I received final pricing for the city bike from the factory today. It would raise the final price of the city bike by $160 to $200 to have it built with lugs, rather than TIG welded. The TIG welded frame and fork would cost about $400. Both versions includes fender mounts, semi horizontal dropouts, chainguard mounts, and all the other braze-ons you would expect from a VO frame. The tubing is double butted and the quality of either is as good as is available in Taiwan, which is not far from a modern production Japanese frame. Both the brazing and welding is very clean and there are no signs of overheating. So the question is, are lugs worth the extra expense?
As I see it, a city bike should not be too expensive or you'll be afraid to leave it out on the street. And a TIG welded frame rides almost as well as a lugged frame. Some say they are indistinguishable.
On the other hand, I think a lugged frame feels just a touch nicer. And it is certainly a lot nicer to look at. There is no question that most folks reading this would prefer a lugged frame, but is it worth the extra cost in this application.
The floor is open.
UPDATE: I wanted to add a few words to answer some questions and offer some explanation.
This is a low trail design with capacity for significant front loading. We are working on less expensive portuer style racks for it. But it is a real city bike for commuting and shopping, not a porteur optimized for a 50 pound front load. A portuer like that will not handle as well when unloaded.
As with all VO frames the emphasis is on perfect handling. I'm confident that there is no production city bike frame that will handle as well. My goal is offer the ride like of a top-of-the-line French constructeur city bike in a frame selling for between $400 and $580. Surlys, Somas, and other current frames are not like this. The Kogswell is a nice bike, but I think it's more like the upcoming multi-purpose frame. The VO has a longer top tube and is designed specifically for city bike handlebars, not drop bars.
This is a 650b frame; that is the best tire size for this sort of bike and I won't compromise on that. A bike like this is not for someone who will be happy on a converted mountain bike. It's for someone who lusts after a $6000 vintage Singer city bike on E-bay, but knows the Singer is far too valuable to lock to a parking meter.
15 May, 2008
Posted by Velo Orange at 4:31:00 PM