07 January, 2009

VO Skewers and Other News

The product that launched Campagnolo was the quick release skewer. During a race in 1927 Tullio Campagnolo, then just another an Italian bicycle racer, flatted and found that he could not remove the wing nuts on his wheel and so could not fix the flat. The sudden cold had so numbed his hands that he couldn't loosen the nuts. Soon thereafter he invented the quick release skewer.

Signore Campagnolo got the design right the first time. His skewer had an internal cam that gripped well and was protected from dirt. But in the 1980s someone decided to "improve" his design by using an exposed cam. This made the skewers a few grams lighter and they looked more modern. But they required a larger cam that offered considerably less holding power when the same amount of force was used on the locking lever. Riders found that they sometimes slipped on bikes with horizontal dropouts or track ends. In addition the cam was exposed to road grime. Unfortunately exposed cam skewers have become the norm.

So we decided to make reasonably light, well made, and inexpensive internal cam quick release skewer. Here they are:This skewer is made in a very well regarded Taiwanese factory that makes only skewers (They are specialized). The acorn nut, the one without the lever, is alloy, but it has a chrome steel face pressed on for better grip and durability. It also has a nylon insert to prevent loosening. The other end also features an alloy housing, however the lever and cam are chromed steel so they won't break when you over-tighten them.

As for aesthetics, there is that red/orange plastic dot at the end. It levers right off with a knife tip if you don't like it. But we are thinking of having the Velo Orange logo laser engraved in it's place. Around $16-$18 a pair. Waddaya think?

We hope to have them in mid-March.

In other news:

  • We have the fixie wheel sets in stock now.
  • The new VO handlebar, croissant, and baguettes bags are almost finished at the factory. We will try to get one or two cases of each shipped by air, since many of you have been waiting for them, and the rest by ocean.
  • We'll soon have the new Spanninga LED dynamo lights.

53 comments:

Greg said...

Almost every post is a pleasant suprise and amazing. Years from now we'll have the legend of the first Velo-Orange product.

Still waiting for the Velo-Orange complete bike. Surely you're only a few parts shy.

C said...

Very nice, well priced, and much needed.

Anonymous said...

I'll definitely take a pair and I like the orange dot since orange is my favorite color!

Anonymous said...

These are nice. Even with the unnecessary orange dot. Much better looking than just about all the new skewers on the market today. I'll definitely order two or more sets.

Cheers,

JP

Salvo Lutzery said...

Yay! Bags are coming! I just cashed in two years worth of "spare change" and it has become my bag fund. It feels like free money and it goes toward my favorite thing, my bike! I highly recommend this practice.

Anonymous said...

What about bolt on skewers. I like those better for security and they look nicer.

redcliffs said...

Very nice. Will the cam side also have a steel face? I think this is important, especially for those interested in fixie applications. Great work!

Anonymous said...

Fixie riders using a QR is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard, that is such a bad item. Get a real bolt on wheel.

Anonymous said...

The handle of the skewer looks like it would match my Simplex down tube shifters nicely! Very cool.

Dominic Dougherty said...

@Anon 13:44
What's wrong with a quick-release fixed wheel? The only reason it isn't the 'norm' now is because the quick-release of old (wing-nut) was banned from velodrome racing because of its likelihood to increase injury in the event of a massive crash.

If used properly, a closed-cam quick release will not come loose on a fixed wheel.

Chris Kulczycki said...

The cam end does not have a steel face. The factory felt that it was only needed on the drive side. We could spec a steel housing, but most folks would probably prefer the lighter alloy version.

nv said...

These are great - just yesterday I realized I needed a pair of good looking skewers and was about to poke around and see whats out there. I would prefer no orange dot but I could easily live with it if you go that route.
As usual, great work!

Anonymous said...

Nice, I have no real issues with them. In the photo's it's hard to tell how nice the finish is due to the low res. pic but from what I can see I would prefer to see more of a nicer nickel finish.

Cheers,

CB

Aaron Thomas said...

I don't mind the orange dot. Actually, I think I'd prefer it to a VO logo.

Out of curiosity, just what kind of weight difference are we talking about between the modern exposed type and VO's (or Tullio's original) version?

Does the weight difference add up to anything significant?

Anonymous said...

Super, very nice. I like the shininess. I just built two wheels, one with shiny Campy Chorus hub and skewer and the other with less-shiny XTR m900 hub and the Chorus is the nicer-looking of the two, hands down.

My only problem is I have been building a list of things I want to order from VO and I need to get it in soon, before it becomes prohibitively expensive! Keep up the good work.

P.S. the VO drop bars are the last item on my "waiting for" list, looking forward to news on those.

johnson said...

considering how expensive record skewers are, these are badass. i mean, i could put them on all my bikes for the cost of a record front qr. fixie + qr isnt bad. good qrs have more clamping force than nuts. so. nuts!

Tim said...

What sort of spacing will you offer? I'd be very interested in a pair for a 100/135 hubset.

nordic_68 said...

I'd buy a pair just to have around as spares, given how hard this is to find. Especially if the dot is replaced with a subtle VO.

Georgia Lawyer said...

These look very nice. Shimano skewers are very nice, but these will look much better on many bikes and looks like will be much less expensive.

Jim G said...

"Fixie riders using a QR is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard, that is such a bad item. Get a real bolt on wheel."

7+ years of riding QR-fixed, and I've never had it slip. Of course, I use *real* brakes on my bike, and don't show-off with skid stops, neither.

Anonymous said...

I just went way out of my way to find old-style Shimano skewers with the polished levers. The downside is the plastic knurled nut. (with steel insert however)
I should have known you were working on what I was looking for.

Gunnar Berg said...

I gotta little Ford Ranger pickup. It says "Ford" across the tailgate. I don't like it. I think it's free advertising and I kinda resent it.
I understand why it gives you pleasure to put "V.O" on everything. I think the laser etching looks modern and cheesy, AND I CANNOT BUFF IT OFF!
Just think about it first and then do it.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention and as posted earlier. Allen/safety key skewers would also be nice for around town bikes & Fixies.

Cheers,

CB

Anonymous said...

I *heart* VO

Seriously. You make ^^ that ^^ into a t-shirt and I'll buy it. Seriously.

nick said...

anything on french bbs yet?

Anonymous said...

wow. another great idea. thanks, mike

Bill R. said...

I gotta say, I'm with Gunnar.
I'd vote for no branding when possible, absolutely minimal when absolutely necessary. I mean this as constructive criticism - I'm a fan and love the products.

redcliffs said...

What do you think the weight penalty for going from an alloy to a steel face on the cam side is? Under 5 grams? On your average randonneur/retro/hot-shot racing bike, the skewer is about the most useless place to try to save weight in my opinion -- stationary and so light to begin with that the potential savings are, in absolute terms, almost nill. Don't get me wrong, I hear what you're saying entirely, but if a QR is going to slip (impossible in vertical drop outs, unlikely in a free wheel horizontal dropout but certainly possible in a fixie app.), it'll happen on the cam side as well as the opposite end, I would think.

still and all, really, really nice skewers.

[and as for whether a qr on a fixie is a good idea, i'm probably going to take Sheldon's opinion and experience most days over yours, anonyme...]

Anonymous said...

The Campy Nuevo Record skewers with their heavy plating were in my opinion the best skewers ever made. That is why a mint set sells for ridiculous prices on eBay. Back in the mid 1980's Specialized attempted to copy this design verbatim but did not do as well of job with the plating or the quality of the steel. No other company attempted a truly faithful copy of this legendary design. Sure there were poor knock-offs but nothing even close to the real NR quick release.

With that said those classic Simplex QR's are mighty nice. Almost too nice to put on a daily rider though.

There have been some interesting QR designs over the recent years including metals such as titanium but in the end the classic Campy NR stands atop the heap. I wish they would re issue them.

Phillip

workbike said...

Showing my ignorance- what's the difference with and exposed cam? They look the same as my cheapo shimano ones (apologies for bad language) ;)

Anonymous said...

In my experience, QR slip in the rear tends to be on the starboard side, because of the forces of the drive train. The port side will stay where it is.
mb

howtostretch said...

>>The Campy Nuevo Record skewers with their heavy plating were in my opinion the best skewers ever made. That is why a mint set sells for ridiculous prices on eBay. Back in the mid 1980's Specialized attempted to copy this design verbatim but did not do as well of job with the plating or the quality of the steel.<<

I have had more sets of Campy NR qr's, and they are indeed nice. However, I have found the Specialized copies to be just as good, chrome wise, and quality wise. Except for the d-ring, I think Campy did a more robust version. I have several wheelsets held on by both, no problems, and if I am to be honest, the Campys rust more.

Dominic Dougherty said...

@workbike

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/skewers.html

jimmythefly said...

I like the aluminum cam end. In my experience, it's the drive side that slips in a horizontal dropout. That's what first prompted me to ditch my modern (all-aluminum)skewers and hunt down a set of older steel Dura-Ace ones. No slippage since.

Anonymous said...

Perfect! I've been looking for handsome skewers for a while now. I would also support a non-quick release version.

Supreme Commander said...

Keep the orange dot or just go with smooth end. No VO logo. It will be too small to be clearly seen and just make the skewer look scuffed when seen at a distance. Besides, depending on the angle of the lever, the logo will not be vertical.

If you could get the dot color coordinated to your Randonneur frame standard colors, it would be very cool indeed.

Garth said...

neat. I use the allen bolt skewers. those are nice for the added theft protection and cleaner look. I didn't realize about the apparent de-evolution of skewers, very interesting...

Anonymous said...

I have a frame with chrome horizontal drop outs and aluminum skewers just would not hold in place. A switch to some older steel skewers cured the slipping problems.

David said...

One of the little things reminds me that Shimano is an OK company is that they never abandoned the internal cam on their skewers. Admittedly, the new XTR aren't cup of tea--I'm particularly fond of the late '80s 600/Ultegra/color-panel(?) version.

Anonymous said...

I prefer the exposed cam...only because it makes me feel like I "know" it's sound and secure!
Generally speaking, I dislike the "designer label syndrome" logo splashed everywhere...but, as long as it is subdued, muted, and not glow- in- the- dark...I will learn to live with it.(yes, I'm one of those people that strips all the decals off their bike!)

Ron said...

Not to sound too contrary, but. Since when does a non racer need (I mean NEED) a quick release skewer anyway? Are you happy to make their wheels easier prey to thieves just so you can take off your wheels 20 seconds faster than I can with an allen bolt skewer? Just wondering why we're so excited about racing parts on our non racing bikes.

Ron

M said...

@Ron

Us non racers think of QR as short for "tool free."

Anonymous said...

The ability to use an allen key (or, wait for it--a 15mm wrench!) is not reserved for cyclists. I don't know how it works where you live, but where I'm from we have these places called "hardware stores" where ANYONE can walk in, and for about a dollar, can walk out with an allen key. A cheap wrench is only a couple of dollars more. Even people with criminal backgrounds are allowed to shop at these stores.
I am being a bit of a prick here, but what I am trying to say is that bolted wheels only give a false sense of security. A friend used to solder his allen heads on his quill stem because he lost a bar/stem/shifter/brake combo. And this was in Victoria, a relatively affluent and safe city. QRs just mean I lock my wheels.

Joel said...

Use Pitlock (or if you prefer a cheap knock off, the Soma security) skewers.

You need a special shaped wrench end to get them off.

Sure someone with a hack saw could saw the Pitlock off. The hope is the thief would go rob someone else.

Pitlocks have a very nice patina and look good on the bike as well.

David said...

You know how it goes. All locks are deterants, and calculated risks. A bolt on skewer/wheel is too.

Anonymous said...

the skewers are great. I too have had lots of trouble with alloy skewers with famous labels. Ti skewers, esp, are almost impossible for me to get tight enough in certain frames. Then the inside of your chainstays gets rubbed down to the metal. I like these the way they are, they look strong and smart, I don't care what sort of decoration they have.

Steve said...

Ron said

Not to sound too contrary, but. Since when does a non racer need (I mean NEED) a quick release skewer anyway? Are you happy to make their wheels easier prey to thieves just so you can take off your wheels 20 seconds faster than I can with an allen bolt skewer? Just wondering why we're so excited about racing parts on our non racing bikes.


Do you never have to remove a wheel to transport your bike? Do you not have flats? I can remove a QR wheel with one hand, without tools. An allen bolt skewer isn't much different than any other bolt-on: you've got to remove the wrench from your tool bag (and that's a big fuss right there) and then lay the bike down and use two hands to open the release. And then, you have to put your tools away again. That's a lot more than a trifle.

jay said...

Steve,
I almost never remove my wheels, haven't had a flat on the road in over 6 years (only one slow leak overnight in the house) and ride with both allen bolt-ons and quick release skewers. I'm thinking of slowly switching over to all allen bolt-ons. They are good looking, light, inexpensive (at least the ones I use are) and easy to operate. With allen key in hand, I can remove the a wheel as quickly as a quick release.
Just a different viewpoint...

Ron said...

Steve said:

Do you not have flats? I can remove a QR wheel with one hand, without tools. An allen bolt skewer isn't much different than any other bolt-on: you've got to remove the wrench from your tool bag (and that's a big fuss right there) and then lay the bike down and use two hands to open the release. And then, you have to put your tools away again. That's a lot more than a trifle.

Steve, you've just described the exact situation in which any mere mortal would already need to have tools. How is first having to get out a single allen wrench significantly more difficult than also digging out tire levers and a patch kit? However, if you're able to remove tires with your bare hands and produce tire tubes from thin air like a magician pulls a rabbit from a hat, then you've got it made!

Olyfixie said...

This is a very nice effort. I probably sound mad, but I dislike the engraved 'Open' and 'Closed' on either side of the lever more than I do the VO logo. Of course, not having the legends probably sets one up for a liability suit.

yankee_dollar said...

this is starting to sound like the CR mailing list-bickering old ladies and all...

Anonymous said...

You're all missing the point.
Wasn't it a huge climb Tullio was on and he need to flip his wheel for a bigger cog? And as such the Campagnolo quick release was first presented as a "Gear Changer".
it made changing gears faster...

wirehead said...

Nice. Because of Sheldon Brown's writing, I'm not a proper part of VO's target audience and I kinda want one. :D