22 May, 2008

Sneak Peak

I just finished building up the prototype multipurpose frame, well almost. It still needs fenders and racks.; I wish someone had 650b Le Paon fenders in stock. In any case, I've only ridden it around the neighborhood so far, but I really like it.

You may notice a few odd items on this bike. The bottle cage is a new high polish version of our Moderniste cage that should arrive in about two months. The saddle is one of four models, in three colors, of the new VO saddles. They should be here in about 3 months. The bars are old French bars I wanted to try out.

There are a few more photos here. BTW, the chain guard in one of the photos is a model that works with a front dérailleur; it's not attached yet. It's actually plastic, but not as awful looking as some. We might stock it.


Anonymous said...

Very nice. That's just the kind of handlebar I was looking for: no rise and able to fit bar-end shifters and MTB levers.

I am also interested in the chainguard that works with front derailleurs. Are you thinking about carrying those too?

Anonymous said...

is that the new VO seatpost? if so, it looks fine, really nice in fact. the chainguard is a standard issue eurotrekking item which would be quite useful, I think.

the seat has cool details, like the underside flap which should prevent sag. Do you have dimensions yet? just curious how long and wide it is.

michael white

kathryn said...

it would be nice to have better pictures of the dropouts and lugs- kind of hard to see what's going on there.

and about the fork rake- you mentioned plans to have that improved using a proper mandrel. is that still the case?

also curious about the tubing. assuming it's all double butted, but what about the dimensions?

how much weight will the front end be able to hold. can i put a couple grocery bags in panniers/

and speaking of that- what kind of rack will you be planning for it?

overall a very exciting project. i look forward to seeing where it goes.

K Matthias said...

The handle bar setup is niiiiice. I agree, that seatpost is nice looking.

Gunnar Berg said...

Oo! oo! I like the red trim. You been taking Gunnar pills?

Matt D said...

What kind of brake levers are those? Very cool.

ANDY said...

At first glance, it reminds me of this Toei.

Also, I saw an interesting chainguard at the LBS, on a Salsa something or other. It had a nice BB attachment point. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

That sure is a lot of fork poking up above the tire. Perhaps when the fender goes on it will look a little more balanced. Or maybe it looks odd to me because my bicycle aesthetics were formed on late 80s--early 90s Rossins and Cioccs--not on bicycles of an earlier era ( I am not saying you are old).
Otherwise, looks great. Like the Bar setup, rest of the parts kit is pretty standard, being a proto and all.
M Burdge

hal said...

It's lovely. Please keep black as a color option. It would look spectacular with a gold and red VO insignia, like an old Singer.

Do you have an idea of the end price as yet?

Chris Kulczycki said...

The seat post is an old Campy steel model. Most of the parts on these prototypes, other than bits I want to test, are just stuff I had lying around or ordered too many of.

There will be four sizes of VO saddles, from a Swift style to a wide city saddle.

It's very hard to photograph lugs on a black bike, but they are not unlike the style we use on the semi-custom frames.

The tubing on all the lugged models is traditional sized and will be high end double butted. I'm not sure there is any significant difference in quality among the various better tubing manufacturers, but there is a difference in the available sizes and specs, and that is far more important.

It is a front-loader and can carry a fair load.

The levers are old CLBs, but similar levers are still made.

The fork is too long, that's a mistake.

Anonymous said...

A question and a comment on the saddle: How long will the rails be? Will they give more fore/aft adjustment than the Brooks? And I am afraid I am having trouble warming to the looks of the thing; Perhaps it is because it is tilted down a bit, and/or the photo angle is unflattering. Perhaps it is the sort of thing, Like a Ferrari Testarossa, looks better in person.
M Burdge

Chris Kulczycki said...

M, The rails are longer than on a Brooks. If you don't like this style of saddle you may like one of the other three. The goal is not to copy Brooks or Ideale, but to improve on them. So they will look just a little different. Everyone who has seen this one in person loves it.

K Matthias said...

Hey Chris, I think I might have misunderstood you about the lugs. Did you order runs of lugged AND TIGged as well, or just TIGged?

I eagerly await the new saddles. I ride old Wrights W3N saddles on my bikes and like that slim profile. The closest modern product is the B17-N. If you have a similar one for less, then I'm sold. :)


Michael S said...

The saddle reminds me of the Berthoud leather saddle prototype:


Lee said...

+1 on the handlebars. I'd order two right now. Any chance it works with a Nexus 8 Twist Shifter?

dorina said...

The bar reminds me of the Nitto Parasols- but I don't know if those allow bar ends. Chris, I installed the Belleri Porteur bars on my Heron Wayfarer and love them. They have replaced the Moustache bars which I felt stuck too forward. The Belleris are also narrower, which gives a nicer feel. I was running the road brakes "Moustache style" to test out the Belleris. I ended up liking it so much I never bothered to get the reverse levers. Thanks!

Ivana Ridemybike said...

"The goal is not to copy Brooks or Ideale, but to improve on them."

Improve on Brooks ? That is pure blasphemy!!!!

Steve said...

I just typed out a longer response in the TIG vs. Lugs debate, but I forgot to mention... do it in a matte finish powder coat. I think a lighter colour would suit it, but I'm not so sure

tom said...

I'm really not feeling this build. The parts are all pretty nice, but, overall, it looks like an 80s mountain bike that's been repainted.

Michael said...

I second Tom's comment about it looking like a recycled mountain bike.

And it there a reason why the fork is so long? I looks like there's five inches from the crown to the tire.

Do you have specs for this frame?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Chris is, through this bike, sending us messages--his new secret project is a lugged mountain bike! Like a Bombadil, except, you know...East Coast.
M Burdge

joel said...


I have been unable to get much power out of those Tektro CR720 brakes. How are they working in this bike? Any set-up tips?

Thanks, Joel

Anonymous said...

what colors will be offered for the upcoming range of production models?

lamplightsg said...

Obviously a few people didn't see Chris's comment that the fork was mistakenly made too long, and that the production model will be a more "normal" height.

I like the bike except for the red cable housing, and I'm just not feeling the seat. I'll reserve judgement on it until I see all the models, but obviously several people like the seat so that's good! I love Brooks but there is definitely no harm in having more choices.

Anonymous said...

When commenters think that a 650b low trail bike looks like a mountain bike, I wonder if VO is reaching the right audience :-)

In an earlier comment Chris did say the fork length was a mistake.

Ivana ridemybike said...

If it's fun to ride and takes a beating , it is my opinion that glamour doesn't matter. The bike as built looks like it would meet my requirement. I think what is putting people off it appearance of the acknowledge fork issue.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Joel, The Tektro CR720s are wicked powerful. Check your setup; something is amiss.

The City bike will be a very dark green-blue. The Mixte will be lavender. The Rando will be a dark blue that's a little like Brett's bike a few posts down. The Multipurpose might be orange, not sure of that one yet.

Michael said...

Maybe Chris is, through this bike, sending us messages--his new secret project is a lugged mountain bike! Like a Bombadil, except, you know...East Coast.

Is that right, Chris? Is this in fact the new VO 650B Mountain Bike?

That would account for the suspension corrected fork.

You dog!

Can I get a HELL YES?

Anonymous said...

I'm feeling it!

michael white

Ian Dickson said...

"I have been unable to get much power out of those Tektro CR720 brakes."

Joel, mine work great. I didn't do anything special while setting them up. I've got the straddle wires set as long as possible, though I don't know if that's ideal or not. It was just the first thing that I tried. I was very careful about lining up the pads so that they would fully contact the rims, and I made sure that I was getting even pull on both sides before I locked down the straddle wires. I've always hated setting up cantis, but these were a breeze. I hope you get yours going satisfactorily.

tom said...

Anonyme Anonyme a dit.. @ 27/05/08 12:20

It's not the audience, I'm totally into the other stuff and LOVE the retro stylings typical of Chris' other builds, but, for mine, this misses the mark - by a long way.



Anonymous said...

perhaps you have another fork to throw on this proto, and maybe some smooth fenders--I think these two steps would go a long way to setting our minds at ease-obviously we are all losing sleep over this one. MY guess is that the long fork is making the bike look more lax than it needs to, and our modest eyes are offended by the bicycle's fenderless nakedness. In your spare time, of course.
M Burdge

Karl said...

I know that this debate has been settled but I still struggle with the need for a TIG'ed city bike frame.

There are lots of decent hybrids (e.g., Marin) out there that are good for city riding, light trails and so on. Breezer and others are now turning out some pretty well specc'ed commuter versions.

Then there are more specialized, higher-end offerings like the Kogswell P/R and the A.N.T. roadsters.

While I delight in VO's products, it seems to me that dressing up a TIG'ed frame with NOS, retro or high polish bits is like putting lipstick on a pig.

Not that I have anything against pigs. TIG-welding is a reliable, economical way of manufacturing bike frames. But it will never be the basis for a silk purse.

If TIG bikes have a natural partnership in the world of componentry, it is the cheap and cheerful entry-level Shimano and SRAM stuff that costs next to nothing as OEM and lasts seemingly forever.

If there is a gap in the market now, it is in the $800-$1100 lugged 700c frame, now that Ebisus and off-the-shelf Rivs have reached the $1400-$1600 mark and the Herons and Kogwell Ps are distant memories. Only the Bleriot remains and not everyone is ready to go 650B.

I can certainly see the virtue of a filet-brazed or lugged city frame and with two 700c bikes, if I were to get another, it would be a city bike but I don't see myself buying a TIG'ed frame version when I can get a complete TIG-framed bike for a couple of hundred dollars more.

Ivana Ridemybike said...

lipstick on a pig ? More like costume jewelry on a low-maintenance woman with a great personality.

Anonymous said...

Low maintenance, great personality, my kinda girl.

Tomcat said...

karl said:

'TIG-welding is a reliable, economical way of manufacturing bike frames. But it will never be the basis for a silk purse. '

Like Vicious Cycles, Fat City, Bontrager, Ibis, Scyip, Merlin, Seven, IF and the hundreds of other low end frame builders plying their craft past and present?

Honestly, have any of you TIG detractors picked up a torch and filler rod and actually attempted to lay a bead on steel (or Aluminum- even more dificult to do properly)? Then have it x-rayed and stress tested to confirm penetration and strength?

The primary reason that $800-1000 retail 'pricepoint' frame has disappeared is it just costs too much for fabricators (aka framebuilders) cover their material, overhead, and other hard and soft costs, and add a little profit to cover luxuries like Top Ramen.

If it could be done, the level of competition in the US domestic market would create that equilibrium point. Even getting them made in Taiwan or China has it's rising costs, and a pricepoint lugged frame doesn't seem to resonate with many- they either accept the pricepoint of TIG or they are willing to pay much more for a US fabbed Lugged frame. The middle pricepoint market doesn't seem to be there, despite the waiting period for higher end builders- sometimes as long as 4 years!.

It would be interesting for Chris to offer one, but it's a substantial risk with a fickle clientele.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see a comfortable bike in the Dutch "sit-up-straight" style that doesn't weigh 40 pounds or cost an extra $400 right off the top to ship from Scandinavia or England. I'm guessing that with a Nitto Periscopa and a sprung saddle, the city bike will fit the bill nicely; this one seems to suggest a more aerodynamic forward lean, better perhaps for longer distances but maybe a little harder on old arthritic wrists. Is that a reasonable assessment of the difference between the two?

Cliff said...

My issue with the sit-up-straight-style bikes is that they are inherently inefficient and uncomfortable for anything beyond a quick toodle. Trying to ride a quick 20+ km sitting upright will be easier on your upper body... at the expense of your lower back. Your spine will take the brunt of every pothole and gap in the road.

Not saying that everyone should ride super-stretched out with their bar tops 12 cm below their saddle, but anything higher than level saddle and bars is not so hot.

There are plenty of steering options for those looking for a more relaxed position - rando or gran fondo bars, risers with bar ends, bullhorns, moustache bars. A bike that's only got one wide, high, back-set hand position just doesn't work for me.

Anonymous said...

Cliff, sorry I didn't notice your comment sooner.

I agree that the longer top tube, more forward-leaning position is generally more appropriate for rides of 20k or more.

But probably 98% of my rides are 10k or less on city streets where potholes aren't really a huge problem, where the upright position really does make it easier to see and be seen, and which is just a lot easier on my old wrists. Plus, I like front baskets.

I was really just hoping to clarify whether that's truly the philosophy behind the frame geometry of the upcoming city bike as opposed to this one; on the surface it might seem like a dumb question but then again, a lot of the "comfort" or "city" bikes the big manufacturers have been pushing in this country really don't accomplish the goal. (The "comfort" bike geometry is weird and uncomfortable - not quite Dutch upright, but not really appropriate for long distances, either, and often with straight, flat bars.)

I just really don't know enough about the classic French porteurs to be able to tell if they ride more or less like the classic Dutch bikes, or whether they're more conducive to a bit more forward lean.

It might be helpful to see someone riding the different frames as they're intended to be ridden (knowing that minor adjustments, within reason, are a matter of individual preference) instead of just seeing the showroom shots - although those are nice, too!