12 June, 2009

Projects

I thought some of you might be interested in a few new VO projects.

I wrote about the VO saddle bag support a few days ago and we're now waiting for samples of seat post mounts to use with the rails.

We are also looking for a factory to make VO clamp-on saddle bag loops. These may be made in the USA.

By fall you'll be seeing VO saddles with hand-set copper rivets, just like those British guys use.


A new VO saddle is also in the works. This one will be a medium width touring saddle to compete with the B-17. It may also be available in a sprung version.

After long, and probably unnecessary, delays due to packaging design issues, we are ordering VO brake and shifter cable and housing kits in silver braid, black, white, blue, and red. Other colors are possible in the future. Each kit will contain a bike's worth of cables. housing, ferrules, and end caps.

VO cotton USA-made handle bar tape is on the way, and in previously unavailable colors. I'll write more in a separate post.

I've decided to proceed with a VO French headset if tooling is affordable, but a few key questions remain. I'm considering using a loose ball design rather than sealed bearings to keep costs down. And this headset might be chromed steel rather than alloy since that would allow a slightly lower stack height which is important when replacing old headsets. The chrome might also fit better with the styling of many classic French bikes. Nothing is decided yet so I thought I'd run it up the proverbial flagpole and see who salutes. Anybody?

37 comments:

Joel said...

I agree with you on both counts for a chromed French thread headset (even though I do worry about the toxic emissions from chrome plating).

Larger modern headset look odd on classic bikes.

It is hard to get a good match with paint of allow headsets on bikes with chrome plated forks and chainstays.

Arthur said...

OT, but relevant...
If you eliminate bikes entirely from your consideration, what is the root of your French obsession? Curious.

Kilroy said...

Greetings,
I would never have thought anyone but Ideale or Brooks could make leather saddles. You seem to be serious about your products and have developed a suitable substitute. Forgive me for being inquisitive, but,....how do your saddles compare with Brooks?

Anonymous said...

Is it a purity issue? Why does a French classic have to have a French threaded headset instead of a British (or Italian) one? Can someone clue me in? Thanks,
Jack

Donald said...

I'm casting my vote for inexpensive, chrome, low-stack-height french headsets! Having this last year would have kept me from having to purchase a Stronglight - WAY OVERKILL headset for my old french porteur.

Jack - a french-threaded headset matches a french-threaded fork. If you replace the headset with some other thread, you need to change the fork, or, I dunno, re-tap the fork.

Jan said...

Jack, because they will not fit. Different dimensions.

jimmythefly said...

I'd assume it's because the fork steerer requires different threading.

jimmythefly said...

D'oh! Moderated comments I guess sometimes results in over-answering a question. I didn't see those previous answers while I typed mine! Ah well.

Feel free to delete my posts, Chris.

Eric said...

If I was a weight weenie, I wouldn't collect old steel bikes.

Anonymous said...

French headsets use the same press-in dimensions as BSC threaded headsets, so most of the parts are the same.

Why don't you have only the French-threaded top cups and locknuts made for a current BSC headset? Like your own VO or Grand Cru ones, for instance.

It seems to me (not a manufacturing professional) that the threaded parts likely start as blanks and the threads are cut during a separate machining operation. Divert a small run to French threading.

Rich F.

Gary said...

I prefer loose bearing headsets.
Chris, what is your target price on the housing sets?
Thanks,
Gary

Chris Kulczycki said...

The reason for a new design with the French headset is to have minimal stack height, though it would be simpler to just change threading on our existing headsets.

We have no prices on any of these thing yet, but they will all be competitive; there is nothing particularly expensive in this list.

Jim said...

For restorations, a proper loose bearings chrome plated Stronglight-esque headset would be excellent. An adaptation of a current VO headset to French threads would work very well for those of us trying to keep lovely old French bikes usable.

As well, since we are wildy spending Chris' tooling budget, why not a decent quality French threaded freewheel?

Anonymous said...

I for one am excited about the VO cotton bar tape. I'll wait for your post about that anxiously. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I await a convincing argument for reviving things such as french threaded freewheels or crank threads. I admire Chris for looking at French HS and BBs, because they go onto frames that we may love, &c. But wheels are a different thing--Chris shouldn't have to underwrite some cheapskate's reluctance to get rid of a set of Normandy hubs laced with galvanised spokes to a 27" Weinmann rim.
mburdge

Joel said...

Jim: Given the trouble IRD had with its recent freewheel offerings, sourcing a french thread freewheel may be a tall order.

That said, while I (and I am sure some others here) am lucky enough to have located a set of NOS Maxi-Car and Pelissier 2000 BSC hubs*, these are getting far and few between and cost a pretty penny. On the other hand, there seem to be a fair number of NOS or good condition Maxi-Car and Pelissier French thread hubs out there for the taking. The primary reason being it is so darn hard to find decent free wheels.

A nice new design French thread freewheel would be great both for current owners of bikes with French hubs and people looking to score those great old classics but not willing or able to pay the BSC surcharge.

*Have yet to find a frame worthy or either!

Red said...

Personally, I would prefer cartridge bearings on a headset. Much easier to work with for installation, and less worry about future maintainence and replacement. (It took me forever to track down all those greasy little suckers when I dismantled the old one on my re-build.)

Anonymous said...

Someone asked earlier how the VO saddles compared to Brooks. I can't speak for all of them, but I have one each of the Model 7 and Model 8, along with a Brooks B68 and B17.

While the Model 7 and 8 are essentially the same size and shape as a Brooks B67/68, I find that they "feel" a bit more sleek. That is to say, I feel less saddle when pedaling ... and less resistance at higher cadence. They are initially a bit stiffer, but do break in very well ... and are then, to me, more comfortable than their Brooks counterpart. They are well-built, and appear to be quite durable. It's also nice that they are "pre-tied" on the skirts, which saves me time in doing what I'd eventually do myself anyway.

I'll be interested in the B17 sized model when it arrives.

Anonymous said...

All nice stuff. The package of cables and housing is great -- to me installing cables is the biggest pain in the entire build process, and I for one welcome a kit that has everything you need in one spot; makes too much sense. If I keep procrastinating it may even arrive in time for my current project! DS

K Matthias said...

I'm all for new French headsets! Chrome steel loose bearing sets sound great as that's what I'd be replacing in both cases. While we're adding to the wish list for this head set, it would be wonderful if the top nut were flat-topped like the old Stronglights, and did not have a prominent rubber seal visible in the middle.

Anonymous said...

WRT the new sets of cables :

Will there be cable housing with a cotton covering that I can shellac like my bar tape ?

Thank You,
Shellac Addict

Pete Ruckelshaus said...

While I don't have a French-threaded bike, I think it's great that you're offering new products that fit older, well-loved, and still perfectly good French frames. For a headset, I think a low-stack (with a couple of extra spacers in the box) chromed steel ball-and-cage headset with decent seals would be great. If the user doesn't like ball and cage, it's easy to just pop the bearings out of the cage.

JAke said...

Chrome plated, low-stack, loose bearings... useful to many many people! Congrats on the french bottom brackets. Now, how about some 24.2 / 24.4 seat posts?

Anonymous said...

wow, I just bought a couple of saddles, but now you got me kicking myself.

I'd probably buy some white and silver braid cable/housing kits and some bar tape ...if the price is right. I've no use for a french threaded headset.....yet.

Allan

Garth said...

I'm excited about the silver braided cable housing and the new colors of cloth handlebar tape. Also the seats!

Per the headset, I am glad I got one of the Stronglight A9s before they were all gone. Wished I could have gotten a sealed Delta. Like the Maxi-Cars, I think it's a genius of an idea in theory and use.

I would like to see a pair of hubs from Velo-Orange. Mostly a rear hub, something to compete with the Phil freewheel hub that allows for zero rim offset.

What would be really nifty is if it was set up for cassettes, but with only space for 5-7 cogs. This is instead of a freewheel. The idea being that you leave off the smallest cogs, which are rarely if ever used. This way you could get replacement cassettes in more places than you might the freewheel.

But the freewheels are cool too.

What would really make these hubs cool, though, would be the grease fitting that allows you to easily push out the dirty grease/water so they last forever. : )

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if you could make a saddle tensioner tool for the Brooks saddle. The Brooks one is nice alittle pricey considering it will be used once every one or two year. It looks pretty easy to make? Gilles Berthoud makes one for 2.75 euro which looks pretty basic.
http://gillesberthoud.fr/fiche_detaillee/fiche.php?refArticle=209BRO102

Garth said...

I use a regular 14mm spanner for my Brooks saddle. The allen bolt idea is better.

GhostRider said...

"What would be really nifty is if it was set up for cassettes, but with only space for 5-7 cogs."

Garth, that's been done already...a Shimano 7-speed cassette. 7-speed freehub bodies fit right onto modern hubs, too.

Chromed steel, loose-bearing headsets in French threading sound fantastic to me. Low stack height and a few extra spacers in the box would make it pretty versatile, too. Heck, they don't even need great seals, as they are quite easy to rebuild when the need arises (and seriously, how often is it really needed?).

Tom said...

We could advertise the unsealed headsets as an exlusive 'flow through design' or 'self cleaning' .......

NatMc said...

i've got an old french frame i reclaimed from a dumpster that will gladly accept a VO french bottom bracket. however, it has no fork. do you think you could make a french-thread fork to go with the french headsets?

[snicker...]

Anonymous said...

Any plans for offering women's versions of the saddles? That would be great!

Chris Kulczycki said...

I don't think that at present we'd sell enough woman's saddles to recoup the tooling costs. That's based on the ratio of male to female Brooks saddles we sell now. But if these saddles gain in popularity, as I hope they will, we'll try a woman's version.

Anonymous said...

In my just-finished rebuild of a forkless Gitane, a low stack height French thread headset would have allowed me to use an appropriate fork I located with a few mm too short a steerer. I ended up with an old British thread fork, and your JIS headset to fit its 27 mm crown. It looks and works great.

Your French bb would also have saved me grief and expense had it been available.

Anonymous said...

WOW, nice saddles. Will they have longer rails than Brooks offerings? I have the double whammy of long femurs and steep seat tubes.

Anonymous said...

Please if you make a sprung saddle do not copy the brooks top and bottom rail design where it attaches at the nose of the saddle.

The design is a recipe for creaking and noise as the bottom rails pivot relative to the top rails as the springs compress I actually put copper rings made from copper sheet between the stamped steel fitting and the lower rails. This has been the only thing that reliably quiets a sprung brooks down. (the wife and I have 5 between us)

Sheldon

oranckay said...

Speaking of projects, any chance you might find someone to go on producing kodachrome, so I can talk pictures of my French bike while touring France, and have the color tones be period correct?

Akos said...

I am shopping for a leather saddle. Currently my Brooks Professional is in my workshop shelf because the rails would not let it slide back far enough to be right for a steep seat tube frame (not even with a Nitto reclining seat post). I am looking for a saddle with paralel rails far up tp the end.

Akos