02 May, 2008

Brett's VO Rando Bike

Just as I was trying to think of something to post about comes a great e-mail from Brett, who just finished building up his VO frame. And he has done a splendid job of it. He writes:

I took a few photos of my VO Randonneur frame built except for the lighting system (it will be a few months before I do that). The ride is superb and the frame is stunning. I've thought about building this dream bike for years but Velo Orange is what really made it possible...

...It took about 20 hours for me to assemble everything and the final weight is less than 25 pounds which includes the heavy Schmidt SON hub.

The quality of the frame is equal or better than many custom frames that cost thousands more and have 2-3 year waits. Even at the current price of $1850 it seems like an incredible bargain. What's more important is that you're supplying the necessary parts to really make it happen from racks to the roller hangers all at reasonable prices!

The rest of the photos are here. I think that's a beautiful build. Great job Brett. By the way, the wait for a frame is now 2.5 years, sorry.


Anonymous said...

First, let me state that this bike is beautiful and a pleasure to behold.

That being said, I keep hearing in the back of my head "One of these things is not like the other..", the old Sesame Street song.

Can you guess what it is?


Anonymous said...

Very, very beautiful. I like
everything about it. Especially I
like having a double chainring
instead of a triple and still having
a low enough gear for most any hill.
Congratulations on having such a fine

RonLau said...

Nice bike. Hopefully get to see it in person in SF.

Michael S said...

What, you don't like the carbon levers, Erik?

I think the bike looks fantastic. A winner all around and an aesthetic for us future VO owners to aspire to.

elvisvelo said...

1. That is very fine indeed. At a quick glance, that looks like the bike I want my frame to turn into. Is that the standard blue? I like it. Enjoy that!!

2. WADR, this is not Sesame Street, I don't need playtime at the moment, so,
That being said, I keep hearing in the back of my head "One of these things is not like the other..", the old Sesame Street song.
Can you guess what it is?
I would prefer that you just raise your point, such as it is.

3. It might not be obvious, but I am not quite an idigital novice, and I can handle online life in general, but this VO blog/comment thing has got me perplexed. My signature may or may not come up when I send this msg in.
I have registered before, and sometimes when I come to the comment area it seems to recognize me, but sometimes it doesn't ( same computer ). I don't know how/where to get the identities that are listed there. Any place I can learn about this stuff? Merci, en advance.

johnson said...

lynda.com has tutorials on things like how to use blogger.

johnson said...

btw, 2.5 years? maybe its time to start looking at other custom builders to take up some work? that's how long a Richard Sachs takes.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful build, Brett. Forget the negs. " Your girl is hot except for that mole" always reads as jealousy, although jealousy is not unwarranted.

erik said...

Fellow enthusiasts,

Of course I meant no offense to Brett when I commented on his bike, and the e-outrage is unwarranted. He obviously had the budget to create the bike of his dreams, and it is apparent that he has been very discriminating in selecting his component spec. I'm sure that he is proud of his new toy and justifiably so. I'm equally sure that he didn't post pictures for all the world to see in the hopes that anonymous gits like myself would validate his purchase.

Aesthetically, Brett's VO is very integrated and all of a theme, with the exception of the carbon Chorus levers, which TO MY EYES don't match the style. My guess is that if Campy offered their Chorus or Record level ErgoPower levers in alloy, he would have opted for them instead. I can certainly understand not wanting to go further down the Campy food chain to source alloy levers (do they offer silver ones anymore?) as the rest of the bike is top shelf stuff. Whatever. Brett knew what he was doing, and I'm sure is tickled pink with his bike. Like I said in my original post, it is beautiful.

I, like everyone else here, given the option and the budget, would make different choices. It is what makes the ownership of custom bikes special, and its reason we're not all riding around on identical Trek 520's (no e-offense to you either, 520's are great bikes...)

Peace, Erik

Brett said...

I had a pair of 4 year-old 9sp chorus alloy levers that broke while I was waiting for the frame that I was unable to rebuild successfully, otherwise I would have used them.

I decided to give the carbon levers a try because I think the carbon weave has a certain beauty as well although now that it's complete I do actually agree with Erik that alloy levers probably would have been a better match. One minor advantage I've noticed of the carbon vs. alloy levers is that they don't get as cold and feel nicer (to me) with bare fingers.

As a side note I was disappointed to find that Campagnolo recently changed the internals of the levers on Centaur and below so that the front is now indexed and you can only shift one gear at a time in the rear.

In any case, considering the deal I got on the levers I could always sell them on ebay and switch to NOS alloys. Luckily those are very easy to change.

Thanks for all of the comments - including Erik's. :)


Anonymous said...


how exactly does the internal wiring work? where are the holes?...

why use the inferior campy rear der. if youre already using a shiftmate? -- you could use a new med cage xt...

whats the beef against a triple?

and why all those cogs in back when five will do?...

dont you worry about the rigid stays on the front wheel becoming jammed with an object? I love my VO Aluminum fenders, but must admit I retrofit boring, heavy, 'ol SKS hardware for the front fender stays to gain the "quick release" function of the SKS fenders...

it is a GREAT bike..I love it!

Anonymous said...

May I propose that the responsible thing to do in any comment about another's bike is to sign one's name--or at least the 'identity' used consistently on this blog. I have in mind the mess of a couple months back when--was it anon 3:14?--just tore into a person's bike. Whoever did that was a coward and a jerk--please don't be like him/her. At the end of the day, it's just a bike. A BIKE!
m burdge

Joel said...

Brett: Nice bike and a great positive attitude.

Every time I see a VO Rando here, I am just stunned by Johnny's ability to nail the lug detail. Coast is becoming one of the great bicycle builders, thus the 2.5 years wait.

You are a lucky man. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Artist formerly known as Anon 3:14 here.

For the record, on that bike where I stirred up so much drama, I didn't want to rip into the bike so much as the people on here/in the Rivendell army/in bikeforums C&V who think that any combination of parts from VO, Riv, Peter White, and any given crusty French or Italian shop, suitably decked out in earth tones, cotton, and leather (preferably exotic) automatically makes for a good bike. Nothing was terribly awful about that bike, but when you got down to the details it was a good example of how form can make a mockery of function.

I like this rig, it's a good example of how you can have everything you want in one bike, be open about the fact that it combines disparate parts, unapologetically use a few modern bits and save a little money here and there, and still come up with something very nice. It's built for the user, with his favorite pedals, lever format, gearing, cargo setup, and lighting rig (or at least the basis for it). The gearing is right for brevets or credit card touring, and a 50/13 top gear will keep you with the pack on any but the fastest club rides.

I can't see the reasoning of the poster who would have this be a triple with a 5 speed rear, even ignoring the owner's desire for campy ergo shifting very little range would be gained and if loaded tours aren't in the cards there's no need for such a low gear, especially on 650b's. Unless you want to go Phil Wood (barf) or vintage a freehub just makes more sense anyway, in which case less than 8 cogs is just a waste and 9 makes this particular shiftmate application work more easily.

Anonymity is the core principle of internet discourse. It has its downsides, but save for truck stop bathroom walls this is the only venue that permits this kind of interaction. The hope is that we keep it a little above the bathroom wall standard, but even when it sinks to this level the results can be brilliant. See 4chan.org's /b/ board, clearly the anus of the internet but also the source of an astounding amount of what is now popular culture.

Anonymous said...

PS -- ...or am I just brown-nosing the owner to find out where I can get colored velox plugs

Anonymous said...

you can find colored velox plug on ebay, but you may have to wait a few weeks/months before someone is selling the color you want

Cottered Crank said...

Nice bike, but I can't help noticing the label on the front tire is not quite centered on the valve.

Seriously, that is a beautiful bike. Thanks for sharing.

All you nitpickers, please try to get a life! If either of my parents had caught me behaving like that when I was ten, I'd have had my ears boxed.

Gunnar Berg said...

To taking nothing away from Richie, I'd take one in a heartbeat, but I don't necessarily think his frames are better than any one of a dozen builders, maybe more. He builds just a couple of frame styles and he does them very well. He works hard to produce a large number of bikes and markets them really well. But you if want a touring bike, he's not an option. I just waited 2 1/2 years for a Goodrich and just saw a partial frame yesterday. Pics on my blogsite.

lamplightsg said...

Blue is my favorite color, and that is a wonderful blue! With most bikes I see, I can usually find one of two things that don't look right to me. But on this bike I haven't yet found anything that doesn't look good (at least to my eye). I don't even have a problem with the carbon, and this coming from a guy who buys NOS Japanese parts so he doesn't have to use new ones!

BG said...

"What, you don't like the carbon levers..?"

Not on that bike.

There as out of place as a stucco house in the Adirondacks.

Anonymous said...

That looks lovely. I bet it rides well too.

For reference, you can still get Veloce with the polished silver finish. The new shift mechanism is probably good for non-racers, since it ought to be more durable, and is cheaper.

Ian Dickson said...

"dont you worry about the rigid stays on the front wheel becoming jammed with an object? "

This is something that I'm curious about. Even if you have the breakaway stays, the fender is still fixed at the crown and on some bikes the front rack. So, do the breakaway stays really make you safer? Has anyone here ever had (or heard of) any fender-related disasters? I'm all for choosing safety over looks, but I'm not convinced that the SKS/Esge stays really are safer.

Beautiful bike, Brett. I think I'm going to use a lot of modern parts on my Pass Hunter, so it's encouraging to see how good your bike looks.

elvisVelo said...

I was thinking about this 2.5 years thing. I had a vague idea about where I was in the wait list, but that was based on the info on the web site.

Chris, any chance that we could find out what the actual individual wait times are projected to be? If there is a big discrepancy between what the info was at the time, and where I actually am in the list, I would probably like to talk about that.

Ian Dickson said...

"There as out of place as a stucco house in the Adirondacks."

Uh oh. Here comes the president of the neighborhood association.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:14--in a letter George Orwell once mentioned 'the dogmatism of the insecure.' He wasn't referring to bike nerds, but he could have been. If all you have to worry about are bicycle correctness, I can give you a list of other things to occupy your mind--things that REALLY need fixing.

Anonymous said...

I like looking at other people's bikes- to get ideas for my own. Both aesthetically and functionally. I think bicycles stay fun when any criticism is constructive or unsaid. Also, let's not forget about riding out bikes; times we only feel, and don't see our actual cycles. :)

Anonymous said...

Ive had, and have seen and heard others have, fender- stay front wheel jams that are both funny to watch -- and terrifying!

Yes, the SKS front fender mounting does work well. It also makes it easier to put a bike on a roof rack by popping out the stays, especially given longer front fenders that often hit the rack rail.

Ive had too many sticks and other road crap get caught up in my front wheel fender to trust a rigid fender stay.

Ian Dickson said...

"Yes, the SKS front fender mounting does work well."

Thanks, that's good to know. I haven't had any problems like that, but I've only been using fenders for about a year.

Hocam said...

The friend I bought my Bilenky from had orange SKS fenders painted to match. The front met it's untimely death at the hand of a small stone picked up on a gravel trail, shattered the fender in two even with the breakaway stays.

I'm not so convinced they do much, and if you're setting up your fender correctly the gap between fender and tire at the bottom will be the smaller than the gap on the other side of the fork/brake bridge, helping to prevent this kind of thing.

As far as everything else goes, the nice thing about bicycles is you can set them up any way you want and there is no one way. 5 speed, 10 speed, DT shifters, ergolevers, it's all up to you.

Karl said...

It's a lovely bike build, especially the Antique Brown saddle/bar covers.

That's one small beef that I have with Brooks. The brown looks even better than the honey IMO and I say this as someone who has honey and black B17 Specials) but I can't justify $200 more for Ti rails.

Why is it that The B17 Special Ti, and Flyer Special come in brown but not the B17 Special?

brett said...

Yes, the antique brown has always been my favorite Brooks color too and I would never buy one new today at $300+. Luckily I bought 2 of these 3 years ago from a UK site direct for less than $130 each. I should have bought more, would have been a good investment!

I thought it was interesting that Dahon had a custom run of non-Ti brown brooks made for this bike. http://www.dahon.com/us/tournado.htm

johnson said...

I brought Richard Sachs up as an example of an established and reputable maker, who justifiably has a long wait list. This is not to diminish any other frame maker's work, but I do think a certain credibility comes from having made a large number of frames of a consistently high quality. I like Curt's frames. I like Coast's frames. My intention was merely to bring up the fact that Chris isn't personally making these bikes, so there would be no harm in trying to shorten the wait list by finding more builders. If the demand is there...

and btw, according to an interview in the reader with sachs a few years ago, he does make a few touring frames a year.

Karl said...

I don't own a Richard Sachs but do have a Mariposa.

Here's what Mariposa's Mike Barry had to say when Large Fella on a Bike asked him about other builders:

LFOAB: "Any cycles out there that you secretly wished, "Darn, I wish I'd built that!"?

MB: "Richard Sachs."

That's serious praise from a builder of the first rank.

Joel said...


I have been to the NAHBS twice and have seen a good number of custom bikes in my day.

Certainly Coast is not yet at the level of a Sachs, Bruce Gordon or Baylis. But he is very good. His lug detail and overall eye for proportions is very impressive.

In my opinion, only a few of the younger builders are at Coast's level. And those builders all have pretty long wait lists.

Heck, I ordered a custom retro-TIG welded bike as a graduation gift for my nephew. I ordered it more than 8 months ago and the builder (who had a pretty good reputation) will not promise he can have it by the end of May.

curious in Austin said...

Maybe Richard Sachs is as good as they say, I don't know. But I can tell you this: every freaking bike of his I see photographed on the net is white & red or red & white. What's up with that? Is he like Henry "you-can-have-it-in-any-color-you-want-as-long-as it's-black" Ford? Or are his customers all as dumb as Rush ditto heads with lots of money to spare? Inquiring minds want to know.

johnson said...

jeez, people. you make it seem like i was jumping down someone's throat about this. here it is: people are buying bikes from chris because he has gone to a builder and said this is what i want. he had to go to a newish builder to get the price people would want to pay. i am saying he should stick with this program, it's a good one. but! why not get another builder? the builder, in THIS CASE is collaborating with a designer. think grant petersen and curt goodrich. grant can also farm stuff out to toyo, national, waterford, etc, and he does. Coast is good, sure, but why not add another, if someone else is willing to be added, that is equally up to snuff? long wait times are logically when you are one guy selling frames. this is not the case here.

as for the red and white color scheme, people just want it. i mean, there is a story, and you should get that copy of the rivendell reader if you want it all, but it sort of just happened (through a sponser thing) and it became his color, and now there are no questions about it. Its not a bad thing, because its not a bad set of colors. i'm pretty sure there is nothing related to rush limbaugh in his color choice. i own a variety of different bikes, all different colors, but if i got a sachs, i would get the red and white. 'why not' i think is a better question than why. personally, and this will start a ruckus, i dont know that there is a more experienced living builder. some may carve things up nicer, or use fancier paint, or have more integrated this or that, but i doubt (highly) that any one making lugged frames in america has more experience making lugged frames in america, esp to a consistently high quality. baylis makes a few frames a year, gordon tigs stuff most of the time, sacha makes a frame a week, tops, curt maybe will get there some day but it will take 20 years, and then he will only be where sachs is today.

looking at fancy lugs and flowing paint do not tell the story of how well a bike is made. consistency and feel for the torch are not unlike consistency and feel for a paint brush or say, the relationship between a flame, a frying pan and a well made omelet. you need to make dozens of omelets before every one you bang out is good, and hundreds before every omelet is an object of desire. putting some fresh cut chives on top and organic feta inside doesnt make it a master piece. the 300 you screwed up learning how to make the 301st do. I have more analogies, including trade guilds, post modern philosophy, and sports cars, if any one wants to go further with this.

wow that was a rant and a half. eat me alive. or not.

Joel said...

Johnson: Hope you do not think I was jumping down your throat. I was not.

My point it is simple: Coast has real skill and flair with lugs. There are a decent number of young builders out there. I have seen few that match Coast.

Experience means a lot. But maybe not as much as you suggest. Check out Herse's work. He was special as a young builder starting out and special to the end.

Gunnar Berg said...

Hey Joel,
Just to throw another thought out there that'll probably piss some off. Herse was innovative with his components and pushed the envelope on what a touring bike can be. BUT...his level of finish doesn't even come close too what is considered minimal now. The old constructeurs were building bike to be ridden, not looked at.

My humble opinion.

Gunnar Berg said...


I don't believe Curt Goodrich has any connection with Rivendell anymore. He built 1500 frames before he put his own name on them.

johnson said...

gunnar, according to curt and riv's site, he does, not that that means anything.

there are more than a few accounts of cruddy herse craftsmanship. you bought a herse for the innovation, the integration, not how it prefectly it was made. this is not to diminish herse, but merely to point out that he and sachs swing/swung at a different ball. herse was and will remain a favorite of mine, but not because of how well he built things.

i am a painter, amongst other things. i have found that with each painting, my technique gets a little more fluent, my concepts a little more solid. i have been painting for years. i dont think that process of continual learning will ever stop. i have reason to believe it wont. i look back through history, and realize many of the best painters did not achieve thier best works until late in life. to name the obvious ones: matisse, diebenkorn, rembrant, duher... the list goes on. these people did not come into painting as masters, and a few years of painting did not make them masters. if they continually jumped styles, or only produced a few paintings a year, they would not become masters. they couldnt. its a numbers, and a time, and a commitment game. that's all i am saying.

Gunnar Berg said...

I was in Curt's shop last Friday and we talked a little about Rivendell. It wasn't a bad parting. He has nothing but good to say about Grant.

Gunnar Berg said...

Just as a counterpoint, I think Leonardo De Vinci was 19 when he liberated The Pieta from it's marble block.

I can't think of any bicycle content. Maybe he rode good Italian steel.

Karl said...

I think that we may be dealing with a rather special case with Leonardo.

Let's see: the Pieta, the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, anatomy, astronomy, botany, geology, geometry and optics.

He also designed machines and drew plans for over 100 inventions.

Picasso might have been a greater artist, Tesla a greater inventor, Einstein a physicist but it's hard to argue that Leonardo wasn't the most versatile genius ever and thereby perhaps the greatest.

Karl said...

Come to think of it, I was thinking of Michelangelo's Pieta when reading Gunnar's post.

I don't know that DaVinci was much of a sculptor or that there is a Pieta attributed to him.

Still you can toss in Vitruvian Man to show his understanding of anatomy and its artistic representation in two dimensions

johnson said...

da vinci isn't considered a great painter, or sculptor, really. we could compare him more to herse, i think.

Gunnar Berg said...

De Vinci - Michelangelo, whatever.
Atleast he was Italian.
I think I'd better plead "senior moment" on this one, as I was an Art Major myself, so I really don't have any excuse.

Anonymous said...

DaVinci isn't considered a great painter? You're kidding, right?

Aside from two works (the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper) that are among the most revered and reproduced anywhere, he did some sublime slightly lesser known ones like the Annunciation and the Virgin and Child with St. Anne.

Like Vermeer, he has only a small body of work compared to other major figures like Titian or a Rembrandt. I was not an art major, I'm pretty sure he is thought of as a great artist.

Joel said...

I rather enjoy looking at Herse's work. The proportions tend toward perfection. There is a purposeful dynamism in their design. I also enjoy looking at DaVinci's paintings and sculpture.

If Coast does indeed get increasingly better as the years go by, those of us willing to wait 3 years for a bike have much to anticipate.

All the more reason as well that VO not bring in another builder. Wouldn't you hate being the person 40 years from now with the VO Rando made by 'oh what was his name? the VO builder who wasn't Coast...'

Gunnar Berg said...

I didn't mean DaVinci couldn't paint. I had originally gave him credit for the Pieta.

I dunno, Rivendell has had a number of builders over the years. They're still Rivs. Most of the European builders had others doing some or all of the work. Cinelli , Colnago ,etc, probably Herse to some degree, too. I think the design, the vision, is more important than who brazed the lugs.

Ricardo said...

Very pretty. Mine is set up almost the same but with bigger racks and a vintage frame, just 1.5lbs heavier, less than 1/3 the cost! Velvety smooth, and that paint! Go Klein Porteur! I would like to see more bikes by people who have created works of art without unlimited budgets.

Ricardo said...

Very pretty. Mine is set up almost the same but with bigger racks and a vintage frame, just 1.5lbs heavier, less than 1/3 the cost! Velvety smooth, and that paint! Go Klein Porteur! I would like to see more bikes by people who have created works of art without unlimited budgets.