24 June, 2011

Frame Plans

I've been pondering the Rando frame and its possible successor. Before I go on, let me say that we still have plenty of Rando frames available and plan to continue to offer them. They get great reviews and the folks who bought them seem to love them. Check out the nice article on the Chasing Mailboxes blog about Mark B's VO rando. Nonetheless, after the new VO 650b Polyvalent (due in late summer) and the 700c Polyvalent tourer (due in early 2012) we'll need a new frame project to work on.

The next model may be a TIG welded VO Pass Hunter based on my own bike. Here are a few of my thoughts and ideas:

  • It will be a low-trail design with geometry much like a Rando's.
  • Ideal tire size would be 32mm, though 35mm would fit.
  • It will have canti brakes since a pass hunter is meant to be ridden up and down mountains. 
  • Being TIG welded, it'll be a little lighter than the Rando. As much as I love lugs it's hard to get over the fact that they add $200-$400 to the price of a frame while offering only aesthetic benefits.
  • We may use a lighter, and more expensive, tube set. This is a bit of a trade-off since thinner wall tubing is also easier to dent. We've even talked about using Reynolds 953. Still not sure if this is really worthwhile.
  • Vertical dropouts, of course.

51 comments:

stevep33 said...

Yes x 6. A light-tubes canti TIG Pass Hunter would be a terrific bike. Make it exactly like you outlined.

That combo is an under-served niche. I can think of only one other bike that fits the bill currently.

Gunnar Berg said...

Just a curmudgeonly thought. If it's going to be TIG welded anyway, it might just as well be aluminum.

Ben said...

No! I'm not riding brevets on a brittle aluminum frame, like I intend to on the Pass Hunter when it comes out.

It'd be nice if it was made for 650Bs, especially in the smaller frame sizes. I'd like to ride big tires with minimal toe overlap, which is hard in a 52cm frame size.

Anonymous said...

Chris, if its a pass hunter and is intended for climbing, why spec it for heavy 32mm to 35mm tires? Other than that, it sounds spot on! -Tony

Chris Kulczycki said...

Tony, I find that I like riding my Pass Hunter on unpaved roads and rail trails. That's why I like the 32mm tires.

Brooksie said...

I take it we will never see another VO mixte offering?

Winga said...

If you go with the stainless 953 I'd love to see some polished fork blades and rear end like they used to do with chromed frames. I like the idea of 35mm tires for rough stuff and winter riding, they don't make studded tires smaller than that.

Anonymous said...

Re: "heavy" tires.

There are a few 32-35mm tries that are only about 100g more than their 25mm counterparts. Unless you're really trying to cut weight, and you won't be with this frame, that's a perfectly reasonable weight penalty for the increased benefits from the larger tires in some settings. You can always just use smaller tires.

If you want a light bike ride something carbon with minimalist everything. If you want something that'll work for a more diverse set of inputs, ride this bike.

dmg said...

I think this is a great idea - among all the off-the-peg rando-esque bikes, there really isn't anything which is made for performance and lightness. A bike which adds modern improvements to the design and functionality of a classic audax design, with a geometry leading more towards racing than touring, would be a unique thing. Bob Jackson and Mercian both make something similar, but not TIG'ed, and not 953 (at an affordable price, anyway).

Ben said...

The Pass Hunter sounds great. How about 650b with room for 42mm Hetres if it's meant to be ridden on gravel roads? My next bike, I'm hoping, will be something similar.

Ben said...

@Ben: Whoa, my name is also Ben and I also posted about 650b wheels. Coincidentally, I also ride a 52cm frame, and would ride such a bike on brevets.

So, there you go, VO, we have a target buyer: short dudes named Ben that want wide 650b tires, rando geometry, and canti brakes. ;)

jimmythefly said...

Chris, I'm not sure I understand your comment about "It will have canti brakes since a pass hunter is meant to be ridden up and down mountains."

Personally, I'd like a bike like you describe, except built for modern dual-pivot side pull brakes. If I want/need more braking power than that I'll use the bike with discs.

jimmythefly said...

While we're wishing, I'd also go for something like you describe, but if you stick with cantis then make it able to clear 42mm tires/52mm fenders. Low-trail geometry and clearance for 700x42 with fenders is an under-served market.

Shane said...

I really look forward to this frame. Living in the hilly SF area, I can't think of anything better than a steel frame bike that is designed with a thought toward performance and especially climbing, with canti brakes (not sure why one poster preferred side-pull road brakes), and capacity for tires that are a little wider (there are a lot of poorly paved roads around here).

Shane said...

Oh, and why would being TIG welded suggest it might as well be aluminum. There are a million reasons to prefer steel, regardless of how the joints are put together. And I love lugs, but.... have to admit they would likely put this out of my price range, so.....

stevep33 said...

Yeah, that was a nice bike:
http://velo-orange.blogspot.com/2008/10/pass-hunter-and-2cv.html

Are those Challenge Grifo XS tires? Awesome for just about anything.

Dale said...

Although I currently ride a tig bike, I really dislike the look of the welds and would never buy another built this way. A few hundred dollars extra for lugs or fillet brazing to me is well worth it. Some of the nicer aluminum bikes have smooth welds, almost as good as a fillet...can this be done with steel? I just checked out the pics of the pass hunter and it looks lovely with lugs...

Nate said...

It's important to remember that a bike's handling is dependent on what size tires it has. If you put 23mm wide (or 45mm) on a bke intended by the designer for 32mm wide tires, performance will suffer (as long as it was designed/tested well). Tire weight (independent of width) also comes into play, but to a lesser extent.

So, I'm in support of this frame as it is designed. I hope to get one as soon as it's available to replace my Soma DoubleCross (buit up as a pass-hunter). Chris, if you need a tester for a 59ish frame, I'd be honored.

Nate Knutson said...

Whatever the bike is, 953 = it will be an expensive novelty that does nothing to change the landscape of affordable bikes in the milieu we're all interested in, which seems to me to be the noblest goal here...

Jammy Straub said...

People that ride gravel grinders would really appreciate it if you could design the frame so it would fit 700x40mm Marathon Extremes. :-)

Low trail, 35-40mm tire, canti brakes, and thin walled tubing equal awesome for gravel, fire roads, and tow paths. (not to mention horrible city streets)

I vote for going with a more expensive tubset, just make sure to spend the same amount of effort on the fork bend you did with the new polyvalent.

*thumbs up*

Jammy Straub said...

I'm also curious if you'll be redoing the Polyvalent frame sizes, it's always seemed odd to me that the 57cm frame has a 590mm TT and a 590mm ST, the same thing with the other sizes. Any word on why it was decided to call that a 57cm?

Riggs said...

If you make such a creature with canti brakes, just have it also able to take calipers, and have low rider bosses and eyelets. Then, sell us the fork alone! I have two touring bikes and I surely notice that I have learned to love front loaded low trail combos.

James said...

If you really want great brakes (and who doesn't) and a distinctive position in the market, why not have posts for brazed-on centerpulls. This doesn't have to mean Paul-- how about those reproduction Dia Compe brakes you sell without the backing plate?

People have been doing custom bikes for NOS Mafac RAID frames for quite some time, so why not introduce more people to the performance of centerpulls?

Anonymous said...

I like the idea a lot. Light tubes like ox platinum would mean a lot to me; doesn't have to be 953. My best steel frame is welded, and that includes some very nice lug bikes so I guess I've lost my nostalgia in that regard. I think the tubes need to be pretty contemporary to help keep the bike in active use over a long lifespan.
Mw

charlie said...

Make the frame capable of taking wider than 32mm tires with fenders. You should be able to fender at least a 38mm to serve riders who weigh over 200 pounds or for folks who load their bike up with baggage.
Brake style is important but cantilevers work best with wider tires. I do however enjoy the look, performance and easy set up of a good center pull. Another thought on tires....narrower tires can always be substituted but not the other way around.

Anonymous said...

Chris, I love the concept, and would really look forward to owning this frame. My wish list includes:

-keep it tig steel, lightweight but not fancy
-lugged fork
-clearance for 40mm tires ( 35 with fenders)
-1" steerer, threaded or threadless fork option (I roll threaded)
-subtle but sexy paint like your pass hunter here http://velo-orange.blogspot.com/2008/10/pass-hunter-and-2cv.html

VO is doing wonderful things, keep up the great work!

dwainedibbly said...

Another vote for a future mixte. I'm not aware of anyone else selling a 650b, low trail, horizontal drop-out mixte as a stock frameset. Soma & Rivendell have some nice ones, but they don't have this combination of features. Mrs Dibbly is very jealous of my Alfine-11 Polyvalent.

Reynolds531 said...

Your design summary is spot on--32 mm tires with room for fenders, but not a tank built for fully loaded touring, and not a cross bike. I'd prefer an extra 200 grams of weight and thicker walled tubes that are more dent resistant. 953 and/or lugs would push it out of my price range. I'd love a 65 or 66 cm frame but would settle for a 63 cm.

Maybe you can design a set of faux plastic chrome lugs to attach to the frame at the headtube to calm the luggites.

Nate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
z-man said...

And please..... bigger sizing this time?

Anonymous said...

How about a double butted 650B mixte with braze ons for lights and cantilever brakes. Something like the Soma Buena Vista but lugged and finely made. BTW was the fork on the last mixte frame you sold double butted? I have my eyes on one for sale on ebay!

Missoula Flood said...

I really like the idea of a tig welded Pass Hunter. Some of my favorite rides are over steep, gravel roads. I like some of the photos I've seen of Toei and Alps passhunters w/ flat bars.

Anonymous said...

Hi

I have a Passhunter, it very nice. Lovely handling, maybe the seat tubes are little to thin or I am to heavy for the frame. Very nice tig welded, looks as fillet brazed, the frame is very light approx < 1800 grams without a fork.

Last three years I have riding all my Brevet on this bike. The only thing is I cant use bigger sprocket then 12 teeth in the last position, bigger sprocket touch the chain-stay, to tight.
I am using 9 speed Shimano (12-27), (12-32),(11-28),DA hubs and Ultegra mechs, Ultegra triple crankset (48-38-28). I have using GB Cypres (622*32), Challange P-R (622*29), and some Schwalbe Marathon Racer (622*28)

Honjo fenders, VO racks, Vo GC Mk1 brakes, etc.

Planning to use this bike on the PBP Randonnuer.

I think it should be good bike in the VO range.

Jan-Olov
Sweden

Uncle Ankle said...

Sounds like a great idea! I'd humbly like to make a suggestion:

I like wishbone seatstays on welded frames, and I think they go really well with cantis.

Dana said...

Sounds good. I'm 6'4 & 250, and I'd like to see a 65-67cm frame with fender clearance for 35mm tires. Also like the idea of braze-on center-pulls.
While I'm at it, I'd be very interested in a 65cm low-trail polyvalent tourer with vertical dropouts and fender clearance for 42's, minimum. My ride to work includes 5 miles of sand/gravel farm road and 5.5 of pavement, and this is my idea of the all-road bike for this, GAP/C&O, and KATY.

robatsu said...

I like the comments about allowance for tires >32 w/fenders.

Lugs are nice, but in the absence of other retro/connoisseur features (e.g, horizontal dropouts, metal headtube badge, chrome forks, etc) don't make much of a difference to me.

Anonymous said...

I'd love a 650B pass hunter, too!
I can never go back to skinny 32-35 tires, even for pavement.
I like the low trail geometry, but please make it for centerpulls or sidepulls rather than cantilevers.
There's a definite lack of production 650B frames for those of us who hate cantis.

Anonymous said...

There anymore articles on the Rando? I really like the one I built, but it still seems like hardly anyone has one.

Raiyn said...

Nix the canti's Make mine Disc ready

Anonymous said...

I have an old IRD frame,
tig weilded but with a sliver fillet on top of it. Looks great, a lot better then the tig welds.
The did it on the seat tube and head tube.

And why not discs? Some builders are doing it and even if it weighs more the performance more than makes up for it.

dudtour said...

Make an affordable low-trail randonneur frame in the spirit of Surly. With a threaded fork and a horizontal top tube, this does'nt exist on the market for now.

I'm a tall man with long legs. Ideal frame for me will be 63cm x 58cm. Which is also hard to find.

Ron W said...

Canti brakes would be great for me, 35mm tires with fenders would be good.

I love the look of lugged frames but keeping the price down is more important IMO. And welded frames can be beautiful too, my Co-Motion Americano is a perfect (though not inexpensive) example of that.

So far as tube sets go a little tougher makes up for being a little heavier IMO.

And threaded, of course.

Mounts for a slap guard like on your bike in the pictures (please?). And the color of that bike looks perfect too. Can I just have your bike?

Anonymous said...

light-er (but not ultralight) tubing would be nice, the tig-welding is a great idea (lugs look nice, tigs work nice), and not too much clearance is fantastic: I'd rather have a better geometry than the ability to fit giant tires (ignore the gravel grinder patrol!)
650b in smaller sizes is a good idea, if you're going to make smaller sizes.
Are you looking at mid-fork braze-ons for a front rack? would you consider putting them at the same location as rivendell and rawland?

dwainedibbly said...

I was just thinking disc brakes, too, when I saw the two posts above suggesting the same thing. If you want to go up hills, you have to come down, and discs don't wear out the rims. I wish I had had that option for my Polyvalent. My commute is short but involves 400+ feet of climbing, with the same descent coming home. I don't think I've seen a mixte of any sort with disc brakes. That would be unique, and very practical. I hope this talk of disc brakes doesn't make the traditionalists have seizures. :)

Mid-fork rack braze-ons would be great, too. Let those forks flex like they were meant to!

sto credits said...

Very informative and interesting, thanks a lot!

Uncle Ankle said...

Oh, another (tiny) thing: a welded frame should obviously have a welded stem; why not offer one painted to match the frame? Coordinated stems never fail to cheer me up.

mander said...

Hell Yes! Get Maxway in Taiwan to build it, design it well and they will sell like mad. There are not enough affordable/ well designed low trail/ rando frames out there.

mander said...

@dwain: Just build up your commuter with Sun CR-18's and relace with new rims as necessary. At ~$25 they're cheaper than a lot of disc rotors, and without the added weight and mechanical doodads.

heather said...

How about a mixte that is higher end for the girls? A low trail randonneur/touring/road bike that is lugged with super tubing would be wonderful. The ladies have enough low end mixtes to ride to the cafe on. I don't think I can stand over any of the polyvants or randos. Smaller women and men have trouble with frame sizing. Unlike taller people who can choose to go smaller, mid range or bigger frame, a short person is limited to standover height or whatever they can tolerate. This often means the child's size bike. The great thing about mixtes is that a person can get on a slightly larger frame that fits better without worrying about top tubes....and mixtes are cute.

Galen said...

I would love to see a bike that lands in the middle of the rando and the polyvalent. An attractive lugged steel frame for 650B wheels, aimed at rando and light touring.

Scott said...

I know this post is almost a year old now, but I thought I might resurrect it. After happily owning Rando for awhile, here are few things that would persuade me go for this pass hunter:

1. Lighter tubes: Reynolds 953, 853, Columbus Spirt or Zona.
2. Canti Brakes
3. Clearance for 35c Tires w/Fenders (I'm for keeping the clearances tidy--don't listen to the gravel guys--no need for larger than 35c)
4. Lighting accommodations--fork harnesses and perhaps the little canti-bridge integrated taillight arm like Boulder uses.
5. Since it will use modern TiG construction, I like the idea of giving the finish and logo a more contemporary vibe. Something that would look better with a Swift Industries or Zugster front bag than a Berthoud.
6. An 1 1/8 threadless fork would be nice (but not a deal-breaker if you stay with 1 inch).