18 March, 2009

Taipei Cycle Show Update

The first two days of the Taipei Cycle Show have yielded some very pleasant surprises.

Not 30 minutes after getting to the show we ran into a manufacturer we work with who told us they could make the VO chain guards. We had previously approached a number of manufacturers about making these and none were interested, so this was indeed a pleasant surprise. We still have to work out the details, but I'm hopeful that we can come to an agreement on tooling cost, minimums, and price. The same manufacturer also has a new stock alloy chain guard that we may import.

We found a new brake lever that some might be interested in. And there was a grip specially made to work with inverse levers on 22.8mm bars. The grip has a groove for a brake cable.

We have ordered samples of the mixte frame I mentioned earlier. If it passes our testing we should have frames in the Fall. We will spec fender mounts and all the usual VO details, but this is not our design; it's basically the manufacturer's stock design.

I was very excited to finally see the new VO saddle model that will compete with the Brooks B-17.

We found a very nice MA2 style rim extrusion that can be made for us in 700c size. It's light, 19.5mm wide, and can be fully polished. Samples will arrive in a few weeks.

We also saw a number of new bits from various manufacturers that might be worth investigating. Among these is a new LED dynamo headlight purpose-made for rack mounting (or fender mounting?), cloth bar tape from a new manufacturer, and several new models of quick-release pedals.

Of course we had several meetings about ongoing projects and new components such as VO drop bars.

In short, it's been one meeting after another and both Tom and I are completely beat. The next two days will be a little easier with fewer meetings scheduled, so we'll have time to walk around the show looking for new products from manufacturers we've not worked with in the past. Then we hop on the bullet train and head south to visit factories and see, among other things, how our new racks are progressing.


Marty said...

If it's still there, a place called the Fish House in Taichung is impressive for lunch. Always crowded with locals, but then again, not much other than locals in Taichung! Big round tables,tons of food placed in the middle and lot's of activity (and noise) make for a stimulating meal. Stay away from the Pachinko parlors!

Anonymous said...

Chris, That cable routing for the
rear brake on the mixte frame looks
kind of tight. Would your version
have a brake there or on the middle
set of stays?

Anonymous said...


I second the vote for moving the brake mounting to the middle set of stays. The circuitous route the brake cable currently makes can't possibly encourage very good brake lever feel or brake modulation.


Anonymous said...

Make it 3 on that.

Chris Kulczycki said...

I agree The cable routing is manky. So I'm asking for the mixte frame to be set up for long reach caliper brakes. The rear brake would be on the mid-bridge. That way it would take 32mm tires with fenders. It now takes 38-40mm tires, but only with cantis.

John said...

Finding Mafac Guidonnet levers up on eBay isn't hard, so I'm not sure how much demand you'd have for the first levers. For my part, though, a new set with a stainless band would make it easy to try them out. I'd like to give this lever style a try on the Motobecane I'm rebuilding, once I find a fork and rebuild the front end.

Actually, on that score: There's a distinct shortage of is good 27" replacement forks. You can readily find decent lugged Tange forks in 700c in black or chrome online (various styles, even!), occasional 27" 531 forks (painted in whatever color their donor bike was, and that you might or might not trust) on eBay, or ugly $25 mild steel replacement forks in chrome or black, too. But a quality lugged cro-mo 27" replacement fork with forged, eyeleted dropouts and a nice chromed finish is a rare bird.

I've seen enough online chatter on the subject that there has to be a niche there somewhere.

Anonymous said...


I have centerpulls on one of my bikes, and I think they work great with the right pads, and look more elegant than long reach calipers.

if it's possible to have cable stops for both centerpulls AND calipers on the mixte, then that would give customers a choice.


akahn said...

I'm curious-- which Brooks saddles are your current saddle models competing with?

Uncle Ankle said...

Re:Levers - what are the chances of VO ever having faithful Mafac Ville/Guidonet copies made? Slim? None?

(faithful + barrel adjusters would be awesome, but I'd settle for faithful)

George said...

Wait - how is that lever supposed to be mounted? I can see a couple ways that it would fit onto a city-style bar but they all seem ridiculous. Is there a picture of these mounted on a bike somewhere?

patates frites said...


they're made for drop bars and are mounted on the tops. They follow the top curve. Think of them as inverse turkey wings.

Terry said...

I have to agree with Matt. My wife's mixte has centerpulls (mounted on the middle set of stays). I think they look great and she thinks they operate fine.


Christopher said...



It all looks good to me, I am excited to see what arrives in the store. BTW, do you need testers of any of the samples???

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the Velox-style bar-end plugs? I sure could use a couple sets each of red and blue and white (though I can still occassionally find white originals).

keithwwalker said...

If anyone has any good Taiwan bike links (places to ride to, shops to shop), please inform. I have a trip later this year and wish to make the most of it.

robatsu said...

It is also a stronger design mounting the calipers on the middle set of stays, although in real world applications I'm not sure of how much difference it would really make.

Rick @ Bicycle Fixation said...

You can see Bebolux levers of the same style mounted on Belleri porteur bars here: http://tinyurl.com/cl9oox

And lower-stay mounted centerpulls here: http://tinyurl.com/cfnbxt

Both on Gina's 650B Nishiki mixte conversion.

The entire photo sequence: http://tinyurl.com/65xuoq

Velo-Orange Zeppelin fenders too!

Adrienne Johnson said...

What size will the frame be? I want one, I really do. I don't care what colour it is, I can make any colour work!

George said...

Thanks everyone, that makes a lot more sense. I was having flashbacks to discount ten-speeds of the 70s.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Paying for the tooling to make Mafac Ville/Guidonet copies doesn't seem sensible. We would have to sell thousands and I don't think that many folks will want them, especially now that the levers shown are available and much less expensive.

VO won't make replacement forks for other bikes. Too many people would put them on bikes with the wrong geometry. We're about superb handling while replacement forks are about just making something work.

I've asked for the mixte frame in 50, 53, 56cm. I don't think the design is rigid enough for a 59-60cm size. And we would have to change wheel size for anything smaller. Centerpulls might fit, but I need to actually mount some to be sure. If we make it too complicated we might as well start from scratch (and wait 18 months for the frames).

Ian Dickson said...

50cm is too large for my mother-in-law.

Small people are so cute. How can you resist selling affordable frames that they can actually ride?

Look at them. Aren't they just adorable?

Anonymous said...


Having a cheaper option for Brooks saddles is good.

Rivendell already has these Brooks-style saddles on their website. Are the VO saddles going to be different?

Maybe have a the pro- or swift -model shapes??

Mike Connors, Lake Oswego, OR

Anonymous said...

VO has has had Swift and B-67 style saddles.

cleve said...

the brake levers and chainguard are instant sellers for me. Will the chainguard be double compatible?


Peter said...

I owned and rode a Nishiki Sport mixte with fixed rear baskets all over SF for a year. It had a triple crank, fat 1.25" tires, great grocery getter, errand runner, counter-hipster (fixie-loving SF circa 2008) and I didn't worry about theft when locking it downtown. Great bike! The swept back bars and low standover are perfect for shorter female riders not so concerned about frame flex.

http://bit.ly/7fKc -- my Nishki mixte, sold
http://bit.ly/AGsQ -- cleaner mixte without third brace on Flickr

Peter said...

What do you all think about price points for higher end female framed bikes? From Renaissance Bikes:

Soma Buena Vista Mixte
TIG/MIG frameset $550 plus S+H
105 Nitto wheels build: $1250
Total: $1800
Note: available in XS 42cm 26" wheel for sub 5'4" riders.

Rivendell Betty Foy
Taiwan lugged frameset $1000 + S+H
105 Nitto wheels build: $1250
Total: $2250

Call me sexist (I'm a guy), but bike guys don't spend >$1500 on the wife's or GF's bike. And most women don't spend >$1500 on their own bikes either with the rare exception being racer, triathlete types. Are these expensive mixte/step-through bikes going to sell? It's a growing trend -- I saw a few guys riding vintage mixtes at Critical Mass, and I owned one for a year. I'm convinced of the practicality, style, fit, but I'm a little skeptical about the buyer/budget side of the equation.
Or maybe I'm just cheeaap ;-)

http://bit.ly/7fKc -- my Nishki mixte, $35 used, $20 seat, sold for $240

Novaturient said...

I for one am very sad to hear that the 'tooling costs don't make sense' for a guidonette style brake lever.

Ever since I picked up Jan Heine's Golden Age of Handbuilt Bikes I have been dreaming of finding someone to re-create a brake lever like the "Erpelding" lever on p22-32-5. That lever, re-created as a high-end interrupter brake, just makes perfect sense on both my commuter and touring rig: quick access to the brakes from three different hand positions (great when you are a bit tired and not quite on the ball as you should be).

Something like the Paul cross brake, but with the extended quidonette curved lever....mmmmmmm....

Think of the long tail Chris!

Anonymous said...

Where can I get a couple of those brake levers?

Chris Kulczycki said...

VO will have those levers in late spring.

trey said...

Any updates on the mixte?