13 March, 2007

VO Pass Hunter

While in San Jose I had a chance to chat with Ahren about the VO Pass hunter. Seeing this lovely Toei pass hunter on the "My Cycle Touring with TOEI" site has me obsessing about it again.

I want this bike to be light enough to rival modern racer-type bikes. It'll probably use Ergo shifting which is easier to deal with when climbing and maybe even, gasp, some of those new-fangled wheels. Yet it should have some of the characteristics of a rando frame, fender mounts, front rack, stable handling, great comfort. One of my goals is to attract the sort of rider who might have bought a modern cyclo-cross bike. Another is to show the folks on our local bike rides that we are not only interested in retro-bikes.

Originally we considered building the frame from Reynolds 953, but the more I learn about that tubing the more problematic it seems. Since Ahren is a super titanium welder, our newest plan is for a Ti frame. I really want to keep the weigh down so I might even consider a carbon fork.

We'll start on the frame as soon as we're caught up on city bike orders. Of course it might be a steel frame again by that time.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

I'm not too familiar with the Reynolds 953 tubing. My understanding, however, is that these tubes are stainless steel. I have not come across anything about these tubes being problematic. Please elaborate a bit.

Thanks,
Sean

Chris Kulczycki said...

Having talked to a few builders who have used 953 and seen frames built with it I think there are issues with heat distortion and stability. There may also be problems with tolerances. I'm sure a fine frame can be built with 953, but I wonder if it can be done consistently. Finally, though the stuff can be polished it takes a very long time, and that was one of the big pluses for me. Both builders who we work with have said that they are not comfortable using it until it's been around for a while and our concerns are proven to be either unfounded or are resolved. Ahren has been playing around with some samples.

C said...

I like the titanium idea. It's a great material: fairly light, fairly strong. Not cheap but then again neither is lugged steel these days!

For carbon forks I'd go with Wound-Up. I've been working with their cross forks for years. Very good reliability. Also like that they sort of look like a flat crown fork. I also know they can be pretty flexible and can include fender mounts, centerpull mounts, etc. Steve Hampsten at Tournesol works with them a bit.

garu said...

Hiya Chris,

As for a Pass Hunter, I don't think the materials matter too much, nor whether it is old school in design or new. The important thing about the Pass Hunter design is that it is stable and comfortable at low speeds (e.g., 4 kph), as one would pedal up steep mountain passes. I'm looking forward to your PH ideas - Ganbatte! garu

nv said...

Chris-
My intention is to outfit & ride my upcoming VO frame in the exact manor you are mentioning. The exceptions being mine will obviously be all steel and I will not have a front rack/bag for most of my riding.
Going Ti frame/Carbon fork will likely drop 1 to 1 1/2 pounds over my steel bike - not a ton of weight but I can understand that this may be an issue for some folks. I'll be using STI shifting - I prefer it on bumpy dirt roads both at low speed (climbs) and fast descents on rough dirt when the bars are vibrating... not the best time to reach down for a shift.
I must confess that I'm not really seeing how the Pass Hunter you speak of would really differ from the current Rando - clearly a Ti version would set it apart but if the PH were steel then I'm not seeing a clear distinction...
I'm very much looking forward to my VO!
nv

Anonymous said...

I think it's a great concept. It'll be one of those bikes which mainly makes you want to ride, as opposed to those bikes which make you want to stand and look.

Anonymous said...

You can build a light, lugged frame from Reynolds 853 or similar and preserve a classic look. TIG welded Ti frame just would look wrong and weight savings would be relatively negligible.

Anonymous said...

Chris,

Here is another pass hunter, actually more like what you are talking about. This one is called a mountain bike, i.e. a bike for road riding in the mountains. I also love the stem on this bike!

http://www.mariposabicycles.com/bike-for-mountains.html

I hope to see you on the roads of cental Maryland. I will be on my light green Kirk terraplane.

-Dan

Anonymous said...

Quote:"Here is another pass hunter, actually more like what you are talking about. This one is called a mountain bike,....."

Now THAT'S what I call a mountain bike!
Although mine would be 650B

On that site there's a great list of passhunter criteria:
Quote:"(1) a reasonably wide range of gears, (2) fenders, as it always rains in the mountains,(3) a small carrier to carry those clothes that are not needed on the way up but are definitely needed on the way down, and (4) it should be light."

I personally think light weight is overrated, so instead my number (4) would be "takes fat tires for those rough mountain roads"

Cheers,
tys

ANDY said...

That Toei really is sweet. The rear reflector mount and front deraullier cable routing are especially nice.

This could be a perfect "all-rounder" for me. Snappy but tough and functional.

Anonymous said...

ti might not have the "classic" looks, although it's getting pretty "classic" compared to everything but lugged steel--but it has EVERYTHING else you could want . . . unless you're a young crit racer, in which case you won't be looking at lugged steel, either

I have two ti bikes, and I ride them A LOT.

mw

david_nj said...

I'm not really sure I get what the difference between this and a regular randonneur bike is. To the naked eye, the proportions look the same; maybe the BB here is a little higher or something.

Would I reveal a total lack of cultivation if I said, heck, just throw some fenders, a rack, and different bars on there, and you've got a stonking randonneur machine? I must be missing something here!

david_nj said...

Good Lord, I just clicked through to that "My Cycle Touring with TOEI" website. Those are just _stunningly_ beautiful bikes that that fellow rides. Really amazing.

neil m berg said...

David,
It kind of looks like a cyclo-cross with flat bars doesn't it?

Jim G said...

Food for thought: http://kentsbike.blogspot.com/2007/03/tais-ti-bike.html

Michael S said...

I think the point of a pass hunter, as Chris has expressed earlier somewhere on this blog, is for it to be a lighter weight version of the rando bike, with a little tighter geometry and handling. After all, you're not going to be pass hunting when you're completely exhausted after 24+ hours in the saddle, are you?

Anonymous said...

"After all, you're not going to be pass hunting when you're completely exhausted after 24+ hours in the saddle, are you?"

Why not?!
There are mountainous brevets out there.
I've climbed many passes completely exhausted!

Greg said...

Mmmmm. Passhunter.

I think I got the most insightful bit of info on passhunters on this comment board.

"The important thing about the Pass Hunter design is that it is stable and comfortable at low speeds (e.g., 4 kph), as one would pedal up steep mountain passes."

Thanks garu.

Chris. If you're going to go Campy, and you're going to go passhunter, I think you should consider flat bars and Campy flat bar controls. Drops would just look wrong (and it's all about style, right?)

Greg

michael s said...

Well, I assumed that for mountainous brevets, one would ride a rando bike, since that's what randoneering bikes are for.
It is my understanding that pass hunting is different than randoneering, thus the need (excuse?) for a separate bicycle.
See http://tinyurl.com/2j2ptb for Chris' explanation.

Anonymous said...

In an old post, Chris said:

"Take the Rando frame, eliminate all excess weight, set it up for a slightly more race bike like fit." That sounds like a Pass Hunter to me.

It seems like "Pass Hunting" is what most of us do anyway when we go out for a Proper Ride. I don't take many long, endurance tests or overnight brevet-style rides. I like to go out for 60 miles, find the fun route, go fast, test my legs, have fun, eat and have a blast. It's like the week-long tours I did in middle school with my dad and friends (Shoreline in MI).

That said, a Pass Hunter just seems like a nice all-around bike.

Anonymous said...

"Well, I assumed that for mountainous brevets, one would ride a rando bike, since that's what randoneering bikes are for."

I don't think a "pass hunt" is a brevet. But, a brevet might have a few mountain passes in it. It might be boiled down to this:

Pass Hunt = spirited, shorter distance tour up and down some sick mountain passes

Rando' = longer, more relaxed ride of the same route. But maybe not trying so hard to find the tough mountain passes.

nv said...

Anon said -
"Pass Hunt = spirited, shorter distance tour up and down some sick mountain passes

Rando' = longer, more relaxed ride of the same route. But maybe not trying so hard to find the tough mountain passes."

Yes, but I think what some of us are struggling with (conceptually) is that you can comfortably, efficiently and stylishly do this all on the same, well designed bike.
I'm [personally] not that intrigued by the idea of two bikes that are separated by a slightly shorter wheelbase, maybe some [mildly] tighter angles and one being a pound or two lighter than the other. I have a fully loaded tourer, a true, dedicated 29er MTB, a SS "round-town" cruiser and a VO Rando/Pass Hunter on the way. All of the above perform very different tasks - I'm not suggesting that Chris shouldn't go forward with a dedicated VO Pass Hunter or that it wouldn't be a lovely bike for the right person - I'm just saying for me, the line between the two seems to be too blurry. At least at this point in the discussion.
Of course a lugged, semi-custom Reynolds 953 at a VO pricepoint would be a whole 'nother story :)

nv

Anonymous said...

Quote:
"The important thing about the Pass Hunter design is that it is stable and comfortable at low speeds (e.g., 4 kph), as one would pedal up steep mountain passes."

I can certainly appreciate that having done many slow-motion uphill slogs!
What sort of geometry lends itself to that kind of stability? Would it be at odds with what is needed for a stable descender?
Don't forget the other side of pass hunting: screaming 40+ MPH descents!!

I like this discussion, since to me, mountain passes are what cycling is all about!

tys

Chris Kulczycki said...

First off, I'm a little confused by the folks who can't see the point of any old excuse to develop another bike ;<)

I see the two bikes as being very similar, but not the same. If one primarily interested long rides such as inn-to-inn tours, weekend trips, brevets, and long day rides the rando frame is perfect. If you have just one bike it is the logical choice. And one could certainly pass hunt on one.

But I think there are folks who will really get into pass hunting. They are not so interested in riding hundreds of miles, but would rather explore and struggle up some road that resemble a goat path on Saturday afternoon. It's a very cool sport that I'd like to encourage. This bike would also be good for fast club rides. Of course one could use it as an occasional rando bike too.

I don't think we'll sell many pass hunters, but it's still a niche that should be filled and will be fun develop. But who knows, pass hunters sure seem to be popular in Japan. Maybe they'll take off here.

david_nj said...

I truly think this whole VO thing is fabulous, you've opened my eyes about whole categories of bikes that I didn't know squat about and there is tons of beauty and nobility and serenity there. When I sold my Japanese composite racing bike last year owing to its brutal ugliness and impracticality given that I no longer turn pedals in anger, I tipped my cap to all of you guys.

But this pass hunting thing, well if you want to struggle up, say, Magnolia Road outside Boulder, CO, or Ramona Road in Palo Alto, or for that matter the frikking Col de la Croix de Fer on a rig like that Toei bike, I super-respectfully opine that you need to have your head examined. You'll get there eventually, but man you'll be unhappy when you finally do. Life is short. Mike Barry's concept is the only one mentioned that seems at all appealing to me. Il ne faut pas qu'on s'emmerde.

Anonymous said...

david said.."But this pass hunting thing, well if you want to struggle up, say, Magnolia Road outside Boulder, CO, or Ramona Road in Palo Alto, or for that matter the frikking Col de la Croix de Fer on a rig like that Toei bike, I super-respectfully opine that you need to have your head examined."

Huh???
What do you have against that Toei??
That's exactly the sort of riding I do (I've done the Croix de Fer and Magnolia)
and I would ABSOLUTELY LOVE to have a Toei like that to do it on. OK, I don't like the flat bars, but put some drops on that baby, and I'm there!!
Seriously, what don't you like about the Toei?

Cheers,
tys

Anonymous said...

david_nj writes:
"if you want to struggle up, say, Magnolia Road outside Boulder, CO, or Ramona Road in Palo Alto, or for that matter the frikking Col de la Croix de Fer on a rig like that Toei bike, I super-respectfully opine that you need to have your head examined. You'll get there eventually, but man you'll be unhappy when you finally do"

Unhappy? Are you kidding?
Standing atop the Croix de Fer, Toei Passhunter at my side, taking in the Alpine air, that's the stuff dreams are made of!!!!!

neil m berg said...

I have a friend who spends his vacations climbing all the climbs of the previous Giro or TdF. He loves it. Of course God created him to be a climber. Climbs muontains like a homesick angel. Me, I'm a happy flatlander.

buck 50 said...

I think I found yer shifters for the pass hunter...

http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech.php?id=/photos/2007/tech/features/saunier_duval_prodir07/SRAM_TT_shifters

Anonymous said...

speaking of shifters: among the many NAHBS photos on flickr, there was a sweet bike that mounted a vintage campy downtube friction shifter on the top of the bars. It was perfectly simple. Anyone remember which bike? I think I may do the same.

Anonymous said...

I found it (shifter):

http://tinyurl.com/yro5uy

Greg said...

Re the rando/hillclimb/passhunt thing.

You did look at pictures of Japanese passhunter rides right?

Passhunter in Japan does not equal paved mountain road passes as I've seen in the TDF. These guys are not afraid to get off and walk when the trail (not paved road, or unpaved road for that matter) goes straight up. And I'm assuming here that they would walk down as well.

The way I see it (and of course this is just my opinion) is that a bike designed as a passhunter would be more efficient than an MTB on the paved approach to the more difficult sections of the ride, yet way, way less effecient than a MTB when the going gets gnarly.

So a flat bar passhunter will be at the advantage (in the most extreme cases) in the real rough stuff going up and downhill over a dropped bar equipped passhunter (I do loves typing passhunter. Passhunter). And I have done plenty of offroading on drops. Ooooh, my wrists.

And the soaking in the onsen, and the crazy Japanese food, and the mountain Inns. Mmmm gotta get me some passhunting.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Greg, I think they just take the best photos on the unpaved rides ;<)

Pass hunting started in France and I'll bet most of the roads they ride are paved. But I have heard that in Japan abandoned military roads abound and these are usually unpaved. Since most of the roads around our closest mountains (the Blue Ridge) are paved, I'll probably go with drop bars.

Here is a link to a post about the sport and the governing body and rules: http://tinyurl.com/2j2ptb

I also love the food photos. If a few folks want to send bike tour food photos they would make a great post.

I just bought a tiny camera so I could always carry it and take shots like that.

Anonymous said...

Lugged 531 frames will be hard to beat in overall performance, durability, handling characteristics. I imagine offroad would be no different, although I'm not going to rearrage my organs. They are nicely settled now.

My hats off to you for offering 531 frames on your other custom frames. Priceless.

nv said...

Chris-
Out of curiosity, what camera did you go with?
I'm thinking of picking one up for the same reason...
nv

Chris Kulczycki said...

NV,

I bought a Sony T50. I think we need a post about bike cameras; I'll do one soon to start the discussion.

Yohann said...

Dear Chris

So what about this passhunter project?
There is a real need for bikes designed for "passhunting". Racers and fast tourer don't do the job. The first one are uncomfortable for mountain rides (5 or 6 hours) and the second have often a too long chain stay length to do 3 or 4 passes a day.
The Toei and Alps passhunters seem to have shorter chain stay lengths but comfortable head tube and seat tube angles. And I guess that their classic forks give them more wheel bases than modern racers' ones . Moreover you have clearance for fenders and chubby tires, cantilever (both usefull in mountains). Forget the flat handlebar (not every japanese passhunters have one) if you don't ride off-road, and try a moustache bar.... I'm dreaming of course....
For what I know, Toei passhunters are made with very versatile Tange Prestige and it would cost you... less than 800 US$ for a frame and a fork...And it will be built for you. Yes, bikes are not very expansive in Japan (it's the less we can say).
Mike Barry's "bike for moutains" is 5000 US$.
Waiting for V.O. passhunter ;-) I'm wondering if the Surly Pacer could do the job. Its geometry is quite interesting. What do you think?