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.