08 November, 2016

Polyvalent 4 Frame Preview

by Igor

The Polyvalent has been our longest running frameset, going back almost eight years. It started from humble beginnings as a cantilever-braked, low-trail city bike sporting nondescript matte-black paint with orange decals. The Mark 2 and Mark 3 versions got new paint jobs, updated tubing, better accessory mountings, and other evolutionary changes. Now it's time for version 4.

The prototype frames made it just in time for Philly Bike Expo. We had lots of great feedback from folks who saw it.


We've kept all the good stuff: double butted chromoly frame and fork construction, 1" threaded steerer, elegant fork bend, low-trail front end, 650b wheels, kickstand plate, and plenty of fender and rack mounts.


The big change is Disc brakes. The frame and fork will have IS mounts and are designed around 160mm rotors.


There will be a few other changes as well:
  • Increased tire clearances: 47mm tires with fenders. And new (57mm or so) fenders will be available.
  • Normal fit: the original Polyvalents were designed with long top tubes for upright bars, but if you wanted to use drop bars, it meant less-than-optimal fit for most riders. The new version will have a shorter top tube and the same fit as our Campeur and Pass Hunter.
  • Internal rear brake cable routing: Same setup as Pass Hunter Disc, internal tube for easy and clean routing.
  • Triple water bottle bosses on top of the down tube. Tall bottles, easier to reach bottles, big bottles.
  • Wrap-around seat stays: because they look so good and provide wider seat stay clearances.
  • Vertical dropouts with stainless hanger: Sliding, swinging, and alternating dropouts are solutions that add significant complications to construction and still only work for some applications. Use a chain tensioner if you need. 
  • Head tube re-inforcements.


You may have noticed that there's no fork. It wasn't ready in time, and we are considering using a new custom VO fork crown on this and some other future frame models.

Tubing is double butted 4130 chromoly. Downtube is 31.8. Top tube is also 31.8 for better control with loads, though we may go with an ovalized top tube depending on how testing goes and if planing is adequate.

We're really excited to have the Polyvalent back in action, and look forward to R&D rides with the VO gang!

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

on this frame it's ok, but we really need EBB on Piolet! Chain-tensioner is not a solution!

REP said...

don't even think about changing that color - it's perfect.

brandon alexander said...

shorter top-tube? I guess if I go with a new frame, it will be with someone else.

Philip Sparks said...

I'd recommend you research the Kogswell P/R some before you decide to go with a double oversize top tube. Kogswell did and the result was many users experienced severe shimmy, which disappeared on bikes that maintained the standard of a larger down tube. In reality, front load handling and shimmy both improve when the down tube is much larger than the top tube, not the other way around. Look at the tubing specs on Rawland Ravn and Jan Heine's mule for inspiration

Eamon Nordquist said...

Darn, it finally checks all my boxes, except now it's disc only! The long top tube and horizontal dropouts held me back before, but I have no need or desire for disc brakes. :(

Tom said...

How will this compare/contrast with the Pass Hunter Disc?

Darrell Goodwin said...

Any chance of getting a taller headtube to avoid having to use a huge stack of spacers? I'd be willing to give up a horizontal top tube to get it. Otherwise, it looks very intriguing!

VeloOrange said...

@Philip

We know how to handle shimmy. It won't be an issue.

@Tom

The Passhunter is for all day sporty riding and the Polyvalent is more of a do all, load bearing bike. Different handling characteristics and a few more braze-ons for the Polyvalent.

Mike said...

It's disappointing to see that it is disc brake only.

jonathansmith68 said...

I was very anti-disc brakes for quite a while after temperamental BB7s and a leak in one of my Deore hydraulic disc brake calipers. However, the TRP Spyres have turned me into a believer again.

I'd like to second a taller/longer head-tube if possible. Super-excited for this model as it seems to be the do-everything frame that I'm after. Assuming all goes well with the testing/prototyping, think we'll see a production run of these in Q1 or Q2 of 2017?

Keep up the great work! Love coming to the blog and seeing eye-candy like this!

Anonymous said...

why go with a threaded fork if it's disc specific? yes it will be nice to have the option to choose different wheel sizes, but now you have a very flexy cockpit to compliment the stiff braking on the front

Trent Huckstep said...

This is the exact bike that I was looking for 2 years ago. So glad to see more awesome bike options available.

Tony Hunt said...

What a beautiful bicycle. Perfect color, great details. Everybody's got opinions and here's a thought I had. I've grown to appreciate a larger than 10mm difference in size between tire and fender so consider getting the new 650b in the 60mm range. Thanks for all your great stuff. Also, on a side note, I'd put in a humble request for 26"x57-60mm facette/zeppelin alloy fenders with just a tad more wrap than the smooth 60 currently available.

Anonymous said...

either poly v4 disc only or canti only seems to incite discussion,it proves not everybody can be pleased w/ modestly priced low trail good quality attractive 650b frame such as v.o. is doing.....i think overall its great design,quality,presentation etc!....i say go w/ discs for their superior modulation,less effort at the leever,all weather performance etc!....yay to velo orange,igor etc....

MoMo said...

Looks great guys!

Anonymous said...

Looks great!! Any chance you have sizes in mind already? 61 or 63 for the large size frames?

Eric said...

Ugh, why are all the budget nerd bikes threaded? Threadless is great.

Matt_G said...

Any dates for the larger fenders? Sounds like a good alternative to Honjo H79 models.

Anonymous said...

With a shorter top tub, I would imagine it's a bit more similar to the Campeur --so if one prefers not to have discs, then the Campeur can be an ideal option.

I was delighted to see a 1" threaded fork since this offers more adjust-ability for fit. Because of neck problems, I raise and lower my quill stem depending on the length and nature of the riding conditions.

Kick stand plate, 1" threaded fork, disc = nice, nice nice.

Scott said...

Gorgeous as always with VO. Love the rear dropout and wraparound seat stays. Not super stoked on the disc brakes only. Would adding mounts to the bridge and fork crown for caliper brakes be an option to give more build flexibility for grouches like me?

Dust said...

Were there tubing changes from the MK2 to the MK3?
Is the change only on the new MK4?

Anonymous said...

This looks like a small sized frame, can a taller headtube be used to increase the stack height. And instead of maintaining the top tube horizontal, allow it to rise. This would get rid of the top and bottom tubes from meeting together before meeting the head tube. By making it this way the small size frames will have a bit more room in the main frame's triangle. I hope this frame also has no front wheel/toe overlapping because your current 49cm Campeur and 53 cm Rando frames has this issue.

Jeremy T said...

Back when I was about to put together a load-bearing city bike, the Polyvalent mk3 looked like a great option, but it was discontinued before I was ready to commit. I ended up building up a very high end build around a NOS Kogswell PR frame instead. The Polyvalent mk4 looks great - love the color, love the use of discs for a load-carrying bike, love the 1" threaded steerer, love the braze ons - but the shorter top tube means I'll be looking elsewhere as well for my next frame. Long torso means that I'm cramped on "normal" length frames.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid I am with Jeremy, he summed up my feelings perfectly. I was really excited about a new Polyvalent and would have probably bought one, but I really don't understand the point of shortening the top tube, it's a deal killer for me. The Poly was never designed to be for drop bars, and why should that be forced on it when you have other frames that ARE designed for drop bars!?? Additionally, there are plenty of other bikes out there for drop bars! I would have bought one earlier, but you sold out of my size very early the last go around. Shortening the Top tube, to me is a major blunder. - masmojo

Anonymous said...

Looks like another great bicycle from VO in the making! +1 for a taller head tube and a slightly sloped top tube. While it's an aesthetic compromise compared to classic geometry, it better suits the use case of such a versatile frame and overall makes for a more attractive build.

Justin Hughes said...

Will these frames have the same short stack relative to reach as the Pass Hunter? Just seems to be at odds with VO's philosophy. It's shorter than even modern "endurance" geometry. Good for you for doing what you like with the threaded steerer, but with disc brakes? Uh. . . it's peerless at least.

Galen said...

Yes. Yes. Yes.

What do the rack attachments look like so far?

zybariver said...

Agree with many of the comments on the head tube length/stack. The Pass Hunter has a lower/more aggressive stack to reach ratio than most bikes out there, even racing bikes. For example, a Pinarello Dogma size 59.5 has a 612mm stack and 394mm reach. A 59cm Pass Hunter's stack is 580mm and reach is 402mm.

Mark Holm said...

With that short head tube, there is very little room for adjustment of stem height. Once you have the minimum insertion distance in, there will be little room left over. That diminishes the chief advantage of a threaded steerer. What, besids being different, is the point?

Ἀντισθένης said...

Bring back the Rando, please! I can't even find a 59 cm used. I can give you my credit card number now! (Go for all the reach/tire-clearance you can get from centre-pulls, thanks).

erikrjansen said...

This checks literally every box for me. I was willing to compromise and do a passhunter disc and keep my Rawland rSogn as a true low-trail bike, but I'll happily swap out the rSogn, get the disc brakes, threaded steerer and a shorter reach! Any rough ideas on time-to-market? How about a beta-tester program? eh? eh?

igor said...

yes, what size is that prototype?

I remember even my 55cm campeur's headtube was pretty short - perhaps an extension is needed up top above the tt?

Casey Diamond said...

Matte greeeen plz

Anonymous said...

Hey folks, good eyes. I didn't notice the head tube being like that with the top tube & down tube meeting there. So I agree with the comment about the issues that would be experienced with a quill stem which is the preferred stem for me. I don't want disc brakes either. Bosses for good centre-pull brakes would be my preference. I've been cycling for quite a few years now & have never experienced any issues with caliper brakes.....ever. Since it's not "broken" I don't think it needs fixing. Besides if I hate change, which might be an argument about my point of view, why should I be forced to? So I've been waiting with bated breath for this latest rendition of the Polyvalent...the shortened top tube that makes it have a more normal proportioned geometry is what I was really hoping for, but I don't think I'd be able to stomach the head tube or disc brakes. I'll wait for the production frames to see what they finally come up with, but I don't think they'll change the two items mentioned. Too much $$$ invested in the disc option I'd think, in order to nix it now. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

It's the last poster again folks. About disc brakes...I might be able to learn to love them...so just the head tube issue??

Anonymous said...

Are we willing to relax a design constraint by going with a less traditional style of a non-horizontal top tube in order to address head tub height? If this design change were made then it's starting to look like a 650 platform Camargue but with a threaded fork and disc brakes (and of course a beloved and dignified kick stand plate).

Chris Baskind said...

That color (in the photos, at least) is really similar to my Trek Steel District. Love it. As for the discs, I won't be buying new bikes without them going forward. Looks great.

greg biché said...

might be jumping the gun a bit here, but: if this thing fits 650b x 47mm tires with fenders, would it also clear a fat 26" tire? e.g. compass rat trap pass? i've seen a few of those Elephant NFEs done that way, and if the new polyvalent could handle a 26" tire around 52~54mm wide, that would make it VERY attractive...

Anonymous said...

One more vote for an extended head tube.

Brent Shultz said...

This question is relevant to my interests.

Bill Romano said...

Hi. As a current Polyvalent MkII owner, I really like what I am seeing here, I may have to update when this v4 becomes available. One question I have is will the trail numbers be changing on this new version? If you use the fork from the Camargue on the first run, won't that effect the trail higher towards mid-trail range? Not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe I'm just missing the way these things work. I know the Camargue is more of a mid-trail bike at 56 compared to 37 for my current Polyvalent.

jonathansmith68 said...

@Bill I think they stated that the first production run would simply share the same fork crown as the Camargue, not the exact same fork and it's dimensions. Also Camargue is 1-1/8" threadless vs. the 1" threaded that is planned for the Polyvalent MK4.

woahdae said...

Suh-weeeeet!!! I've put 5k miles on my polyvalent MK3 - it's amazingly versatile. I gave up my car after getting my MK3!

The ONLY problem with the MK3 is that rim brakes are a maintenance & safety issue for me when commuting in the wet Pacific Northwest. For everyone saying rim brakes are fine, for about half the year I totally agree. My mini-V's are dialed in to one-finger braking bliss in the drops and require exactly 0 hours maintenance... again, for about half the year. The moment they get wet & salty road water on them, they produce a sludge that I need to clean off immediately or I get dramatically reduced stopping power.

Ha, everyone's got a wish, so here's mine (and no-one's mentioned it). Sorry VO, but your Porteur Rack needs better triangulation to carry over ~10 lbs comfortably uphill, and the MK3 needed more porteur rack eyelets/braze-ons similarly. I had a local bike welder add fork crown eyelets to triangulate the top of my porteur rack (plus some Surly "nice rack" replacement parts), and it was the biggest little addition to my MK3's handling I've made. Went from feeling like I was pushing a big slinky uphill to feeling like nothing at all. Mid-fork braze-ons would also do the trick.

Anonymous said...

When can we see the MK4?

Would you characterize the ride as lively, or stiff?

Anonymous said...

Can MK4 be used with 26"? I want to use 26" x 2.3 (Rat Trap Pass), would be darn cool.