Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Azor Apples vs. Velorbis Oranges

Stephen from the wonderful Dutch Bike Co. Seattle explains some fundamental differences between the two in a comment. I'm going to see if Velorbis can provide their perspective on this as well so I can post it:

"There are some distinct functional differences between the Velorbis and the Azor Opa, as well as some huge subjective differences in the way they ride and handle. They are two very different bikes that have a similar look.

The Velorbis has 26" tires, a chrome moly frame and steep frame angles, which translates into faster acceleration, quicker steering and overall a "springier" ride. The Velorbis rear rack is a light duty rack on which you will not be able to carry your friends (for very long) or (Alex's proverbial) 50 lb bag of dog food. Everything about the Velorbis is lighter and sportier (you are leaned forward a bit) and feels more like the performance of most of the bikes we are used to buying in the USA.

The Azor Opa and all the Azor bikes are equipped with 28" tires, a high tensile steel (less springy than chrome moly) frame and relaxed frame angles. They are slow to accelerate, ride like a Cadillac (you are sitting absolutely upright) are extremely stable and can easily haul a boyfriend or girlfriend or dog food and beer on the burly welded steel rack.

I love both bikes, because they are so different. One feels like a sports car the other like a luxury car. The Velorbis (with balloon tires) inspires me to want to race people on skinny tired bikes and careen down stairwells. The Opa (or Transport) inspires me to want to cruise and slow my life down (why are all these people on other bikes bent over and in such a hurry?). The Scrap and the Churchill are exactly the same frames (geometry and components) save for cosmetics and tire options. The Azor Secret Service (because it is a bit lighter and sportier) bridges the gap between the Velorbis and other more burly Azor models.

You are choosing between apples and oranges."


ehouse said...

I originally voted for the Churchill Velorbis Classic mostly due to cosmetic reasons. It also appears to be the easier decision because it could arrive with the other "gift" bike in a week and a half.
However, after reading Stephen's comment it seems that the Azor Opa may be more what you are looking for in terms of rider positioning (sitting upright) and the slow pace attitude it could inspire. You would also not need to veganize it.

I now feel the dilemma within this saga.

Is ordering the Azor Opa from Seattle and the Balloon from Massachusetts an energy cost we can't offset in some way?

Michael said...

ehouse - good question... I'm not only thinking about the carbon footprint, but also thinking about how much of the money is going into the bike purchase vs. shipping... If i order from Seattle, I'm paying $345 for shipping. If I buy 'locally,' there is no shipping charge, every dollar spent is going into the bike purchase.

hank said...

for the record, the azor is the orange, and the velorbis is the apple.

aLex said...

hey, michael. those brooks components have to be close to $200, no? so, is the money you don't spend on shipping really going "into the bike purchase?"

what does your gut say?

Michael said...

lol - hank, just because you're orange....

no fruit predjudice intended, it's just impossible for me to resist alliteration...

Michael said...

Alex - wow, you really know your bike components!

I was offered a $200 reduction in the price of the 7 speed Churchill Classic for a vegan Velorbis version....

(see what I mean about the alliteration...)

So, I could actually get the Churchill for less than the total cost of the Opa.

But don't despair - whichever bike I choose now, this won't be the last Dutch/Danish bike purchase...

aLex said...

ah, got it. i'm glad you're not losing $ on those brooks components. btw, hank was stocked with a brown brooks saddle; i wanted a black one, but it was backordered at the brooks warehouse. so, stephan put a black lepper saddle on hank with a promise to ship the brooks black saddle when it came in. after two days on the lepper, i told dutch bike co. seattle to hold onto the brooks. i love the lepper saddle.

another consideration - dollars into a bicycle do not mean components out. for example, if one compares the electra gigi cruiser ($540) with the jamis commuter 3.0 ($550), the dollars spent on the latter bicycle went into components. for some of their bicycles, electra puts more dollars into design and paint versus components. bicycle buyers can sometimes spend less and actually get a better frame and components.

i am not saying that this comparison holds water for your decision, but assuming that putting more dollars into a bicycle equals a better bicycle is not always the case. some bicycle companies spend more money on those "invisibles" to consumers, such as design, marketing, etc. it costs money to get a brand out there ...

you're doing all the right things - comparing components, asking ?s of owners, and evaluating your uses. while i am pulling for the azor ('cause that was your first "love" and i love mine), i truly want you to have no regrets after this decision. (and i'm not talking about your d'mn snack.)

Michael said...

Alex - What would I do without blogging friends like you to keep me in check!? : )

These are great points you bring up...

I think that in this case, I would have to say that the Nexus hub and the SRAM hub are equally good components. The lights on the Velorbis seem to be a higher quality, but that's not a big deal. The Dynamo and roller brakes are both in the hubs, so that's about even as well.

Then it comes down to the frame Hi-Ten vs. Chromoly... What do you think?

And the rack, which I understand isn't as heavy duty on the Velorbis.

Take a look at the Velorbis spec sheet for the Chruchill Classic and let me know if you see anything that might be a potential issue.
I'll link to the spec sheet in a new post for you...

Bob in Baton Rouge said...

I just ordered the Velorbis Churchill Balloon from and they happily swapped out the standard, black, Schwalbe "Fat Frank" tires with the cream colored ones, which are standard on the Scrap Deluxe-- Dan at dutchbikes calls this config the "Black and Tan."

I've been riding a Specialized Sirrus Comp for the last three years-- initially sold as a hybrid, but fitted with drop bars. It's a great bike, peppy and solid, but sadly not very comfortable for lazy rides around the lakes, critical mass, biking to the grocery or commuting to work. The thin tires, stiff frame and springless road saddle beautifully translate every bump on the road into all 220 pounds of me. The rear rim has only 32 spokes, and I think I've broken half of them. The only way I can approach an upright position is with the tips of my fingers on the hoods. To compound things, I replaced the platforms pedals with SPDs-- which I very much like for long rides-- making the bike feel less accessible for quick trips to the grocery or around the neighborhood while I scrounge for my riding shoes. In a nut, I don't have the bike I really want.

In the last two years I have been wanting to build up a steel frame touring bike and since I had the opportunity to ride a Thorn Raven with the Rohloff hub, I knew I wanted something similar. I wanted upright seating, less aggressive geometry, internal geared hub, hight quality components and finishing touches. I couple of weeks ago I test rode a pair of Schwalbe Big Apple tires and was extremely surprised with the comfort and the added stability.

It was difficult to accept that building up a bike can easily become more expensive than buying one complete-- especially if you're not willing to compromise on certain features, which I wasn't. The things I absolutely want in a bike are:

Chromoly, classic "safety triangle" frame (no MTB, beach cruiser or aggressive geometry racing)
Internally geared hub with at least 7 gears
Geometry for truly upright seating
Clearance for balloon tires (specifically the Schwalbe Big Apple or Fat Frank) with fenders

I was pretty surprised that I was having a difficult time finding a frame that could accommodate all of the above-- the biggest hitch was the clearance for the balloons.

So, I was very excited to come across several Dutch style bikes just now becoming available in the US that could deliver what I want. Oh yes, the price is more that I anticipated, but not wanting to compromise, I'm not left with a lot of choices.

I can't wait until mine arrives..!

Michael said...

Bob - thanks for sharing your bike finding adventure!

I think you'll be thrilled with the Velorbis, it's a really solid, well made bike, and a pleasure to ride.

Let us know how it goes!