30 March, 2010

Taiwan Report, Part 2

Here are a few more projects we're working on. As I mentioned, we're looking at about 100 new products. So these next few weeks will be very busy with plans, price sheets, and specifications buzzing back and forth between Taiwanese factories and VO world headquarters. As usual I'm probably too optimistic about delivery times, so take take them with the proverbial grain of salt.

  • The new VO seat post will use a popular design first developed in Italy, but used by many manufacturers. It'll be less expensive, heavier, and have a less setback than the Grand Cru post. But it will be available in a wide range of sizes.
  • Dia Compe Gran Compe CNC machined long-reach center-pull brakes will soon be here. A matching front mini-rack, ala Mafac, is also on the way.
  • We are looking at VO front derailleurs.
  • We'll have a second finish option on the Grand Cru headsets and new graphics
  • Grand Cru road pedals are in the design stage. They will be a bit like the old TA or Mavic quill pedals.
  • We'll have a neat new LED mini dyno headlight and a compact fender-mount tail light, but these are not VO products.
  • Speaking of dynos, several new companies are working on hub dynamos. At least one of the new designs appears to be a "game changer" and might make all those expensive German hub dynamos obsolete. I sure wouldn't buy a top of-the-line hub dynamo until next year.
  • And there's a lot more in the works. We'll have a new thermos bottle that fits in a bottle cage, several new types of bar tape, and, perhaps, a new line of modern bike luggage.

46 comments:

Kurt Hammond said...

A game changing hub dyno? I bought a SON mid-year last for my main bike, was thinking about equipping the rest, but now I'll wait and see...

Chuck said...

As always, you've got my attention. Particularly looking forward to info on the lights and the new dyno hub...

The Flying Dutchman said...

hooray for front mini rack ala mafac! you have made my morning. also quivering with anticipation about the new dynohub...

Andres said...

The bullet point about a game-changing hub dynamo just pushed my rebuild plans back 6 months. And that's fine by me!

Anonymous said...

Once again, I am ahead of the trends--I have not been planning to buy a top-of-the-line hub dynamo for years.
some of these things sound pretty exciting--as exciting as bike parts can be, I suppose.
m burdge

j.benlin.lee said...

The "game changer" dynamo hub got my attention. I was just thinking of plunking down some money on a new dynohub (albeit Shimano, not a high-end Schmidt).

My wallet thanks you (I think).

Anonymous said...

any of those new seatposts under 25.0? let's save some more old french frames!

Kathryn Hall said...

Ditto on the dynohub, Chris. How about a little more information on that? Why is it a game-changer? Functions differently or just cheaper but reliable?

Anonymous said...

Literally just about to buy one o' those fancy German dynohubs. Do elaborate, Chris, please...

adrian said...

I am excited about bike luggage. Any idea on styles, color, what type of racks it will mount to? Also, any chance VO will produce any of the new cranks with a single chainring and chainguard? That would be awesome.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Regarding the dynamo. I saw a very impressive new design. It appears to be radically more efficient than anything else available. Having examined the prototypes and spoken with the developers, I'm optimistic that it will be available in 6-12 months, and at a very fair price, but nothing is certain.

There are also two additional companies working on new dyno hubs. We may see as many as 6 or 8 new dyno-hub models in the next year or so (though I doubt all will be imported to the US). While those others are not game-changers, some versions are beautifully made and, by current standards, pretty efficient.

Garth said...

I'm a little curious about the TA style pedals, Chris. TA was unique in that the inboard bearings were tapered roller bearings and there was a grease fitting. I always wished I could have afforded a pair just to enjoy their indestructible mechanical beauty.

Your product development is wonderful. Here's one for you: a better chain. It seems to be the one technical part of the bicycle that is lagging behind. Now, there are kevlar belts and even shaft drives. Motorcycles of yore developed chain cases complete with oilbaths. What I'm wondering is, have plastics developed to the point that we can have oilless chains?

Everything else on a bicycle is such low maintenance, it seems bizarre that we are still using chains that get all cruddy so quickly.

Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

there was a chain once that was steel but all the parts were coated with some sort of plastic that made lubrication unnecessary. can't remember who it was made by. personally i would prefer the oil bath option - even an oil-less chain if exposed would end up full of crud and grit.

Raiyn said...

Like the others I look forward to the new Dynohub, but I have to ask are the colored housings lined?

Anonymous said...

New dynamo hubs!?! Thanks for the head's up. I was getting ready to build a front wheel for my commuter. Looks like I need to buy some more NiMH AAs for my current lights instead.

Will VO stock any of these when available?

Anonymous said...

Will the new center-pull rack fit on Paul Racers? Or phrased differently, what will be the post spacing? (Google says Paul Racer, MAFAC RAID, and Weinmann Vainqueur 800s are all 78mm, but Dia Compe 750s are narrower at 65mm)

Nate Knutson said...

About this new hub, is there anything about it that suggests it will have a service interval as ridiculously long as Schmidt? (50,000km interval between recommended service as recommended by Schmidt, with a 5 year warrantee). The Schmidt design achieves this in part by using a fixed-floating bearing design that few if any other bike industry manufacturers are savvy to. Unless it can match it on low maintenance, it's hard to imagine another hub absolutely blowing Schmidt out of the water, even if it both introduced a higher new power output standard for dynamos and simultaneously had less drag. If it does all three, sure, that's great, but is it? And if it's not changing the 3W/6V standard, how mind-blowing would it honestly be if it was as much as half as draggy with the light on? Ten times less draggy? Even that wouldn't be a paradigm shift; drag with the lights on for a Schmidt is literally quite hard to notice, and I ride with dual E6's, which is probably among the draggiest reasonable setups achievable, and with lights off is essentially impossible to notice without very careful measuring.

I realize there's a chance you're right that whatever it is truly will be game-changing, so there's no outright fault in saying it if that's what you think, but I hope you thought long and hard about this before essentially using all the trust people have built up in VO to tell them not to buy Schmidt hubs, at all, period. As is evidenced by the response, a fair amount of people are probably going to follow your advice, and both Peter White Cycles and Schmidt are small, dedicated companies that everyone in this community owes a debt of gratitude to.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Just to be clear about the dyno hub, new technology does not always pan out. And there is a chance that the price will rise or there will be quality problems. But if the basic technology and build quality turns out to be as good as I hope, I could not imagine using any other dyno hub on my own bike. Don't take this as sage advice; it's simply my take on a new product that I'm very excited about.

Regarding power output, the hubs I've referred to have standard 6v/3w output. But there seems to be a lot of interest in 6v/1.5w hubs made for LED lights only. Some feel that 1.5w with the newest LED lights will provide sufficient illumination. I'm not convinced, but some well regarded manufacturers are exploring this idea. The payoff is lower resistance.

Gary said...

Something similar?

http://www.bikerumor.com/2010/03/22/magnetic-bike-light-powered-by-motion-no-batteries-required/

Raiyn said...

@ Nate
The man said he "wouldn't by a top of-the-line hub dynamo until next year." He wasn't bashing Shlitz, Manaoshi, M&B or anyone else.

Why you feel the need to be a shill for a company that makes a superb, though god-awful expensive, product is beyond me.

If someone can produce a a dynamo hub that can match or best the Germans at Shimano (or lower) prices I'm all for it. It's called competition.

Pete Ruckelshaus said...

I would give away one of my dogs (the small, squirrely one) for a picture of the Dia Compe centerpulls.

fmackay said...

+1 for size info on Mafac-a-like rack. I've some NOS Mafac racers to go on my next project and the original Mafac/TA racks are now going for silly money on ebay.

I was planning to put a VO constructeur front rack on this bike but they seem to have disappeared when I wasn't looking - apropos of which, Chris, it would be nice if you'd let us know which products you're planning to discontinue, as mentioned before your Taiwan trip, thanks.

Dr Jimmy said...

Would someone explain to me why we would be interested in a VO front derailleur? I love VO parts but to me a front deraileur without an accompanying rear derailleur is not very satisfying.

Ian Dickson said...

I haven't owned a bike with matching derailleurs since 1997.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that we will soon see an improved dynamo front hub based on the design of the superconducting supercollider atom-smashers. Having a small fusion reactor down there between my fork blades does not worry me in the least. As long as it can help me find my way home after last call, I think it'll be a great help, Urp.

Speakin' of Schmitdz - I'll take a six pack of Schmidts, to go . . . Gotta celebrate this good news, ya' know. Urp.

Thanks Chris !

Anonymous said...

Thermos bottle sounds interesting. I hope that it will:
1.be double-walled
2.be all stainless (no plastic liner, please--they make the tea taste like plastic!)
3.have a drinking spout of some sort for sips while riding. rather than be of the "drink from the lid/cup" variety.
Allan Pollock

Anonymous said...

A road STI front derailleur with a shortened cage to sit close to a smaller big ring (44, 46 teeth) and clear of the chain stays, would be very welcome.

Anonymous said...

Re: dyno hub. The last time I heard about a game changer, it was about 10 years ago. On NPR, an inventor talked about his still-secret mobility machine that would make cars, bikes, buses and so on obsolete. A few days later, the invention was introduced: it was the Segway. I still went out and bought a new bike. Can't say I've regretted it. Let's talk about game changers when a product is available and has been tested by reputable people.

Joel said...

Raiyn:

Your response to Nate misses the point.

Nate argues the design of the Schmidt is such that it requires a level of material and labor that cannot be bested on price unless a competitor has skilled labor volunteering its services, or more likely, is using a lesser quality design, components and labor.

I doubt very much there is technology out there that surpasses Schmidt quality at lower cost.

In the U.S. at least, good marketing is often better for competition than actual quality. I do not dispute that and doubt Nate will either.

More power to this unnamed company that may best Schmidt in both quality and price. Most likely scenario is it will best Schmidt in marketing hype, not quality.

rob hawks said...

I'm interested in the Dia-Compe Gran Compe center pulls. I've seen the current production (Paul?) of center pulls that are said to be based heavily on MAFAC brakes, and frankly I think the look ghastly. I sure hope these new Dia-Compe brakes retain a lot of looks of those old ones. BTW, will any parts be appropriate to retro-fit the old Dia-Compes? I'm thinking of the bolt that holds the stalk on the brake pad, which Dia-Compe had as an odd size so that no current, common brake pads would fit.

Nate Knutson said...

@Dr Jimmy
Road FDs are going extinct in 28.6, for one thing. Usually this is only an aesthetic problem, but I could see the new low-Q cranks finding a way to be an exception.

Road FDs other than the Alpina aren't really optimized for tooth counts in the 46-48 range, and the Alpina is a triple derailer. It doesn't matter a ton, but it would be nice if there were an alternative that was. Stuff does work better the closer the curvature of the cage matches the ring. You could easily make the argument that cross racers don't seem to mind, but I bet some of the clever ones will use this derailer as soon as it comes out providing that it works well with 10-speed.

I'm not familiar enough with 46-30 to know whether there's some way a double FD can be designed to be especially good at handling that combination, but it wouldn't be surprising.

(There are also a couple other weak spots in current triple road FD selection this could shore up if it was going to be a triple, such as lack of a high-end FD without a stupidly large min-difference-between-middle-and-large tooth count [does Campy make one?], but I don't think it's going to be a triple.)

Anonymous said...

It seems my gitane tandem wants a 25.2 seatpost, I doubt you are making a 25.2 post, but perhaps there is some long lost adjustable width seatpost technology hiding in a constructeurs notepad deep in the heart of France. I trust you will find it if it exists. Keep up the good work!

Dan

Raiyn said...

@ Joel

In my view he was being a shill. As I read it, he took Chris' comments as something akin to a personal attack.

Nobody (except Chris) knows Jack-diddly-squat about this hub much less the technology behind it or even who makes it.

For the two of you to feel the need to defend Schiltz without having ANY facts about the new hub is absolutely hilarious to me.

Charlie said...

That's funny that the new dynos are going to 1.5 W. I was hoping for higher power!

Anonymous said...

"Shill"? That seems to be one of the most over- and mis-used epithets on bike related forums every time someone enthusiastically recommends or defends a company someone else dislikes. Though I would sort of love it if you're actually accusing him of being on the Schmidt payroll.

Ve vill giv zis "nate" ein million deutscmharks und he vill say dat he zinks our Nabendynamo iz very reliable on ze velo orange blog! Und zen ve vill crush die upstartgamechangingnabendynamo!

Raiyn said...

@ Anon (4/1/10 10:03 AM)
I never said I didn't like the company. My point is that he's blindly dismissing a new product based on nothing more than a single statement and brand loyalty. It would be like me dismissing a freehub because I have a couple bikes with Phil Wood freewheels.

Next time jou vil be zineink jour name.

Jon R. said...

Belt drive, and oil bath chain systems have been around since the turn of the century. As well as 4-point suspension, surprisingly.

the bicycle has driven a lot of technological innovations, such as ball bearing assemblies, the ability to join thin-walled tubing, and the pneumatic tire. Certain things fell to the wayside for a reason, while others became the status quo.

That's not to say that they're not valid, but they are not mainstream for a reason. Production costs, proven durability, ease of use, etc... Did you know that putting a belt drive onto a bike requires not only a special frame (split dropout), but also brand new chainrings, cog, cog wrench, and a tensioning tool? While they might be nice coming standard on a new bike, to adapt a current bike to belt drive is quite expensive, and a bit of a headache for the mechanic.

While it is interesting, and may have potential, I think that a smaller company like Chris' should wait a year or two before investing heavily in belt drive systems. It may just be a fad, like elevated chainstays, or a fringe component, like electric bikes. It is an expensive venture, with a very uncertain future.

Anonymous said...

@Raiyn

So if Joel shouldn't be criticising the mysterious new hub on no information, shouldn't VO maybe have been a little more circumspect in warning people off the Schmidt for the same reason?

Seems fair.

Raiyn said...

At this point I refuse to respond to anyone who can't sign their name to their posts.

Nate Knutson said...

@Raiyn
I think you're misinterpreting me a bit. As I said, if there's a new generator hub that surpasses Schmidt in both low maintenance and efficiency, that's great. I would be interested in that at any cost, especially cheaper, and it would indeed be anti-competitive not to be. But, I also said that "unless it can match it on low maintenance, it's hard to imagine another hub absolutely blowing Schmidt out of the water." And accusation of being a shill or not, I will stand by that statement to no end because a generator hub that literally goes 50,000km between servicings deserves it, even if it was no longer the most efficient. In other words, as long as Schmidt has that huge edge on low-maintenance, they can stand to lose the edge in efficiency, even by a wide margin, without becoming obsolete. Their star may shine less brightly, sure, but we're talking about an all-out generator hub coup, and I was trying to talk about what the new hub would actually have to be capable of to make that happen.

Remember, as Chris mentioned after my post, both hubs in question produce the same power output, and even if the new hub is extremely efficient relative to a Schmidt, a Schmidt is still extremely efficient relative to a hub that produces an amount of drag worth worrying about. Technology will eventually allow the current Schmidt design to be beat on efficiency, sure, just like it allowed carbon frames to beat steel on weight. But what we have now is good enough that the functional difference of a much more efficient hub with the same power output simply can't be that large.

Rick @ Bicycle Fixation said...

Motorcycles at one point had an option of an O-ring sealed chain that was pre-lubed. It was prevalent on I think Kawasakis for several years but does not seem to have been better enough to take over.

Belt drives have severe limitations that don't apply to m/cs but do to bicycles: they are less efficient than chains, they might work okay for singlespeeds but can give you gears only with an IG hub, which again costs you efficiency, and of course there's the frame splitting thing.

For a short-distance city bike they may be fine, but if you ride long or hard, or both, you will want the extreme efficiency of a chain drive. Motorcycles have plenty of horsepower to spare, but even so racing (rather than cruising) m/cs still use chains.

Garth said...

Jon, Rick and Anon,
I appreciated seeing your responses. I think you hit the nails on the head as to why we still use oily chains. Although, we see the dutch bikes have the wisdom of fully encased chain guards (minus oil baths!).

I see Trek came out with a belt drive bike, I think this is cool. I think the lesser maintenance on a city bike is very likely well worth the loss of efficiency. I wonder how much less efficient it is.

I think the biggest barrier to a better system has to do with people's attitudes toward bicycles. Not performance bikes, where the efficiency factor would trump the inconvenience of a dirty chain, but functional city bikes. The attitude is to spend little money: a bicycle is a disposable toy, not to be taken seriously.

I bet you could build the ultimate city bike for under two thousand dollars that would last for fifty thousand miles or twenty years, whichever came later. Of course this is the case in the rest of the world already where people take the time to just oil the things.

We could talk about belt drive, internal hubs, grease and oil fittings, drum/disc brakes, etc. Sounds like a dutch bike, huh?

If you consider the technology that goes into new cars, I find it boggling that we're still messing around with crummy chains that needs as much maintenance as an old British motorcycle.

tadd said...

Chris,
the luggage part is interesting to me. My thoughts on luggages for bikes in general is that of versatility. I envision a luggage(s) that is can carry your stuff singley (like a classic canvas boxy front bag) but expandable when the need arises, or collapsable when it is not needed.
the line of baggages are very nice from Rivendell, but I prefer something less expensive, and not so fancy appearing, just like I used to want a fancy lugged bike, but no longer do. I personally have decided for now a much more utilitarian "philosophy", just like how Coach, Filson, Eddie Bauer began.
I am in the process of making from a canvas cloth a simple folding sack with velcro and buckle, attached to a square rack on front. The square rack is from a $2 store, originally designed for a closet part.
Just my thoghts.
tadd

Brad L said...

More questions about the DC center pulls - what will the actual reach dimensions be? I am looking at doing a 650b conversion and this might be the right brake...

Anonymous said...

are these the Gran-compe brakes you'll be carrying?

http://www.cycle-yoshida.com/yoshigai/diatech/gran%20compe/gc610_page.htm

would be nice to carry the 610s as well as the 750s.

Keith Hearn said...

Any more word on dynamo hubs? I'm seriously thinking about getting one as the sun starts setting earlier and earlier on my commute. I'd hate to go buy one now and have a better option come out next month.

Thanks,

Keith