Exclusive: Daniel Scott’s Foldable Chromag

A very clever solution to excess baggage fees and trail access

Photos and words by Seb Kemp

Daniel Scott and his shrinking Chromag TRL go many places without the shadow of excess baggage fees.

Determined to get around the cost of flying with a bicycle, Daniel Scott of Trail Solutions/IMBA approached Chromag to build him a very special one of a kind, two-piece bicycle.

Bike: What is this machine and what is its purpose?

Daniel: This is a custom hardtail mountain bike designed and spec’ed to be able to handle the rigors of whatever kind of riding my travels throw at me while being as portable, versatile and reliable as possible.  It also needs to be able to handle 10-plus hour days of trail assessment, loaded touring, trail building equipment runs, etc.

B: Who built it and what special design went into it? Can someone buy the hinges and make one themself? Does Chromag sell these?

D: The frame is a Chromag classic, the TRL, modified to allow me to break the two triangles apart.  It started as an inquiry to Ian Ritz at Chromag back in November of 2010 as to whether such a thing was possible, which then evolved over the next year and a bit before it came to fruition. The frame was finished and built up for the beginning of 2012, went through some minor hardware tweaks in order to get everything dialed and has been thoroughly tested over the past year.  I’m pretty sure the talented guys over at North Shore Billet machined the special pieces (and lower bolt) that keep it as strong as when Chris Dekerf originally welded it together.  When last I spoke with Ian, there were only one other set of the hinges in existence and no other built up frames.

B: Why did you need this thing?

D: My job running the Trail Solutions program for the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s Canadian Office has had me on the road for the better part of eight months for each of the past four years.  Given the size of Canada, I’m usually forced to fly to wherever the contract is and having a bike has been both paramount to many of the jobs as well as to me keeping my mental sanity. 

B: How much has it saved you on excess baggage?

D: Since getting the bike and box, I’ve probably saved somewhere in the range of $3,500 dollars to clients or myself. It typically costs $150 bucks to fly a bike return on a Canadian airline, but so long as the luggage is 62 linear inches (26″ x 26″ x 10″ box) and weighs less than 50 lbs., it qualifies for standard luggage.  So I still usually end up paying for a second piece of luggage at twenty bucks but it beats the hell outta paying $75!

This is no Brompton. Designed to be ridden hard, the clever design of the detachable rear triangle keeps this bike running straight and true when on the trails.

B: Can it be ridden like a unicycle if the rear is left off?

D: Ha! Since it breaks down behind the BB & seatstay, you’d either have the front triangle and no drivetrain or the rear triangle and no seat.  I’m sure that there is someone out there that could ride the front triangle but then again, with a little creativity one can ride almost anything with a wheel – the question is would it be fun and would you tell other people about it afterwards?

B: Run us through breaking it down and boxing it.

D: It is super simple and can be done entirely with a set of hex keys (2, 4, 5 & 8mm).  I start by trying to destroy my knuckles by taking the pedals off.  Once bleeding and cursing myself for not greasing the pedal threads again, off come the wheels, rear derailleur, bar, seat post, stem, and fork. The rear cables separate and then I remove the two special frame bolts to end up with two separate halves. Then it is just a matter of bike box Tetris to layer everything.

B: Why cable disc brakes? What is that seat post? What other special component choices went into this bike.

D: Two-fold answer on the cable disc brakes.  I’ve flown plenty of times with hydraulic disc brakes and I’ve had some issues in the past with them needing a bleed post flight.  This is often not an easy or even viable option with some of the places I travel to, so I wanted something that I cause easily service and that wouldn’t be affected by flying. The second reason is because it allows me to use both those nifty Ritchey Logic cable separators when packing up the frame but also to use add-on drop bar style bar ends and extra brake levers for when trail riding just isn’t as readily available as road riding.  I’ve got some 1.5″ tires that I swap out, attach the bar ends and additions cables and, voila, it becomes a burley road bike.

The seat post is a Gravity Dropper Descender.  US-made and elegantly simple in its engineering, I chose it because it is strictly mechanical and easily rebuilt in 30 minutes with a multi-tool, rag and some grease or chain lube.

This bike is a tool and a machine of joy for Daniel Scott, a man responsible for developing a lot of trail that no doubt brings a lot of pleasure to mountain bikers all over.

Aside from that, I spec’ed components from as many locally manufactured companies where appropriate to keep in tune with the frame as well as shared the brakes / drivetrain responsible between both Shimano (derailleurs & shifters) and SRAM (brakes, cassette & chain).  Both of these companies have supported the work that I do in one way or another and I wanted to make sure that both were represented.  I’ve gotta give a big “thank you” to Jimmy Donaugh and the gang at RockShox for the awesome custom Lyrik with coil U-Turn for matching whatever riding the day calls for (especially when tweaked with the Cane Creek AngleSet) and to Race Face for the solid Atlas AM cranks. The rest is a smattering of Thomson (stem), North Shore Billet (brake adapters), Hope (hubs & BB) & Chromag (handlebar & seatclamp). I even managed to swing a custom 10-millimeter rear QR using another company’s axle and rear tapping the interface to work with the brilliant brass bushing and anodized handle that Chromag make.

Aside from the bike itself, I’ve been privileged enough to get a set of racks from Tim Armstrong over at Freeload. I use those in conjunction with some Quebec made panniers from Arkel to be able to carry lots of equipment. This includes my newest trail building weapon of choice, the Trail Boss, made just south of the border by Bill at Trail Insight. I’ve got a shovel, pulaski, mattock, macleod and saw, plus chainsaw tools and more all tucked away in the rear rack bag for trail building or maintenance on a moment’s notice.

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