30 September, 2008

Interbike Report

My trip to Interbike was quite different from previous years. I spent more time rushing from meeting to meeting than walking around looking at new products. And for the first time we talked to about as many shops who wanted to buy our products as manufacturers who make them.

Another change is that we've shifted most Velo Orange buying to VO Imports, my new wholesale-only company, and we've started buying in larger quantities for the 50-odd shops that carry at least some of our products. Tom Martin, VO Imports' manager, and I met with several new dealers who were interested in stocking more VO products. We are adding 2 to 3 dealers a week so you may soon be able to buy VO and Grand Cru components and accessories at a local bike shop.

We also attended the usual meetings with manufacturers and discussed a few new products:

  • There has been some progress on 50.4bcd VO cranks. That is, the project has move up the list to the point where the manufacturer is actually starting to work on the design and estimate mold costs, etc.
  • We are moving ahead on the 50.4bcd chain ring project. Given the recent TA price hike this has taken on some urgency.
  • It's possible that we'll have a new inverse brake lever next year that fits MTB and city size (22.2mm) bars. This project is just starting, no plans have been drawn yet, but a manufacturer is interested.
  • We are looking into silver, double wall, eyeleted, VO brand rims in both 700c and 650b size. At this point we are simply exploring options, but if one of the manufacturers we spoke with can provide rims with the quality and at the price we want we'll have them made.
  • Another project discussed is mid-priced wheels using currently available rims in both 700 and 650b sizes. These would be hand-built wheels, but available from stock. We still have to pick the best rims and hubs for the job. We are also planning hub dynamo front wheels.
  • Our frame manufacturer is working on the last version of the VO production frame prototypes. There have been some more delays, which is very frustrating, but I'm still aiming to get these frames into production very soon.
  • The VO handlebar bag design is finished and will soon be in production. The last hurdle is getting the right material for the interior stiffener; these little details take so much attention. The manufacturer thinks we'll have them around the end of the year.

22 comments:

Greg said...

Chris. Your industriousnes is bad for business. I keep putting off my next order until the fantastic new products you announce are available.

Great report and congratulations on becoming a bike biz magnate.

Anonymous said...

Chris,
Will the production frames be
available with horizontal dropouts
for gear hubs or just verticals?
Preston

Anonymous said...

Chris,

I'll second what Greg said above, and also congratulate you on the positive results of your hard work.

It is heartening to read of your successes; keep it up!

Thanks,
Shaun

JB said...

What you do is fantastic. Thank you.

I would love to see you offer forks on their own. Nobody's making forks (lightweight - for lugged steel, high offset, french bend, large clearance) like you.

Chris Kulczycki said...

The production Rando frames will have vertical dropouts; that is the correct dropout for that type of frame.

The city bikes will have short semi-horizontal dropouts.

Lee said...

Hi Chris. Any thoughts about a porteur-style bar?

C said...

I'll second the call for forks. I'd love to see an after market fork featuring a nice bend, fender clearance, and low trail. Just be sure to offer them in 9/8" threadless in addition to 1" threaded. Be a great solution for those of us with Surly, SOMA, etc. frames that would like to make them a little more front-bag friendly.

Any ETA on the VO seat post?

Chris Kulczycki said...

A porteur bar is in the works. We've hit a couple of snags due to lack of availability of the desired tubing and tooling costs, but nothing insurmountable.

The next batch of VO seat posts should be made sometime this month and arrive by late next month.

Making aftermarket forks poses a philosophical problem. VO is about elegant and integrated bikes. Making a fork that could be used on just any (and often inappropriate) bike is the opposite of our vision, though they would probably sell well.

James said...

Are you going to have a Belleri style moustache bar anytime soon?

Brian said...

With regard to wheels, any plans for a pre-made 3 speed internal hub, no coater brake wheel in 700c? Be great for the city.....

Anonymous said...

I second a 3 speed internal hub, but in a 650B as well.

C said...

I agree an after market fork goes against the philosophy of integration. However, I see two pros it its favor:
1) Brings good old bikes back to life (much like 650b conversions)
2) Allows people who can't immediately afford a VO frame the chance to upgrade their existing bike.

For me, I'd love to put a different fork on my Soma. Of course even more than that I'd prefer a new frame but right now all my spare money goes towards our daughter and to legal costs for our second adoption so it's going to be a while until I can afford a new frame.

ChrisCullum said...

For those interested in low trail conversion forks, I think Kogswell is making them. I'm not sure if they are on the website but if you email MG he can probably tell you what's available.

jimmythefly said...

I 4th the call for forks. And I find it hard to reconcile your "integrated, elegant" bike philosophy with the same person who was even considering those ungainly (though useful!) Pletscher racks.

Still, while browsing the online catalog, there are few exceptions to your philosophy (the Falcon thumbshifters come to mind), and I appreciate that very much. Perhaps you will sell us a fork, but just not include the VO logo on it? I promise not to tell anyone who made it.

C said...

The Kogswell forks have cantilever studs. At least that was the last I heard. Not keen on having a side/center pull in back and cantilever in front.

Plus did they ever arrive? Kogswell is so bad about announcing new product. It seems the only to learn about new product from them is to be on their list and stay alert so you don't miss the message announcing something has arrived. Keeping your products a secret seems like an odd business model.

dorina said...

Doesn't Nitto already make a porteur bar- available I think on Grand Bois cycles?

I used my Belleri Porteur bars as moustache bars. I like them better than Mr. Petersons because they don't go so far forward. I put the road levers in the place recommended by Rivendell.

Three speed hubs can be used for any size wheel; you simply match the front or rear sprockets. IMHO, I hated the hub on my old three-speed. All the shifters I could get ahold of were worn out. And the 33% gearing difference is not very practical. A close ratio three speed would be interesting. How about building the shifter knob into the side of the hub so you could look like a single speed but have the niceness of some gears?

jimmythefly said...

Hmmm. I think my last comment was a bit harsh, on re-reading. I meant it in sort of a ribbing, jesting way, not trying to be snarky. Chris, I appreciate the way you share through the blog your rationale, philosophy, and the whole process of carrying/producing/selling bike parts, and if not selling forks is the VO way, then I trust that's best.

Anonymous said...

Exciting that some of these products may soon be available locally.

Even more exciting in a general sense, that there are apparently bike shops with interest in this type of classic/useful bike.

Please let us know who your local dealers are as they come on line.

James said...

Why a 650B three speed wheel when 99.998% of the 650 bikes out there have 590/650A and there are plenty of tires in that size. Chances are if you are using 650B it is a new bike or a conversion using a frame made in the last 25 years and has room for a wider 5,7 or 8 speed hub. Only a small population of bike geeks build themselves bikes with only 3 gears. I did that once using a new frame and that was fairly stupid.


What the world does need is a factory 590 set with CR18s, the the SFR3 or 5 speed hub and the shimano dynohub. There are thousands of Raleigh Sports still on the roadand bike shops, if they stock a factory built wheel 590, only have steel rim wheels with a single speed coaster hub. Of course I wouldn't expect Velo Orange to offer such a product, but someone should.

Tom said...

James- are you asking for a 590 bead alloy rim? singlewall or doublewall? Those are readily available through J and B and QBP- 2 of the largest distributors in the bike biz.

Right now, there is more development happening for a HIGH QUALITY 650b tire, as that's what the market is desiring, among people who are looking at boutique bikes and brands. 650a is being overlooked, but making a high quality, high threadcount, lightweight, supple 650a tire would not be appreciated by factories or customers I don';t think. While I share your passion for 650a tires with a 590mm bead dia., it's overlooked by the bike geeks. Ultimately, the difference is what can be successfully sold and marketed. The 3mm brake track differences between 650b and 650A are usu within the adjustment range of brake calipers and frame specs (BB drop, tire clearance, etc).

Alex said...

@dorina: to get a cheap close range three speed hub, buy one of the older model Sachs Spectro 5 speed hubs with two cables, one on each side of the hub, and only use the right one: the left cable is first and fifth gear, the right cable is twothreefour. i haven't looked this up, but my left cable broke on my old 5 speed and it sure seems like a nice close 3speed hub now! and when a hub weighs over 1300g, it doesn't really matter if it weighs another 300g . . .

Oliver said...

Is there any other information about the production rando frames available? Looks like they will be lugged, according to a past posting. What sizes will be offered? Anticipated price range? Thanks for any info.