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!

20 June, 2018

New Klunker Pads and Burrito Bags

by Igor

We just got in these super fun and super safe Crash Pads made for our Klunker Handlebars. They're made from Cordura-wrapped foam and secure to the Klunk's cross-member using hearty velcro.

Crash Pads are currently available in four colors: two radical, one subdued, and one to match your cool cargo camo pants.

In the same care package, we got in Burrito Handlebar Bags. They're sized for, you guessed it, a submarine sandwich.

They're simple, lightweight, universal, and can carry all your bits and bobs that you may need quick access to. They measure 8 inch in length and 3 inch in diameter and are available in Teal and Black.

Happy Riding!

18 June, 2018

Fun With Fender Stays

by Scott

Sometimes it's the little things that motivate you. Looking at something on your bike and wondering, how could I make this better? Now sometimes, we look at a problem/situation/quandary and create something like the Crazy Bar which requires a ton of tooling and testing. But in other cases, you're simply looking for a solution that shouldn't require a mass of tooling and trouble. Or you just want to have some fun with your bike stuff. Nothing wrong with that either!

These wonderful 5mm aluminum stays (available in silver and noir) are great for little projects around a bike. The fact that they are easy to cut - you can use a bolt cutter, a hacksaw or even saw through it with the file on your Leatherman - make them ideal for those little projects.

Our stays are simple pre-bent aluminum rod and are sized to use with our eyebolts and r-clips, so you can experiment with a whole bunch of setups that are only limited by your imagination.

So what have we used the stays for? Well for one thing, you can add one to the front of a fender if you want to stiffen it up.

Igor did this on the Campeur that he took to Eroica California. Ideally, you'd be using a front rack to secure the front of the fender, but a bent fender stay works equally well to keep everything tidy over washboard roads.

You can also bend one to support a front bundle.

Or bend one up to create a standoff for a rear bag. This one also doubles as a tube or jacket holder.

Creating the bend can be done by hand or by using something solid like a pivot point on a vise.

Using a vise to bend a stay. I like using a vise, but a pair of pliers could do the same job

We sell the stays in pairs for three reasons: 1) for those who are mounting vintage fenders without stays 2) transferring fenders from one bike to another and the length required is different 3) if you just need one, it would be a huge bummer cutting it too short and having to order another - plus it's nice to have a spare for improptu projects.

I'm sure there are lots of things people have used stays for. Anyone have a good story of what they used one or two for?

11 June, 2018

650b Wavy Fenders Arrive!

by Igor

The Wavy Fenders have arrived! No longer will those of you with road+ tires have skunk-tail or fiendishly spray your riding friends with speckles of moist gravel.

In case you missed previous posts and teasers about them, they're 58mm wide, designed for 650b/27.5"/584 wheels, and cover tires up to 50mm - the meat 'n potatoes of gravel and all-road bikes.

While a high polished silver finish has always been our MO, the Noir line has been wildly popular, and so of course we're going to offer it, too! Who could have thought black components would have stuck?

The pattern tooling involved in these is more sophisticated than any other fender tooling we've invested in. Our other fendersets use a single roller, but the Wavys use two - a male and female pair working in tandem, with a very specific amount of pressure to make sure the fender receives the pattern properly without deforming the metal or damaging its mate. It's a delicate balance that leaves a ... lasting impression. Puns aside, they're gorgeous and we're super excited to add them to our extensive fender lineup.

04 June, 2018

15% Off Just Because!

by Igor

The sale has concluded. Thanks to everyone who participated. Happy riding!

Why are we having a sale? Just 'cuz!

So from this very moment through Friday, June 8th (6/8/18) 11:59pm EDT, save 15% off your retail order with the coupon code JUSTCUZ. All orders get free shipping over $150.

Here is the fine print:

  • The 15% off deal is available only to retail customers.
  • Retail and wholesale orders get free shipping on orders with subtotals over $150 within the contiguous USA - no coupon code needed for this deal!
  • 15% applies to all in-stock items.
  • Pre-sales, gift certificates, and items already on sale are not eligible.
  • No backorders.
  • Not applicable to shipping or tax.
To get the deal, follow the instructions below:
  • Click on your cart
  • Once you've confirmed everything is in your cart, select CHECKOUT
  • On the righthand side of the page, enter the coupon code JUSTCUZ and click Apply

  • Confirm the code has been applied, finish checking out, and enjoy your savings!

01 June, 2018

French Soaps Are Back In Stock

By Scott

Our favorite soap is now back in stock! Savon de Marseille soaps are made in the traditional manner near Marseille, France from a mixture of olive and vegetable oils, alkaline ash, and salted water from the nearby Mediterranean Sea. The resulting soap is cut into blocks and put out to dry in the local salty air. All told, it takes the soap masters two weeks to make a block of soap. Truly, an artisanal undertaking, that has been going on in this time honored style since 1683.

We bring in two sizes of the olive oil based soap - a hard milled 300g size (hard milling is where it goes through the milling machine more then once, so there is less moisture in the soap bar than a traditional method) and the 1kg size (that's 2.2 lbs worth of soap!) in the traditional/rustic finish. In the spirit of French companies, we use this soap in our bathrooms here at VO. We cut some off the big block, using an Opinel knife or a wire cutter, put a small amount in each bathroom here and leave the left over soap in a cool, dry place until we need it again. 

Cutting chunks off the 1 kilo, rustic-style soap has been a mainstay of our bike touring kits. Not only can you use it in the shower for your body, hair, and normal washroom routines, it makes a great soap for hand-washing clothes. Keep it in a ziplock plastic bag and throw it in your handlebar bag.

All in all, Savon de Marseille Soap gets the VO Seal of Approval and we know you'll enjoy it, too.

29 May, 2018

Igor's New Go-Fast Bike

by Igor

"Restomod" is a term that is thrown around among vintage internal combustion enthusiasts quite a bit. It involves the blending of old-world design with modern-day features to create a vehicle that is more reliable, safe, and comfortable. This mid-90s retired racer is just on the cusp of vintage, so I decided it was ready for a proper spruce up with a bunch of modern and a few not-so-modern components for a speedy restomod interpretation.

This is a mid-90s Team Mack issue Waterford 1200 road bike. It's built from Reynolds 753 tubing and Henry James lugs. In order to be able to employ this tubeset, builders had to go through a certification process to prove they know how to handle and fabricate using this super-thin, heat-treated tubing. You can't use use long-pointed, ornate lugs as the tube could crack over time, so the lugwork is short and simple.

This is where I'd put my race number - if I raced!
The Ventana fork uses carbon legs, alloy dropouts, 1" steel threaded steerer, and a very neat-looking CNC'd fork crown. It seems fine according to my eyeballs and the coin test, but I might replace it with a steel fork down the road.

Three-cross wheels lacing is tried-and-true, but I wanted to do something special for this build, so I employed the master wheelbuilding knowledge of Baltimore's own Tommy Barse of Cutlass Wheels to build up a set of 32 hole PBP Rims to a Grand Cru 11speed Touring Hub and a High-Flange Front Hub. Here's Tommy's take on the wheels and the nitty-gritty of the build:

"There was no hesitation when Igor approached me about building a set of wheels for his Waterford. Igor mentioned that he wanted a sporty, responsive design for more spirited riding. My choice of spokes was easy - Sapim D-Lights in the front wheel with their 2.0/1.65/2.0mm butting; Sapim D-Lights in the rear wheel on the non-drive side and Sapim Race (2.0/1.8/2.0) spokes on the drive side. The nipples selected are Wheelsmith silver brass - their finish is unparalleled in quality and longevity. I have not seen their Duristan finish fade, corrode or mar unlike other manufacturers’ nipples. I stock bulk 310mm uncut spokes from Sapim to cut to the proper length for each build. My Morizumi spoke cutter has been an extremely valuable tool to build quality wheels with just the right thread purchase between spoke and nipple.

The Velo Orange PBP rims measured very round in the four sections that I measure ERD for spoke calculation. The 2-cross spoke pattern for the front was selected for the wider bracing angle to provide better cornering and climbing stiffness for the shallow box section rim. The radial non-drive side and 2-cross drive side were selected for a little less weight and increased lateral stiffness. Being in the mid-Atlantic, especially Annapolis, I incorporated high quality DumondeTech MR grease on the nipple shoulders and Loctite copper anti-seize on spoke threads for ease of maintenance. Wheels turned out wonderful in terms of lateral and radial trueness. Several rounds of stress relieving proved the wheels are stable, allowing for confident riding in all conditions.

The neo-classic aesthetic is eye-catching and a nice balance of classic silver components with a less classically styled approach to semi-tangential spoking. These will serve Igor well for years to come!"

The wheels are all wrapped up in Fairweather Traveler Tires in the 700x28c sizeway. While the Rust color would have been cool, I think the black and tan combo looks superb.

Onto the drivetrain! The shifters are Campagnolo's 11speed Athena. They're all metal, silver, and have a very light actuation. They also fit exceptionally well on our upcoming Nouveau Randonneur Handlebars. The cockpit is held in place by our Removable Faceplate Quill in a classic Chrome finish. Once the fit is dialed in, I'll cut the excess quill to save dozens of grams.

The dangler is also Athena and is quite handsome. I swapped the unit's stock plastic pulleys with our 10T Alloy Jockey Wheels for two reasons: 1) since these replacement wheels don't float, shifting is super crisp and 2) they're red. Very red. 

The crankset is our 110bcd Drillium paired with an Athena pusher. While our rings aren't technically rated for 11speed drivetrains, I haven't experienced any issues with this group or Shimano's previous generation 105. Needless to say, if you want to run 11 speed on our cranksets, I'm very confident you'll be fine. All that said, Shimano and Campagnolo recently released their 12 speed drivetrains. So there's that...

The perch is our Smooth Touring Saddle. It's my go-to nowadays for all new builds. The seatpost is an interesting one. The seatlug requires a 27.4mm size and a 27.2mm would commonly crack the binder's ear over time. Luckily, this one is in good shape minus a bit of paint flaking.

All that speed needs to come to a stop at some point, and it is handled by a pair of single-pivot Dura-Ace caliper brakes. They're exquisite.

While clipless pedals would look great, I have found Sabots to be my pedal of choice.

To accentuate the gorgeous fade paintjob, I wrapped Grand Cru Leather Bar Tape over Red Tressostar Cotton Tape. When you're riding, you can see the red tape through the perforations. Details matter!

Finally, a bit of storage handled by a Day Tripper Saddle Bag and Road Runner's Burrito Supreme Handlebar Bag. It's a great combo for a camera, rain shell, tools, cell/wallet/keys, and a rolled up slice of pizza.

25 May, 2018

Closed for Memorial Day

by Igor

VO is going to be closed on Monday, May 28th for Memorial Day observance and to give our hard-working staff some time off.

If you need anything to go out today (5/25), submit your order before 3pm EDT. Otherwise, your order will ship out promptly on Tuesday, May 29th.

So whether you're towning-around, shredding the gnar, or racing between cafes, have a safe and fun weekend!

23 May, 2018

Ah, The Glories of the Web

By Scott

"With great power comes great responsibility" is a phrase cited as far back as the French Revolution. It has been used by statesman, theologians, and comic book writers to illustrate the relationship between obligations and power.  With the rise of the Internet and such, power to the people was promised and in some way, it has been delivered.  I'm thinking of all the great tools out there for use by cyclists to make their lives easier. Here are a few sites that make our lives, and hopefully yours, easier.

Starting off with one of the best examples of a web site that does an a job that you don't realize you need until you need it is Jim G's stem comparison page. This site is simple and does a fantastic job of letting you compare current and proposed stem setups. Input the data for your current stem, enter your different stem, and play with the different stem angles and lengths to augment your cockpit setup. I'll be using this site when we get the Nouveau Randonneur bars in. I'm going to use our Replaceable Faceplate Stem and I'll be interested to compare setups.

One of the sites I visit on a daily basis here is Velo Base. It is a great treasure trove of information and photos about old parts. It is very nicely laid out to help you track down that older crank/derailleur/brake set you have and put a date to when it was made. The notes that many of the entries have can be invaluable to the collector/vintage bike enthusiast in terms of discovering if it has odd threading or tapers. If you ever want to know what the threading is on a Nevar crank and how it differs from a Stronglight of a similar era, this is the place to go.

We don't do in house wheel building for sale, but we do build wheels for ourselves when we need a specific application or to test a new product. To make the spoke length choices, Igor and Clint use pro wheel builder for their spoke calculations. While there are several spoke calculators our there, they've found this site easy to use and accurate.

When it comes to tools, Park is the one at VO.

When it comes to fixing bikes, one name comes to mind - Park Tools.  Their website is a great resource for both tools and how to use those tools to get your bike rolling or rolling better. I often forward a link to folks who are looking for instructions on how to do X or Y as I've not found a better site that lays out how to do so much, with great photos of the process.

Finally, we can't mention web resources without mentioning the late Sheldon Brown. If you ever want to go down a rabbit hole of information, then Sheldon's site is the one to start with. I have his crib sheet site on my bookmarks, as it is a quick way to find details about chain line, headset sizing, and tire sizes. If you go into the main site, there is just so much information, laid out so well, that it's shocking that it's been 10 years since Sheldon passed away.

Are there any sites you find useful that you don't think the average cyclist knows about? Let us know in the comments and let's add to people's knowledge.

Reader submitted links from various social media sources:

14 May, 2018

Bike Build Idea: Welcome to the Basket Life

by Igor

My first extended use of bike basketry was in college. In between cutting pennies in half to save up for new panniers and running to classes that were way too early, I would ride to the local grocer on my MTB/Townie conversion with a well used Jim Blackburn rear rack and basket found around (not in!) a dumpster. Loaded with the staples of college life, I would ride back hoping that the bungees would keep everything secure long enough to get home. Since then, I moved on to panniers, handlebar bags, and dedicated rack mounted bags.

In more recent years, the simple basket has made a resurgence in popularity for mainstream tourists and commuters alike. I think it's a bit of a backlash from bikepacking luggage and its often times over-complex system of straps, pads, inaccessible from the saddle dry bags, more straps, lashes, plastic holders, and straps. It's a happy medium between the practicality of traditional touring bags and the out-of-the-way-of-obstacles afforded by bikepacking bags.

Whether practicality or guidance from the Deep Basket State, I was feeling the gravitational pull of Basketlife. And with our new Transporteur Bag, I can relive throwing everything in a sack on the go, while having everything properly secure and dry.

Here is my Polyvalent to which I added a Wald 137 Basket and Transporteur Bag. The daily commuting load isn't heavy enough to necessitate the carrying potential of a Porteur Rack, but the added volume is welcome for grocery runs on the way home, portaging business stuff around town, or packing extra photography equipment.

Adding a basket to your Randonneur, Constructeur, or Porteur Rack is a breeze. P-clamps are sturdy and semi-permanent, but I like the option of taking the basket off if I want to use a traditional handlebar bag for on-bike accessibility during long rides. A hearty set of strategically placed zipties makes quick work of installation.

While the Transporteur is designed to work best with our Porteur Rack, the bag also works perfectly with the Wald 137. The lower straps and buckles go right through the wire mesh and connect to the upper roll-top buckles. It's easy as pie. You can use the included velcro straps as well, but I didn't find it necessary once the sides are cinched up.

I added a Snapper Sack and Cell Phone Pocket to the outside of the basket for quick access to my angry (seltzer) water and snapgram machine.

I've been happy with this new do-it-all setup? How is your do-it-all ride set up? Flat bars? Internal gearing? Wet brakes and robo-shifting?