As big of a fan as I am of the Co-motion bicycle, (see this post, here) the company website could use some refinement. When I started researching my dream touring bike I found that there were several options available that had little to no description. I spent a little bit of time trying to educate myself about the varying options and I wanted to share what I learned.
Stainless Steel Dropouts: The dropouts are the points that the wheel axles attach to the frame. Typically these are made of steel similar to the rest of the frame, so if you select this option they use stainless steel at these points. There are two distinct benefits of this option.
First, the stainless steel dropouts are not painted, leaving beautiful shining stainless steel which looks very sharp.
Second normal steel dropouts get all of the stress of you riding the bike put on them, and are prone to becoming slightly worn over time making it harder to get the wheel perfectly aligned. Additionally as you remove and re-install the wheel on a steel dropout you will likely chip the paint from clamping the wheel to the frame and will see rust building up. Since stainless steel is stronger than normal steel the stainless dropouts will not rust and will be less likely to get worn.
If you are looking at having the bike for a long time or just love the look, my recommendation is to get this option.
Pathfinder Package: This replaces the front hub with a Schmidt SON 28 generator, includes a Schmidt Edelux LED headlight, and a “the plug” stem cap with a built in USB charger. For a serious tourist getting off the beaten path this is a great way of giving you the ability to charge your electronics on the road. The headlight is top-notch, plenty bright for night time riding, and is a nice convenience to have.
The two downsides are that adding a generator to your bike does increase the amount of power required to pedal the bike. However this drag is relatively small being about 1 Watt at 5mph, and 6.5 Watts at 20mph. Considering that an unloading bicycle going up a 5% hill at 13mph takes ~320Watts, and pedaling on a flat surface with no wind at 13 mph takes about ~80Watts this generating hub and light are a small load. This package does add some complexity to the bike. However given our modern electronics this option is increasingly becoming more and more necessary, and I sprung for it on my bike.
If you look at the above picture, you can see the hub inside the wheel.
Co-pilot: Do you need your bicycle frame to be able to broken into two pieces to allow for packing of the bicycle? Yes? Then you need S&S couplers. These mechanical stainless steel joints have teeth between the joints and screw together to couple the two pieces of the frame together.
These couplers actually stiffen the frame a little bit and have been proven to be very reliable in service. To separate/tighten the couplers you do need a special spanner wrench (included with purchase). The only maintenance required is a dab of Teflon lubricant every now and then.
You can clearly see the two sets of S&S couplers on the frame, one on the crossbar and one on the downtube.
Co-pilot Padding Kit: When packing your bicycle you need to wrap padding around the frame to keep the paint nice and prevent any metal parts from rubbing against each other (bare metal rusts and can be a potential weak spot). If you are trying to save money you could just use some generic foam padding or rubber insulation material. However, the Co-pilot provides sewn padding kits with a nice fabric and Velcro closure to keep the padding attached to the frame. The time you save using this kit may be worth it if you plan on packing the bike a lot versus trying to wrap it yourself every time, or making your own padding.
Co-pilot Case: At $400 this is a significant amount of money. What you get is a very well built bicycle-packing specific suitcase. There are 4 exterior pockets, 3 interior pockets, reinforcements where the wheel axels will poke the bag, heavy duty zippers, and compression straps to ensure you can meet the airline size requirements. Additionally it is built with telescoping handling and wheels to make transport a breeze. The case appears and feels very well made, and I think you would be hard-pressed to find a better alternative, but let me know in the comments if you have heard of or found a suitable alternative.
Hopefully this sheds some light on to a few of the options that I found little information on, if you have any more information or questions let me know in the comments!