Behind the frame – This is how we built the VOTEC VRC
The VOTEC VRC is more than just a normal bike. Together with our developer Rafael Hoffleit, we talk about smart design solutions and where around Heidelberg the VRC is most fun.
The VRC is our road bike with that certain something. Made for everything from classic passes, to back roads and sometimes even gravel. It’s our bike for B-Roads and therefore also has the potential to let a lot of dust gather on the other bikes that are left in your basement. You can find out more about this unique versatility and the wide range of applications here.
The details of the frame
The most striking design feature of the VRC is the characteristic VR-node. The design of the seat post revolutionizes the concept of the seat clamp: If the screws are loosened, the clamp remains on the post and not on the frame. The resulting advantage is immense as when the bike is assembled after transport, neither the height nor the alignment of the seat post have to be readjusted.
And that’s not all about this feature: “The deeper saddle clamp, the seat stays that merge directly into the top tube and the combination with the classic 27.2mm seat post bring more comfort to the saddle” says product manager David Meyer. The attachment of the derailleur also strikes as a smart detail. The derailleur mount is hidden in a specially designed pocket and comes without additional bonding. For One-By drives there is an elegant solution without derailleur attachment to ensure a clean form fit with the seat tube. Generally, in the design of the attachments, the threads were put into the components themselves and not in the frame.
The same practical perfectionism also continues with the attachment parts. Thus, for mounting the front and rear wheel, Mavic Speed Release thru axles are used, which allow a faster wheel removal and remain in the wheel, as known from conventional quick releases.
Interview with the designer Rafael Hoffleit
To get a better understanding of the concept behind the VRC and to especially look into the details, the secret views and the process, we met with the designer of the VRC, Rafael Hoffleit. Rafael is THE expert in Germany when it comes to high quality carbon constructions and we are a bit proud to have him on board for this project.
Hey Rafael, which premises guided you in designing the frame?
At the beginning there was a very clear briefing from the client and with the briefing we established the basic pillars. We wanted to create a very versatile and variable bike. A bike that at first glance scores with understatement and where all the thoughtful details reveal themselves in use. A bike that seems almost timeless, and yet is designed to tackle all challenges. Therefore, it was important for me to implement a very classic design with clear nodes. So now the VRC looks very elegant and balanced from the side, rather less aggressive, perhaps almost narrow-shouldered. But when you sit on it, the robust and stable character is revealed.
What small hidden details can be found on the VRC?
When it comes to details, we have to differentiate between design and technology. As already mentioned, the design is very straightforward, very classic. There are 30° visual axes both from the rear and from the front, which overlap very excitingly and in which the seat post and fork area are highlighted. The transition from the headset to the fork is kept fluid and still, 35mm tires fit in easily. The looks is very integrated and reduced. We deliberately chose not to fully integrate the cables but instead realized a triple port. The clamp of the seat post is also special: I lowered it a bit for more comfort and moved the clamp to the seat post. This is visually attractive, but above all it is practical when you load your bike into a car. The height and orientation of the saddle are fixed and you don’t have to adjust it again and again. What is also really great is the possibility to install customized mudguards and that we didn’t install any unnecessary threads in the frame – we tried to reduce this as much as possible.
How can I imagine the process of this frame design?
For me it’s always a mixture of design and engineering process. I start with sketchy ideas and then quickly turn them into a CAD model on the computer. The I build the first models myself, adapt the CAD model and create a 3D print. This process can be repeated a few more times and then the calculations, tests and 3D prints create the final result. As I already said, the concept and many details are sketchy at the beginning and then I work on them and refine them on the computer.
Which kind of rider did you have in mind during this process – who should ride it?
That’s actually what I really love of this concept and this assignment: In my opinion the target group is as wide as possible. The bike is so versatile, it ranges from a classic racing bike to endurance. That gave me all the freedom to develop this one bike for everyone.
You live and work in Heidelberg – an exciting place for the VRC. What role does this city play in your work?
The location had a particularly strong influence on this concept and, to be honest, the briefing and VOTEC’s approach were also a reason why I accepted this job. Heidelberg has a lot of water, mountains and the plain to France. We are spoiled by the sun, have urban life, culture and also a very varied natural and cultural area on our doorstep. The VRC combines this versatility and variability – also the straightforwardness and elegance that Heidelberg represents. And above all, the understatement.
Thanks for your time, Rafael! Can you suggest the perfect VRC-route in Heidelberg?