23 July, 2014

A Few Paint Blem Frames

by Igor

Every frame that goes out of our warehouse gets inspected for all kinds of imperfections: paint, rear triangle and fork alignment, burrs in the headtube, bottom bracket, and steerer, decal integrity, headbadge placement, and hardware (bottle cages, seatpost binder bolt, and rear cable stop). We take a lot of pride in our designs and want to make building and assembly of your new bike as easy and smooth as possible.

Once in a while we come across a frame that isn't up to our standards. In this case, we've identified a few over the past few months that have some small paint blemishes and are offering them at a discount. They are all brand new frames. They have been touched up and you probably wouldn't even notice the flaw if we didn't point it out. Bikes should be ridden and enjoyed and a small paint flaw really doesn't matter.  So take the extra bucks you saved and buy yourself a super fancy ice cream. You deserve it.

53cm Pass Hunter
57cm Pass Hunter
56cm Camargue
56cm Camargue

21 July, 2014

Latest Camargue Build

by Igor

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time in the shop - building a lot of wheels, fitting/testing new prototype products you may or may not like, and assembling bikes for review and bike shows later this year. Coming up with a build that will be reviewed by a magazine and on display at a show can be surprisingly tasking. In our case, we need to strike a delicate balance between intended use, timeless styling, functionality, affordability, and pushing the envelope to make you do a double take and go in for a closer look.

Last week, I rode down to pick up some Peruvian chicken for lunch - I could literally eat that everyday and be happy. As I was ordering and paying I overheard a couple guys talking about the leather saddle, mudflap, and handlebar bag and mentioning how comfortable and useful the whole bike looks. I left, put my pollo in my handlebar bag, gave the guys a nod through the window, and was on my way back to work, a bit faster this time. It's that double take and subsequent drawing in I love seeing at shows, events, and on the street.

Of the builds we've done, this one is on the top of my list...for now.

We built up this 56cm Camargue to be a go anywhere, tour-ready bike. I insisted on having the Onza 29er 2.25" tires and a wide range MTB double drivetrain that would be comfortable and simple.
38/24T Shimano 2-Piece Deore Crankset, 11-36 Shimano Cassette, Deore Shadow (Dyna-Sys) Rear Derailleur, and XT MTB Double Front Derailleur. To make all the danglers move around, we used a pair of Deore Dyna-Sys 10 speed shifters.
To carry stuff, a Dajia Stainless Steel Rear Rack and a Revelate Frame Bag work nicely and still have enough room for a front bag if needed.
As for the rider, the three points of contact (feet, hands, butt) are more important than any component or tire width. Sabot Pedals, Crazy Bars with Black Grips, and a Model 3 Leather Saddle will make for comfortable, long days in the saddle.
To ensure safe descents, our new Noir Zeste Brakes fit the bill.
Our Elkhide Chainstay Protector is an easy way to defend against chainslap.
Silver and black don't go well for a lot of bikes, but when it's done right, it can be a knockout.

14 July, 2014

New Brakes and Seat Post

by Igor

We've added a couple new parts to our lineup within the past few days.

Noir Zeste Brakes. Powerful, low profile, and stylish.
Uno Seatpost, 400mm, 27.2. Its increased length makes it perfect match for the sloping top tube of the Camargue.
Lastly, Bonne FĂȘte Nationale! (Happy Bastille Day!)

10 July, 2014

The Campeur 26

Smaller frames should have smaller wheels. It makes for more balanced and better handling bikes. There are lots of design compromises in trying to fit 700c wheels to very small bikes, compromises we've never been willing to make. That's the reason there haven't been VO frames smaller than 51cm.

It's been our intention, for a long while now, to offer smaller sizes, but with so many other ongoing projects... Anyway, we've finally made some progress. The Camargue is already available in 47cm and 50cm sizes. And we finally have a 26" Campeur prototype. Unless we encounter something unexpected during testing, we'll order a production run soon. They'll be made in 47cm and 49cm sizes. Larger sizes will continue to use 700 wheels.

A few short rides around the neighborhood reveal that the 26"-wheeled Campeur prototype handles very much like the 700c version, no surprises at all, which is exactly what we'd intended. Now the serious testing begins with Adrian making a 350-mile trip from Pittsburgh to Annapolis. She'll ride this prototype, loaded with camping gear, along the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O canal towpath. That's a lot of gravel and dual-track, as well as some excellent camping opportunities. We await her report.

08 July, 2014

Onza Tires and Staff Shirts

We love testing new stuff, even if we don't make it. These tires from Onza, a small Swiss company, are a good example. We found them at an industry show and immediately wanted to try them. I mean they feature Swiss design, soft and supple sidewalls, grippy rubber, folding bead, and are pretty light weight: who wouldn't want to take them for a few test rides. We were not disappointed; they ride just as well as we had hoped, perhaps better. With great cornering, good grip on soft surfaces, and a very confident feel, they are a wonderful tire for those who ride primarily off-pavement.

Onza tires are not cheap, but we think they are worth the price, so we decided to stock a couple of sizes of our favorite model, the Canis.  We have them in 26" x 2.25" and 29" (700c) x 2.25" sizes. They work very well on the Camargue.

This is the shirt we had made for our staff to wear at shows and other events. We have a limited number of extras, in case you want one. They are made of soft organic cotton and screen printed at a local shop.

07 July, 2014

Job Opening

Update: this position has been filled. Thanks to those who applied.

We're expanding our staff and have another job opening. It's an entry level position in our warehouse, the backbone of Velo Orange. The warehouse is fast paced and deadline driven, servicing retail, wholesale, and distributor customers. Attention to detail and the ability to meet daily shipping deadlines is a must. A background in cycling is strongly preferred.

The main part of the job is packing orders. We'll train you on order and labeling software and the nuances of international shipping. As this is primarily a warehouse job, you must be able to lift 50lb+ overhead onto shelving. But we try to involve everyone here in designing and testing products. So if you're interested, you'll have a chance to influence and evaluate our new frames, components, and accessories.

Velo Orange prefers to promote from within the company, so job growth is always possible. Almost everyone here starts in this position and moves on to other VO jobs. Benefits include paid leave and 401k. Send us an email if interested.

03 July, 2014

New Bars, Brake Levers, and a Touring Build for Iceland

We just got some Dajia Shallow Drop handlebars. Short and shallow bars are especially popular among shorter riders, but I know some tall folks who like the less extreme position when in the drops, particularly so when climbing.
We're also stocking the Tektro RL341 aero brake levers. These are designed to fit smaller hands and are a good match to the above bars.

This 47cm Camargue was just built up for someone planning a tour in Iceland later this summer. She'll be adding traditional racks and panniers soon. It should preform admirably on Iceland's gravel roads and rocky trails.

27 June, 2014

Camargue Frames Gallop In

The long awaited Camargue frames have arrived. The Camargue is designed for those who ride mostly on unpaved, roads. It can carry a substantial load for long unsupported trips, yet handles very well even with no load at all. It can be ridden with traditional racks and panniers or bike packer style. Being a mid-trail design it works well with both front and rear loads.
Geometry is designed to handle like the much-praised Campeur, even with larger tires. This frame is not suspension corrected, allowing us to better fine tune handling. We have done a lot of testing on single track, gravel roads, dirt roads, and on smooth pavement. I even used mine as a commuter; it makes a great rugged city bike. This bike is incredibly versatile, so long as you like riding the big tires it's designed for.
In case you were wondering, it's named after an ancient breed of French horse famed for their calm temperament, agility, intelligence and stamina. Today they are used to herd cattle and for long distance riding. I wonder how our Camargue would be at herding cattle?

Here are some of the highlights and specs:
  • 4130 double butted chrome-moly frame and fork.
  • 1-1/8" fork with lovely French-style bend.
  • 700c (29er) wheel size on 55-61cm frames, 26" on the smaller sizes.
  • 135mm rear spacing.
  • Bi-plane fork crown.
  • Clearance for 1.9" (48mm) tires with fenders or 2.25" (57mm) tires without fenders (don't use fenders with "knobby" tires).
  • Canti brake bosses.
  • Seatstay cable stop.
  • Beefy horizontal dropouts, so you can use an internal gear hub.
  • Double eyelets front and rear for mounting fenders and racks.
  • Fender bosses under fork crown, at seat stay bridge, and at chainstay bridge for easy fender installation.
  • Three water bottle cage mounts, two on 47cm and 50 models.
  • Lowrider through bosses and seatstay rack eyelets.
  • Metal head badge.
  • Carmargue decals on top tube showing three ancient horses galloping. They are removable. 
  • The frame geometry chart can be found at this link.
  • A brief comparison of the frame and other VO frames can be found at this link.
If you want to read more about the Camargue previous posts are linked below:

Vintage Bike Parts, Wooden Boats, and Practicality.

The very first VO bike was built up with, mostly, vintage components.
My thinking has evolved about any number of things that I was once very certain of. For example, I spent much of my life building and paddling wooden kayaks, but now I'm much happier with plastic kayaks because they require no maintenance and are unbelievably rugged. They are, in a word, more practical.

When I started VO, some 8 years ago, I was into building up my bikes with mostly vintage parts. Back then I spent an inordinate amount of time on Ebay looking for old bike parts. I wanted Simplex retrofriction shifters, Huret derailleurs, Maxi-Car hubs, French city bars, CLB inverse brake levers, and a hundred other wonderful and obscure bits and pieces. Today I use only modern components and accessories. Again, they are more practical and more reliable.

There are so many more cool and functional parts being made today than 8 years ago, many of them based on classic designs. And, if you'll allow me to pat VO on it's collective back, many are made by us. You can buy brand new 50.4bcd cranks, high flange touring hubs, all sorts of city and rando bars, great polished rims, lovely seat posts, functional and shiny racks of every sort. A number of companies make this wonderful stuff again, not just VO.

In most cases, these new parts work better than their classic inspirations. Our 50.4bcd chain rings are stiffer and shift better than the old ones I used to buy on Ebay. Modern Dia Compe center pull brakes are stiffer and stop better than classic Mafacs. Grand Cru long reach brakes outperform any vintage equivalent. Stainless steel racks don't rust like the old European chrome versions. And while the classic Maxi-Car hubs are still among the longest lasting, they won't work with modern cassettes. Even the better production frames being built today are superior to those of 30-years ago.

Like wooden boats, vintage bike components have a certain cachet and there are those who love them for that, and for the history. I also realize that some folks are naturally collectors and for them it's a great hobby. As for myself, I've always wanted to study and learn about stuff, but not to keep or collect what I wasn't using. Yet I still have a lovely set of retro friction shifters, a long cage SLJ derailleur, CLB levers, and a few other bits in a box behind my desk, just can't bring myself to sell them. And I still own a wooden pulling boat.

Do you still look for and use vintage parts? And what other classic parts should be made again?

20 June, 2014

Alec's New Pass Hunter, a Speedy Build

The seat post is extended so Igor could try her out.
We don't normally build up frames for customers, but this was a special case. Alec is my almost-15-year old son and has been into bikes since he could first straddle a tricycle. He likes fast bikes and originally wanted a carbon fiber Cervelo, but sense prevailed when he realized that a Pass Hunter was almost as fast and much more versatile.
Here is how it started.
From Radio Flyer to Pass Hunter.

10-speed Campy on VO hubs.
28mm smooth tires are nice on the bumpy brick streets in Annapolis. 

Alec wanted a very light saddle. We were actually thinking of importing these.
We used a mix of Campy Centaur and Chorus that I had in my spare components box. Those red Grand Cru jockey wheels should be good for an extra 2mph.
I like how Campy brifters can be converted from 9-speed to 10-speed.
I also donated a vintage Campy water bottle.
Alec's first real road bike next to the latest.
Test ride.
Still need toe clips and minor fitting, but he seems satisfied.
This was Alec's previous bike. Anyone need a 48cm Trek road bike?

17 June, 2014

On Leather and Bringing the Model 6 Back

by Igor
This new batch is stunningly handsome
I really like leather. Not like that. Well maybe. Anyway, it’s really useful on areas that get a lot of interaction from your hands, butt, feet, and natural elements. Leather holds up extremely well with a little bit of care, and it develops a very nice patina over use and time.

For those who like to ride with their bars at or below the saddle, the Model 6 is a great choice. We discontinued them briefly, but we decided that it's a way cool, affordable saddle that we'd like to keep in our lineup for those who enjoy a spirited, racy ride.
New Model 6 profile. Slick.
Grand Cru Leather Bar Tape
Elkhide Handlebar Wraps
Your frame will thank you for the protection when its locked up: Oiltan Top Tube Protector
Your dress shoes will thank you: Elkhide Toe Clip Leathers
Your chainstay's paint will thank you, too: Elkhide Chainstay Protector