By Andrew Reimann

Putting the Pro in Prototype

In 2015, Von Hof Cycles entered the international scene. Our bikes were tested and ridden around the world in some of the most brutal conditions. This spring, we are using this momentum for big changes ahead.

For starters, we are rebranding our image. While our current logo is wrought with European flair and tradition, we felt it necessary to enliven our roots. We are a small-batch, Hoboken cycling company with products handbuilt in the United States. While the details of this rebranding will be revealed over the next month, we wanted to start showing off our new product that has been literally years in the making, and very near and dear to our hearts: our women’s specific road bike.

Is it an expanded line from our Men's Road bikes? Absolutely not. High quality material like Columbus Spirit was important to us, and the ability for the frame to accept high performance bottom brackets and tapered forks was vital. However, beyond that, we didn't look at our current geometry and shrink it down. We only wanted to keep a top-level performance do-it-all road bike, and we knew that didn't necessarily mean taking shortcuts by shaving tube lengths down with simple math.

The challenges present in designing high performance frames were well-written about last week, designer/engineer/reporter/cycling community builder Anna Schwinn, who published an article in Bicycle Times that should be considered required reading for all cyclists. She pinned down a large amount of concerns that have been on our minds for a while (and more eloquently than we could have said).

We want to reiterate a few of the dilemmas of stock bicycles that she pointed out. Modern drivetrains are based around a 700c wheel and a chainstay length equal to or greater than 400-405mm. Crunching this center-to-rear measurement, with a smaller wheel like a 650c, results in less-than-ideal shifting performance.

Simply shrinking a men’s or unisex 700c bike is also wrought with problems, most notably (but not only) the issue of toe overlap. A common solution to this is to slacken the head tube and install a fork with an increased rake. One of our serious concerns with this solution is that it limits the options for performance forks, especially with respect to our tapered head tubes, which is a forward-looking design that we refused to sacrifice.

As we mentioned, these were all concerns on our minds for a while. The current solution as it is posed, is that riders looking for a performance-based geometry should go to a custom frame builder. While we love completely custom frames, particularly those built in the USA, we know there is a large financial investment that will not suit all or many riders.

After years of planning, along with analyzing some of the lessons that can be learned from full custom bikes, as well as months of design work and listening to athletes in the Mid-Atlantic, we’re excited today to present the first teasers of our prototypes we’ve been riding.

While the color and the “devil in the details” for the small-batch lineup are being finalized as we speak, we have to say that we do have an affinity for the prototype "black ice" color. In any case, we promise to keep the butterflies where they belong: off the frame and in a cyclist’s pre-ride gut. We’re striving to continue to bring the Columbus Spirit tubing to life, and offer complete models with components that match the performance of the frame. We’ll keep you posted, but for now we are expecting a fun month ahead.