21 November, 2006

VO Frame Update & New Models

The first Velo Orange randonneur frame will be in the paint shop next week and we'll have photos and final specs posted soon after. We've made a few small changes since the initial announcement:

  • We've switched to Henry James lugs as they better match our frame angles.
  • The fork crown is by Richard Sachs, the Richie-issimo.
  • You may choose between a standard and oversize downtube.
  • There will be eyelets for running generator wires on the inside of the right fork blade.
  • Brazed-on centerpulls are still the standard brakes, but cantis or sidepulls are optional.


We are working on three new models,

The first is a fillet brazed city bike frame based on an old Rene Herse design. It can be speced with either derailleurs or internal gearing and will use 650B wheels. We'll have the prototype soon. This frame will be less expensive and may be powder coated, rather than painted. We also hope to have a mixte version.

We will offer a version of the current Randonneur frame, to be called the Cyclo-Tourist with 650b wheels in all sizes.

We are also designing a 650b "camping" or touring frame with braze-ons for full front and rear racks.

And finally, I am considering offering a premium version of our rando bike built up with classic new old stock components, Simplex deraileurs, TA crank, Mafac brakes, etc.

The frame decals on the upper left are by Chuck Schmidt of Velo Retro.

Thoughts? Ideas?


neil m berg said...

I would love to have an old Herse or Singer, but putting old components on a new bike just doesn't make sense to me. Rene Herse was not a retro guy. He seems to have embraced the best of, what was then, new technology. I'm not saying it should be equiped with a bunch of carbonfiber, but maybe the best functional modern items.

neil m berg said...

I would love to have an old Herse or Singer, but putting old components on a new bike just doesn't make sense to me. Rene Herse was not a retro guy. He seems to have embraced the best of, what was then, new technology. I'm not saying it should be equiped with a bunch of carbonfiber, but maybe the best functional modern items.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Neil, I see your point and even have two bikes with modern Campy Ergo drive trains. But if you don't need index shifting the best derailleurs made are, arguably, the Simplex LJ5500. The best shifters are Suntour power ratchet or Simplex retro friction. Among the lightest non-carbon cranks ever made are TA Cyclo Touriste or Stronglight 49D. Mafacs on braze-ons are even lighter than Paul Racers and use the same geometry and outperform even modern Campys. The most comfortable seat for me is still a Brooks. No modern hubs last as long as Maxi-Cars. Need I go on?

neil m berg said...

Okay. I have 5 Brooks saddles. I run 3 sets of Suntour barcons and I don't have any indexed setups. That doesn't mean that friction is better. It just indicates that I'm old and it's hard to embrace change. I have one TA Cyclo Tourist crankset with a 48 big ring. Maybe it's light and a cool bit of history, but it in general it sucks. And why are you talking about a few ounces of weight hung on a steel bike with a Brooks saddle? Build a nice fillet brazed, painted titanium frame if you just want to shed weight. And how many hubs have you worn out in your lifetime. You could replace all the hubs on all your bikes forever for the price of one set of Maxi-Cars.

david_nj said...

Oh gosh Chris I love Mafac brakes but they pale, absolutely pale, in comparison to the performance of modern Campy or Shimano dual-pivot calipers, even with the very best pads money can buy. Mafacs of course look super, and are highly appropriate when using fenders, however ... as there is not sufficient room for fenders under modern dual-pivot sidepulls. I just wanna keep it real and don't want us getting *too* carried away with the they-don't-make-it-like-they-used-to mentality. It's like saying a 1968 MGB is as good as a modern BMW Z4 - the MG surely has more character but it wouldn't even see the Bimmer performance-wise.

Tangentially, TA cranks are neat and all but I think one has to admit that the modern Dura-Ace components are extremely attractive. I think the likes of Bruce Gordon has built up a modern randonneur around them and it came out very well indeed. I had an opportunity to try out a DA 10s setup and I had to admit it was stunningly smooth. Tough to admit as it may be: I would have no qualms whatsoever about becoming an S-brand user. ;-)

Andy said...

A premium version with NOS components might not be for everybody. And it will certainly be out of my price range. But I would love to see it done. I'm sure there's more than a handful of folks out there that would want one. I'd love to see it done just to see how it's done (the VO way). Go for it.

Lesli L said...

The Herse city bike project is quite exciting. Will you manufacture bikes in smaller sizes--possibly in the 48cm to 50cm range--for shorty riders like myself?! Any idea of price range for this frame/bike?

nipponvelo said...

Will you be using orange decals on the orange frame? If yes, is there a nice and/or visible contrast between the colors? If no, what color decal are you thinking for the orange framesets?
I like the decals very much but I'm not 100% sure about the headtube decal - for some reason I keep seeing the V8 juice logo in my head...
Did Chuck give you any additional versions/variations? Anything you could share with us?
Looking Good!

neil m berg said...

After jerking your chain, I actually looked at the graphics. Nice. Chuck did a really good job. I think the front logo is okay. Subtle...and it should be concealed by a proper bag anyway. You could do like Apple and make the orange your logo. Just a big orange circle. Easy to draw.

Anonymous said...


Ever thought of a head badge?


Chris Kulczycki said...

LL, The city bike frame is planned as a semi-custom. So it will be available in all sizes and as a mixte. The target price is $1100.

NV, The orange frames will have white logos, unless they don't look right when we put them on. We're kicking around some ideas for a logo: an orange tree, a bike with oranges for wheels. Got any ideas?

Alf, to me a head badge says "production bike". Singer, Herse, R. Sachs, Weigle, Mariposa, very few of the best bikes have a head badge.

Anonymous said...

Chris, I understand what you mean.

Suggestion: what about an logo in the shape and design of an orange fruit sticker? Oval perhaps, with your special Velo Orange font? White and orange.


nipponvelo said...

White does seem like the obvious choice on orange (think orange Rambouillet with white decal) but maybe something unexpected? Silver? Very dark green or espresso brown? Deep midnight blue?
Regarding the HT decal, I'm with you - I like a clean HT decal over a HT badge. I was thinking a logo as well but I don't care for a bike with oranges for wheels. Maybe an art-deco orange logo? Or an orange blossom? I've attached a few nice orange blossoms...
I'll give it some thought...

The half-orange on this is pretty great - I think it would make a cool logo!

nipponvelo said...

A few more for inspiration:


Orange, Maryland...

An oriole?

patrick said...

i love the "orange crate art" logo idea...

These all sound like nice bikes. I am the happy owner of a very -nearly-completed Kogswell P/R, so I'm spoken for, but I look forward to seeing where this all goes. Especially the city bike, that seems like a good idea.

Okulus said...

The city of Orange, France has a nice and topical crest:
a shield with a horn and three oranges.

Of the bikes you are building, are there still orders being taken or is the run sold out and closed?

Chris Kulczycki said...

You guys have opened up a can of worms with this logo thing. It's really hard (for me) to decide on a logo. I have the decals made for the first bunch of frames, but it might work to put a logo on the seat tube.

Okulus, We are taking orders for the Randonneur and Cyclo-Tourist frame. Wait time is about 6 months. The price is $1450. E-mail if you'd like a measurement/order form.

With luck we'll have the city bike prototype in about 6-8 weeks and if all is well with it we'll start taking orders for it then. The cost will be around $1100-$1200 and it may be available as a complete bike as well.

The Camper is still on the drawing board.

nv said...

Chris, you wrote:
"I have the decals made for the first bunch of frames, but it might work to put a logo on the seat tube. "

Does this mean you are going with the "VO" decal on the head tube?


Chris Kulczycki said...


We don't have time to get new decals made for the first few frames. I want to see my frame before making a decision. Then I can then print out some other ideas on plain paper and tape them to the frame.

I was looking at "Golden Age" last night and the VO logo looks a lot like the RH (Rene Herse) logo. Chuck told me he liked very the simple look of that "RH" and that's reflected in our logo. Flip through the book or go the RH site and you'll see what I mean.

Anonymous said...


you're right. The 'VO' headtube decal does look like the 'RH' decal.

But try a couple of ideas - you never know until you paste it on. I like the idea of a seattube decal as well. Something like the 1994 Bridgestones?

A questions about the mixte - would you consider making a lugged version? That would be really interesting (for me).


Chris Kulczycki said...

Alf, the problem with lugged mixtes is finding lugs for them. I don't know of a single source.

Anonymous said...

Chris, that is true. Mixte lugs are kind of rare.

But there seems to be a way around it, because the Ebisu and the Glorius have mixtes that use lugs, with a single down tube that splits into two at the seat tube.

Like this:




Would someone do a small run of lugs for VO, or, any ideas?


neil m berg said...

I have a mixte in the mix and have looked for lugs.
Curt Goodrich will be making it and lugs do not seem to be an option. He made the original prototype of the Glorius, but I believe those lugs are Rivendell propriety. I looked close at the pics of the Ebisu. I think it's fillet brazed. Actually you would only need a top head tube lug that could be used with another set. The top tube/seat tube juncture could be brazed. Maybe we could lobby Kirk Pacenti to spring for it?

newlin said...


I'd love to get one of your mixtes for my wife. Any chance you'd set it up to handle 700C wheels with a change to the brakes? As excited as I am with 650B, I don't really need a sixth wheel size in my garage (700C, 26", 27", 409, 20").

Also, I wonder if it will be a tru mixte with two thin stays running all the way to the head tube?

neil m berg said...

We might kwibble with your definition of "true mixte".
My daughter has a vintage Raleigh mixte. It's heavy and flexs a lot. The French constructeurs worked out a nice design. I think it would be unfortunate to make a twin tube mixte just because it's easier to build.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Newlin and Neil, I also think the twin tube mixtes are prettier, but Neil is right in that the constructeur style is stiffer and lighter. I guess on a city bike it's not as important as on a rando bike. I'll talk with the builder about both options. Right now I'm specing the men's version.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Newlin, 700c is a no cost option.