10 November, 2010

Do you really need a new frame?

Do you really need a new frame? Why not fix up a nice old high-end bike instead? My favorites are upper-tier Motobecanes and Uragos. But there are plenty of  other well-made and sweet-riding frames available for next to nothing on E-bay, Craiglist, or the local thrift store.

If you're thinking that it's too hard to find those odd sized seat posts, BBs, and headsets, that's no longer an issue. In addition to our French and Italian and British and threadless BBs, and our French and British threaded headsets, we now have seat posts in most of those odd old sizes.

The new posts are the well known UNO seat posts that are basically copies of an old Campagnolo design. It's actually a darn good design that was also used by Nitto, Ritchey, and a dozen other companies. Now there is no question that the $20 UNO post is not as nicely finished as a Grand Cru or Nitto post, but for $20 it's not bad. What is important is that it's available in: 25.0mm, 25.4mm, 26.2mm, 26.4mm, 26.8mm, 27.0mm, and 27.2mm. So the vast majority of old steel frames are covered.

We also have the Grand Cru triple 110bcd cranks in stock, which looks perfect on a classic lugged frame and has durable 7075-alloy chain rings that may outlast the frame. The double version is back in stock too and available in 165mm, 170mm 172.5mm, and in 175mm lengths. And we'll have the less expensive VO cranks back in stock in a few weeks.

I guess a fellow who's company sells frames really shouldn't be suggesting that you not buy one. But times are tough for a lot of folks, and all those cool old frames are just waiting out there, and it's a lot of fun to fix up a nice old bike...

Have any pics of cool bikes you've fixed up? Feel free to link in the comments.


Le Cagot said...

It's also better for the planet. Re-use instead of buying new.

Neil said...

My new Seven uses a VO Rack, Sugino Alpina crank, VO leather washers, and Honjo fenders. Thanks guys!


Aaron C said...

A local fella I know, he buys classic frames on ebay and builds awesome randonneuring and porteur bikes out of them:


Etherhuffer said...

I agree completely. I just finished a Fuji Grand Tourer SE, a Schwinn Voyager 11.8 64cm frame(!) and a Schwinn World Voyager for a friend. The World Voyager has crossed Europe in 1975 and the USA in 1976. Its now back in service thanks to parts from VO and others. The Fuji was recreated with bar end shifters, Nitto Noodle, CR-18 rims on wheels I built, and the 1" to 1 1/8" stem converter from VO, and Tektro brakes. For far less than a new bike, I have a lovely lugged frame with great components and geometry that won't wear you out. Next build is a Schwinn Voyager SP.

James in Portland (the one on the left) said...

Do they make the Uno post in 25.6? My old Volkscycle is a randomly-sized beast (70mm English-threaded bottom bracket, among other things).

Anonymous said...

Yes, this concept sounds familiar:


And for the more technically minded or curious:
"Renaissanced" Bicycle Google Group

Obviously, we think the VO parts are right at home on classic bikes.

somervillain said...

i couldn't have rehabbed this old reynolds-framed jeunet without VO parts:


thanks, i really love your products.

Matt Madden said...

I'm working on an old Lotus Odyssey right now. Thinking about the hammered fenders for it. No pics yet, and it needs a lot of work.

I also rescued an 83 Fuji from the recycling center, which now sports a VO saddle.

The seatpost sizes are great. I had a hard time finding a 25.0 a few years back. I finally did find one, but it's nice to know you have these.

So yeah, I like old bikes and VO parts!

Anonymous said...

The Uno post is actually available in even more sizes than the ones you list, Chris. I have one in 26.0 on my 1964 Moulton, one of my favorite rides!


Velo Orange said...

Jan, The you're right; these posts can be made in almost any size we care to order. The problem is that we need to buy 50 or a 100 of each size. It might take two years to sell 100 25.0mm posts. This is one of those items we stock because they are needed, but it's probably not a very smart business decision.

Joseph Vota said...

I just fixed up a Grand Jubile this summer with a few VO parts:


JimDandy said...

Though I appreciate the term "upper end", I'm sorry, the "lower end" are being given the short end on this (while the upper end are being given the long end, that's starting to remind me of how Groucho Marx would talk).

I mean, I have a 531 light frame, it moves and maybe it's a matter sizing but I like my lower end bike quite a bit more even though the 531 light frame was able to navigate a 30% climb much more easily.

How about these Motobecanes that have been posted on the Velo Orange blog where one chap owned a Jubilee and Mirage and put Velo Orange parts on both, I believe the gentleman even called the Mirage, Mirage Sport or Super Mirage, whichever is applicable "a lot of fun", but NO, we hear about the Jubilee only which I admit some variants are stunning. Maybe it was the Inexternal brazing that Motobecane was using on some of those early '80s versions.

Look at Classic-Rendezvous? Per Motobecanes, the Nomade and the Mirage were respectively answers to Raleigh's Record and Grand Prix. Now, seeing how, historically, there was a variance in early Nomades tubing, this is just plain wrong. In fact, this Nomade's tubing and style of paint job with due care, is basically rust proof.

Besides, after that, cosmetically some of the lower end easily look as good as the higher end, I was out at the State Park with a Nomade, this other fellow had well, how should we say, one of the more Elite stylings out there. I know for certain which one looked better.

These bikes are getting a bad deal or else, a lot of customers have more affluence to ride these higher end bikes which is nothing to criticize them about.

Justin said...

I love older steel frames adorned with VO products. I have a few myself. I'll be ordering a few of the new seatposts. I'm disappointed not to see 26.6mm offered, but I understand you can't offer 'em all.

Anonymous said...

24.0 Please!

TSVDP said...

I still don't have camera skills perfect. Adore some of the Velo Orange polyvalents, randos etc. very much.

http://velospace.org/node/32944 That is my Nomade. I also have a spare frame Nomade, green that indeed is heavier. My yellow one could have indeed used those Cotter Cranks spoken about in this blog some time ago. My hands and wrists are getting a bit carpal, some day soon, I may well do something about getting new handlebars. I rode in a bike tour and I was on my nicer lighter bike and over the Lafayette bridge in St. Paul and I saw this fellow had a yellow Mirage but with half chromed forks and we compared notes. The next weekend was another tour/ride and I thought I'd take the daily rider. It functions for my purposes much in the way of a 3 speed, so while I'm not a total Roadster fanatic, there is some of that in me in how I like a bike. The Grand Tourer, I've seen it in yellow and along with the Nomade and Mirage from that year all must have had a very similar frame.

One thing I like about those 'cerca '75' Motobecanes is how they don't really have decals. Somehow the insignias bar one on the seat tube are inscribed in the paint job. They are not decals in any way as this Cyclomondo seems to sell decals out of Australia for a number of Motobecanes. I've asked this question around and don't quite get an answer. It must be similar in the way, a lot of the old Schwinns have the name of the bike inscribed into it rather than decals. Decals can look great but I was greatly disappointed in once washing a name bike and the darn decals largely came off. Very disappointing. How do you wash the bike then? Does anyone know what that technique is called? Thanks.

Marc said...

Here is a photo of a Raleigh Grand Prix I redid last year:

I updated it with a parts bin pieces, the wheels from my Jamis commuter, and a bunch of VO parts, it was a little small for me but a longer stem and VO Milan bars made it useful.


I used it all summer around town and it convinced me that Mixte's are the best city frames. I'm spending the money on a new one that actually fits now.


Anonymous said...


Offering the seatposts probably is a good business decision in that many people whom are already apt to buy parts from you probably could use a modern seatpost. Having the extra item needed in stock and shipped from the same place likely will 'seal the deal' on many purchases.

Anonymous said...

I will say about the new website I think it is grand. My home computer is not as fast and some. Per the old layout, I could easily navigate the whole site. With this new one, it's not always easy to do the same but as I said, that could just be down to my slower computer.

Maxwell said...

My favorite and nicest riding bike, an early 80s Univega Specialissima:


VO racks, along with Honjo fenders, cotton bar tape, aluminum bell, Nitto stem, handlebars, water bottle cage, and MKS pedals from VO.

Chris said...

I brought this one back from the dead


Purchased after these pics is a VO Croissant bag. There's a Champagne Handlbar bag on order through the LBS, but it's on backorder.


Uncle Ankle said...

One more vote for 24.0 mm. That's perhaps the hardest one to find; indispensable for Carbolite Peugeots.

Jeff Ross said...

This Raleigh got a new life with a lot of VO parts--thanks, Chris!

Raleigh Photos

Anonymous said...

The seat posts are a valuable addition to your product line... just wish they were available a few years earlier!

TSVDP said...

Chris: With some "Retro Bikes" coming out, I followed a forum conversation where it sounded like one bike maker who will remain nameless sent the rear brake cable through the frame- top tube in his Retro-styled bike. You are an expert on this subject and not only that, I'm sure this topic is in some of the books out there. Do you know what kind of French bikes or otherwise this was done on and have any VO bikes ever done that? Was this ever a common practice? I scour pictures of Herses and Singers I have but do not see it done.

By the way, the "lower end" Mirage Sport as it was the day I got it and not a great picture http://www.retrobike.co.uk/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=63935&g2_serialNumber=4&g2_GALLERYSID=cfc199112ab24fb09eff0b6f0144a566 where the cable is sent through the frame and not only that, but sharing the same decal scheme as a Le Champion that raced in the Tour de France. http://velosvintage.over-blog.com/article-velo-motobecane-la-redoute-1983-55559740.html . Not bad for 'lower end' but clearly the Le Champion components and tubing trump it.

One very handsome bike I like is either the Galibier or that was the name of the maker. Totally different frame build.

citternmaker said...

I recently did this with my '72 Gitane TdF frame, which was in pretty rough shape. When my 30+ year old Crane rear derailleur took out the rear spokes 5 miles from home, I decided it was a good excuse to rebuild the bike to suit the type of riding I do now. Here's what I wound up with:



Lots of good stuff from VO found its way onto the frame:

Nitto Technomic 100mm tall stem; Nitto Randonneur 42cm bars; VO aluminum bell & retro mount; VO Constructeur roller hangers; VO Grand Cru French Thread 103mm BB; VO Randonneur front rack(converted for internal wiring), with VO light mounts; VO Constructeur rear rack, with aluminum fender mount spacers (made from saw handle nuts); Honjo 35mm Hammered fenders w/VO leather washers; VO fork crown daruma; Velo Orange Campagne bag.

I've since swapped out the DH-3D71 dyno hub for a DH-3N80 model, and plan to replace the Campy triple cranks with a Grand-Cru 50.4 BCD model after the new year.

VO certainly hasn't seen the last of my money...adding braze-ons to this project got me into frame work, so they'll soon have me ordering bits for that Maury-inspired, 650b frame I'll build to hang the non-original vintage bits from the Gitane on.

keithwwalker said...

I just got an old Nishiki mixte with a 26.6 seat post. There are shims out there to insert a smaller diameter stem, but it would be nice to see that size offered.

harmless neighborhood eccentric said...

here is a link to my 1970 Gitane Super Corsa. It is about to get a rebuild with a Campy GS groupo. Old are so much fun.
here is a link to my favorite bikes on the street in paris:

John Ellsworth said...

Here's the Schwinn Sports Tourer I took to italy in May:


VO sourced parts include the bottle cages, pump, rear rack, bell, pedals, Belleri bars, decaleur and I think the BB as well.

Brooks tape and saddle. SKS fenders. Mafac Racer calipers with Kool-Stop pads and 105SC levers. An old TA front rack. Suntour bar-end shifters and front derailleur. XT rear derailleur. Cheap 27" freewheel wheelset (to make the brakes work) with Pasela tires. Old SR crankset with 36/49 rings. Cheap front bag, and pricey Rivendell saddlebag.

Anonymous said...

24.0mm seatposts please! Save the peugeot.

Sven said...

Recycle some old frame?
Update it with modern parts?
Wait! There might be one more step to go!
Think it over, take your time - and take some tools.

Update recycling to what we call "upcycling":

yellowbarber said...

how's it coming with those 24.0mm seatposts?

Unknown said...

One more vote for 24.0.