26 March, 2010

Taiwan Report, Part 1

I'm back from Taiwan with lots to report, enough that I'll split it into two posts. We had an extremely productive trip, dozens of meetings with manufacturers at the show and a plethora of new products. After the show we took the high speed train to central Taiwan and visited 11 factories.

Among the new products and projects:

  •  The final cold forge tooling for the Grand Cru 50.4bcd crank is now being made and we should have cranks in stock around July. We've made some small changes to the chain rings; they'll incorporate the latest "Shimano-style" tooth profiles, ramps, and pins, making shifting performance far superior to the TA and other classic cranks.
  •  We've also decided to develop a similar 110bcd Grand Cru crank. We hope to have them in production in a month or so.
  • The less expensive VO cranks are now in production and should arrive in about 2-3 months.
  • We'll soon have new high flange Maxi-Orange hubs in seven speed freewheel, fixie and  cassette versions. The only thing left to do is find the very best Japanese stainless steel sealed bearings to use in them. Or are ceramic bearings worth the extra cost?
  • We may also have new Grand Cru high-low hubs, still working on specs. Again, are ceramic bearing worth an extra $30-$50.
  • A new VO rim is designed and we'll have prototypes soon. It'll be a very high quality  medium width triple box section that looks like the old Super Champion but is much stronger.
  • We'll soon have wing nuts for track and road hubs.
  • The Grand Cru titanium rail saddle is ready for production. It's like the ultimate VO model 3 or Brooks B-17.
  • More widths of VO alloy hammered fenders are coming. Should we do 37mm or 55mm first?
  • Three new stems are on the way.
  • Two inexpensive stainless steel touring racks should arrive in 2-3 months. They are our first Dajia Cycle Works products.
All in all we are considering almost 100 new products.  More later...

47 comments:

Le Functional said...

wow, expensive racks. is that a selling point ? I don't get it.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Mistyped that, should be inexpensive. Fixed.

Anonymous said...

What are high-low hubs?

-Paul

Anonymous said...

"# We'll soon have wing nuts for track and road hubs."

Oooo, nice. I luff yous guys.

Mike said...

High-low hubs would be amazing!

I think ceramic's are hype, give me easily replaceable, quality cartridge bearings any day.

oldman said...

37mm fenders first so you can fit them to the Rando frame. No ceramic bearings.

Kathryn Hall said...

Ceramic bearings- I'm in agreement with the other guys - mostly hype. Yes, as well, to cartridge bearings. Would love to see the 110bcd prototype

nordic_68 said...

Chris - the ceramic bearings would perfectly complement the new Grand Cru carbon frames and forks. Will you also look into the new ceramic spokes?

Seriously, I'm curious what "medium width" hub measures out to. Is it a similar width to your Diagonale rims (and are those 25mm inside or outside width?)?

amoll68 said...

Chris,

Sounds like wonderful developments! Forget the ceramic bearings.

Alex

Preston said...

Chris,
NO to the ceramic bearings.
Paul,
A high-low hub is a rear hub
with a low flange on the left side
and a high flange on the right which
helps compensate for the unequal
spoke tension in a dished wheel.

johnson said...

i own 3 sets of TA cranks set up 46/26. they all shift really freaking well, with friction of course, and an 8spd chain. on the other hand, i was working on a customer's carbon time trial bike with non-shimano 'shimano style' ramps and pins. terrible shifting. huge headache. after about 2 month of trying to make it work, we just had to switch to dura ace rings.

in my opinion, ramps and pins have their place. that place isnt on a 46/30 crank combo. what if we want to run different sized inner rings? will the ramps line up? will they inhibit shifting instead? sounds dubious!

Tom SVDP said...

I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of these racks. Are these Dajia racks front or back?

From the "Interbike" show last year, October 1st blog entry http://velo-orange.blogspot.com/2009/10/interbike-report.html : Was this rack ever carried in the store? I think that's a nice looking rack but not sure if it was ever in the store or what the requirements would be to fit a brake. Someone should have mentioned this one before you went over seas. It looks handy.

Anonymous said...

Dear Everyone:
I'm going to go with the majority (thus far) opinion here and suggest steel ball bearings, not ceramic. After all, if Lennerd Zinn over at velonews.com, a hot-bed of high tech racing and racing-inspired bike stuff, doesn't see what the point in ceramic bearings is for non-pro racers, than I don't see it either.a

web said...

Don't bother with ceramics - I'd much rather apply the $ elsewhere!

Rick @ Bicycle Fixation said...

Ceramic bearings are, from what I've been able to figger, not worth the extra cost for non-racing applications.

Cartridge bearing most definitely are worth it! At least for hubs and BBs. Even great ones are still cheap.

My Miche cartridge bearing hubs and $24 Miche cartridge bearing BB are going strong after 20,000 rough miles, and should last a good bit longer. If I want to replace the bearings it will take an hour of my time and less than 20 bucks. A great technology that has undergone constant improvement for well over half a century.

BTW, Swiss bearings are best.

robatsu said...

What seems to have possibly overlooked here in the ceramic bearing hoopla is Chris saying that there is going to be a freewheel version of the Maxi-Orange hub.

Hats off to VO on this - this is hardcore keeper of the flame stuff.

Ceramic bearings - nice if you can get them, they certainly don't hurt anything. Plus, given the expected lifespan of hubs (decade(s)?) what's $50. OTOH, you could probably skip them, hard to see anyone saying,"Well, I would have bought those coolio VO Maxi-Orange hubs had they had ceramic bearings", including me.

AJH said...

Looks like a whole lot of stuff I'll have to try out or I'll get depressed.

I like ceramic bearings but, as expected, good steel beats cheap ceramic. I don't think Phil uses them ... yet? His stuff is pretty good "real world" orientated.

Keep up the good work VO'ers.

Anonymous said...

Chris, any pictures of the Maxi Orange hubs? Are they going to be high flange, drilled, and trumpet shaped like the old Maxicars?

If you'll make a polished silver 36H 26" rim, that would be a great combination.

Alf

pista said...

wing nuts - yes!

Anonymous said...

The range of great product from VO continues to amaze... and to grow. Chris, any chance for a 94mm BCD crank in the future? This is the ring pattern pioneered by SunTour as "Microdrive", also adopted by Shimano. It fits rings down to 29 teeth. There are many options in 110mm BCD double cranks on the market now, but a nice looking 94mm offering would be a unique offering. 94mm rinsg are still available from TA and other sources.

Keep up the great work!

tony said...

Chris, any word on when the new bags will be coming in? I'd really love one of the new Eclair bags.

Anonymous said...

No, Swedish (SKF) bearings are the best...!

Add me to the NO! votes on ceramic bearings, btw.

The hubs sounds like a great idea, especially in a freewheel version.

Anonymous said...

...and I presume y'all know that Phil Wood passed away very recently, at age 84? He had sold the company about twenty years ago, so he did get to enjoy the last twenty years of his life, and was quite busy, including teaching Calculus, among several other things. Nerd Engineers rule!

Anonymous said...

If your just going to insert sealed bearings into a "Maxi-Orange" hub you should just leave out the Maxi, What makes Maxi-Car hubs so incredible is their elaborate bearing system, one that would (and some still do) outlast any sealed bearing hub on the market today. Anyhow I'm sure it would cost way too much money to replicate their old bearing system, so at least be sure to include button hole pattern for ease of spoke replacement.

Anonymous said...

Please tell me that the cassette hubs will come in Campy compatible version as well.

Casey said...

I also vote no on ceramic bearings, but all you curious/not-a-total-Luddite folks can read up here.

http://www.bsahome.org/tools/ESC%20Reports/Ceramic%20bearings.pdf

Pop quiz! Where do those bearings belong?

A. Neglected winter commuter
B. 14.96 pound race rig
C. Rocket powered recumbent
D. Underwater turbine

Doc said...

Chris--
Best Japanese SS bearings? NTN

Bernie Burton

Anonymous said...

Agreed on NTN. I used to work for them here in the US, and we supplied Honda (among many others, but curiously not Toyota) with wheel bearings....

Anonymous said...

no ceramics, 37mm fender first...

as always, thanks Chris

The Flying Dutchman said...

very exciting stuff indeed! wingnuts! i do have to agree with anonymous' comment about sealed bearing hubs not being more car than maxi. but i am still excited about them and am saving up now.

Justin said...

I strongly urge 37mm on the fenders. I was in fact just checking the site for them when I came across this posting.

Doc said...

Chris--

What else could you possibly make available to us cycling devotees? Possibly a Alex Singer BB reproduction and a Nivex rear derailleur repro?

Bernie Burton

Pete Ruckelshaus said...

Re: Ceramic bearings. So long as the cartridge bearing size is standard and readily available in both normal and ceramic variants, spec them with normal, and if the end user wants to go with ceramic, they can upgrade themselves.

Garth said...

Maxi-Orange Hubs sound wonderful. Particularly a direct competitor to Phil's dishless 135mm freewheel hub which I have yet to afford. The key word is Dishless. Also, yes, to incorporate the keyhole design will be to trump Phil, not to mention price. Good cartridge bearings, easily replaceable will be sufficient. I've said this before, and I repeat it. To add a grease fitting to allow convenient greasing would guarantee bearing life against moisture that does make it past those seals.

Someone please refresh my memory on what made the MaxiCar bearing system unique.

Oh, I remember this idea, now. Making a dishless cassette hub. The idea is that you would use the largest seven cogs of an eight speed cassette. The Freehub itself would be narrower to allow this. You can then have a dishless wheel without being limited to the two IRD supplied freewheel options. You would also have wider parts availability. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see a hub or wheelset featuring 135mm rear spacing for those of us who have touring/cross/hybrid bikes with that spacing. Do you have anything in the works?

Anonymous said...

I was very surprised VO is considering modern ramps and pins on their rings. I'm 100% in agreement with Johnson on this one. Cyclists have been shifting without such marketing gimmicks for over 50 years without any problems. If you're having trouble shifting a front derailleur, I doubt a ramp on the chainring will miraculously solve the problem.

bsk said...

Ceramic bearings might encourage me to choose the VO hubs over the similar offerings from Grand Bois and Formula.

Any updates on the randonneur-style bars?

Anonymous said...

The Maxi Orange hubs sound very interesting.

Can I put in a request for QR skewers with an old-fashioned end nut (as on the following link) - either as original equipment on your MO hubs, or as a separate item?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stronglight/4428278699/

They look just right on classic hubs / bikes, but seem to be impossible to find separately now.

Tom from London

scottg said...

Nix the ceramic.

A shorter cassette body would be good, dishless @ 130 spacing, you could also use it to make a 120mm
dished road wheel.

Why the interest in freewheel hubs?,
the current freewheel selection stinks for use 5 speed users.

Agree on the Maxi, either it has the Maxi bearing system or call it a GranCru.

Garth said...

The interest in seven speeds or less is that it shifts significantly easier with friction shifting. Eight speeds isn't bad, but nine is fickle. The other possible advantage as seen with the 135mm Phil Freewheel hub is that you can have a dishless rear wheel that is amazingly strong.

Anonymous said...

Steel bearings! Cheap, available everywhere on the planet, and they last a long time. Ceramics seem out of sync with the rest of V-O offerings. The large cost difference results in a tiny (1 watt?) performance increase and they are an example of yet another fad in the cycling industry with an exceedingly poor cost/benefit ration.

Nicholas Grieco said...

Hello: What is the ERD of the new rim design? Thanks-

Leighton said...

+1 on a Campy-bodied Maxi-Orange hub, and 8 speeds if at all possible in both Shimano and Campy flavors. If someone wants a 7, couldn't they just spacer over a 7-cog cassette? (I use friction on 8 and do just fine.)

Garth said...

I believe seven and eight are actually the same spacing(?). The advantage of the seven speed is you have like a 95% dishless hub. A six speed allows for 100% with 135mm axle length.

I do pretty well with the eight speed, but wouldn't mind a little better. Sometimes it's a little fickle. Though I've been lead to believe seven and eight have the same spacing, my experience with seven speed has been even better, though not as "graceful". nine speed was horrible. And way more gears than ever needed.

Perhaps someone else can clarify..

brothersterno said...

1) ceramic bearings are not worth the extra over high quality stainless steel bearings. I would not buy the ceramic bearing'd hub were it the same price.

2) 37mm fenders, because there's a lot more road bikes than fat tire bikes out there with 700c wheels.

will you keep the two-bolt grand cru seatposts, or some other high-setback seatpost?

saddle up said...

37mm fenders please.

Anonymous said...

Will the cassette hubs be campy compatible?