08 December, 2008

VO Stems are Back


Just a short note to tell everyone who's e-mailed that VO stems just arrived and are back in stock. We have all sizes from 70 to 120mm now. I can hardly believe how popular these have been.

We also have Falcon thumb shifters again.

We are also looking into having VO brand cloth handlebar tape made here in the US. We sell a lot of Tressostar tape and VOI even distributes it to other stores, but we are disappointed that some colors have been discontinued (especially orange). I'm not at all sure that we can make this happen; the mills need big orders and re-rolling into short lengths is surpirisingly expensive. But what new colors would you like to see if we do manage to pull it off?

70 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would consider packaging the tape in slightly longer roll, say 2.3 times the length of any of the "tressos" One roll for a bike.

It would reduce the rewind cost as for it would be fewer rolls to handle.

Anonymous said...

Chris, congratulations with having the full range of stems. Now, how about getting a run with 31.8mm clamps?

Le Cagot said...

Orange, light green, dark green, tan

Ian Dickson said...

I would buy a lot of orange tape. Other colors? A paler, gentler yellow than the Tressostar yellow. In general, I'd like to see more light colors because you can do a lot with those using different shellacs.

Maybe you could make the rolls a bit longer?

Anonymous said...

I like baby blue, and lavender, and thanks for looking into the orange, i've got my dads old orange peugeot. So any plans to make the stems with more rise or drop to them?

Anonymous said...

Ditto on the longer rolls. Currently, I can almost-but-not-quite do a 48cm bar with two rolls.
For colors: orange, brown, olive green, baby blue, and of course "Grand Bois Hetre" red!
Also, how about cork tape in those hard-to-find colors?
Regarding stems: how about a 17 degree version? AFAIK, there is no 17 degree silver threadless stem still being made. This would put it horizontal with a 73-ish head tube and could be used upside-down for those needing some rise.

Ian Dickson said...

I like the idea of one, big roll instead of two.

This might be a ridiculous idea, but you could cut the re-rolling cost by getting it in big spools and then selling it by the foot, like cable housing.

Also, I'll throw in my support for the stems with more rise/drop. Those are great stems, and I would stock up on a variety for future projects.

Chris Kulczycki said...

We actually could get 17-degree stems pretty easily. A 31.8mm version would probably not sell well to our clientele.

I was also considering double-size rolls of tape. At this point we are still waiting for samples and more info on pricing.

Jeremy said...

I want light-ish khaki cloth tape, to match the gold paint on my salsa casseroll. Cinelli makes a similar color in cork, i haven't seen it in cotton yet.

Anonymous said...

How about stocking the Viva cloth tape? It's much nicer than Tressosar/Velox.

Schorsch said...

Pleasepleaseplease get some more dark green tape. I've moved from Tressostar to the Japanese version, but I'm told even that is not long for this world.

As to the stems, they're selling well because they're beautiful. Check out the ugly, lumpy welds on some other top-o-the-line stems.

Schorsch said...

Oh, also: I know you're all about the french side of bicycle history, but if you could make one of your saddles in British racing green to match the bar tape, I would be placing an order.

Anonymous said...

Can you make a decaleur mount that fits your threadless stems? Assuming the bolts are 3cm apart like most stems, it would fit other models as well. Nitto for example. Maybe you could even a have replacement stem face-plate that has a decaleur attachment.

Anonymous said...

How big are the original rolls (before re-rolling)? For some colours, I'd happily buy one huge roll in order to have a lifetime supply.

david_nj said...

Anonyme, I second the emotion as far as a decaleur mount integral to the stem. However, I don't think it could be part of the faceplate -- on the longer stems, that's too far forward, and for a rear-opening handlebar bag you wouldn't easily be able to get at it. What I did is simply drill a hole in the bottom of my stem, tap it for a 6mm bolt, then mount the VO tang-type decaleur to that using a front brake-to-fork crown washer to take up the curve of the stem. The tang gets bent to line up with the stem. It's a very clean way to do it.

(Obviously a picture would explain all, but there's no way to upload one here...)

I also think a -17 degree stem would be highly appropriate. Perhaps you could sell some type of funky knurled constructeur-esque top cap too.

Surly Girlie said...

you stems are attractive and well priced. I usually use Dimension® stems as they are cheap and well made, but I would buy one of your if I needed silver.

Anonymous said...

I, too, would love a 17 degree stem. There are absolutely no classy threadless stems on the market with this rise. In fact, yours is the only classy stem out there. Thanks.

Aaron said...

Deep, dark red. One that isn't so primary color bright.

Jon said...

24k gold, of course!

rinjin said...

orange orange and more orange.
it looks great with amber shellac, almost like aged leather. mmmmm.

superfreak said...

i like yer stems but would like to see 1mm incriments from 4cm to 150cm. also 1degree increments in rise. 31.8 is also a great size/stiffer.
thx superfreak

Anonymous said...

1. Orange
2. Orange
3. RAL2011
4. More orange
5. A color that looks almost exactly like a well loved brooks after application of amber shellac and some breaking in -- oh wait, that's orange too.


Also, I don't think you understand how difficult it is to find a nice 31.8 stem, people would definitely buy them at $35-$40.

Anonymous said...

I know we are just looking at the prototype stage in the photo, but I am really looking forward to the VO Xylophone.
m burdge

Anonymous said...

cloth tape in medium-dark grey. The Cat-Eye tape is the best I've used, because it is slightly stretchy and easy to apply smoothly.

Greg said...

Yellow. You all know that yellow coated with a few layers of amber shellac matches a honey Brooks perfectly, right? That is if you all are crazy enough to shellac handlebars (raises hand).

Anonymous said...

Orange, of course. But also lavender/lilac (my favorite), Anquetil blue, a crimson-ish red, dark royal blue, olive, kelly green, mocha brown and a grey heather(1). How's that for a cloth-tape pallette?

I, too, think the bigger rolls are a good idea. Maybe you'd want to sell a kit that includes a roll big enough for a pair of wide bars, a package of shellac flakes and a pair of Velox plugs.

Anonymous said...

Chris,

IMHO, it will be great if you can find a place to make some threadless stem in silver that looks like the old Salsa stem. Because almost all threadless stem are "chunky" and the Salsa stem is nice and small, it works well on a classic looking frame.

Thanks
Ron

Tom said...

Thge salsa stem was tig welded steel. in order for aluminum to have proper strength characteristics it needs to be over sized. Or a solid block of AL, which would make it weight more than a steel stem.
TIG welded stems from Taiwan are cheap and abundant with varying ranges of weld quality and prettiness, but I don't think that's what we want to do with Velo Orange stuff.
Here's a blog post about that in general:
http://voimports.blogspot.com/2008/11/great-stem-dilemma.html

Anonymous said...

Tom,

Thank you for the information.

Sorry to ask this question here, where can one find a silver "salsa" looking stem now?

Ron

Anonymous said...

Tom,

Sorry about the last post. What I mean to say is I think it will be great if VO can get someone to make a steel stem like the salsa in silver.

That's all. Sorry about all the confusion.

Thanks,
Ron

Anonymous said...

Green, please.

Tom said...

no problem. We are all working on the same thing here.
Making a steel stem in 'silver' gives us 3 realistic options: silver paint, electro-deposit, or chrome plating. All have their varying levels of cheesiness in my opinion.
Actually 4 options: polished stainless steel. I don;t want to begin thinking what the minimums, tooling costs, and per unit price would be for that one.
but give me a few days.....

Anonymous said...

Tom said:
"for aluminum to have proper strength characteristics it needs to be over sized. "

What about all those alloy quill stems, Nitto, SR, etc. Their necks are pretty darn skinny. Is there some reason these work, but threadless stems must be oversized?

tys

nick said...

the necks are skinny becuase they are forged (i dont know which) and are solid aluminum. strong, and nummy.

Anonymous said...

Tom,

not a Salsa style stem, ok? Because we can still buy those, as long as we can deal with black; they are still good affordable stems and I still use them.

What is needed is a nickel plated stem such as Nitto makes. Recall the old Nitto-made Ritchey, the better model that you might see on a 93 Bridgestone RB1, say. Very light and the finish held up for many years. Satin finished nickel looks very classy whether welded or brazed. . . Personally, I would make it in the exact same dimensions as the Technomic Deluxe: the slightly long quill would work for just about any application. With a VO threadless stem already, you would only need a classy quill like that to round out the offerings.

the stem I just described would be impossible to keep in stock. you know it's true.

michael white

patates frites said...

Tom wrote:

"Making a steel stem in 'silver' gives us 3 realistic options: silver paint, electro-deposit, or chrome plating. All have their varying levels of cheesiness in my opinion.
Actually 4 options: polished stainless steel."

As Michael White pointed out, nickel plating is another option. It looks very nice on the Rivendell lugged stem.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me if they VO logo is screened on or laser etched?

Anonymous said...

^^^ On the stems/seatposts I mean.

Notlob Dinsdale said...

I've always liked the idea of stainless. You could sell a length of stainless tube that could be cute into a matching and attractive single piece spacer in the same diameter as the stem's vertical tube.

Anyone who has ever bought a salsa stem for its classic tube diameters has to deal with the lack of matching spacers.

However the unattractive nature of tigwelds might be even more obvious with stainless.

James

Notlob Dinsdale said...

We do need an attractive light or medium light green tape that would look good on a black bike. More matcha powder and less bright than the existing colours.

James

Gunnar Berg said...

Ahhh. Nickel plating is not cheap or cheesy looking. Very elegant, and doesn't clash with aluminum.

Tom said...

The logo on the VO seatpost and stems is laser etched.

Anonymous said...

i would like to see a magenta color, please.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of a Salsa-esque stem. A couple of the bike weenies at my former lbs would get them painted to match their customs, and that is pretty cool. Offered in white or--a nice burnt orange or french blue--it would end up being a welcome addition to any fine modern bike. Of course, I have a fine bike, and a modern bike--just not a fine modern one.
mburdge

Schorsch said...

The welds on the Salsa stems are hideous. That's why I like the VO stems, and to a lesser extent the Dimension stems. Surly frames have nice welds, too, so I don't think it's the Chromoly. It's just a sign that you put a little more care into the finish, and I appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

to the previous commenter on Salsa stems. I don't work for Salsa, or for any other bike company.

The VO stems are not welded; they are forged, like all current Dimension stems. Therefore the appearance is somewhat different from a welded stem.

Having owned, raced, and abused a number of Salsa stems, both the Petaluma and the Waterford-sourced products, all I can say to someone calling this product "hideous" is that your comment, and your perception of quality, has nothing to do with function or quality. That is my opinion based on years of experience. I have no idea what your opinion is based on. My comments expressing a desire for another steel stem on the market had nothing to do with any perceived lack of quality from Salsa or any other stem.

best,
michael white

Schorsch said...

I meant no comment about the quality or performance of the stem, merely the finish. VO as a company seems to care about how their products look in addition to how they perform, which I appreciate. I've never had a stem fail on me, and every one that I've owned has connected the handlebars to the steering tube, so I don't imagine my preference for looks has negatively effected my riding.

Look at Surly frames, or any high-end frame maker using tig welds. Welds start out lumpy, and it takes a little extra effort to smooth them out. I appreciate that effort, and I'll pay a bit more for it, if necessary.

Anonymous said...

I am grateful that certain manufacturers continue to support the market for steel bikes with traditional spec. Salsa is foremost among those as far as steel stems go, going back for decades.

Tig welded steel is not supposed to be smooth. In fact, the tradition is that builders who smoothe their welds are cheating. Most continue to leave welds raw. There are theories that filing welds weakens them, and that would especially hold true for a high stress application like a stem, which is why you don't see filed welds on stems, unless it's a fillet joint. The Salsa joint is considered especially strong, because of the way it wraps around the quill. It is not designed to win beauty contests. I can attest to the fact that it is outrageously strong, light, and creak-proof, vastly stronger than any aluminum stem I've ever used. It was designed to compete with Cinelli-style quills, and even though racers have moved on to lighter threadless designs it is still a very useful stem offered in a stunning range of sizes/rises. I personally like bikes and the bike world and would like to think I would defend any worthy product I felt was being unfairly maligned in the public eye.

mw

best,
mw

Schorsch said...

Again: I didn't mean to denigrate the performance of Salsa stems, which I'm sure are wonderful. Please, continue to support what you value, and I will do the same.

We all make our own decisions about what is beautiful, and what we value. I value welds that are finished, and not lumpy. A purely aesthetic valuation.

I'm certain that if a weld is well-made, filing off surface irregularities (not removing material from the structural portion of the weld) cannot make it less safe. If I'm shown data to the contrary, I'll exclusively ride lugged frames and forged components.

I meant only to encourage VO to keep doing what it does best: making bicycle parts that are beautiful and perform well. Other manufacturers will supply racers with ugly (my opinion!) parts that perform well.

Anonymous said...

here's an example of a Dimension stem. It's a good value in a mass-produced Asian stem.

http://aebike.com/page.cfm?PageID=30&action=details&sku=SM2347

Here's the Bikepro description for Salsa stems, a beloved US-made product for a generation or two of amateurs and even professional riders:
http://www.bikepro.com/products/stems/salsa.html

Now. There are days when a difference of opinion is simply that. Hey, if someone wants to believe that a mass-produced twenty buck stem is equivalent or even better than a high-end aftermarket stem, well, that's their perogative, right? fine. Just don't make any generalizations about quality if and when you don't have the slightest clue what you're talking about, and I'm happy to let it pass.

have a good day.

mw

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you haven't done a rene herse influenced threadless with a space in the middle and the integrated cable stop (and while you're getting crazy maybe even a spot to screw in your bell and a stem cap light switch). You know that it would at least be big in japan.

daniel said...

I would love a nice medium or dark grey. The grey tapes I've seen usually end up being more baby blue than grey.

It Depends said...

+1 for the 17-degree stem!

david_nj said...

Nick,

Traditional forged stems aren't necessarily solid. Most of them are hollow in the center of the quill as well as the extension.

Your point is well taken, though: the old thinner stems generally look a hell of a lot better than the new stuff, at least on classic bikes. It doesn't make sense that they can't be thinner (most alloy threadless stems are indeed forged). I imagine the issue is weight minimization -- a thicker tube with thinner walls is stronger than a thinner tube with thicker walls, for a given weight. So, since none of us care all that much about weight on a touring-type bike, it's probably worth the weight penalty to get the aesthetics right. On my racing bike, there's an ugly carbon stem for reasons of weight; but on my touring bike I could care less!

I don't understand Tom's assertion about cheesiness. Why is a chromed or alloy stem cheesy? I don't get it.

Schorsch said...

Mr. White,

As I cannot tell whether you are being deliberately obtuse, I will give you the benefit of the doubt, and restate my position, and its relevance to the proprietor of this blog.

1. The Salsa stem is no doubt a well-performing, well-loved bicycle component.

2. The welds on the current Salsa stems are lumpy and look unfinished. The welds in the picture of a no-longer-made stem you linked look much better, but I have not seen them in person. The welds are described as "clean," an attribute the current version lacks. I, and many others, find lumpy welds to be unattractive. I also believe the current version is made in Taiwan.

3. Your claim that filing welds is "cheating" is specious. Removing material not integral to the weld will not reduce its strength.

4. VO makes beautiful things, according to a vintage aesthetic. I, for one, would like VO to continue to make beautiful things I would like to buy. If they can make a Salsa-style stem, with clean-looking welds and an attractive finish, then by all means, they should do so.

Finally, I made no claim that the Dimension stem is "as good" or "better" than the Salsa. Please read for comprehension if you would like to continue this discussion.

Ian Dickson said...

For the love of God. You're talking about bicycle stems. Bicycle stems!

Anonymous said...

1. The Salsa stem is no doubt a well-performing, well-loved bicycle component.

2. The welds on the current Salsa stems are lumpy and look unfinished. The welds in the picture of a no-longer-made stem you linked look much better, but I have not seen them in person. The welds are described as "clean," an attribute the current version lacks. I, and many others, find lumpy welds to be unattractive. I also believe the current version is made in Taiwan.

3. Your claim that filing welds is "cheating" is specious. Removing material not integral to the weld will not reduce its strength.

4. VO makes beautiful things, according to a vintage aesthetic. I, for one, would like VO to continue to make beautiful things I would like to buy. If they can make a Salsa-style stem, with clean-looking welds and an attractive finish, then by all means, they should do so.

1: yes.
2; no. I have several Salsa stems on bikes in use currently--new, old, repainted, fresh. None look lumpy. They all look like welded steel stems, and are tough as nails.
3: no, I did not claim that it is "cheating" if welds are finished. I merely summarized the feeling that is traditionally held. Welded steel stems are not filed, whether made by Nitto, Salsa, 3ttt, or anyone else. I have had many, and none were filed.

The bead is the bead. There is no part of the bead not integral to the bead. This is why they are not filed. Some builders are able to weld with very small beads. Others use very large beads. This is largely aesthetic, with some preferring one or the other. Builders are generally proud of their beads, which is another reason not to file them. Fillet brazed stems are sometimes but not always cleaned up, and often it's the latter that is the point of pride. Each method, of course, has its own appeal. I find it wonderful that Salsa, alone among manufacturers, continues to not only make strong steel quill stems in large quantities, but offers them in a vast range.
4. No: I have stated that I did not want VO to make Salsa type stems. I suggested something quite different, and actually described it.

It's nice that you are so happy with the inexpensive Dimension stems. I am sure they are excellent value. I have many stems on my bikes, including lovely Nitto Pearls, probably my favoites, and other types of Nittos, Salsas, Cinelli, 3ttt, oh, a couple other Italian brands, some Syntace etc. Like I said, I don't care to see worthy products like Salsa stems, the strongest by far I have ever used, the longest lasting, and the best value of any production stem in my opinion, maligned. By someone who it seems has not used them. So it would seem reasonable to me to respond to your characterization of them as "hideous" at some length. I am sorry if I have not been as patient as you might have liked.

best,
mw

Tex said...

Someone please tell me I am not the only one here who has wondered what a Herse would look like if old Rene had had a TIG welder in his shop! Just what aesthetic trivia would we be arguing about? Herse was of course brilliant, and he used the materials and techniques available to him with stunning results. I suspect he would have made a great many things that looked like they were made by Wes Williams, to use an example I am familiar with. That guy can weld titanium in such a way that it looks like it's fillet brazed. His stems are gorgeous.

I grew up around race cars and hot rods and some motorcycles too, and they used one-off parts made in machine shops and other specialty builders. The best stuff was stitched together with heliarc welders, and the beads were as artful as they were precise. There is nothing crude or "hideous" about it. I generally tend to use TIG welded parts on mountain bikes and forged parts on lugged steel road bikes, but arbitrary "rules" in such matters are as comical as any other silly fetish.

Sloppy welds look cheesy, just like crude lugs on crappy bikes look worse than robotic welds on crappy bikes.

Anonymous said...

I'd never seen a Salsa stem before, but with all this discussion, I looked them up.
I have to agree: hiDEous!
I can't imagine VO making something like that.

patates frites said...

Salsa is definitely mountain-bikey, loud-lycra hammerhead style stuff. It fits in well with the macho image, faster-than-thou crowd. Not something I associate with the VO style.

Yeah, maybe it's well-made stuff, but FUGLY!

Tex said...

I thought we were talking about welds here. Are y'all really that easily distracted by coatings and stickers? Wow.

Anonymous said...

I really agree about Wes Williams. There are a number of legendary welders working in the industry now; one of my bikes, a Steelman Stage Race, is made by one of them. Sweet, sweet, sweet in every way. I guess my Merlin has nice welds too.

hee hee, well, about the "fugly" stem or whatever, I guess it's what you value. I have many gorgeous bikes but ultimately it's all about function for me. Function is a big turn on. I'm a cyclist, more of a user than an ogler. I got into Salsa stems because they solved fit issues, and once you try a steel stem, and feel that solid connection, then realize over the course of a few years that it's a lifetime stem for a hard rider, as opposed to all the dozens of aluminum quills I've been through that get chewed all to shit . . .

well, if function matters it could happen to you too. Salsa is definitely mountain bikey, way mountain bikey, which I love. I enjoy all sorts of cycling activities, from daily commuting to long days on the singletrack. This is partly because I spent much of my life in the Rockies, Utah, and California, where most cyclists do it all. Ross Shafer is a very interesting cat, by the way. You all know his brother, Paul, from the Letterman Show. Ross was one of the early west coast builders who pretty much had to make it up as they went. An extraordinary talent. Yes, I do mix in some mtn. riding along with my shiny chrome lugs and a few vintage French parts too! Keeps life very fun.

http://www.mombat.org/Salsa.htm

Anonymous said...

Chris,
It looks like the stems now all have the VO inscription for either uprise or down mounting, that's good.
Can you tell me the size of the window in the front cap and the overall width of the cap? I'd be using this with a Nitto dirt drop bar I have that has a black sleeve so I want to get an idea of what will show. Thanks.
-Dan, NY

Ian Dickson said...

Dan,

The window is just a hair over 20mm at its widest point and about 15mm at its narrowest. The cap itself starts at 44mm and narrows down to about 37mm.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ian.

david_nj said...

Here's a possibly ignorant question: when I raced I had superb luck with Salsa steel stems. They lasted forever and were simply unbreakable. Can you fillet-braze a welded stem to fair out the welding bead?

... then if it were plated afterwards, it would look terrific.

Sorry if this is a moronic idea.

Anonymous said...

david:

not a moronic idea. I believe, if I'm not mistaken, that Tom Ritchey used to do that exact thing on some of his road frames. But I would say, on a stem, that you'd probably want to go one way or another. Either a fillet brazed stem, and we've seen some Nittos like that, or commission a new design that could be welded and plated in an aesthetically pleasing way, with a practical and versatile and classical shape, and probably an investment cast bar clamp. I suspect that even if you COULD do what you say, and do both, it would be cost prohibitive. I believe most would not mind a weld at all, given all the rest, though of course most would prefer the fillet brazed look, depending on price. I am willing to bet, though, that the vast majority of cyclists would be just fine with the weld. With the new tubing, of course, welding is said to strengthen the joint, so you could argue it's an advantage to weld. We all know that these would cost a bit, and I believe many of us would be VERY happy to pay it. Heck, just look what a custom builder charges for a steel stem.

Dan L. said...

I can't help but think people might be confusing the stems salsa sells: they've a cromoly one, which is gorgeous, and an alloy one, which is functional but not of the same aesthetic ilk.

I've wondered for awhile now what the benefits of forging vs. TIG welding a stem are. The Kalloy folks (Taiwan) apparently make both.

I'll also hazard a guess to say there are four ways to forge a threadless stem (some combination of 2D/3D, and cold/hot forging), and only two to forge a quill stem (cold/hot).

south40db said...

Hi-
Have any of you used the VO threadless stems? If so, how are they? I'm looking for a nice silver stem for a classic bike.
Thanks

PS: Pourquoi les titres sont en francais et les commentaires en anglais?

mander said...

I would really like to see flourescent pink cloth handlebar tape. This is not because I'm interested in the colour by itself (though I bet that some cyclists would be), but because it shellacs up to such a nice shade of brown. Something about the reflected light coming through the shellac gives it a really nice luminescence that you don't get from any other combination. I have wrapped my bars in shellaced flourescent pink hockey tape in the past (see linked pic) but of course real cycling tape is better.

http://i42.tinypic.com/14cs7zs.jpg