19 December, 2008

Various Notes and Things

We will be closed for the Holidays, from December 24 through January 4.

If you need any components made in Japan you probably will want to buy them soon. The recent strengthening of the Yen may result in price increases of as much as 25% when when we get our January shipments. Ouch!

It was interesting that a comment on the previous post asked us to stock wheels with internal gears and interior brake hubs. Just yesterday I was asking Tom to get pricing on wheels with a Strumey Archer internal gear rear hub with brake and a front hub with dynamo and brake.

We are also ordering our cassette hub wheels, but I don't want to release details just yet.

The fixed/SS wheels just came in. We'll probably run out of this first shipment soon, but more are due in next week.


Anonymous said...

Chris, what about the cranks you have in stock already? The prices will stay the same on those?

nordic_68 said...

I could have used that dynamo/brake hub on 2 recent old bike rehab projects. It would have bumped the cost, but for the clean lines and affordable dynamo lighting it woulda been worth it.

I hope you can stock them regularly just in case I do another rehab in the future. Or in case we want to upgrade from the bargain basement wheels we found in a dusty corner of the LBS for $40.

Anonymous said...

Man, don't tease us like that! Details on the cassette hub please!

Josh Mitchell said...


Does that mean you're looking at selling X-FDD's prelaced to a 650B or 700C rim? Because, if so, I'd love a X-FDD / 700C.

Velo Orange said...

Annon, We are so low on cranks now that we'll have new prices on everything when the next shipment arrives. We can't have old prices on some sizes and new prices on others.

We are just starting to look at various internal hub and rim combination. We have to consider specs, prices, what is in stock in the US right now, and which wheel builder can do what we want. The best way is for us to provide the hubs to a US wheel builder and use spokes and rims they already have in stock. So there is a bit of logistics involved. It's too early to say exactly what we'll decide on, but the 700c size will be first.

David said...

Regarding internals, paying attention to the step sizes makes a lot of sense to me. I'm sure you've seen this review:

Regarding freehubs, I'll bet you know more than most (more than me, anyway) about what's available OEM, but I do remember MG (Mr. Kogswell) talking up certain "nameless" hubsets the way you talk about the VO headsets.

Regarding stock wheels: Here's an odd product idea: a "wheel kit", a hub, rim, and spokes. This would: (a) save you the difficulty of sourcing handbuilt wheels, (b) allow/encourage consumers to support their LBSs, or allow/encourage folks to learn how to build wheels (it's fun, and likely something many VO customers want to do anyway), and (c) having a few standard offerings would save you having to stock spokes in a zillions sizes, and you might even get a little extra margin buying large quant in a few sizes.

David said...

...and you'd probably sell a lot of truing stands, spoke wrenches, and "The Bicycle Wheel," or whichever book you like best.

Anonymous said...

Anyone have much experience with the X-FDD? It seems suspiciously low-priced compared to other dyno hubs out there.

Tom said...

oohhh, I do not want to start stocking spokes around here. Total nightmare. Sure, we could just buy 310mm length unbutted spokes and hand cut them with a $4000 phil spoke cutter. Then Annette would go ballistic on Chris and I. The cable housing per foot program ground to a halt. cutting spokes would cause the spokes to be inserted in our eyes.

Tom said...

spokes don't get cheap until you are buying 100,000 spokes. That's about 1500 wheelsets. Velo orange is years away from doing that volume, if ever. Most shops dont even sell that many wheels annually- prebuilt, hand built, custom, low end, high end, cheapo steel 20" BMX to carbon whatever ksyriums.

Anonymous said...

a friend just had a bike built up with those sturmey drum brake hubs. 5 speed rear, dyno front. so far so good he says. they look really nice.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever used a SA front drum brake? Obviously best suited to flat transit oriented dutch suburbs, I consider them dangerously ineffective in miserable american cities. Even with both brakes applied it's not terribly effective. Perhaps the idea is you always apply both brakes with a lower risk of rear wheel skid due to the design's ineffectiveness?

A while back Velovision had a short article about a special schmidt dynohub that took a Sram i brake and found it to be very effective. I found a review on an dutch site and the reviewer thought it was too effective, probably because he was used to crappy drums.

The sram I light dynohub doesn't sound very good, unless you only ride and night so it would seem to me that the ideal would be the larger sram roller brake used with either a shimano or schmidt dynohub. I have no idea if the i brake can be used on shimano dynohubs.

I still think you should look into a 590/650A wheel set with a 5 speed hub and CR18s. There are tens of thousands of those bikes still around and many still on the road in NW and NE cities. Walk around in Boston, NY, Portland or Victoria, Toronto etc. they are everywhere are no one stocks an off the shelf alum rim wheel set in that size.
I've seen far too many Raleighs and Austrian Sears with new steel rim wheelsets installed by bikeshops.


Tom said...


I agree with you abt the 590/650A wheel size. 650b is a 3mm difference in radius tho. any 650b rim would fit in an older 26x1 3/8" bike.

It seems that the bike industry is avoiding the 650b road/city type platform. They are falling over themselves to bring to market a 650b mountain bike- Haro has a full suspension, Soma makes their mountain bike as a B side in 650b. what gives? why no love for 650b for city bikes?

Anonymous said...


I've heard good and bad things about SA's drum brakes. I was told by one of the LBS owners around here that a lot of the bad performers are due to people using short-pull brake levers when they should be using long-pull. Any opinion on this?

I'm considering a build w/ SA drums front and rear. It's fairly hilly here, so I'm beginning to re-think it.


Anonymous said...

The XFDD is an excellent hub, offering both good braking in all weather conditions and a great dynohub.

Just make sure you use short-pull, not long-pull brake levers. (canti, not v-brake levers).

David said...

"...$4000 Phil spoke cutter..."

But don't you want one anyway?

Anonymous said...

All I know about drum brakes is my experience with one of them on the front wheel of my Schwinn Lemon Peeler banana-seat bike back when I was like ten years old. It didn't do much to stop me. Now, of course, I didn't know how to work on my bike, so maybe it was just a matter of adjustment, so I'll give these hubs the benefit of the doubt.

dr2chase said...

I thought that the 8-speed SA hub had a low gear of 1:1, and it goes up from there. This is not so good, even though the spacing is nice and even.

For a dynamo hub, I am sorely tempted by the new(er) Shimano hubs. Very close to the Schmidt in efficiency, but much cheaper.

Dad said...

I am candidly dubious about the S-A hubs. The gearing is wrong and they are ultra sensitive to cable adjustment. Lastly, the twist shift is a turn-off.

I've had awfully good luck with a Shimano Alfine set I got in Germany. It's a bit smoother than a Nexus setup, is a normal polished alloy color, has a nice Ultegra-level dynohub in front, and they make a very nice rapidfire-type lever that looks quite innocuous. If you can get them, I would say they're a much, much better choice than the S-A hubs.

keithwwalker said...

Thanks for the acknowledgment regarding wheelsets for dyno and internal hubs. I think it will serve your core audience in the future.

I must stress that there is a nuance regarding Sturmey-Archer's hubs. The old chain pull style shifters usually have a 'thinner' over lock nut dimension (O.L.D.) usually in the 107-120mm range.

Newer rotary shift 3 speed hubs (C30 Group) are wider, in the 130-5mm range.

This becomes a factor for commuter bikes, as an OLD of 130-135mm is more likely to accommodate fatter tires AND fenders.

The catch-22 is that while the newer rotary shift hubs will fit nicely into current frame geometries (aka Surly Crosscheck et al) and probably give better shifting, the C30 group is almost impossible to purchase!

I had to purchase my RX-RD3 hub from Germany (and it was clearly an sales sample with dings, and no packaging, no appurtenances nor manual). S-A USA is not that interested in stocking rotary shift 3 speeds until they deplete other stocks of chain pull shifting hubs (open ended statement, theirs not mine).

I don't know if the situation is the same with the 5 and 8 speed bikes, but is an issue to be aware of.

Hopefully Velo Orange can leverage their contacts with Taiwan and get these hubs direct from S-A at a good price.

Anonymous said...

DR2Chase and David, The gearing on an 8 speed SA hub has an over 300% range in pretty even steps. It is almost exactly the same as a Shimano 8 speed hub. You must pick the chain ring or cog that suits you. The gearing on a hub is only wrong if you choose the wrong cog for your riding style.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure current SA 8 speeds or whatever they are come in two versions: normal gearing and the one meant for bikes with 20 inch wheels like recumbents and folders. Information on their products seems sketchy.

The Hubstripping site's data on the Nexus 8 gear steps is confusing and in my opinion wildly overstated. The graph is a textbook example of misleading presentation. Yes, the steps are not as even as one usually finds in, say, and 8 speed cassette, but I've never noticed it being a problem. I've got a couple of "custom" cassettes I've put together for various reasons that are just as uneven, and they are fine.

I think the drum brake-internal hub and dyno wheelset idea is great. Excellent set up for a commuter, among other things.

dr2chase said...

Mr. Anonymous - I am aware of that, I have been considering internal geared hubs for some time. The problem is that to suit me, I would need a chainring that was somewhat smaller than the cog, if the lowest gear is 1:1. Maybe that's ok, but that means an everyday chainring smaller than my current granny ring, which had not seen use for months before today (I had to slog through some inches of snow over frozen slush and mud).

The riding-the-spine guys also gave the S-A 8-speed hub a poor review, or so I recall.

Anonymous said...

""...$4000 Phil spoke cutter..."

But don't you want one anyway?"

On reading this, I sure do.

And I would just as soon leave wheel building duties with my LBS.

stinus.b said...

on internal gear hubs:

i work in a copenhagen, denmark bike shop selling manly internal geared bikes (95% of bikes sold) whit out a doth i can say that SRAM is much better that SA or Shimano - the 3 speed is the i re make of the best internal gear hub ever the german torpedo 3speed hub.
the 5 and 8 speed hubs is okay but not as stable, they can some time freeze in hard winter (but still way better quality than SA or shimano)
the sram cluster-brake 5 speed cargo hub is tough and heavy- and a real work horse!

please don't go for SA or SHIMANO fore gearhubs

whit dynamo hubs the SA is the right one! we use them on our flagship the pilen bike (www.pilencykel.se) and we don't really have any problems whit them.. only pleasure

best regards

dr2chase said...


Just curious, but how much are those Pilen bicycles? It looks like they made more right choices than other bikes I've come across (I prefer the largest possible tires, and most bikes will not accommodate them. Big Apples are wonderful).

And are the SA dynamo hubs really that good? I recall reading a comparison, can't find it now, that had the latest Shimano dynamo hubs scoring quite well.

Maybe someone in the US could be convinced to carry them :-).

Anonymous said...

Ever since SA was purchased by SunRace, the quality has become merde. I had a Dahon Vitesse with the five-speed SA rear hub. I never could keep it adjusted; three other local mechanics couldn't, either.

And I had one of those SRAM internally geared hubs with a casette, which gave 21 speeds. The internal gear was always slipping, no matter how much I adjusted it. That almost got me into a serious accident once when I was pedalling home at a good clip and the gear shifted, then mired between gears, throwing me off the saddle and my left foot off the pedal.

And, finally, I rode a Nexus hub until it died after two winters. And, along the way, it broke a lot of spokes. I've noticed that on its internal-geared hubs, Shimano has always tended to make the hub flanges too thin.

Chris, I think if you could have a good, reliable internally-geared hub made--and sell it at a reasonable cost--the Nobel committee would start a new category for bicycling and you'd be the inagural laureate. Of course that scenario is predicated on my becoming the chair of the Nobel committee. We can always dream, can't we?

Anyway, you're doing great things for the cycling community. Allez Chris et Tom!

Anonymous said...

I'd thought about the Rohloff hub on my touring bike but despised the twist grip shifting. Therefore, I drew up a downtube shifter that had the built-in indexing. It looked a bit like the old Herse era shifters to allow enough indents for all speeds.

Question on the front drums; they must not be too strong, because otherwise there would be problems twisting the forks, which are designed for rim braking.

Do you have specs on braking distance with these units? Drum brakes can actually work very well, particularly if they are twin leading shoe, and if you seat the shoes into the drums.

Oh! Also remember one advantage of these rear hubs is that you can have even spoke tension.

One more thing; I think with hub brakes there is an issue of too low of a chainring. Rohloff talks about this. Even then, if you are using the single-speed tension converter that looks like a deraileaur, you can still run a front derailleaur.

Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, let me clarify, in the last two paragraphs I was referring to internally geared rear hubs. : )

Anonymous said...

Speaking of drum brakes, any chance of talking to this guy


about his brakes? they sound magical...

Anonymous said...

super article on the drum brakes. I like how he solved the problem of the forks with the long reaction arm. I would really appreciate the consistency of braking along with less maintenance. Everytime I ride in the rain, half my pads dissolve into a black mess all over my rims. He also confirmed my prior research that essentially all drum brakes have been for the 5mph city bikes. The Arai drum is a drag brake, meant to absorb heat than to be a real 'stopper'. Using discs means you need a stiff fork, or, I guess a shock fork, with more working parts to wear out. Hmmm...

Velo Orange said...

There are a couple of big misconceptions that are reflected in the comments here:

1) These drum brakes and internal gear hubs are great on city bikes. That is what they are designed for and that's what you should use them for. If you put them on a MTB or Pass Hunter or rando bike you probably won't be happy. BTW, the drum brakes on tandems are somewhat different.

2) The British Strumey Archer stuff was absolute crap when Sun Race (of Taiwan) bought the company. British quality had gone to hell in the 1970s and 1980s, and not just in hubs. The early Taiwanese SA hubs were still made on the old worn out British machinery Sun Race had imported, but they were better than the British hubs because the Taiwanese actually cared about quality. Over the years the quality improved and improved until today's SA hubs are as good as any, perhaps better.

mhandsco said...

I have a SA X-FD front drum brake on my fixed gear and find it pretty good. The fancy SA nuts are made of cheese, but it stops and rolls very well.

mhandsco said...

Sorry... so +1 for SA and their renewed commitment to quality parts.

Steve said...

It is surely possible to put drum brakes on a high performance machine. The Windcheetah recumbent trike is as hot a performance machine as can be found anywher e, and it is equipped these days with 70mm SRAM drum brakes. http://www.windcheetah.co.uk/technical.htm

keithwwalker said...

fwiw, regarding S-A hubs and equalized spoke tension. I thought the same thing till my RX-RD3 showed up. The wheel will have to be dished (unlike a Shimano 8 spd. internal hub).

The trade off being that the rotary shifter on the S-A hub has better clearances than my Shimano 8 speed internal hub.

Whether the S-A hub is more reliable than my Shimano hub (yes, I have had problems), check back in 2 years(!)...

Anonymous said...

If anyone is interested in the David Wrath-Sharman improved hub brake design, On-One are considering getting a batch made, but I think it will be a while yet.

Also drum brakes on a small wheel like the front of the Windcheetah will be significantly more powerful. For a while Windcheetah offered drum brakes with a ceramic lining as an upgrade option. Not sure if this is still available.


Anonymous said...

I like those Windcheetah designs; the brake also looks interesting. All of this is making me reconsider a gear hub again for my daily commuting Heron. Except the Ultegra rear shifter has really been very satisfactory. What excites me is the thought of an internal hub combined with a rubber toothed belt. I'm still waiting to receive my personal hovercraft, though. ;)

stinus.b said...

att: Chris Kulczycki

1:internal gear hubs are mainly fore commuting use, but the sram (or better an old torpedo hub) can be used for a rando style of cycle whit great success, i know bicycle curries who use it and clams that the are tougher than the commen fixgearhub on copenhagen curries cycles (like formula or similar..)
And; the SRAM works whit most old friction shifters (Suntours, barcons and thumbs, are really great whit there small clicks) this is wonderful when it comes to more special rides

2: i do not agree on the SA hubs, we carry Pasley bikes in my bike shop they come whit SA 5 speed hubs, i think we might have 10 times the trouble whit those, than whit the SRAM 3g, SA made fine stuff pre 1960, but that was then..

att: dr2chase

the pilen is about a 900$ fore 3 speed whit a dynamo light..

i think the SA dynamo is fine, we have the shimano in my shop to but i think thy are a much the same but the light from the SA is more constant.. and the SA hubs looks much nicer

Dad said...

Guys, question:

the Sturmey-Archer dynohub/drum brake thing (X-FDD or something?) sounds really cool. Would one use a regular brake lever for that, or a V-brake type lever to pull more cable? I think that hub could be excellent on an around-town machine. I've read differing views on the correct levers to use, that's why I ask.

Joe said...

I can tell you I'm having a hard time getting the x-fdd to work with any brake lever. I have a canti and linear pull lever that I can't quite get it to work with. My problem is the housing is too long in both cases--just a bit with the canti lever and a ton with the linear pull lever--and I see no easy way to shorten the housing.

Any thoughts on shortening the housing?

Josh Mitchell said...


So, are you finding the levers a) take up too much cable (resulting in "grabby" braking and bad modulation)? Or Not enough cable (resulting in poor braking power)?

Joe said...


I can't get the cable hooked to the drum brake.

With the canti lever it pulls just a wee bit too much cable. With the piece on the barrel that hooks to the reaction arm all the way to the top, I can't quite get the notch to go into the reaction arm.

It's even worse with the linear pull levers. They take up so much cable into the lever.

I'd really like to shorten the housing, but I can't see anyway to do that other than cutting the whole cable assembly. Once I do that, though, I'm not sure how to replace the piece at the hub end of the cable.

I also have an old weinmann lever, like the city levers on here, that might work, but I don't have one of those non aero ferrules and again, I wouldn't know how to thread it on.


Anonymous said...

You have to cut off the end of the cable and use the replacement end nut that Sturmey sells.