The first batch of rear constructeur racks have finally arrived and are being shipped. Now the bad news, almost all of them are already sold. If you had reserved a rack but have not yet ordered it, please e-mail and you'll be given priority and the slightly lower "reserved price". With luck the next batch will be here late next week. They are also available in the store to pre-order. Of course, we won't charge your credit card until yours is ready to ship.
30 June, 2006
Neil Berg kindly sent these photos of his Chris Kvale custom (with Velo Orange white elkhide handlebar covers). This bike is so stunning that I had to share them. Wow. And yes, those are painted Honjos.
The last photo is of the same bike but pre-bar covers. There are more photos, including detail shots, of this and other Kvale frames here.
Posted by Velo Orange at 9:50:00 AM
29 June, 2006
The always busy Alex Wetmore has posted a comprehensive review of the Ostrich handlebar bag and the Velo Orange decaleur on his blog, "In Touch with Popular Culture". In case you didn't know, Alex is responsible for a lot of great bike related lists.
Speaking of Ostrich bags, our import agent says that they'll sail in around mid-August. Given all the delays with the bells (which are finally in the US and on the way to us), we're looking into having some sent by air freight.
I also got some new Ostrich samples that might be worth stocking. The first is a very nicely made small pannier that can be used on a front rack or on our constructeur rear rack. It is heavy nylon and exhibits super details and workmanship. It even comes with a rain cover. The Capacity is 9.0 lt and the price is around $68 each. Anyone think these would fill a need?
The second is a smaller nylon version of the large Ostrich saddle bag. At only 6.8 lt. capacity it fits neatly between the small Velo Orange seat bag (which shipped today) and the canvas Ostrich bag. The price is around $65. The photo makes it look much much bigger than it is. Opinions?
Posted by Velo Orange at 4:03:00 PM
28 June, 2006
I want to be in France.
Even though I still suffer from my back injury there last year, I don't understand the language, the food was tres disappointing, we waited for hours in the searing heat and blistering sun, the routes we saw were boring, I want to be there.
I want to be there for the whole 3 weeks, renting a van and going from stage to stage, working off a 7-pound 350-page Michelin map book, living on bottled water and peeing in nearby fields. I want to speak broken French to the officious gendarmes, telling them I went to the stage, when I meant I am going to the stage and having them simply smile knowingly.
I want to watch the crazy caravan before the peloton, with cars shaped like telephones and coffee pots and the Deux Cheveux (the cutest car on earth, even over the Mini...) touting the official sausage of the Tour (did you know there even was one?), the gyrating dancers on flatbed trucks hawking god knows what cell phone service, and the candy and necklaces and keychains and sausages and musettes and bottled water and non-alcoholic beer (what a disappointment, the only time I ever saw Chris execute a one-handed catch!) thrown to the spectators, kids and elderly both scrabbling on the ground after the same swag, and the packs of Haribo Gummi Riders - each package holding all different colored riders but only ONE yellow rider.
I want to see the French newspapers playing up their highest ranked French riders, freaking out when a Frencman wins the Bastille Day stage. I want to watch (but not understand) "Velo Club" after each stage, a group of about 20 journalists and some French riders with trendy haircuts who obviously want to be anywhere but there, craving a massage and a blood transfusion, crowded on a small set of bleachers, jawing and whining and opining about how the French performed during the stage, hosted by a guy with such unbelievably spiked hair I can't take my eyes off of it; the only thing missing is the cigarettes, which most of them probably smoke off-camera and hold between their legs when they take the microphone that's passed around.
I want to see the five Tour helicopters land to take a rest. I want to see and hear them overhead. I want to see the OLN helicopter and wave to it like a crazy person. I want to wear the polka-dot cap from Champion grocery store, sponsor of the polka-dot king of the mountains jersey, and not have to share it with Alec.
I want to see the Devil and his trident and his 20-foot high bike, screaming and running alongside the riders at one point on every stage, and the official Tour vans seeking him out over their loudspeakers, calling, "Di-aaaaaaa-blo, Di-aaaaaa-blo" until he emerges from the crowd for hugs and photos.
Maybe, just maybe over 3 weeks I can actually train myself to recognize the each rider as they literally buzz past, now that I've learned to keep facing the direction from which they are approaching and never, never, ever turn to follow the progress of one rider, because then you've missed all the rest.
And at the end of the 3 weeks I can arrive at the airport sunburned and bursting with Tour junk, and I can say to the ticket agent, "I am going to the Tour."
Posted by Velo Orange at 6:44:00 PM
Today sidepull brakes, particularly the double pivot variety, are seen as the pinnacle of brake technology. But I would argue that centerpulls are the best brakes ever made, particularly if they are mounted on brazed on bosses.
Sidepull brakes became popular when Campagnolo came out with their version for racing bikes. Campy brakes were superbly made, very smooth, lightweight, and expensive. But they did not, and still don't, stop as well as a cheap set of centerpulls. Campy and others realized this and eventually made dual pivot brakes, which could be thought of as a type of centerpull. Double pivot brakes do stop a lot better than single pivots, but the problem with double pivot brakes is that they are hard to modulate. That is they seem to be on or off. With centerpulls, on the other hand, it is easy to apply just a little braking, or a bit more, as required. And there are other advantages.
Unlike other brakes, centerpulls get wider (above the pivots) when they are applied so they don't squeeze fenders.
Though they have almost as much shear stopping power as cantilever brakes, the centerpull's mounting posts are higher so there is less impact on fork flexibility. And centerpulls are easier to set up.
Centerpulls got a bad reputation because they were standard equipment on millions of crappy bike boom ten speeds. Most were not set up properly and a few were total garbage. The squealing attributed to centerpulls is mostly due to poor quality brake pads.
Interestingly, today we see only the most expensive custom bikes, plus the Rivendell 650b production bikes, equipped with centerpulls. The new Paul Racer centerpulls cost well over $100 apiece.
So as far as I'm concerned, this whole sidepull thing is just a fad that will go the way of banana seat bikes.
Posted by Velo Orange at 1:13:00 PM
26 June, 2006
We're adding more new stuff to the Velo Orange store today and later in the week:
- MKS touring pedals which are great for city bikes, for touring bikes, and for us folks with big wide feet. Given the $23 price the quality is amazing.
- Black elk hide handlebar covers. $28
- Elkhide toe clip covers and chainstay protectors in white, gold, and black are now available. You can't have leather that doesn't match!
- TA Cyclotouriste cranks and chainrings, most sizes will be available.
- Very very nice ALE Italian leather toe clip straps in red and in blue.
- MKS toe clips in XL size.
- New old stock IDEALE 92 honey saddles for only, cough cough, $350 . These are the real "made in France" deal. Supply is very very limited, perhaps non-existant ;<). Reserve now if you want one.
- IDEALE 2004 saddles in black and honey.
- Blue and light gray cloth bar tape.
Posted by Velo Orange at 1:30:00 PM
23 June, 2006
Now don't get excited, but what if Velo Orange had frames made. They'd be 700c rando-style lugged steel frame, but you probably guessed that. The frame geometry would be a blatant copy of the best all around old world frame I could find. There would be braze-ons for center pull brakes, a front rack, a strap type chainstay protector, fender mounts, front and rear light mounts. The lugs would be short point Italian style, unless I could find the right French style lugs, but nothing too fancy. The tubing would be modern heat treated stuff. The color might be orange, no really, or French blue. What else would you want to see on this imaginary frame?
Posted by Velo Orange at 6:45:00 PM
21 June, 2006
The roller bearing Stronglight A9 headset is one of those special components that defy time. Its roller bearings last for ages, it is very light (82 grams), it does not develop index steering, it has classic good looks, and it is reasonably priced. In fact, it makes you wonder why anyone else bothers to make headsets.
We stock them in the British size but can get the French version in a few days. ($35) Don't be misled by the low price; these are as good a headset as any made today.
Does anyone want the threadless version of these?
Posted by Velo Orange at 4:22:00 PM
As Velo Orange grows we'll continue to expand our offerings. Here are the latest items we're stocking:
Many customers have asked us to carry cloth tape. So now we stock Tressostar tape in red, brown, orange, yellow, green, and white. It's $3 a roll in the Velo Orange store. It looks great under shellac.
I also wanted to stock some inexpensive but well made chrome water bottle cages. We stock the latest version of the classic TA Specialites cage ($9.50). These have been produced for decades with the chrome body and plastic retainer, but the styling changes every dozen years or so.
We also have the Italian chrome ALE cage ($7.50). They won't mark up your bottles like alloy cages and have a simple style that looks great on any bike.
Another item that's getting hard to find is nice alloy toe clips. We stock the gorgeous ALE toe clips in size large and the classic Italian Galli clips in medium. Availability of these might be spotty, but we have them now. $15 for either.
We also have Christophe leather toe clip straps in black and nice Italian straps in gold, which is as close to tan as we could find ($8).
Of course we also have Velox bar plugs. So no more lost plugs; no more ugly plastic plugs; and no more bruised knees ($4 per pair).
Posted by Velo Orange at 3:47:00 PM
TA Specialites pedals are, arguably, the nicest pedal ever made. TA pedals were an expensive and rare upgrade on Rene Herse and Alex Singer bikes.
They are completely rebuildable. The cages and "flick tabs" are replacable. They use inboard roller bearings. They have grease ports so you don't need to dissassemble them for re-greasing. They are, in a word, superb.
We stock them in both road and track versions. The track model has gray cages; the road model has silver. Our price is $105 (retail is $150). These may be in short supply; in fact it's surprising that a product like this is still made. So get them while they are still available.
Posted by Velo Orange at 3:31:00 PM
While waiting for parts to be manufactured for the Herse style mounts, I discovered that these lights can be used with the C-cell flashlight mounts if you just bend them out a bit. So they are now available in the Velo Orange store. The lights are manufactured in the Czech republic and are very lightweight. The lens is real tempered glass and the chrome finish is lovely. But these are still 1930's technology, neither as sturdy nor as well constructed as modern lights. Nor are they waterproof.
The rational for these is that they are beautiful, inexpensive, and put out enough light for occasional use. Plus, they are worth many many style points. I have one on my bike.
We'll sell only the 3 D-cell version as they are a bit brighter. But there is one 2 D-cell light on offer in the special section.
Other Notes: Black elkhide handlebar covers will be available next week.
The new re-styled Velo Orange small seatbags will also arrive next week; the logo stamp is made. They will be sewn from tan waxed canvas with leather trim. These are the first of the Velo Orange brand bike luggage.
I went to the metal shop this morning and saw big piles of rear rack parts, very shiny and impressive, but nothing put together yet. With a little luck we'll have the first few about Monday and enough to fill all current orders by the end of the week.
I'm holding off asking them to finish the two versions of the front rack prototype because so many of you keep asking when the rear rack will be done and it looks like we're a week behind ;<). By the way, someone told me that they asked a frame builder to make a rack like ours and the quote was $350.
Posted by Velo Orange at 11:20:00 AM
17 June, 2006
So long as I am posting about French sites, I cannot leave out the brilliant Le RANDONNEUR site. It contains an amazing wealth of historical information. And if you like old photographs of cycle touring, you'll be in heaven.
And here is the site of Arnaud Decostre, a Belgian cyclo tourist with an extensive collection of trip reports and photographs (use language tools as this site translates well) : www.cyclosite.be
Another cyclo tourist with an large site is Frenchman Jean-Phillippe Battu. His site is in both English and French: http://www.geocities.com/jeanpba/#Velo
Posted by Velo Orange at 1:28:00 PM
France is shaped, roughly, like a six pointed star. The points of the star are connected by diagonals as seen on the map to the left. And what better to do with these diagonals than take a bike tour along them.
There is, of course, a group devoted to just this pursuit, Les Diagonales de France. And their members are Diagonaliste.
The Les Diagonales de France web site is at:
From their site:
"DIAGONAL. For the common run of people, this term suggests the straight line which is, says one, the shortest way of a point to another.
DIAGONAL. For the philosopher finally, it evokes the Adventure and the Dream: Strasbourg is not beside Brest and Dunkirk not more near Perpignan…
It is there one of the paradoxes of the Man whom to be tiny on the scale of the Earth and however being able to achieve what appears unthinkable. But isn't the bicycle touring a form of philosophy?"
Use Google language tools to translate the site. there is a lot of good information and photographs.
I wonder if we have logical diagonals in any of our states? In any case, this seems a little easier than pass hunting.
Posted by Velo Orange at 12:59:00 PM
15 June, 2006
What is the best derailleur ever made? No less an authority than Mike Barry of Mariposa fame says it's the Simplex SLJ, and he's not alone. I've become interested in the SLJ since my new bike, an old French racer, is equipped with both the front and rear models.
Simplex has always made good derailleurs, but in the 1960s they made the error of using a new miracle material, derlin plastic. This material was very tough and very flexible. The derailleurs would wear out rapidly, deform under load, and be perceived as cheap. But the basic design was ahead of its time.
I remember as a youth getting a Campagnola Nuovo Record derailleur and being rather disapointed that it did not shift as well as a Simplex Criterium I'd been using. Today we know that the Campy derailleurs, as well as the brakes, did not match the performance of less expensive French components. But anything so expensive and beautifully made must be better, right?
By 1972 Simplex had to do something to show the world it was still the leader in derailleur technology. And their tour de force was the SLJ. It was strong, shifted superbly, could handle a wider range of gears than the Campy, and it was pretty. It had a spring on the upper pivot that allowed it to take up more chain which made it better suited to the wider gearing that was becoming popular. The SLJ was produced in both the normal and long-cage, or touring, version.
But it was too late. The public perception of Simplex was too far gone. Only the most knowledgeble cyclists and hard-core francophiles bought the expensive new derailleur. Fortunately several French manufacturers used them on their bikes until the mid 1980s
The following year Simplex introduced Retrofriction shifters. These were so clearly superior to anything on the market that I remember seeing many bikes with full Campy grupos, except for Simplex shifters.
The SLJ went through several updates. The most significant was the the change to a slant parallelogram. Production ended with the rare SLJ 6600. Greg Lemond used one for his World Championship win.
The SLJ front derailleur was also an outstanding piece of engineering. Strong and stiff, it was far superior to the light, but flexible and fragile Huret front derailleurs.
Today Simplex SLJ derailleurs, and retrofriction shifters, are much sought after by knowledgable cyclists. Many of the randonneur bikes built in Japan by Toei and other constructeurs use them, as do Alex Singer bikes. Even early Rivendell bikes used them.
Before we get too caught up in the past, there are modern derailleurs that shift just as well, probably better. But they sure don't have the character of the old Simplex.
Posted by Velo Orange at 10:53:00 AM
12 June, 2006
- Everybody who ordered Elk hide bar covers will have them in a few days. They shipped today and there are plenty more in stock.
- We once again have plenty of shiny (and a few satin finish) decaleurs in all sizes in stock.
- Rack production has fallen a bit behind, but we still think the first constructeur rear racks will ship in a couple of weeks. The prototype front rack might appear as early as the end of this week.
- The Japanese bells are scheduled to arrive around the 25th. I'll belive it when I see them ;<)
- The Ostrich bags are officially on order, but we've not gotten a delivery date yet. We're also looking at some Ostrich black nylon front panniers they would also be perfect as rear panniers for the constructeur rack. Is anybody interested in a matching black nylon version of the green cotton seat bag? We'll be testing one soon.
- The small seat bags have been delayed because the stamp for the logo is not ready. The stamp manufacturer is backed up. And I though it would be cool if we didn't even have a logo, but conventional wisdom won out. Maybe we'll have them next week.
Posted by Velo Orange at 1:36:00 PM
10 June, 2006
Here are a few web sites that are worth visiting:
David e-mailed the url for a Japanese craftsman that makes breathtaking leather and metal bike goods:
Still the best deal in a wool jersey:
One of my all time favorite bikes, a Toei passhunter:
Post-modern bike parts and bikes from Denmark:
A gallery of unusual photos from the Alex Singer atelier:
The VAR tool site. You can download an English language catalog:
A great pass hunting page (this is the translated link):
A new Rivendell site that was posted on the RBW list:
An amazing selection of LED flashlights:
Great baskets that we can't get in the US:
Please comment if you know other great, but obscure, URLs
Posted by Velo Orange at 3:32:00 PM
09 June, 2006
No, this light did not fall out of a Daniel Rebour drawing. The flashlight is made, even today, in a corner of Europe. And the mount is made in the Velo Orange shop.
Of course this is just the first prototype. The finger knobs are too big and the steel needs to be thinner, but you get the idea.
It's been suggested that I not bother making the light easily removable, but rather make a mount that's semi-permanently affixed to the light. That would makeit lighter and simpler. And that's the way Herse did it. What do you think?
Estimated cost for the combination: $27. It'll be available in two sizes. Anybody like it? Think it's silly?
Posted by Velo Orange at 5:16:00 PM
08 June, 2006
They're just samples, but I had a chance to use the three Ostrich bags we plan to stock. Here are my impressions:
In general the bags are very well made and super sturdy. Yet they are not heavy. I think this is due to limited use of leather and metal. There are numerous well thought out features, but also a couple of surprising lapses. The color looks better in person than in the photos; it looks great on my orange bike. Overall the bags are not as elegant as Berthouds, but just as rugged and usable. By the way, you can click on the photos to enlarge them.
The handlebar bag is very large at 12 liters capacity, but it is not tall, rather it is deep front to back. This makes getting things out very easy. The elastic closures are simply the best system I've ever used. There are plastic stiffiners in the sides and bottom, so the bag is quite rigid. I had no problem opening the forward facing flap while riding. I was worried about that, but it's a non-issue. The flaws include a silly grid printed on the map case and lack of a rack strap in back. But there is a strap on the bottom.
The panniers are a great size for light camping, commuting, or a very long inn-to-inn trip. The big flaw in the panniers is the lack of a modern mounting system; they uses straps and buckles. We'll have to design an upgrade kit for this right from the start. The other flaw is the bright white compression cord, how declasse.
I have not repeated all the dimensions and capacities for the bags since you can scroll down to my previous post about them. Overall the bags are nice enough that I'm keeping a set for myself. If you think you might like to buy one of these let me know which one. I'm trying to figure out how many of each to order and a show of interest would be a big help.
There are a few more photos here.
Prices may change a little, but...
Bar bag: $110
Saddle bag: $120
Panniers: $105 (each)
Posted by Velo Orange at 6:15:00 PM
07 June, 2006
The strip of elkhide on the left is new. The strip on the right was left outside in sun and rain for over two weeks. The top portion was treated with Brooks Proofhide. The middle was is untreated. The bottom part is treated with pure neatsfoot oil.
Obviously the neatsfoot oil both protected the leather and gave it a pleasent honey color. It's great stuff.
This is from the label:
"100% Pure Neatsfoot Oil is an all natural oil for the preservation of leather articles subjected to rugged outdoor use. 100% Pure Neatsfoot Oil keeps leather soft and pliant through repeated wetting-drying cycles and helps restore dried out leather to its natural pliancy."
I've been told that some commonly available neatsfoot oil is not 100% pure and is diluted with petroleum oil which actually harms leather. So I found a source for the good stuff and it's now available in 4-ounce bottles in the Velo Orange store; $5.
Posted by Velo Orange at 12:53:00 PM
05 June, 2006
The company that makes this bag is making a version of it for us.
The Velo Orange bag will not have the horizontal strip with four rivets. The closing strap will continue over the top of the bag. And the Velo Orange logo will also act as a blinkey mount (though this feature may not be ready on the first shipment).
The material is heavy cotton canvas with leather trim. The price will be $65. We should have the first shipment next week so you can pre-order.
Please let me know what you think.
The photo is of a small bag made by Manufrance. This may be the ancestor of all small saddle bags.
We're also considering developing a seat bag. We're aiming for a price point of around $120-$130 What do you think features do you think the Velo Orange seat bag should have? We don't want just another copy of a Carrdice or Ostrich bag, but an improved version.
Posted by Velo Orange at 3:27:00 PM
04 June, 2006
Ernest, who lives in Japan, has been helping me locate products not available on this side of the Pacific. He steered me toward the Chaconne site which sells, among other things, this elegant cordovan (horse hide) handlebar bag. It is available in nine sizes and is lined with royal blue leather. It also contains a type of vibration dampening foam developed by NASA. The emblem is pure silver. And you may notice that the bike attached to the bag appears to be a Rene Herse, but is not included.
The bags are a 110,000 Yen ($984) if handsewn or only 90,000 Yen ($806) for the cheapskate's machine sewn version. This is obviously the bag for those who feel Berthoud bags are simply too pedestrian.
Should your significant other frown at the cost, show him or her that it does double duty as a stylish purse. If this isn't an obvious Velo Orange product....
Chaconne also has a selection of 650b tires, 58 colors of leather bar tape, very nice cycling gloves, and sea salt. They appear to sell potted plants as well.
You can use Google language tools to read the text on their site. Be sure to follow the links to some cool bike pages (note: the links don't work in translation mode). This is the Google translation of the order page:
As for the commodity which is published to this home page the male or
You can order.
◆ ◆ ◆
In order there is no entry leak or the mistake, in regard to verification please transmit.
Name address telephone number [meruadoresu]
That, it is making a mistake and it is not, we ask may.
Before the commodity dispatching you give the communication of verification from the sun union.
◆ ◆ ◆
Consumer tax is not included in fee.
◆ ◆ ◆
When the index of each item top is clicked
It can open the corresponding window.
◆ ◆ ◆
At the male please inquire the unclear point unhesitantly.
Posted by Velo Orange at 2:34:00 PM
I recently finished reading Frank Berto’s The Dancing Chain. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. Expecting a dry discourse on the development of the derailleur, I found instead a 384-page history of the last 100 years if bicycles and bicycling. This is a book that flows like a good novel, yet it contains more technical information than even the most devoted gear head could absorb in one reading.
There is a section on the efficiency of hub gears. The discourse on the effect the bike boom on various manufacturers is fascinating. I learned which of the Huret, Simplex, and Suntour derailleurs shift best and why. Then there is the never-ending drama of manufacturers hoping to design a better drive train, often copying, sometimes innovating. I learned which gear trains were popular with cyclo-tourists and when. And on and on.
The Dancing Chain is a profusely illustrated volume with photos and drawings not only of derailleurs but also of bikes and riders. Over 1000 illustration are contained within the covers. Many of the Daniel Rebour drawings have never been seen in print before.
This is not an inexpensive volume, but the amount of information it contains is monumental and it is a rather large hardcover book. I strongly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the technology or history of bicycles. It is, of course, available in the Velo Orange store .
Posted by Velo Orange at 1:42:00 PM
01 June, 2006
It looks like the rear racks will cost $108 for all those who previously reserved them. The long term price will be around $120. We are working at finding ways to speed up the manufacturing process and will drop the price if we can. But there is over an hour's worth of high quality stainless steel welding in each rack, so I wasn't able to meet my price goal. Before we launch into full scale production, we'll make one rack out of thinner wall tubing to see if we can save a little weight, that will push delivery time back by a few days.
Initial reports from elk hide handlebar cover testers have been very positive. We just got more gold/honey elk hide as well as some white. We hope to start shipping the covers next week. If anyone else has them installed, please e-mail. a few quotes from testers:
- "This elk hide is fantastic stuff. ... Top notch in every way.
- The MS150 was this weekend , and I put the elk hide through the paces. Saturdays ride gave us a 5 hour ride in a medium rain.... The bar covers worked great. and this was without a treatment of any sort. I will, I just didn't have time before the ride. Sundays ride let us dry out a bit and the covers are still in fine shape.
- "Dimensions of the cover are perfect. Length was long enough for my 46 cm Nitto Noodles, and width was just right, with and without the brake cable underneath."
- "Put them on last night. About an hour and a half or so... The leather pulls together nicely and the sticky tape holds well. On the second side my seam started to drift to the inside a bit, but was able to massage it back in place"
- ...... it looks and feels great..... I see this stuff lasting at least a decade. Very nice, I will definitely put it on other bikes.
I am working on making a new style of flashlight holder based on this Rene Herse model . Our version will have knurled thumb-nuts so the light can easily be removed. Anybody interested? And does anyone know where we can get chrome flashlights for transformation into LED lights? The good old Fulton lights went out of production about 7 month ago.
And finally, we now have black top tube protectors.
With luck, we'll see a prototype of the front rack around the end of next week
Also, I'm sending drawings of the racks and decaleurs to Nitto to see if they can make them more economically. If that doesn't work, I may be shopping for plane tickets to Taiwan.
Posted by Velo Orange at 2:24:00 PM