What's Cool In Road Cycling

VELLUM Review: New Company “Edges” In…

Now that Pez has a fair sized audience, we get email and calls from all sorts of new companies. About 30% of the email gets us excited (of course only 5% of that is cycling related). While it wasn’t Porn, the email from the cyclists at Vellum about their new “Edge” was sexy enough…

Vellum are definitely not one of the “Old Guard” in manufacturing, but they’ve been in the business for lots of years running a bike shop and longer still pedaling around in skinny clothes. Most bike crazy folks have chirped from the cheap seats about how we could design a bike, but rather than simply talk, Vellum founders Chris Aldeguer and Michael Flores decided to do something about it. Aided by all of the things they’ve seen right and wrong while working on their own and others bikes, they set to work building the contacts and gathering the info needed to get in the business and “POOF” Vellum cycles was born… (Note that “poof” is relative to your ability to secure proper funding…)

With market penetration already handled in Europe and across Asia, Vellum decided to get cracking in North America. Their North American head peddler-peddler Frank Gatdula decided that 06 – 07 was the right time and that Pez was the right place to roll out their “Edge”.

Click the thumbnail above for the biggie size Pic

Vellum have been working for quite a while getting the hang of transferring things from their brain to paper and into production. They have chosen Carbotec as their manufacturer (as have some of the very TOP names in cycling), and that’s created a very good working combination that allows some fresh thinking and experienced production to create the new brand.

That said, Vellum don’t just assume that their choice of raw materials and shapes are suitable. The torture chamber for the bikes is well past what normal rpad conditions will throw at a properly produced frame and fork combination. Carbotec puts all the designs through several different load tests before a road test is accomplished. The tests will include pedal force resistance…

Note, we blocked a bit out as their test gear is a little sensitive, as are the names of a few frames in the back ground that a few Euro brands would rather not have you see…

And they test for several load bearing and torsion resistance capabilities as well as impact testing…

Not many ass’s have that kind of lard load!

And Carbotec are also working actively to improve on what Vellum have now. I like that they’re not afraid to let a picture or two out of the factory for something as simple as 07 seat stays that will pop up at this years Interbike.

But of course my tech weenie side has strayed off course, so back to what we nailed down this year…

The Edge.

If you scroll back up to the top, you’ll note that the Edge is a pretty sweet looking bike with a nice, not over the top, paint job that gives it a little accent. What I like about this is that the paint and the design of the Edge actually hide some of the details and keep things pretty conservative. I love some of the new and functional shapes of modern Carbon, but I like that Vellum serve up the Edge in a cover scheme that downplays some of the shapes too, as not everyone loves the bold curvy designs as much as I do (within reason).

On first glance, you notice a reserved shape of the head tube and a little arch in the top tube…

But the paint lines let a fairly substantial bulge hide just enough that closer inspection is required to pick up on the fact that the top tube carries a bit more material where needed to resist twist, before tapering off. Yes you could manipulate wall thickness and fiber direction and leave the tube round and still accomplish most of the mechanical properties, but a little wiggle to the shape is nice and not over the top.

That theme is repeated not only in the bottom bracket area, where another bulge is hidden by the white paint accent…

It is also used to keep a lot of the shaping in the rear end from seeming to be anything more than fairly straight. Taking a quick look, you might note the seat tube dent for the rear wheel…

But you probably missed fairly substantial humps in the seat stays that hide under a bright red accent.

The seat stays are also a bit more fat when looking belly up, as the accent colors hide that a bit too.

Flipping the bike upside down also shows a bit more meat in the Chain stays than is noticeable from the normal view…

…and a belly shot is also required to get a peak at the extra material that creates a bit of a gusset for the down tube head tube joint.

Looking at the bottom bracket, or at the head tube gusset might lead you to believe that these joints are lugs that have tubes inserted and are then over-wrapped. The front triangle is what Vellum call a Monocoque.

Now the term “monocoque” as used by LOTS of bike manufacturers, implies that there is a benefit to the lack of joints in a single unit (as relates to strength or weight or booth). What I can’t figure out is why, it’s still a monocoque simply because you bond all the joints around seperate preformed tubes at once? (note Vellum don’t cheat this way)

Anyhoo, it’s not the type of coque’, it’s, erm, how you use it. And if there’s one thing my phellow countrymen know how to use it’s [Ed: OK, this stops here].

Rather than bonding material around three sperate preformed tubes, Vellum lay out the resin impregnated carbon in the right amounts and directions and then form the entire front triangle at one time by pressurizing and heating the mold. That’s a single-unit pretty darn Monocoque front Triangle. The Edge is then mated with Araldite AV119 bonded seat and chain stays. (So that’d be a triple Mono…)

Vellum use a couple of different grades of carbon, laid in different directions to try and optimize performance. We have pictures, but we can’t show em…

Ride it

All above said and shown, the bike it’s self is best described as very neutral feeling.

74 degree’s at the seat tube is a good spot for me (fit is a personal thing though, so do your own homework). That’s forward enough that a zero set back post should allow the more “forward” folks to live without slamming a saddle too far ahead on their seat rails and allow for the “way back” folks to get by with any number of set back seat post options available. In fact, FSA’s spread of set backs comes to mind as they cover a great range and, more important for some, match the color…

72 degree’s for the head tube makes steering none to quick, and the combination of angles is a little interesting, but not aimless. They wanted a bike that was light and had a descent gas pedal, but wasn’t nervy. Interesting choice in naming the this bike the “Edge” as I never felt like I was literally riding on …

The bike is also very middle of the road flex, stiffness and vibration wise. It’s a GREAT bike to feel wheel sets on, as (when running same tire PSI) Ksyriums have you feeling a bit rough, Zipp 303’s a little smoother and certainly quicker and American Classics Magnesium wheels brought out a much smoother ride. You could also feel the better tracking and less flex of the Ksyriums too.

All in all it’s a tilt toward performance more than pure comfort with the Edge. The bike tracks very well and the stiffness is good. The bike doesn’t rival the Scott CR1 for stiffness to weight (few things do), but it’s also a touch more stable feeling and for some, that will mean a more relaxed ride experience.

It’s a very solid build spec and I believe Vellum want their bikes to be around for a while. The finish is good and the solid feel in hand or on road is reassuring. Their Seat binder bolt set is a nice example, as it’s set to work well and take a bit more of a beating…

I know that’s a trivial part, but for the hoards of you that have broken that bolt or pinch crushed a carbon post, you’ll know it’s the little touches that speak to what the manufacturer is bringing to market.

Vellum don’t seem to want to have a bike that is in one way or another “off the charts”. The weight is low but not through the floor… The build is solid but not heavy. The Geometry leans to a neutral feel. All of this make for a heck of a bike that manages to simply make me feel at ease. In a time when most manufacturers want to work to extremes, Vellum simply don’t seem to like the sacrifices that come with that and have built a nice all rounder.

Frame and fork and head set sell for $2495, keeping them well below the top of the range in price. This is certainly upper middle of the road in ride, weight and feel and that’s right where the dollars sit as well.

Vellum will look to expand this year and will run head long into Interbike (booth 261) and would love to see a few pokes around on their new website found at VELLUMCYCLES.COM

Give em a click!

Have Fun.
Charles Manantan

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