30 August, 2013

Closed for Labor Day and Other News

VO will be closed on Monday, September 2nd, in observance of Labor Day. Our staff has been hard at work building our display for Interbike and really deserve an extra day off.

Speaking of Interbike, we'll be introducing a new frame. Details soon. But here's a hint, Igor just built the wheel below to fit it. And that's a new VO Rim.

Speaking of frames, the Pass Hunter frames have been delayed a couple of weeks. They are built and ready for paint, but the company that prints our decals is backlogged--if it's not one thing, it's two. The latest ETA is mid-October.

In case you missed the Tweet, we have some Rinko Headsets in damaged boxes that we're discounting. The headsets, in plastic wrap, are perfect, but they apparently rolled around on the floor of a Tokyo warehouse when a case split open.

This is the time of year when we review our pricing. As usual there will be a number of price hikes due to increased manufacturing costs, nothing too jarring, but you might save a few bucks on some items by ordering sooner rather than later. There might be a pleasant surprise or two coming as well.

We'll have another container arriving in about two weeks so most items that have been out of stock will return then.

That's all for now.

29 August, 2013

Reaming, Facing, Tapping, and Threading

by Igor

So we delve into the world of frame preparation, mostly to answer questions we've had after Bruce Gordon's recent post about how some well known frames are delivered to the customer with no prep at all.

Back in the days of classic frames when you took delivery of your new frame it often had to go under the knife to fix alignment issues and other imperfections. It's almost impossible to build a steel frame that doesn't require some prep, though some are much better than others. The new owner would be expected to take the brand-new frame to a mechanics to ream and face the head tube to remove excess metal/paint so that the headset cups seated parallel to each other. The bottom bracket required the same process, in addition to cleaning up the threads of burrs and significant excess paint. The seat tube needed to have burrs removed in order to smoothly insert the seat post. Finally, dropouts required alignment to make sure the hub/rim/tires fit properly. This trend continued well into the 80s, especially with your super Italian racing bikes. Many frame builders assumed these preparations would be completed at the shop.

Our frames are made in what is possibly the best factory in Taiwan. A factory that truly puts quality construction first. The whole process of facing, reaming, tapping, and aligning are all done before the frame leaves the factory. Alignment is done on huge heavy duty machines and work tables that are very resistant to warping or going out of true. Even the best custom builders don't have access to tools like these.

On VO frames headsets can be pressed in, bottom brackets threaded, and seat posts installed without worry of burrs or cracked cups or improper alignment. What does this mean? It means that you, the customer, don't have to spend additional money on your frame, upwards of $75, purely for prep. To the shop, it means less time to build up the bike, and therefore less money spent on labor.

Frame tools at the VO shop.

Of course you can still have the frame prepped if you want. It's possible the frame has been damages in shipping or dropped, but in practice we almost never see that. And I'll bet the shop's tools are not as accurate as the factory's. It's up to you in the end whether you will sleep better at night if you have your frame prepped. So do you go through these steps when you take delivery of a new frame?

26 August, 2013

Black is the New Black

by Igor

Green is the New Black, but that was last week. Now black is the new black. We have samples of some components that we like to call our Noir line, for obvious reasons.

Our classic Grand Cru Long Setback Seatpost is now Noir. Still 27.2, still generous setback, and still super easy to adjust.

Next up is our Grand Cru Long Reach Brakeset. Still features our stiff CNC construction and adjustability, now it's Noir.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Grand Cru 1 1/8" Headset. Simple design and sealed cartridge bearings make for a smooth, confident ride.

Expect headsets later this Fall. Brakes and Seatpost early 2014.

So what should we Noir-ify next? Hubs? Pedals? Soap?

20 August, 2013

Green is the new black

by Scott

We've been selling the wonderful Tressostar cotton tape for a few years now and love it. This past spring, Chris and Casey were in Taiwan for the Taipei Cycle Show and happened past the Tressostar booth. There, much to their delight, they discovered a color that our US distributor did not have - Green. Darker then a celeste green, it can be described as an emerald green, a color reminiscent of Irish fields or the needles on a Douglas-fir tree.

C & C thought the color was great and brought back a sample for all of us to look at. We all thought it looked great and, since a green like this seems not to be available anywhere else, we ordered some to come to us direct from France. This took a bit longer than we had hoped - we missed the spring season when green is in bloom - but it is finally here.

Myself, I love green. I have green bits on my randonneur bike, and my touring bike is painted green. 
I love how the color green can both blend into places and also stand out. 

So I'm excited to have green tape to put on my bars. We tried out the tape with shellac on it to see how it turned out and the results are below (shellac'd on the left, untreated on the right)

Now up on the web store here

05 August, 2013

Savon de Marseille, tradtional French soap

Savon de Marseille, like Opinel knives, is a treasured part of French country life. It is an artisanal olive oil soap that's been made for some 600 years near Marseille using traditional methods and ingredients. The huge 1kg (2.2lbs) blocks were, and still are, often found next to farm, factory, and bike shop sinks, as well as in homes all over the French countryside.

Like Opinel knives, this soap is something that I have used for many years. I find that it cleans and moisturizes in a way that modern factory-made soaps don't. I use it for hands, body and hair. It doesn't have that strong chemical-like perfume of modern soaps; instead it is mildly scented with bay leaf. I also like that it doesn't leave skin feeling dry. It really is quite different from modern soap. 

The 1kg blocks last very very long time. But if you don't want that much we also stock it in 600gm (1.3lbs) blocks. I cut some into small bars, with a bread knife (my Opinel isn't big enough), for camping and travel. Keep spare blocks in a plastic bag so they don't dry out. There is more about Savon de Marseille and how it's made in this Wikipedia article.

01 August, 2013

Settled in our new digs

by Scott

We've been in our new warehouse and show room for almost six months, and we thought we would take the opportunity to show off the new space now that we have finished it.

Like most folks after a move, it took us a bit of time to get things settled in place.  Priority number one was getting the warehouse up and going and organizing all the new storage space for frames and such.  Our show room in our new space was more spacious than the old location, so initially we just moved some display/demo bikes into it along with some display shelves.

We'd wanted to make the showroom, well, prettier then our old space. To help give it a more rarified air, we had collected some old black and white prints of cycling in Europe from the 30's into the 60's. Adrian finished framing all our prints recently and we got our gallery set up on the walls of our design area.

She also framed some of the drawings that we sell, and we put them up around the wall of our showroom.

So now, with the framed prints and posters up, some more display units to show off lots of our products, and more light then we had before, the showroom is finally looking the way we had envisioned it when we laid out the floor plan out all those months ago.

If you're in the Annapolis/DC/Baltimore area, why not swing by and see our new space? Our show room is open Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 4:30 pm (we're closed on the weekends so we can go riding) at 1981 Moreland Parkway, Building 3, Annapolis, MD.

If you stop by any time until August 30th, we'll give you one of our VO posters
and a sticker to say thanks for dropping by.