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Tandem Magazine summer "96

S and S Bicycle Torque Couplings

Is the Search Finally Over?

By David Morgan

The road to travel bicycle Nirvana is littered with forgotten designs that attempted to be the supreme bicycle for those who seek the truth. The transcendent travel bicycle has simply been a mirage in the distance.

And what, exactly, is the ultimate portable bicycle? It is the one that is simple and convenient to break down for travel, yet sacrifices nothing in terms of the look, fit, feel and performance of a standard bicycle. It's the one that makes a standard bike the compromise. This challenge is difficult enough when that bicycle is built for one person, but when the perfect travel bicycle must deliver two riders to paradise -- the problem becomes infinitely more complex.

At this time, there are a few disciplines with zealous followers, offering a tempting glimpse of greatness. Each of these builders believe (and some with great fervor) that their way is straight and narrow. Each has a code, creed or doctrine to further its belief. Some follow the way of the small wheel, others feel that the penance of pounds is a price that must be paid. Unfortunately, while many variations on this theme exist, none (until now?) have truly reached the Holy Grail of bike building.

What are we, those who toil and lament in this relentless pursuit of perfection, to do? Do we simply accept what is offered and choose from what's before us now, or do we continue on in the hope of deliverance?

S and S couplers quickly are converting the non-believers and offering us the way to the promised land.

Before you give in, listen to the new prophet who preaches, that yes, you can have it all...

Steve Smilanick, of S and S Machine, is this lone voice in the wilderness. From his shop in Northern California the wise man is busy converting the non-believers and offering us the way to the promised land.

Steve developed what appears to be a miracle. He claims that his precision engineered device will allow you to take your tandem (or single) anywhere. With a simple twist of the wrist, your bicycle will actually become two separate, disconnected pieces of a manageable size. Your tandem will not suffer. When you return it to one piece, it will ride just as if nothing ever happened to it. You won't find any pounds of extra weight, or any non-standard components, you won't need to be a rocket scientist to complete the process -- and you will, in fact, have it all.

This whole idea may sound to some like heresy, but after talking with some of the faithful, I am approaching conversion.

"Steve puts on quite a good spiel, and when we saw the product and his tests at Interbike a few years ago, we were pretty wowed," said recent disciple, Dwan Shepard of Co-Motion Cycles in Eugene, Oregon.

After talking with some of the faithful,
I am approaching conversion.

"They're every bit as good as he claims," he added. "Of course there is something very disturbing about cutting a bike in half, but after you've seen it and felt it you can believe it."

Co-Motion believes it. They are the sole builder of S and S coupled, breakdown, production tandems. They have no doubts about the system.

Many other custom builders have seen the light, including well-known tandem builders like Bilenky Cycle Works of Philadelphia, and Santana Cycles of LaVerne, California. Bilenky currently does a quarter of its business with the couplers, including building custom bikes and retrofitting other bikes with the couplers.

As these established builders continue to bear witness to the rest of the bicycle world, watch as the others, like sheep, fall in line. The writing is on the wall.

According to Smilanick, this process of conversion is just a matter of selling something that appears radical. People are interested, but lack faith -- at first.

"Everyone has a certain element of doubt until they've ridden them, actually tried them -- and then they're sold. We are finally getting the idea across that S and S couplers are very strong and very reliable. We've had to overcome the concept that what we are doing can't be done."

Stay tuned for a future test of this answer to prayer. Until then, meditate on the photos in the buyer's guide and make a pilgrimage to the S & S web site at for further induction to the order.

Tandem Magazine Published by
Petzhold Publishing LLC
26859 Petzhold Road
Eugene, Oregon 97402

Phone: (541) 485-5262
Fax: (541) 341-0788

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