30 May, 2007

Cirque du Cyclisme

Here is a guest blog from Peter Weigle about the upcoming Classic Rendezvous Cirque du Cyclisme. Hope you can make it.

Hi Chris,
I know you're going to be there..

Here's a reminder for the reader's on your blog about the upcoming Cirque du Cyclisme show in Greensborough N.C.

This years event will be held on June 8th, 9th, & 10th.
This gathering centers around vintage lightweight bicycles, and also honors modern bikes/frames built in the traditional spirit, call KOF's, or keepers of the flame.

The "theme" this year is Pantographing,Drillium & Fancy Lugs, those fascinating flights of cycling fancy.
I have included this photo of a drillium crankset that will be displayed on my 1979 pristine white time trial machine that was inspired by the bikes I saw when I raced in England back in 1973.
Dale Brown the owner of Cycles de Oro bike shop has done a great job bringing many like minded cyclist together to ride, display, and hear seminars by leading experts about classic bicycles. There is a judged show, and also a great swap meet.This is Dale's 10th year for this show.

There are always many very cool bikes displayed here. Racing, cyclotouring, city etc. The number of classic French bikes has grown every year, there will be Alex Singer's, Rene Heres's, Ducheron etc. etc. Not to be missed!

See you there!
Peter Weigle

What do you think of Peter's brand new Mixte?

25 May, 2007


A couple of new brakes have made it into the Velo Orange store. I'm most excited about the new Mafac cantilever copies made by Tektro. The seem really nicely made and look very cool. I'll be mounting a set on one of my bikes with Yokozuna pads in a few days. At $75 for a bike's worth they are also a great deal.

We also now stock the wonderful long reach Tektro 521AG. The Tektro 512AG is a very high quality long reach brake (47 to 57mm). They include re-fillable cartridge type brake shoes, barrel adjusters with O-rings, recessed mount, and a cam type quick-release. The finish is polished aluminum. At $45 a set they are another great deal.

Finally we found some beautiful old non-aero CLB levers with dark brown gum hoods. A very classy component for a traditional randonneuse or race bike. New-old-stock; limited quantities.

Tektro has been hard at work. Have a look at their new CR720 brakes. Should we stock them?

We are still working on our own brand of silver inverse levers to fit Nitto porteur bars. If that doesn't work out we'll make porteur bars to fit standard inverse levers.

23 May, 2007

Notes from the Shop

I decided to take a few hours to finish some old projects. My new Velo Orange city bike got CLB inverse brake levers and shellaced tape. I also added an Ideale saddle. And I moved the prototype demi-porteur rack to the new bike.

My old city bike, and testbed for a lot of prototype VO parts, got the new Porteur chaincase and a new type of handlebar I'm trying out. I'm waiting for the prototype full size porteur rack to install on this bike. I also tried to install the prototype silver VO brand inverse brake levers, but they didn't fit; we'll work on them.

Production of the first run of porteur chaincases starts early next week and they should be done in about 2 weeks. There will be two models. One will have a 75mm hole for classic cranks and look very authentic; that's the one in the photo. The second type will have a 110mm hole to fit modern compact cranks. Many of the first run are already reserved. I hope we're making enough. The finish will be nicer on the production version.

The hardware for the first run of chaincases presented some problems as I'm not sure if the draw bolts I've ordered (from Taiwan) will arrive in time. We can always use R-clips, which I did on my bike. The screws I used are too long, but otherwise the mounting system works perfectly. Now we need to eliminate the washers and make it more elegant. There is just enough room for my 49t chainring; a 46t or 48t will be perfect.

Now I'm off to fabricate a VO handlebar mount for water bottle cages.

22 May, 2007

Ahren and a Mixte

I like this photo of Ahren Rogers holding an unfinished Velo Orange fillet brazed mixte city bike frame. Ahren also builds most of of our racks. The new shop is nice and roomy!

Mixte versions of the city bike and of the Randonneur frame are now available.

21 May, 2007

Growth and Product Availability

Velo Orange is continuing to grow at a rate beyond my expectations. Thank you. While this is great news it also presents certain problems.

We need to ramp up production for some of the products we make, particularly the racks and decaleurs. We are going to be low on most models for the next 2-3 months. The simple fact is that they now sell faster than we can make them. We do have a plan to solve this; another welder will soon join the the US shop that makes them and the less expensive chrome plated racks will begin to arrive from Japan. But then the porteur racks will enter production and we may again face supply problems.

We are also having problems getting sufficient quantities of Grand Bois tires. I have decided to bring them over in larger quantities directly from the factory, but even they are unable to meet demand in a timely fashion.

Likewise we keep increasing our orders with Honjo and Ostrich, but it will take some time for them to catch up.

Now the good news. We recieved anther shipment of rear constructeur racks (note the new bottom loop), Grand Bois tires, and a few other items we've been short on.

18 May, 2007

Coast Stems and Toyo Frames

For your viewing pleasure here are two photos of Johnny's stems. They are only available with a frame, never separately. The one on the right is the type I prefer for Velo Orange frames.

Speaking of frames, I'm finally sending off the specs to Toyo for the Velo Orange production frames. They will be much like the Velo Orange Randonneuse frames, but with cantilever brake bosses. The logic is that folks who buy a production frame probably won't be happy paying for the expensive Paul racer brakes.

I know that there has been a lot of hype about Toyo quality, but here is my honest opinion. Toyo is one of the two best production shops in the world, but they are still a production shop. Production frames do not compare to a frame by a good custom builder, the quality is not the same, not even close. The lugs are not hand filed, they are not silver brazed, tubes occasionally get overheated. You can put fancy lugs and a shiny paint job on a production frame, but it does not make it a hand-built custom frame. On the other hand Toyo frames are far superior to the best frames I've seen from Taiwan and China.

So why are we having Toyo build VO frames? It's because for most people the quality is more than sufficient. And because geometry and tubing selection are still the most important factors in ride quality. We hope these frames will cost just under $1000 and be available by late Fall. When we've seen and approved the sample we'll start taking reservations for the first production run of 100 frames.

The color is, as always, a big headache for me. One idea is a soft green brown. In old Japanese houses the plaster was sometimes made from the mud of abandoned rice paddies. This made a lovely green-brown color which was prized for it's subtle beauty. Another option is the same blue-gray that's used on the current Velo-Orange frames which everyone seems to like. Opinions are welcome.

15 May, 2007

VO Porteur Chain Guard; Updated

Here it is, still unpolished. The quality is flawless. There will be small production run made in Annapolis.

I don't have a final cost yet, but my best guess is that the handmade version will be between $60 and $85 with all fitting and hardware. They will have a lightly brushed finished. You can reserve one by e-mail.

We're looking into having a larger production run made, but that's probably a few months off.

This one will go on my city bike in the next day or two and I'll post photos.


The hole in the prototype is too small to allow convenient assembly. You can do it with a TA type crank, but it's a pain. So we've enlarged it to about 75mm which allows it to easily fit all the classic cranks in the shop.

I'm considering making a second version with a 110 mm hole to fit modern cranks.

This one takes chainrings up to 49t which I think is sufficient. I'll run a 49t ring (yes they make odd tooth rings) on my bike because I happen to have one, but I suspect most folks will opt for 48t or 46t.

I thought I had the mounting hardware all figured out. But the company I was going to buy draw bolts from is all out. Anyone know of a good source of fender stay-type draw bolts?

14 May, 2007

A Few Updates and Notes

The United States Post Office has implimented a major rate increase and is charging dimensional weight in some cases. Annette spent many hours this weekend adjusting our rates. Our goal is to come out even on shipping, not make money on it, so we simply try to average out the shipping costs. What this means is that sometimes you'll pay more than the actual cost for shipping, and other times less, but it should all even out in the end. We'll also be shipping more orders via Fed Ex Ground.

Our prototype porteur style all metal chaincase should be finished by Wednesday. We still don't have a manufacture for it, but we may be able to have a small quantity of them made here in Annapolis. It'll look like the one on the Goeland above. I'll post photos ASAP.

Full size and demi-portuer rack will enter production in the next month or so and we'll have more rear racks later this week. We are also considering importing Nitto Campee front and rear racks, the older French-style version.

We've sold out of the Simplex chain guards, but there is a fair chance we can get another case.

Yes, the Belleri porteur and city bike (Tour model) handlebars do take most models of bar-end shifters and inverse brake levers.

Finally, the price of the city bike frames will increase to $1275 next week, so get your orders in soon.

12 May, 2007

Two Projects

From the Velo Orange R&D department (that's the left side of my workbench) we present an update on two works in progress.

The first is our version (on the right) of the old TA water bottle cage (The drawing on the left comes from the terrific Blackbird TA page. Thanks Joel.) Our version will fit the stainless steel water bottles perfectly, as well as plastic bottles. It is a one handed cage, the little loops are there to only open it up if you want to put a coffee cup or something big in. We hope to have it made in highly polished stainless steel at a price of about $20. We should have samples soon. Any thoughts or comments.

To fuel my obsession with Maxi-Car hubs we are researching the possibility of making modern cassette hubs with a Maxi-Car-like shape. We are thinking of the lovely type-4 hubs with the trumpet-shape. Right now we're trying for alloy cassette bodies with four pawls. They will contain six sealed bearings and we may look into using annular bearings. There may also be a track version. The quality would be equal to the best hubs on the market. I don't know if we can pull this off or if we can keep the price reasonable.

Should these be available in 32h or 36h? Should they have a red band around the center, or orange ;<) ? Large flange?

11 May, 2007

More on Mounting Chainguards

Peter Weigle kindly sent some photos and an explanation of various chainguard mounting systems.

"I took a few shots of the 1959 Rene Herse ladies 650B bike that has a Lefol chain guard and a Herse front derailleur. The guard is stationary and does not move with the derailleur.
The mounting is clever. There is a piece of 5mm rod brazed to the side of the down tube. A fender draw bolt then secures the top of the guard to the rod. Adjustment in and out couldn't be easier. The rear is bolted to the hand made derailleur.

I've also included a shot of some Mistral clamp-on chainguard hardware, same idea with no brazing.

The last shot is a Huret front derailleur clamp that has a chainguard mount built in.

Couldn't resist sending a shot of my 1953 Peugeot PX 45, 650B of course, a real charming bike!"

Thanks Peter.

I also have an unusual Simplex chainguard that has a rod, as on the Mistral hardware, attached to the guard itself. The clamp incorporates a draw-bolt.

Finally, the Velo Orange city bikes have threaded rods that go into 5mm bosses on the down and seat tubes. There is a nut welded to the end of the rod and the attachment screws for the chainguard thread into those nuts. This system allows the chainguard to be precisely adjusted in-and-out and up-and-down. In addition, there is almost nothing left on the frame if you chooses not to use a chainguard.

Click on any of the photos for larger versions.

09 May, 2007

Simplex Chainguard

We found a case of these neat old Simplex chain guards and they are now for sale in the store. But they didn't come with directions. So here are a couple of old drawings from Simplex catalogs to explain things.

Originally these would have been used with Simplex plunger type front dérailleur. They bolt right on to the front of it as you can see in the drawings. But we also supply them with a 1" P-clamp and hardware to use if you don't happen to have a Simplex plunger-type front dérailleur on your bike.

I've also been working on a way to attach the guard directly to a modern front dérailleur. That would make a cleaner installation My experiments include a small screw going through the top of the "hump" and into the dérailleur cage or bit of wire or a wire tie to attach it to the cage. Of course you have to remove the L-shaped bracket on the guard first, but that's easy. By attaching the chainguard to the cage it would move with the dérailleur, pretty slick. Anyone experimented with this or have a better idea? Since the supply of these is chainguards is limited, we don't want to fabricate a special part. An off-the-shelf solution can't be that hard to figure out.


The chainguards been selling like the proverbial crepes (flapjacks). there are only a few left, but we think another case will arrive within a few days, maybe today.

Reader's Bikes

Here are a few photos that wandered into the VO e-mail box.

David D. has a penchant for taking dumpster or yard sale bikes and transforming them into spectacular city bikes. This example is a low end gas-pipe Peugeot that became a stunning porteur. If David ever wants to change careers he might become a "bike stylist". Yes, those are Mafac's on braze-ons. Very nice.

David also did his thing on a green yard sale Fuji, taking the parts of his recently wrecked PX-10 to make a budget commuter.

Mark has a new Curt Goodrich bike that is a work of art. I don't the details so I hope Mark provides some in a comment.

Ken has some great photos of his Lyon here.

02 May, 2007

Richie's New Portfolio

Ask the average cyclist to name a frame builder and it's likely that "Richard Sachs" is the only name they'll come up with. Richie's name recognition comes from decades of superb frame building. There are not many builders around that started in 1972. And it helps that he possesses more than a little marketing savvy. How many frame builders have appeared in dozens of magazine and newspaper articles, sponsored their own cyclo-cross team, and have their own lines of lugs?

The latest effort from The House of Richie is a book, no a portfolio, of his frames. The 21 pages are filled with exquisite photographs by Jeffery Weir, who also shoots for Calvin Klein, Nike, Panerei, Lipton, Mikimoto.... (You see what sort of company we're in.) It covers the Richard Sachs signature series road and cyclo-cross bikes in mouth-watering detail. There are no randonnuese yet, but he did say something about a turnpike hunter in his last e-mail. Pretty cool ATMO.

As for the price, if you have to ask....