I thought I'd share a few interesting bits of news.
We asked about getting the steel French thread headsets made and the factory wants a minimum order of 10,000 pieces. That won't do at all. It seems that steel headset production is very different from alloy and the minimums are much higher. So we will either have them made in alloy or have a CNC shop just make French threaded nuts, washers, and adjustable cups for a headset that's already in production, those being the only parts that differ on French headsets.
Threadless Bottom Brackets
There have been a few attempts at making square taper bottom brackets that don't use the threading on the frame. The advantage of this is that one BB will fit any frame, even Swiss, and they work on frames with damaged BB shells. But the only design that really worked well was the old Mavic version that required chamfering the BB shell and then used a pressure fit. Edco made a version that used a sort of cam mechanism, but was not as solid as the Mavic. More recently a Taiwanese company tried making a copy of the Mavic that didn't require modification of the shell; it was marginal at best and unsold stock can still be found in some catalogs.
I recently saw a prototype BB in Taiwan that used a different mechanism. It looks to be far superior to any threadless BB made in the past. VO is angling to be the first US importer. While more expensive than a standard BB, these have the potential to save a lot of great old frames.
There are some neat new bits on our next shipment, which should arrive next week. Among them are:
- The long awaited Dia compe Guidonnet levers
- Cable housing clips in various sizes for modern and traditional frames
- Special gum colored grips to match Dia Compe inverse levers with grooves for the brake cable.
- New and less expensive double leg kickstands to compete with the great Pletcher stands
- VO Tourist handlebars which are so popular that we have run out several times
We have VO Porteur chain cases in stock again. These are still made in a two-man shop right down the street from VO world headquarters here in Annapolis. I admit that they are a pain to install and fine tune, but once in place they work great and they are an almost exact replica of the cases used by Parisian porteurs.
VO Drop Bars
One project that we've been neglecting is VO drop bars. We've asked several factories for drawings of discontinued drop bars in hopes of reviving a cool old design. It's always simpler and cheaper to use existing tooling, but nothing inspiring has surfaced. So we are starting from scratch on two designs. One will be a medium drop/reach touring bar with longish flats. The other will be a VO version of the classic Rando bar. Any suggestions?