23 September, 2008

Interbike and Pass Hunter

I'm off to Interbike for the rest of the week. So no more posts or e-mail until next week. Otherwise VO will be open and filling orders as usual, though the showroom will close at 3pm for the next 3 days.

The photo is of my new Pass Hunter. It's just back from the paint shop and I can't wait to build it up as soon as I get back. The plan is to use as many VO components as possible. Currently the wait for Pass Hunter semi-custom frames is about 6 months and the price is $1550.


Greg said...

Looking forward to seeing a Velo-Orange bike.

Anonymous said...

Chris, that color looks great. Is this a repaint of the previous Pass Hunter, or a new one? The color looks slightly darker than before.

Velo Orange said...

That's the same frame and the same color, but a new fork. The color seems to change a lot depending on the light. I took that pic under florescent lights which tend to distort colors.

Olle said...

chris, no braze on for vo front rack, or are they only missing on this fork. Are the frames close for shipment, or can you tell me about my frames delivery.

Olle in Sweden

Anonymous said...

Love that green!

Velo Orange said...

Olle, You may remember that we decided to use the less expensive Nitto M-12 rack with these frames. The M-12 is a better choice with the canti brakes due to clearance issues.

The first frames should ship in about 6 weeks.

Felkerino said...

Wow. Well done. You're raising the bar with these, Chris. Next year you have to take a couple to the Dirt Demo and really stir the pot.

Anonymous said...

Chris, who was the builder on this one? I assume it is a steel weld as opposed to a fillet braze. And if so those are some very nice welds.

I would like to see the older traditional horizontal dropouts on a frame like this but he that's my single speed mentality. And I still don't know why we don't still see those horizontal dropouts on a traditional steel frame. What is the real downside?


C said...

"And I still don't know why we don't still see those horizontal dropouts on a traditional steel frame. What is the real downside?"

Not as fender friendly. Also not as traditional as you might think. Take a look at Herse and Singer frames and you'll see many were built with vertical drops.

Also outside of single speed conversions, what advantage does a horizontal dropout have to offer?

Anonymous said...

Phillip, Ahren Rogers is the builder.

Anonymous said...

Love it. If I had the funds I'd be on the waiting list for this frame as we speak. Lately I've developed a new appreciation for expert TIG welding, largely because, after painting, they remind me of the old constructeur fillet brazed frames. Those often had very minuscule fillets, and a smooth weld under thick paint looks about the same.

Mike said...

Looks fantastic, nice color but be wary of yellow parts as the "John Deer" luck has struck before.

Anonymous said...

mmmmm split pea soup . . . so delicious and good for you too!


Anonymous said...

"And I still don't know why we don't still see those horizontal dropouts on a traditional steel frame. What is the real downside?"

Axle breakage (although that has more to do with freewheel vs. cassette hubs), the aforementioned fender issue, fussing with wheel centering (without infernal, delicate dropout screws), and heavier QR skewers. Heavier because they need to hold the wheel horizontally as opposed to just vertically. You can't have a carbon skewer and some monster pounding on the pedals with horizontal dropouts, it'll just drag the wheel out of center. It's a little safer with vertical, because the frame is in the way of any movement.

That said, my race bike is an old Raleigh Pro with horizontals, and my city bike is a '60s path racer with huge long track ends and fender eyelets. Try that one out! I've got wingnuts to loosen the fender stays in order to remove the rear wheel, but it's a monster pain.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Chris, I´m missed that info.

I was looking forward to use your nice looking VO front rack, it´s nothing wrong with Nitto.

But I have Nitto front racks on my Atlantis, Heron, Rivendell but they have clamps on th fork instead on braze on fittings.

My goal with this frame is to build nice, versitile, light, simple bike for randonneuring with h´bar bag.

/Olle in Sweden

nordic_68 said...

Yup, singlespeed and fenders will always be a ball of wax. I prefer a vertical dropout for the reasons mentioned above, and an ENO hub. My ENO setup jacks the fender line, but perhaps with a half-link the wheel will have a better fore-aft position. As I've focused more on versatility, I've concluded that wheel changes are the solution. Touring wheel vs ENO wheel etc.

"You can't have a carbon skewer and some monster pounding on the pedals with horizontal dropouts"

Doesn't sound like VO's target audience. Anyone who's using a boutique skewer, carbon or otherwise, with an external cam will have less reliability...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the answers to my questions . Ahren Rogers ... now I remember seeing that in the blog way back when Chris mentioned this Pass Hunter frame design.

Now this issue of vertical versus the common older horizontal dropouts. If the axle is fastened properly and is a good steel one not some cheap-o aluminum or some very costy carbon-bit racy one I can't see the breakage problem as mentioned. On one of my single speeds with real track dropouts I use genuine track bolts. And other than the inconvenience of carrying a wrench it is a damn good way of attaching the wheel on a single or fixed gear bike. Hands down!

I have another single speed built from a classic early 1980's Columbus tubed touring frame with campy horizontal dropouts. And it seems to work fine with the older Record QR.

Because of issues like fenders, racks and differential tire sizes and brake reach issues some one is going to have to come up with some better arguments to get me to believe the vertical drop out is the way to go on a semi-custom or custom build that may require differing setups for various rides and tasks. And I may point out I'm one of those older dudes that try and hang on to a great riding frame forever (I should put it into my will that I be buried with these frames ... because you never know if you come back into a world of crappy bicycles). So having the option of making it a single speed and adding fenders and etc. should always be an open option.

As usual arguments are welcome.


Mike said...

My only argument for vertical dropouts is this:

Put the wheel in and it's always centered. No eyeballing, no fussing, it's simply always centered and not going anywhere. You could even forget to tighten the QR and your wheel wouldn't move.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what the difference between this and the VO Randonneur frame are, other than lugs?


Anonymous said...

One other difference is that
the Pass Hunter is designed for
cantilever brakes. The Randonneur
is designed for center pulls, but
both frames have brazed-on mounts.

Anonymous said...


I guess I do not follow what you are saying in your second post. You list all the good reasons for vertical drop outs on a bike that is meant to have fenders and be ridden on the mountain roads, far from bike shops or easy support options. Without any counter to why these are good arguments, you ask for more reasons to go vertical.

Vertical dropouts work better with fenders, are easier for the road side mechanic (believe me, letting all air out of the tire on my Trek 728 so I could get the wheel off then refilling is no picnic with a min pump). Easier wheel adjustments. Lighter components. All good reasons for vertical.

As for converting to a single speed - this is a pass hunter - a bike meant to climb mountain roads. Recall, mulit-speed bikes and derailleurs were developed because Tour de France riders figured there had to be a better way than getting off and walking their bike in the mountain stages.

Anonymous said...


I'm not trying to suggest that a specific use bike such as the Pass Hunter or any other one that some one claims is unique should have a specific rear dropout. To me a frame is a frame and should for my riding and commuting be as flexible as possible. Because one day you may no longer desire to hunt for mountain passes and just need a good riding bike that fits and rides well for those grocery store and other errands.

Based upon my many years of cycling experience and having one frame for over 34 years and two other frames for over 23 years that I still use on a regular basis tends imply that the more flexible a frame is to wheels and tire sizes is quite important in the long run.

I have nothing against vertical dropouts other than they are not nearly as flexible as a more horizontal one. And for some they may be easier to change a tire. But actually track rear ends are the easiest to use. But that was not my point. I'm simply talking about long-term flexibility in terms of the ever changing world of sizes and parts in the bike industry.

Most new production frames are nothing more than copies of racing designs. They are simply single use designs and unless one races offer little in terms of quality bicycle transportation in my opinion.

What I have been noticing is that some progressive independent builders are coming use with some very flexible and adjustable drop out designs based upon either single speed or internal hub gearing such as Rohloff or Nexus or Sturmey Archer. I am hoping that the future in bicycle transportation starts to slowly retire the 10 speed derailleur as we know it today. The concept of a straight drive line along with high quality flexible fitting components really does make sense to me.


Anonymous said...

My camper is a Trek 728 with horizontal drop outs. The drop outs are the one thing I would change on the bike. I guess if I wanted to go single speed - hardly an option for a bike meant to carry all my gear over hill and dale - the horizontals have a plus over verticals. Otherwise, for almost every conceivable variation, long reach vertical drop outs are far more flexible.

If you think you may change from gears in the back to single speed, a quality eccentric drop out will provide more flexibility than horizontal drop outs. Horizontal drop outs make it more difficult to work with different tire sizes and fenders.

My town bike is custom built around a Rohloff Speed Hub. The OEM Rohloff drop outs would not work well with any other hub. You would really have to rig them just to get a different hub to stay put.

In my opinion, bikes built for sport - such as riding as fast as possible on mountain roads or speeding on a velodrome are far too compromised in too many ways to convert to an optimal every day bike. I know many people are using track bikes around the city. I see them every day. I also see their riders making silly compromises - such as carrying loads awkwardly on their backs that would be much better carried on a front rack - which they would not have to make if they had a town bike and a track bike.

If you ride for sport and commute by bike, the best way to manage is to have two bikes.

Velo Orange said...

Building this frame with horizontal dropouts would be a huge compromise. If you think that being able to turn a Pass Hunter or Rando into a fixie or 29er or loaded tourer is desirable, then please don't buy a VO frame. It would be a waste.

Our aim is to build a bike that is versatile, but this versatility comes from good design, superb handling, and integration with specific types of components and accessories. Properly built up, the Pass Hunter would be perfect for pass hunting and also excellent for brevets, inn-to-inn tours, daily transportation and even fast club rides. All this is possible without changing the build.

Being able to slap random components on a frame is not versatility; it is compromise.

Dad said...

A nice dropout design that incorporates the best of both worlds is that used on modern Gios bikes. It's a vertical dropout that can be moved forward and rearward. I had one of these bikes for a while and I thought it was a very fine machine indeed. Not sure why this type of dropouts isn't used in frames which might at some point be built up as fixed/singlespeed/internally geared bikes.

Anonymous said...

My two cents agrees with Chris. As for the single speed thing, there does exist such a thing as half-links for your chain. Or there's that tensioner that fits on the drop-out. Besides, there are a billion other frames out there made specifically for fixed/single. If it's that important, save up some extra dough and get one of those, right? :)

Anonymous said...

Another option for singlespeed/hub gears with vertical dropouts: an eccentric BB in a normal shell.

Anonymous said...

I get the feeling some people have responded about my remarks in favor of a horizontal or a new form of an adjustable drop in a typical way as if I stated something about their religion or political beliefs.

My point was reflected in an way that for me, my next custom or semi-custom frame will most certainly have them. And my reasons are that simply speaking from my standpoint all of my bicycles have to accommodate my own particular needs. A typical ride or commute for me may take me over various road or even off road conditions. Sometimes I find myself gong over train tracks, pot holes, gravel, dirt paths, along with two and three mile inclines. Never do I find myself in a criterium race, road race or any type of competitive bicycle event. My bicycle's main purpose is go from point a to b in a fun and enjoyable way. This includes normal work commutes and errands and just fun riding along the Southern California coast.

What I see out there when I ride is a true reflection of the consumer bicycle industry. Ninety percent of the riders I see are riding production bicycles influenced by the large commercial industry. Today this primarily means 14 pound carbon racing bikes with very small tires. The riders of these are dressed in racing costumes and pushing as large gears as they can. And their average age is about 20 years my junior.

I average about 150 or more miles per week in what is one of the more popular bicycling corridors anywhere, and that is the coastal routes between along north San Diego. And yes it's training ground at times for many team riders and wanna be Tour de France riders. But because of the year round conditions it is also simply a good commuting and recreational cycling mecca. So my picture is not a distortion of reality.

The point that I am trying to suggest is simply that there are many ingenuous frame builders out there that do not adhere to the common market beliefs of Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, and others. They understand things like straight chain lines and bicycles that work well under almost any condition and frames that can accommodate real world tires and wheels. And that was exactly my point from the get go. I'm not trying to be critical of a special use bike in general. I'm simply advocating the concept of a general use bike because of the real world conditions required that for the type of extended daily traveling I like to do. And that includes taking advantage of what a bicycle can do in terms of alternative transportation.

Here is one example of a what I call a real world bike:



Anonymous said...

Oh for you fans of derailleurs here's a good example using the same concept:



Anonymous said...

Respectfully Phillip, VO makes a City Bike. VO to its credit is also one of the best sources for hard to find components that make city bikes work well and look good while working well.

Moreover, if you look around Chris' site, you should notice he is one of the more ardent promoters of giving up cars for bikes out there.

This particular thread concerns a speciality pass hunter bike. Rather than post on one of the many threads here dealing with VO City Bikes, you criticize a wonderfully designed pass hunter because it does not contain a feature you think necessary to make it something it is not meant to be.

I have been car free for going on five years now. I am beginning to have a pretty good idea of what it takes to make a bike a good all around commuter, shopper and night on the town rider. That does not mean I cannot appreciate a bike designed for sport. Frankly, I find it difficult to understand why someone would come to a web store that is an excellent source for city riding and lecture us all for also liking sport. Why not say we should all be 1960's China and ride one style bike in out jump suits with pictures of Mao on every top tube?

As for your link: Ahearne makes good stuff, although many of his racks are more pizazz than substantive. In fact my city bike proudly sports a VO rack where the Ahearne half rack originally sat.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and by the way: Several of Ahearne's bikes in the gallery do have vertical drop outs.

Any builder worth half his/her salt knows there are many situations where vertical drop outs make sense.

Anonymous said...

Joel ... why do you take such offense at my comments on rear drop outs? I like the Pass Hunter and if you go back and read what I said you will see that I very much complimented the the frame. I simply made a comment that I'm into these new adjustable drop outs that I've seen on many bikes at the NABS back in March in Portland.

Maybe I'm preaching to the choir when it comes to bikes for transportation as opposed to sport or just recreation. All I'm saying is that I would like to see more really good quality designs being offered for transportation. Other than transportation and sport and/or recreation I see no other categories of cycling design. Nothing's wrong with sport or recreation cycling ... its just a little bit over done in the industry IMHO.

But please don't take simple comments so personal. I was thinking the blog is the place to present various ideas to improve the quality bicycling in general. So far it seems that Chris has very much encouraged people to comment and put forth different ideas. That's why I read his blog.

Anonymous said...

an open forum for thoughts is great . we all see it differently.frankly, i've ridden since 1971 and i have seldom thought about dropouts... i'm having too much fun riding my 33 year old mercian.

Anonymous said...

My touring bike has vertical dropouts, and I probably would not have bought that frame if it had horizontal ones because horizontal dropouts and fenders make for an annoying situation I just do not need on a touring bike.

If horizontal dropouts are a must, then there are many, many options. I use nice old lugged steel road bike frames for single speed & fixie conversions. They are cheap and plentiful, even ones made of 531 and with good paint. Also, I hear there is a fresh batch of Quickbeams in the pipeline.

This thread is about the pass hunter, though. Looks like another home run there, Chris. Thanks again for moving the edge of the envelope in the direction we want it to go!

Anonymous said...

Phillip: There is no problem with your feelings about bikes.

There is a a problem with assumptions which you voice that somehow this spot and VO are a place that does not get your point. For instance, why link photos to Ahearne when VO makes bikes and racks just as practical and certainly more affordable?

There are a number of forums where most believe carbon and titanium are everything and bikes are only racing tools. Your points and attitude make sense there. Here they seem to miss the point about what VO has stood for from day one.

So it is not taking offense, but wondering what is the point?

Anonymous said...

Joel ... my only point was that I was expressing interest into a semi-custom frame that would incorporate many of the qualities shown on the Pass Hunter only with an adjustable rear drop out. And the reason for that is quite simple. I would like to get away from a derailleur system. How much more simple could that have been expressed?

Showing links to the other website was certainly no dig at Velo Orange and its offerings. And to interpret that way really puzzles me. For example Ahearne's wait time on a custom bike similar to the one shown would probably be well over three years. As Chris has stated that there is a considerable wait time for the Pass Hunter. And the wait time for bikes such as the very high end (very spendy no doubt!) Vanilla Cycles is now over 5 years! So my point is that if a new custom or semi-custom frame takes that long of a wait time one should be able to get it exactly the way they want ... right?

The discussion I assumed was custom or semi custom frames in general not just the Pass Hunter which is no doubt a very fine example of what most of the readers of this blog drool over.

I really can't explain my point any better. I'm just sorry you don't get it. If I didn't communicate it well enough than please accept my sincerest apologies. But I did get the impression that I some how offended you or the Velo Orange offering. And that was quite the opposite of my intention.


Anonymous said...

We do "get it," since we are really not stupid. We just don't agree with you. Get over it.

Anonymous said...

Why is everyone piling on Philip? He expressed a preference for horizontal dropouts, and suddenly the sharks are circling. Lighten up. This should be a place where people can express their opinions without being denigrated.


Anonymous said...

apparently my comment about came across as offensive and got deleted. To keep things in perspective, I like to think of all the poor people I see in Chicago riding the rusty ten-speeds and mountain bikes everyday without fail, sleet or shine because they can't afford even the bus. Personally, I think they put all of us to shame who have the luxury of debating about the proper bicycle for "real worl" everyday commuting. Myself included. :)

Steve said...

An anonymous horizontal dropout lover said:

Joel ... my only point was that I was expressing interest into a semi-custom frame that would incorporate many of the qualities shown on the Pass Hunter only with an adjustable rear drop out. And the reason for that is quite simple. I would like to get away from a derailleur system. How much more simple could that have been expressed?

As Spock once said, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." The Pass Hunter isn't the frame for you. We get it, but it's time to give it a rest and go find a nice custom.

Let me suggest a Coho: wait time is something like 3 months and frames are around $1300.