19 October, 2016

Frame Freebies and The Philly Bike Expo

by Clint

Surprise!  We've got a frame promotion for ya.  For the next week, if you buy a frame, we'll include a free headset and seatpost.  Just use the build kit option in the frames page.  These build kits are still eligible for the 10% discount on other parts; that means you get 10% off any other parts ordered at the same time.  The frame freebies deal will be available until 10-28-16 11:59 pm EST, retail customers only.

We're clearing out a few more blemished frames we have sitting around.  All cosmetic blemishes.  Fully functional frames.  Take advantage of the discounts and build up a frame!  We even have a few Camargue frames coming out of hiding.  I think a flat bar, single speed Camargue would make a fantastic winter bike.  The blem frames aren't eligible for the free headset/seatpost promotion, but you still get the usual 10% off parts to build it up.

The Philly Bike Expo is coming up at the beginning of next month.  If you're in the area, mark your calendar for Nov. 5 & 6.  This is our favorite show every year.  We'll have some new prototypes that you've seen in the blog, and hopefully some you haven't.  If all goes according to plan, we'll even have a couple Polyvalent IV prototypes.  I'm pretty excited about this project.  Come by and say hi!

14 October, 2016

Long Reach Brakes Are Still Popular

By Scott

Sometimes in the rush to jump onto new products and trends, you tend to forget about the great products that keep on working, without change, for years. Items like Retro Cages, Constructeur Racks (arriving late this month), and Grand Cru Long Reach Brakes. Things that don't change, are solid, dependable and don't cost an arm and a leg. I was thinking about this when I saw a blog post from Red Kite Prayer about our long reach brakes. These brakes are one of those things that we order in and they sell solidly.

While it may seem that disc brakes are every where now, even on road bikes, side pull brakes still have a place. Companies like Chris King's bike line Cielo, put our brakes on their Sportif model. Seven Bikes uses them on their RedSky model, proving that people still want the simplicity, reliability, and power of a dual pivot side pull brakes.

In addition to being super stiff, the Grand Cru long reach brakes are one of the few high quality brake sets that also clear 45mm fenders, a bonus for builders and riders who want wider tires and fenders.

On another note, coffeeneuring 2016 has gotten off to an excellent start. I did two rides this past weekend. One ride to Vigilante Coffee in Hyatsville on Saturday and a ride north from home to a nice park in Montgomery County MD, started things off on a good and delicious note. 

How is everyone's coffeeneuring adventures going?

07 October, 2016

Stem Shifting

By Scott

I love fall. I love the cooler nights and the colors changing around me from day to day. Fall (autumn for those reading in the UK) is also one of the busiest times of the year for us.

In September we had the Interbike show that Igor and Clint attended to meet with suppliers and to see what is new in the bike world. Coming up in November (the 5th and 6th if you are planning your calender) is the Philly Bike Expo, which we'll be attending for the 4th year.

We get a good size booth every year, in order to show off as much as we can of our products. In the past we've used the show to introduce the Disc Pass Hunter, the Camargue, as well as show off various product prototypes.

This year we are hoping to have the Mk4 Polyvalent prototypes arrive in time to take them to the show. In our regular morning meeting, we discussed how we wanted the frames built up for the show. Chris wanted one of the two prototypes built up Porteur style - Porteur front rack, flat bar, inverse levers and a 1 x set up. We had seen a stem shifter at the Interbike show and we inquired about getting one of those in time for the show. After the meeting, I did some digging about in one of our boxes in the workshop of odds and ends and found a right thumb shifter by itself. I tried installing it on our prototype open face quill stem and it worked great. So, cancel the sample request! We'll go with this:
With the popularity of 1 x set ups, I think we'll order in just the right shifter mounts with the next PO and see how they sell. I think we'll get a lot of feedback at Philly about this and through the blog comments. So who wants one?

05 October, 2016

Klean Kanteen Additions and Lael’s Globe of Adventure

By Adrian

Who doesn't like a hot cup of coffee on a cool Autumn bike, or ice cold water after a vigorous ride? Well now we carry a few Klean Kanteen products that'll help you out with that - 20 oz and 32 oz insulated water bottles. We've been consistently impressed with the quality and durability of the company's bottles and accessories, and like what we see with these new guys.

These bottles have the classic stainless steel Klean Kanteen look, but utilize high-performance, double-wall vacuum insulation which ensures hot liquids stay hot, and cold liquids stay cold, for crazy long periods of time. The 20 oz bottles will keep liquids hot for 20 hours and cold for 50 while the 32 oz bottles have an even bigger range, keeping liquids hot for 24 hours, and cold for a whopping 90 hours.

The 20 oz version fits best in our Retro Cage without tab, while the 32 oz rides comfortably in our Mojave Cages (which will be back in stock late next month!).

Great thing about the wide mouth is that it easily fits ice cubes!

The bottles come with simple black leak-proof loop caps, but if you want to dress them up a bit we do carry Klean Kanteen's sport tops or bamboo tops.

We're thinking about bringing on more Klean Kanteen products, perhaps their food canisters? Any suggestions?

We'd also like to highlight an awesome program Lael Wilcox has announced, the “Lael’s Globe of Adventure” Women’s Scholarship. After recently finishing her journey on the Baja Divide, she decided to set up this scholarship to encourage other women to participate in such an adventure. This endeavor seeks to promote women's ridership, especially in terms of long-distance touring.

You can find out more about the scholarship here: https://bajadivide.com/scholarship/

29 September, 2016

Container Arrival Plus Sneak Peek of a New Stem

by Igor

We just received a container you folks have been patiently waiting on, which includes but is not limited to:

Thank you for your patience.

In other news, we've been testing prototypes of a removable faceplate 1" quill stem which has already passed ISO MTN standards! We've been asked to make these for a long time, and they'll be ready for production once our real world testing is completed. Like our Cigne Stems, they'll be available in Chrome, Nickel, and Noir in the 31.8mm clamp size-way.

We think this will be a great upgrade for people wanting to retro-mod bikes with newer performance components or even use our Dajia Far Bars on repurposed adventure rigs. Personally, I'm stoked for the increased ease of packing and unpacking my bike for airline travel. 

What do you think?

22 September, 2016

Coffeeneuring 2016 practice

By Scott

Now that fall has arrived, one's thoughts turn to the annual coffeeneuring challenge - the quest to drink coffee on a bike ride over 7 rides in October and November.

Friend of VO, Mary Gersemalina came up with this idea in 2010 for the post PBP riders who wanted a challenge/goal of riding just for coffee. Since then it has steadily grown to be an international event, with riders joining the challenge of going to 7 different coffee shops or outdoor places to drink coffee, tea, cider or really, any beverage, over the specified dates. The rules and dates can be found here.

Here at VO, coffee and tea are part of our daily routine. Filter coffee in the morning gets most everyone here moving, followed by afternoon macchiato's (the Italian kind - espresso with just a stain of milk) to keep things going for the last push of orders out the door. So any kind of challenge or  reason to go and drink coffee on a bike ride has got us interested.

Our Soto coffee filter in action

I like the coffee/tea outdoors option of the last year or so. I'll take a thermos of tea sometimes or bring my stove and have a brew after a ride. Most early fall days here are nice enough that I don't get too cold waiting for the water to boil or for the tea to steep.

Practice make perfect

Adrian and I decided to put in a practice run to Ceremony Coffee's cafe and roastery here in Annapolis. One of the rules is that for the ride to count, it must be at least 2 miles round trip. The roastery is just over a mile from our office, so it works! I'm also working on a theme of 7 different cookies or treats with each of the coffee stops this year.

Anyone else planning on doing the 2016 Coffeeneuring challenge this year?

15 September, 2016

Cigne Stems Available

by Clint

They're long, they're limp, they're in stock! Cigne stems are here for all of your high handlebar needs. We have them in 2 lengths and 3 finishes. 70mm and 90mm. Noir, Chrome, and a really spiffy Brushed Nickel. I'm really excited about the nickel. Looking forward to using this on some more of our future projects.
For those of you who haven't kept up, the Cigne stem gets its name from the French word for swan. The shape is inspired by the old gooseneck stems by Ibis and Cunningham, but with a few accommodations for modern bike needs. 1 1/8" threadless, 31.8mm handlebar clamp with a removable faceplate. It's pretty useful for getting your handlebars up high without using a ton of spacers.

These were air shipped and they really got beat up in shipping. So we have a bunch with little nicks and scratches that we'll put on the specials page at $15 off. The scratches are all small, the sort you'd get on any component after a few months of use.
Okay, so now you have one of these units in your hands. Now what? The Cigne functions as both your stem and top cap. Your star-nut should be approximately 1cm from the top of your steerer tube and you need at least 55mm of tube (metal only, not for use with carbon steerers). Now slide your stem on the steerer, slip in the long bolt with the washer, pretension with the long bolt, and clamp it down at the base. Use grease as needed. Also, if you plan to use a shim for smaller diameter bars be sure to use a two piece shim, like these.

We're currently working on several projects related to the cigne stem. First, a 1" quill stem adapter with 55mm of clamp space. We should have prototypes soon. There may be a 1 1/8" quill stem version.

08 September, 2016

Protect Your Trails Plus a Teaser

by Clint

Last night Igor, Scott, and I headed over to Bacon Ridge after work for a quick ride.  Every time I go out there, I'm impressed by how well maintained the trails are.  Eroded sections are patched with sand and rock for drainage, branches are neatly clipped, and trash is nowhere to be found.

Logs on blogs.
The local trail crew is looking to expand the trails at Bacon Ridge this fall.  I've been talking to some of the folks involved with making this happen.  The land is owned by the county, but it's up to a land trust to approve trail expansion.  They make sure the natural environment is protected and regulations are obeyed.

Ultimately, the expansion of the trail system is dependent on the condition of current trails and how they affect the land.  It's a good reminder that we affect the land as riders.  When you enjoy this sort of activity, it's easy to care about the environment.  Do so and we can gain more access and eventually create more trails!
Since you sat through my micro rant.  Here's a teaser for a new stem.  It's being tested now.

02 September, 2016

Labor Day Weekend Approaches

By Scott

The long Labor day weekend approaches us here in the Mid Atlantic and we just wanted to say that we'll be closed on Monday for a little extra R & R (riding and reading). We'll open up again on Tuesday at 9 am EDT to answer all the emails and such that came in over the weekend.

I'm still hoping to be able to sneak out for a quick overnight tour along the C & O some time this weekend. We'll have to see how the rain looks.Thankfully, Hermine seems to be losing strength and won't affect us in the Mid Atlantic too much. The C&O can get muddy quickly and I hate to be "that" person who rips up the trail when it's muddy.

(C & O camping a few summers ago)

Hopefully, where ever you are, the weather is great for whatever you want to do this weekend.

31 August, 2016

Bullmoose Bars and Wider Traveler Tires from Fairweather

by Igor
Our friends from Fairweather in Japan have been hitting it out of the park with their newest offerings of tires and handlebars. Their new 700x32 Traveler tires use the same herringbone tread pattern as their 28mm variant, but with a bit of added air volume for comfort on long days of mixed terrain conquering. They weigh 267g, but who's counting?

Like the 28s, the tread colors (pictured left to right) come in Algae (my favorite), Black, Rust, and Asphalt.

These Bullmoose Bars in Noir and Silver will add a touch of retro flair to any build, whether it's a roadie-townie conversion or a bikepacking rig. At 710mm, they're wide but not too wide. The integrated stem makes for a 90mm extension and just the right amount of sweep for a neutral riding position. They're made for 1 1/8" threadless steerers, but they work well with our Threadless Adaptor.

19 August, 2016

Where has summer gone?

By Scott

Well here we are at the middle to third week of August and one has to ask, where has summer gone? I heard on the radio today, people talking about kids going back to school in a bit over a week from Monday and then everyone getting back into their "normal" routines of commuting and such.

Here in the Mid Atlantic, temperatures are still up in the 90's. The C & O is still in it's full green zone, with lots of overgrowth. The afternoon thunderstorms tend to make the trail a bit mucky at points, but a day or two without rain, they dry right out.

I've been keeping my rides down to 30 miles or so, done first thing in the morning to avoid the heat and humidity of the mid afternoon. Chris has been bike fishing to avoid the heat as well.

Our prototype drawings of the Mk4 Polyvalent have been signed off, so now we wait for the prototypes to be made. Hopefully we should have them for late October, just in time to show them off at the Philly Bike Expo at the the start of November.  The Cigne stems are just finishing production, so those should be done around Labor Day and we're going to air freight those in due to the high demand we have for them.

Any plans for the time before Labor day? Anyone have a good tip on reducing the impact of the heat other then hibernating in the basement?

BTW- we got some cool bamboo tops for the Klean Kanteen bottles. An easy way to update an older bottle.

09 August, 2016

Our Shifters go to 11 and Other Minor Updates

by Clint

Dia-Compe 11-speed downtube shifters have landed. Retail is $85. Here they are on the site.

These are so much more than 11-speed downtube shifters. With over 50mm of total cable pull, these shifters will work with just about any derailleur. We've tested them on Shimano 11-speed road and Shimano 10-speed mountain.  Here's what you need to know:
  • Designed for 11-speed, but will work with fewer speeds;
  • Better option for 10-speed drivetrains than our other Dia-compe levers;
  • Non-indexed, micro ratchet design;
  • Right barrel is larger than the left for more cable pull;
  • Not compatible with bar end or "thumbie" mounts because of the oversized barrel.
For nerdy eyes only:
To calculate the amount of total cable pull your drivetrain requires use the following formula
total cable pull = cable pull of intended shifter * (s - 1) 
Where s is the number of speeds of your cassette. If the total is less than 50mm, these shifters should work.

More about these on my previous post; I'm still running this setup on my Passhunter.

They're compatible with all sorts of derailleurs and they look pretty spiffy with a pair of these.

In other news, the Cigne stems are due in soon, hopefully within the next month. We're thinking these will be $80 retail. As for the Polyvalent 4, we're still pretty far out and waiting on first prototypes. The time scale will depend on how these turn out and what we want to change.

05 August, 2016

New Rustines Shifter Covers and Slap Guards

by Igor

These are nifty little shifter covers from Rustines that add a nice bit of grip and flare to your downtubebar-end shifters, and quick releases.

Do you need them? Yes. They'll make you go faster, you'll be more attractive, and flowers will blossom as you ride by. They're compatible with any classic downtube or bar end shifter, with the exception of those big, paddle Huret shifters.

These Constructeur Chain Slap Guards are for bikes with brazed-on prongs. Unstretched, they are 222mm from center-to-center. If you're getting a custom frame made, give the builder the slap guard beforehand so they know where to place it.

I'm thinking we should bring back the slap guard mounts for the Polyvalent, what do you think?

Lastly, check out this lovely mini, die-cast, 1965 Jacques Anquetil. He's one of a series of "Road Giants". Maybe a good Christmas stocking stuffer?

27 July, 2016

Projects and Ideas

By Chris

One of things I most enjoy at VO is seeing new projects come to fruition. We always have a long list of stuff that we're working on. The project list on my desk has 31 items this week, they include frames, handlebars, racks, etc. In some cases the projects are simply improvements of an existing product, but most are new. Of course not all of these will work out; we often get to the drawing or prototype stage and decide that whatever it is we were working on isn't all that great after all. In any case, I thought I'd offer a few projects for your amusement or suggestions.
  • The Cigne stem we mentioned a few weeks ago is now in production and should be here in about a month if all goes according to plan. We'll have them in 70mm and 90mm extension and black, nickle and raw finishes.
  • We're waiting for prototypes of an adapter so you can use the above stem with a threaded 1" fork.
  • The 11-speed hubs have gone through many revisions and prototypes. We're now waiting for the, hopefully, final pre-production samples. I think these are amazing hubs, comparable to any.
  • We're working on some retro "klunkery" adventure touring bars
  • We've ordered prototypes of the new disc Polyvalent. 
  • There may be a mixte version of the Polyvalent. We're still pondering the wisdom of this; while there's a very vocal pro-mixte crowd, in reality high-end mixtes don't sell well.
  • We are designing some new mounts for our bells. This is a lot harder and more expensive than you might imagine.
  • We're revising disc brake mount on the Pass hunter to make it compatible with more brakes. This is done and we're just waiting for ISO testing, but it's delayed the next production run of frames.
  • We're testing some new leather saddles and dreaming of a super secret laminated vegan saddle.
  • We've asked Rustines to make some rubber shifter and quick-release covers for us. Those should be here in a few weeks.
Obviously that's not the whole list. But as we check some of these projects off, what do you thing we should add to the project list?

21 July, 2016

The Boyz Ride in The Park

By Chris and Igor,

Feeling a little cooped up on a beautiful summer day Igor, Clint, and I decided to play hooky for a couple of hours today. We took a ride in the park looking for blackberries.
Blackberry stop.
Locals eyeing us.
Chris swings.

A VO Six Pack Rack is perfect for Igor's camera bag
Jungle scene

Art at the community garden plots.
My Piolet
Clint's Spinaci bars, so aero
Down by the Farm
Igor and his Campeur on singletrack
Grinding sand.