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Vision Orion Review

Stevbike writes from Canada about cycling and innovative bikes.

The bike when it was bought new just outside of the store.

The bike when it was bought new just outside of the store.

Vision Orion Road Bike: My First Thoughts

I have not had a store-bought road bike in some time. I got an early birthday present in August of 2009. It was a budget-priced road bike from Zellers. The bike represents some of the riding I was doing a decade ago. I like a properly fitted bike and this one was a great fit for me. I am going into some detail about how this inexpensive bike has held up over the 2 years I have been riding it.

I was surprised by the fact that this company built a road model at all in this time when mountain bikes are the main bike design used by the public. Seeing an affordable version really took me by surprise.

Bike Design

The bike design represents the newest in what the cycling industry has to offer in frame design. The frame is designed around an oversized oval-shaped down and top tube. This results in a very stiff frame set. The rear stays tube diameters larger in size when compared to the older chrome-moly and steel-framed bikes.

The bike I got uses a 50 cm frame made of 6061 aluminum tubing. Being a cheaper machine, the weight is not super light. It is a reasonable weight though. I figure that it weighs in at about 27 lbs range. The components are low-end basic parts but they work OK on the bike.

The seat tube angle is set at a steep angle of 73 degrees. This places the rider more over the booth bracket. My older Norco road bike had a seat post at seat post set at a slightly more relaxed angle. As to the fit I have read about various methods used. One person wrote that the frame size was not a big deal. It is important to maintain a safe stand-over height for the rider. I think that it is important to have this clearance for safe bike handling.

Brake detail picture.

Brake detail picture.

Bike Mechanics

The rear chainstay is 16.5 inches long. Although it is short, it is on the long side for a road bike. Combined with the short wheelbase, there is a point where toes and tires meet at the same spot. If you are pedaling and turning at the same time, this can become a problem. The bike did have a run-in with a parked car so the forks had to be set back in place as close to factory spec as possible. This affected this problem to make it a little worse than originally started out. The bike itself regained the original feel from before the incident.

The bike's shifters are just entry-level base but they allow good shifting for the gears. The bike uses a 14-speed gearing. The rear gear clutter uses a 7-speed cluster. The gearing range is from 28 to 14 gear teeth. The front gearing is 52/ 42 gear teeth. The solid frame means the energy placed into the pedaling gives a great ride feel. Maintaining speeds in the high 20 kph/ low 30 kph is no problem in ideal conditions.

The brake levers use the cables that are placed within the handlebar tape. This makes for a neater set-up than the loose cables that stick out on top of the brake assembly. The brakes themselves look a lot like the older side pull design but use two pivot points on the brake assembly. The main pivot is in the center, while the brake and the second point are on the far side of the cable mounting point. This allows stronger braking action.

The shifters are mounted on the handlebar and use plastic thumb levers. SIS shifting is only used on rear gearing; a friction shifter lever is used on the front gear shifter. The location of the shifters makes it hard to mount an aero bar. The wheels are also on the budget low-cost side but have worked well. They are holding their shape well. The bike itself is painted in bright yellow and black. It sticks out in a crowd. I nick-named it “The Bee”.

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The steering tube is set at 74 degrees. The forks are designed as straight blades rather than the older classic curved design. They are angled out slightly to create a trail in the steering. This method replaces the older method of curving the fork. The ride quality is stiff. The effective trail of the bike is 2.13 inches. This keeps the bike feeling very stable. The steering is very light and responsive. The handlebars are 16 inches wide and are a good match for my shoulder width. The size of the handlebar ends is a larger size. They fit me fine as well. As with the stem, this is another item that should be looked at for being replaced if it does not match the rider’s needs. At this price point, I would expect this will not be done.

There is some small detailing on the base bike that does not work well in its stock form. The stem that was originally installed on the bike was 110 mm in size. I found this too long for me. It was changed over to a 100 mm stem. Once this was one, the feel of the bike improved greatly. The spacer that was on the bike stem had to be replaced by two new smaller spacers for proper fit.

The system used to mount the handlebar to the bike is a threadless type. I first used this on a mountain bike I bought in 2001. I like this system a lot. It makes for easier maintenance on the bike. It allowed me to change over the road bike handlebar without taking apart the tape and brake lever assemblies. In fact, I took the old stem off in a bike shop and replaced it with the new one in about 15 minutes.

The Vision Orion's Key Specs

  • Wheel Base - 39"
  • Frame size - 50 cm (20")
  • Frame Tubing - 6061 Aluminum tubing
  • Hubs - Joyride
  • Tires - Innova 700 by 25c
  • Rims - LP18 Weismann Safety Line 700 by 23c
  • Rear Drive Train Sprocket - 28 to 14 gear sprockets, 7 gear cluster
  • Front Gearing - 52/ 42 chain ring on an Alloy 5 point threaded spider
  • Crank Arm Length - 170 mm, alloy arms
  • Bottom Bracket - Sealed type bearings
  • Gear Shifters - Shimano Light Action handlebar-mounted type, SIS rear shifter, friction only front shifter
  • Chain derailleurs - Shimano front and rear base model type

Manufacturing Information

Design Group: A. Monda and Son / Alexkosal- Marg Cain

Designed in Canada, Vancouver, BC/ Built in China

The bike in 2010 after one year of use.

The bike in 2010 after one year of use.

Final Thoughts

The bike is a low-end model and is not seen as a great bike by some. For what I was using it for it has worked out well. It makes for a good starter or backup bike. The odd mix of factory-equipped parts like the stem would make it hard to fit. Unless one is willing to buy replacement parts like the stem one would not be happy with it long term. Some of the comments I had when using it was that it looked more expensive than it was.

At least the stem is one item that should be replaced to get the bike to fit the rider better. The seat could be looked at as well. These sometimes need to be replaced to let the rider feel better when on the road. Given how it has lasted for two years now makes it a good basic bike. They are no longer being sold new unless stores are still having them in stock. Used models come up on the internet.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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