18 November, 2021

New Grips and Updated 1x Cranks

 by Igor

We just got in these new Foam/Cork Blend Grips for 22.2mm city and mtb handlebars! They're comfortable, stylish, and durable and come in three styles: Cork, Wood, and Black.


We also got in an updated Single Ring Crankset! The big difference is the 42 tooth NW (narrow-wide) chainring suitable for 1x, singlespeed, fixed, and internal gearing. The alternating narrow and wide (get it?) tooth profile allows for excellent chain retention, especially over rough terrain.

Right now, we have them in 165 and 170mm arm lengths, with 175mm coming early next year.

02 November, 2021

More Happenings and We're Hiring!

by Igor

We're moving! We've been in our current spot for 8 years and it's become very apparent that we've outgrown it. We're doubling our square footage to 15,000 sq ft with over 11,000 sq ft dedicated to just warehousing and shipping. It will allow us to keep more inventory on hand, hire more awesome people, and provide consumers and shops with more product availability and cool, new designs.

We just set our official move date of November 4th! That means that the last VO packages from Annapolis will go out on Tuesday, November 2nd. 

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday this week (November 3rd, 4th, 5th) will be dedicated to palletizing, moving, unloading, and getting in the new facility. So any orders placed between the 3rd-5th, will begin going out the following Monday, November 8th. 

So please dust off your rolodex and update our address to:

Velo Orange
6730 Dover Rd
Suite 113
Glen Burnie, MD 21060 USA

Our phone number will stay the same, but within this transition Comcast has transferred and retransferred our phone number several times between buildings and sometimes it doesn't work. Trust me, it's extremely frustrating, but temporary. Sooooo....please email us with any customer service inquiries (info@velo-orange.com). The webstore will still be active and we will try our best to answer your emails while we're moving.

In related news....

We are hiring additional warehouse associates! If you or someone you know is interested, please click here for the job description: https://velo-orange.com/pages/warehouse-associate-position

21 October, 2021

Happenings and Updates Around VO

by Igor

It's no secret that between product designing, testing, the uptick in order processing from our restock, and life, we've all been extremely busy. And since it's been a bit since we've done a "general happenings" around HQ and since I have a few minutes here to catch my breath, I thought it would be a good time to update our readers and followers.

Shipping

We'll start off with some of the boring but important stuff (for visibility). If you live in New Zealand or Australia, shipping is going up. US Postal Service has discontinued First Class and Priority shipping, so the only options to send packages is Postal Express or Fedex - both of which are quite pricey and sometimes go over the price of the order. So if you need larger items like fenders, handlebars, racks, etc... please contact your local VO Dealer. They order in larger quantities, and can often accommodate customer requests:

Shipping around the US is slower than it has been in the past, due to natural disasters, staffing issues at the shipping companies, and just a high overall volume of items moving around the country. Please be patient. There have been several shipments that are marked as delivered, but are not. I've experienced this personally for my own stuff. They often times get delivered the next day. Sometimes weird things happen in their system. Sorry for the potential delays, but rest assured we will ensure your package will get to you!

Fedex has very calculated shipping routes so if you live in Chicago, don't be surprised if your package goes through Memphis. These are major hubs and transition packages to different areas of the US.

Ok, now for the fun stuff!

Crazy Bar Review on Bikepacking


Miles tested out a pre-production version of the Crazy Bars and had some really nice words! 
The redesigned Velo Orange Crazy Bars are pretty wacky looking, but when broken down, actually make quite a lot of sense. The combination of rise, sweep, and width hits a sweet spot and could work for many styles of bikes and riding styles. It’s also great to see Velo Orange manufacturing them out of a lightweight 6061 Aluminum, because some steel bars seem excessively heavy by comparison. So, yeah, they’re crazy, but I actually think they have the potential to add another dimension of comfort to a wide variety of rigs.

While they are currently sold out, we are getting a lot more around mid/late December 2021. 

Rubbery Bar Tape Review


Seven Day Cyclist reviewed the Rubbery Bar Tape and gave it a very high score! It has quickly become a top seller for us. In addition to classic black, the tape also comes in a light, rich brown - a nice alternative for an almost-leather look. 
The Velo Orange Rubbery Bar Tape is, as the name implies, made from a textured rubbery compound and is long enough for the biggest flared drops. Generous length is only rivalled by its 3.5mm density, which lends itself perfectly, not only to gravel but drop bar mountain bike conversions, rough stuff touring lorries and frankly, anyone else who wants the best of grip and damping. 

Randos - The Rumors Are True!

We have next generation prototype Rando framesets. They are rim brake, 700c, and very spritely. I built mine (below) with 2x12sp with no lightweight bits (but I'm getting carbon wheels soon!) and it sits at 23lbs. The design of the frameset was truly an exercise in minimalism and only has what is absolutely necessary. 

Our friend Matt suggested we keep a "Frame Diary" of the design, prototyping, and production process. I think that's an awesome idea.


We also have a bunch more colors and sizes that are in the process of being built and tested.

Granola-Moose Bars

We actually teased these on an Instagram post a bit back and the stoke was high. We're making a couple small tweaks to the angle relative to the stem for a better position.

We're also doing away with the tall clamp. We had an overwhelming number of requests for a model that could be used with a stem adaptor for older mtbs, so it only makes sense. This is the way. 

More Sensah

The Sensah products we've brought in have been very popular. We recently got some more Sensah products in to test, specifically this 12sp Empire group. It's really good and it has some carbon bits because, you know, carbon.

The neat thing about the front shifter is that it has 4 trim positions, kind of like the older Campagnolo integrated shifters. The shifting is very tactile, just like the SRX 11sp stuff, and is crisp. I'm pleased.

New Digs!


We're moving! We've been in our current spot for 8 years and it's become very apparent that we've grown out of it. We're doubling our square footage to 15,000 sq ft with over 11,000 sq ft dedicated to just warehousing and shipping. It will allow us to keep more inventory on hand, hire more awesome people, and provide consumers and shops with more product availability and cool, new designs.

It's a brand new build and everything needs to go through permitting, so it's been a little longer of a process than we hoped. At any rate, we're in the final stretch and the ORANGE racking is going up as I type this out. 


We should actually be moving within the next couple weeks, so keep an eye out for more info.

We'll also be posting a couple warehouse job openings, so if you're in the Glen Burnie, MD and surrounding areas, keep your eyes peeled. 

That's all for now.

Happy Riding!

14 October, 2021

New Crazy Bars Have Arrived!

by Igor

That's right! The Crazy Bars are in stock and ready to go out. Full disclosure, we get emails about these daily so we expect them to go fast.

If this is your first time hearing about this new version, here's the details:


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 do have a horn-less Seine Bar version, too! More will be here in December.

We also restocked on a bunch of other items:


07 October, 2021

Low Kickers and More Back in Stock

by Igor




Low Kickers have been a very popular frame offering and we've seen them built up in so many different styles ranging from commuter to gravelleur to tourer and everything in between. Well, they're back in stock and ready to go out!

If you're interested in build ideas for the LK (or for any other VO frame in general) check out our build ideas page.

We also got a restock of several parts and accessories you've been patiently waiting on. A lot of these items will go fast, so don't snooze on them! Highlights include:
Next gen Crazy Bars are state-side and we should be seeing them early to middle of next week.

22 September, 2021

Disc Brakes 101

by Scott

Disc brakes have really made major inroads into road cycling since they were first introduced about 15 years ago. Where once the idea of a road bike using disc brakes was laughable, we've now reached the point where a large percentage of road bikes come with disc brakes. We'd done a blog post about the pro/cons of disc brakes awhile back, so we're not here to rehash an old argument, but rather try to explain what you need to get in terms of brakes and bits if you want to build up a new bike that takes disc brakes.

Let's start with the mounting style of the brake caliper. This is the key to buying the right parts for your bike. There are three main styles you'll read about: IS, Post, and Flat mount. In your bike's description, it should state what sort of disc brake system the frame and fork uses.

Frame and Fork Mounts

  • IS mount uses an unthreaded tab welded to the frame or fork. "IS brakes" do not exist anymore. The Polyvalent and Piolet use IS mounts. What you need to buy is a post-mount brake and an IS adaptor for your rotor size. Generally speaking, when you choose the rotor, use the adapter the company who makes the rotor suggests. 
  • Post mounts are welded tabs that have internal threading. The brake screws right into the mount in the frame. You get adaptors to account for the size of the rotor. These were designed for mountain bikes, so you can get adapters to work with rotors from 160 mm to 203 mm. Our Neutrino mini velo uses this system for the rear brake and an IS for the front.
  • Flat mount is flush/flat with the chain stay or fork. It was designed for road and gravel bikes but is making its way into MTB. Typical rotor sizes are either 140 and 160 mm. Our Pass Hunter has flat mount brakes.


Moving on to Calipers...

There are generally two styles of caliper. The first is single piston, where one side moves the brake pad and pushes the rotor against the other pad on the opposite side of the caliper. The other is dual piston where a single arm actuates pistons on both sides of the rotor (more like your car's brakes). Either is fine, but we prefer to use dual piston for more consistent wear and performance of brake pads and rotors.


There are several types of actuation among disc brakes. Perhaps the most common are mechanical, cable-actuated calipers. These are nice for swapping cockpits and brake components. Alternatively, you can also get hydraulic brake calipers. These offer greater stopping power and better modulation, though you generally can't mix and match components from different companies, or even series from the same company. There are also more specialized tools for installation since you're dealing with hydraulic fluid. The third type is a cable actuated brake with a hydraulic reservoir. This type of brake offers the benefit of being able to mix and match calipers and brake levers, while also offering greater stopping power and modulation than a standard mechanical caliper. Simply put:
  • Cable actuated: easy to install and service, able to mix and match, good braking
  • Hydraulic actuated: harder to install and service since you need specialized tools, essentially no ability to mix and match, superior performance and modulation
  • Cable actuated with hydraulic reservoir: easy to install and service, able to mix and match, great braking, though more bulky than the other options because of the added reservoir

And Rotors...

The rotor is the actual disc that the brake caliper pinches to allow you to stop. Generally speaking, when choosing rotor size, larger rotor equals better heat removal and better stopping over short/intense braking (MTB) and longer downhill braking. Smaller rotor equals less weight and fewer parts. Generally speaking, the bikes we built fluctuate between 160mm or 180mm depending on the application and bike. The next size up is 203mm, but that is pretty exclusively for MTB and downhill.


Rotors come in two mounting styles - 6 bolt (on left) or center lock (on right). 6 bolt is the style we use on our hubs. The big advantage to 6 bolt is that you can easily remove the rotor if you are packing the bike up or need to replace the rotor out in the wilds of Iceland's interior, using only a T25 Torx head wrench.

The center lock system, which is primarily used and licensed by Shimano, uses a center spline with a lock ring to keep the rotor in place. You need a cassette lockring tool plus a good size wrench to get it off. This is nice for installation but is a pain for traveling.

Finally Adaptors...

So let's look at a fork to get an idea of the parts needed for it. This fork uses IS mounts, so we went with a set of Post mount TRP Spyres and the mounts for a 160 mm rotor. Notice that the fork mount is unthreaded, and the adaptor is threaded in two directions: left and right to attach the caliper to the fork mount, and front and back to attach the caliper to the adaptor.


Flat mount is a little different. For the frame, you need bolts that pass through the frame and screw into the caliper. Depending on the frame design, you may not need any shims for a 140mm rotor. For a 160mm rotor, you'll very likely need one. For the front, it also screws directly into the fork and uses a special mount. Some brake sets come with all of the hardware and others don't come with any (and you have to buy a la cart). 



Post mount is the easiest as the caliper screws directly into the frame or fork mount. You should only need shims to accommodate the rotor size.



So, those are the basics of disc brakes! You're welcome to debate the pros and cons of each style of brake mount in the comments or tell us what sort of set up you've used on your disc brake bike build. 


25 August, 2021

The Many Manners of Touring

 by Connor

    It seems like every year in this industry, someone comes out with another sub-category of cycling to differentiate their product or their experience from the others. Be it the advent of the "down-country" mountain bike (Short travel, slack geo), to the "all-road" bike (just a gravel bike?), everyone wants to name their slice of the pie. 

    Velo Orange has been making touring bikes since its inception. Granted we've offered different specs and styles over the years, but the moniker never really changed all that much - life's simpler that way. Our Pass Hunter may be our one exception to this, being what would widely be defined as an "all-road" bike, but it can still take front racks, fenders, bags, and 650Bx42mm tires. 

Kevin's Pass Hunter, sans Rando Rack

    However, in today's cycling world, even touring (perhaps the most general and least-finicky flavor of cycling) isn't safe from subdivision. There's Credit Card Touring, Sport Touring, Traditional Touring, Bike Packing, Nomadic Touring, and Randonneuring, just to name a few. So what gives? You're putting your stuff on your bike and staying someplace - is it not all the same? No. At least that's what Scott tells me, so let's dive in.

    While mountain bike categorization is generally based off of amount of suspension travel, geometry, and frame kinematics, the differences in touring bikes seem to be based more on how much stuff you carry, and less on where you're going. From what I can glean, here they are listed from lightest to heaviest load:

Credit Card Touring

Light, fast road touring bike. You maybe have a small handlebar bag with a change of clothes, you're staying at hotels/BnBs, and you're paying for everything (food, shelter, utilities) on a credit card, hence the name. In theory, you could step outside your door with your bike and credit card and go for a tour.

Sport Touring

Slightly more gear, perhaps this is a longer trip, a few more changes of clothes, and you'll be staying at multiple places. Still a lighter duty bike, designed less for load carrying, and more geared towards speed.

Randonneuring

Photo courtesy of Morgan of Found in the Mountains

This is probably the "fastest" form of touring because you're dealing with a time limit. Similar to Sport Touring, but with more paperwork. See Scott's blog post here.

Traditional Touring

More tire clearance, maybe you're hitting slightly rougher roads, carrying your full load including your food and shelter. Think racks and two to four panniers.

Bikepacking

Photo courtesy of Brad from RoadRunner Bags

You're fully loaded, going on and off road, running wider, knobby tires. You likely aren't running racks, hanging bags fore and aft, and you're camping in remote areas not necessarily set aside for camping. About as remote as it gets.

Basketpacking


Perhaps a bit of a backlash from bikepacking luggage and its often times over-complex system of straps, pads, enormous saddle bags, more straps, lashes, plastic holders, and straps, basketpacking is a happy medium between the practicality of traditional touring bags and the out-of-the-way-of-obstacles afforded by bikepacking bags. Through, you do need a front rack and basket, so there are some hard mounting points to keep in mind for those seeking rougher terrain.

Nomadic Touring

You have sold all of your possessions and now indefinitely are touring, riding where you please, making home where you roam.

    So maybe it does have a little bit to do with where you're going. I feel like most "Bikepacking" bikes I see have more in common with modern long wheelbase hardtails than they do traditional touring bikes, and they're often pictured in remote, wild areas with no trace of civilization in sight. Despite this, they're still far removed in essence from mountain bikes. 


Scott and Melissa's setup during their Iceland tour

    I would challenge anyone to convince me that what we call the "modern touring bike" isn't just a gravel bike with bits and bobs bolted onto it. Endurance geometry compatible with flat or drop bars, wide tire clearance and a little room for fenders and/or bags? Sure sounds like a gravel bike to me. Recalling that gravel bikes were once your off-season cyclocross bikes with big tires squeezed in, and that the early 'cross bikes were cantilever tourers with knobby tires glued on. You see how things begin to seem a little muddled?


       Photo Credit: https://www.velonews.com/news/cyclocross/commentary-ive-been-racing-cyclocross-for-50-years/ 

Alan Hills riding his Peugeot UO-8 in an early-1970's cyclocross race. If you haven't read his 50-year saga in the 'cross scene, it's definitely a must-read for enthusiasts, and can be found here.

    I think that the modern tendency to categorize everything has its benefits - it allows people, concepts, and designs to stand apart and differentiate themselves from the crowd. Concerning bikes, however, does it not also create a whirlwind effect where there are too many categories to choose from? I recall my time as a bike mechanic and salesperson back when the gravel boom exploded. The average customer didn't know what to make of this new category. Was it a road bike, a 'cross bike, or a hybrid (or a combination of all three)?  The customer is sometimes lost in a sea of subdivisions and thus ultimately put off by the process of buying a bike.  

    This begs the question; does touring (and cycling as a whole) benefit from this kind of categorization? Or is it just another barrier to entry for folks interested in cycling and/or more specifically, touring? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

19 August, 2021

Do You Name Your Bike?

By Scott

Sometimes the objects we own become more than just things. Bikes aren't just tools or a device, but for a lot of us, a source of joy and pride. When my wife bought a Pass Hunter frame this spring, she named the bike Diana, after the Roman goddess of the hunt. 


It makes it easy when she has names for bikes. When we are getting ready for a ride, she can say that she is taking Diana or Mari (her other road bike) out and I know which to prep and ensure it is ready for the ride.

Back when I worked for GU in 2007/2008, I rode my touring/brevet/sportif/only bike to work most days. My boss there had a very nice Lightspeed road bike. He would refer to my bike as "the truck". With fenders, racks and lights on it, it was certainly more "truckish" then his svelte road bike. I went out for a staff lunch ride one day, and my bike certainly felt more of a truck than either of their two lightweight road bikes over the Berkeley hills.

I started calling it The Truck after that. Eventually I got a lighter road bike to ride and that bike became "The Jag" - lighter, smoother, and more reliable than the car.

(The "Jag" . Sorry for the non drive side photo, but I was 400 miles into a 750 mile ride)

So here's the question - do you name your bike and what sort of convention do you use?

Ps. If you're interested in the complete build list of Melissa's Pass Hunter, you can find it here: https://velo-orange.com/pages/pass-hunter-build-list-sportif-with-whisky-carbon-fork

14 July, 2021

New Seine Bars and Rubbery Bar Tape!

by Igor

Seine Bars Float In

The new Seine Bar is an offroad-worthy riser bar featuring a super comfortable position with loads of real estate and leverage for long days in and out of the saddle. 

Straddling the line between touring and full-on MTB, these bars are wide - 780mm to be exact. This width allows you to select climbing lines with ease and navigate bumpy descents without drama. If they're too wide for your trail or your commute, they can still be cut down to really dial in your fit.

The rise is a cool 40mm and sweep is 35°. So while these were mainly designed to satisfy off-road touring enthusiasts' mixed terrain needs, they are an excellent option for commuters and flat-bar gravel connoisseurs alike. 

They're currently available on the VO webstore in a bead-blast finish in Silver and Black.

Rolling out Rubbery Bar Tape

Handlebar tape selection can make or break your bike's comfort. So we're pleased to offer this grippy, cushy, and beautiful Rubbery Bar Tape.

For mixed-terrain rides where things can go from chill to loose at a moment's notice, having a handlebar wrap that you won't slide off of is paramount. 

Quick specs: 200cm in length, 3.5mm thick (that's thick), and available in three colors (Brown, Black, and White).