31 March, 2007


Just to fuel idle speculation, rumor, and gossip, I thought I'd share a few projects that we're looking into or working on. It's important to understand that so far these are only a glint in our collective eyes and they may never come to fruition.

I'm still trying to import a bike like the Araya Randonneur shown at left. This bike has a double butted lugged frame, hub generator, full lighting, fenders, a front rack, etc. The goal is to sell it complete at around $1500. Would you buy one?

We'd also like to develop a Velo Orange water bottle cage that look a little like the Toei cage, but costs $20.

Then there is the long quest to make reproduction Herse stems and Herse straddle wire hangers. The hangers look like they may become reality; it's too early to speculate about the stems.

I am hopeful that we'll have a stainless steel version of Velo Orange fenders in 40mm and 50mm width in a few months.

I've also started thinking about a less expensive European-style city bike, 5-speed internal geared hub, fenders, TIG welded mixte and mens frames, but outfitted in classic VO style. These bikes, at around $500, would probably not carry the VO name, but be a separate lower end brand. Velo Noir?

We have asked Ostrich to consider making a TA bag copy for us now that they are no longer making bags for ALPS. They have taken it under advisement.

Any thoughts or suggestions for other products?


Barry O'Connor said...

I really like what you're doing here with the shop and blog--I visit with frequency.

The Araya bicycle is quite nicely spec'd, and I'd buy one for sure if I didn't live in a 1 bedroom in NYC with 3 other bikes, another in progress, and a wife who likes things tidy.

As for the bottle cage, why not stock the Nitto Touring ones? Do you intend to sell a similar one at a lower price point?

Finally, a reasonably priced city bike with your style/sensibility would be great. A bunch of companies are coming out with their version of the city bike, but they don't seem to get it. Boutique makers are doing the same with more style, albeit high prices (Kronan is the exception that comes to mind, but who wants a 50lb bike?).


nv said...

Thoughts? Wow Chris, you really seem to be going for it!
The Araya bike looks excellent at it's price point but it's hard to get a feel for the level of detail and finish from that photo - still, an amazingly pretty bike for the price.
The bottle cage is also really lovely - one thing to consider - I'm not crazy about cages with a fully enclosed ring/circle such as the one in the photo. It makes adjusting the tension of the cage on the bottle difficult and sometimes impossible for a bottle with a smaller than standard diameter (such as a Kleen Kanteen). The Herse stem personally leaves me a bit cold - I prefer the lines of a classic quill stem such as a Nitto Pearl. If I were going to resurrect a stem, I'd certainly attempt to clone the Fiamme stems you had for sale - that was a beautiful stem! Another nice option would be something very similar to Salsa's S.U.L. except forged instead of welded and in SILVER! A removable faceplate on a classic looking quill stem would be nice (Yes, nitto makes one but it is welded and not all that pretty IMO).
As for additional product ideas...
I'd love to see a really elegant, 5 arm spider, wide range double-specific crankset in a low BCD. Polished silver of course - and an easy to source BCD such as 110/74 or 94/58. Square taper with nice, thin crankarms. I'd nominate resurrecting the mid 80's Specialized 110/74 "Flag" cranks in both a triple and wide range double version. Wouldn't that be sweet?! Salsa and Surly have all the ring options, we just need the arms.
Lastly, I'd love to see an ALL canvas series of bags that are low on frills, high on quality and looks, smartly designed, a color other than black and reasonably priced.
Keep up the great work!

Alexander Browne said...

I'd love too see a cheaper VO city bike. I've been thinking my girlfriend's "comfort bike" needs upgrade. Not to a racing-style bike, but to a better practical ride with some more style.

Anonymous said...

Count me in if you import the Araya bikes. I'd order one today.


Anonymous said...

Keep the ideas coming!
Personally, I have never been a fan of the Herse stems either. They have always seemed chuncky and made in some guys garage workshop (which they were!).
Need better pics of the Araya Rondo bike but think for those on a budget it should be very appealing.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Maybe I should just go ahead and have my paychecks directly deposited into your account. I would be very tempted by the Araya. I will buy a couple of those cages.
I'm willing to pre-pay for the Herse stem if it will help get the project moving. And I want the new Ostrich bag, too!
Other products? Herse-style cranks, that Alps flashlight, fender mounted taillight, old style curvy randonneur bars, especially in larger widths. Also, you need a bell that mounts to a THIN spacer for those of us without extra stack height.
This sort of bar: http://tinyurl.com/38qy6o

Chris Kulczycki said...

Follow the link in the post for lots more Araya photos. Just click blindly all over that page and lost of cool stuff pops up.

nv said...

I'd seen the Araya website before but just checked back - Wow! That just may be the nicest production bike going - especially for the price! That is a ridiculous deal! If I didn't have a VO frameset on order, I'd definitely consider one! Chris, do you know what sizes these are available in?

JMG said...

I'm looking to buy my first randonneuring bike, and I'd buy the Araya in a heartbeat. I only wish I didn't have to wait. Just be sure to get some of the smaller sizes!

Anonymous said...

On the Araya site under frame specs they list either a 50cm or 53cm frame. I expect there are few rando production frames on the Japanese market that fit what we consider to be average to tall riders. I bought a couple bikes in Japan & they were on the small side for me.

Meaux said...

I recently had a French builder make me up a bike very similar to the Araya. I would have bought the Araya and saved myself about a thousand dollars. Someone here in the states needs to offer such a bike.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Convincing them to make the bikes in larger sizes is the big issue; I've asked our agent to offer to buy 100 of them. But decisions like this take forever, if not longer, in Japan. If they won't make them, then the backup plan is just to have the frames made ourselves and use a Taiwanese assembler to put them together. That might be a little cheaper, but a lot more trouble. Either way it'll take a fair amount of time. Realistically, we may see them in 12 months.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of an affordable mixte city bike. I'd order one today at that pricepoint.

Thanks for asking - Matt

Anonymous said...

chris, I think I could ride the 53 comfortably, even though I normally ride a 56 c to t. That's because the head tube is quite long, at over 150mm, and the top tube is decently sized at 541mm. I'd need a 120 stem, but that should make it fit just fine, I believe. would I buy one? heck yes. It's not just a good deal, it looks like a great bike.


Anonymous said...

hey, you didn't tell us the Araya was a 26 incher! that would explain the short bb drop. Anyway, yeah, I even like that too! even more bulletproof and versatile!


Anonymous said...

I would love a bike like the Araya. That stem is gorgeous and the fenders are just right. I would love one in 650B!!

Chris Kulczycki said...

I asked for 650b wheels on all the larger sizes.

Andy B said...

All options sound like perfect VOpportunities. I'd take two low-price city bikes. I love anon's suggestion for a curly rando bar. How about some new VO apparel? Long-sleeve jerseys with classic chain-stitched logo? A cap. I'd like to see a VO single speed version, similar to a Pass Hunter. A VO-designed touring shoe, that doesn't look like a stupid racing thing and doesn't look like an orthopedic stump. Chris, ask your son, I'd love to see some VO stuff for kids. Thanks and keep em coming!

Joel said...

Agree the Araya is very nice. Hope the Japanese factory would see the promise in making a US size version. Word of mouth and seen on the street could easily pump a 100 initial order into 2 3 or even 500 additional bikes.

Very impressed to see new bikes with non-aero brake levers with gum rubber hoods to boot on the Araya site. I don't ride fast enough where bland looking aero levers will make a difference. Gum rubber looks so much better than black, IMO.

buck-50 said...

I gotta tell you, the idea of a well designed, pretty and classic looking city bike for around $500 is a truly worthwhile project- Any idiot can build a beautiful bike for 3-5 grand, but it takes a mountain of skill to make a beautiful cheap bike.

As much as I love the Araya, I probably wouldn't buy one as I've already got a bike just like it (riv romulus) and I'm pretty sure that my next bike will be a full custom.

BUT, and this is a big but, I would definitely buy a $500 commuter for my wife- fenders, 5 speed internal, braze-ons for racks, comfy saddle and easy maintenance... that'd be ideal. Keep the weight < or = to a $500 trek commuter and you are on.

I love the name Velo Noir- Very Henri Ford... here's yer motto- "toute couleur que vous voulez, aussi longtemps qu'elle est noire!"

Anonymous said...

one last comment:
I'm not sure I'd want that bike in 650b with that geometry. In fact, I'm sure I wouldn't. The chainstays are designed for 26, as is the bb drop and other dimensions--going to even a slightly larger tire would create clearance issues, as well as contribute to a less stable ride. The bike just won't work as well with bigger wheels unless you redesign the frame, and I don't see them tweaking frame specs for a small production run. Personally, I like a stable bike with low (for the wheel) bb.


oldmill said...

The idea of a cheap city bike is excellent. I'd buy one today, and I already have a great city bike a small apartment straining at the seams from too many bikes. I like the stem project. I agree with others that the Fiamme were the bee's knees and would make a better target for duplicates. Great projects all.

nv said...

What are the dirrerences between a TA handlebar bag and the current Ostrich handelbar bag? I've never seen a TA bag in person but the pics I've seen online look pretty similar to the Ostrich...

Brian Loring said...

I doubt you'll be able to get a frame in my freakish size(66cm), but I support the concept 100%!

As far as the TA Bag goes, count me in for at least a couple!

luckyluke said...

yes i would buy one . It is very reasonably priced.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of a TA style bag. I hope, if it happens, you will go with the tan color which TA used. As a minor point, I always thought the TA canvas was a bit on the thin side and would suggest you can beef it up a bit.
I also send my sincere thanks. Beyond offering unique, thoughtful products you are helping to stretch the scope of cycling in this country, That is of great service to both the cycling and noncycling communities.

Anonymous said...

"I'd nominate resurrecting the mid 80's Specialized 110/74 "Flag" cranks in both a triple and wide range double version. Wouldn't that be sweet?!"

Seeing how those cranks were prone to cracking I'd take a pass on that idea. The original XTR cranks on the other hand would be great. Consider:
- Low Q
- Plenty of ankle clearance
- 94 bcd
- Plenty strong
- Reasonably light

I like the cage since it can be easily adjusted, unlike other hoop style cages I've seen that look pretty but do nothing to secure a bottle.

A *nice* touring shoe would be great to have. I miss the old Avocet design. Problem with most shoes today is they're made for SPD. Nothing wrong with that except it results in a really thick, chunky sole. Older MTB shoes were nice because they had a sawtooth pattern on the bottom that made them easy to get into the pedals but then held securely.

BTW, my Ostrich bag is doing great. One of the best pieces of gear I've bought in a long time.

Anonymous said...

anon -
why would a reproduction flag crank crack? was there something about the design that created a stress riser?
the xtr cranks are also super - but aesthetically I prefer the specialized cranks.

Liz S. said...

The Araya was beautiful, but the accessorized 5-speed city-bike is what this country really needs! (I ride a women's Pashley daily for transportation, and I'm constantly asked about it. Something simple and classic and affordable will find its market.)

Anonymous said...

I too would welcome a flag crank repro. I have one on my Ibis, and while I don't ride it much now (at my parent's house on Vancouver Island--theft and space issues here in East Vancouver), the crank held up well for years of abuse Mt. bikinkg. While I see a couple of little hairline cracks at the web where the spider and arm meet, a mechanic at Fairfield Bikes in Victoria ( a wonderful store) suggested filing it out with a chainsaw file, to remove the stress riser. So perhaps a new crank could be similarly amended. I would LOVE to get a new version of this crank. Now that dirt drop bars are on the rise once more, all of my quirky buys in the early 90s are being legitimated....
M Burdge

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

Seeing how those cranks were prone to cracking I'd take a pass on that idea. The original XTR cranks on the other hand would be great. Consider:
- Low Q
- Plenty of ankle clearance
- 94 bcd
- Plenty strong
- Reasonably light

but he was wrong. The original XTR crank, the M-900 (of which I own 3) is a 110/74, not a 94bcd. It is gorgeous, however.

-- Steve Palincsar

Anonymous said...

That bottle cage is really neat. It looks like it has a bit of a spring clip action, thus is slightly adjustable. I've got some Sigg water bottles that are a wider diameter than normal bottle cages allow and I'm always on the lookout for cages that would work with them and are not cheesy plastic. I don't know if they'd work with that cage, but I think it looks like a very elegant design to bottle storage.


Anonymous said...

The Araya look fantastic. If it comes in 64CM I would buy one.


Andrew Karre said...

Speaking of low-cost rando bikes . . .


Anonymous said...

You are on to some great stuff! The "idea" of your store is really focused in on where I want my cycling life to be. I would love to see a high quality fender mount LED tail light with a flashing mode. Jitensha has been teasing with one on the website for quite awhile but no stock or price yet. I don't want to wire my Saluki for a tail light. I also think some traditional shoes would be great.
Robert Peterson

Derrick said...

You've got a great thing going with velo orange. Definite interest in The Araya bike and city bike. Good luck with the new shop. It looks divine.

chris said...

Hello, I've enjoyed reading through your site gleaning info as i search for my first real bike. Great shop and blog. Actually trying to get info on the Araya randonneur and came across your site.
Just one thing. I wonder if you could please tell me what the difference is between tange infinity tubing and Kaisei 022?
I don't know much about steel tubing properties but Araya are releasing two new models next year based on their Randonneur model and will be using kaisei 022 instead of tange infinity. One is called Swallow which seems more or less identical to the randonneur. The other is a lighter sportier model called excella sportif ( at least i think it's a touring bike). Prices will be slightly higher than the randonneur.
I found this on the following link. http://wiki.livedoor.jp/araya_kk/d/ARAYA%202010%20%A5%E2%A5%C7%A5%EB%20%A5%B9%A5%DA%A5%C3%A5%AF

It's in japanese but the specs are mostly in english.
Let me know what you think. I'm on the look out for my first randonneur and have finally narrowed my options down to the arayas. Started off looking at surly's..then pondered the Maruishi..drooled over a toei build.. Realised this all costs money and reached the conclusion that the araya offered quite good value overall.
Anyway, hope you might be able to help me out here. I'm based in Tokyo so apart from the language problem I should be able to get my mitts on one in the new year.