26 May, 2017

Closed for Memorial Day

by Igor

VO is going to be closed on Monday, May 29th for Memorial Day observance and to give our fantastic staff some time off.

Orders placed after 3pm EDT today (5/26) will ship out promptly on Tuesday, May 30th. So if you need anything to go out today, submit your order soon.

Have a great weekend, and please enjoy this 60cm Polyvalent Disc build which a local, very tall rider will be trying out for a while.

24 May, 2017

Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy

By Scott

Like a lot of you, I have a box or two (perhaps three) of bike stuff in my garage. It's stuff that has been collected over the years, mostly taking it off bikes and putting it aside for "that" project that I hoped to do one day.

I was thinking about this the other day when Igor was working on a shop build- a Disc Pass Hunter for the show room. He had a vintage Sun Tour Sprint rear derailleur. Looked great, but it didn't have quite the range to work with the cogs we were going to use on the bike.  So he said fine, I'm sure I have a slightly more modern derailleur I can use from my bike box.  This got me thinking about a term called S.A.B.L.E - Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy.  You can use this term for a lot of things. I have probably more pens at home than I'll ever use. I justify them by the fact that each is slightly different then the other- thinner lines, thicker lines, pressurized ink for writing upside down in the rain (if I need to do that, I think I'll be writing a good bye letter). But surely, I have enough pens and yet, a couple of times a year, I buy another 5 or 6 pens at an art supply store or online. I figure it's a cheap hobby.

When it comes to bike stuff, it's interesting what I have a SABLE of at home. I have lots of chains. At one point I was leaving a job that gave me access to bike bits at wholesale and I didn't know what the future held. So I bought a bunch of chains. I figured those are an easily consumed item, that having on hand would not hurt me financially. I was heavy into randonneuring at the time and that side of cycling eats through chains.

But looking deeper into the boxes in the garage, I found stems, tubes, bars, and map cases that I had collected over the time since the last move/purge and I wondered - will I use all of this?

Is there one particular part/accessory that you have more then a life time supply of at home? Is there a reason for it or is it just dumb luck to end up with all of those 26 x 1.5" Schrader valve tubes?

18 May, 2017

20% Off Hydration Sale

Update 5/22/17: The sale has concluded.

It's a million degrees outside and keeping your hydration up is of great importance. You probably don't need to know why you should drink water, so here are some interesting facts about our good friend H2O:
  • 75% of the human brain is water and 50% of a living tree is water.
  • Hot water freezes faster than cool water.
  • Each day, we exhale about 400 ml of water.
  • The first water pipes in the U.S. were made from hollowed logs.
  • It takes about 2,641 gallons of water to make a pair of jeans.
To celebrate the arrival of the warm season, we're offering a 20% off sale on all water bottle cages, bottles, and mounts. This sale applies to both retail and wholesale customers.

From Thursday, May 18th to Sunday, May 21st (11:59pm EST) use the coupon code: THIRST2017.

Here's how to use the code:
  • Add all of the products you want to your cart, just as you normally would.
  • Click on "My Cart" to review your products.
  • Enter the coupon code - THIRST2017 - in the little "discount codes" box in the shopping cart page.
  • Click on "Apply Coupon".
  • Go ahead and check out as normal.
Stay hydrated!

17 May, 2017

All You Need For An Overnight

By Scott

As bicycle camping season kicks into full gear here in the Mid Atlantic, we thought it might be good to look at what's involved in going out for an overnight. Now, this list is just about an overnight trip. Certainly if you are going to ride from PA to OR, you'll need more stuff, but as a starting point, I think the following things are a great beginning. I've organized this list similar to a list I read years ago in Richard's Mountain Bike Book. Nicholas Crane, a British author and cyclist whose travels have taken him to the Himalayas, Africa, and all over Europe and the UK, developed a basic list of items for any bicycle trip. I'm using it as the inspiration for our list:

Basic level 1 - A bicycle - Yep, that's the absolute minimum you need to do an overnight. You can ride to a friend's house a few hours away and enjoy a shower and a bed. Nothing extra, just you and your bike. OK, fine, toss a spare tube and tire levers in a pocket and you're covered for a flat.

Basic level 1.2- A credit card or cash - You can choose your own end point for the day and pay for it with cash or card, as well as handle paying for food along the way.

(First overseas tour, Tasmania 1990)

Intermediate level 1 - Change of clothes - An extra top and shorts make life a little more comfy. A spare shirt or pants for off the bike in the evening add a bit of civility. You can put these in a bag and strap it to a rack or throw into a handlebar bag.

Intermediate level 1.2 - Tent and sleeping bag - Now you have control of where you can stop. You have shelter and something to keep you warm at night.

Advanced level 1 - Stove and food - You now have the ability to heat up food and have it wherever you want. Cold food and hot food has the same level of calories, but there is certainly something to be said for having a hot cup of tea or coffee first thing in the morning with a hot breakfast to get you moving.

Advanced level 1.2 - Map/phone/electronic device that tells me where to go - In lots of places, if you are trying to get from A to B (or even to C) via roads that are not the main thoroughfares, there are small signs to help direct traveler's. I'd usually write down a couple of the major towns between me and my desired destination for the next day. Knowing the smaller destinations, allowed me to not have to think of the whole distance, and also allowed for interaction at junction towns, where I'd ask folks the most interesting way to get to B, rather then the fastest.

(Sweden 3 years later, still too much stuff)

So yes, I've simplified a packing list down to a very basic level, but that is one of the great things about touring by bike - so long as you have a destination, you can figure out a way to get there. Sometimes it's not even the destination, but rather getting there that makes the memories. I think we often take too much stuff, witness my old photos. The old adage, lay out all the things you need and then toss 1/2 is a good starting point.

Have you pared down your cycle touring gear list over the years or added to it?

15 May, 2017

Job Opening at VO

Velo Orange has a Job Opening!

Spring has sprung and we're looking for some additional help in the warehouse and office. The position would be full-time and permanent, with the morning spent performing warehouse duties, and the afternoons spent in the office. 9-5 Monday through Friday with opportunities to attend trade shows for qualified persons.

A passion for cycling, knowledge of bicycle mechanics and our parts, and being a generally cool guy or gal are at the top of the list in terms of skillset. We're a relaxed, open office environment, but work hard and focus on innovation and progress. 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.

Experience in warehousing is a plus, but more important is experience in the cycling industry. As this position does involve warehousing duties, you must be able to lift 50lb+ overhead onto shelving. Benefits include paid leave and 401k.

Interested applicants please send your resume to info@velo-orange.com

We look forward to welcoming you to the Velo Orange team!

12 May, 2017

New Wide Rims, Not Tubeless Compatible (And I Like It That Way...)

by Igor

These prototype triple-box section rims have an outer width of 28mm, inner width of 21mm, and are suitable for tire sizes ranging from 40mm to the mid 50s. Basically, they are made for the meat n' potatoes of touring, commuting, and gravel riding. Not only can they take floaty tires, they are also the widest rim you can use while still being able to implement a normal rim brake setup.

We'll be testing them on our Polyvalent Disc prototypes in the months to come. Wheel building and tire installation was a breeze with the bead seating perfectly the first time. I picked double-butted DT Swiss spokes with brass nipples and Velox 22mm Rim Tape. Right now they are wearing the new WTB Byways for double-duty road and trail use. When inflated to 55 40psi (I should have had my afternoon coffee, max for these tires is 50psi), the tires measure true at 46.8mm while 56ft above sea level.

Ok, so are they tubeless compatible? No, and I prefer it. It's not because of any retrogrouch tendencies. I'm more than happy to accept new technologies when they provide a genuine better level of cycling enjoyment. Electronic shifting is nifty, pinion gearboxes are snazzy, and disc brakes are the bees knees.

But tubeless doesn't really do it for me. You still need to carry a tube, pump, and extra fluid if you're out for longer adventures. Carrying these things negates the argument that tubeless is lighter. Heck, I just carry a basic Rustines patch kit on daily rides and an extra tube for longer treks. Yes, you can run lower pressures with tubeless, but you have to watch out for burping in tough corners.

In addition, a rim standard hasn't been widely adopted yet, so not every tubeless tire and rim combination is compatible. I feel like I'm seeing "standard hasn't been widely adopted yet" more and more nowadays in the cycling industry.

If you want to run a heartier setup but you don't want the hassle of tubeless, you can remove your valve core, dump some sealant into the tube via an injector, swish around, and inflate.

Do you use tubeless? What sort of conditions do you think tubeless is 100% necessary?

09 May, 2017

Seatpost Setback - A Scrutiny of Styles

By Scott

With Velo Orange expanding our range of products over the last few years, one of the newer items that we've developed is a Zero Setback Seatpost. Now, if you're a long time roadie, you may wonder why someone would want zero setback? So let's look into the mysterious world of bike fit and design to see why someone would want a zero/medium/long setback post.

Road bikes for years have had posts with setback- a seatpost where the clamping area for the saddle was behind the centre of the post that came up from the seatpost. The theory behind this was to allow for proper weight distribution (ideally 60 % on the rear of the bike, 40 % on the front). Assuming a 73 deg seat tube angle, the setback allowed one to fully engage the hamstrings and glute muscles more efficiently.

For most setback posts, the standard set back was around 25 mm or so. Why? Good question. My best guess is that it created the "medium" amount of setback that most people needed. With the costs of tooling to create different heads to the seatposts (this is all done with forging and dies), most folks went for the middle of the road to deal with the average.

Touring, city, and recreational riders tend to need more setback then a racer does. The more upright position requires more setback to put your legs in a more efficient bio-mechanical place.

The other factor is the rail length of the saddle. This is the ultimate limiting factor when it comes to proper position of the saddle, which ultimately effects where your knee and foot end up. Different saddle makers have different rail lengths. Traditionally Brooks and other leather saddle makers have had very short rails, thus the need for more setback in order to get the knee positioned correctly. In these cases, our Long Setback Seatpost is a winner. Our Model 3 Saddle  and Model 6 Saddle offer longer rails, so that you can choose which post style you'd like to dial in your riding position.

So why, after reading all this (thank you), does one need a zero setback post? Surely the above reasons make sense. Well, the rise of MTB's is one of the main reasons. The slacker and longer geometry of MTB's means that having zero offset puts the rider in the middle of the bike, rather then well behind the centre of the bike. Having more weight forward helped prevent you from toppling back on steep climbs and allowed you to move your butt behind the seat post on the steep descent. So MTB's tend to come with zero set back posts as standard. Zero set back posts also work if you have a short femur. The zero offset helps to put those folks over the pedal easier. Zero offset posts also work well if the top tube (real or virtual) is longer then ideal. Moving the seat forward reduces the distance between the stem and the saddle.

If you've got a theory about the relationship between setback, position, fit, and performance, let us know in the comments.

05 May, 2017

Polyvalent Goes to the City

by Igor

Adrian and I are heading up to New York this weekend for some ultimate city riding and to check out the New York Bike Expo. We haven't attended before, but it looks to be a great time.

Are you going to the show or participating in the 5 Boro Tour? Hope to see you there!

29 April, 2017

Garage Sale This Weekend & 20% off Coupon Code

By Scott

This Saturday (4/29/17) is our annual garage sale. A chance to grab a deal on some sample parts, prototypes, dinged frames as well as get 20% off any new items in store. We'll open the doors at 9 am sharp on Saturday. We'll have donuts, coffee from Ceremony Coffee and tea from Adrian and Scott's collections for folks to munch and sip on while you browse.

Update 4/30/17: Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by! It was a ton of fun.
Update 5/1/17: The sale has concluded.

Now we can't go and offer all our sample bits on line, but we would like to extend the 20% sale on new items to folks who can't get here. The online sale will run from 4/29 9am EST to 4/30 11:59pm EST.

Just to be clear, you get 20% off on all in-stock frames, wheels, parts, accessories - everything except gift certificates and items that are already on sale - but only 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 - SPRINGTHING - 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!

27 April, 2017

Fresh Container, New Products

by Igor

With the arrival of our latest container we received several new products.

Silver, polished pedals may not go with every bike, so we're now offering our popular Sabot Pedals in the Noir colorway. Details include a polished black anodized pedal body, silver rounded pins, and a silver spindle for contrast. Three sealed, cartridge bearings make a super smooth spinning pedal with loads of real estate to support any shoe from bulky hiking boots to minimal sandals and everything in between. The rounded traction pins won't tear up your leather-soled dress shoes, either.

Similarly to the aforementioned Sabots, a polished, silver headset may not go with every bike. Plus, black is faster, second only to red. It's science. Grand Cru headsets have oversized, sealed cartridge bearings and lightweight alloy construction. Split crown races make installation a breeze and maintenance is basically non-existent. Easy-peasy.

Maybe you don't think that downtube cable stops are exciting, but these little guys from Dia-Compe are incredibly handsome. The ridges on the barrel make for easy micro-adjustment while in the saddle or in the workstand. Button head mounting screws are included.

Yellow Cable Housing

You'd be surprised how often we get asked for yellow housing, so we made it. Bam! Available in both Shift and Brake Kits.

I love low-profile brakes for touring bikes. They don't interfere with luggage and have excellent stopping power. These 710's from Tektro are good quality brakes. They don't have the adjustability or high-quality brake pads that our Grand Cru Zestes have, but they do have an adjustor barrel and are a cinch to install.

We also re-stocked on other items such as fenders, brakes, hardware, and cable housing. Here's the full list:
If you're in the area and are planning on going to our Garage Sale this weekend, be sure to sign up for the Facebook event page to stay updated!

All right, now get out there and enjoy your day!

21 April, 2017

Polyvalent Update & Rando Rack Facelift

by Igor

Our trip to Taiwan and the Taipei Bike Expo not only provided a look into new products being introduced for mainstream cycling culture (be on the lookout for the new Velo Orange full-suspension e-mtb) the trip also gave us an opportunity to visit our factory partners. We discussed new product ideas, production techniques, and the general climate of cycling. There were a lot of projects we wanted to discuss, two of which were frames and racks.

Polyvalent is going through one more design and testing iteration before we are good to go to production. First, a new fork design is in the works. The current, bi-plane fork crown is ok, but its width makes the downtube attach further up the headtube making for less room in the main triangle. Prototypes should be here within the next couple months.

We're also making the top tube a bit more slender in all the right places. Does a skinny top tube make a bike plane? I don't think so. To me, the concept of planing has more to do with a combination of several factors lining up rather than one or multiple bike frame properties. Food intake, wind direction, hydration, road quality, etc all play a role in your experience on your bike. Anyway, a properly dimensioned top tube minimizes luggage sway without compromising performance or weight.

Adrian has hers built up as a flat bar Porteur. Bullmoose Bars, Pari-Motos 650bx42mm tires, and Shimano trigger shifters.

Clint/I have a stripped down Urban Day-Tripper with a mild riser bar, WTB Horizon 650bx47mm tires, and downtube shifters.

Scott has his built up as an any-path-will-do setup. He went with 26" wheels rather than 650b for a bit more mud clearance and a lower bb for offroad stability. Dajia Far Bars, Shimano bar end shifters, and a special proto crankset to round up his build.

We'll delve more into the individual bikes and builds in due time. They'll be at the garage sale next weekend for some one-on-one eye-ballin' and maybe even some test riding to get you into the mood.

Since you guys and gals are riding rougher roads and bigger tires these days we decided to give our front racks a facelift. These new changes are designed to mitigate stresses from load and rough terrain, make installation a heck of a lot easier, and allow for a wider range of bike fitment.

The decaleur (the upright portion which receives the bag mount) gets even more integrated into the platform of the rack. Stresses from stuffed handlebar bags and rough terrain are dispersed through the entire length of the tube and aft of the rack.

Don't mind the wire nest. It has worked perfectly for many years.
The included adjustable tang makes fine-tuning easier, too.

These changes will be applied to the Randonneur and the Pass Hunter racks. Similar changes will be made to the Campeur (improved platform) and Constructeur (adjustable tang). We're currently looking at early June availability.

14 April, 2017

Cigne Stems are Back in Stock

By Igor

We just got an air shipment of Cigne Stems. You all have been wonderfully patient waiting for them. Find links to each of the styles below:
In addition to the Cigne Stems, we got in more cranksets and rings:
Quick note, the adaptors for 1" threaded headsets are on order and are expected to arrive early-June.

Have a great weekend!

Cross Buns and Cross Chaining

By Scott

When I started riding, one of the "rules" of cycling that was passed down from more experienced cyclists was never to have the chain in big and big or small and small. This meant you did not want the chain aligned with the largest cog in the back and the largest ring in the front  or the smallest size cog in the back and the small ring in the front.

(big and big)

There are certainly some good reasons not to do this:
  • This combination puts more strain on the chain. Chains run best when they are as straight as possible.
  • It also puts more stress/wear on the chain rings and cassette.
  • Some rear derailleurs can't handle the range of the cog and the front chain ring, and if the chain is short, putting it in big and big could do damage to the rear derailleur
  • When using small and small with a compact double, the chain can strike/rub against the large ring due to the angle that the chain is at as well as the size difference between the small and large ring.
  • It can make a hideous noise due to the chain being at an extreme angle
So instead of being in big and big, you should be in a small and mid range cog. The big and big gear combination (46T x 28T) works out to a gear inch of 42.7 inches. If I use the inner ring and a middle cog (30T x 18T), I get a gear inch of 43.3 and a much straighter chain line.

(small and mid- better chain line)
Now while chains have certainly become stronger over the years, some things have stayed the same. More folks seem to use the larger cogs while being in the big ring. This might be a reaction to the increasing popularity of 1 X systems. Just make sure your chain is long enough and most drive trains can handle it for a short period of time.

(small and small)

Small and small is still something we don't recommend. The chain can get caught on the pins on the inside of the large chain ring (they are there to help shifting on 10 speed set ups, due to the narrowness of those chains). Typically the gear ratio that is the small and small is replicated by using the large ring and a middle cog in the back, similar to our earlier example of big and big.

If you want to learn about gear inches/ratios the late Sheldon Brown's site has the best set up for figuring out the gear ratios on your bike. You can find it here.

Owing that it is Good Friday, our resident baker Clint, took it upon himself to bake some hot cross buns. We'll be enjoying these today at the office with a coffee or tea.

Recipe can be found here

12 April, 2017

Bike Build Ideas: Urban Day-Tripper

by Igor

Road bikes converted to flat bars are gaining a lot of popularity in urban environments. The combination of an upright position and ease of control makes this type of build a great option for those riders who mainly ride in the city and want to be a bit more comfortable on group rides.

This Pass Hunter Disc setup is our interpretation of an urban day-tripper to conquer any road condition that may crop up. We laced up some 650b wheels to be the basis of our build. By using the smaller wheelsize, we could increase the cushion of air the bike rides on. We selected the WTB 47mm Horizon tires, which end up being about the same circumference of a narrow-tired 700c wheel. Cobbles and potholes are vanquished, and hopping on and off curbs poses no threat.

The Postino handlebar is a great bar for converting drop bar road bikes to flat bars or just as an all-around city bar. It's the goldilocks bar for city rides - not too wide, not too narrow.

We opted to go with a wide range gearing because Annapolis and the surrounding area does have some hills. Our 50.4bcd 46/30t up front and 11-36t in the rear - enough to climb a tree.

Clint scrounged up some super clean Campagnolo downtube shifters which we mated to our shifter mounts to make the dangler and pusher move around.

The 7700-series Dura-Ace derailleur was never designed to work with a 36t cassette, so we used a Wolftooth Roadlink to extend the range of the cage. Shifting is fine, but not quite as fast as pairing the same derailleur with a 11-28t cassette. Then again, you're not shifting all that much around town, anyway.

You may have seen this constructeur-style stem that we were thinking about re-making on a previous blog post. After a couple samples, it ended up being far too heavy and expensive. But it looks really cool.

I'm thinking of making the "Bike Build Ideas" a more regular addition to our blog. We have several demo, sample, and show frames around that we look forward to building and re-building to give our readers some ideas for their own projects.

Complete build list:

07 April, 2017

Foraging Into Spring

By Scott

A sign of spring's arrival is the sudden sprouting of mushrooms in a lot of places. We've brought back the Opinel Mushroom knife for this special time of year. It has a curved blade to allow for careful removal of the fungus from its forest home and the boar brush on the end allows for careful cleaning of the mushroom without doing damage to its outer skin. Known as a couteau a champigon in France, we only keep these in stock for mushroom season, so once they are sold out, more won't arrive for a while.

We also have expanded our range of Opinel knives to include a kitchen knife. It is a great all purpose knife with a Japanese style (Santoku) stainless steel blade. The design of the blade is such that there is less rocking required to slice something. This makes slicing veggies much easier IMHO. It uses the same wooden handle as the essential kit of knives makes it easy to grip and keep clean. It also has a continuous cutting edge that makes it easy to sharpen, and keeping a knife sharp is a real key to how well it performs.

The Swift Camp Out is scheduled for this year again. June 24th is the date that we're all going to try and get out for the night via a bike. Whether you ride 10 miles from home to camp or 100, it's a great goal to work towards. Now's the time to start putting your touring kit together and doing some practice runs to make sure it all fits and doesn't sound like a tuk tuk going through Jakarta at rush hour.

In addition to the Camp Out, what's everyone planning for their spring and summer bicycle tours?

06 April, 2017

Garage Sale - Save the Date

By Scott

Again this year, we're going to have a garage sale to clean out samples, mismatched items, overstock products, and returns stacking up in our warehouse.  The date we've picked is Saturday, April 29th. It will be from 9am to noon.

We'll have prototypes for sale, stuff that was put onto show/demo bikes, samples from our suppliers, and scratched parts. We'll probably even have a frame or two for sale. For those of you coming, you can also purchase any non garage sale items for 20% off retail (items on sale excluded).

We'll have our usual supply of donuts and coffee on hand to fuel your shopping. The sale is at our showroom at 1981 Moreland Parkway, Building 3, Annapolis, MD 21401 (it's way down to the right as you come into the industrial park).

Feel free to RSVP on Facebook so we know how many donuts to get! 

Fine print/T&C's:
  • Nothing can be preordered
  • No returns on garage sale items
  • Cash or credit card only
So save the date and we'll see you there!

05 April, 2017

Reflections on Riding in Taiwan

by Igor

The riding through Taipei, Taiwan is like nowhere else I have ever experienced. Traffic goes by and around at speeds which should make you feel uncomfortable, but it is all a delicate choreography of swooping, merging, filtering, and acceleration that is acted out on the stage by bicycles, scooters, and cars. Amazingly, all of this happens with virtually no horn honking.

The most important part is to fit in by being confident, and that means breaking some rules that are often considered commonplace. At a redlight, going around traffic to filter towards the front is perfectly normal. Quickly navigating around double-parked cars is expected and safe. Everyone on the road, regardless of what you're driving or riding, is treated equally and without prejudice.

A post shared by Clint Boyer (@clinsstagram) on

Nestled amongst all of the surface streets, there are a ton of parks and greenspaces as nice respites from daily traffic and the general hustle and bustle of city life in Taipei. In addition, the riverside parks following the Tamsui and Keelung Rivers allow riders to traverse the outer edges of the city completely off the street. Though the route is flat, crosswinds and headwinds abound in these long, bike-centric highways.

After a day at the show, we decided to get further out of the city and give our climbing legs a bit of a workout. Climbing through mountainous roads, we were awarded some breathtaking views and descents. I really enjoyed getting in the drops, snaking around corners, and overtaking those scooters that had left me in their dust in the valley below.

Towards the end of the ride, we made it to one of my favorite shops, Sense 30. The guys here have made the shop a real destination for bike nerds coming from all over the world. In addition to custom, in-house framebuilding, they specialize in hard to find parts and accessories, built-to-order luggage, lifestyle apparel, and even have a museum of French, English, Italian, and American components. Also, locally roasted coffee to get you nice and jazzed.

We'll be posting more info regarding show sightings, factory visits, and other product updates soon. Keep your eyes peeled.