18 May, 2007

Coast Stems and Toyo Frames

For your viewing pleasure here are two photos of Johnny's stems. They are only available with a frame, never separately. The one on the right is the type I prefer for Velo Orange frames.

Speaking of frames, I'm finally sending off the specs to Toyo for the Velo Orange production frames. They will be much like the Velo Orange Randonneuse frames, but with cantilever brake bosses. The logic is that folks who buy a production frame probably won't be happy paying for the expensive Paul racer brakes.

I know that there has been a lot of hype about Toyo quality, but here is my honest opinion. Toyo is one of the two best production shops in the world, but they are still a production shop. Production frames do not compare to a frame by a good custom builder, the quality is not the same, not even close. The lugs are not hand filed, they are not silver brazed, tubes occasionally get overheated. You can put fancy lugs and a shiny paint job on a production frame, but it does not make it a hand-built custom frame. On the other hand Toyo frames are far superior to the best frames I've seen from Taiwan and China.

So why are we having Toyo build VO frames? It's because for most people the quality is more than sufficient. And because geometry and tubing selection are still the most important factors in ride quality. We hope these frames will cost just under $1000 and be available by late Fall. When we've seen and approved the sample we'll start taking reservations for the first production run of 100 frames.

The color is, as always, a big headache for me. One idea is a soft green brown. In old Japanese houses the plaster was sometimes made from the mud of abandoned rice paddies. This made a lovely green-brown color which was prized for it's subtle beauty. Another option is the same blue-gray that's used on the current Velo-Orange frames which everyone seems to like. Opinions are welcome.


Michael S said...

Those stems are beautiful! Any word yet on the possibility of Nitto fillet-brazed stems? Perhaps that can be sorted out by the time the production frames come around.
As for color, I think the blue is very nice. Then again, I wouldn't mind orange or black, either.

Edward said...

First, I want to thoroughly endorse your choice of Toyo. I have three bikes made by them under two brands and all are very well made; I agree, among the very best in production frames. I'll cast my vote for the soft green brown.

Ed Felker

Anonymous said...

Another vote for the soft green brown - I lived in Japan for three years, and know the color you reference - it would be perfect in many ways.

louis said...

Soft green brown, all the way. Also, how large will the largest production frame be?

Chris Kulczycki said...

They will go from 51-63cm c-t-t. All will use traditional tubing size and, by modern standards, pretty light tubing.

Anonymous said...

Please, oh please offer them without canti posts! Will there be a 650B option? The colour sounds great!

ANDY said...

Rice-paddy mud, please.

nv said...

How bout red, white & blue? Just like the good ol' Americ- ahem, I mean French flag.

Green/brown sounds great - but I'd personally prefer the white VO logo on this color over the orange one. Also, I'd like to see it offered as canti-post optional. Yeah, I know that's an extra headache.


Anonymous said...

I dig the blue/gray.

One question along the lines of the canti post posts: why not make the production frames for use with caliper brakes? I could be wrong (I often am), but it would seem to me that building for calipers might help shave off some cost.

-Aaron Thomas

Chris Kulczycki said...

Why canti brakes?

The logic behind canti brakes is as follows. If we use normal long reach brakes such as Shimanos with fenders we are limited to about a 28-30mm tire.

Using Tektro R566 on Annette's bike has proven to be too much of a compromise. Those brakes are better suited to 650B bikes.

Ideally I would like to use centerpulls on brazed-on bosses. But the cost would be too high for many customers.

So cantis may be the best option. You can run 26-32mm tire with lot's of fender clearance. There are plenty of very good inexpensive canti brakes. And they stop well.

So help me out here; why not use cantis?

Joel said...

I have cantis on my urban bike. They are a great solution for urban riding. No fit problems with large tires and fenders, easy to clean and maintain, stop like the dickens no matter the load.

One thing though: I thought one version of Paul Racers attach to canti studs. It seems from your blog entry they do not.

Finally, I was thinking if my Ridendell were ever stolen or crashed (knocks wood twice) a Jonny Coast VO would be the ideal replacement. Are you and JC going to continue the p'shp for those willing to pay the bucks or have we seen the last of the Coast Randonesse?

Chris Kulczycki said...

Joel, the racers do fit canti studs, but the studs are not brazed on in the same position.

Johnny will continue to build VO frames so long as he is willing. I'm ordering another frame for myself next week. The funny thing is that even though VO makes a very small profit on custom frames, I really enjoy making them available. If one cannot support artisans, what's the point of this sort of business? And Johnny has had a large part in helping design the Toyo frames.

Eventually there will be three levels of VO bikes if all goes according to plan, a built-in-Taiwan complete bike, the Toyo frame (that is also available built up), and the superb J.C.-built frames that can be built up, or not, to any any level.

James said...

I Funny I was just at Uwajimayia looking at Beehouse teapots trying to decided on a colour for a camping bike and that was one of the suitable colours I found. I don't know if there is such a market near you chris but Beehouse uses a number of colours that would be perfect for a japanese touring bike and their wares might be a source for paint samples. Not sure how easy it is to match paint to a pottery sample but it's a place to start.


david_nj said...

Those stems are cool. What is the boss on the top for?

Anonymous said...

While I have a general aesthetic and practical preference for sidepulls, I have nothing against cantis per se, and if the frames were made for cantis it certainly wouldn't be a deal breaker.

My only thoughts were that designing for calipers might help both to cut costs and to provide the possibility of 650B convertibility for those that might be interested, in the event you don't offer Toyo production frames specifically designed around the 650B wheel size.

It is odd that the Shimano long reach brakes present clearance problems on Annette's bike. I have the Shimanos on my Rivendell Romulus and they can take 32mm tires with fenders. Could the clearance issue with Annette's bike be related to the specific design of the VO frame or perhaps to the placement of the hole in the fork crown?

By the way, what does the muddy green look like? In the abstract, my vote still goes to blue.


Andrew said...

So if Toyo is in the top two, which is the other one?

Anonymous said...

Chris said: "So help me out here; why not use cantis?"

So we don't mess up that nice green paint when we grind them off! ;-)

Seriously, cantis are a deal-breaker for me. I much prefer the Tektro 556's to any canti I've ever used. Braze-on centerpull would be OK with me, too.

I have an idea....
Couldn't you have canti posts that bolt on instead of being brazed on?
I'm picturing something like a bottle cage mount that to which you could attach a canti-post. The frames could have two sets: one for cantis, one for centerpulls. The customer would then have the choice of canti, center, or to not use the mounts at all in the case of sidepulls. The un-used mounts would be pretty unobtrusive.

Chris Kulczycki said...

David, that's the cable hanger.

Aaron, Annette's bike has the R566 brakes which actually provide too much clearance. Shimanos seem to have the opposite problem. Either the pads are at the very top of the slot or at the very bottom. We want them in the middle.

Bolt-on canti studs would simply not be in the constructeur tradition.

I'll think some more about this.

Brian said...

What about using the new "Silver" extra long reach brakes made by Tektro?


I'm sure Tektro wouldn't mind making some for you.

Brian said...

Nevermind. That's the Tektro 556 also.

Anywya. I currently have a Surly Long Haul Trucker, and I sure wish I had the option at the time to use the Tektro brakes. It would give the bike much cleaner lines and be a lot easier to set up.

Anonymous said...

I can easily get a Gran Bois (thinking of the largest tire I prefer on the road for 700c style riding) under a Honjo or Berthoud with the usual Shimano long reach calipers, not the extra long Tektro/Silvers. I guess I don't understand either the problem or cantilever as a solution: no cantilever has ever been as easy or as elegant as a caliper brake.


Joe said...

What not make the cantilever studs removeable? Then caliper brakes are an option if the owner wants to change wheel size.

Why not a 650B option where canti studs could be placed for the 650B wheel? Add a second pair of studs for 559 wheels or 700C wheels.


ANDY said...

Cantilevers seem pretty perfect for the application: a lower-cost frame. Removable studs or multiple brake options are great, but that's what the VO custom by Coast is for.

Adam said...

To the removable canti stud advocates -- removable canti posts are NOT that unobtrusive when removed.

Basically, it's just the post that is removable. If you're thinking that what you have left behind would just look like a bottle boss, you're mistaken.

They also are bulkier and require more seatstay clearance. During the Kogswell P/R design phase, Matthew Grimm made a couple of diagrams -- one showing the seatstay bend necessary to maintain the same clearance of non-removable canti posts with removable ones, and it made the rear end of the bike far less elegant, requiring a mountain bike -style bend in the seatstays.

Not worth it, imo. Cantis are not a deal breaker for me. I think sidepulls may look slightly more elegant on a randonneur, but only slightly. My Shimano R550 cantis have been very easy to set up, look nice, and stop my bike superbly (that's on my porteur, with frequent heavy loads -- they've got all the stopping power you need).

david_nj said...

Interesting about the cable hanger. It does seem a bit odd on a quill stem though -- whenever you adjust the stem a bit up or down, the cable would have to be readjusted. I thought that that adjustability was why everyone loved quill stems.

Myself, on a road bike I've had more luck just going threadless. (BTW, one of these fillet-brazed stems would look absolutely wicked in threadless, I think.)

Anonymous said...

Electric Purple with orange twists for me. Actually 2 votes for me and my wife.

Anonymous said...

Another vote for green-brown - brilliant choice. And another vote for cantis. Death before removable canti studs!

Joel said...

Hey all, not my offer (I wish I were in France at the moment ;) ) but figured this is something you would want to see:


My camper is so new, custom built for me, wonderfully crafted. But boy oh boy ...

mark said...

Green-brown, canti bosses, 700c wheels on the larger sizes - yes, yes, yes. Can't wait 'til fall!

Tom said...

'To the removable canti stud advocates -- removable canti posts are NOT that unobtrusive when removed.'

To Clarify what Adam said- the bosses that the canti studs thread into are big and will interfere with the operation of the brake calipers- whether they are centerpull, side pull or dual pivot.
You could jack around with placement on the inside of the seatstays but it will come at the expense of tire and heel clearance and the lines of the bikes. The stays will have to be radiussed in or out at the mounting location and it will look really odd and not at all classic or randonee looking.

Tarun said...

I think a nice hunter green or royal blue for me. The green brown, I know it, but not the biggest fan. If you want something more Japanese, how about something in a soft pearl colour like rice paper?

Anonymous said...

A 900 dollar off the peg rando frame would be on my shopping list. Cantis are my brake of choice and I wouldn't be too fussed about color - as long as it is not metalic yellow or some such. Mudgard mounts on the stay bridges and fork crown would be very nice as would some neat method of mounting blinky lights on the seat stays out of the way of saddle bags and heels.

Anonymous said...

I know quite a bit about cantilever brakes. My 25 year old Ritchey fast touring frame has bosses. I've used Mafac Racer and Touring, Modolos, Shimanos, DiaCompes, and Suntour XCs. I've fiddled with the yokes constantly. Finally I sat down with pencil and paper and some hours later worked out the physics. This is what I learned:

o Like all brakes, the cantilever is a lever, and like all center pulls, the geometry changes and the cable pulls. Therefore it only makes sense to discuss the mechanical advantage (MA) when the pads are on the rim.

The MA is determined by the distance between the pivot and the rim, which is fixed, and the pivot and the yoke anchor which varies with the design of the cantilevers.
The easiest solution is to treat the pivot/anchor arm as two levers: one horizontal and one vertical. The horizontal lever moves at the cable moves, 1:1. The vertical lever move horizontally by the horizontal component of the yoke wire, that is the cable movement x the tanget of the yoke angle.

The genius of the high profile cantilever (Mafac, Froglegs, Grumpy, Spooky, Pauls) is that when set up right, they are straight out - all horizontal lever and no vertical lever. This means that it doesn't matter how long or short the yoke is, the MA is completely predictable.

o The Mafac Racer and Tourer have exactly the same MA as their geometry is congruent. The larger Tourer just has a longer "sweet spot" as it's radius of movment is larger. The ratio btw is 2:1 but as the yoke splits the cable force in two, the brakes have a MA of 1:1, just like the side-pulls of the era.

o My Ritchey is set up for a Tourer in front and a Racer in back. Arguably, this is a feature: the more adjustable big Tourer in front where it matters, and the Racer in the less critical rear where its compact size will avoid the rider's legs. Then again, Tom didn't say anything when I picked up the frame, so perhaps it's a happy accident;-)

This does mean I automatically have a back up set of the sought after Mafac's. It also means I can't put on a colored Froglegs set...


Anyway, the bottom line here is that you need to very careful specing the location of the cantilever bosses. The adjustablity of the newer designs messes with the MA which must be compensated in the yoke positioning (for low-profiles), if you want to keep the empiracly correct 4:1 feel of the brake system. The width is a bit more flexible, as you can move the pads out on their posts (the reason they have posts, btw). Making sure the specs also allow V-brakes would give the most options down the road to the buyers.