28 October, 2011

Designing New Pedals

We've been thinking about the possibility of making Grand Cru pedals these past few weeks. Our idea is for two versions. The first is a double sided pedal with a large platform almost like a BMX pedal, but with great bearings. The second is a single sided version with a flip tab intended primarily for use with toe clips, but designed for street shoes rather than stiff-soled bike shoes.

We want them to be reasonably light, not desperately expensive, and with very long-lasting bearings. We've explored the idea of a spindle with three sealed bearings and another with a combination of needle bearings and sealed bearings. A grease port is another feature we're looking at. Maybe something like a super-premium version of the VO touring pedal.

What would your ideal pedal be like? Single sided or double? Is it worth paying more for a super-durable bearing system or is it better to just keep re-building cheaper loose bearing pedals. And do you find quill-style pedals uncomfortable with street shoes?

Also, please see the update to the last post for the winner of the brake name contest.

26 October, 2011

New Brakes, Name Needed

These are our new low profile brakes. They have a really long lever arms for amazing stopping power. Remember the old Mafac tandem brakes, these are like a low profile version with a lot more adjustment. The same basic design is being used on some European pro-racer's cross bikes. We think they are perfect for loaded touring, tandems, or for really big riders.

Unlike V-brakes, they use regular brake levers. So you can use your favorite classic levers or non-classic brifters. They have tension adjustment screws and a straddle wire adjuster. They even have slots so you can move the pads up-and-down about 15mm. And they come with toe-in adjustable pads.

About the only feature they lack is a good name. If you come up with the name we use we'll offer you a $100 VO gift certificate. Put your suggestion in a comment, but remember to use your name so we can identify the winner.

BTW, the high profile Grand Cru MK2 brakes are not being discontinued. In fact, they've been selling so well that we ran out again.

Update: Thanks for all the great suggestions. It took a lot of time and more than a few laughs to make a choice. Eventually we picked "Zeste" as in "Velo Orange Zeste". Greg,  please send us an e-mail so we can issue your gift certificate.

20 October, 2011

A Clever Light Mount

Calvert sent us this photo of a rather clever use for a VO handlebar to bottle cage mount. The photo explains it perfectly. I might add that with a VO or Nitto rack you could screw it to the light boss and eliminate the p-clamp. LED flashlights seem to be getting better and better and also cheaper. It might be time to finally resurrect the long discontinued VO flashlight mounts.
Anyone else have clever hacks to share?

18 October, 2011

27" Wheels and Measuring Brake Reach

We get occasional requests for 27" rims or wheels. It wouldn't be hard for us to make 27" rims, but I don't think it's a good idea. Converting old 27" bikes to 700c is simple and almost always my preference.

A bit of background; 27" wheels were used mostly on American market mid and lower-range production bikes. There are some exceptions, but top-end frames with 27" wheels are relatively rare. The popularity of 27" wheels waned in the late '70s or early '80s when 700c became the near-universal road bike size. Today there are few choices of good quality 27" rims or tires and I don't know of a single new bike that still uses that size. The main reason to switch to 700c is to gain access to many more high quality tires and rims in more widths. 700c rims and tires are available in almost any bike shop anywhere in the world. You'll also gain a bit of extra tire or fender clearance.

These two wheel sizes are actually very close. 27" wheels have a bead seat diameter of 630mm, while 700c wheels are 622mm. That's only a 8mm difference in diameter or a 4mm difference in brake reach. This makes conversions simple.
A 27" wheel hiding behind a 700c rim
First check to see that your brake pad slots, both front and rear, have 4mm of room for downward adjustment. On many bikes conversions are simply a matter of installing wheels with 700c rims and adjusting the brake pads. But if the frame/brake combination does not allow sufficient downward adjustment you'll need brakes with longer reach. Since the brakes on most 27"-wheeled bikes are marginal, it would be wise to replace them in any case. Old single-pivot side-pulls are pretty weak in comparison to modern dual-pivot brakes. Even the famed Campy Record calipers can't compare to modern brakes such as the modestly priced Tektros.

If your brakes don't have sufficient adjustment the first thing to do is determine how much reach is required. Brake reach is simply the distance from the center of the brake bolt to the center of the brake pad. Since the pads can be adjusted up and down the reach for the brake is given as a range. Short reach brakes typically have a reach of 39-49mm, long reach is 47-57mm, and extra long is 55-73mm; always go by the actual reach specs, not by the nomenclature.
Brake reach
It's easy to determine the required brake reach. Simply measure the distance from the brake bolt hole to the center of the rim's brake surface as shown below
Determining required brake reach
So far I've written about caliper brakes, but there are some 27" touring bikes with cantilever brakes which typically don't have much adjustment. You can usually switch to Tektro CR720 brakes, which have about 12mm of adjustment, for conversions. I say "usually" because some bike companies were rather casual about correct canti-boss placement.

When converting you can either buy rims and lace them to your existing hubs or buy new wheels. With the availability of VO Raid and PBP rims you can retain the classic look of polished rims. We also offer a 126mm spaced freewheel rear wheel and a matching front that are perfect replacements for many bikes. 

I'm sure that there are some who will want to keep their bikes as original as possible. For a high-end production or custom frame that you view as more of a collectible than a user, this makes sense. Otherwise I would get a second set of 700c wheels for riding and keep the originals for display.

11 October, 2011

A Few Things

VO sells a lot of fenders and gets a lot of questions about installing them. We've updated the fender instructions, both the paper and on-line versions.

It's pumpkin season again. Get one that fits in your porteur rack.
We'll have these great looking new Dia Compe ENE micro-ratchet shifters in stock in a few months. They will be available in both bar-end and downtube version. We think they are the nicest shifters produced today.
I ran into Chuck from Velo-Retro at Interbike. His company offers reprints of old bike catalogs as well as some cool t-shirts, and musettes. Worth a visit.

07 October, 2011

Maxi Kits, Wheels, and Pepe

The Polyvalent maxi build kits are back in stock and have been selling fast. The maxi kit includes:
  • A Polyvalent frame set
  • Grand Cru seat post
  • Tektro CR-720 brakes
  • Cable hangers for the brakes
  • Grand Cru sealed bearing headset
  • Grand Cru Touring Wheels
  • Zeppelin 58mm fenders
  • Porteur Handlebars or course handlebars. Your choice.
  • VO quill stem
  • Polyvalent crankset
  • Grand Cru bottom bracket
  • Headset & bottom bracket installation, if you want
  • Any other components ordered at the same time are 10% off. 
Rando maxi build kits are also back.

We have 650b wheels again. They are built with the Grand Cru touring hubs and Diagonale rims. Front and rear (in both 130mm and 135mm spacing) are available.

Most other wheels are back in stock, including our fixed and touring 700c wheels.

This is a photo of Robert unloading the wheel truck with our new pallet-stacker. It's like a muscle powered forklift. We call him Pepe, our little mule (the pallet-stacker, not Robert). We'd been borrowing a forklift from Chesapeake Light Craft, but felt we finally needed our own. Instead of getting a carbon spewing LPG powered forklift we got Pepe. It's actually a pretty good quad workout pumping that pedal to raise the forks. So Robert may still spew a fair bit of carbon.

06 October, 2011

Polyvalent Print Ads

We're working on a print ad for the Polyvalent. Here are our top three versions. Which one do you like best? Or do you have a better idea?

Come to think of it, should we even bother with this? Some of us think that VO should only advertise online.  Ten years ago I read about 20 magazines and two newspapers. Today I read all periodicals on line (but still prefer paper books). Is print advertising still worthwhile or are we just wasting trees?

"The Book of Touring Bicycle" and Velocraft

Here are a few pages from the Japanese publication "The Book of Touring Bicycle". Many thanks to Kentaro Tsuchihashi of M's Bicyclette for arranging this and sending us a copy. Kentaro-san writes:
In this magazine, the publisher introduced Mr.Otsuki. Mr.Otsuki is the store manager of 'Velocraft'.The 'Velocraft' is one of the famous touring bike shop in Japan and Mr.Otsuki is the technical adviser and business partner for my company 'M's Collection'. He is very enthusiastic to Velo Orange products.