I'm about to leave for the airport after a super busy week in Taiwan. I met with dozens of manufacturers and saw some fantastic new products. There are now a few manufacturers here that are ready to challenge Campy, Shimano, and TA at the very top of the quality range. Here are some of the items we're working:
- A Japanese cartridge bearing headset that's as nice as any available in the world.
- A VO cartridge bearing headset that's close to the above in quality, but half the price in both 1" threaded and 1-1/8"-threadless sizes. High polish and, maybe, gold/orange anodized finish will be available.
- Aluminum fenders made by a new process that have the potential to be nicer than Honjos.
- Leather saddles that appear to surpass Brooks in quality (but only three models are available). Also, matching bags.
- Two models of VO cartridge bearing pedals, track and all-around. The finish is close to that on the MKS RX1, but I don't have the exact specs on the available bearings yet.
- A very nice, but inexpensive 110bcd VO brand crank with 48/34 rings.
- Reproduction Rene Herse cold forged cranks and rings at under TA prices. This will take many many months of development, but the manufacturer loves the idea and they make some of the nicest racing components around, so quality may be better than the originals.
- VO sealed bearing alloy cup, hollow axle, bottom brackets.
- I examined the first sample of the new VO city bike frame, without paint, and was very impressed by the quality. They will ship two painted samples in a few weeks and if the paint quality is up to the build quality we should have finished frames in about 3-months.
- Straight post cantilever/centerpull brake shoes that are adjustable for toe-in with an 8mm wrench will soon be in the VO store. I have these in my briefcase right now and the first set is going on my bike. They are available only in black now, but we are ordering a run in silver.
- I'm not sure yet if we'll import them, but I examined a short reach racing brake that looks to be lighter, stiffer, and have better geometry than the current Dura-Ace. I looked at both at the same time, but didn't have a Campy Record caliper to compare it to. The manufacturer gave me a set for my Bottechia ;<)
- The new long reach VO caliper brake was tested by the manufacturer and a local racer; they claim that it is far stiffer and stops better than any long-reach caliper brake made today, including the Shimano R650.
Update: I'll keep adding details as I wait to board and later when I change planes in Osaka and in Detroit.