17 September, 2018

Nouveau Randonneur and Curvy Handlebars Have Landed

by Igor

We are super excited to launch three new handlebar shapes to appease even the most discerning cockpit aficionado. The Nouveau Randonneur Bar is our take on a modern rando bar designed for riders using integrated shifters and aero brake levers. The Curvy One Bar is an updated city and touring bar with more than enough room for modern sized grips, brake levers, and shifters. Finally, the Curvy Too Bar is a flat and not-quite-as-Curvy handlebar designed those who want a more spirited position. Enjoy!



First, let's start with a bit of background. Traditional Randonneur Bars have always had an easily recognizable shape: round bends, long ramps, deep drops, and up-sweeping tops. It makes sense. Non-aero levers are fairly small, so you have more real estate on the ramps and drops as you change your position throughout the day and terrain. You can get the bars up a bit more without resorting to a riser stem with upward bends by the stem clamp. With the proliferation of integrated shifters making their way onto touring, randonneuring, and now gravelling bikes, these traditional shapes are not always conducive to a comfortable on-the-hood position - ergonomically speaking, where your hands would spend much of their time. The ramps are often too long, even paired with a short stem and the ramps on vintage Italian-style road bars simply do not match the curves of these modern shifters and levers. The design of the tops, ramps, hooks, and drops all make the Nouveau Randonneur Handlebar an absolutely lovely abode for all-day riding.

The most visible difference from a traditional bar is the shape of the tops. They are ovalized and sweep back ever so slightly from the stem clamp. An ovalized section makes for a bigger area upon which your hands can rest. A wider palm base means road vibrations and impacts are distributed better and not centralized into a specific spot. Additionally, the sweep lends itself better (than a straight top) to your hands' natural resting position.


Measuring the reach of this bar is a bit tricky. The ramps are 105mm in length, but since the tops sweep back, the traditional reach measurement (originating from the stem clamp to the edge of the ramp) is more like 85mm. In total, this means the ramps are long enough for a resting position behind the shifter hood for cruising, but short enough to easily reach the hood for shifting, braking, and out-of-the-saddle efforts without resorting to extreme stem lengths which could affect handling.


Reaching down from your hood's perches to the drops is not extreme. The drop length is roughly 128mm. Deep enough to obtain some aero advantages as well as cornering stability, but also not so deep your back will curse at you in the morning.

At the hooks, there is 12 degrees of flare. It opens your chest, makes the bike more stable, and means your forearms won't hit the bars when making out-of-the-saddle efforts. The ends are also reamed to fit regular bar-end shifters.



The Curvy One is our take on a traditional city and touring bar while retaining the elegant lines and curves that are often lost in many of today's modern offerings. Width is a cool 650mm and rise is generous at 30mm. With 60 degrees worth of sweep, you'll have a fairly upright position with a ton of control. The grip area (22.2mm) is more than enough for modern grips, brake levers, and shifters at 180mm in length. The clamp diameter is 31.8mm and the grip diameter is 22.2mm.




The Curvy Too is a wider version of our Postino that fits modern accouterments. It's very lightweight at 273g, has no rise and drop, and is perfect for those converting roadies into a more comfortable, albeit, spirited position. With a width of 680mm and sweep of 30 degrees, it's ready to make those stoplight sprints and treks off the beaten path!

Bonus: The Curvy Too is also MTB rated, so it's a great option for your bikepacking rig.

14 September, 2018

Spare Hardware Bits for Racks

By Scott

I'd say that I'm someone who tends to keep bits and pieces around. Not hoarding. Certainly I have a stash of stuff, but I'm not one of those people that has 25 chains and 16 seven speed cassettes sitting about, waiting, ah hmm, for an opportunity. I don't cruise ebay looking for stuff, but I do appreciate having extra nuts and bolts on hand should something happen.

So in this vein, we now have spare parts for our popular Front and Rear Campeur Racks. (They'll also work for Nitto Campee racks). We have the long stays for attaching the rack to braze-ons that the frame would have both for the front and rear.


We also have the shorter stays that are designed to attach to the canti posts. (You'd need the canti rack bolts to make this combination work)
                  

Finally, we have the ever elusive hardware kit for the rack. These racks use a washer with a concave centre section to secure the rack stay, so if this goes missing in the back of the garage or lost in the foliage while you work on it outside, this is about the only way to make it work again.

Don't forget to look at our other rack hardware and accessories on offer here.

11 September, 2018

Mark Your Calendars for the New England Builders' Ball - Sept. 22nd, 2018





If you haven't already, mark your calendar for this year's New England Builders' Ball, Saturday, September 22nd at the super neat Innovation and Design Building in Boston, Massachusetts.

It's going to be a really great time to check out the best custom frame and accessories makers the New England area has to offer.

Here's a link to the current list of exhibitors: http://newenglandbuildersball.com/2018-exhibitors/

And a link to pick up your tickets: https://www.bikereg.com/newenglandbuildersball

We're going to have a booth to show off new products, a couple stellar builds, and give us the opportunity to say hi to everyone who attends! And finally, here are a few photos from past shows to wet your whistle. See you there!
https://www.portercycles.com/

http://www.breismeisterbicycles.com/

http://www.chapmancycles.com/

http://www.waxwingbagco.com/



30 August, 2018

PathLessPedaled Reviews the Polyvalent!

by Igor

Russ from The Path Less Pedaled recently published his video review of our new Polyvalent. We're happy to hear his positive evaluation of the build, and see the great footage of him putting it through its paces. Here are a few excerpts from the video:

  • "Depending on how you want to load up the bike, it truly is a versatile bike..."
  •  About the front end handling: "slightly more bias to the stable side, but still fairly playful..."
  • "...when I was descending, even on rough stuff, I was able to keep the bike pointed in the direction I wanted it to go."
  • "One of my biggest likes was actually the handling. It rode fairly neutral but felt springy."
  • "A cool mix of modern components...and retro touches that actually add to the ride feel of the bike."
  • "Awesome for bike commuting and touring..."
Be sure to watch the whole video for the full take! You can also find the full build list right here.


P.S.

We're going to be closed Monday, September 3rd in observance of our Labor Day Holiday. Orders placed over the holiday weekend will go out on Tuesday. If you need your order to leave before the weekend, make sure you place it before 2pm ET on Friday, August 31st.

Happy riding!

28 August, 2018

Randonneur and Transporteur Bags Restock with FAQs!

by Igor

We just received a nice restock of our popular RandonneurTransporteur, and Snapper Bags in Burgundy, Teal, and Black.

Since we've introduced this line, we've had a few re-occurring questions that we thought we could combine into a nifty FAQ:

  • Can I use the Randonneur Bag without a decaleur?
    • In theory yes, but you'll need a rack at least as wide if not wider than the bag's footprint: 27x19.5cm. We designed the bag to work perfectly with our Randonneur and Campeur Racks, so that is what we suggest for an ideal setup.
  • Does the Transporteur fit on the Surly 24-Pack Rack?
    • Yes. You'll need to arrange the movable velcro straps to really cinch it down, but it works great.
  • Is the Randonneur Bag waterproof?
    • The Cordura outer layer and a truck tarp liner makes for a waterproof combination, but the entire bag cannot be thought of as waterproof as it has a lid. It isn't a dry bag. For our purposes as bike riders, you can safely store things inside the main compartment and be confident that they will be dry. Though, if you open the bag up during a storm, things get wet, obviously.
  • Is the Transporteur Bag waterproof?
    • When the top is rolled down snugly, it is waterproof.
  • Does the bag come with a shoulder strap?
    • Both bags include a simple shoulder strap for off-the-bike fashion shows.
  • Are the bags vegan?
    • They sure are!
  • What's the largest camera that fits in the Snapper Sack?
    • Largest? A mirrorless camera with a pancake lens is probably the biggest. I use a Lumix LX100 as my everyday camera and it is based (loosely) off those proportions. The bag is roughly 16cm deep and 8.5cm across, so take that for what it's worth. Anything bigger and I'd suggest putting it inside the main compartment of the Randonneur Bag. It's also a great fit for SLR lenses!

  • Can I fit a waterbottle in the Snapper Sack?
    • You sure can. It makes a great additional bottle location for smaller sized frames and those using frame bags that take up prime main triangle space. Drink up!
  • Do the Snapper Sack and Cell Phone Pockets work on Wald style baskets?
    • 10-4!

14 August, 2018

Welcome to Hot Taiwan: Tales From an Abandoned Tour

by Igor


Whether it's road conditions, poor weather, injury, or even simply getting lost, self-sufficient tours rarely go 100% as planned. But we persevere. We push through those tough spots where we second-guess ourselves and that is where we learn to be exceptionally resourceful - cleverly solving problems to get back on the road and continue exploring. This is not one of those stories.

Starting out of Taipei along my two local companions, Kist and Black, we were feeling really good. The weather was comfortable and we kept a nice pace. We left town and started for the mountains.


The road got progressively steeper until we were riding what we could and walking what we couldn't. We got deeper and higher, with no downhill respite. I have loads of experience hike-a-bike'n, so I understand that at a certain point, walking is simply more efficient than standing on the pedals, especially loaded. Don't let your ego get the best of you. Sometimes it's ok to walk.


As noon came and went, the sun and humidity started to become increasingly oppressive. It would have been fine riding and allowing our epidermis to cool down our bodies through the efficient production and utilization of sweat, but when you're walking uphill at a crawl, your body can't do diddly squat. We simply couldn't drink enough water to compensate that which we sweat out. We eventually found a local resident who kindly gave us enough water to fill our bidons.



Once sufficiently hydrated, my compatriots turned back as they only took the day off for our ride. Thanks for the wonderful company, guys!

And then there was one.


Continuing up the mountain, the pavement turned to unmaintained concrete, which turned into gravel. The gravel faded, and full-on rough and tumble dirt and rocky trails were left.


The trail I was supposed to take simply became a loop leading me back to familiar roots, obstacles, and views. A loop with stunning views and fun riding, but a loop nonetheless. The other trail simply stopped with a guardrail overlooking a cliff. And the third, very tiny trail had long been swallowed back up by nature.


So here was my dilemma: the original plan was now completely shot. There were no other routes to traverse the mountain, but there was one option that was definitely earned - descend.



The original plan was to ride through the country, into the mountains, and descend via gravel and forest roads stopping in small villages for supply restocking, ultimately reaching Taroko Gorge. Simple, right? That plan was abandoned. Instead I made a route to the hot spring town of Wulai to regain some energy both physically and spiritually.




There is a beautiful waterfall which is the centerpiece of the town. If you go a bit further down the road, past the shops, through a couple tunnels, you can do a bit of hiking which takes you to a smaller waterfall that many locals and visitors go to for tea and relaxation. I joined several locals for a good foot dip in the cold mountain water.




Without sounding egotistical, I'd consider myself a strong rider. I'm a seasoned tourist, I trained (as much as I have for other tours), have plenty of experience with gear, and am comfortable conversing with foreign locals for help (often involving charades), but frankly, the landscape tamed me. No scratch that. The landscape spanked me. At the top of the mountain, with the only option in front of me being going back from whence I came, I felt absolutely defeated.

For all intents and purposes, my tour had failed. My original plan was in the bin and I felt physically deflated. Maybe if I had gone back and taken another way around on main roads - it would have only added about 75km - I might have gotten back to the correct route. But there was no way. I was dehydrated, my muscles were tightening, and I was contemplating how continuing on could affect my family if anything happened to me (a bit dramatic, but those are the thoughts that cross your mind).

After a couple days at Wulai enjoying the natural springs, I headed back to Taipei to catch an early flight home. As I headed out onto local roads, the sky opened up for me, graciously, in the form of rain. The rains subsided and made the atmosphere even more humid as I entered the city limits and welcomed those familiar river bike routes that I am so fond of.


And you KNOW I'm gonna hit a pump track on my touring bike. It's the little things, right?



Up at the top of that mountain, as the sun was temporarily blocked out by puffy clouds, I realized I'm not doing this to win a contest. I'm not doing this because I have to. I'm doing this for fun. Potentially injuring myself is not fun. It isn't epic. It isn't rad. I get that some hilarious stories come from tough spots, but they often aren't threatening bodily harm. As someone who creates content (among the other hats I wear at VO), you need to show your super-human side. Things slide off your back, you don't get flustered, and you definitely don't fail. But you know what? I am only human.

A failed tour (and failure in general) should never be looked at negatively. You should understand that you put yourself out there, something didn't work, and now you have the wisdom and strength to know what to do in the future - that's growth. And while this particular tour wasn't meant to be, I'm already looking forward to the next one equipped with a better grasp of my limits, understanding of resourcefulness, and more water capacity.

30 July, 2018

Away in Taiwan

by Igor

Each year we head to Taiwan for product development meetings, hand shaking, and food digestion. Our visit usually coincides with Taipei Bike Expo, but since this year's Expo is at the end of October, we will sadly miss out on the weird e-bike, high-zoot performance, and general oddball products that will no doubt be at the convention center. Instead, we and our partner factories will be able to dig deep into the nitty gritty of product development without the impending pressure of four days of walking and lugging pamphlets.


I'm going to be in Taiwan for a week and a half, first acclimating, then meetings, then a nice mixed terrain tour on my Polyvalent down to Taroko National Forest, and then hug the East Coast back to Taipei. After meetings, Clint goes off to Japan to tour and visit a few of our dealers.

So that brings us to VO World Headquarters. Each and every one of us work exceptionally hard to answer all questions both through electronic mail, snail mail, and telephone lines in a very timely fashion. It would be helpful for our staff to answer email rather than call if you have any questions or need to contact us, especially if we need to delve deep into the VO Institutional Collective to answer obscure or very technical questions.

Definitely not a Borg Cube
Catch us on our social media profiles to keep up with our travels and misadventures: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and our email signup form: http://eepurl.com/cRu4cD

26 July, 2018

Rustines Re-Stock and More 650b Disc Wheels

By Scott

Coming in at the same time as the Polyvalent, Piolet, and Campeur container, was a massive resupply of the Rustines products that so many of us love.

We got more of the ever popular Campy hoods (we've actually increased by a couple multitudes the numbers of those that we order every time) in gum, black and white, more of the Mafac hoods- both standard and half hoods, and more Universal hoods in black and gum.


We also got in samples of new Universal hoods that come with the cable adjuster for the old Universal brake levers. They're going to be around $55 for the pair, any interest?


We also got in another shipment of our 650b Disc Wheels (Rear and Front). So if you need a set of wheels to go with your new Polyvalent, they're in stock now. We've been testing them with the 47mm WTB Horizon and Byway Tires and are pleased to say that the combination works well. 

Happy Riding!


23 July, 2018

A Desert Campeur

by Igor


When Erick Cedeno of Bicycle Nomad fame called me up and asked if I had a bike that would be suitable for desert conditions, I said, "Of course! The Piolet would be great. Floaty and tons of mounts for water and gear."

Erick then responded, "But it can't have disc brakes or a threadless stem."

I retorted, "Oh that's fine. The Campeur will be perfect". All the while thinking how can we turn this traditional tourer into a desert tourer? You see, he's going to be riding this Sierra Nevada bound Campeur with UltraRomance for an adventurous bikepacking trip that has some very specific requirements (more details will come later). This is how we built up our Campeur and it is one ripper!

Water capacity is exceptionally important, so we managed to arrange two Mojave Water Bottle Cages with two 40oz Klean Kanteen Bottles inside the main triangle of this 57cm frame. Since these high-capacity cages have five slots (which equates to three available positions), you can really dial in the perfect bottle placement.

The seattube has the cage placed low and the downtube has the cage up high. Under the downtube features a Retro, No Tab Cage with an 18oz bottle totaling 98oz of thirst-quenching fluid.


Next the tires. We have to go as wide as the frame will allow, so we selected these SimWorks Homage 700x43mm tires. The middle tread features a light diamond pattern for gravel and smooth surfaces, while the outer knobs are perfect for dusty, loose terrain and corners.


The dangler and pusher are operated by Dia-Compe Bar-End Shifters with Rustines Covers.


Randonneur Bars and a Grand Cru Quill Stem make for a classic, comfortable combination for long days in the saddle under the oppressive sun.

A bit of waxed thread, fanned by a lighter will keep your non-aero routing nice and tidy.


Lastly, luggage. This Randonneur Bag (the complete Rando Bag lineup will be back in stock in the next two weeks) is supported by the Randonneur Rack with Integrated Decaleur in the Cantilever mount-way, and has since received a Snapper Sack (which also doubles as an extra water bottle holder) and a Cell Phone Pocket. He's also getting a rear Jammer Bag for extra capacity from our friends over at Road Runner Bags.

Here's a complete build list your own perusal: Erick's Desert Campeur

13 July, 2018

Polyvalent, Piolet, and Campeur Frames Arrive!

by Igor

The frames for which you all have been waiting so patiently have made their way into our warehouse. Once they are all checked in, they will start being sent out to all of those who pre-ordered. Be on the lookout for shipment notifications in your email inbox! Again, we really appreciate your patience and are honored and proud to have such a dedicated and wonderful customer group.

Follow along for a quick summary of these frames and their designs:

The Polyvalent is our do-it-all frameset. French for "many forms", it's happy as a Porteur, Randonneur, Tourer, City Bike, and would even make a stellar Dad/Mom Bike. Some have called it a "Whatever-er", and I tend to agree. Don't be afraid to get lost on your Polyvalent.

It clears 650bx48mm or 26x2.3" tires with fenders, and has all the braze-ons you'd ever need for racks and the like. And as a proper VO frame, tire facing fender braze-ons are located in all the right places - seatstay bridge, chainstay bridge, and fork crown.

The low-trail (42mm on 48mm tires) geometry can take a significant load before handling is affected, so pack it up with all your touring equipment or a crate full of apples!
It's available in two colors, Deep Emerald Green and Lilac. Both are fantastic. While you're here, check out this Lilac build timelapse and glamour shots! It's our interpretation of a modern Randonneur complete with 11speed Campagnolo Athena, puffy 47mm WTB Horizon tires, and 58mm Wavy Fenders.

Lilac Polyvalent with Athena Build Timelapse and Glamour Shots from Velo Orange on Vimeo.


The Piolet is our rugged, off-road touring bike. It features big clearances for wide tires while still maintaining mounts for racks, fenders, and other accessories.

For sizes M-XL, the frames are compatible with 29x2.4" tires or 27.5x3.0". Sizes XS and S are designed for 26" wheels and gobble up 2.4" tires with ease.


The threaded bottom bracket shell is 73mm in width and is designed to work with modern, MTB drivetrains.  If you are planning to run 3.0" tires, we suggest you go with a 1x setup to prevent chainrub on the smallest gear.

The combination of monostay rear end, hooded dropouts, disc brakes, and segmented, threadless 1 1/8" fork makes this one rough and tumble frameset ready to take on any adventure.

Ah, the Campeur. Cantilever brakes, threaded fork with a lovely French bend, and diamond frame design makes this our most traditional touring and commuting frameset.

Similarly to the Polyvalent, we have seen the Campeur built up in all sorts of ways, but it's main intent is to be loaded up for road or gravel touring. That isn't to say it is limited to touring, it also makes a very fine traditional lightweight, city rider, and dog hauler.

47 and 49cm frames use 26" wheels, while 51-63cm makes use of 700c wheels. All sizes are designed to clear 38mm tires and 50mm fenders.

In addition to framesets, we also restocked on the following:

Happy Riding!

03 July, 2018

Happy Fourth of July

A heads up that VO will be closed for Fourth of July celebrations. We'll just be closed Wednesday, and orders will ship out promptly on Thursday and Friday of this week.


We hope everyone enjoys their Fourth and has a fantastic and safe day out there!


Happy riding!

29 June, 2018

Be Good to Each Other

by Igor

I'm sure you heard about the shooting yesterday afternoon at the Capital Gazette here in Annapolis, Maryland. It happened less than a mile from our office. Instead of hearing our normal industrial area whirring and Naval airplanes, we heard hovering news helicopters and sirens. It was eerie watching live feeds of places we ride through everyday around town full with officials and peace keepers.

I'm aware that many of our readers pop in to nerd out on bike stuff and maybe get away from the craziness we hear from Washington and talking heads on television. Suffice it to say, we don't have the answers on how to solve this issue plaguing our country. I just want to encourage you to hug your loved ones and be good to each other.

From Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"

21 June, 2018

Today is the Summer Solstice!

by Adrian

This year's Summer Solstice falls on June 21st, 2018 - today! So happy Summer Solstice to you all!


Though it's been feeling like Summer for a hot minute here (pun 100% intended), today is the first official day of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Today we experience the most hours of sunlight of the whole year, when the Sun reaches both its highest and northernmost points in the sky. This of course means we have the most daylight hours to play outside!

From the Old Farmer's Almanac I learned something about the Summer Solstice I never realized. "The word “solstice” comes from Latin solstitium—from sol (Sun) and stitium (standing), reflecting the fact that on the solstice, the Sun appears to stop moving in the sky as it reaches its northern- or southernmost point. After the solstice, the Sun appears to reverse course and head back in the opposite direction." So it reaches it's pinnacle, and heads back home. Let's all try to live up to this notion today.

I always associate summer with a time to both relax, and ramp up your adventuring. The weather's nice, there's typically less rain, and nights are warm enough to comfortably sleep under the dome of your own tent - wherever you may choose to pitch it. Summer is when I plan out my longest cycling routes, typically at least one with two weeks of mostly camping.


Tonight we're celebrating the solstice in an entirely new fashion, by camping for the first time with our 7 month old son. Adventuring doesn't need to be contrived - just get outside and have fun. Whether you're in the middle of an epic tour, finishing up the RAAM here in Annapolis, MD (congrats to Christoph Strasser who finished yesterday with 5 wins to tie the record for most wins!), or simply going to a cruise after work, enjoy every minute of it!


Maybe it's time to be a bit more carefree. In the summer rides don't need to be so planned out. There's less clothes requirements, and many more things to do outside. Why not grab your bike, see where it takes you, and enjoy the ride. Here's one way you can cool off after a hot summer ride:


Happy Riding!