13 June, 2007

Shop News and Growing Pains


Here are a few items of interest, at least to me:

  • Tressostar has just discontinued green, gray, and ORANGE handlebar tape! What are they thinking?
  • TA has confirmed that we can get another 100 Pro 5 VIS cranks. This was a 60th anniversary batch that was forged, but never polished. I wonder what they planned to do with them if we had not bought them, just dump them? You can reserve a set. This is all there is; forever; really, unless they dig up another dusty box.
  • Honjo will finish our fenders late next month. The fenders will take 2-3 weeks to ship. When they arrive we'll have several new models.
  • Our Velo Orange brand fenders will be finished next week and will ship by freighter. If they look good we will immediately order a 650b version.
  • We are out of Ostrich bar bags and, for the first time, are really pushing a Japanese company to finish an order ASAP. We'll see if it works.
  • If you want decaleurs or racks you should order soon. We will run out for 4-8 weeks. Sorry but our sales have increase threefold this year and we just didn't plan for it.
  • The Porteur chaincases should be available next week.
  • I think the name of our eventual built-in-Taiwan bikes will be Cycles Escargot. The idea is to have a less expensive line of bikes, but without diluting the VO brand name. Opinions please? We are shopping for a factory to make a 650b touring frame and a 650B city bike frame. These will also be sold as complete bikes.
  • I am almost finished designing an absolute top of the line cost-not-considered VO frame. The intent of this frame will be to be as light, look as beautiful, and ride as well as any rando bike on the planet. I don't think a $2500 frame will sell particularly well, but I'd like VO to have a halo product that folks will consider alongside Singer, Weigle, Mariposa... Of course saying it is the easy part. Johnny, you have your work cut out for you.
  • Speaking of Johnny, frame orders have been rolling in steadily and the wait time for a Rando frame has now increased to 8 months. The first mixte city bike is back from the paint shop and I'll post photos very soon.
  • Does anyone want to order the first VO Camper frame? We will sell the first couple at cost (with racks.) But we get to pick the paint and some of the options.

68 comments:

Tarun said...

Congratulations on the increased busines.

Escargot? Hmm snails aren't exactly the thing people think of when they want to buy a bike. Why not something prettier? If you want to keep the french theme, there are plenty of names out there that would resonate better (just like Mariposa occasionally has an Alcyon bike).

The halo bike should be quite nice, and $2500 might not be too bad depending on kit (I think a Heron Randonneur should probably be your competition/benchmark if it is off the shelf). If you are just talking frame, then why wouldn't someone just go to a builder directly for custom sizing, i.e. what are you offering as a middleman? Also, for a name, call it your bespoke service. Very excited to see it though.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Tarun, that's $2500 for a frame. A Heron, while a fine bike, in nowhere near the class of bikes we're discussing. And not every builder can design or build a frame like a VO, you only need to ride a few custom bikes to see that; sizing is the least of it.

C said...

I ***love*** escargot! I say let's be honest: most of us who are into these bikes could probably be described as "velocity challenged" (often by choice) so why not thumb our noses at the racing crowd!

Adam said...

Speaking of availability -- what's the word on the flashlight brackets?

ANDY said...

Congratulations on the growing business. It seems like those are the right kind of growing pains.

As for the name, I don't care for "Escargot". "Annapolis", "Annette", "Project VO"...

Tell us more about the camper.

Michael S said...

Chris,
Are the VO production frames going to be lugged or tig-welded?

What's the estimated cost of the VO camper?

Chris Kulczycki said...

Adam, I want to improve the flashlight bracket, which means I need to make a prototype. Which means I just have to find the time to do it. Once I order them they will only take two weeks to make.

Andy, The Camper is to be a serious long wheelbase low trail loaded touring bike with full blown racks made by Nitto. Sample racks are on the way to us. It will have lighting and a generator mount. Wheels are 650B with room for 45mm tires. The brakes are cantis. The color may be a dark orange. It will also be a great bike for dirt/gravel roads.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Michael, The Toyo-built frames that are now in process are lugged and our aim is make them squeak in at under the $1000 mark. I don't know if we can do it; wish us luck.

The frames from Taiwan may be TIG welded; we have not yet settled that issue. You wouldn't believe how complicated the decision making process is for a production frame. The choices and details are endless.

The Camper will be around $1250 for the first few, plus about $200 for racks if you want them. I expect the final version will $1600+.

neil berg said...

I gotta think "Annette" would pay off for you in spades. Is the halo bike (which could be called the "Halo")steel or painted, fillet brazed titanium? If not titanium, why not?

Chris Kulczycki said...

Neil, It will be lugged steel. As I look at the environmental cost of titanium I am not sure we should use it. It will be painted or chromed, not sure yet.

neil berg said...

The best reason.

Andrew said...

In what lengths will the Pro 5 Vis be available?

Chris Kulczycki said...

Andrew, I'm not certain, but previous runs have been available in every length from 160mm to 180mm in 2.5mm increments. Thought I usually only stock them in 165mm to 175mm.

Anonymous said...

will the unpolished ta cranks be any (even slightly) cheaper than the polished ones?

Anonymous said...

I like the Escargot name. It reminds of a lady who was against those loud Harleys, so she painted the gas tank "Hardley Davidson".

Joel said...

Really like Escargot a lot. Original, cool, and just a little cheeky.

The Halo Rando sounds wonderful. This might just be my opening to get a VO. I already have a lovely camper, city bike and cruiser. I could find a logical basis for getting a Rando.

While I have a custom camper already, I must say I am quite curious to see what you are planning.

And Neil, I love your posts, but steel over titanium should always be the rule here at VO.

Annette said...

Deosn't anyone else suspect that "Escargot" refers to the pace at which racks, bags, and fenders are produced?

Joel said...

:)

James said...

"Escargot" sounds right, it rhymes with deux chevaux and brings to mind something affordable, cheery and utilitarian. I'd hope is has an unmistakably french look, like a 2CV.

Is the camper going to be lugged or fillet brazed. Fillet brazed seems to be the tradition, at least in japan. I can think of only one lugged Toei camper on the internet. Might that be due to lug availability, style preferences (1940s lug shortages??) or is a heavily brazed frame considered stronger?

James said...

I have a feeling the consensus will be that Escargot is a bad name.

How about Déesse.
The headbadge transfer would be simple enough. Two lettrs. DS.
Or would that be more appropriate on a camper with big puffy tyres?

Chris Kulczycki said...

Anon, TA will polish the cranks before they send them. They mentioned something about July as a ship date, but I don't put much stock in that.

James, The Camper will be lugged. There were plenty of lugged French campers. I'm not sure why Toei likes to build them fillet brazed.

DS was, of course, the model name of another Citroen.

Justin Miller said...

Escargot?
How about Mistral (wind)? Soleil (Sun)? Moineau (Sparrow) Colline (Hill)? Danceuse? Sourire (smile)?

neil berg said...

Joel,
I yield to no man in my love for steel bikes. Chris stated "as light...as any rando bike on the planet". Taken literally this would indicate a material other than steel.
Chris,
What is the environmenta issue with titanium?

I'll be picking up the mixte from Ahren Rogers on Monday. :-)

Anonymous said...

Chris,

any word on the availability of the Nitto lugged stems in sizes besides 120?

best,

michael white

Alexi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dahl said...

I for one am a big fan of the name Escargot...
'Specialy if you have a snail on a headbadge!
-Dahl

Anonymous said...

Escargot sounds nice, and it probably is an accurate description of it's likely velocity, but will it appeal to custmoers and potential/new customers enough to be a sustainable brand? For non-Francophiles/phones it could sound like a utility bike (i.e. to carry cargo).

If it's got to be French:Campeur, Nomade, Voyageur, Expédition, Audax(notice the accent!). How about place names: Ventoux, Aix en Provence, etc.?

Annapolis is interesting.

I realize my taste in bicycles & accessories aren't widely shared. For that reason, I would like to see VO and others producing such goods be sustainable businesses in the marketplace over the long run. This will require broadening market appeal in my humble opinion. Escargot may well work against that.

MAFairbank

Greg said...

Escargot. Perfect. Of course those Francophile Japanese designers have already done this.

http://tinyurl.com/2wpsj8

Great name for a porteur. And yeah, perfect for your line of bicycles. Heck! I'd even race one. The racers around here already know I'm weird.

Anonymous said...

escargot is ok, but may be too trendy--in the sense that it may become unfashionable quickly and therefore become a liability. how about vagabond? it evokes the wanderer as do the well-used and durable gitane and nomade.

Michael S said...

I kind of like Velo Annette, but I'm not sure the budget brand should be named after your wife! How about the previously mentioned Velo Noir?

Mike C said...

"What is the environmental issue with titanium?"

Basically, it's more destructive and energy intensive to produce. For a nice overview of the relative benefits and drawbacks (environmental and otherwise) of the big 3 frame materials, see Grant Peterson's 1994 Bridgestone USA catalog (with thanks to Sheldon for providing the scans):

ti specifically: http://sheldonbrown.com/bridgestone/1994/pages/60.htm
whole catalog index page: http://sheldonbrown.com/bridgestone/1994/index.htm

Anonymous said...

If you're looking for a specific model name, I think "Super Randonneur" would be preferablt to "Halo Randonneur".

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't ride or buy a bike called Escargot at any price point. Sorry. Even if the bike is inexpensive, the name should be elegant - and Escargot, IMO, is not an elegant choice for a bicycle name - silly, cheeky yes, elegant, no.

Goon said...

I love "Cycles Escargot." Elegant and cheeky, sez me. I'm surprised that the reaction is so divided.

I also like the idea of the halo randonneur. I don't like "Super Randonneur" because that title has a very specific definition from ACP.

I also think that VO brings a lot to the table in the niche of the $2.5k frame, namely their manufactured-to-order parts and accessories. Even if Chris doesn't braze the tubes himself, I believe that his approach, and the vision of maison orange adds a lot of value to a bike.

. . . and I say this as a four-time Super Randonneur, who is shopping for a bespoke bike.

Anonymous said...

Cycl'es-cargot?

neil berg said...

Let's not pretend that iron mining is any kinder to the environment than titanium. I've seen what the open pit mines have done to parts of northern Minnesota. The tailings from titanium mining may contain more heavy metals, but the tailings from iron taconite also contain asbestos which leaches into the water. And how about Emron paint?

neil berg said...

I see a dented Cinelli track bike just sold for a fast Buy-it-Now of $5000. Cinelli never brazed a frame either. Maybe some day V.O. frames will be collectors items. More likely just neat bikes that people ride, which may be better.

Anonymous said...

"Super Randonneur" is also a model of bike by Dave Yates (http://www.daveyatescycles.co.uk/frames.htm#Super%20Randonneur)
and the name of a model of tire used by Wolber.

Dave Cramer said...

I like the name "escargot"...

Anonymous said...

I like Escargot, but as somebody said, Vagabond is perfect!

Chris Kulczycki said...

I don't like the divided opinions on "escargot".

A buddy of mine has a very old Austrian kayak called a "Bummler". He is in the boating industry so I asked him where the name came from. He said "The Austrians looked up the word "vagabond" in the German-English dictionary and found the word "bum". They though this sounded like a catchy name."

So how about "Bummler Bikes"? :<)

Anonymous said...

Even if you jest, Bummler is better than Escargot.

Annette said...

Two antennae down on "escargot."

JoelMatthews said...

Seems to me Bummler is a better fit for the campers! I remain a strong fan of Escargot.

BTW, responding to some posts further up, my camper is a custom lugged bike. Bruce Gordon has spent the past quarter century making truly lovely lugged camping bikes whose satisfied riders have taken them to every corner of the planet.

Neil, sorry I ever doubted your love of steel!

Anonymous said...

How about these:

Cycles L'Orange

Cycles Velocio

Cycles Triomphe

Goon said...

It's a cute story, but the dude made it up.

It's not often I get to show off my Austrian dialect chops, but a 'Bummler' is a rambler, from the verb 'bummeln.' Not sure of the etymology*, but usage has been common in Austria for a very, very long time. German wikipedia even lists it as a semi-official colloquialism for regional trains in Switzerland and Austria.

"I bin a oida Bummler und hobs net eilich mit'n Radlfoahn"

(* = Under the Hapsburgs, Austria was a multicultural state and adopted vocabulary from French, Czech, Hebrew, Hungarian etc.)

Greg said...

No really. I'm for Escargot for the line. Give the different models differnt names. But count me in for Escargot.

mmmmm, especially with butter and lots of garlic ;)

Anonymous said...

Did you hear about the Frenchman who painted a big "S" on his new car? When he drove by, people would say: "look at that S CAR GO!!"
But seriously folks, I think that name is OK, but not great. It wouldn't keep me from buying one, but I think you can do better.
BTW, Nissan has a little van called the S-Cargo, modeled after a 2CV Camionette:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissan_S-Cargo

Mike C said...

"Bummler" (or maybe "bummeler"?) would also have a connection with a very old-school nugget of wandering-around-on-bikes culture: if you like a) vacationing on bikes and b) dry British humor, get thee a copy of "Three Men on the Bummel" by Jerome K. Jerome:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Men_on_the_Bummel
It was still in print in England (as of a few years ago, anyway, when I got my copy) and is available free on Project Gutenberg.

The wikipedia page linked above includes an explication of the term "bummel".

Johnson said...

i would say the main difference between ti and iron mining is how much destruction there is in comparison to how much net material you gain from the destruction. IE ti, might on the surface seem just as destructive as iron, but to get even a small amount of ti, you have to extract alot more material than you do for iron. also, the costs and energy used to refine ti are much higher. there is a reason ti is 150 dollars a tube...

Anonymous said...

Dear Chris:
For the budget bike line, how about "Bici Naranja by Velo Orange?" Alternately, in a tribute to the Oriental frame origin, "Plum Blossom by Velo Orange," which would give you an excuse for purple bikes, or white bikes.

As for the welded/lugged question, that's a real quandry. Good luck with THAT!

david_nj said...

"Escargot" rules! Do it.

Annette said...

Some months ago, Matt from Kogswell suggested "Valencia" as a line name. I always loved it (especially for mixtes).

Kumquat for kids?

Mike C said...

As much as I liked the book I mentioned above, and as much as the definition of "bummel" in that Wikipedia entry is in keeping with the spirit of the 650b renaissance, I'd probably vote against "Bummel" or "Bummler". Without getting all focus-groupy, let's face it, you probably don't want the first syllable of your product name to be a popular synonym for posterior.

But "Valencia" - I like that a lot. Or how about "Clementine"? It even sounds sort of French...

Greg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greg said...

Three Men and a Little Lady? Porteur, Randonneur, Race, Mixte.

Keeping with the fruit theme:

Satsuma (for the Japanese built frames)
Navel
Blood (the full suspension downhill racer)

Seriously. I really, really like Cycles Escargot.

Aaron said...

I vote for a variation on the citrus theme. In addition to Valencia, you might consider one of the Italian blood orange varieties, such as the Sanguinello and Tarocco.

I could imagine a Velo Sanguinello or Velo Tarocco painted the deep red-orange color of blood orange pulp:

http://tinyurl.com/ywu982

http://tinyurl.com/2c573l

For more citrus naming possibilities, see:

http://tinyurl.com/2nohoz

Finally, if you wanted to stay with a French name, rather than Italian, you could invoke the French version of the blood orange: Cycles Sanguine.

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_sanguine

Regardless, a blood orange paint job, rather than the Molteni orange, would be fantastic.

James said...

What about "Le Fac"

Adam said...

Wow, fail to check in 2 days, and 58 comments sprout up!

Thanks for the update on the flashlight brackets, Chris. I'm having a custom rack built right now with a couple of brazeons specifically for a flashlight bracket :-)

ANDY said...

Orange Blossom Special

Tarun said...

I am not arguing against the value of the bike per se, sorry if I misunderstood the market you were aiming at. I assume then that these bikes will be aiming for the very high end which is fine. I am sure the bikes will be lovely. I think your store is a lovely tribute to a type of cycling that more people should be interested in than are. I have to admit I am lusting after some of those Toei that you posted earlier personally....

timv said...

I like Valencia a lot too. Escargot is kinda cute but I get an association of earthy and slimy with it. Valencia, as in the fruit, suggests something fresh and sweet and healthy. And also Spain seems to be a hotbed of cycling lately, including the community of Valencia.

Anonymous said...

What about 'sabot' for a model name? Sabot is a french word for wooden shoe, the kind worn by 18 and 19th c. workers in france, and the basis for the word 'sabotage,' as in throwing a wooden shoe into the machines as a form of anti-industrial protest. I was going to name my new Surly 'Sabot' but my five year old thought 'Pam' would be better, and well, she has a point.
M Burdge

neil berg said...

Why we are wasting time arguing about names when we could be arguing about more constructive things...like colors?

david_nj said...

You could use the name of our sailboat, which is the French word "Rouille". That might be a fun name for a steel bike because it refers not only to a red-colored chili-based sauce that is served as a garnish with fish mostly in Provence, but it also literally means "rust"...

Tarun said...

Just saw on your Rene Herse thread that the top end is going to maybe be the "Grand Cru"? I definitely like the wine analogy, so maybe something similarly wine-inspired for a more humble line of bikes?

Chris Kulczycki said...

You may be on to something Tarun. We may call them Le Plonk. ;<)

Anonymous said...

Chris Kulczycki said...

You may be on to something Tarun. We may call them Le Plonk. ;<)


Chateau Thames Embankment? That'd be fine for the Taiwanese TIG welded model...