11 March, 2009

Corporate Responsibility, Retro Cranks, Stinky Tofu...


I'm trying to catch up after my mini vacation, so no time for along post today, but Tom wrote a couple of interesting things on the VOI blog.

First is an article about our trip to Taiwan next week and about corporate social responsibility. Here's the link.

Speaking of Taiwan, I can't wait to go to one of the the night markets in Taipai for street food. I actually like stinky tofu and dried squid and bubble tea.

It seems there is some interest from a major crank manufacturer in producing a TA Cyclotouriste-style crank set. This is not the same project as the crank set VO still hopes to have manufactured one day. A bit more info here.

Finally, we try to run a mostly paperless office here at VO. Even your receipts are e-mailed instead of being printed out. We do, however, include paper instruction with some products, though not all. I think we should start including paper instructions with fenders, rather than asking you to go on line to read them. It seems to me that having the paper copy in front of you when installing them is far more convenient. Any thoughts?

36 comments:

patates frites said...

You absolutely need to have instructions in front of you when you are assembling something. And you can't always be close to the 'puter. So, yeah, paper is the way to go.

How was the trip to PR?

Gunnar Berg said...

I cannot believe that people need instructions to install fenders. (No offense, patates frites.)

Michael S said...

If people need paper instructions they can print them out from the website. No need to waste paper on the people who don't need the instructions.

Anonymous said...

Oh those Taiwan pictures take me back. It seems so funny to be going to Taiwan for biking stuff, in the sense that it is probably one of the most inhospitable places for biking (hilly, humid, smoggy, full of betel-nut addled cab drivers, and scooterists talking on their cellphone). Enjoy the sticked foods, and drink some taiwan draft in the green bottle for me.

Dan (in Seattle)

Ian Dickson said...

If I need instructions, I'll print them.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Patates, PR was very nice. We did a little walking in the rain forest and some snorkeling. Even went to a surf spot where I was tempted, for about 3 seconds, to rent a board. We had a lot of kiosko food too; must eat like a local.

Dan, Taiwan is developing a thriving bike culture. VOI sells to Taiwanese shops and we send a lot of Velo Orange products (sometimes made in Taiwan) to Taiwanese cyclists.

Anonymous said...

it is either my paper or your paper. Since my printer ink is soooooo expensive, I would ask for you to include paper instructions.

Anonymous said...

Just installed a pair of your stainless fenders. If people need instructions print them, or better yet,look up the information on your laptop and use it as a reference. I'm doing that more and more.

Anonymous said...

+on the fender instructions printed out. Very useful, especially since I did the install over 2 or 3 days.

Steve said...

Printed instructions for assembling fenders would be wonderful. Gunnar, have you installed undrilled Honjo fenders before? It's not exactly hard but the risk of ruining an expensive part is high and the way you go about it isn't at all obvious.

Garth said...

Hi Everyone,

I'm really happy with the Sugino PX cranks. I'm curious to see the VO version come out. Perhaps I'll like it more than this. If money was no object, I would have gone for the original TAs. With the Suginio, I did not need to invest in the different crank puller, which was money saved. I think that the VO version should just be another step in the evolution of the original TA concept. What that is, I'm not sure. Perhaps a stronger contemporary material that would allow a thinner crank and thus less Q factor.

Related to the subject of TA, I regret I never had the money for the TA pedals- I am in awe of that design. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I was recently installing the Kickback on my Big Dummy and noticed that there seemed to be a lack of directions on the paper provided. A quick search on my phone and I had a very nice PDF of the complete directions. I'm all for paperless directions.

William

Hank G said...

WHy not just have a library of PDF instructions and or tech specs that can be downloaded (and printed out) if needed.

nordic_68 said...

+1 on the PDF library of instructions.

I'm an engineer and would like to think I can just figure it out from photos, which I basically did with your stainless fenders. But one thing I learned the hard way is that the required position of the mounting hole at the rear brake bridge will shift fore-aft a few millimeters just by using or omitting a leather washer. I elongated the hole and it's mostly covered up, but still, I know plenty of folks less mechanically inclined who would totally botch it w/o instructions...

Anonymous said...

I think it is fair to say that the inclusion of printed instructions outweighs the benefits ( especially to those without internet access, a printer, a really good memory, or wi-fi laptop) of leaving them out by default.

If needed, or if morally compelled, why not include a little check box on your order form and/or charge a quarter.

Pepe' le Pew loves ze stinky tofu too. oui ?

Gunnar Berg said...

Okay, I was wrong, instructions are necessary. nordic_68, elongate the bottom hole next time. Ah, put that in the instructions I guess.

Salvo Lutzery said...

I would include simple instructions, like you do now, with the product. A page printed with the basics of how to get the job done, and then on the website you can have more detailed, illustrated, pictorial instructions that give hints, tips, problem solving, FAQ and cool examples of how to get the job done. The nice thing about this approach is you can have customer generated content on the site. Pictures of customer bikes where they have figured out how to adapt your products to work with specific bikes and components, etc. This may not save all paper from reaching the consumer, but it would provide in depth stuff that the consumer wouldn't need to print, but rather use as an aide. That might require a more sophisticated web page design, but that might be in the works someday anyway.

keithwwalker said...

I am doing this right now with the instructions from the site. One thing it doesn't address is relative positioning of the front fender.

The rear fender is easy, by comparison.

PDF would work!

No Brakes Bikes said...

If saving paper is the key, then putting instructions for mounting only when specifically asked in an order form would be the way I would do it. I like the idea of PDF manuals being available on any site, as I rarely encounter too much information when I want to delve deep into some particular bit of bike nerdery. I can hardly believe that the average VO customer didn't shop either via online, or via a local bikeshop that could print them out the instructions when purchased through them, but I'm sure now 15 people will come out of the woodwork who heard of your amazing company via a message in a bottle and only put their orders in via carrier pigeon with a twine wrapped letter on it's leg or something.

Raiyn said...

If I need instructions I'll print them. That being said, having an instruction link on each items page (which would then be a clickable link in the emailed receipt) seems to be a sensible idea if paper savings is the goal. People are already getting an emailed receipt so it's not like the extra link or two would kill them.

Anonymous said...

print the directions on the package used for shipping--you could stamp them on with a rubber stamp. you are welcome.
M Burdge

Anonymous said...

you should print the directions directly on the product and ship them boxless--by hybrid vehicle

Anonymous said...

PDF or other online printable (unless requested at order time). This has the advantage of revising/editing the instructions based on previous user feedback. Less path dependency.

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

there is usually an invoice in the package in the mail. use the back of that for instructions. That said, I prefer electronic versions...

Allan Pollock

Anonymous said...

In some countries the hand is used in lieu of toilet paper.

Anonymous said...

The instructions for my recently purchased VO racks were lost under the flap in the cardboard shipping box. I didn't even realize there were instructions/hardware until I'd finished the install. Perhaps taping or attaching them to the item would be good. Other than that, the racks were flawless.

Anonymous said...

I have several suggestions:

1) Paper instructions would be awesome. Unfortunately, Velo-Orange's blog pages do not print well when printed from Firefox.

2) One thing I'd really, really like to see are pictures of your components installed on bikes, including close ups. That would go a long way to helping me install them correctly! Nothing is more frustrating than surfing for an hour looking for pictures of a properly installed constructeur rack...believe me I know from painful experience.

Plus I think seeing them on bikes would help sales too.

John

Garth said...

"print the directions on the package used for shipping--you could stamp them on with a rubber stamp. you are welcome.
M Burdge"

If we are going to be more green, this is actually a very good idea. I was reading in Earth Island Journal about the Great Garbage Vortex that's in the Pacific Ocean. Lots of bits of plastic, all different sizes. Plastic is having a horrible effect on our environment. Even when plastic bags break down, they powder is very toxic. Actually, it's similar to estrogen, causing male organisms to take on female traits.

So, I think it would be good to switch to paper wrapping, and it's fine to put instructions on that. BUT, because V-O is internet based, folks also have easy access to pdf's.

But really, I think we need to get away from plastic. Thanks!

peace and love said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gunnar Berg said...

Okay guys, Chris is still out of town, and Tom is in the backroom doing whatever people do when the boss is away. I think it's time for a coup d'etat. We should grab control over this dumb blog and bend it to our way (my) of thinking. Obviously I cannot divulge my name at this early stage, but if you do have the skills to hack into the system and change the password, please contact Mr.Berg and he will forward the information to me.
-Anonyme

Anonymous said...

peace and love,

How right you are my friend. How can the oppressed and impoverished have the luxury of dreaming of using electronic information when they are working 13 hours just to afford gruel for one meal a day.

Greg said...

Anonyme John 21:51.

There are a few of flickr groups that can help you out.

I started http://www.flickr.com/groups/velo-orange/ so I could look at pretty pictures of Velo-Orange bikes and products all in one place.

Racks n' Sacks (http://www.flickr.com/groups/racksnsacks/) is not as dirty as it sounds and would have been able to help you with visualizing nice racks.

And I believe Honjo Fenders (http://www.flickr.com/groups/honjo/) was started to help people see mounting methods up close.

Cheers!

Greg

Anonymous said...

Greg,

I've drooled over all three flickr sites. Nice eye candy, but not very convenient when you're installing a fender/rack/bell or whatever for the first time.

And (if Chris is actually reading this far down) some nice pictures actually on the Velo Orange website, with closeups, would not only be useful, they would also be an awesome marketing tool. VO's racks (or anyone's racks) and other components don't look like much when they're photographed in isolation, but they're real works of art on the bike. The pictures need to show the utility and beauty of the component.

Another thought for Chris: Move some of your writing on the blog into the descriptions of components on the VO website, and generate new more detailed copy where relevant. Right now, the VO website is targeted to people who really know bikes...there's a whole world of people out there who could benefit from these components, if they only knew why they're important/useful.

And...now that I'm thinking about it, detailed PDF instructions, *with pictures* would probably be the best solution all around. Add a note on the invoice directing the customer to the instructions archive.

Free advice from a marketing professional :-)

John

Anonymous said...

And another anonymous thought because I really don't want to work today.

What about VO-certified mechanics?

I didn't have time to build up my latest bike, and I had a h*ll of a time finding a mechanic I could trust to install fenders, racks, and lighting. In fact, it was obvious that the first few bike shops I checked out had never even seen a bike like mine...and this is in Manhattan.

You might expand sales considerably by certifying mechanics. This *does not* need to be a complicated process. Simply ask for a picture of the frame pre-fenders and pre-rack (maybe with an identifying background) and a picture after installation, with close-ups of the relevant bits. For example, nicely rounded corners and proper mounting on a constructeur rack, and neatly installed, well-aligned fenders. You could also ask for a couple of letters of recommendation from customers.

Then list these mechanics/shops on your website. Simple. Doesn't take much time for the VO staff. And it expands the audience for VO parts dramatically to the vast majority of people who aren't willing to take a drill bit to an expensive stainless steel part.

Johnonymous

paul said...

like stinky Tofu , then make a trip to Japan and try Natto.

誰是五號? said...

I'm come from Taipei City, it's too late to see this post. Or I can show you good street foods in night market and bike way if you want to take a bike tour in Taipei.

Ride the bike to night market and enjoy the food, sounds good, but .....can't help decrease the body weight....:p