18 January, 2008

More about the Pass Hunter Frame

Here are some more details about the Pass Hunter frame:

  • Each frame is built to measure based on your measurements, weight, and riding preferences.
  • Columbus, Dedacciai, or Reynolds tubes; tube choice based on frame size and rider’s weight
  • Slightly extended head tube (10mm)
  • Head tube and seat tube angle: 73-degrees, Trail: 43mm
  • BB drop of about 75mm and chain stays of 44.5cm, but dimensions are adjusted slightly to suite frame size
  • Fork blades smoothly bent in the “French fashion”. (Fork crown type still to be determined, probably the same as on our city bike.)
  • Vertical dropouts with single eyelets
  • Set up for cantilever brakes. I feel the power of cantis is needed for a pass hunter and canti's give you the most stopping power for the buck. Centerpulls have better modulation, but this is meant to be an affordable frame and Paul Racers are very expensive.
  • TIG welded in the US by Ahren Rogers, who builds our fillet brazed city bikes and formerly built bikes for "SEVEN". The quality simply cannot be compared with any Taiwanese TIG welded frame I've seen. Also remember that weld quality is only part of the picture; alignment, for example, is just as important.
  • Room for VO 45mm fenders and 35mm tires. Again In keeping with the VO philosophy of trying to absolutely nail the handling, we recommend a rather small range of tire sizes, 28-35mm for this frame.
  • 1-degree top tube upslope
  • Loops on the fork for a VO rando constructeur front rack.
  • 700c wheel size.
  • Simple and elegant decals under clear coat.
  • Very high quality powder coat finish. Powder coating is more environmentally friendly and tougher than "wet paint". And since we don't need to keep the paint thin to define the lugs, powder coat is the best choice.
Braze-On List:
  • Top tube cable stops at lower left
  • Down tube shifter bosses
  • Rear derailleur cable stop
  • Two sets of water bottle bosses
  • Brake cable hanger
  • Chain hanger
  • Pump peg
  • Fender attachments on bridges and crown and the bridges and crown are carefully placed for a perfect fender-line. I think this is a very big deal and something I still don't see on many frames.
  • Front rack eyelets on fork blades
The photo is of our son, Alec, in a triathlon, not on a VO bike though.


Anonymous said...

That pic is awesome! He needs a VO jersey. And the 2CV VO team car loaded up with spare wheels and "Kulczycki" in large, friendly letters on the front!

Anonymous said...

Hopefully this post will quell the hubbub about the Passhunter, and you can move on to design the VO triathlon bike...

C said...

Oh yes, definitely a VO time-trial/triathlon bike!!

I have to say that in terms of design time trial bikes are right up there with randonneur bikes in terms of complexity. Many these days show a very high degree of integration. They're also fun to look at. I'd love to own a 80's era Bottecchia time trial bike with Air tubing and Modolo Kronos brakes or a Cinelli Laser. Yeah, they're hardly suitable for daily riding but then again a Ferrari isn't suitable for most daily driving situations.

Felkerino said...

Which bike is Alex riding? I have a 9-year-old and the availability of quality bikes in her size is really poor. They are either 26" racers, BMX, or 24" wheel, front shock mountain bikes. The best we've found is a 24" wheel Specialized Hard Rock from the 90s with rigid fork. Care to make a run of VO kids bikes?

Ed Felker

Anonymous said...

Do you have any photos of this new Pass Hunter frame?

It does sound like it's well thought out design. If the quality of this new frame is that of the blue mixte that you showed recently then it should be of very high quality. And I would agree with you on the idea of a powder coat versus a wet paint. A quality powder coat should last longer and be more durable than wet paint. Plus being that it is tig welded the tig welding areas should be less obvious. With clean tig welds and a good powder coat from a distance it might even look like a fillet brazed beauty.

And I also agree with your thoughts on tig welding. Good quality tig welding takes skill. Because tig welding produces more heat a quality joint needs to be done very quickly and accurately to avoid over heating the surrounding steel. And obviously that would be the hallmark of a skilled frame builder.

I guess in the end everything comes down to the quality of construction not just the materials and methods. It seems we sometimes forget the bicycle is just more than a sum of its parts.

Felkerino said...

Correction, meant Alec in my post!

Ed Felker

Monk About Town said...

You had me at "little Basque town ... "

Anonymous said...

While I prefer lugs in appearance, there is nothing wrong with a finely crafted TIG bike with nice tubing, especially one with spot-on geometry. I can also see the Pass Hunter making a decent "expedition" style mountain bike, albeit with tall and somewhat narrow tires and a steep head angle. Well now I'm giving myself ideas that would require more money than I have! Hmm...

Anonymous said...


For quality kid's bikes the name I hear here in the UK is Islabikes. You may prefer to wait for exchange-rate sanity to prevail...

Gino Zahnd said...

My comment is sort of off topic.

I've looked in California, and found 25 or so passes (See http://xrl.us/bein4 ).

Being that the Sierras, Cascades, and Coastal ranges are here, I can't imagine how long it would take to cross 100 passes. Does anyone know of an American that has done it? How many years did it take?

Anonymous said...

Occasionally on blogs like this, I encounter comments on lugs vs. tig construction which remind me of my own former prejudice--for me, lugs were once almost the only criteria that mattered. Now that I've owned a few fine tigged frames, including an incredible Steelman with a base price of 2500 or so, my former way of thinking about frame construction seems utterly silly and even embarrassing to me.

And this Passhunter frame looks like such a screaming deal--well, I don't want to say too much or I'm afraid the price will jump before I can make up my mind . . . If there is a "sweet spot" among contemporary bikes made for the pure pleasure of everyday riding, man, this concept utterly nails it.


Anonymous said...

MW, I'm not certain but from the Brent Steelman steel frames I've seen they appear to be a low temperature fillet brazed construction as opposed to tig welds. Like I said before there's nothing wrong with tig welds if properly done by an experienced frame builder. However I would imagine a low temperature brazing like Steelman's takes a huge amount of skill and time. His frames are legendary. And from what I've seen on his web site he has to be one of the most experienced and versatile frame builders of all time.

Anonymous said...

MW, you are right and I was obviously fooled by the quality weld on the Steelman owned by a friend of mine. Those are in fact weld but I always thought they were fillet brazed because they were so smooth. I just happened to ask him and he told me that his frame is in fact TIG welded which does in my mind bring TIG welding to another level of craftsmanship I did know was possible. So if the new VO Pass Hunters have this Steelman level of TIG welding than they are truly a bargain.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me a very good project, well designed. I especially appreciate the canti (usefull for real passhunting, i.e. for real moutain) and the 73-degrees of the Head and seat tubes.
I have just one question about its geometry : why a so long chain stays (44.5cm)?

Anonymous said...

I don't want to speak for Chris, but if you look at a lot of 70's bikes, whether they're from France, Japan, or even the old Wisconsin Treks--you'll see that most had dimensions very similar to these rando bikes. It looks odd compared to our current geo, which is more competition derived. This older frame style is more suitable for bags, esp. front bags, as well as fenders and bigger tires. That's the difference; there are a few cyclists to whom this all matters.


James said...

Does anyone make a bike rack for a 2CV?

Anonymous said...

to mw

Yes, I'm complety agree, I'm an old fashion cyclist myself and my own touring bike (which is 25 years old actually) has a 46 cm chainstay (for a 57cm seat tube CT)!
My point was : don't you think that for passhunting, a shorter chainstay would give more ability to climb when that matters a lot : serious passhunting in the french or japan Alps or in the rocky mountain for instance. I'm just guessing here but it seems to me that alps or Toei passhunters have a shorter chainstay than randonneur's one.
see :

By the way, for nice TIG welded frames, see :

Anonymous said...


Maybe you've seen these, but Trek has a 24" wheeled drop-bar bike. Basically, it's a shrunken Trek 1000. (8sp Sora shifters and all). Trek also makes a 24" wheeled version of their 7.2FX. That's a flat-bar bike. Most shops won't have these on the sales floor, go to a Trek dealer and ask for them or check their website.

Anonymous said...

Hi Y,
as for "My point was : don't you think that for passhunting, a shorter chainstay would give more ability to climb when that matters a lot"

no, I don't think that. I think a shorter stay feels more direct, certainly, but the only thing that really affects the cyclist's ability to climb is the cyclist's ability to climb. You might want to carry a few things along the way, too, and that's one thing these frames can do better than my Italian bikes could do.


Anonymous said...

Hi mw,

Thanks for your answer.

I'm not sure that the length of the chainstay is just a matter of carrying stuff. It improve the stabiltiy, as the fork rake do (no?).

Of course, it is the cyclist whose climbing eventually, not the bike.

Anyway, frames geometry is a subject of eternal guessing and arguments (and I have to admit that I enjoy that) and I was just wondering because a passhunter is exactly what my father need desesperatly... I'm consering to import a Toei for a long time and now I can consider to import a V.O. which is quite much easier :-)

But if anybody here has another guesses about frame geometry, you're very welcome to share them with us ;-)


Velo Orange said...

Ed, that's a Redline CX bike. It's great for Alec because we often ride on unpaved surfaces.

Gino, I'll bet there are a lot more passes in New England than in California. It's easier to build roads over our little East Coast mountains.

I should have taken a photo, but in the Everglades National Park there is a "pass" that is 4' above sea level and is even marked with a sign. It's the highest "ridge" for dozens of miles around and the park road to Flamingo crosses it.

Philip, As soon as my Pass Hunter arrives I'll take and post photos!

James, There are roof racks for the 2CV, but they require drilling. If you only need to carry one bike you can mount a Thule or Yakima tray right on the back bumper. I've been looking for a hitch receiver for our 2CV, probably pick one up in Europe this summer.

Unknown said...

There's really only one question worth asking for a Pass Hunter frame: Will it plane? ;)

Okay, maybe two: How about moving those rear brake cable stops to the lower *right* so that those of us who like our front brake on our right hand (where it ought to be for every righty . . . and for lefties who right in traffic) can have the nice cable route? C'mon, Chris, don't be path-dependent here, do it right! Or at least make it a semi-custom option. ;)

This sounds like a fabulous frame. I'm excited to see the pictures.

thechammp said...

I like cantis too but what about the diacompe centerpulls? aren't they making those these days? The diacompe mod750 seem to be readily available and about $50 a pair.
My newer bikes have cantis, the rest have centerpulls and I like them both. I'd like to see decent frames designed with centerpulls in mind.

Brian said...

When do we get to hear more about the pass hunter? I've been semi-anxiously waiting to hear about for months.

Triathlon Wetsuit said...

You may prefer to wait for sanity to prevail in the exchange rate. Thanks for sharing.