22 January, 2009

Project Update


I get a lot of e-mails asking for updates on various projects mentioned in this blog. So I thought I'd write a mass update, in no particular order:

  • The final drawings for the VO skewers arrived this morning and they are ready for production. Arrival in a few weeks.
  • The new style VO Croissant bags, and Baguette bags are in transit. We don't have a firm delivery date, but my best guess is 1-2 weeks.
  • VO handlebar bags have been delayed. We made a small change, the placement of a couple of seams on the piping, and that seems to have stopped everything for a few weeks.
  • VO 17-degree stems are in production.
  • VO French thread BBs are scheduled for production and will be made next time we make our other BBs, probably about 3 months.
  • Grand Cru 50.4mm BCD cranks are far behind schedule, but this is not a priority for us so long as we still have a stock of TA and Sugino PX cranks, so I'm not pushing.
  • VO Porteur bars are delayed and are now probably 3 months out. There was an unexpected issue that required some new tooling, but progress is being made.
  • The VO Production Randonneuse has experienced delay after delay. I must admit that project management has not been good; we are new at production frames. There have been many tiny changes to both the fork and frame to make it perfect. I'll write more about this soon as I expect major updates this week.
  • The above also goes for the VO production city bike.
  • VO tires have been postponed, too many projects at the moment and we have not found a factory that really meets our needs.
  • VO Porteur racks will be made in a new factory and there should be no more shortages. We expect the new production in mid Spring. We may also have a new rack similar to the Nitto M-12. These will be stainless steel and priced below current offerings.
  • Ring locks are on the way, within a few weeks.
  • Inexpensive hub dynamos are expected in March, maybe sooner.
  • We've been designing packaging for VO products. Since more stores are carrying our products we need "shelf ready" packaging. Once all the packaging work is done we'll be working on VO cable housing and brake shoes again. Designing packaging after the fact has been a real headache. So we're making an effort be more like big component companies and have the packaging ready ahead of time.
  • VO panniers are the next bag project. We hope to have them sometime this summer.
Please understand that these delivery dates are only estimates and guesses. So don't plan your build around getting a particular new component on a particular date.

By the way, there are over 100 VO products now (if you count all sizes and colors) and we stock almost 500 products from other manufacturers.

The illustrations are from a wonderful Japanese artist, Yuzuriha Satoshi , whose site is yuzuriha.com. Click on the cycling link on the left.

45 comments:

Doug said...

The skewers are geat timing for me. I pick up my new wheel set this weekend from my LBS. It has Phil Wood hubs, which as you probably know, come without skewers. I'll be looking for them and putting in an order when they arrive.

Michael S said...

Thanks for the update Chris. I too am looking forward to the skewers.

Is there any way that the VO Rando wait list can be shown and updated periodically? Or in the meantime, maybe you could post pictures of the new bikes to distract those of us on the list.

Terry said...

Thanks for the update. You guys certainly are busy.

Would love to know more about the possible front rack. Will it require canti-style brakes like the M-12, or will you be able to mount it with a p-clamp to a fork without braze-ons?

Anonymous said...

Great art, and thanks for linking to the site. Don't suppose you'd consider becoming an art importer as well?
--Tom

Anonymous said...

This illustration shows a Velo Orange bell: http://www.yuzuriha.com/css/pages/gallery_folder/g01pages/autumn/randonneuse8.html

fmackay said...

Some lovely panniers on ebay at the moment.

Mind you, lovely as those are, luggage is one area where I'd choose function over form every time.

If VO can make panniers with classic looks which perform as well as my Ortliebs, though...

Christopher said...

Exciting things are happening and such pretty pictures too.
As a designer (abet mechanical) I am interested in your packaging headache. Could you post some more details as to what goes into your decisions?

Chris Kulczycki said...

The new rack will be for canti-brakes. The current Rando rack works with p-clamps.

The packaging stuff is not hard, just time consuming, except for fender packaging. It's just a matter of finding the right boxes and bags and hang tags and designing logos and artwork for them.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see the cranks bumped up on the priority list. the PX is only available in one length and the TA isn't affordable for many of us (actually, either is the PX once you factor in bolts and chainrings).
Thanks!

RussRoca said...

Chris...wow...thanks for all your work in bring all these great bike items back into the market!!!

darren said...

Chris, any update on the revised fender stays? The ones with a flattened curved section with holes in lieu of the pinch bolt thingy?

And I vaguely recall seeing a retro-style battery-powered LED headlight in the catalog that is now gone, any reorder plans?

Thanks!

Tim K said...

"Grand Cru 50.4mm BCD cranks are far behind schedule, but this is not a priority for us so long as we still have a stock of TA and Sugino PX cranks, so I'm not pushing."

Any hope that you'll give us these with TA-like length choices? At least throw us tall guys a 185mm? IIRC, lots of folks asked for longer cranks in the "RFP" thread. It's impossible to find a decent crank over 180mm for under $450!

fmackay said...

Darren, Gilles Berthoud sells stays like that, eg, if you can't wait for the VO version. Irritatingly, they don't do the Honjo/VO style, which is annoying since I need one stay and fittings, and am loath to place a transatlantic order for something so small. (I'd place a bigger order but the exchange rate is currently atrocious)

nick said...

woo hoo!!! french bbs!!! any word on spindle specs?? thanks for the huge update!!!

Justin said...

I would really love to see VO go for environmentally conscious packaging. Simple, recycled materials would be awesome.

Our hot lunch program at the school I work at uses compostable bags for the fruit, I wonder if you could get compostable plastic bags for your products?

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Not to put any more pressure on you, but any word on chainguards? Yuo haven't said a word since that teaser a few month's back, and my fixed gear is looking naked.

kanek0yuki said...

Like other people have said, thanks again for your hard work! I've thought about getting the ostrich bags, but I think I'll hold out for yours.

Just a thought...are you setting up any sort of waiting list for the bags? I imagine they'll be snatched up very quickly once you put them up for sale.

jeff said...

Regarding the tires - are you thinking of offering a 700x30 slick? There was a lot of support for that size in your other thread. I've got a pair of Schwalbes in that size but I don't consider them to be a top-quality product. I'm not aware of any top-quality clinchers in that size.

Anonymous said...

About that new VO rack similar to the Nitto M-12...I sure hope it sits lower and closer to the front fender. I like my Nitto M-12, but it does sit a bit high. Go Chris go!!!

Michael Hart said...

Chris & Tom,

Double light mounts on that M12ish
rack if possible please.

Thanks

Salvo Lutzery said...

Good news all around. On the new rack, or all of the rando front racks, you may consider in the future devising an attachment like this one: http://www.vintagebicyclepress.com/images/GrandBoisVlettered.jpg
I've seen this on Japanese bikes and it is great because you can detach it and it isn't as big and bulky as the Nitto Campee front rack (which is as elusive as an affordable french BB). I know the light mounts are in a different place for your racks, but it is still doable. I bet people would be really into having detachable pannier mounts for a rando rack for touring...right?

Anonymous said...

Do you think that you will sell VO chainrings for your 50.4 bcd cranks? I imagine there could be quite a market for them?

lee.watkins said...

Could VO do a theft-resistant skewer similar to pitlock, except at a lower price? It would only need one "key nut" since the pool of people who could open them would be narrowed to other VO fans who have bought them.

Personally I can't deal with quick-release skewers, it just makes me too paranoid since I've lost wheels before.

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C said...

Normally I appreciate good packaging and I spend my day working at a design firm that does a lot of packaging ranging from beer bottles to dog food. That said, when it comes to ordering on-line I really prefer to keep it to an absolute minimum. It's just more stuff I'm going to have to toss in the recycling bin. Save the good packaging for product you intend to distribute through retail channels while going the OEM packaging for stuff you sell on-line. Have to say I think Amazon was brilliant with their recent holiday toy packaging in this respect.

Tom said...

Nick- I just placed the order for a tonne of bottom brackets French .....and SWISS..... In the same spindle range as our Gan Cru bbsets, (and I added a 103mm length) to 122mm. Same taper.

This is not 'old tech'. It's the march of industrialization rendering old conventions obsolete. VO is being counter conventional. Speaking of that, I'm gonna catch hell for anodizing the cups blue (French) and red (Suisse), but how do you identify the bb when it's installed? All current BB designs require you to remove them first to determine what the threading is, or remember or just know that the janked out decal-less bike in the stand has a BSA thread bottom bracket shell.

Steve said...

Jeff asks:

Regarding the tires - are you thinking of offering a 700x30 slick? There was a lot of support for that size in your other thread. I've got a pair of Schwalbes in that size but I don't consider them to be a top-quality product. I'm not aware of any top-quality clinchers in that size.


The Grand Bois 700x30 is definitely a top quality tire. It's light, fast, good looking, supple, great riding; it's also rather prone to glass puntures and wears more quickly than some other tires.

I took mine off for the winter and replaced them with Panaracer Pasela 700x32s, which are almost exactly the same size as the Grand Bois. They feel fairly similar, with the Pasela being a somewhat muted version, a little slower and a little heavier. The Pasela tread is much thicker, so there's little doubt that they will last longer and so far (admittedly, with only a couple of hundred miles on them) no flats.

The Grand Bois are around $50 each, the Paselas around $15 each.

C said...

Is there really room for yet another tire?? Seems right up there with cantilever brakes on the list of "niche products being done to death"

johnson said...

ironically, all of the apropos tires out there, they are all made by panaracer, in japan. the riv tire, the grand bois, the pasela... i would like to see michelin* get back in the game, or.... pirelli!!!

*michelin with a french made tire of course, and pirelli with an italian.

Anonymous said...

If you are going down the road to the third world anyway, do any of those tire factories in Taiwan or the PRC or Indonesia do spec tires, but with nice sidewalls and tread compounds? You know, to have a knockout tire for 30 bucks.

Anonymous said...

Taiwan is on the IMF lists as a high income country and as an advanced economy, just like the USA.

PRC and Indonesia are considered second world.

The geographic ignorance of Americans is staggering.

Anonymous said...

likewise, its smugness and irritability. I said 'down the road to the third world...' which I take to mean 'not yet in fact there.' I was using the definition I learned in my canadian high school education, that classed 'first world' as the west and japan, 'second world' as warsaw pact/PRC (this was the 80s) and the 'third world' is everything else. lighten up buddy.

Anonymous said...

I just got a set of your VO touring pedals in the mail. They are without a doubt the finest pedals I have ever seen. I will now consider buying just about anything you put your name on. Can't wait for the 17 degree stems. Thanks!

nick said...

hmm...no ISO taper...drat. well i understand the effort, may just pick up a couple anyway, so i have them.

johnson said...

i've swapped JIS and ISO cranks and BBs for years without issue. and i am fat and ride vintage loaded bikes off road, ie on proper mountain bike trails. so. durability: not an issue.

Alisa said...
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TwoWheels said...

Is there any chance that we can pre-order the skewers? I have a wheelset that came with the new style skewers and they're ugly as can be and they're going into horizontal dropouts, so I'd like the stronger older style.

Anonymous said...

"VO 17-degree stems are in production."

Is this a quill or threadless stem? If its threadless, can it be turned upside down to make it a +17 degree stem?

A nice silver threadless stem with a 17-25 degree rise is missing from the market and should be welcome. Thanks for keeping up posted!

Chris Kulczycki said...

The fender stay project is at an impasse. They are not as strong as our other stays and I need to decide how or if to to proceed.

We won't have waiting lists or pre-orders for any of these items, sorry. We are placing large initial orders so plenty will be available.

The 17-degree stems are threadless and can be flipped.

Adam said...

This possibly involves too much machining, but I'd really love for someone to make a classic fender headlight mount. I'd love to be able to mount my eDelux on my V-O Honjo "Le Paon" fenders to get that really classic French rando look (and lack of wheel shadow!)

Just an idea. I've been looking for improvised fender light mount possibilities, and not finding much.

fmackay said...

Adam, since you'd probably want to add another stay at the front to support the light, why not use this as the mount? A small (30-40mm x 10mm) strip of stainless steel with a hole at each end and a 90 degree twist in the middle would do it, one end goes between the fender and the washer on the mounting bolt and the light attaches to the other.

I've had a plan for a while to transplant the internals from an IQ Fly/Cyo into a vintage Radios or similar headlight and mount it on the fender, but those lights go for silly money on ebay. Perhaps I should consider an edelux instead, with a silver one it would look almost as good, perform better and seem cheap!

Speaking of ebay/silly money, I see the lovely panniers I linked to above finished at just shy of $300, I suspect VO can provide slightly better value...

bill said...

Does anyone know the details of the VO Production Randonneuse that was mentioned? Is it 650B?

Thanks

Nat said...

I just looked back at the prototype photo for the VO handlebar bag from a year ago and i started thinking: "is that really going to work with a decaleur (like the one i just bought in anticipation of the VO handlebar bag)?" i hope that has been taken into consideration for the final product. philosophically speaking, the handlebar bag is the one piece of luggage that has to be done right. throw your crap in a duffle bag and strap it on the rear rack for all i care. But you'll be looking down at that handlebar bag for miles...

aa said...

fmackay -- if you want to see what an eDelux looks like mounted on a fender, I did go ahead and fab a simple mount from some stainless flat stock.

http://flickr.com/photos/aalpern/3236283538/

It works very nicely!

Anonymous said...

i'm very pleased to hear about the stems. i've spent hours and hours the last week or so trying to find a silver threadless stem. it's basically impossible to find one that's parallel to the TT, not covered in ugly logos or $70+.