I was going to write about tube selection in the second part of my little series on frame quality, but I wanted to put it in a larger context. I get a lot of e-mails asking how our frames compare to frames from other manufacturers and builders. These alway require long answers and I have to be careful not to sound like I'm putting down someone else's frame. So I thought I'd post and elaborate on one of my typical responses. Now when someone asks how a VO frame compares to _____'s frames, I can point them to this post.
There are several major differences between our bikes and _____'s bikes. First and most importantly, our bikes are semi-custom. I used to race and train with my buddy Geoff. Geoff was 6'4 and about 160 pounds; I was 6'3 and about 185 pounds. Most bike shops would have sold us both the same frame. But Geoff was a climber and a spinner who liked a very light and flexible frame. Comfort was also very important to him. I was a masher and a sprinter and I liked a stiffer frame. I was perfectly comfortable on any frame, but didn't like steep angles (of course this was a couple of decades ago). Obviously we wanted very different bikes and neither of were happy on a production frame. Even though we technically fit on a stock frame, a custom design would have made both of us much happier. That's the way it is with most cyclists, there is usually something that can be improved over a stock frame.
So our frames are made exactly to your measurements. The tubes are also selected for your weight, riding style, and preferences. Johnny can order tubes from a variety of manufacturers and mix and match to get exactly the ride required. One of the reasons we don't put tubing stickers on our frames is because the tubes may not have come from one manufacturer. Yet we stick to our basic geometry, lug type, and four color choices. This, and a willingness to take a smaller profit since we're new, allows us to offer frames that are about the same price as _____'s production frames.
The second diffrence between our frames and ______s' is that our frames also use a low trail front geometry derived from French randonneur bikes built by legendary constructeurs such as Rene Herse and Alex Singer. They are designed for very long distance spirited riding on poor roads. This geometry is optimized for wider tires, 28mm to 32mm. This geometry is different than "sport touring geometry" derived from racing bikes and, in our opinion, is superior.
Finally, Johnny Coast builds our Rando frames. Johnny is not into fancy lugs and paint, rather he concentrates on technically superb, but simple frames. His style reminds me of certain Japanese builders such as Nagasawa, ALPS, and Toei. It is defined by simple clean lines, exacting craftsmanship, and attention to detail. His silver brazing and lug finishing are as good as any I've seen. And he takes great pride in building frames that are perfectly aligned. There is simply no comparison between his frames and ANY production frame when it comes to quality.
So that's how I see our frames differing from most any production frame.
16 February, 2007
Posted by Velo Orange at 9:51:00 AM