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.

13 April, 2016

Buy Cheap Stuff, Go Camping, Mount Racks Easily

Yard Sale This Weekend
by Chris

Donuts have been ordered from the local Thai restaurant-they actually make the best in town. Espresso and drip coffee supplies are topped up. And we've been sorting through piles of great deals: components, accessories, frames, tires, racks...  So make plans to get out here this Saturday morning, April 16. The VO yard sale runs from 9am till 12pm rain or shine.

Swift Camp Vibes
by Clint
Swift Industries's annual campout is around the corner!  It doesn't matter where you are; you can participate.  On the longest day of the year, grab some friends and go ride off into the woods, wilderness, or wherever.  For more details, checkout Swift Industries website.  
Here are a couple photos of Igor & Adrian bike camping in Denmark for inspiration:

Now's a good time to start thinking about your weekend getaway.  Have fun out there!

Hardware Happenings
By Igor
I honestly shouldn't be this excited about hardware, but this kit from Surly is the bee's knees. It's perfect for those who want to mount the Porteur Rack to the fork blades either with braze-ons or with p-clamps for a super secure connection.
For the Constructeur Rear Rack, traditionally you would mount the rack directly to your fender, but if you need to bring your baguette, pickled herring, and lemon home and you happen to live in SoCal where rain is non-existent, you can mount the rack to the seatstay braze-ons or p-clamps. Depending on your braze-on's positions, you might need a couple spacers to get the strut straight so that it doesn't protrude into your panniers.

08 April, 2016

More Stem Stuff

By Chris
It's stem week at VO. Above is another tall stem. This one is not our design, but it's fairly inexpensive and we might stock it if it tests well. I posted a photo of it on my Twitter feed and immediately got two comments. One said it was pretty, the other remarked that it was ugly. Waddya think?
We got a lot of questions about the stem that we blogged about a few days ago. Here are some answers and additional information:
  • We have not settled on a name, but "Banana Stem" seems to be getting the most staff votes. My personal choice is "Andouille stem," after the delicious French sausage. Feel free to weigh in with, non-lewd, suggestions in the comments.
  • The stem passed the ISO MTB tests, 100,000 cyles of substantial load in two directions.
  • We plan to offer it in black and chrome, and maybe a limited run in clear-coated raw finish.
  • The steerer insertion length is about 65mm.
  • We're designing a dedicated 1" quill adapter that we'll make if the stem sells well.
  • The price should be about $80.
  • The clamp is 31.8mm. Modern MTB and dirt drop bars use that size. It's simple enough to use a readily-available shim if you want to run 25.4mm or 26.0mm bars. We thought about making it smaller, but still can't get our negative shims to work.
There is a third ongoing VO stem project. This one is a style of quill stem that many of you have asked for. We hope to have prototypes and post photos soon.

05 April, 2016

Long Tall Stem Prototypes

We've been very pleased with our new-ish dirt drop bar. They pair well with the Piolet. The only problem is, in order to properly set up dirt drops, they have to be jacked up pretty high. Dirt drops are designed for spending time in the hooks. The hooks provide an ergonomic shred angle that's easy to grip in technical sections.

Besides going custom, options are pretty limited in raising your handlebars to the right height.  You could throw in a few headset spacers, but the internet hates spacers. So we did what all the original dirt droppers did and made a super tall stem. Though this one is for 1-1/8" threadless, not quill like the originals. It also has a removable faceplate.
80mm extension + a lotta rise.
Gloss black looks tasteful on Igor's chubby Piolet build.
The gooseneck shape matches the Piolet's old school MTB vibes. Think vintage Ibis or Cunningham. We added a few necessary features to adapt it to modern frames.  

Curved for compliance.
Slotted for a pretension bolt.
Removable face plate.
We'll be testing the stem out here on the trails as well as in the lab to make sure it passes modern MTB requirements. We'll probably offer a couple different sizes and maybe a couple finish options. We're still toying around with it.  

We might offer it in clear-coated raw finish, if you're interested.
Not a fan of spacers?  Need to raise your drops? We're pushing to get these here by summer.

01 April, 2016

New Constructeur All-Road Complete Build

We've been toying with the idea of complete builds for a while now along with the design of a new frame. We decided to merge the two in order to offer something both universal and unique. We started with the concept of an all-road platform, then added our own constructeur twist to yield a beautiful, utilitarian complete build.

Single front rack design for hauling whatever.
Minimalist Constructeurism.
We started with a classic Rene Herse/Alex Singer design, applied all-road specific geometry, then dropped everything we found unnecessary. What we were left with was a minimal rando-esque build. Piecing together a complete build allowed us to fit proprietary components. Bent fender stays and a custom rack reduce weight while adding clearance. Custom drawn 6969 cold hardened steel provides additional weight savings.
Front and rear mudflaps for optimal splash protection.
We decided on the 520B wheels size for a good all around handling. Supple tyres with a smooth tread allow you to float over any surface whether it's pavé, gravel, or åstrotürf. We used the thinnest latex casing we could find: whitewall for a classic cruiser aesthetic. After experimentation, we recommend running these tires at 7psi for optimal cornering and pedal stroke efficiency.

Classic VO headbadge with hand hammered bell from Tomii Cycles.
High Shredability
Look out for the new Velo Orange Constructeur All-Road Mononeur complete build!

29 March, 2016

VO Warehouse Sale, April 16th

by Chris

We'll hold one of our very occasional VO warehouse sales from 9am to 12pm on April 16th.

What's for Sale:

We're selling sample parts that were sent for review or displayed in our showroom or at bike shows. There are some returns, some display frames, a few bikes, some discontinued parts, parts that have been used on test bikes, scratch-and-dent stuff, etc. All-in-all there are hundreds of items. We want to blow them all out in one day! So most will be priced at about half the regular web site price, many even lower. 

In case you can't find any garage sale stuff you like, we'll offer 20% off on any VO and Grand Cru parts, accessories, or frames (but not build kits) in stock. This reflects our savings in not having to process, pack and ship, so you must be here to get the discount.


The VO Garage Sale will take place between 9am and 12pm on Saturday April 16th., rain or shine.


At Velo Orange of course, 1981 Moreland Parkway, Building 4, Annapolis, MD 21401

The Fine Print:
  • Nothing can be pre-ordered.
  • Cash or credit card only.
  • the 20% discount is available only to those who buy in person, not on-line..
  • As always, we'll serve donuts, coffee, and espresso.

17 March, 2016

Visiting Japan

By Clint

Serious business.
Far from NJS approved. 
After our visit to Taipei, I decided to take the Travel's Check to Tokyo to ride around, eat ramen, and visit shops.

Tori Paitan ramen at Kagari in Ginza.
The ramen master at Fu-unji in Shinjuku.
Many of these noodle shops were tucked away in alleys around the city, marked only with Kanji characters.  Knowing little to no Japanese, it was reasonably difficult to locate some of them.  The general strategy was to figure out what block the shop was on, walk around a few times, and look for the lines, often with a few white people who read the same food blogs I do.

Mountain (山) is one of the few characters I know.
The powerlines are kinda cool.
Preserve by the fishing town. 
This food is so pretty.
Mr Kentaro of M's Collection, one of our distributors in Japan, was nice enough to show me around the Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo.  We rode around one of his favorite routes, along the water, past a fishing town, then to a harbor where they'll be sailing in the 2020 Olympics.   We stopped at a cute little restaurant on the water for a great lunch.  The views were great along the water.  Fishing boats coming in and out, surfers on the beach.
Even the drive there and back was rather scenic.  It still amazes me how far the city extends, turning into warehouse districts, then back into high rises and sky scrapers.  On the way back, we drove past the Fuji TV building.  Didn't get a good photo, but I've wanted to see it (it was in a bunch of those cartoons I watched as a kid).

Original location in Hatagaya.

They let me help out in the shop. 
Rew10 and Cook Paint Works.
Okonomiyaki master.
Next, I had the opportunity to visit some of Blue Lug's shops.  Coolest shops I've ever been to.  If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping in.  They now have three locations and a coffee shop/bar.  They do some incredible custom builds.
One of their staff members, Naoto, was nice enough to show me around town. I had the opportunity to see some sides of town, I wouldn't have found as a tourist.   We met up at the Tsukiji fish market in the morning, grabbed some food, explored some hole-in-the-wall coffee shops, and rode around town.  We had a great lunch at Lug, Blue Lug's cafe & bar.  After that, we stopped by to see Rew10 workshop and Cook Paint Works next door.  They both do amazing work.  After a busy day riding around town, we went out for okonomiyaki, seafood pancakes and takoyaki, octopus balls.

Night ride, remember to ride on the left.  
Back in the states now.  I already miss the people, the food, and the heated toilet seats.  Can't wait to go back.  Special thanks to Mr. Kentaro and Blue Lug for hosting me!  I had such a good time!

Piolets Back in Stock

by Igor

Piolets are back in stock in all sizes! Ride over things, sleep outside, repeat.

11 March, 2016

Notes From Taiwan

By Chris

Frame testing
I just wanted to share a few notes from my recent trip to the Taipei Cycle Show and to a few of the factories that make parts for us.

We've arranged for lots of samples of new products. It's been years since we've had this much new stuff coming. We'll be testing new rims, a new line of bike-packing luggage, new crank, new wider fender model, grips, saddles, and lots more.

The final version of our 11-speed hubs will soon be ready for testing. We've been riding the first version, but decided to make some minor changes to make disassembly and cleaning easier. These are much like our current hubs, though we had to move the flanges in a bit to fit that 11th cog, which necessitated a whole new body. I'm personally not sure it's worth all the bother: 10-speed is more than enough for me, but customers keep asking for them.

At the frame factory we spoke about the next version of the Polyvalent. This is still in the design stage, but we hope to order prototypes in a few weeks.

We're also looking at a version of the Piolet made with rather special tubing, but it may be too expensive to produce; we'll see. This would be a limited production model, not a replacement, but we may make some very minor changes such as  moving or adding a couple of braze-ons.

We had a long meeting at our rack factory to work on details of a new line of VO racks. These require lots of special tooling and some fairly complicated manufacturing, so it may be some time before you see them. But we think they'll be nothing short of amazing.

We saw prototypes of a crazy new VO threadless stem that we'll soon introduce. And we ordered prototypes of a new quill stem that I've been thinking about for years. I'm really excited about both these stems, and I think you'll find them very useful.
Taiwan is really a great place to visit. It's fairly popular as a vacation destination. There are beaches, hot springs, mountains, great cycling and hiking, decent surfing, remote villages, and amazing museums. One of the highlights of any trip there is the food. The Taiwanese are a nation of foodies, and whether you want cuisine from Taiwan, Japan, China, France, or almost anywhere else you can think of, there are superb restaurants that serve it. But for me the best is the street food at the night markets. Stalls cook up fresh crabs, squid, oyster omelets, strawberries covered in sweet glaze; the list is endless. (A few more photos can be found on my new Instagram page.)