04 November, 2009

In Taiwan

My first meeting today was delayed 20 minutes, so I thought I'd share a bit of what's going on here in Taichung. The overall theme is meeting and eating. The Taiwanese are incredibly hospitable and I'm treated to wonderful and lengthy lunches and dinners, mostly Taiwanese and Chinese food, though last night was French-Japanese fusion. I've probably gained ten pounds. Despite this I did manage to waddle through a few factory tours and even do a little work.

As I mentioned on Twitter, we'll have another production frame in about 6 months, but I won't reveal details for a while. The mixte frames are just entering production and should be ready in late January. It's about the same schedule for the Rando frames, maybe a little sooner.

We may also have semi-custom frames again, but made by a very skilled builder in Taiwan. I think this will be a first for a US company. As the bike industry here grows there is a growing interest in world class quality and high end products, even custom frames. I think the quality of the very best frames here is equal to that of many US custom builders; it's remarkable how quickly the emphasis has shifted from quantity to quality. There are many details to be worked out, but the plan is for a semi-custom frame built to your measurements and fully chrome plated for around $1500. Lead time would be 3-4 months. The first one, in my size, is on order.

I also visited our headset and BB manufacturer and was pleasantly surprised to learn that they will change the way they polish our headsets with the hope of achieving a true mirror finish. We also talked about a super high-end headset that would be smoother and outlast anything on the market today. We are still gathering information and looking for the best bearings in the universe.

Time to go; I'm off to a crank factory to see about VO cranks.

30 comments:

Joshua said...

Ooh! Crossing my fingers for a reasonably priced crank with a vintage-style look like old TAs or something. Never liked the oversized and melted look of modern cranks on all my bikes.

Anonymous said...

Could you please, please make a needle-bearing headset? The only option now is the ugly Miche.

Anonymous said...

a high-quality long-lasting user-servicable threadless (blasphemy?) headset would be nice...

Kilroy said...

Greetings,

I'm off the floor now and slowly regaining my senses. For a moment there, I imagined I had read " semi-custome frame, fully chrome plated for $1500" Must be the blurred vision again.

Best regards.

Yann G.S. said...

....are annular bearings a possibility at all?
,as they are known to help reduce shimmy .. combined with the fact they are no longer made would make them a useful addition.

Chris Kulczycki said...

We may have a hub with annular bearings soon, but the headset bearings may or may not be annular; too soon to say.

There is no reason to use needle bearings today; the sealed bearing in our current headsets are better than any needle bearings that Stronglight or Miche has or had. Remember that we used to sell needle bearing headsets and I still have some to compare.

Anonymous said...

Touring frame. One inch threaded steerer. Available with a 62cm ST (c-c) and a 60cm TT (c-c).

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

it's true what Chris says about needle bearings, sad to say. They were great compared to the old caged ball headsets; they have nothing on a good sealed cartridge headset.

mw

Jason said...

Fully chromed frame? I read in several places that it is pretty bad for the environment. But what isn't these days, we all ask. Apparently chroming is pretty bad.

Discuss.

Anonymous said...

How about retro friction shifters?

EBEEP said...

Chris, you're such a maverick... and I mean that in the least McCainish sense possible!

patates frites said...

Hmmm...could this new frame be the "campeur" project that you dropped some time ago?

oldman said...

I agree with Chris. Needle bearing headsets alone are not the cure for shimmy that some claim they are. Many more factors are at play in regards to causing and curing frame shimmy, especially with low trail bicycles.

David said...

My wife is a shorty, and a semi custom frame would be great for her. With short legs and an somewhat short torso, touring bikes are troublesome with standover heights. Cross bikes are troubling due to shorter wheelbases. Touring frame, slightly sloping top tube, 650b wheels?

scottg said...

For chrome, sort of rust resistant, way cool chromovelato finishes.

Against chrome, the BB area usually looks poor, very hard to polish.
Internal corrosion from plating chemicals left over from the process. Nasty chemicals to dispose of, workers exposed to nasty chemicals.

How about stainless dropouts, crowns etc ???

Kathryn Hall said...

Wondering if you'll be offering a semi custom mixte?

wirehead said...

I tend to think that it's always about the management, not the people.

Let the Toyota management tell American workers what to do, you get the Toyota Corolla. Reasonably priced, long-lasting, etc. Let the Ford management tell American workers what to do, you get the Ford Pinto.

I initially wrote that as "Japanese" and "American" instead of "Toyota" and "Ford" but I don't really think that's fair, either.

david_nj said...

Perhaps there's a much more modern way to do all this, but two things about chrome frames. They look good but

1. in my experience rust very quickly -- i believe chrome is porous and lets small amounts of moisture get through, and

2. proper chroming is devastating to the environment; e.g., there are very few businesses left in the USA that still do it because of environmental permitting issues.

I wonder if the stainless steel tubing that has apparently received pretty good reviews might be a better answer.

Anonymous said...

A VO headset to rival the immortal Chris King would be the bees knees please!

Kathryn Hall said...

I second the request for needle bearing headset. With the increased popularity of flexy planing frames, they are more in demand.

Kathryn Hall said...

Reynolds 953 looks absolutely fabulous after it's heat treated. You could have the entire frame powder clear coated

philcycles said...

How about a version of those Rene Herse style cranks that Sugino showed a few years ago? I'd buy them right now.
phil Brown

stewart said...

Don't worry about the naysayers Chris, bring on the Chrome!

blando said...

The idea of the semi-custom frame is pretty interesting... but there's a number of smaller US-based builders that can build a fully custom frame and fork for $1,500 or less. What would the advantage of the Taiwanese shop be? Just more standardization and a quicker turnaround?

Anonymous said...

Dear Chris K. and Velo-Orange Juicers:

1. On the cranks -- form or function? Admittedly these are not completely separable, especially for bike parts, but a new/currently available/don't need to download sniping software for auction websites 50.4mm BCD crank, even the Sugino mock-up two piecer using an outboard bottom bracket, would be a help for those looking to play with wide-ranging doubles.

2. Going to see the brake people next?

3. Semicustom: How big can they get? My regular ride group has a tall & wide clydesdale who's not only our regular crazy sprinter but also our regular attacker on climbs. He's somewhat distressed, as both an aesthete and amatuer bike mechanic, that his new Trek 520 is only a 60 CM frame. And MAN did he have to stack that headset. And I don't even want to look too closely at the seatpost because I'm afraid I'd see the insert point notice.

Robert in San Diego

Reynolds531 said...

I'll add one more customer concerned abut the environmetental impact of chroming.

Also another vote for larger productin frames--ideally 66 cm C-T seattube X 60 cm top tube.

Wirehead--I agree with your point, but note that today profitable Ford makes cars equal to Toyota.

Anonymous said...

If you do bring out a set of cranks, please make them available in 165mm length, and use different harware from the ta pro5vis. One of those bolts loosened up on me last week and gouged through my bb shell and right chainstay. The crank was also bent up.
Thanks

Raiyn said...

As much as I love VO, I'll stick with Chris King. US made and environmentally responsible.

Anonymous said...

How about french thread BBs with an ISO taper?

Anonymous said...

I always dreamt to have a chromed frame. Now I would feel too guilty to own one knowing the nasty environmental impacts and the health risks to the workers in the manufacturing process...
Found out about this when looking at replating a nice custom made chrome plated rack. Berthoud gave up on it. Even Singer can't find anybody in France to do a decent quality, and sends parts to the UK to be plated...