16 February, 2011

Miscellany

We've been pursuing a project to make really high quality crochet-back cycling gloves for a couple of years now. After examining at least a dozen prototypes we're giving up for a while. We simply have not been able to get the quality we want at anything close to a reasonable price. We may eventually find some little factory in a less obvious place that can do what we want, but for now we'll give the project a rest.

We have also delayed our pannier project, too many quality issues with hardware. The sewing and materials are not as nice as we'd like and we need to re-think the attachment hardware. I'd like to really bump up the quality of these and may need to visit sewing shops in Vietnam or Central America to find one that can do what we want in the smaller volumes we need. I'd love to have them made in the USA, but from what I've seen it would double the cost. If any US shops are interested I'd be happy to talk.


More and more custom frame builders are using VO and Grand Cru components. We got this really nice e-mail from Greg at Milholland Bicycle who builds some spectacular bikes (check out the flicker page too):
 I have been using more and more of your parts for my custom builds, and would like to say thanks for putting out great products at a nice price. As you know these parts have been unobtainable and just plain expensive for the past 30 years. I now can offer a custom lugged  "constructuer" bike complete for under $3500 and that includes your Grand Cru parts. This is unheard of in the custom market.... Keep those Grand Cru parts coming!

I don't want to start another long paleo diet/health discussion, but for those interested, here are a few of the blogs I follow: DrBriffa (smart MD) PaNu, Marks Daily Apple, Hunter-Gatherer, The Heart Scan Blog (highly recommended), Health Correlator, and the best of the bunch is Whole Health Source. I actually follow many more. Using Google Reader makes it very simple; there are typically get only 5-10 new posts each morning.

It's really nice in Maryland. For the first time this year temperatures are above normal; we're getting sunshine and highs in the 50s and 60s. But we have to go to Minnesota for a weekend of snow and rain! Tom, Robert, and I are representing VO at FrostBike. Please drop by our booth if you're attending. And bring us something warm to drink.


More of our Grand Cru products will be getting stamped logos instead of laser-etched. We think it looks nicer. The photo is of the first production Grand Cru fixed hub. They should be in a container arriving in March.

17 comments:

stevep33 said...

Makes sense that builders are picking up on Grand Cru components - The quality to price ratio is great. My favorites are the stem, seatpost and long reach brakes. Those are the best long reach brakes available today at any price. I'll be getting a 50.4bcd crankset when those are restocked too.

Garth said...

I had no idea you were working on crocheted gloves. It's a shame you haven't found one that's up to your standards--I hope that somewhere down the road you revisit the project. Crocheted gloves are just wonderful.

MRC said...

Chris, Just looked at the Heartscan blog. I have started a program called the Innate program - Eat Well Move Well Think Well. I think you might like it but there is no blog. Also my custom Llewelyn Randonneur contains VO racks - The builder likes your s.s. racks as he can braze to them if required, a campagne bag, 48cm nitto noodle bar and Hondo fenders all from you guys. I should take delivery in March and will send you some photos.

Justin said...

Will (at least a small quantity of) the new cartridge bearing freewheel hubs (126mm) and switchable dynamo be on the container arriving in March?

Anonymous said...

WRT the fixed hubs, how easily can (will) the drop-out spacing be to retrofit (i.e spacers vs new axles)? I have a current application for a 130mm fixed wheel that will likely be replaced with a 120mm frame in a year or so. Thanks.

Matt Madden said...

Too bad about the crocheted gloves. I've had my eye on them since you published an attractive picture several months (maybe a year) back. I've had one or two pair of crocheted gloves that I loved, and several that I didn't like at all, so I appreciate you trying to balance quality and price. If you ever do them, I'm sure they will be great.

William Blake Stephens said...

What about those wing nuts you guys mentioned a while back? any chance those are going to show up anytime soon?

Nate said...

That Milholland was locked outside the bike shop work at in Portland. Besides the disk-brakes, I was 100% in support.

Jeremy said...

I love my crochet backed EAI gloves. Unless you find an American supplier, I doubt you'll do much better for $20.

latron said...

"I'd like to really bump up the quality of these and may need to visit sewing shops in Vietnam or Central America to find one that can do what we want in the smaller volumes we need."

I'm sorry, but that's just sad. For a "bump up" in quality, you have to go to Vietnam or Central America. I'd pay double the price for something made in the U.S., and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Tom said...

Justin- We are arranging an airshipment of a small qty of freewheel, fixed, cassette and dyno hubs. I'll have more info next week.

Anon 5:43- The fixed hubs are 120 spaced, with longer axles that *should* accomodate most steel frames with spacing up to 130mm. Spacers are included. Replacement parts (axles, bearings, cones) are not unique and can be found through your LBS/ QBP, etc.

William Blake Stephens- The Wingnuts willbe here by the end of March. They will be sold as a set, front and rear. Threading is M9 (front) and M10 (rear), fitting most Japan and Taiwan made hubs produced in the past 30 years. Sorry, no French, Whitworth or SAE threading options at this time.

Latron- We'd love to find a USA mfg for crochet gloves. Do you have any leads? We've been searching for a few years now. Any sport gloves you put on your hand for under $80 is made in China or Vietnam. Rapha has some ~$180 esoteric Arican sheepskin, made-in-England gloves, but as you can see they are a lot more than your preferred 'doubling' of $20 EAI gloves. Their 'value line' gloves are most probably not made in England. The more contemporary materials, different construction techniques and a much lower pricepoint lead me to believe they are sourced where you typically find $80 dollar gloves made- China, Vietnam, Korea etc.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the panniers AND the gloves could be made of a crocheted mesh - ? With the increased volume, this might open up a number of new suppliers / producer possibilities.

Additionally, a crocheted-mesh jersey for the ladies could be a big seller around Valentine's Day as an alternative to all the Victoria's Secret-type gifts that people buy.

William Blake Stephens said...

"The Wingnuts willbe here by the end of March. They will be sold as a set, front and rear. Threading is M9 (front) and M10 (rear)" This just made my day. Now i will be able to fully enjoy my flip flop dingle set up without having to reach for a spanner. Viva la Velo Orange.

JoelMatthews said...

Tom/Chris: Great, the Wing Nuts will fit E.A.I. solid axles (which are great retrofits for old Campy fw hubs).

Also, not sure if they could handle your volume, but Lemolo Bags, an excellent, 'til now, one person pannier maker in Portland is forming a JV with the Portland Garment Factory to make his designs - http://lemolobags.wordpress.com/

Perhaps there is room for V.O in the venture?

fmackay said...

While Grand Cru parts are on topic, can I make a wee criticism of the GC seatpost? I find it doesn't allow enough forward tilt for some situations. I like my Brooks saddles tilted very slightly nose down - with the rails pretty much horizontal. On the bike I wanted to use the post on - a so-called "urban mountainbike" (ugh) - the shallow seat angle meant that I couldn't achieve the desired angle as the front bolt bottomed out. This could be fixed by making the lower part of the clamp a little bit thicker, or supplying an extra plate to fit between that part and the rails, and lengthening the bolts a bit. In fact, the bolts could stand to be a bit longer anyway - with the front bolt bottomed out, the rear is not fully engaged with its nut. Anyway, no harm done as I just swapped the post onto my fixie, where the steeper angles (and bigger rail to top angle on the Flite saddle) meant there was no problem (apart from the lasered logo clashing with the mostly early 70s bike - single stamped logo at the front please) . Other than this a really nice seatpost at a great price.

Dale said...

Love the stamped logo...so much nicer than the laser alternative. I was considering Electra Ticino hubs, but with the stamp, yours actually look more stylish which is saying something! Will the double fluted cranks come with the stamp?...I need one by mid summer. How about offering these hubs built up with PBP rims and double-butted spokes? Excellent stuff!

Justin said...

I will second the request for VO prebuilt wheels using double butted spokes.