26 February, 2021

Melissa's Sport Touring Low Kicker Has Some Very Special Hoops

by Igor


Hill got the conversation started about a new bike for his wife, Melissa. They were looking for something to replace her aging, skinny-tire'd road bike so that she could more comfortably participate in gravel and mixed terrain rides both by herself and with her riding club. She also wanted to make sure it could handle a bit of luggage for overnight, sport touring trips where minimal gear is needed while going between BnBs or hotels. The Low Kicker Polyvalent was a natural selection for the frameset. Needless to say, this sounded like it was going to be a very fun bike for Melissa and a very fun project for us.


One of the criteria for the build was a timeless appearance overall. So lots of silver, natural hues in the tape and saddle, and dynamo lighting. The hang up was the rims. Our Voyager Rims are polished, but a bit too heavy for Melissa's application. Carbon would be the most convenient choice, but you can't get polished carbon! After a conversation with Tommy over at Cutlass Velo (we use him for all of our custom wheel builds) we settled on the Astral Wanderlust Rims. But another hang up. They are only available in black. "I'll talk to them", said Tommy.


Quick background: Astral is Rolf Prima's aftermarket rim division and offers premium, Made in USA rims. Yes, that Rolf Prima that has been designing and manufacturing racing wheels since 1997. Astral is a great option for a MUSA rim that can be laced to traditional hubs (as opposed to Rolf's paired spoke tech).


While Astral doesn't currently offer silver rims, Tommy sweet-talked them into rolling a custom set of their lightweight and durable Wanderlust Rims in a very nice polished finish. Pairing the rims with a hi-engagment White Industries rear hub and a Son28 Deluxe dynamo front hub, this custom wheelset is 100% one-of-a-kind!


Furthermore, wrapping up this spectacular wheelset with a pair of ultra supple Ultradynamico Cava Race tires, the road and gravel chatter simply melts away.


The front wheel's dynamo powers a Schmidt Edelux mounted to the front Randonneur Rack. The Edelux is probably the best headlight out there, it has a good beam pattern and has excellent reliability. Plus it is very nice looking.



The rear light is a Busch & Muller ยต (Micro) affixed to the non-driveside seatstay. It also includes hardware for the ability to mount it to a rear fender, which is a nice touch. This light is hilariously tiny and ridiculously bright. Seriously, the package was magnitudes bigger than the actual light.


Full bike dynamo routing can be a bit tricky, so care should be taken to make sure the wires don't bind when the handlebars are turned, connections are waterproof, and everything is secure over varied terrain.


While we used strategically placed zipties, we used an r-clip on the non-driveside downtube adjustor as a splash of pizzazz. The coiled routing around the fork crown is important for turning the handlebars without significant excess dangling around. Here's a blog post documenting how to make the coil (about halfway down): https://velo-orange.blogspot.com/2019/10/petes-dynamo-polyvalent-with-shimano.html 



Shifting and braking is done by SRAM's Rival 22 Hydro group, our 50.4 46/30 crankset, and 11-32t cassette. The cockpit is silver with the handlebar being from Whisky and the tape is natural leather from Berthoud.


Continuing the natural leather look is the Berthoud saddle with Titanium Rails on a 0 Setback Seatpost.



Have a great ride, Melissa!

16 February, 2021

Two New Handlebar Tape Styles

by Igor

A quality handlebar tape can make or break a bike's comfort. Even if your fit is spot on, if your handlebar tape is too thin or hits your hand in the wrong way, your ride isn't going to be fun, at least not for long. This is even more true on an all-road bike where terrain can vary with every mile, and even little impacts or road chatter can exacerbate existing comfort or fit issues. 

Foamy Handlebar Tape

Would I consider it a "Gravel" tape? Sure, why not? But it is so much more than just a hyped tape du jour. We designed this tape for riders that go over varied surfaces during tours and mixed terrain brevets: fire roads, double track, washboard roads, crushed limestone, and yes....gravel. 

It's plush. It's 3.5mm thick. It has a very nice hand feel, wraps easily, and is long (200 cm!) - which is nice for today's wide bars.

The edges feature a taper so when you wrap your bars it can line-up mostly flat, or have a bit more overlap for a chunkier grip. 

Additionally, the included bar plugs are actually really nice quality. You won't be chucking them into the bin like the cheap-o push in ones.

Survey around the office has an overwhelming favorite being Splash. Don't call it a comeback / It's been here for years.

Diamond Handlebar Tape

Just as thick as the Foamy, this 3.5mm tape features a Diamond texture and adds a bit more grip. And like the Foamy, the edges are tapered so you can wrap to your desired handlebar feel.

This option is a bit more on the modern side, so I don't think it would look out of place on a square-tubed carbon bike or even a hardtail tourer with alt-bars, while still being neutral enough for any build.

These are currently available in Black and White.


10 February, 2021

In Stock Now: Flat Pack Rack in Noir and More Parts and Accessories

How do you make the versatile Flat Pack Rack even better? Give it a black finish to match the rest of your glossy Noir VO bits. Prefer silver? Those are back up on the online store, as well. The rack headlines a fresh shipment of parts and accessories to replenish the VO shelves. 

Bottle Cage Restock

Add a little vintage flair to your bike with one of our Retro Bottle Cages, back in stock with and without tab to accommodate your favorite water bottle. For more carrying capacity, we have also received more of the oversized Mojave Cages. The handy Bottle Cage Clamps are also back. 

Cranksets


The Grand Cru 50.4 and Drillium Fluted 110 double cranksets are back in a variety of arm lengths. 

Handlebars


We have received more Granola Bars as well as Nouveau Randonneur bars in 42 cm width. 

...and more

This latest parts and accessories restock also includes:

Coming Soon

We're expecting even more goodies to arrive next month and beyond, including Neutrino framesetsKlunker Bars, and 650b Voyager Rims in March. We'll see Moderniste Bottle Cages, bolt-on fixed hubs, and Enterprise Rims later in the spring. As we get into summer we should see more Pass Hunter, Polyvalent, and Piolet framesets and, of course, our newly revealed next-gen Crazy Bars

04 February, 2021

The Next Generation Crazy Bars - First Look.

by Igor

Eight years ago, we released the first glimpses of the Crazy Bars. Immediately, they made huge waves in the touring and bikepacking communities with their 3-piece design, generous sweep, functionality with touring bags, and unique appearance. Since then, they have been a mainstay of our lineup, receiving tweaks with materials, tubing, stem clamps, and finishes. We even had a spin-off called the Seine Bar that was the Crazy Bar, minus the forward horns. We've used our experience with on-bike testing, manufacturing, community (thank you!) suggestions, and testing protocols and have designed a new iteration of the bars - and we're finally ready to release details about The Next Generation Crazy Bars!

Starting off, the bars have been widened to 780mm and the sweep has been reduced to a comfortable 35 degrees. This combo creates the perfect balance of leverage for out of the saddle climbs and natural wrist positioning for regular riding. Additionally, there is more room on the grip area for varied grip lengths and brake/shifter compatibility.

Accordingly, the horns have also been shortened to 110mm, but still retain the ability to mount bar end shifters. This allows significantly easier access to all of the positions without having to reach to the extremes of the bars.

We also introduced a bit of rise to the bars, 40mm. They're touring bars, so you deserve some rise.

They're MTB tested and will be available in bead-blasted silver and Noir finishes.

We'll also have the horn-less Seine Bar version, too!

We're expecting to have them in stock in June. We were hoping to have them earlier, but it seems that every step of the process was delayed due to raw material procurement and, you know, pandemic. We appreciate your patience. Keep your eyes peeled for more info when the time gets closer!

14 January, 2021

Charlie's Piolet is ready for the CDT

by Igor

Charlie was ready to upgrade his current bike for one more suitable for doing the Continental Divide Trail (when it's finally safe for travel) as well as handling commuting duty through the winter of Michigan. After a great discussion about his needs we settled on a very nice build featuring wide, floaty tires, low gearing, handlebars with lots of grip options, and a very neutral and comfortable fit. This is one very fun and smooth ride that will be his new training and adventuring buddy.

Off the bat, Charlie knew he wanted to use Crazy Bars. They feature a bunch of different hand positions so he can switch it up as the terrain and ride requires. We outfitted the bars with Foam Grips and Comfy Cotton bar tape. There are so many different ways people have wrapped them, so check out this blog post for different pictures and styles of wrap-jobs.


Tommy from Cutlass Velo in Baltimore handled the excellent wheel build. The hubs are our own Disc Front and Rear and the rims are 32 hole Velocity Duallys. Getting a hand-built, custom wheelset is more spendy from the get-go, but make for a very good investment in the long term. Every part of the wheel experiences various loads, so a wheel builder can choose the correct components for longevity and strength. Touch base with Tommy if you're looking for your next custom wheel build - he's a rockstar.

The drive is a mix of SRAM GX mountain bike components for the shifty bits and Shimano XT for the whirly bits. They're all super dependable and hearty. So they'll be able to take whatever Charlie and the trail throws at them.

We went with lower-treaded Vittoria Mezcal tires in the 27.5 x 2.6" sizeway. I'm very impressed with how easy they set up tubeless and how quietly they ride on the road. I've ridden a lot of plus-sized tires and most of them have felt extremely sluggish and draining. But these are nice and light and supple.

Stopping is handled by the powerful and beautiful Paul Components Klamper Brakes connected to our Grand Cru Long Pull Brake Levers. The rotors are Shimano 180mm Ice Tech. 

He'll be getting his own bags and such for the trail once he gets everything dialed in.

For a very complete build list, jump over to the build list here: https://velo-orange.com/pages/piolet-build-list-charlies-cdt-rider-with-crazy-bars

Happy Riding, Charlie!

22 December, 2020

VO's 2020 Year in Review and a Peek into 2021!

by Igor

2020 has been one heck of a rollercoaster and honestly, too much to cover in this little year-end report. We all know what's going on, we're living it. But through it all, the bicycle industry has seen an explosion of ridership, a real silver-lining to an otherwise tough year. Whether someone is refurbishing an older bike for themselves or a family member, building up a new VO frame from scratch, or just working on that quarantine-project, our year has been extremely busy providing the goods to get people riding. And with that, I need to give a huge thank you to the entire VO staff. They have been absolutely amazing getting your orders out, receiving shipments, and providing top-notch customer service.

And they deserve a break. So, VO HQ is going to be closed starting Thursday, December 24th, and will re-open Monday, January 4th in 2021.

Behind the scenes, we've also been hard at work designing, prototyping, testing, and releasing lots of products. Here's a quick review of 2020!

New Hub Lineup

With several of our frames utilizing thru-axles, we needed to update our hub lineup. So we designed, from the ground up, a whole new line of disc and rim brake hubs. 



Low Kicker Polyvalents

I have dreamed of a disc-brake step-through bike for yeeaaars. With the redesign of the Polyvalent, we saw an opportunity to make it a reality. And boy am I happy. All the functionality, beauty, and performance of a traditional diamond frame, and the convenience of a lower top tube. What's not to like? We're getting more in the Spring as it seems like you all like it a lot too.

Flat Pack Racks

We designed the Flat Pack Rack to be extremely adjustable and adaptable. We might even add some different rail or bag mount styles in the future. Anything you'd like to see?

Cargo Fenders

Surprisingly, one of the most highly requested item is a cargo fenderset! So we made one to fit a 650b or 26" rear wheel and a 20" front wheel. So for those of you with cargo bikes or conversions, this is what you want. They're made in stainless steel for super durability.

26" Noir Fenders

Why didn't we do this before??

Pass Hunters

Thank you so much for your extreme patience. There have been port backups both in Taiwan and Baltimore, so it has been a bit longer than we expected to actually get into our warehouse, but they are now starting to ship out! I can't wait to see what kind of builds you put together!

Fender Light Mount

You can affix this simple mount to the back of the rear fender for a blinkie or dynamo. Now you don't need to worry about panniers or rear bags blocking your light!

Blue Piolets

This is just some beautiful paint! I can't wait to build one up for myself. 

Coming soon:

Diamond Frame Polyvalents

These are in production and should be here around March/April. They'll have the same specifications and sizing as the Low Kickers, but with a horizontal top tube (with a couple degrees of slope). 

More Handlebars

We have at least four new handlebar projects in the works. Something for everyone.

Cranksets

Still plugging away. These are taking longer than we thought, but the arm shape, spindle securing, and application has been finalized. We're doing CNC samples before we go in for the forging. 

Simply, fully CNC'd cranks are more expensive per piece, but they are typically not as strong as forging. Forged cranksets have a significant monetary outlay on our side, but each piece is less expensive. So, we're planning on a flexible forged design and platform that can get a lot of mileage. Pun intended.

New Bar tape

Three new bar tape styles are going to be coming out in Q1 of 2021. They're all pretty thick and easy to wrap, and each style has its own unique hand feel. We're calling them Foamy, Rubbery, and Diamond. And yes, Splash is making a comeback.

New Biggish Bag

We're working with Road Runner Bags for a generously-sized handlebar bag that will fit on nearly any bike. We've teased it this year, and it is already in production.

New Old Frame

We're working on bringing back an older VO frame with some pretty cool tricks! I'm bursting at the seams to give you more details, but it'll have to wait.

15 year Anniversary

That's right! Velo Orange is turning 15 next August. From making bell spacer mounts and light mounts, sew-on toe clip leathers and shellac kits, to over 700 SKUs including frames, fenders, handlebars, headsets, pedals, etc....And we still offer the bell spacer mounts! What a wild ride.

We had some pretty big plans for the public this year that got scrapped. Our fingers are crossed that we'll be able to do a shindig in 2021.

Thank you for another spectacular year. See you in 2021!

Happy Riding,

Igor, Adrian, and The Velo Orange Crew

15 December, 2020

Shawn's Rail-Trail Explorer

by Igor

The Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal rail trails are great gems of our area. If this is your first time hearing about these trails, the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) goes from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD and the C&O Canal continues from Cumberland to Washington DC. The combination of 0 (read: zero) car traffic, low elevation change, cute trail towns, and free camping, and ample water sources makes this trail combo world renowned. People come from all over the globe (in normal times) to ride this route combination of nearly 333 miles. And since these trails are basically in our backyard, we've ridden them a lot.

So while the trails can be ridden on most wide-tired bikes, having a bike built up with the knowledge of what the trail entails and what the rider needs, means that the bike can disappear and one can simply enjoy being in the moment - surrounded by the beautiful scenery that the Mid-Atlantic has to offer.

That brings us to Shawn's Low Kicker Polyvalent build. He lives nearby to the trail and was ready to upgrade his current ride to a bike with dedicated front and rear racks, wider tires, upright position, fenders, and a timeless aesthetic. After a few conversations, we settled on a build list and went to work getting everything fitted. This is one ultra smooth and comfortable ride.

Let's talk cockpit. Trekking Bars are one of those love 'em or hate 'em sort of selections. Shawn liked them for their upright position and multiple hand positions. They're super popular in Europe for that reason, too!


The drivetrain is a simple 1x11. There isn't much elevation change over the whole trail, so you don't need a double or triple crankset. We often get questions about clutches on rear derailleurs for 1x systems. Basically, the clutch on a rear like this acts like a strong spring and retains chain tension over the whole drivetrain. It prevents the chain from bouncing around over roots, potholes, and the like. They say the GAP was built by machine and the C&O was built by man. I would agree.


Braking is handled by our favorites, the TRP Spyres, which we paired to our Grand Cru Brake Levers. The calipers have a piston on either side of the rotor, so it squeezes more consistently.

The wheels are our Rear and Front Disc Hubs laced to Voyager Rims. So while they are extremely shiny, they're also super tough as well as tubeless compatible. We opted for Ultradynamico 650bx48mm Cava tires. I really like these for all sorts of crushed limestone and roughly hewn trails.



Shawn also opted for Front and Rear Campeur Racks. They aren't terribly heavy, so he can try out different loading and luggage arrangements.


These trails can get pretty messy after rains and when the snow starts melting, so a good set of full coverage fenders should be a must. He opted for the 650b Wavy Fenders (a personal favorite) and front and rear mudflaps. 


This is one ultra smooth and beautiful machine. Happy riding, Shawn!

If you're looking for a very complete build list, here you go!