24 February, 2017

Differences Between Brake and Shifter Housing & Tie-Dye Sneak Peek!

by Igor

We've had quite a few calls recently about the difference between shift and brake housing. It's probably because it's the time of year when people are swapping their winter bikes for their Spring/Summer/Fall steeds or overhauling their year-round'ers. Amongst all of the tasks to do during an overhaul, one of the key parts is changing out your cables and housing so your shifting and braking is crisp and friction free for optimal performance and safety. From the outside, brake and shift housing looks similar, but the differences are important.

Brake housing consists of an inner liner, spirally wound stainless steel wire, and an outer plastic sheath. This design makes for good, consistent braking performance. Shift housing, similar to brake housing, uses steel surrounding an inner liner, and then coated in plastic to impede moisture infiltration.
But notice the difference! Shift housing uses strands that run the entire length of housing rather than spiraling. This is known as "compressionless" shift housing. This design was mainly brought about for indexed shifting, where precision was important, otherwise you would get stuck between gears.

You don't want to use shift housing for brake housing as it simply isn't designed to take the amount of force that a brake levers requires. Your housing will split and you'll have a bad time. You can use brake housing with friction shifting, but why would you when there is a better option?
We do offer this retro stainless steel shift and brake housing. Mind you, the shift housing is only compatible with friction shifting for the aforementioned reasons. On vintage, steel racing bikes this housing looks so good.

A few tips if you're installing cables and housing for the first time:
  • Your housing should have gradual, natural bends. If it's too long, you'll introduce more friction than necessary. And if it's too short, you'll have poor performance and potentially limit the range of handlebar movement.
  • Use a file on the housing end to get rid of burrs prior to using ferrules to ensure proper, flush interface.
  • Modern cables don't stretch like older cables did. Today, they come pre-stretched from the factory. Any slop you experience soon after installation is most likely the ferrules settling onto the end of the housing by getting pressed against your cable stops. Release the cable from the pinch bolt, pull a bit more cable, and re-adjust.
  • When you cut housing, the inner liner might close up. Use a dental pick, wooden tooth pick, or your trusty "Pokey-Spoke®" (a spoke that has been sharpened to a point) to open it back up.

Totally unrelated, yesterday was a balmy 70°F, so we tied-dyed. We'll post photos next week once everything dries.

17 February, 2017

Trekking Bars - The Original Alt Bar

By Scott

It's hard to believe that it has been 3 years since we launched Casey's Crazy Bar. In a world of drop bars and flat bars, the Crazy Bar was polarizing. But, we'd be remiss if we didn't dig back further into the realm of alternative bars to an original one - the Daija Trekking Bar.

I remember seeing these bars on bikes ridden by an older Austrian couple in New Zealand back in 2001. The bars fitted well with the front and rear panniers, rack top bags and trailer they were each pulling around the south island of New Zealand.

Compared to flat bars, trekking bars offer more hand positions. You can use the sides to rock up a hill, you can stretch out forwards in a headwind, or keep your hands close to the brakes and shifters.

In terms of set up, there seem to be two camps. You either have the open end of the bars face towards you or away from you. A search of photos on the net shows more people run them with the opening towards the rider, thus keeping the brake levers and shifters close to you. Go ahead, do the Google search, we can wait.

OK, so now that you have seen the myriad of cockpits out there, you can see how this bar is the ultimate in individualizing a handle bar. I've never seen flat bars or drop bars get built up with such a personalized feeling about them. In the photo above, we put tape along the sides, but you could easily use another set of grips there as well for more cushioning.

For those of you who are now intrigued by these, some basic spec's - the clamp area is a 25.4 mm, standard for flat bars. The straight section where your main grips, shifters and brake levers would fit is a 22.2 mm clamp area and is 15 cm long. They work best with a 25.4 mm threadless stem, as trying to get a quill stem around all those curves could prove to be a nightmare. If you had a quill stem with a removeable faceplate, that would work as well (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
( Photo taken by Endlessvelolove )

So how many folks out there are fans of alt bars and how many just want a flat bar with a bit of curve/bend to it?

15 February, 2017

A Big Hello From Igor and Adrian

by Igor and Adrian

Being part of the Velo Orange team for a combined 10 years has always been an amazing and rewarding experience. We get to work with fantastic people and design and produce bicycle products that we sincerely enjoy. As we step into our new roles as owners, we’d like to share a bit of what we hope to accomplish.

But first, we wanted to give all of our readers and customers a huge thank you. You guys and gals drive our passion to create, develop, and launch products that have a foot in both worlds of yester-year and today. Thank you.

Aside from losing Chris and Annette, who will be sorely missed, all staff will remain. So expect to get the same exemplary customer service out of Velo Orange, with timely shipping and familiar ordering.

From a product standpoint, development within our niche is exciting. Sometimes it’s a classic concept that has been lost to obscura, and other times we come up with an idea that is totally unique. Either way, we will strive to keep you updated through our various social media avenues. Be warned, we do enjoy teasing drawings and prototype photos. And as always, safety and function is paramount to us, so we will ensure that every single product VO offers will be tested to the appropriate standards for its intended use both in the lab and on the bike.

Content generation is the lifeblood of any successful business, so expect more tour reports, show and expo participation, and general cycling musings. Cycling is our passion. Adrian and I, and the VO gang, have long resumes of cycling: traditional touring, randonneuring, bikepacking, cyclo-crossing, road racing, fixed gear-ing, and mountain biking - we’d like to share more of these stories with you.

We are excited to continue VO’s direction of quality, affordable, reliable products with vintage flair for cyclo-tourists, commuters, and city riders. It is what VO was built on. If you have a good chunk of time free, please explore the blog from 2006 onward. There is a lot of valuable insight, interesting bike parts, and great discussions from VO’s early years.

Feel free to reach out to us anytime: igor(at)velo-orange.com and adrian(at)velo-orange.com

Thanks and happy riding!

11 February, 2017

Velo Orange has Been Sold

By Chris

Note: This post is cross-posted on Chris's Blog

I wanted to announce that I've just sold Velo Orange.

The new owners, Adrian and Igor, are longtime employees. Rest assured that the company is in good hands. In fact, except for myself and Annette, the staff remains intact.

I also wanted to share some of my reasons for selling VO:

One of the main reasons I'm selling is that I had this little epiphany when I was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago. I underwent surgery, chemo, and radiation.  (There is no sign of the cancer returning and the odds are that it won't. But there's still a fair chance that it could.) That experience brought home something I already knew. I no longer want be a businessman; it's time for new adventures.

Velo Orange has always been and remains a very successful and profitable enterprise. It's a company that I'm proud of. It's also a company that I enjoyed building and growing, very much so. I also enjoyed hanging with the VO staff, who are the best group of folks I've ever worked with. But running a company, I didn't enjoy that so much.

I'm also selling because I like being retired. I know this because I first retired when I was 41 years old, after starting and selling Chesapeake Light Craft. I launched VO six years later. The plan was for a little part time gig based on importing a few odd bike bits from Europe and Japan. It was my retirement hobby, one that I hoped might turn a small profit. Such are the best laid plans... Anyway I've just turned 59 and now I really am retired. Really. Though I do have this one idea...

Our plans include lots of travel (I'm building out a camper van), fly fishing, catching up on a lot of reading, visiting friends all over the country, and maybe getting involved in local politics. I'll write more about this, and about business and the bike industry later on my personal blog, should anyone care. You can also follow me on Instagram and on Twitter.

Enough rambling; thanks for your support over the years and for making VO what it is. And best of luck to Adrian and Igor.

10 February, 2017

Website is Back Up and Restocked!

by Adrian

Thank you for your patience; velo-orange.com is back up! And we've restocked a ton to boot - Porteur and Campeur Racks, Fenders of all shapes and sizes, Seatposts, Bottom brackets, Bottle cages, Cables - Bam!

We've also got our new Happy Stems. If you need to get some more rise, this'll do the trick. It has a 45 degree angle, 31.8 clamp, and is available in 90 and 110mm extensions.

07 February, 2017

The VO Site Will Be Down for 48 hours

The VO web store will be undergoing maintenance for about 48 hours. We'll grease everything, replace some the bearings, run new cables, and more.

It'll be shut down tonight at around 5pm ET and be back up again late on the 9th, so if you need anything shipped right away please order in the next few hours. We won't even be able to sell stuff in the showroom since the whole sales system will be down.

That is all; carry on.

02 February, 2017

Them Stems

by Clint

I can't wait to get these stems in!  They look fantastic and I think they're going to be useful for a lot of builds.  We received final prototypes earlier in the week and they're ready to be put into production.  This should keep them on schedule for the Spring!

Other than a few minor aesthetic differences, these are the new stems.  The logos will be centered and removed from the quill portion.  They will be supplied with the alloy wedge shown on the far right stem.
Here's a quick rundown of the specs:
  • 31.8mm stem clamp with removable faceplate
  • 120mm of extension above the minimum insert
  • 90 deg bend for a little extra height
  • ISO mountain tested
  • available in 80mm, 90mm, 100mm, and maybe even a 110mm
  • ED Black, Chrome, or Brushed Nickel finish
You should be able to run just about any bar with these stems.  We have some shims on the way for folks wanting to run smaller diameters too.
In addition to the new quill stems, we're also finished prototyping the quill adapters for the Cigne stem.  We should have them around the same time.  They'll look good on old school mountain bikes, touring bikes, or really anything with a 1" threaded fork that needs bars up high.

Look forward to two great options to dial your bar fit!

11 January, 2017

Re-Radiusing Fenders

by Igor

Chances are, you don't need to re-radius your fender if you choose the proper width relative to your tire size. Alas, we do not offer a 45mm 26" fenderset. Yet. So for those of you with 26" wheels with 1.5" tires, our 650bx45mm hammered fenders can be re-radiused to match the curve of a 26" wheel.

As a reference, here is what how a 650bx45mm hammmered fender sits over a 26" wheel with 1.5" tires. The subject is Adrian's 26" Campeur, in case you were wondering.
And here it is after some massaging. Notice that the fender is only attached at the seatstay and chainstay bridges, and has a smooth line that follows the curvature of the tire. Once this "fender-zen" is achieved, your fenders will live long and fruitful lives free of stress risers.
First, here is what not to do:

Do not bend the fender by grasping on the ends and squeezing. You will kink your fender, and it will be extremely difficult to fix. Rather, you need to work the fender bit by bit until the fender matches the curvature of the tire.

To decrease the radius of the fender, you will need to increase the width. Since I am using an aluminum alloy fender set, I just use my hands to depress the middle and pull the outer edges. I have heard of others using a tennis ball, but since 1) I don't play tennis and 2) the yellow fuzz is bad for a dog's digestion tract, I simply do not own a tennis ball. 
Decreasing radius
You don't need to do a lot at a time. Little bits over the length of the fender can decrease the radius enough to work. With the wheel in the dropouts, simply mock it up and adjust as necessary. Conversely, if you need to increase the radius, squeeze the edges together.
Increasing radius by squeezing
With the proliferation of off-road touring and gravel/all-road/any-road/road-plus/adventure/quiver-killer bikes, we have started including a pair reinforcement plates in all of our alloy fender sets. Just peel and stick it under the screw during installation - one under the seatstay bridge and one under the fork crown.

Here's the final result:

We'll probably bring in some fenders for the narrower 26" crowd. What other sizes would you like to see?

22 December, 2016

Blem Stems and Frames, and Warm Holiday Wishes

by Igor

Every now and again, we find some finishes which aren't up to snuff, so they get sent to our "scratch n' sniff" bin until we feel the time is right to post them on the specials page. Today, the time has come for these Nickel-finished Cigne Stems and a few Campeur frames.

These Cigne Stems have some not-so-stellar plating with some minor inclusions under the finish and clear coat, but are in perfect functioning condition. If you're handy with a wire wheel and torch, you could even strip the finish and braze on a downtube shifter mount and cable stop:

We also just posted two paint blem'd Campeur frames and one with a dented seat collar in the Discounted Frames page. None of which affects the frame's function, but cannot be sold in our regular batch.
Lastly, we're going to be closed from December 24th until January 1st, 2017. If you want to get your order shipped before the New Year, submit your order before 11am EST of the 23rd.

Thank you so much for a fantastic and fun 2016!

Have a terrific and safe holiday season and see you all in the new year!

15 December, 2016

Opinel Essentials 4-Pack and Holiday Gift Ideas

by Igor

Opinel knives are just a treat to behold. Beautifully simple, incredibly light, and well balanced. My No.8 Carbon is a mainstay of my Everyday Carry - always ready to divvy up some meat and cheese on tour or open mail at home.

In addition to their folding knives, Opinel makes terrific kitchen knives.

Just in time for the holidays, we brought in their Essentials 4-Pack which includes (from top to bottom) a Paring Knife, Serrated Knife, Vegetable Knife, and a Peeler.

Both the Paring and Serrated knives have 9.5cm blade lengths, while the Vegetable knife has a 7cm blade.
Though they are all dishwasher safe, I still tend to wash them by hand. The set comes in a nice package for gifting and would make a great addition to any chef's kitchen.

A good set of flat pedals with loads of real estate make any city and touring bike significantly more comfortable. The Sabot Pedals have 3 sets of sealed cartridge bearings, rounded traction pins, and are toe-clip and half-clip compatible.

A cycling cap is an essential piece of every cyclist's kit. The cap must be high quality, lightweight, and have the proper amount of luft. Instructions for proper cap wear can be found here.

The VO Baguette Bag is a simple canvas and leather bag that can mount to your saddle's loops or the front of your handlebars. Great for road bikes without rack mounting points for a bit more carrying capacity during an all day ride. Since it straps on, you can take with you into the cafe or shop.
Add a bit of distinction and safety to your rear fender with our Grand Cru Fender Mounted Reflector. Installation only requires a few minutes to drill one hole and is compatible with any fender type.
I shouldn't get so excited about bungee cords, but the Constructeur Bungee Cords from Rustines really are fantastic. Since they don't have a braided outer lining, they hold down a dry bag or tent super securely without worry of shifting or sliding. They're available in several colors to match your bike or your country's flag.
Lastly, our Gift Certificates are compatible with short and linear pull brakes, Campagnolo and Shimano, and 1" quill and threadless.

07 December, 2016

Scott's Small Parts and Trip Planning Post

By Scott

Well even though winter is upon us, certainly out west the cold air has been flooding in and it looks like that cold air will hit the east coast by the weekend, we're still getting new products into stock.
Most of these are not as sexy as the Cigne stem or a new frame like the Polyvalent, but I think part of this time of the year is getting all the parts for my builds/project collected and ensure that the prep work is done so that when the time comes to put it all together, I'm not looking for that last part with desperation.

To start with, we have received a new color in the Rustines shifter covers - red! We had asked for these back in the late summer and the red took longer to produce in Le Mans, but they came in yesterday and they look great. So if you are working on a project bike this winter that needs that touch of color, these are a great add on.
Next on the list is straddle cables for the Grand Cru canti brakes. These straddle cables (a set of 2- ie enough for one bike) are the ones to use if you need to replace the straddle cable on the Zeste or the Mk2 brakes.
Finally, we brought in some Jagwire step-down cable ends. For those of you with older frames that don't take 5 mm cable ends (you can use the Park tools caliper to measure if you need to), it bridges the gap to allow you to use modern cables on older fittings. Remember, put just a dab of grease on the end of the cable where it goes into the fitting to prevent it from rusting into place from the sweat of hard work.
The other thing I do over the winter is dream up/make plans for the following year's tour. Adventure Cycling is a great organization for this. VO has been a corporate sponsor of Adventure Cycling for a number of years now. Adventure Cycling is offering a complimentary 6-month trial memberships ($20 value) to first-time members so that you can experience all that Adventure Cycling has to offer. 


  • Adventure Cyclist magazine - published 9 times a year
  • Discounts on Adventure Cycling maps
  • The Cyclosource catalog, our book, map, & gear guide
  • Members-only online resources and articles
  • Access to our special organized tours
  • Exclusive discounts on partner products and services
This free trial membership is valid only to new members and must be sent to a U.S. mailing address. 

Just a reminder that the winter sale continues until the 18th. We're starting to run low on some parts, so grab your parts soon.

02 December, 2016

Winter Sale

Hey, we're having a sale!  Same deal as last year.  Even a similar blog post!

Details: You can get 20% off your order starting right now and ending December 18th, 2016 (at exactly 11:59pm Eastern Time). But you have to use the not-so-secret coupon code, as detailed below. This sale applies to both retail customers and to shops!

Just to be clear, you get 20% off on all in-stock frames, wheels, parts, accessories - everything except gift certificates and items that are already on sale - but only 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 - WINTER16 - 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!

29 November, 2016

Bottle Cages, Caliper Brakes, and Soap

by Igor

We're back into the swing of autumn and have restocked a few items:
In addition to the restock, we brought in a 300g, hard-milled soap made by Savon de Marseille in France. The presentation and aroma is terrific and they would make a lovely gift.
Yes, that's a unicorn on the box, and yes it is imprinted onto the soap.

23 November, 2016

Thanksgiving Break

By Scott

Time sure flies. One minute it was late August and the weather was hot and steamy and now all of the sudden, winter has arrived in one way or another around the US (apologies to readers in the Southern Hemisphere where spring should now be in full bloom).

I just wanted to let folks know that we will be closed on Thursday November 24th and Friday November 25th for our annual Thanksgiving break. A bit of rain is expected here in the mid Atlantic on Thursday, but otherwise the weekend looks great for getting out and about.
We'll be back in the office on Monday the 28th at 9 am to answer questions via phone and email.
If you are stuck inside over the weekend, check out this great Piolet test ride video from the folks at Adventure Cycling that shows the bike off very well we think. Guitar Ted posted a great review of our Cigne stem here.

We'd like to our thank all our customers for your business this year and hope that all of you have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving.

17 November, 2016

It's Beaujolais Nouveau Day

By Chris

As I've done in the past few years, I wanted to remind everyone that  Beaujolais Nouveau is released today. And as is tradition at Velo Orange, we are enjoying a glass or two at work (it enhances creativity). It's not that we're wine snobs, quite the opposite. Most of us drink craft beers and an occasional whisky. This wine is only a few weeks old and it is not a "fine wine." It is an inexpensive and quaffable wine, a fun drink that can be enjoyed by anyone to celebrate the harvest. It's meant to be consumed in copious quantities in the first year of its life. Its a light-bodied and fruity wine made from Gamay grapes, Cost is around $10 a bottle. Why today? French regulations prohibit Beaujolais Nouveau from being sold until the third Thursday in November. 

16 November, 2016

Choosing Colors and Other Polyvalent Stuff

By Chris

The Polyvalent is one of our oldest projects and one I'm especially proud of. The idea was to build a bike that would do, if not everything, then most things well. It's a bike that's good as a commuter, tourer, or dirt road explorer. But making a frame that's so versatile requires some tough choices.
One of the more difficult tasks at Velo Orange is choosing frame colors. We agonize over this. It usually require endless mini-meetings and, in the end, we almost never agree. I eventually have to choose and in this case the light blue won out. The photo shows the others colors we considered.

Another choice was disc brakes. It took me a long time to come around, but after riding with them on two bikes and recently riding a bike with canti-brakes again, I simply think discs are better, especially in wet conditions. Though I'll stick to cable actuation on future builds for the sake of simplicity. While it's true that we have retro-grouch tendencies here at VO, that's only because so much of the modern bike industry is based on change for the sake of change. We are absolutely willing to adopt technology that is actually an improvement, like disc brakes. Remember that the great French constructeurs often worked to improve braking. I am absolutely convinced that they would have embraced modern disc brakes as a worthwhile innovation. I would still choose rim brakes if going somewhere remote where obtaining spares would be difficult, and I wouldn't sell a good frame just to get one with discs, but if given the choice on a new bike I'll choose discs.

Another good innovation is large bottle cages like the VO Mojave and Anything Cages. So we included three bottle cage bosses on the down tube and fork.

We also decided to keep the 1" threaded fork, which everyone at VO agreed on. Let's remember that 1-1/8" threadless forks were developed to be a stronger system for mountain bikes, strength that is overkill on road, touring, city, or gravel bikes. 1-1/8 forks are a bit stiffer, but do we actually need that stiffness? We are, after all, running wide 650b tires to make the ride softer. One the other hand threaded forks make adjusting handlebar height easier and, in my estimation, look better. I look forward to building my Polyvalent up with one of our upcoming removable faceplate quill stems. Most bike manufacturers embraced threadless forks not because they are better, but because they are cheaper to produce and one size fits most. Both threaded and threadless forks are well proven on and off road. In the end choosing a frame based solely on the fork type seems, to me, a bit silly.

We also added just a tiny bit of up-slope to the top tube to get the bars a little higher, probably not enough that you'd notice at first glance. So this frame has the classic good looks of a level top tube frame, not the modern look of a sloping top tube. I know that this decision will cause those without our taste for retro frames to scratch their heads, but that's the choice we made.

We are also working on a new fork crown, but it might not be ready in time for the first production run. In that case we'll use the same fork crown that we used on the Camargue, not a bad compromise.

08 November, 2016

Polyvalent 4 Frame Preview

by Igor

The Polyvalent has been our longest running frameset, going back almost eight years. It started from humble beginnings as a cantilever-braked, low-trail city bike sporting nondescript matte-black paint with orange decals. The Mark 2 and Mark 3 versions got new paint jobs, updated tubing, better accessory mountings, and other evolutionary changes. Now it's time for version 4.

The prototype frames made it just in time for Philly Bike Expo. We had lots of great feedback from folks who saw it.

We've kept all the good stuff: double butted chromoly frame and fork construction, 1" threaded steerer, elegant fork bend, low-trail front end, 650b wheels, kickstand plate, and plenty of fender and rack mounts.

The big change is Disc brakes. The frame and fork will have IS mounts and are designed around 160mm rotors.

There will be a few other changes as well:
  • Increased tire clearances: 47mm tires with fenders. And new (57mm or so) fenders will be available.
  • Normal fit: the original Polyvalents were designed with long top tubes for upright bars, but if you wanted to use drop bars, it meant less-than-optimal fit for most riders. The new version will have a shorter top tube and the same fit as our Campeur and Pass Hunter.
  • Internal rear brake cable routing: Same setup as Pass Hunter Disc, internal tube for easy and clean routing.
  • Triple water bottle bosses on top of the down tube. Tall bottles, easier to reach bottles, big bottles.
  • Wrap-around seat stays: because they look so good and provide wider seat stay clearances.
  • Vertical dropouts with stainless hanger: Sliding, swinging, and alternating dropouts are solutions that add significant complications to construction and still only work for some applications. Use a chain tensioner if you need. 
  • Head tube re-inforcements.

You may have noticed that there's no fork. It wasn't ready in time, and we are considering using a new custom VO fork crown on this and some other future frame models.

Tubing is double butted 4130 chromoly. Downtube is 31.8. Top tube is also 31.8 for better control with loads, though we may go with an ovalized top tube depending on how testing goes and if planing is adequate.

We're really excited to have the Polyvalent back in action, and look forward to R&D rides with the VO gang!