19 September, 2014

Measurements for a 1x

by Clint

We've had some questions recently about setting up fixed, single, and other 1x's so I figured I'd shed a little light on the topic in this blog post.

Example setup: 130mm hub bumped up to 135mm with hub spacers.  Spacers and a cassette cog carrier on the freehub.

There are many factors to consider when setting up a 1x anything, but the one that can be particularly tricky is chainline, or getting a straight line from your chainring to whatever kind of gear you are using in the back. It's going to be less important if you're using multiple gears in the back.  In that case, you'll want to shoot vaguely for the middle of the cassette to get the smoothest range of speeds.

Frame Dimensions
If you don't have your hands on a frame already, here are a couple things to keep in mind when finding one to run as a 1x.
  • Rear spacing is going to vary for different frames. 130mm is common for road bikes, 135mm for mountain. 126mm is used on old 6- or 7-speed frames, 120mm on 5-speed.  You may encounter something else depending on the era and purpose of the frame.  
    • Fitting your frame to your hub - If you're using a hub that doesn't match up with the rear of your frame, you can often stretch or squish the frame to make it fit your needs. I can't guarantee this will work, but if you try it, just make sure both sides of the frame are repositioned evenly. Otherwise you'll have to get fancy with your wheel dishing. I'd also discourage you from doing this if you have anything other than a steel frame. The mismatched hub and frame can still work even if you don't permanently set the frame; however, it may take a little longer to get your wheel back in.   
    • Fitting your hub to your frame - Alternatively, if you're bumping up to a larger size from your hub to your frame and don't want to stretch your frame, you can sometimes put spacers in your hub (depending on your hub). I used a couple of spacers in my hub to bump it up from a 130mm to a 135mm. This isn't possible on all hubs.  For instance, our cassette hubs are set up for easy freehub body removal, so spacers would mess things up.  
  • Dropouts - As far as this blog post is concerned, dropouts fall into two categories: 
    • Horizontal dropouts allow for variation in the horizontal distance. I'm including semi-horizontal, forward facing, and rear facing in this category.  These dropouts are going to make adequate chain tension easy since you can adjust it by simply moving your wheel forwards or backwards.
    • Vertical dropouts  - With these, you don't have horizontal variation.  These are good for disc brakes or an aesthetically pleasing fenderline.  If you have vertical dropouts, you have two options:
      • Use a chain tensioner or a rear derailleur if using multiple speeds in the back. These aren't going to work for fixies.  
      • Do the math. Figure out the distance between your gears and use their diameters to calculate the length of the required chain. Make sure this length of chain is either a multiple of 1in if you're using a regular chain or .5in if you're using a half link chain. Next, pray that your chain doesn't stretch too much after a few days of use. Keep in mind that different gear combos can yield the same, if not close, ratio.  Park Tool has an approximation of the formula here.  Helpful hint: CAD programs can do the math for you.  
Calculate the required chain length (red) with these measurements.  

Hub Types
  • For a 1x multiple, just aim to have your chainline somewhere close to the middle of your cassette. Check the top and lowest gears to make sure your chainline isn't too extreme.  
  • For single speeds with a cassette hub, I'd recommend something like the Problem Solvers cassette cog carrier. You'll need some spacers and the threaded end piece of a cassette to line up and keep your cog in place. You can use bottom bracket spacers, spacers from an old cassette, or something else of a similar size.  
  • For fixed or free hubs, you won't be able to adjust cog/freewheel in relation to the hub (see #2 below).  
  • Note: With a spacer, you can use either side of our fixed/free hubs for a cog or freewheel.  Additionally these hubs come with spacers for different frames sizes.  
The Big Picture/Diagram

  1. Adjusted with dish.
  2. In a cassette setup, adjusted with spacers. In a fixed/free setup, this can't be adjusted.
  3. Adjusted using spacers or if the hub uses a cup and cone.
  4. Adjusted a little bit in the bottom bracket shell with the use of bottom bracket spacers.
  5. If using a crank intended for multiple chainrings, you can decide which position is best for chainline. Line up 3 with 5. 
  6. With traditional bottom brackets you can change out the spindle or rotate to get a different length. In modern cartridge style bottom brackets, you can experiment with different length spindles.  
In just about any situation with this many variables and unknowns, there's bound to be more that one solution. See what you can come up with.

RIDE FIXED OR whatever.


16 September, 2014

Travels in Iceland

by Scott

My vacation this year was a long planned trip to Iceland with my wife. Iceland is a place that I have wanted to visit ever since reading the book Arctic Odyssey by Richard Sale and Tony Oliver. We had two and a half weeks, and we planned only to visit the lower southwest part of the country. We didn't have time to try and ride around the island, so we wanted to give ourselves lots of time to explore an area.

I won't bore you with the day-to-day ins and outs of our trip, but I will share some thoughts and photos of an amazing place.

If you are looking for wide open spaces to ride, this is the place. The road above was only a couple of hours from Reykjavik and was our first lunch stop of the trip. While the road was paved here, the hill leading up to it was the first of the gravel/dirt roads we encountered on the trip.
Our first campground was in Grindavik. This was the last stop for many cyclists, as the international Airport and the Blue Lagoon spa were 3 hours and 20 minutes away, respectively. Here we encountered the largest number of cycle tourists, including this French couple traveling with a mountain tandem and trailer. (Most of the tourists we met were from Europe. We didn't meet a lot of North Americans.)
We knew food would be an issue on this trip. Prices are high for goods in Iceland - we knew that going in. We tried to carry at least an extra dinner on us along with some muesli and some cheese and buns for lunch. On one occasion, Melissa came up with the idea for Mexican junk food night: refried beans, cheese sauce and taco sauce all heated up as a layer dip, followed by chips and Icelandic pop to wash it down. Vegetarian, easy to find at the grocery store and very filling.
We camped 9 nights out of 13 on the road. The campsites ranged from wide open fields close to town to the caldera of an extinct volcano in the Westman (or Vestmannaeyjar) Islands.  At the caldera, we had to put the tent up between upright lava rocks and behind mounds of earth. The great thing about the camp sites was the camp kitchens that almost all of them had. An enclosed area with hot plates, tables, electricity and most of all, heat, was very welcome after a long day on the road, or just for the fact that we didn't have to cook bent over a Primus stove in the wind.
Finally, the weather is always something people speak of. We had the full mix of weather: rain, storms, wind and, finally, sun that came out at the best possible times. We went late in the season for cycling in Iceland, and you could tell by the distinct lack of other cyclists by the end of our trip in early September. But even in the worse weather, Iceland had a beauty and an energy that we have not found any where else and we are planning a return trip. It has so much to see and so many different eco-systems and geographic features that I think it can take up a lot of vacations in the years to come.

We flew Iceland Air, and they were great with the bikes. They only charged us $40 per bike, per direction, and they treated our boxes with great care and attention. In fact, everyone in Iceland was very respectful of bikes, giving us lots of room on the roads and always eager to help with suggestions.
For those wondering about gear details, Melissa took a Camargue and I took a prototype frame, the details of which I am sworn to secrecy. We ran 26 x 1.95 WTB all terrain tires which were great for all the roads we encountered. We used a mix of panniers, frame bags and dry bags to carry our "light packing" load.

This was a dream vacation- great riding, lovely food, great beer and wonderful people.

05 September, 2014

More Noir

by Igor

I've been super happy with the progress of our Noir line. If you're keeping score, so far we have an 1 1/8" Sealed Bearing Headset, ChroMo Crazy Bars, ChroMo Seine Bars, Zeste Cantilever Brakes, Long Reach Caliper Brakes, and 0 Setback Seatpost. So today we're introducing a couple new items.

Here's the VO Tall Stack Stem, Noir. Same dimensions and specs as the silver version

We'd also like to introduce Casey's Crazy Bars in Noir. Same dimensions and specs as the original alloy Crazy Bar.

What should be next in the Noir lineup? Drillium? Hubs?

Lastly, we just received a shipment of more Grand Cru Fender Mounted Reflectors. The last shipment sold out very quickly.

02 September, 2014

Using the Six-Pack rack

By Clint

We've had some questions about how to secure your goods.  All you need is a bungee chord and the bag your beverages came with.  Here are a few photos.

Secured and ready to ride
12 oz cans have a lower center of gravity and they're already strapped together.  Not a huge chance of these things falling out, but we still recommend tying them down.

Low gravity beverages
Our friend Eric loaded up his bike with some pear cider, Chilean wine, and Mexican tequila. He's living on the edge securing his six-pack with only a bungee chord; a little risky in our eyes, but it's a darn good looking build.
"Alchoholica" by Eric
We've also been asked what camera bag fits the rack. Igor's been using this Lowepro Rezo 170 AW for a while (which fits perfectly into the Grand Cru Handlebar Bag by the way) because it's simple, lightweight, and comes with a water resistant cover which is tucked into a secret compartment. It's almost like it was destiny.
Remember, there's no use in crying over spilled milk; however, it's perfectly normal to shed tears over broken bottles.

29 August, 2014

Closed for Labeur Day

VO World Headquarters will be closed on Monday, so orders will be postponed a day.  Have a safe holiday!

Can't be too safe.

VO/Revelate Frame Bags Arrive

With the growing popularity of bike packing and with so many VO Camargues rolling out our doors, it was a no-brainer to have frame bags made specifically for our new frame. We asked Revelate Designs to design and sew them. Revelate is a small company in Anchorage Alaska that, we feel, makes the very best bike packing bags on the planet.
Frame bags are the basis of bike packing luggage; that's where the heavy stuff goes: food, tools, water. They keep the bulk of your gear weight centered for better handling over rough terrain.  The Revelate bags include a space for a bladder since you'll be using up most of your usual bottle space.
The bags are made from Dimension Polyant and ballistic nylon, black with orange accent stitching. Water resistant zippers seal both the main compartment and the accessory pocket on the left side so you can access your stuff easily without dealing with any roll tops. The main compartment is divided into two large sections to keep contents from shifting; there is also a small internal mesh pocket at the front. The two sizes cover all of our Camargue frames with the exception of the 47cm.  They fit some of our road frames too.

21 August, 2014

Six-Pack Rack Arrives

The long awaited Six-Pack racks have just arrived. This is basically a rail that bolts to several of our front racks turning them into small baskets. Surprisingly, it allows you to easily carry a six-pack of you favorite beverage. It's also useful for a small camera bag, purse, bag lunch, a few groceries, etc.

It fits the Randonneur rack, Rando rack with decaleur, Pass Hunter rack, Pass Hunter rack with decaleur, and Constructeur front rack. Attachment is with the four, included, 5mm screws.

We suggest using a bungie cord or cargo net to secure your cargo in this, or any, basket-type rack. It wouldn't do to launch a precious microbrew when you hit a big bump.

More photos can be found in this previous blog post.

19 August, 2014

New Seatposts and Wheels. Microfiber Saddles Back in Stock.

by Igor

This week will be a week of new products. To start, Zero Setback Seatpost in Silver and Noir are here. They use a neat, simple adjustment mechanism and feature an integral head and post. The seatpost weighs a nice 295g for 400mm of length. Minimum insertion is 100mm from the bottom.

We also have some new wheels built around our Touring Hubs and Escapade Rims. They're the perfect match to the Camargue frameset.

Lastly, our Microfiber Touring Saddles are back in stock.

13 August, 2014

GAP and C&O in Film

by Igor

Film is fun. It teaches you the basics of camera operation. It teaches you simplicity. It teaches you patience. It teaches you to find a reason to photograph a scene. It teaches you to be a better photographer.

Here's a collection from our GAP and C&O tour a few weeks back. I used a Pentax K1000 paired to a SMC F2 K-mount 50mm lens and Fujifilm Superia 400 film. Aside from cropping and light contrast, these photos are how I got them from the developer.

Do you still shoot film or is it really dead?

Adrian had to make sure her new jersey didn't rip if she hulks on accident.
Amtrak trip from DC to Pittsburgh was ~8 hrs
Creepy lady hanging out between cars on Amtrak
Waiting for our bikes to be unloaded
Flowers and pollen at a coffee shop in Pittsburgh
See ya PGH
First mile marker of the GAP
Little waterfalls dotted the trails
Adrian's steed

A study in convergence
Had to hop off and hike through downed trees to get here
Leaving Paw Paw Tunnel. The way they cut and formed the slats around the natural features was really satisfying.
Waterfall outside an old plant
Big Savage Tunnel
Overlook after the tunnel
Flying downhill into Frostburg and Cumberland
Great Falls just outside of DC
I could really go for some paddling right now

Bonus Stella