26 May, 2016

Pierre In Real Life

by Igor

I'm usually the one behind the viewfinder, but since I'm the only moustachio'd gentleman here at VO, I was volunteered to be Pierre. #nophotoshop
Stickers and posters of Pierre enjoying life are available in the VO store.

Enjoy Life!

24 May, 2016

Raw Camargue PTB (Porteur Trail Bike)

Neo-retro PTB (porteur trail bike) build.
The PTB was built using a frame damaged during Casey's single track testing. Almost every part was a blemished, prototype, or returned part from our "yard sale" bin. The media blasting and clear powder coating was done by a local shop and looks great. But clear finishes aren't durable so the frame will develop surface rust soon; we'll just call it "patina".

A very complete build list:
Raw finish shows off neat brazing and welding typical of VO frames.
Prototype Herse-style stem that we won't be making because it's too heavy and expensive, but it does look so cool.
Low gearing for trails or city and Sabot pedals so we can ride in any shoes.
Hammered bell.
Distressed head badge
Derek runs out for pizza on the new shop bike.
Obligatory wine pic. This is VO, after all.
Shop/trail velo? Town and country? PTB? Surf and turf?
I really love this build. It could be one bike for everything. It's also great that it's easy to add fenders for winter. Anyone else ride a town and trail bike?

23 May, 2016

Raw Camargue Shredeur, MTB History Recreated

By Chris
Photos by Igor

Long before the boys in Marin county were inventing mountain bikes, French cyclists were riding and racing city bikes and porteur bikes on a motocross track and in the woods near Paris. Check out the antics of the VĂ©lo Cross Club de Paris in the video below.
So when we needed a theme for our new raw framed shop bike, we decided to imagine what mountain bikes would look like if they had descended from those early French velos.
Here is what we came up with. It's based on a prototype Camargue. We'll post some build pics tomorrow. The first ride photos are below.

20 May, 2016


by Scott

I'm not one of those natural tinkerers. I didn't take apart radios as a kid or try to figure out how a toaster worked.  My big achievement in the past was taking apart my espresso machine to put a new gasket in the steam wand. But I have always enjoyed working on bikes and taking care of my bikes.
My first job was working for a bike shop in suburban Vancouver. The owner had cycled across Canada and loved touring bikes, but was also smart enough to realize that in Vancouver in the mid to late 80's, mountain bikes paid the bills. Back then it was still cup and cone bottom brackets, 1 inch threaded headsets and thumb shifter's. All the bikes we sold were built up by us. We'd have 5 or 6 of us on hand on the busy summer days, each a combination bike mechanic and sales person. We'd get an order from the front of the shop and we'd build the bikes up, taking the BB apart and applying boat trailer grease instead of the Vaseline looking grease that the cups came with. Same thing with the headset, new grease packed in there and everything adjusted by hand, then handed over to the boss, who'd give it a whirl on the stand to check our work over, while talking to the new customer. After work, we'd hang out, working on our own bikes, rebuilding our bottom brackets or regreasing cables or using the shop degreaser to clean our chains and cassettes. All of us rode to work, in all weather, which in Vancouver meant rain at least one day a week. Throw in going off road on the weekends or week night rides in the winter, and the bikes took a lot of abuse. But it was fun to work away on my bike. We had good stands to work with, all the right tools to make it go easier and faster, plus my boss in the corner in case we ran into any trouble.
 (stolen from mtbr forum)
When I built up my Piolet last year, it certainly wasn't the same as when I built up my first MTB, a Rocky Mountain Hammer, back in 1988. The hubs are all sealed cartridge now, the headset and bottom bracket use cartridge bearings. I've been riding that Piolet as much as time and the weather here in Maryland will allow this winter. And yet, I'm not finding myself wishing that I could sit in the garage/shop and whittle away some hours repacking things. I've gotten older and have less spare time/free time to be able to look after that sort of thing now. Having cartridge bearings for the BB and headset means that I'll get the same level of performance now and in 5 years.

                                        (Scott's home made pen and pencil holder)

I'd say a good number of our customers are do it yourself'ers when it comes to bikes. Are you a DIY person when it comes to all things around the house and yard or are you more of a one specialty DIY person?

On another subject, should you want to install some nice, but inexpensive parts, then check what we've just added to the VO Specials Page.

16 May, 2016

Two Piolet Builds Plus a Proto 1x

by Igor

Our friends from Gravel and Grind in Frederick, MD built up a Piolet for a friend who works on a commercial tree farm. Be sure to check G&G out on instagram or stop in for a delicious pick-me-up.

"It's a big and rugged place with lots of rocks and pot holes where old trees were. She started riding her bike there as a way to stay warm in the winter when going to check on trees. She had an old ratty aluminum mountain bike, but her rad boss just approved this purchase. Mainly what she does is ride around with it, pruning stuff (hence the mad max saw scabbard which it'll have next week), inventorying stuff, tagging trees and things like that. She'll occasionally use it for real mountain biking and maybe some bike packing.

I built it with 9 speed thumbies set up friction because she hates maintenance, TRP brakes, 2.5 Maxxis DH tires for durability and mud clearance, and low gearing because the going there is rough and slow."

The Radavist put together a great photoset of a Piolet with a titanium cockpit, meaty tires, Klamper brakes, and double Mojave Cages.

Lastly, keen VO observers may have seen a silver 1x crankset on a previous blog post. We received a new sample which is beefier, smoother spinning, and has much better chain retention (thanks to a narrow-wide ring). Sorry, no full drive side photos; that's due to the VO Skunkworks division' rules. The red bottom bracket cups are growing on me and give a really nice contrast on the blue frame. What do you think?

12 May, 2016

News and Notes

By Chris

There's a lot going on here at VO World Headquarters.

These new 58mm fenders showed up. We might stock these in both alloy and stainless, or maybe just in alloy. Waddya think?
I've has been trying to turn a fishing creel into a handlebar bag. That's it with my tenkara rod-case underneath. I'll be bringin' home supper with this rig!
 My recent bike fishing trip went well.

Clint has just finished the drawings for the next generation Polyvalent. Once we finalize a few tooling details we'll have the first six prototypes made for testing and riding. Now comes the hard part: choosing the color. I'm thinking about trying contrasting panels for a change.
Igor is heading up a raw finish frame building project, partly as research, partly as art, and partly because it'll look really cool. It'll be our shop bike for awhile.

Clint built up his new Chumba frame, with a few VO bits: 0 Setback Seatpost, Sabot Pedals, 31.8 Stem, Rustines Gum Grips, and 2 special prototype items. I guess he got tired of single-tracking his Pass Hunter. Igor has a full album here.

Scott is checking over a new shipment of Rustines goods, including some cool new red caps. And we have Campy-style gum brake hoods again.

Clint and I made black burgers, black buns, black cheese, and purple potatoes for the VO staff last night. The color, and extra flavor, comes from squid ink.

11 May, 2016


I know we've been out of a lot of stuff lately, but we've just received a container of components and accessories. So many of our popular items are back in stock. We'll have another container here in two or three weeks with the rest.

Here's a list and links to some of stuff we've been short of.

28 April, 2016

Where Have All the Standards Gone?

by Igor

Here at VO World Headquarters, we may seem like retro-grouches because we make some frames with 1" threaded steerers and rim brakes. Oh yeah, we're also called retro-grouches for using 1 1/8" headsets and threaded bottom brackets on our other frames, go figure. But in fact we do try to stay up to date with new technologies and "standards," even if we don't and, more than likely won't, adopt them.
It's nice being a bit insulated from the mainstream bike culture, where we don't have to publicize incremental changes for the sake of gaining a fleeting sliver of online press from dark forum dwellers with pasty skin. Frequently, these changes are bad for business and brand image.

Here's a typical scenario: "Cool, [insert big company name here] released a new off-road bike! Looks pretty good, nice geometry. Wait. What the heck spacing is that? Proprietary? New standard? There are no existing wheels that will work with that bike except for [big company]'s. Guess I'm not buying that or suggesting it to anyone."
What does this mean for you? It means that you will have more difficult choices to make regarding what you want out of your bicycle, beyond its intended use, because each individual component is slightly different and susceptible to obsolescence between model years. You'll spend more time second guessing your decision if you should have held out for Boost 148, because you know, performance. It's a frustrating game where new standards are developed by different companies for the sake of perceived gains with no support or care for serviceability by the cyclist or even the shop. Unless you buy their updated toolset.

Don't get me started on bottom brackets. Did you know the solution for creaky, poorly fitting, press-fit bottom brackets is a threaded system? Guess we're ahead of the curve on that one!
Just because I like older style components and aesthetics doesn't mean I'm a luddite who jams wireless shifting signals or breaks carbon forks. I definitely can appreciate new technology and techniques if it means a genuinely better product.
As much as I fawn over fancy lugwork, TIG welding allows us to make frames with absolutely no compromise in performance or handling or quality. In fact they might perform a bit better since they're lighter. And we can do this with less tooling and labor resulting in a considerably lower price tag.

While not applicable for touring or rando bikes, electronic shifting is super nifty. You really need to try it to appreciate how ridiculously fast and easy it is to switch gears. Also, you can mix and match road and mountain drivetrains to fine tune a rider's needs.

I'm a big believer in 1x systems. They're dead simple, lightweight, with very reasonable gear ranges. They're perfect for a large audience from 'crossers, commuters, MTB'ers, and even credit card tourers.

Bicycle Industry: Cyclists are smart and do their homework. They know when you're trying to pull one over on them and they will tell you with their dollars...and forum posts.

20 April, 2016

Paint Blem and Display Frame Specials

We just put up two paint blemished framesets and an additional one that comes with a bunch of extras. They'll go fast!

15 April, 2016

VO Warehouse Sale Special Coupon Code

We've heard from many customers who'd love to take advantage of the great deals at the VO warehouse sale but who live too far away. It would be way too hard to put all the demo, display, returned, blemished, tested, etc, stuff on our web site. So we've created a special flash sale coupon code instead.

This code is gets you 20% off the regular retail price of everything on our site, except gift certificates and stuff that's already on sale. The code will only work from 9am till noon (Eastern time) tomorrow, April 16. But it will only work if you follow the steps below:
  • Add all of the products you want to your cart, just as you normally would.
  • Don't check out yet! Instead click on "My Cart" to review your products.

  • Enter the coupon code - YARDSALE - in the little "discount codes" box in the shopping card page, as in the screenshot below.
  • Click on "Apply Coupon".

  • Check out as you normally would and enjoy your savings! That's all there is to it!
Virtual warehouse doors lock at precisely noon, Eastern time, Saturday.