16 November, 2016

Choosing Colors and Other Polyvalent Stuff

By Chris

The Polyvalent is one of our oldest projects and one I'm especially proud of. The idea was to build a bike that would do, if not everything, then most things well. It's a bike that's good as a commuter, tourer, or dirt road explorer. But making a frame that's so versatile requires some tough choices.
One of the more difficult tasks at Velo Orange is choosing frame colors. We agonize over this. It usually require endless mini-meetings and, in the end, we almost never agree. I eventually have to choose and in this case the light blue won out. The photo shows the others colors we considered.

Another choice was disc brakes. It took me a long time to come around, but after riding with them on two bikes and recently riding a bike with canti-brakes again, I simply think discs are better, especially in wet conditions. Though I'll stick to cable actuation on future builds for the sake of simplicity. While it's true that we have retro-grouch tendencies here at VO, that's only because so much of the modern bike industry is based on change for the sake of change. We are absolutely willing to adopt technology that is actually an improvement, like disc brakes. Remember that the great French constructeurs often worked to improve braking. I am absolutely convinced that they would have embraced modern disc brakes as a worthwhile innovation. I would still choose rim brakes if going somewhere remote where obtaining spares would be difficult, and I wouldn't sell a good frame just to get one with discs, but if given the choice on a new bike I'll choose discs.

Another good innovation is large bottle cages like the VO Mojave and Anything Cages. So we included three bottle cage bosses on the down tube and fork.

We also decided to keep the 1" threaded fork, which everyone at VO agreed on. Let's remember that 1-1/8" threadless forks were developed to be a stronger system for mountain bikes, strength that is overkill on road, touring, city, or gravel bikes. 1-1/8 forks are a bit stiffer, but do we actually need that stiffness? We are, after all, running wide 650b tires to make the ride softer. One the other hand threaded forks make adjusting handlebar height easier and, in my estimation, look better. I look forward to building my Polyvalent up with one of our upcoming removable faceplate quill stems. Most bike manufacturers embraced threadless forks not because they are better, but because they are cheaper to produce and one size fits most. Both threaded and threadless forks are well proven on and off road. In the end choosing a frame based solely on the fork type seems, to me, a bit silly.

We also added just a tiny bit of up-slope to the top tube to get the bars a little higher, probably not enough that you'd notice at first glance. So this frame has the classic good looks of a level top tube frame, not the modern look of a sloping top tube. I know that this decision will cause those without our taste for retro frames to scratch their heads, but that's the choice we made.

We are also working on a new fork crown, but it might not be ready in time for the first production run. In that case we'll use the same fork crown that we used on the Camargue, not a bad compromise.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree that disc brakes have improved and provide enhanced braking power compared to cantilever brakes. However, there are other options to cantilever brakes. In particular, V-brakes, are vastly superior to cantilever brakes and disc brakes. Some V-brakes provide clearance for wide tires and fenders. The issue with V-brakes seems to be the lack of combo brake/shift levers that work with V-brakes. The main problem is the short pull vs. long pull issue with V-brakes. What keeps the bicycle component industry from addressing this issue? I realize that TRP and Paul Components have V-brakes that work with road combo brake/shift levers and Tektro has road brake levers that work with V-brakes. But the options are mostly limited. Any thoughts on this issue?

Anonymous said...

First asked my bike shop if I could have disc brakes back in the mid 70's, now know that they were backward thinking in so many ways. Finally tried them this summer and they make me shudder at the thought of using rim brakes ever again. If nothing else the rims can be built without thought for constant friction and remain beautiful...

I am stunned by the choice of disc brake parts listed on the site.

anonymous said...

One of the most popular colors on early 1980s Univega that blue... Motobecane and Peugeot had similar colors too.

Chris W. said...

What is the largest tire (and tire/fender) this frame will handle? Keep the colors light this go around ��

RussandLaura Pathlesspedaled said...

My vote is for that rusty orangey color :)

Anonymous said...

Why did you decide to not keep the horizontal dropouts ?
they were fantastic !
Q

Neil Hodges said...

Disc brakes and horizontal dropouts are not good friends, trust me.

Anonymous said...

What is the size of the green frame shown in the picture?

Thanks Chris for sharing your thoughts and how you worked through the design process. Everything you said seems reasonable. Also, I am pleased by the direction you chose with regards to the threaded fork, disc, kick stand plate, water bottle and rack mounts, and color.

VeloOrange said...

@ Anon 4:45- The green frame is the 60 cm.

Lachlan said...

Hi,
How much of an upslope does the top tube have? The look of it is the main thing that puts me off the Soma Grand Randonneur so I'm a little sad you guys are also going that way :(

Also, any indicative date of when this might ship? Not looking for a specific date, more of a ballpark.. i.e. should I start stockpiling parts on my christmas list? :)

Great choice on the blue, the green looked nice also but you made the right choice :)

igor said...

Is there any sort of ETA for these ?

Ray Day said...

Also interested in hearing what kind of tire clearance the frame/fork will have. I'm assuming if the first iterations will use the Camargue's fork crown it can fit 2.1s? Being able to run some chunky 650b's would be nice, Or even running Compass' new Rat Trap pass tires in 26x2.3

teamdarb said...

I vote green. Every other bike in 2016 is either a shade of blue or hideous emergency cone orange. That color would distract the Canti users attention. Oh, and I volunteer to test a 52cm frame for ya. (wink wink).
Wilson

Anonymous said...

Are there any plans for a 62cm frame?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for explaining the concepts behind the new frame, Chris. As Velo Orange's wares have evolved over the years I've come to think of you as what the French bicycle industry might have become had it been allowed to survive in its more illustrious state through to the present.

Anonymous said...

How would this new Polyvalent compare to the Campeur, other than the obvious differences in brakes + wheel size? I have a camper and love it, but am thinking of building up a lightweight 650b dirt tourer. Is the Polyvalent's tubing lighter?

Dave

Andy said...

Do you find that designing for disk brakes compromises the ability to have a steel fork with some flex? Or is that irrelevant with the tire sizes you're designing for?

db bicycles said...

Taller sizes please!

bsimon said...

The removable faceplate quill removes the biggest negative to threaded 1" setups. I wouldn't say I swap handlebars a lot, but enough that a pinch clamp quill is very undesirable (albeit aesthetically more appealing).

zybariver said...

Chris, you say about about larger steerers "strength that is overkill on road, touring, city, or gravel bikes," which I agree with, but if you truly believe that, why a big gusset on the down tube? The same argument applies there, only more so. I hope this won't be included on the production models, it is superfluous and detracts from an otherwise attractive frame.

As for color, my vote goes to the light blue.

Kyle said...

Gotta say, pretty bummed there's no canti posts... been waiting to replace the Polyvalent I broke but don't want to invest in new wheels and such. Any 59cm prototypes w/ posts laying around?

VeloOrange said...

@Lachlan, Igor

It's a small amount of slope. Enough to put you in a comfortable position, but not enough to distract the eye. No firm ETA as of now. We're in the early stages of prototyping.

@Ray Day

Clearances for around 45mm for 650b then the equivalent diameter in 26" (for additional width but maintaining handling characteristics).

@Anonymous Dave

The Campeur is designed for touring and the Polyvalent is for front loading/all arounding. This means different geometry and adjustments in the tubes.

@Andy

The Polyvalent fork is designed for loading so it's already pretty stout. Disc brakes do not require much more strength than it already has.

@bsimon

Also makes bars with sharp bends easier to install! And no scratches! I'm excited about these stems.

@zybariver

The wide fork crown requires additional downtube clearance on these frames. This means extra stack on the lower portion of the headtube and then the gusset for reinforcement. The gusset will be on the final model, but smaller. Similar to the gusset on the Camargue model.

Anonymous said...

The original Polyvalent was designed for 38mm tires and had a 67mm drop. Running 45mm tires will raise the axle height - I hope you plan to drop the bottom bracket accordingly - to 72mm or so.

Kendra said...

Any more thought about a disc-brake mixte?

Anonymous said...

The blue is nice, but it's so Normal for me, I am such a person that leans towards blues and greens. When it comes to bikes though I like for them to POP a little. I don't really have any white bikes and that sort of Alabaster white one really appeals to me. I am almost over Orange frames for a while and Green? well, Green is always great in my book!. Not only that but I have a set of 650B disk wheels that would really look sick on a white or green frame, but not a light blue one :-(

Extended Head tube? YEs, Please!
Sloping top Tube? Of course, sure, why not?
Disk Brakes: A bit indulgent, but OK (I already got the wheels)
Lots-a-water bottle bosses? ummmm . . . OK
1" Threaded stearer? Hmmmm . . I can go either way with this one, but I tend towards the 1 1/8" threadless for the strength and as long as the fork comes with a suitably long stearer I can cut it where I need to. Only downside to me is sometimes having stacks of spacers.
Shorter top tube? Dang, no picture is ever perfect, but I've complained about this already so I won't here! :-(
- masmojo

Anonymous said...

I like the white.

Guy Washburn said...

The Blue of the prototype would be lovely! Taller head tube absolutely! Discs are fine. Clearance for bigger tires sublime. Nice job!

ebeep said...

Blue is the only choice.
No question.

Anonymous said...

I like the ORANGE COLOR.....you are VELO ORANGE....also liked the MATTE BLACK you did a few years ago....you ran out before I got one... Maybe the .ORANGE or MATTE BLACK on the Piolet......hhmm.....

I just think that like BLUE is such a 90's Grant Petersen thing. His Bleriot and the Romulus and his Hillborne...know what I mean.

I love your parts and accessories...looking to dip into a frame next ..... is there a custom color option? '([:{>

Anonymous said...

If we try to fit it with 26" wheels, will we then need long-reach pads on the disc brake?

Eric said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...
If we try to fit it with 26" wheels, will we then need long-reach pads on the disc brake?

11/20/16, 11:42 PM"

I chuckled.

While I dislike 1"threaded, I do love the rest of the design choices you've made, and the truth is you can't please everyone all the time (especially not with bikes for retrogrouches).

Thanks!

Graham said...

Any idea when this bike would be ready, Spring?, Summer?, Fall? I know ETA's are hard to estimate and keep, but any idea at all? I want this bike!

P.S. any photos of the tire and fender combo around the seat stay bridge/ chain stay BB area?

VeloOrange said...

@ Graham,

We're hoping for early fall availability.

-Igor

Anonymous said...

@VeloOrange

Fall? Shoot, I was hoping to build one up this spring!

Mike Smith said...

Please fit the canti posts too, so people have the option to avoid disks if they prefer. Not a fan of the "bent" seat stay at the droputs either.

Anonymous said...

What's current guesstimate for frame availability now?

Jet City Jughead said...

+1 on frame availability date. Very interested.