16 April, 2009

City Frame Update and Notes


The City bike is built up. I think it looks great and rides superbly. We may change the name to something like "multi-purpose" or MP frame because it works pretty nicely as an all around bike. I could see this frame being set up with front and rear derailleurs, even drop bars, and used as an all around, go anywhere machine.


The production MP frame will be painted dark gray instead of deep blue; I'll reveal why in my upcoming post about the Rando frame. We are making a couple of minor changes to get the fender lines just right. And we are trying to get the fork bent in a smoother curve. But overall the prototype frame looks pretty good.

Here are a few notes I made in response to various questions and comments I've received:

  • The frame is a low trail (39mm), French inspired design, much like our Gentleman semi-custom frame.
  • The wheels are 650b. That's really the best choice for riding on bumpy city streets.
  • Maximum tire size with fenders is around 44mm.
  • Those rear dropouts look funny in photos, as several of you pointed out. In real life they are not so bad. We used them because they are the only readily available short horizontal dropouts with the geometry suited to this frame.
  • The reason we used short horizontal dropouts is to allow internal hubs and single speed wheels to be used without the need for a chain tensioner. Longer dropouts would make wheel removal difficult on a fendered bike
  • There is a kickstand plate.
  • A spring between the kickstand plate and the front of the rear fender allows the fender to flex forward for wheel removal, while maintaining proper fender line.
  • Instead of shifter bosses on the down tube, we'll have two cable housing stops under it. I don't think many folks will want to use down tube shifters on this frame and the stops look much cleaner, especially if the frame is set up with internal gearing or as a single speed.
  • The tubing is all double butted CR-MO in traditional, not modern oversize, diameters. This makes for a supple and comfortable ride (not to mention the whole planing issue).
  • The first production run will be three or four sizes, probably 51, 54, 57, 60. More sizes may be added later.
  • The rear brake cable housing is uninterrupted. I think this is the best arrangement on a city bike, I mean MP. You can sit on the top tube at the cafe without fear of bare cable marring the paint, or your work pants. The cable is not run under the top tube so as not to dig into your shoulder when carrying the bike up the steps to your apartment.
The bike currently has the fenders removed to make taking measurements easier and we are working on the spring mechanism for the rear fender. I'll add photos with fenders installed later. Also, the build was just using stuff we had lying around; it's for testing only and we'll refine it later.

UPDATE, New photos, now with fenders! And new, but still high, bars, like a Dutch bike ;<)

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

could someone please define "planing?" I have seen it a couple of places, and I don't know what it means, and what it does.

Anonymous said...

"planing?" Google the i bob list, search for planing, and you will see the topic beat to death. Not that it's a bad topic, but it was hashed over ad nauseum, with a lot of good info packed in there too.

Anonymous said...

Planing is what happens when you go on a ride after a few hefeweizen.

Zeek Joic said...

planing occurs when you ride really, really fast in the rain and the tires float in the water. Or Planing is what happens when you face hits the pavement and it is ground flat .

Gary said...

Why such a short head tube on the MP? IMO, that amount of stem showing on any bike is just ugly. Sorry.
I'd rather see a longer HT, a slight slope in the TT or a HT extension (or even all three as you had on the semi-custom Rando frames).
Gary

Sara Schmile said...

That is a heck of a long stem. But then again the handle bars are sitting sort of high for anyone other than grandma, or a dude with a really big beer belly.

jimmythefly said...

I think the name MP doesn't seem to belong to the same company that offers Bellville bars. Not to mention the first thing I thought of was Military Police, and the second was the Felt cruiser of the same name.

Kudos on the full housing run and stops vs. bosses.

alex wetmore said...

I think that you should keep the downtube shifter bosses. Downtube shifters are the best option for drop bar bikes with a porteur rack (what Jan recently dubbed an "urban bike"). It just gives more versitality.

Chris Kulczycki said...

The bars and saddle on this particular bike get moved up and down as we ask various people to ride it ant try various positions. It's a 54cm frame that's been ridden by folks between 6'3" and 5'2" tall. This is a prototype, not someone's personal bike. So there is no point on commenting on the build or adjustments.

As for the name, I agree that "MP" is wanting. Anyone have suggestions?

Jim G said...

"Instead of shifter bosses on the down tube, we'll have two cable housing stops under it. I don't think many folks will want to use down tube shifters on this frame and the stops look much cleaner, especially if the frame is set up with internal gearing or as a single speed."

BOOO HISS!

I think many folks might want to set this up as a budget randonneuse, and in that case DT shifters eliminate the annoying tangle of cables.

On names, Google translates "multi-purpose" to French as "polyvalent", "multipurpose" as "multifonction", and "dynamic" as "dynamique". So call it the "PV" or "MF" or "Dynamique". If you name it "MP" you might as well call it "Jeep". Just please don't call it a "P/R". ;)

Ian Dickson said...

I like the name "City Bike."

As far as the cable stop/shifter boss controversy goes, maybe VO could sell clamp-on shifters and clamp-on cable stops? Then you'd just need a little braze-on to keep the clamp from sliding. Bet nobody's ever thought of this before...

Jim G said...

"Planing" is a bit of frame flex that feels "good". Some folks propose that a bike that flexes a bit allows you to feel "in sync" with it, since each pedal stroke is countered by some spring-back from the frame. If you've ever ridden an overly stiff bike that felt slow or non-lively somehow, that is the opposite of planing. A frame built with standard-diameter tubing is usually more flexible than one built with oversize tubing, and proponents of planing see this as desirable.

Anonymous said...

The name that sprang to mind is:

Metropolitain

In that cool Parisienne font. Of course it's probably been used somewhere before!

awg.

Steve said...

On names, Google translates "multi-purpose" to French as "polyvalent", "multipurpose" as "multifonction", and "dynamic" as "dynamique".
My oh my do I really like Polyvanent.

Anonymous said...

Nice job Chris! I will say that showing a bike not fully or properly set up is a bit of a disservice. Sure, it's a prototype being ridden by a variety of people, but the sky high stem makes the bike look awkward to many people. Seems like a well thought out package and should be a success. Best of luck!

Sara Schmile said...

I likes it. I am wondering what has the feedback been on those VO leather saddles ? They are sort of unique looking.

Gino Zahnd said...

Chris, here's one more vote for downtube shifter bosses. For an urban bike, they're one of the best choices. Put those on, and I'm signing up to buy one.

Otherwise, it looks like a great frame at a great value.

christopher lee said...

are the fender eyelets threaded?
i also really like those dropouts.

Rick @ Bicycle Fixation said...

I vote for "Metropolitan"--a great name!--and against DT bosses. Clamp-on bosses solve that problem quite elegantly, if done right--the ones I've seen were even engraved--and don't add clutter for the SS/fixed/IG crowd.

Lee said...

Here's another vote for keeping the downtube shifter bosses. I think they offer a nice, simple shifting option that gives you the most freedom when designing your build or reconfiguring it for a new application.

Btw, the verification letters I had to type in to post this was "weankscr". Is that what you call someone who complains about something you post in your blog, like the removal of the shifter bosses?

Anonymous said...

Have you had any issues throwing that chain?

Arthur said...

As for the name game... I've been dreaming of someone selling a CAR. [City All Rounder] for a while now...

david_nj said...

Chris, that fork bend isn't anywhere near as attractive as on your other bikes. Can you get the proper french-style curve? It makes a huge difference to the overall aesthetic IMHO.

Hercule Poirot said...

To what extent is the "standard" main triangle responsible for the bicycle's ride quality, as compared to rake, fork bend radius, tire, wheel, length and stiffness of chainstay etc..? Did you experiment with two otherwise identical bicycles?

james said...

How about a VO chainring guard for the RD crank? Something that resembles one of the nicer cyclocross guards, with their clean, sharp lines and countersunk bolt holes, but with a polished or annodized silver finish that looks good on the crank.

Salvo Lutzery said...

Yes, I agree with Gino, et al. Keep the down tube bosses. I use a single down tube shifter on my current city bike and on the unused on I screwed in a brass bell. I love the look and location of it. Folks just need to get creative with what to do with them if they don't run changers.

Anyway, I love it!

Anonymous said...

As Jan Heine would have you believe, planing is that storage of energy into your frame during the downstroke which is released in between. In actuality it is nothing. I kid, I kid.
-I like the City/MP idea (especially when it's painted a nice frenchy grey (and the fork is sorted out). I am another downtube boss guy and braze-ons for your steel front racks too. And and and and....
/dig those beechy Hetres.-put them on mine!

Anonymous said...

Names for it.

1) Metropolitan

2) Solution

3) A2B

Andrew said...

When Grant Petersen left the downtube shifter braze-ons off the Bleriot, he made a mistake.

patates frites said...

I like "Metropolitan", but how about just "Metro"?

Anonymous said...

Isn't "Metropolitan" some kind of bishop? Besides, that looks more like a VTC than a city bike.

mhandsco said...

Those are interesting pedals. Prototypes?

Hal said...

Chris,

I like the idea of Metropolitain, or possibly the name of a working-class neighborhood of Paris (following the trend in the handlebar names).

I'm mixed about the DT shifter bosses. I have clamp-on DT shifters on an old bike and I think they work quite well. Still, people love places to attach things.

It's a lovely shade of blue, I hope the gray is as nice.

Cheers,

Hal.

Hal said...

A few more options courtesy of Dictionary.com:

multipurpose --> universel
city --> ville, or de Ville
all-rounder --> complet

Anonymous said...

I vote for NO d/t bosses or stops. Since you're using standard tubing, we can use clamp-on cable d/t shifters or cable stops for other shifters, or nothing at all.
I also vote for NO canti posts, or at least removable ones for those who prefer other types of brakes.
I love that you're using cable guides on the top tube. Those exposed cables are one of my pet peeves on modern bikes.
If this thing really sells for around $450, I don't think I'll be able to resist!

Anonymous said...

Forgive me if I've missed this in a previous post, but what are the seat tube and head tube angles for this frame? Hoping they're more relaxed than most modern frames ...

Chris Kulczycki said...

We'll have clamp on down tube shifters for this frame.

I also like the name "Le Polyvalent". And two Frenchmen who happen to be visiting VO today tell me it is an ideal French name.

The ST and HT angles are about 73-degrees, but this should not be compared to angles on non-low trail bikes. The handling and ride is different.

Anonymous said...

Hey, just wondering if these frames will be made available to voimports accounts. I would really love to have a few of these in my shop.

Chris Kulczycki said...

They will be available to shops through VO Imports.

Jim G said...

I'm OK with leaving off the DT shifter mounts, IF and ONLY IF (IFF) V-O makes attractive clamp-on alternatives. The only option for clamp-on mounts currently are to scrounge for some cheap/old clamp-ons, and salvage the clamping bands from those. I'm not talking about the clunky machined clamp-on stops that Problem Solvers makes.

AND

I also like the name "Le Polyvalent". And two Frenchmen who happen to be visiting VO today tell me it is an ideal French name. Great! -- so do I get a discount for coming up with the name??? (big grin)

patrick barber said...

One more for Polyvalent.

I have a fantasy fixed gear bike in my head and this is pretty much the perfect frame for it. So please keep making it for the next 10 years or so because it's going to be a while before I have cause to build up my next fixed gear bike.

i love the notion of VO clamp-on cable stops + DT shifters. Perhaps some wing-nut quickrelease skewer ends as well.

as always a pleasure to watch it all come together

patrick

Anonymous said...

I think a good name would be "Street Walker" - or some sort of French equivalent.

Anonymous said...

"I think a good name would be "Street Walker" - or some sort of French equivalent."

Le Hookeur?

david_nj said...

I don't think there should be braze-ons. Or, if there is, it should be on the RHS only. If I bought one of these, it would be internally geared, or RD-only, for sure, and an extra shift boss would be an excrescence. The randonneur frame would, in my view, be more appropriate for shift bosses.

Perhaps what could be done is, put a RHS braze-on on there, and develop a clamp for the left shifter boss. I believe Simplex used to sell exactly such a device.

Also, I wonder if there's an easy way to pre-rig these for a chainguard. It would require, what, only an extra boss on the right chainstay I reckon, at least if one used the type of guard that affixed to the BB.

It Depends said...

I'm sure I'm exposing great ignorance here, but why go with such a steep seat tube angle on a city bike? It seems like a 70-ish degree seat tube angle would do two good things: (1) let you put a toe down from the saddle, even with your saddle properly positioned; and (2) put you in a more powerful position (as compared to the sit-up-and-beg position that a steep seat tube angle plus high bars gets you). What am I missing?

Zach said...

Please help me to establish the wikipedia page for City Bike. Currently I put it to direct toward European City Bike, because it was previously directed towards...hybrid bike (yikes!). I'd like to make City Bike its own wikipedia page.

Let's reclaim the term City Bike. It's not just for Europeans any more.

Joe said...

Names: Buttes-Chaumont (park built by Haussmann at the behest of Napoleon III in a working-class neighborhood) or (more boring) Centre Ville (downtown).

And, excuse the prying question, about how much will this thing cost if built up in modest Dutch-bike splendor: IHG, fenders, chainguard or (please) chaincase, rear rack? (I myself don't hunger for a porteur rack or hub dynamo.) I'm just trying to decide whether to hold off from buying something off-the-shelf.

Buttes Chaumont would really be a great name, despite the cheap jokes it would elicit. It's a great park, very sleeveless-undershirt.

Milles remerciements.

Chris Kulczycki said...

The seat tube, and other angles, on this frame are based on the French constructeur city bikes. These are quite different from the Dutch and British city bikes and, in my opinion, better suited to modern cities, especially those with some rolling terrain.

As for build cost, we won't build up the frames here, but you can estimate the total cost by adding up the parts you like, plus whatever build fee the local shop charges. But next year I hope to have pre-built bikes based on these frames.

Joe said...

Maybe I'll have to wait till next year, since I'm too ignorant to tell the local shop how to build up the frame. Of course, they could probably think it up . . .

Will it be easy to fit a chainguard to this frame? Chaincase?

Andrew C. said...

any plans to offer built up 650b wheels to go with the frame?

thanks

Chris Kulczycki said...

Chain guards will fit and we are working on 650b wheels.

david_nj said...

These are just great. Two small things I would add:

- provide a tab to hold the rear of the chainguard, an inch or so above the dropout on the RHS seat stay, and

- for sure, add a second set of eyelets to the fork, so as to allow for easy rack installation

This thing's a winner!

david_nj said...

Thought of four more things:

- add an adjustable rear cable hanger;

- just put the VO logo on top of the top tube rather than on the sides -- city bikes seem to call for slightly less exuberant logos;

- consider offering a version with a threadless steerer; and

- consider adding braze-ons to hold a ring lock.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to make a pitch for a smaller frame size. I'm not aware of an inexpensive but nice low trail frame available for those of us with short legs. I would definately buy one. I bet there are others.
Do you know the TT length and standover on the 51? Perhaps the combination of smaller diameter wheels and a low BB would put the 51 in range (I usually ride a 49cm roadbike).
But please take pity on us shorties since noone else will.
Thanks,
Todd S.

lee.watkins said...

The stem seem to extend too far forward. In my experience European city bikes with tall stems have very little if any forward extension, especially with riser bars.

Chris Kulczycki said...

We're not planning to make any other changes. We want this frame in production!

The problem with small sizes, and very large sizes, is that they sell in much smaller numbers, yet the factory wants the same minimum number for each size. Once the frames are selling well in popular sizes I'll be more willing to invest in more sizes.

You should not compare these bikes to Dutch-style city bikes. Not all European city bikes are the same.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response Chris. I suspected as much. Again, do you know the TT length and the standover on the 51 yet? I'd likely be running Hetres.
Best,
Todd S.

Marrz said...

I really wanted to buy a pass hunter this summer but don't think I'll be able to save the money, this might be an excellent even better alternative for what I need.

Olyfixie said...

I'm very excited about this frame. Can I assume, based on the price, that it's tig welded? Chris, could you post photos of the joints?

For my part, I'd gladly pay an extra $120 for lugs and classic-looking (e.g., Campy 1010b) dropouts. But it's darn near impossible to find a classic frame with the right top tube length and trail to fill this role, so I'm likely tobuy, even with welds.