one city and fly home from another if I am not riding toward home.  For point to point trips like the TA, NT, ST, PC, SC, and so on having a case to deal with creates more problems than it solves.

They are great for someone who flies to other cities and either does a loop and returns from the same city or just does day riding there.

Another thing that makes them less suitable for me is that over my touring career I have done different types of tours on different bikes.  So I'd have had a harder time getting my money's worth of savings since I'd have needed them on three different bikes (loaded touring bike, old 1990 race bike with U/L load, and old 1990 MTB).  My next tours are likely to be on two additional bikes (new road bike or new MTB if off road).

My usual advice is to think about how and where you travel and what your future bike plans are before deciding on couplers.  They may be a real savings in the long run or they may not.
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: Pat Lamb on November 20, 2017, 08:54:59 am
Personally I can't see the point of having S&S couplers. Unless you are travelling regularly they don't seem good value. And then you have to store the case or forward it to your end point.
Yeah, it depends on the usage.

For Tim's stated usage, it makes a lot of sense.  I bought mine to take on business trips right before the airlines decided to charge for every piece of luggage (and no, neither Frontier nor Southwest flies out of my hometown).  Even so, and even with just a few trips a year that are long enough to make taking the bike worth the trouble, I'm about half way between the S&S couplers and case paying for themselves, and the whole bicycle paying for itself, just on the difference between "second piece of luggage" and "checked bicycle" fees.
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: staehpj1 on November 20, 2017, 09:12:03 am
Personally I can't see the point of having S&S couplers. Unless you are travelling regularly they don't seem good value. And then you have to store the case or forward it to your end point.
Yeah, it depends on the usage.

For Tim's stated usage, it makes a lot of sense.  I bought mine to take on business trips right before the airlines decided to charge for every piece of luggage (and no, neither Frontier nor Southwest flies out of my hometown).  Even so, and even with just a few trips a year that are long enough to make taking the bike worth the trouble, I'm about half way between the S&S couplers and case paying for themselves, and the whole bicycle paying for itself, just on the difference between "second piece of luggage" and "checked bicycle" fees.
I agree.  I only posted my advice for others who may be reading because it seems that sometimes folks just assume couplers will work out without really thinking through their usage case.

Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: RussSeaton on November 20, 2017, 01:33:45 pm
... It seems to me the much narrower cantilever brakes would eliminate this problem of fitting into the bike cases.

Thanks much, Russ!  Good suggestions!

Also remember those now obsolete and forgotten V brakes.  They used to be the only brakes on mountain bikes.  Now they have disappeared.  But the shorter V brakes work just fine with road brake levers.  And the long V brakes (the normal ones on mountain bikes) work fine on road brake levers with an adaptor.  V brakes stick straight up, they do not stick out to the side at all.  So they should be easier to get into a case than bulky calipers or cantilever brakes that stick out to the side.  Of course with cantilever brakes, they do swing in if you squeeze them so they won't stick out much at all.  When in operation they may stick straight out to the side 3 inches.  But with the wheel off, they will swing up and in and not stick out at all past the fork or frame.
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: tbessie on November 20, 2017, 01:59:40 pm
Consolidate bikes?  What are you thinking!?!?!  :)

Well, I live in a small San Francisco apartment... hard to contain all my bikes in that tiny space.

If I lived in a big house with a garage, tho' - WATCH OUT! :-D

- Tim
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: mpc0810 on December 25, 2017, 11:19:51 pm
Titanium S&S coupler 55cm complete touring bike posted in classifieds
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: mpc0810 on January 07, 2018, 02:54:07 am
I have a coupled bike.  If I were building a new one I would go with centerlock 160 MM rotors and TRP HY/Rd brakes.  Cable driven hydraulic brakes.  It's just one nut to remove the rotors and one cable to splice for the rear brakes.  More braking power than you will likely ever need and will work well regardless of weather conditions.  While we are talking about cable splicing take a look at SAM red WiFli  e-tap.  Compact crank up front and 11-32 cassette in the rear.  No cables to splice and you can put blips wherever you want for shift points on your bars.
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: RussSeaton on January 07, 2018, 02:12:19 pm
While we are talking about cable splicing take a look at SRAM red WiFli  e-tap.  Compact crank up front and 11-32 cassette in the rear.  No cables to splice and you can put blips wherever you want for shift points on your bars.

Maybe I am missing something or not following closely.  The SRAM wireless is for shifting.  No cables to splice for derailleurs.  Its wireless derailleur operation.  But that does not do anything for splicing BRAKE cables.  S&S coupled bikes would also need you to splice the rear brake cable.  Whether its a cable like for road rim brakes or cantilever brakes or a cable for your cable actuated hydraulic disc brakes you talk about.  I don't know if you can splice hydraulic fluid rear brake "cables".  SRAM, Shimano, Campagnolo wireless shifting units are only wireless for the front and rear derailleurs.  None of them change brake cables.
Title: Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
Post by: tbessie on January 07, 2018, 03:21:40 pm
I have a coupled bike.  If I were building a new one I would go with centerlock 160 MM rotors and TRP HY/Rd brakes.  Cable driven hydraulic brakes.  It's just one nut to remove the rotors and one cable to splice for the rear brakes.  More braking power than you will likely ever need and will work well regardless of weather conditions.  While we are talking about cable splicing take a look at SAM red WiFli  e-tap.  Compact crank up front and 11-32 cassette in the rear.  No cables to splice and you can put blips wherever you want for shift points on your bars.

Thanks for the suggestions!

I'm completely anti-electric for my bikes - that misses the point of a bike (for me, not for others), where everything is mechanical; so no wireless shifting on my bikes. :-)

- Tim