10 August, 2023

The VO Blog Has Migrated!

After 17 years, we will no longer update this blog platform. Google will no longer support Blogger and the associated programming we have put into it. So! Going forward, you can find all things related to Velo Orange News, products, tips and tricks, and custom bike builds on our website's native blog platform found here: https://velo-orange.com/blogs/theveloorangeblog

We've transferred our most popular blog posts to the new platform, so they won't be lost even if Blogger shuts down. We've even been posting new content, so if you missed updates, check it out!

In the meantime, the blog will be a sort of legacy time capsule. There are loads of articles about products we've designed, tested, produced, and since discontinued. There are custom bike builds from well known builders, and musings from travels all over the world. 

There will be quirks in formatting. There will be broken links after 17 years. No, it isn't mobile optimized. Do we have Porteur Chainguards anymore? No, we don't. Do we still offer a Sugino 50.4 Crankset? No, not for over a decade. Do we have a Carbon Fiber Mixte? No, that was an April Fools Day post.

But enjoy the content on this blog while it lasts. Will Google shut Blogger all down in the next couple years or will it last until the Sun burns out? We aren't 100% sure, but enjoy it. 

Click through random dates on the right side of the page. There are some seriously cool gems in there!

Happy Riding,

The Velo Orange Crew

25 April, 2023

Overcomplicating the Most Efficient Transportation Machine

velo orange a man working on a mtb amongst all sorts of mountain bikes right to repair

I started wrenching on bikes from an early age. From changing flats on my original Mongoose 20" bike to overhauling loose-ball headsets and bottom brackets on my dad's old Cannondale, wheels-up on the basement floor. Those times taught me basic but fundamental skills that landed me a job as a mechanic in high school, got me through almost a decade of working on bikes, and ended up with me here at VO. While most of those times and much of my early mechanic years were filled with changing flats, basic 7spd derailleur adjustments, and regreasing simple older tech, times are oh-so different now, and so are the bikes.
My dad's copy of Todd Downs' 2005 encyclopedia of bicycle repair- the foundation of my wrenching as a yoot 

Even back then, as 11spd was beginning to make the rounds on production road and MTB bikes, the unattainably high end Dura Ace and SRAM Red gear that seemed so intricate and flawless then, now looks and feels no different than any other gear of its time when on a bike in the repair stand - especially looking through the scope of what's available on the market today. Much of which, folks are having a harder and harder time even approaching as a home mechanic.
SRAM Red 11spd rear derailleur. The best of the best at the time, while still taking design cues from far cheaper and simpler gear

Bikes, from the early stages of mass production through to the 1990s, had been largely the same. Rigid frame, pressed-in headset on a straight tubes, one-piece or three-piece cranks, and rim brakes. Nit pick and identify the outliers all you like, but that describes most of the bikes during that time. However, with the trickle-down effect of materials engineering into cycling in the late 2000's, things began to change - and get more exclusive. Suspension forks became normalized on off road bikes, cartridge bearings found their way into everything from headsets to jockey wheels, carbon became the gold standard for racing bikes, and model-year innovation became the standard. 

I'm not one to groan about progress, though. Aside from the anecdote of "chasing the past," (e.g. riding a rigid hardtail mountain bike or pulling out your old downtube shifter bike) to gain some fleeting taste of the "good ol' days" of bikes, you'd be hard pressed to convince me that new bikes coming out today from almost any manufacturer aren't some of the best bikes made yet. Disc brakes, quality frames, excellent suspension design and kinematics, and tubeless tires offered in virtually every size imaginable. If you think about it, there are more options for folks looking to buy a proper bike today than ever before.
 This is on your bicycle.

But with that innovation comes an increase in the level of technical know-how required to even attempt to maintain modern bikes. Shimano has a virtual school devoted to teaching mechanics how to work on their products. SRAM has something quite similar. Want to bleed your hydraulic brakes? You'll need to buy a proprietary kit and oil, and you better not screw it up or it'll be a mess. The same goes for suspension forks and frames. I've owned probably 5 full-suspension bikes, none of which I, personally, serviced the shock or fork on. I'm fortunate to have a shop nearby that specializes in suspension service, another area of bicycle servicing that has become specialized in the last 15 years.

Bikes of the 1950's to 2000's could once be stripped down with nothing but a tri-tool and a 15mm box wrench, assuming you hadn't lost your 10mm. Aside from a very short list of special tools (which you could pick up at any bike shop) like a crank puller, bb lockring wrench and puller, and a cassette tool, there really was nothing to it. As I started my time as a mechanic affordable two-piece cranks flooded the market, and with them came every bottom bracket standard under the sun. 142 Thru-axle spacing was quickly followed by Boost 148, and subsequently Super Boost and thus an arms race of new, bike specific tools and components began.

I type this all out not as a protest (though I come from a fortunate position of well over a decade of technical experience), but rather as an illustration of how complicated things got, so quickly. If you bought a road or mountain bike in 1985, you had a considerable number of options in terms of models, but you could take any bike home and maintain it properly yourself with a minimal number of special tools or specialized technical knowledge. Heck, that rings true even for bikes as new as the early 2010's.
My first 'real' mountain bike- a 2008 Vassago Bandersnatch, with SRAM X9 and BB7M brakes

Today, however, if you wanted to purchase a mid-grade road bike off a shop floor, you'd be likely ending up with something that uses a press-fit bottom bracket, internal routing that goes into a void, tubeless tires, hydraulic disc brakes, and maybe even electronic shifting that needs an app and special software for diagnosis and updating.

Heaven forbid you want to service your bottom bracket in a year or two. You'll need the proper tapered punch, an oversized bearing press, a torque wrench and bravery to take that on without fear you'd crack your carbon or destroy your aluminum alloy shell. It gets worse when you consider mountain bikes of today. We haven't even touched on e-bikes! There's just too much special knowledge and risk tolerance required for the average at-home mechanic.
An example of my most recent rig, a Norco Revolver FS 120. Quite removed from what now seem like "humble beginnings"
That being said, many shops offer lifetime free basic services and tune ups with the purchase of a new bicycle. They did at my shop at least, and it feels like this is the direction the whole industry is moving: "pay a premium up front, we'll cover you for most stuff." In tandem, the manufacturers are designing bikes that are less and less consumer-maintenance friendly, knowing that the customer is likely going to roll it into the shop 9 times out of 10 before attempting to fix it first. This makes the product more expensive, and leaves those of us who like to fix our own stuff hanging out to dry, in a way. 

From an environmental perspective, making things obsolete or too difficult or expensive to fix, means that people will buy new things - which means more waste and emissions. 

I think shops are going to be more essential than ever with the industry moving towards higher-end, direct-to-consumer business. It's just that their business model is being forced through a change, and they'll need to be mindful of that fact.

What are your thoughts? Do you work only on bikes of a certain vintage or are you able/willing to maintain all your bikes regardless of their complexity? 

19 April, 2023

How to Install Velo Orange Fenders - The Video!


In Part 3 of our Let's Build a Rando Bike series, we go through the step-by-step installation of our 650b 52mm Zeppelin Fenders on our Pass Hunter Frameset!

But why even run fenders (or mudguards if you're in the UK)? Well, you'll find your bike far more useful. You won't get a wet streak up your back every time you ride through a puddle. Your feet will no longer be soaking wet just because the road is damp. And you'll stay drier in anything but heavy rain. Additionally, people riding behind you will be happier because you aren't slinging road grime into their teeth. Lastly, Your drivetrain will also be significantly cleaner and happier. Which means you won’t have to spend as much money fixing and replacing parts.

I'll admit, this video has been needed for a while, and I'm glad we've finished it up. If there is something else you'd like us to do instructions for, let us know! Until then, give the video a watch!

10 April, 2023

Neutrino Pre-Sale is Live!

by Igor

The Neutrino Mini-Velo is coming back into stock soon, and now is the chance to secure your frameset! The frameset pre-sale is going live now, with expected delivery early May.

As far as the Neutrino's specifications go, they're staying the same with the exception of its new paint: Slammin' Salmon. This is a paint I've wanted to put on one of our frames for years - without finding just the right time or frame to put it on. The Neutrino is a natural choice!

Since it was first released in 2019, the Neutrino has become a crowd favorite of many for riding in the city, bikepacking, traveling, and even a packrafting trip or two. Its generous 2.3"+ tire clearances and modern compatibility makes it fun to ride and super fun to customize without any of the drawbacks typically associated with minivelos and smaller wheels.

The Neutrino has no preconceptions of how it needs to be built, and therefore is a prime candidate for fun colors and build styles. It's a sort of canvas for any rider who is looking to customize their ride. You can find a bunch of Bike Build Ideas here to get your brain juices flowing.

So whether you're looking to do drop bars and Campagnolo, Klunkers, Granola Bars, or even a custom Lefty Fork (!) you're in good company with a ton of other riders who have done their own unique and awesome bike builds.
Pre-Sale Details

The Neutrino Frameset is currently available for pre-sale. This will secure your frameset and will give you first-in-line shipping when they arrive. This pre-sale will remain live until the framesets are sold through or they arrive in our warehouse - whichever one comes first.

As for the remaining stock of Small Pistachio Neutrinos, they'll be discounted 15%. When they're gone, they're gone!
My Bike

We express shipped one Large frameset for photos ahead of schedule and here's how we built it up. This has got to be my favorite iteration thusfar.

Over the years, the Neutrino has become our around town cruiser, overseas adventurer, and bike we can lend to friends. The dropper means either Adrian and I can ride the bike with literally the flip of a switch. I'm 5'10" and she's 5'5.5", by the way.

The handlebars are our upcoming Utility Bars and Rack - these will be here around early June. The rack makes it super easy to throw a bunch of stuff in a Biggish Bag or strap down a backpack.

The gearing is the Microshift Advent Super Short and works great.

Braking is our favorite mechanical disc brakes - Growtac Post Mount in Purple. I think it pairs exquisitely with the paint color.

01 April, 2023

Introducing the New 2023 Velo Orange MiniminiVelo!

As we've been preparing travel arrangements for the Portland MADE show in August, we quickly discovered that luggage fees have gone sky high, and that's not even with a guarantee you and your bags end up at the same place.

So without further ado... 

Introducing the Velo Orange MiniminiVelo!

Don't let its small stature fool you. It still has the full VO treatment including generous 15mm tire clearances for rough and tumble terrain and a neat wishbone chainstay bridge.

It features highly Metallic Plum paint and a VO Headbadge.

I built mine up with a coaster brake and upright bars, but you could also use drops if you wanted - I'd recommend going with a 7mm stem.

For those who attended the ATW Show last weekend, we actually had this model on display, but you may not have noticed it because it's so tiny. 

The MiniminiVelo. Made to fit under your seat or in your handbag, and no need to even fold it. Just hop on and go!

Preorders open up the 1st of Octember, so mark your calendars! 

29 March, 2023

Southern Peaks Bike Tour: A Journey of Self-Discovery - part 1

A guest post by Nic Morales 

Day 1- Atlanta to Rockmart

With a frigid start not necessarily encouraging movement, I took the opportunity to meet with local cycling persona and filmmaker Hannah Griggs (QueerCyclist) at a favorite coffee shop of mine. A friend recommended Chrome Yellow some years ago, and I've always made a point to stop in whenever in town. What better place to meet someone that inspires me? We had a lovely conversation about cycling, Atlanta, and their goals within it. 

Velo Orange Pass Hunter Volition Cycles Nic Morales Southern Peaks Tour

The first challenge was getting from central Atlanta to the Silver Comet Trail– a bike-specific super-highway that starts in Smyrna, Georgia, and ends in Anniston, Alabama. Though Atlanta's cycling infrastructure is largely similar to that of other metropoli in this country– robust in high-income sections, virtually non-existent in portions of lesser economic means– the route I took happened to pass through one of my favorite suburbs. Buckhead's rising roads and ripping descents are second to none and are really only spoiled by how close Range Rovers tend to fly by. Maybe it's just because I'm a Floridian, but the extreme and sudden change in elevation is always fascinating. A few ripping descents and less than stellar 'bicycle-friendly' roads later, and I was on the Silver Comet connector. 

An extremely welcome sight for sore eyes, the Silver Comet was a much better experience than I'd ever expected. Having been introduced to the trail a little over a year ago via an 'Ed Cycles The World' video– a youtube series made by a young British kid who unicycled(!!!) around the globe– I hadn't ridden it last time I visited. At the very same Chrome yellow, another cyclist, one lycra-clad with an SL7 in tow, said the comet was boring and recommended another route. Though the recommendation was pretty spectacular, it was road heavy. However, I'm thankful I had lowered expectations for The Comet because it's everything a bike-specific trail should be. It wasn't just an afterthought someone made paralleling a highway. It's a beautiful, expansive throughline that takes advantage of the brilliance of bikes. Rolling through nature, unrelenting scenic views, and places forgotten by modern society. 

Velo Orange Pass Hunter Volition Cycles Nic Morales Southern Peaks Tour

Velo Orange Pass Hunter Volition Cycles Nic Morales Southern Peaks Tour

With my eventual end drawing ever closer, I tried to push less pleasant thoughts about the numerous freeze warnings the county had issued. I happened to be traveling amid a near historic 'polar vortex' of sorts. Deciding to pull the trigger on the trip was a mix of not wanting to wait for a rainy April to get any closer and the acceptance that life waits for no one. Quickly closing in on my destination, I searched for a 'stealthy' spot to set up my bivvy. 

I tried to position myself as close to the border as possible to get a good start on the proceeding day, shivering as I set up camp. Before sunset, a truck rolled by and politely inquired about my presence. With honesty as my guiding policy, even in situations where you're in the wrong, I told of my travels and plans. They happened to be the owners of a local BnB– one that often took to cyclists, given their proximity to the trail. With a cold sweat creeping up my heavily layered back, I took the opportunity to stay indoors that evening without much hesitation. Better safe than sorry, I figured.

As it happened, other cyclists were staying that night. A group of middle-aged folks on their first ever 'bike vacation,' using 'ancient Schwinns' to traverse the trail. We talked about cycling, the South, their kids, and what I did for work over a conversation spanning generations, perspectives, and ideologies. Despite our differences, we shared a respect and kindness through shared experience. Wanting to get a relatively early start, I shuffled off to bed long before they did, but not before sharing a meal—one they bought me, despite only knowing the extent of my travels. Southern hospitality delivered me to a warm bed and dinner on night one. 

Velo Orange Pass Hunter Southern Peaks Tour Volition

Day 2- Rockmart to Oxford

The coldest day was in front of me, and despite a warm, lovingly made breakfast, my lack of gear-related preparedness started to set in. I had enough layers and such, but I'd hesitated to camp because my sleep system was rated closer to the 40s and 50s than it was for the 20s and 30s. Though I own a 0-degree sleeping bag, the amount of space it takes up is simply impractical for a mile-heavy trip. Moreover, February in Florida had been unseasonably warm, so I assumed that the 500 or so miles north would provide a perfectly mild temperature to bikepack through. Men make plans, and God laughs, though, as a concerned employee of the Christian coffee shop I meandered outside of informed me March would be historically cold. C'est la vie.

At the Alabama/ Georgia border, I had a decision to take the remote forest service roads south until I either camped or hit some form of civilization or continue on the trail and loop said roads back in when I was headed back north. Given I had no opportunity to meaningfully resupply prior to the fork, I decided on the latter. 

Velo Orange Pass Hunter with Spork Fork Volition Cycles Nic Morales Souther Peaks Tour

Velo Orange Pass Hunter with Spork Fork Volition Cycles Nic Morales Souther Peaks Tour

After the border, the trail morphs seamlessly into the Chief Ladiga trail. Passing through farmland and open field, the terrain was a bit tame. Fears about whether I was doing 'enough' on the trip began to creep in as I approached the town of Weaver. Stopping in a local coffee shop to escape the unrelenting cold, a kindly older gentleman remarked on the brutal temperatures through an interaction that evoked the old west. He asked about my travels and where I was headed. After telling of my end goal of Anniston / Oxford, he quickly frowned and said that he'd lived near there for some years and that 'folk down there just ain't right.' While I wasn't quite sure what he meant, I experienced something of a vibe shift upon entering the small town of Anniston. 

Triple wide 'sroads' with no shoulder, and cars, or more aptly, massive trucks, flying by. I did my best to navigate through backroads until I found some reasonable infrastructure, but it was few and far between. After a close call with a Lincoln, I decided to take a second and gather myself. Alone, without much guidance, I thought, 'If this is the rest of the trip, I'm not sure I'm going to make it.' To exacerbate matters, the night's temperatures were set to be even lower than the night prior.

All that said, I'm usually not one to freak out. I can make decisions in pressure situations and be secure in how I move about the world when the time calls for it. If there's anything the bicycle has taught me, it's that there's little use in worrying or over-complicating. Make the best decision and do so with confidence. After booking a room at a local motel, I called it for the day. I felt tired, a bit defeated, and somewhat fraudulent. I'd lugged around all this gear I hadn't been using. I was barrelled off the road by cars, there was no trail left to speak for, and I was primarily fueled by things that can't be called food. This was my first solo bikepacking trip and one that differed pretty significantly from Florida's flat, temperate landscape. It represented a low point set by false expectations. I had to be kinder to myself– if anything, to ensure I made it out of the Red Roof Inn in Oxford, Alabama. 

Day 3 Part 1- Oxford to FSR 500

Determined to have a better day than the last, I set out for both the first dirt and peaks of the trip. Cheaha Mountain, the highest point in Alabama, was a mere 16 miles away– how hard could that possibly be? With a stomach full of Waffle House, I set out on back country roads that were slightly less disconcerting given the time of day. Eventually, pavement turned to dirt, and the car-driven anxiety faded. Despite the cold, the dirt climbs put a massive smile on my face. Using the full range of my cassette felt incredible as I chugged my way up gorgeous, crisp mountain switchbacks. Things were starting to turn around. 

Velo Orange Pass Hunter with Spork Fork Volition Cycles Nic Morales Souther Peaks Tour

After some wayfinding, I got back on the pavement. This time, on a road that was respectful of other living things. Though I'm usually one to try and sprint up a climb, I knew I had a long day ahead. Happy to sit back and crank away; the climb just kept coming. Despite the thinning air and biting cold, every moment of that morning was incredible. Watching the canopy recede as I drew closer to the summit, I felt galvanized knowing I was starting to accomplish what I came here for. 

Arriving at the pseudo-summit, I purchased an entry pass to the peak and a few other snacks. The attendant and I spoke about how the spot was a local haunt for cyclists. After a moon pie and some Body Armor, she allowed me to shirk my bags at the store and ascend the peak with roughly fifteen fewer pounds. I took to the paved loop and hit the peak in no time. The summit was a classic southern view, and something I felt summed up my feelings about the area. Those who grow up in the South and appreciate the outdoors often compare ascents like Cheaha to those farther west. While they don't necessarily maintain the same immediate photogenic quality, something intangible fills my soul when I see a classic southern peak. The rolling hills are packed with trees. There's something hidden. There's something old. There's something beautiful. Take your sheer rock faces– you can have them. The mind explodes with wonder and possibility in the endless sea of orange, brown, and green. Much like the South itself, it hides a beauty that requires a more discerning eye to recognize.

Velo Orange Pass Hunter with Spork Fork Volition Cycles Nic Morales Souther Peaks Tour

Velo Orange Pass Hunter with Spork Fork Volition Cycles Nic Morales Souther Peaks Tour

I was grateful for the change in tides as I re-strapped my bike's front and rear bags, taking to the descents with a big, dumb smile. One that only got bigger as I flew down my hard-earned peak faster than most would be willing to in a car. A few of my best Tom Piddcock impressions later, and I was back to relatively flat land. I stopped at a gas station and scarfed down a slice of pizza as I gazed at the upcoming elevation. One step at a time, I assured myself. 

Atop Horseblock mountain, I met the first and only group of 'cyclists' I'd encounter on the trip. I asked them for some advice about which roads to steer clear of and then took to the descent, thinking I'd be alone again. To my surprise, they chugged along beside me for some time. We spoke about cycling in the area, the beauty of the terrain, and the club they were a part of. The split in the day came after some of the best road riding I'd ever done. The Talladega scenic drive is truly one of the best roads I've ever experienced. I don't think I saw a car for about an hour, the views are incredible, and the riding is rewarding. 

During the earlier conversation, their 'leader' informed me that the next big resupply was in Heflin and that I'd best stay on the scenic drive for as long as I could and power through a stretch of highway 78 if I was intent on staying near the town for the night. Eventually, I came to the split– a section where the scenic drive meets Forest Service road 500. Once more, I had a decision to make– play it safe and head for the town of Heflin or take the gravel path that passed through some four peaks on its way back to the border town of Piedmont. Having already done 40-odd miles with a hefty amount of elevation for a Floridian, there was definitely a physical motivation to take the safe route to Heflin. Moreover, the Garmin inReach mini I'd acquired at the behest of my very concerned mother fell off at Cheaha, so I'd be without emergency tracking for the most remote and ostensibly dangerous section. But, a little voice in my head edged me toward the gravel path. Again, I felt the trip hadn't panned out how I'd planned it. I'd come all this way for a journey of self-discovery and motivation– had I accomplished that yet? Had I done much at all? 

In retrospect, it's a stupid question. Embarking on a 300+ mile solo bikepacking trip encompassing more climbing than these flatland legs have ever taken on was task enough, let alone during an unseasonably cold section at the foothills of Appalachia. But, like I am known to do, I often say the most fun you can have is putting yourself in a situation and figuring it out. It is the premiere form of self-actualization, and I'd venture to say it would help anyone's struggles with mental health, as it shows you what you're capable of, what you're not, and how much you can blur those lines. 

So, not knowing what the path had in store for me, I took to it, secure in my ability to handle the challenge before me.

Velo Orange Pass Hunter with Spork Fork Volition Cycles Nic Morales Souther Peaks Tour

Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2!

17 March, 2023

Independence Pass Hunting Pt 2 - The Gear

by Clint


If you missed it, Part 1 of Pass Hunting was the story of our trip. In this part, I’d like to talk about the gear we used for our tour. 

The Bike

In my view, the Pass Hunter is the most versatile bike in our lineup and the bike I find myself spending the most time on. Modern component standards and geometry equally suited for riding uphill and downhill make it a great all rounder. 

You can dress it up with a carbon fork to turn it into a fast gravel bike (check out Clint’s at Blue Lug’s carbon spork Pass Hunter) or upright bars for a fun townie build (check out Blue Lug Yoyogi Park’s upright townie build). On this ride, I wanted to show that it is equally capable as a light(ish) touring bike. The ride required elevation gains and descents, traveling over mountain passes, and mixed/dirt roads - the Pass Hunter seemed like the obvious choice!


Loading up a touring bike is more difficult than I remember! It’s been a while since I’ve packed this much stuff. 

Where does it all go?

Packing for a 5 day trip felt similar to packing for a much longer trip. Once you have enough stuff for that amount of time, I think you can just refuel and keep riding…indefinitely. Our supply requirements for the trip were preparing for: 

  • Temperatures between 34 degrees and 90 degrees
  • Harsh sun and rain
  • Enough food for 48hrs between refuels
  • Camping gear
  • Spare parts for being up to a day’s ride away from a gear shop

Luckily we were next to water for the majority of the ride so we were able to bring a water filter and stay hydrated without lugging around a lot of water weight at any given time. Other than that, I brought drawing supplies and camera gear for entertainment. Rico brought fishing gear (again next to water the whole time, and gold medal fishing waters at that!)

Gold metal fishing waters, baby.

Handling Preferences

Some of my handling preferences aren’t completely practical for touring, but I’d describe my riding style as maybe more “spirited” than your traditional sit-and-spin tourist. I like a little more maneuverability on the bike for some silly stuff. I’ll split up my handling preferences into two categories - weight distribution and fit. 

On weight distribution - I like weight to be tight to the frame. Shaky, swaying weight on a bike drives me a little nuts. While it may be easier to dump everything in panniers and call it a day, I appreciate the compression on modern bike packing baggage (like the Road Runner Jammer), that keeps things from swaying back and forth on a bike. 

On fit - I ride flat bars on all my bikes. I like the control they give me - especially to throw around weight on a touring bike. While not always practical, I have a few different hand positions I rotate between to keep my wrists happy and ultimately I have the most fun when I’m riding flat bars. The flat bars we used on tour are special and they deserve their own section of the blogpost.

The Bars

Since the secret is out, I’ll talk a little bit about the upcoming Utility Bars. They were a pretty key component in loading for both my touring setup and Rico’s. I’m really excited for these to hit the market (hopefully Spring 2023). 

Rico's Rig ft. Utility Bars

Figuring out where to store gear on a bike can be a little tricky so I hope this rack system can simplify things for folks. It’s meant to work on just about any bicycle. All you need is a standard 31.8mm diameter stem!

This rack is super height adjustable. Sometimes it’s difficult to have a handlebar mounted bag on a smaller sized frame without the bag sagging into the tire. This provides a solution for shorter riders, with no compromises for taller folks. The rack can be lowered for taller riders with bigger headtubes to keep the weight low. In our instance we used this adjustability for something kind of weird. I stored my tent and sleeping back on the underside of the rack - check it out!

Double decker storage on Utility Rack.

Lashing stuff to the underside of the rack left things accessible and took advantage of all of the mounting points of the Utility rack. 

Outside of the tour, I use the Utility Bar around town as a quick lashing point for a variety of bags - a messenger bag, our Transporteur Bag, and our Biggish Bag. Strap it on with a bungee cord and you’re good to go. My biggest beef with bikepacking bags is that they swing around a lot or they’re difficult to put on/take off the bike - which if you ride near a city and occasionally have to leave the bike unattended you’ll know why this is important. This rack system solves both of those problems for me. I look forward to seeing all the creative ways folks use this rack in the future. 

No rack mounts? No problem!

For some even geekier analysis of weight distribution, my preferences are to keep the weight tighter to the frame vs keeping the weight low. A traditional pannier setup is going to keep your weight lower, but further out from the steering axis. Personally, I find weight distributed closer to the steering axis to be more maneuverable. It feels lighter in the steering. It’s similar to how folks load up mountain bikes for touring with handlebar rolls or similar bags. By the way, this handlebar is MTB rated if you want to take it on singletrack. 

The Brakes

Rico and I both sported the new Growtac Brakes we offer and I’ve gotta say, it was one of the best decisions we made. Obviously I’m biased, but I think they’re the best mechanical brakes at their price. Not the cheapest on the market for sure, but I think they offer good value. I’ve been riding a pair of these since we started talking to Growtac and I feel like I have enough miles to speak knowledgeably. So here’s my little product review. 

A younger, cleaner Pass Hunter with new brakes from last winter.

Power is the first thing everyone talks about with these brakes. They have so much power. I think they compete with a lot of hydraulic brakes at that, but I would like to emphasize a different point about these brakes. To me, the thing that sets them apart from the rest is that they’re easy to install and maintain. I think serviceability is a point that draws a lot of folks to mechanical disc brakes in the first place (vs hydraulic disc brakes), and these exemplify that quality for me. 

Just a little background on my experience, I am ready to admit to the public that I am a VERY OK mechanic. I’m proficient and I get by. I’ve wrenched on just about everything on a bicycle, but I’m not the fastest, nor am I the best at “dialing it in,” but I think that perspective is important. The adjustments are simple on these brakes and I get more than enough performance at my mechanic ability. Sure a professional mechanic can get more performance out of these, but I want to emphasize how user friendly these brakes are for the at-home mechanic such as myself. 

I’d like to tie both of these points - power and user friendliness, into how important they were on tour. The power was great on long wet descents. It rained a lot and the bikes were heavy. The user friendliness allowed us to make any adjustments as needed while out of the shop and on the road. 

The Bags

Last but not least, I’ve gotta talk about the bags. Road Runner has been a pleasure to work with for the past 5 years or so and their bags are incredible. 

As mentioned before, it rained A LOT on our tour. We were constantly changing in and out of rain gear and drying off clothes. I don’t know how they do it, but those folks from the dry city of Los Angeles certainly know how to make waterproof bags. I didn’t have to worry once about our important gear and electronics getting wet. Here are the bags I used: 

VO x RRB Porteur Bag. My sleeping bag and puffy jacket were in here. Both remained completely dry until I put our water filter in there. User error. 

VO x RRB Biggish Bag. I kept this on the saddle for bulky, but quick access things. A quick change of clothes, food, etc. Again - very dry in there!

RRB Wedge Half Frame Bag. I kept all of the tools and spare tubes in here. I keep my multitool in the non-drive side quick access pouch for adjustments on the fly. Nothing in here needed to stay dry, but it did!

RRB Bluff Bag. I kept quick access snacks in here. It has a generous snack capacity but still doesn’t flop around when mounted to the top tube. The zipper is easy to operate with one hand while riding. Also as with the frame bag - nothing in here really had to be dry but it also stayed dry. 

RRB Little Guy Hip Pack. I kept space camera batteries and a 2nd lens in here along with a few other quick access things. Very convenient. Very dry.

RRB Co-Pilot. I kept my phone and sunglasses in here. Easy to access. Very pleased with the cockpit setup. 

Blue Lug Stem Bag. Great bag! Cute colors and great capacity. Big enough to toss my compact camera in there for when I didn’t want to ride with it on my back. 

Various dry bags. Two 5L bags on the fork and a larger one under my Biggish bag. All held my clothes. ‘Nuff said. 

Also worth mentioning - my RRB Camera strap! Easy to ride with. Has a quick cinch that secures it to your chest to keep it from bouncing around and easy to undo for a quick photo! 


I hope this post has some vaguely useful information to get you going on your next tour. Touring takes a lot of planning and equipment. I’m happy to answer any other questions about the stuff we brought along. There’s a lot more stuff I didn’t mention here. 

Equipment-wise, next time I’m interested to use some of the rack stuff we’ve got in the works. If we plan ahead more, I’d like to try my hand at dehydrating some meals. While those premade dehydrated meals are convenient and taste amazing when you’re really hungry, I wouldn’t mind using less disposable packaging. If anyone has recipe recommendations, hit me up. My sleeping equipment could use a little work. I’d be interested in experimenting with a tarp setup. Also send that info my way if you have a good (and affordable) tarp system. I also need to patch my inflatable sleeping pad. The foam accordion pad I used during this trip wasn’t quite enough padding for my 🍑. Other than that, we used just about everything we brought and there was very little else we wished we had packed. Except for Rico’s rain jacket. It was missed. 

Happy Riding!

26 February, 2023

A Wheeled Legacy

by Connor

About a year and a half ago, Andy send in an email with a request - a set of Velo Orange downtube decals for an old cantilever Pass Hunter. This isn't an uncommon ask for frame repaints, so we sent them out. Fast forward to just the other day when I received a follow-up email from Andy, this time with an update of his restoration job.

Repainted and rebadged, the bike had obviously been cared for and the attention to detail was apparent. More notable than the photos of the bike, however, was the story behind it.

Working at a bike company, you see your product leave the warehouse everyday. It's headed every which way all over the world, bound to be installed and used by the riders that enjoy them. You often don't think of where this frame is headed and where it's going to be ridden, or what kind of bike those fenders are going to be installed on as they head out the doors at VO. My correspondence with Andy was a reminder that our bikes are often an extension of ourselves, our personalities, and our stories. Here's Andy's story

Trigger warning: This post contains discussion of a recent loss and may be difficult for some readers.


"The bike holds a special place for me. June 2021, I reunited with a friend, John "Host" Lynch, who I hadn't seen since the beginning of the pandemic. We had one of those epic rides together... single track, gravel, road, rail trail, all wrapped up with great conversation against a picturesque sunset against the Catskill Mountains near my home in Kingston, NY. Tragically, as we came close to completing our loop, I watched in horror as he was struck by a car and run over. John is no longer with us.
His family gifted me the bike. John was one of those special people who's lifestyle closely matched his values in every respect. As a matter of principle, he didn't own a car and rode everywhere. The Pass Hunter was his everyday commuter, grocery getter, weekend camper, and vehicle to visit his partner who lived over 70 miles away. He originally found it second hand at his local bike coop. As you can imagine the bike was worn and loved and ready for a fresh beginning. I needed a project to help make sense of the trauma of losing a friend. I set my mind and heart to the rebuild.

After stripping it down and removing its well-worn parts, I had a fresh powder coat applied - translucent copper from Prismatic Powders. When the sunlight is angled to the frame just right, a deep golden earthy glow comes forward. The gold anodized bolts with home-cut leather washers, and brass stem spacers from Blue Lug, accent the glow.
I outfitted it with your Nouveau Randonneur Bar, a Brooks saddle, Origin 8 flat pedals, Tektro Onyx cantilever brakes, and Grand Cru 50.4 BCD crankset, I sought to combine comfort and reliability for long distance rides and mix the classic aesthetic of your parts with a some of my favorite tech from the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. It has a vintage Suntour XC derailleur group, shifters, and brake levers. The rims are vintage Nashbar now encircled with ginger colored Gravel King SK tires. Maroon padded bar tape from Neubaums, matching vintage cable housing sourced from the Bicycle Recyclery, topped off with gold cable cherries. A rust orange VO/Roadrunner Randonneur Bag is on your Randonneur front rack, and there's a matching tool roll on the seat. I love how the bike evokes the colors of autumn in the Northeast - my favorite time of the year and place to ride.

VO Facetted Fenders have been added since these pics were taken. And, I'll be building up a dynamo hub wheel soon for lighting.

How does it ride? Really excellent, almost everywhere! It's buttery smooth on pavement and light gravel, but also handles mellow single track and some of the rougher farm and carriage roads I like to visit with ease. It's by far the easiest bike I've ever owned... it just wants to go. Not super fast, but steady and efficient. Very welcoming.

The Blue Lug brass stem cap is engraved with, "Be My Guest." John's nickname was "Host." He had a lovely reputation for welcoming people into his life, making them food or a spot of tea. Accepting the trauma of witnessing John's death reminded me that life, even when difficult, is a gift. We have only to accept its hospitality."



Thank you, Andy, for putting together this amazing Wheeled Legacy for your friend John.

Andy felt comfortable sharing this incredible story with us and agreed that it was worthy to bring to you, to remind you that our bikes are extensions of ourselves, and even if we don't go on, our bikes often do. For some of us, they can represent memories shared, hills and hardships conquered, and rides yet to come. For Andy, this bike represents all three.

08 February, 2023

If you can only have one bike, make it a tourer!

 velo orange polyvalent on tour in europe

The versatility of a touring bicycle like our Polyvalent is one of its greatest attributes. With a few simple modifications, one bicycle can easily be used for a variety of different riding styles and purposes. Let's take a look at how to set up one bike for exploring gravel roads, touring remote areas, everyday commuting, and even a road ride or two!

What makes a Touring Bike?

Well, touring bikes at their core are designed to be comfortable, capable, and confident in a wide variety of terrains and environments. They are designed so that the rider can focus on the experience rather than on fiddling with equipment and worries about component robustness. 

velo orange polyvalent low kicker with road runner bags accessories

Typically speaking, traditional touring bikes are set up to have neutral geometry, longer rear triangles, and wide tire clearances. With that set-up, they can excel admirably at almost anything that is thrown at them.

From a technical standpoint, touring bikes have a headtube angle of between 69-73 degrees, with the steeper angle allowing for a slightly more forward-loading bias. In practice, it doesn't really matter as, I assure you, you will get used to whatever you're riding in a few miles. It's when you get even steeper (track bikes) or more slack (progressive mountain bikes) that handling and geometry can be more of a factor in your comfort over the long haul.

velo orange bike crossing a stream with fully loaded panniers

Touring bikes also usually have longer rear triangles to allow for heel clearance for rear racks and panniers. A longer wheelbase also makes the bike more stable, again, making it easier to ride for longer distances than something with the rear wheel tucked tight behind the seattube.

Touring bikes typically have all sorts of mounts for fenders, cargo, multiple bottle cages, lighting, kickstand, etc...almost anything and everything! This will be important in the next coming sections. 

velo orange piolet prototype with cargo bags

Lastly, touring bikes have generous tire clearances. Bigger tires use a bigger cushion of air which aids in traction, comfort, and reliability. Imagine hitting a rock with a 23mm tire vs a 48mm tire. The 48mm tire will deform and squish around an obstacle and a 23mm won't, and you'll have a higher risk of a flat. Over a couple hundred miles, that extra cushion of air is a welcome addition.

Simply put, touring bikes have geometry, clearances, and design to eat up the miles comfortably and safely. 

Ready for Gravel?

velo orange pass hunter with road runner bags biggish and day tripper

In recent years, Gravel is everything: gravel shoes, gravel pumps, and gravel helmets. It allows you to explore the back roads and paths less traveled, and provides a great way to get off the beaten path and experience the beauty of nature - all ideally without any worries about traffic or cars.

The nice thing is that in actuality, you don't need much to get into riding gravel. Just a bike with neutral geometry, comfortable fit, and generous tire clearances. Sound familiar to a touring bike? 

As far as building up a touring bike for gravel, I'd forgo fenders and racks and just accept getting dirty and having to strategically strap on bags to the bike. Otherwise, I think you'll be hard pressed to find any big differences between a gravel bike and a touring bike.

velo orange low kicker polyvalent

For cargo, the extra nubbins and mounts that a touring bike has are useful for carrying extra water on the fork blades.

Of course, the caveat being if you're racing, then you'll want lighter everything so you aren't carrying any weight that isn't absolutely necessary. But that can lead to its own problems with components that may be more susceptible to a catastrophic failure all in the name of saving a couple minutes. Which could mean getting paid or not getting paid, I get it honestly.

When Touring Bikes Aren't Touring, They're Excellent Commuters

velo orange camargue with wine and porteur front rack

Commuting by bicycle is a great way to stay active on the daily and reduce your carbon footprint to get to and from work and around town. The vast majority of my own riding is just doing things around town: going to the library, hitting up the playground with the family, picking up take-out, grabbing quick groceries, late night snacks, running down the hardware store, etc... The cool thing about a touring bike is that there are no modifications you need to make to make it a good commuter!

The only difference is amount of stuff you need to take. Instead of 4 fully loaded panniers on your racks, you might just have one, or two for a trip to the farmers' market. Riding position, tire choice, tools, component selection, racks, and fenders can all stay the same.

velo orange polyvalent with front rack and porteur bag

For a commuter or tourer, I value simplicity of maintenance, comfort, and utility. So you can see how one could be good as the other with little to no changes.

Transforming into a Randonneur is Easy

velo orange polyvalent with front campeur rack in germany

While I can't necessarily say that a true touring bike could be on the same echelon as a full-on roadie, touring bikes do make excellent randonneuring bikes. 

They say randonneuring is just touring with more paperwork - which is hilarious. As far as making it a true randonneur for brevets, there are some specific considerations you need to be within the RUSA (Randonneurs USA) safety requirements: that includes having a rear light, front light, and reflective vest - honestly, good things to have anyway for touring and commuting.

As far as other gear, I'd simply drop a rear rack and only have a small front rack or just a bikepacking style bag like a BiggishMini Rando, or Burrito. Basically enough room for just the essentials like nutrition, tools, medications, and any extras you personally need.

velo orange burrito front bag on polyvalent

Pro-tip: you can make a paper cue sheet holder using a binder clip and a zip tie.

In conclusion, with a few simple modifications, one bike can easily be used for a variety of different riding styles and purposes. Whether you're gravel riding, touring, or commuting, a versatile bike is the key to making the most of your riding experience. Take the time to understand your needs, and set up your bike accordingly.

I'll also note that VO Frames are currently 20% off, so if you are interested in building up your next touring, randonneur, gravel, and commuter, now is the time to save some cash!