09 January, 2009

Logos and Frame Pumps

It was interesting to see a few comments about logos in the previous post. That's a topic that very much interests me since I've always been anti-branding. In fact that is one reason why there are only two decals on most Velo Orange frames and only small logos on most of our components and accessories. I had originally planned not to have any logos on many VO products, but I soon learned that most folks want them.

A salesperson at REI recently told me about their problem with the theft of North Face jackets. I would never buy a North Face jacket precisely because of the huge garish logos on them, but the majority of both customers and shoplifters want them, while ignoring the superior Marmot and Patagonia Jackets one rack over. That huge logo is a status symbol and, ugly as it is, it adds value. Of course the folks who crave the logos won't admit it while elitists like me will sanctimoniously declare their opposition to them; such is human nature.

The other issue is that it is fairly easy for another company to sell a component that looks much like a VO part. I found that to be a serious problem at my previous company. Even if we have an exclusive deal with the factory that makes our retro cages, for example, there are other factories that would be happy to make a duplicate--you can't patent a 60-year-old French design. So we will be putting logos on more of our stuff. But you can be sure that they will be as small and tasteful as possible.

Speaking of logos, the one on the Park PMP-5 frame pump above is too big. The pump, however, is just great. In fact it's now my favorite frame pump and we have just started stocking them.

Here's why. First of all its length is adjustable. Those seven little slots allow it to fit almost any frame so you only need one frame pump for all your bikes. The adjustment slots, by the way, are on the bottom and not visible when the pump is on the bike. In addition it pumps to 160 psi (according to Park) and works on both shrader and presta valves. It is new so I can't say for sure, but it appears to be very well made and durable. Finally the handle swivels, making it very comfortable to hold.

In all honesty, I now use a Quicker Pro pump much of the time; I simply don't need the speed of a frame pump since I don't do many group rides. But there are valid reasons to prefer frame pumps and this is a darn good one.

31 comments:

C said...

Wouldn't be so sure about "superior" Marmot jackets. I worked at REI HQ and had access to country of origin lists for many of our vendors. Many of these companies all use the exact same factories. I know Marmot uses the same factory as REI and Osprey for some products. The notion that Brand A is better built than Brand B isn't always true when it comes to workmanship. Companies also seem to constantly change factories and even countries. I also know that when I left REI North Face was starting to move some of their Chinese production back to North America (Canada)

Patagucci is better than most in this regard but even they use some of the same factories as the other brands.

As for thefts, Arc'Teryx was an even bigger target than North Face. Some REI stores had more Arc'Teryx jackets stolen from them than they managed to sell. Most of the stolen items wind up being sold on e-Bay.

xjoex said...

I can't endorse the Quicker Pro. Mine won't pump a tire up more than 40 psi.

-Joe

Chris Kulczycki said...

xjoex, If your pump won't pump, return it for a replacement. Those are great pumps, put they had some assembly problems in their early production runs. Probably the typical case of a product becoming very popular before the company had the quality control issues solved.

Steve said...

Apropos of logos, I'm happy to have the VO logo on my Randonneur frame. I specifically chose to have the lettering on the sides of the downtube so that all those people who see the bike and think "Wow, what a gorgeous frame!" know who should get the credit.

eric said...

I actually like logos on products from smaller, esoteric or not common brands at the very least so others might find out about my "find" and therefore hopefully bring a little biz their (your) way.

Anonymous said...

I guess some North Face products have garish logos, but the stuff I've owned is pretty tasteful. EG, the logo is often embroidered into the fabric in a matching color. For the most part, on modern bikes the over-logoing trend is completely out of hand and they are absolutely hideous. I would approve of a discreet V-O logo however.

- Mark

Rick said...

I"m a no-logo guy. There are no logos visible on any Bicycle Fixation products except for a couple of obviously promotional ones. We only just started putting tiny little logos on the inside waistband tag last year!

On bike frames I like headbadges on otherwise logo-less tubes. Even fancy headbadges, which are an art in themselves.

RussRoca said...

Chris,
Glad you're carrying that pumo. It's one of my faves! I did a review for it on Epicurean Cyclist a few months ago. It's super handy as it can seamlessly travel between my different bikes.

http://epicureancyclist.blogspot.com/2008/10/1-pump3-bikes-or-magic-expanding-pump.html

Best,
Russ

Anonymous said...

There is sure to be a cost issue, but I'd love to see VO move away from the laser etch logos. It can look like an afterthought (which from Chris's post doesn't sound entirely off the mark.)

I've always been pleased with the look of the "pantograph" marks on alloy parts. Eighties Dia Comp brakes come to mind. I think in most cases what I'm referring to is actually made in the casting, but at any rate the recessed logo has a very mechanical, strong look. The white "R" on red enamel on some Raleigh seat binder bolts was pretty darn cool too.

The point is, if you are going to have logos anyway make them look like an integrated part of the product. Small and tasteful by all means, but make it look like you care.

Bill R. said...

How about having the logo screened on in silver or white (presumably on a silver component)? This way, those of us that would prefer no logos can easily buff them off.
I hate to be overly critical here because I'm a VO fan and love the goodies - but I do think that the laser etched logos on many of the components look like an afterthought. On the headsets, the font looks a little off and the scale seems a bit weird. On the threadless stems and seatposts, the placement and scale seem a bit off.
Again, this is meant as a constructive opinion - not hate mail.
Thanks!

Anonymous said...

My 2 cents....
The North Face has become a label just like Polo was years ago. The puffy down jackets along with the Denali have become the big targets among that brand. While Marmot, REI and the list of others are made in some of the same factories the same is true for a host of products we use every day, including some bike supplies.
It's also very funny to me that Patagonia, being an awesome company with outstanding products & a strong commitment to the environment get's titled as Patagucci while Arc'Teryx, which is about the same or higher priced then Patagonia, get's no name calling. I offer a challenge for someone to come up with a new HIGHER end name for the Arc' folks......takers?

Garth said...

I realize I'm not against tastefully done logos; big and garish, yes. I realize that some brands I'm just not sold on,and don't want to identify with those. For instance, Chris King has so many "voodoo mountain biker wailing thrash-it slam it down-dude kokopeli on the side of my Isuzu" connotations that I simply don't relate. Completely personal! :)

Last night I looked up brand new motorcycles on the internet and was utterly shocked by current design and graphics. I'd rather not ride a motorcycle. (exeption; Triumph).

So, go ahead and please do the VO label, it identifies the part, removes it from anonymity, for the same reason artists sign their work. Quite frankly, I think you could develop your frame graphics more. Right now I think they look too generic. Perhaps develop an image graphic...

johnson said...

speaking as a professional artist who also knows a bunch of other professional artists, no one signs their work anymore. i mean, no one i know does. i'll put my name and the year on the back if someone specifically asks. but. anyway. thats not a slam, just a bit of news from an artist who knows other artists.

Joel said...

My preference is no logo.

If the logo is necessary, a good example of attractive and ugly can be found on the Chris King headsets.

The last couple years, CK started putting a real loud logo on its steel headsets. The Ti CKs on the other hand, had a real subtle etching that is almost preferable over nothing. In some light, the logo enhances that quality with well polished Ti where it appears you can see beneath the surface.

nv said...

What johnson said.
I'm an artist as well - nobody signs their work. It's actually a major faux pas and these days is the mark of an early student or somebody far removed from the current profession.
Just an FYI.
nv

Anonymous said...

Those Lezyne pumps you sell (with the little hose) are the bee's knees! I've replaced my Quicker Pro and all my frame pumps with them.
You should carry the larger diameter models, too, they're better for fat 650Bs.

david_nj said...

2.5 things:

- I fully agree with the "no-logo" guys. There is an austerity to going logo-less that is most elegant. I don't see why it much matters that someone could knock off the products. All it would take is a very small stamping somewhere out of sight to ensure that its authenticity could be verfied.

- If you don't agree with the no-logo ethos, I agree with the poster who opined that they should be removable. Some alloy components have the lettering on top of the clearcoat and it takes seconds to get rid of them.

- Lastly, I think you'll find that those Park pumps aren't as good as real full-length ones. The barrel is really short. It's about the only thing that fits on my SO's 49cm frame, but IMHO you'd do a lot better with a full length model, e.g. a Blackburn, Topeak, Zefal, Silca, etc. (One thing I would say is I think anyone who goes on a long ride without a full-length pump needs to have his/her head examined! The Quicker pump and certainly all the mini pumps out there are far cries from a real frame pump -- not being able to fully inflate your tires when 50 miles from home can be infinitely frustrating!)

Anonymous said...

Obnoxious logos are obnoxious. Logos that are not obnoxious serve a valid purpose. I used to leave the stickers on rims, until they got stupid looking. Now you have to cut them at several spoke holes in order to remove them. Sheesh!

meade said...

Chris et al

if I was a designer/manufacturer I would want my logo somewhere on my products and the discrete VO is actually quite nice. So, I have no problem with the VO logos on the products. And in a way something is needed at least on some parts so somebody knows what they have especially if they need replacement parts. (I never heard anybody complain about the Campy logos.)

Alan said...

Keep the logos, there are discreet in my opinion, and I like the idea of having a logo to ID the maker.
Alan

benzzoy said...

The design of the Park pump is not new. Barbieri had a very similar design dating back to about 2000 at least. In fact, I would say that the Barbieri design is much better/clever in that it mimics a floor pump in use, much like the Topeak Morph series but without the hose. There's none of the mini-chest fly exercises like with most pumps, including the Park. Alas, the Barbieri is discontinued.

http://ouyang.smugmug.com/gallery/7060600_erV55

keithwwalker said...

Laser etching a logo, without painting is very discreet. It also allows for the owner to (carefully) fill in the etching with paint.

Examples are the Chris King sotto voce laser etching (prior to anodizing):
Sotto Voce

and the Velo Orange seatposts:

Grand Cru Seatpost

Both these items will grace my new bicycle (a Surly with the decals removed,lol).

Anonymous said...

Speaking of discretely logoed products and frame pumps in the same posting, it reminds me of how much I love my Topeak Master Blaster, which not only works great, but also looks fantastic mounted on my bike. It even matches my VO fenders! I'm afraid that that Park pump looks like something I would rather keep in my toolbox, but I don't doubt its a fine pump.

Incidently, I was out shopping today for a new stem for my son's mountain bike. Besides being black, they were all covered in horrible, ugly logos (got to read it if you flip the stem, right?) and I kept thinking to myself how there is no way I would ever put a stem like this on my touring bike. Logos are okay if they small and discrete and don't distract from a clean look(like on the Master Blaster) and I think the laser etchings on VO products fall into that category. Sorry to hear people are stealing your water bottle cage design (which I own and love, BTW). Good luck getting a logo that, though. :)

John B.

Anonymous said...

Another argument for discrete logos, especially for VO products, is theft deterrence. I would not put a Chris King headset on my city bike because the logo would instantly attract attention and give a would-be thief an idea of the enhanced value of the bike. I have removed logos, particularly from rims precisely to discourage this kind of unwanted attention. I have also been loathe to invest in high-end components (phil, king, white, etc.) even though I would like their durability and quality for my city bike.

Doubtless, VO might not register with most bike thiefs as a valuable brand at this point, but even a well-done and classy logo would seem to have more resale value than a logo-less product.

Also, I agree with the other commenter that North Face does make some tasteful logos and very good products. My guess is, they know their customers: soft-shells and technical shells are probably more discrete than the puffy down that has captured so much of the urban, status-symbol market. But not to buy TNF just because some products are overlogoed seems a little precious to me... they still have good (and less expensive) products.

Rick said...

As for knock-offs, it's easier to knock off the logo than the item anyway! And often enough done, at least in clothing.

I have a bike with a threadless stem now but was fortunate to be able to remove the hideous and very large logo with a kitchen scrub sponge.

I get really tired of the advertising bombardment, and decided not to contribute with my own business.

I'd love to find plain black riding/running shoes too!

Anonymous said...

there's a black bike shoe made by Exustar called the Stelvio, not imported here but you could order it from a UK retailer. not exactly classic, but it gets good reviews.

mw

Garth said...

Now I know why I'm a failed artist- I've been signing my work! Yikes, but, then, maybe that's why I (in my super personal subjective opinion) excused myself from that world of superficial boring vanity. The emperor has no clothes....

Meanwhile, I teach (because those that can't teach...) my students wonderful ways of making art everyday and we all have fun in the process. Does it make us failures because we have left out the money factor?... :)

Here is an interesting thought... a Rene Herse bike with all of the logos removed...

nordic_68 said...

Chiming in late here. I also am disappointed with my Quicker Pro pump. There is significant resistance to pumping and the pressure gauge never rises much above 50psi, even when the tire feels firmer. I'm baffled by the pump, which is embarrassing for a mechanical engineer...

Chris Kulczycki said...

As I've said before, there were some assembly problems with some of the early pumps. They will happily replace them, or we will. When the QPPs work properly they are super.

Yann said...

why not go to a simpler, cleaner, more classic physical stamping...

If someone wants to show off the brand they can wipe some paint into it (cough cough mafac) or they can leave it be and it will be subtle all the while hinting at its quality (only nice things ever get physically stamped).

It also ensures that many many years down the road after getting used and repainted by different people its source will still easily be found.

Justin said...

I am pro-logo for the VO components for a couple reasons:

VO is making/rebadging/commissioning/whatevering some needed components at reasonable prices. The seatpost is a steal, as are his bags and stems. He should be proud of this and people should know that these components all come from the same place. I can only imagine how eloquent a VO bike with nearly all VO components would look. I hope that he starts giving all the handlebars the VO laser etching near the clamp area.

Also - Chris isn't stupid. He knows what he likes on a bike and what his customers like. We'll (hopefully) never see a .COM after the name on a VO frame, or a painted on logo on the stem or seatpost in 80pt block lettering. It's a small, subtle and laser etched logo that appeals to the minimalist nature of his offerings. The logos fit the product in all cases.

The one except is that I wish the logos on the headsets could be a little better thought. Perhaps just a VO (similar to the seatpost) on the four corners (so to speak) and then a larger VO on the topcap. Just a thought there.