30 January, 2015

The New Grand Cru Disc Hubs Are Here

By Chris

Our well proven touring hubs are now available in front and rear disc version. The high flange hub shell is our own design. The high flanges allow room for four identical and rather large cartridge bearings. These big bearings wouldn't have fit in a regular low flange design. We continue to use very high quality Japanese cartridge bearings. These guys cost us 5 to 10 times as much as the bearings used in many hubs. We picked a common size so you can find replacements in far-off places. And they are relatively easy to replace should they ever wear out. The axle is hollow and over-sized. The free-hub body can be replaced in seconds.
There are three pawls with sturdy springs. The hub fits up to a 10-speed cassette; you can fit a 7-speed cassette by adding a 4.5mm spacer. VO enclosed-cam quick release skewer is included. We offer a choice of steel, alloy, and Campy-compatible free hub bodies.
This is the matching front hub.
By the way, I suspect that there are some retro grouches out there who are surprised, if not annoyed, that VO is making hubs, and soon frames, utilizing disc brakes. There are so many silly "innovations" in the bike world that it's hard to know when something really provides an advantage. Every time I go to a big industry show I'm blown away by the amount of change for change's sake. So much of the bike industry is geared toward getting you to buy some newer and "better" component every year. But, now that I've used them, I think that disc brakes really are an improvement. Not every bike needs them, but if you're barreling down a steep alpine descent or single track they are absolutely wonderful. I'm sure that the great French constructeurs of old would have embraced them, at least for some types of bikes.








10 comments:

!= said...

If only they came in black...

bsimon said...

Nice! I finished an overnight 200k in the rain this year; the performance of discs over wet rim brakes would have been welcome. Now all we need are affordable steel disc-compatible road/rando frames...

JP said...

I always hear they're stronger than other brakes, but I had them for a while and they were always squealing. I guess any brakes can squeal though - my v-brakes do often enough. Also, make sure you've got good quick releases that are fully tightened! I had them a little loose once (my fault - new bike) and pulling the brake hopped the axle out of the dropout a bit. Saved by lawyer lips!

People obviously like disc brakes; why not make them and let people use the kind of bike/brake they prefer? Seems sensible to me.

J and Di said...

Funny, looks like Velo Orange and I are headed in opposite directions. I've ridden discs on all of my bikes for the past 9 years and have decided to go back to rim brakes in all but one bike, my mountain bike. This is the only application where I see discs make sense. Everything else seems like overkill. Even the so-called alpine descent on a road or touring bike. Both rim and disc brakes have issues concerning this one specific scenario and in both cases managing your descent smartly is absolutely demanded no matter your braking system. I won't list the pros and cons of both systems because it's too tedious and easily searchable. But what finally convinced me to go back to rim brakes on my road, touring, and commuter bikes is wheel build strength, braking feel, and most importantly, pad wear monitoring. I found that monitoring pad wear with discs was quite difficult. Usually I was notified I needed new pads when a grinding metal-on-metal sound interrupted an otherwise pleasant ride. And then the rest of my ride would be occupied by thoughts of grooves in my rotors, nails on chalkboards, and an increasing suspicion that I'm over-gunned and over-blinged. And let's dispense with the idea that disc brakes are stronger than rim brakes. This is not true, hydraulic discs being the exception. Good ole canti's set up properly (see Sheldon Brown's article for reference) with good pads are just as strong as Avid BB7's. I know this from experience.

Since I've gone back to rim brakes I've only been convinced further each time I ride that my decision was right. The simplicity, elegance and purity of feel in rim brakes is a technology better left in place. Sure disc brakes have a limited application (in my opinion), but I have this creeping suspicion that the "bling" factor of discs is what is driving the industry push to make all bikes use them. Unfortunately the uninformed consumer with little experience is easily convinced that they need discs when in fact they don't. They're more expensive and heavier, but shiny! Cars have them so they must be appropriate for bikes, right?

I started mountain biking back in the '90's. I've been a bike mechanic several times in my life and have owned and ridden countless bikes. There's one thing I've learned over all of these years: The bike industry is constantly trying to foist the latest gadget guaranteed to make your riding experience akin to sleeping with Angelina Jolie (or Brad Pitt depending on your orientation I suppose). Am I a retro-grouch? Maybe. And if so, so be it. I'm proud of it. Because what I've learned in life is that in fact, they don't make things these days like they used to. Which is why I appreciate Velo Orange. Here's a company that recognizes that old-school is better quality and longer lasting. This move towards disc brakes is a bit surprising (I know you have a 29er frame coming out so I understand the need for discs for that). My only hope is that the bike industry at least retain rim brake choices for those of us who want them and use them. Which I'm sure is Velo Orange's intent. Just thought I'd throw my two cents in, which is all it's worth really. Okay, the grouch is out!

z-man said...

So how long until we see them built into wheel sets?

elessarbicycle said...

Very nice!
now I wait a disk frame :-)

Fabio

teamdarb said...

I bet I know where these are going! What size are the bearings?

J and Di said...

"Anonymous," I know rim brakes are disc brakes, but for the sake of convention we generally talk about the two systems using semantics distinguishing one system utilizing a steel rotor attached to the side of the hub versus the other using the rim surface.

I hope you weren't assuming you were in possession of some esoteric knowledge to which only a brilliant few were privy?

gypsybytrade said...

J and Di, VO has selected to offer a disc option of their already successful field-servicable sealed cartridge bearing touring hubs, preceding the arrival of a bike with clearance for large-volume 29" wheels and luggage. They are one of the last companies to approve disc brakes on their own designs, in a market where neither mountain bikes or hydraulic disc brakes are "the exception". These new hubs look awesome!

J and Di said...

gypsybytrade, I don't think I ever suggested disc brakes or mountain bikes are the "exception". Please point out where I did. I have a 29er mountain bike with, gasp!, hydraulic disc brakes. Please read my post above again. If you do you will also see that I'm aware they're launching a new 29er and that's probably the impetus for offering disc brake hubs.