04 February, 2008

The Big Update


I get a lot of e-mails about various projects VO has been working on. I thought it was time for an update on some of them.

  • There was a problem with the first batch of the 650b fenders. The manufacturer bent them to fit 700c wheels; oops. So they are making a second batch right now and we should see them in 3-4 weeks. Since it was a "do-over" I decided to change the profile and make a copy of the old Lefol "Le Paon" or "Zeppelin-style" fenders in a 52mm width. These should be very cool!
  • The VO polished stainless steel fender samples have arrived and look great. We've not yet ordered a production run. I wonder if we'll soon have too many models.
  • The roller cable hangers are, or are almost, in production. We hope to see them in 3-6 weeks. They are light enough that they can be air-freighted.
  • The Maxi Car-style hubs we tried to have made hit too many snags and so we've sidelined the project.
  • The VO bottle cages also hit some snags and we've moved the project to another factory. I'm hoping they will arrive by spring.
  • We have the seat post sample and it looks pretty good, but for one small detail. I want to see a sample from another factory before we order them.
  • We have heard nothing about the fillet brazed stems from Nitto recently, but I trust they will eventually get to them.
  • Toyo has been very very busy and our production frames have been delayed and delayed. I was told we might have them by May, but sometime in summer is probably more realistic. I will meet with them soon.
  • The city bike frames will probably be delayed as well. It's simply beyond our control; the factories that make the best stuff are just swamped.
  • The VO aluminum and rubber expandable bar plugs were a disappointment and require a re-design. That's the way it is sometimes.
  • Our Jos/Spanninga lights and dynamos will arrive in a week or two.

I plan to go to Taiwan, and possibly Japan next month and try to facilitate some of these projects and research a few others.

29 comments:

ANDY said...

I might order a 650b frame just for those fenders. Nice!

And thanks again for another peek into the process.

Adam said...

Yes, those fenders certainly do look nice!

How far along are the racks with integrated decaleurs?

Chris Kulczycki said...

Any day now for the decaleur-racks.

Anonymous said...

sounds like a lot of disappointments. Thankfully, your dedication to the details is far greater than mine....
M Burdge

Anonymous said...

Hopefully it's just a matter of time before we see a reliable supply of cranks in 165-180mm w/ a 110/74bcd.
Keep up the innovation!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you should concentrate on the high end, as well as supplying constructeurs, and leave the commodification to the big volume boys with pull in Taiwan. Once they get interested in this type of bike, it's game over for you anyways in the low-to-mid market segment. Early adopters (such as your customers) are willing to pay for the good stuff made in US/Europe/Japan.

Rick Guggemos said...

Chris,

I really enjoy what you're doing.
The Le Paon fenders are just the bomb. Can't wait to order some. BTW, that was a nice looking chainguard on the Le Paon catalog page - maybe if you could get that done in aluminum too! I think that could be a real seller among your chainguards.

Cheers,

Rick
Cycles Noir

Chris Kulczycki said...

Annon, The thing is that some really high quality and innovative stuff is starting to be made in Taiwan. It's like Japan was not so long ago, with companies trying to move up-market. It's only a matter of time before we see more and more Taiwanese products that equal the quality of Shimano, Campy, even TA.

Americans often think of Taiwanese companies as giant factories, but many (most) are small shops run by their owners. And some, well a few, of those owners are actually interested in VO-style gear.

Jon said...

Chris, I think that it is far better to send something back to the drawing board that isn't just right, than to be satisfied with less than you originally intended. It is great that you are so dedicated to maintaining the quality of the products with your name on it. It shows real caring for an industry that seems to have forgotten how to care.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but in case you haven't heard, Sheldon Brown died last night of a heart attack. Visit the Harris site for more info.
I am sure we all lament the loss of such a decent guy, on top of his wide-ranging interestes and desire to spread his cycling knowledge.
Michael Burdge

Anonymous said...

Those fenders are great! Any chance of a 700c version?

Dan S.

nordic_68 said...

How can I follow that last post. I feel so petty. Stainless front randonneur rack and stainless rear constructeur?

Mike C said...

Hopefully it's just a matter of time before we see a reliable supply of cranks in 165-180mm w/ a 110/74bcd.

Surly is making a pretty good stab at that with their new "Mr Whirly" crank - check out the Feb 1st entry on the Surlyblog: http://www.surlybikes.com/surlyblog.html
(not 74mm on the inner rings, but otherwise it's right there... )

PS RIP Sheldon Brown. :-( :-( :-(

Yann said...

can you tell us anything about those dynamo's? I was getting ready to buy the cheaper B&M

lamplightsg said...

Thanks for all the updates. The fenders sound great, and I don't think one can have too many choices when it comes to fenders, especially nice metal ones.

I am terribly sorry to hear about Sheldon Brown. This is truly terrible news and I wish his family and friends as much comfort as possible.

C said...

"Annon, The thing is that some really high quality and innovative stuff is starting to be made in Taiwan. It's like Japan was not so long ago..."

Yep. I remember a time when Nitto was considered cheap Asian stuff and the real connoisseurs only rode Cinelli or maybe 3TTT.

Some of the Taiwanese frames I've seen are nicer made than some of the Japanese frames from a decade ago (like my Bridgestone XO-1!)

People need to stop paying so much attention to COO and instead focus on the quality. "Made in [insert name of country here]" is generally a very poor indicator of quality.

badabing said...

Looking forward to the Spanninga fender-mounted tail lights!!

BG said...

I'm quite saddened by the news about Sheldon. A very fine man who truly will be missed. Kind thoughts and ((hugs)) to his family and friends who must cope with the great loss.

another Sheldon admirer said...

I was shocked to find this out tonight. He was a cycling encyclopedia. R.I.P.

Ty said...

I never met Sheldon, but have referred to his webpages many times and enjoyed his many contributions to bulletin boards and mail lists. I'll miss him. R.I.P.

Many of us folks that support Velo Orange, Rivendell, Kogswell, and the like really love bicycles as objects to look at, ride on, and tinker with. For me, Sheldon was an inspiration and enabler.

It also reminds me of how amazing the internet is in fostering these types of communities.

Anonymous said...

"Hopefully it's just a matter of time before we see a reliable supply of cranks in 165-180mm w/ a 110/74bcd.
Keep up the innovation!"

Sugino XD fits the bill unless you really must have 177.5 or 180. I've heard kvetching around here about the finish, to which I say buy yourself a bench grinder, a buffing wheel, and some polishing rouge. You'll never have to complain about sub-par finish again, though after logging some quality time taking a dust bath in rouge the urge to complain about others' finish work has a tendency to dissipate.

The Surly crank is interesting, but kind of ugly IMHO and the interchangeable spider is one more unnecessary proprietary part for the bicycle world. I'm a little unclear on what was wrong with the other 147 MTB triples on the market that we need this product, but that's a lost cause to be sure.

Steve said...

Apropos of cranks:

If cost is no object, take a look at the Zinn custom cranks:
http://www.zinncycles.com/cranks.aspx

Definitely not cheap, but they come in sizes as short as 130mm and as long as 2250(saw one on Sat) and maybe even longer, "...in 130mm bolt circle for Shimano double, 135mm bolt circle for Campagnolo double, 130/74mm Shimano triple pattern, 135/74mm Campagnolo triple pattern, 110mm compact road double, 110/74mm compact road triple, and 94/58mm five-arm mountain Shimano triple pattern. Again, we can make them from 130mm to 220mm and can do tandem configurations as well." $695 in titanium "Price is $459 for the arms [aluminum; Ti $695, long lengths only] and the bottom bracket (square taper, length specific for our crank), and shipping is $10".

Steve said...

Definitely not cheap, but they come in sizes as short as 130mm and as long as 2250

That should be 220 I mistyped 225, tried to erase and edit, but somehow...

Anonymous said...

Please make a note when linking to a PDF file.

JonathanG said...

Does VO also pan to carry the Sandin generator-light blocks you showed last month?

James said...

Taiwan is the new Japan.

I just wish I had a taiwanese alternative to the chinese made steamed buns that sometimes come with extra helping of pesticide.

Anonymous said...

I have a question about the VO polished stainless steel fenders. What is the difference between them and the other fenders you carry? are the other ones not steel? what are the advantages of having a stainless steel fender?
thanks

zman said...

The Surly cranks are a bit on the ugly side. For a longer crank right now the TA Carmina is the choice, but it takes several re-tightenings to get them to stay on, and require blue Loc-tite on every installation. I'm hoping Chris will find a shop that will make a nice, elegant looking, versatile crank that has reasonable weight and will go up to and possibly beyond 180mm. I mean other than a rear/front mech, he's churning out some really nice stuff. Those Zep-style fenders are just gorgeous. Stainless fenders, that easy to mount a la Berthoud? I'd fit every bike I can with those. I've had my Hilsen and Atlantis out all through this sloppy New England weather, both bikes having fenders and leather flaps, and both bikes have not required even a cleaning, so let the naysayers have their day, but it's a good way to go.

Chris Kulczycki said...

The Spanninga dynamos are pretty much like the B&M. One nice thing is that we will have a kit with a really nice light, dynamo, and taillight at a good price. The taillights are what really set Spanninga apart. And we will be able to offer them at wholesale prices to other shops.

Jonathan, We're still waiting for pricing and details on the Sanden lights. I think we will stock them.

Stainless steel fenders are a lot heavier than aluminum, so most folks prefer aluminum. Stainless steel, however, is more dent resistant and durable, so it's sometimes preferred for city bikes, delivery bikes, and, sometimes, touring bikes.