14 January, 2021

Charlie's Piolet is ready for the CDT

by Igor

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Riding, Charlie!

22 December, 2020

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

by Igor

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

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

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

New Hub Lineup

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



Low Kicker Polyvalents

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

Flat Pack Racks

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

Cargo Fenders

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

26" Noir Fenders

Why didn't we do this before??

Pass Hunters

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

Fender Light Mount

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

Blue Piolets

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

Coming soon:

Diamond Frame Polyvalents

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

More Handlebars

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

Cranksets

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

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

New Bar tape

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

New Biggish Bag

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

New Old Frame

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

15 year Anniversary

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

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

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

Happy Riding,

Igor, Adrian, and The Velo Orange Crew

15 December, 2020

Shawn's Rail-Trail Explorer

by Igor

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

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

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

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


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


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

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



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


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


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

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

10 December, 2020

Holiday Gifts for the Discerning Cyclist

Stumped on finding the perfect gift for the cycling enthusiast in your life? We can't blame you--we're a difficult bunch. As cyclists, it's fair to say even when we know exactly what we need we can still spend hours splitting hairs over color, dimensions, weight, and compatibility. Understanding that dilemma, we have compiled a list of pain-free picks to please even the most particular bicycle connoisseur this holiday season. 

Runwell Tools

One of the latest additions to our catalog, Runwell Tools is a small shop dedicated to the production of high-quality hand tools, bike accessories, and lifestyle items. We're talking "made in Japan's historic Tsubame-Sanjo manufacturing district" quality. 


A multi-wrench is one such tool that nearly any cyclist could appreciate, and Runwell offers several options. The 4 & 5 mm Wrench with Belt Clip or 4 & 5 mm Wrench with Cord are both portable tools that can tackle a majority of the bolts on a modern bicycle build. If that special cyclist in your life rides a fixie, a shiny new 15 mm Wrench might be just what they have always wanted. 

Runwell applies the same craftsmanship to a few gift ideas you just won't find anywhere else. Anyone who appreciates a well-designed tool will find the 10 mm Wrench and Bottle Opener, tool-inspired Stir Sticks, or Charcuterie Picks a welcome addition to their bar cart.  

Visit our collection of tools for more from Runwell as well some of our favorites from VAR, including their Professional Hex Wrench Set, Compact Multi-Tool, and Tool Bottle

Safety Pizza

Who doesn't like pizza? Or being safe, for that matter. The one-and-only Safety Pizza provides both in the form of a fun single-serving slice. Even better, each Safety Pizza is customizable using the included reflective toppings, making this a truly unique gift idea. 

Rough-Stuff Fellowship Archive

The Rough-Stuff Fellowship Archive is the perfect coffee table book for the rider with an appreciation for the history of bicycle touring. Over 190 full-page photos give a look back at a bygone era of cycling--the bikes more simply appointed and adventure paramount. It's a book as breathtaking as it is inspiring. 

Opinel No. 10 Knife & Corkscrew

The only knife you need for 2020 has a corkscrew built in. The Opinel No.10 Knife & Corkscrew is also a great knife for cycle tourists and day-trippers who must always be prepared with a sharp blade or something to pop a nice bottle. 

Mini-Rando Bag/Day Tripper Saddle Bag

What do we like most about the Mini-Rando Handlebar Bag and Day Tripper Saddle Bag? They are both convenient, no fuss solutions to adding a bit of extra carrying capacity to a daily rider, commuter, or touring bike. Both bags attach using only the included strapping and buckles, meaning no specialty rack or bag mounts are necessary. Virtually any bike can benefit from these stylish luggage options. 

Bells

Bells will be ringing this Christmas when you find one of our classic bike bells under the tree. Available in several styles and finishes, these bells add timeless appeal to any bike build and make a very satisfying sound. Choose from our Temple Bell in brass and mirror finishes or our Brass Striker Bell.

Rema Patch Kit

One patch kit can do the work of several tubes and takes up far less space in a stocking (or jersey pocket or saddle bag). The Rema Tip Top Touring Repair Kit includes everything a rider needs to fix a flat: a selection of patches, tube of glue, and sandpaper to rough up the area in need of repair. All is packed neatly into a small, handy carrying case for ready access. 

03 December, 2020

Piolets Get New Paint, More Low Kickers, and a Bunch of New Accessories

by Igor

We just received a shipment of Piolets with fresh, deep metallic blue paint. They look absolutely stunning. 


The only difference between these and the previous model is the paint and downtube decals. Everything else is the same.

We have a few very different builds lined up already and I can't wait to see them buttoned up. I think they're a nice, timeless color that will work well with both silver and black components and accessories.


We also got more Low Kicker framesets in both Small and Medium. These sold out very fast during the pre-sale, so if you missed out, here's your opportunity.

A bunch of new parts and accessories greeted us on the container as well!

Cargo Bike Fender Sets

Most notably are these very cool, 60mm wide Stainless Steel fender sets for cargo bikes. So for those of you that have cargo bike conversions, these are what you want.

The rear fender is sized for either 26"x2.3 or 650bx47mm, and the front is sized for up to 20"x2.3. You're going to want to consult your frame/fork manufacturer to confirm whether these will fit your bike.

Available in polished Stainless Steel only.

26" Noir Fender Sets

I don't know why we didn't do this sooner?! These are the same as our 60mm, 26" Aluminum Alloy Fender sets and have our Smooth, Noir finish.

Stubby 31.8mm Stems


To get a proper position on long top tube gravel and mountain bikes, a short stem is often a must. This is especially true for riders wanting to use drop bars on off-road bikes. So, we now offer our 31.8mm, +/- 6° stems in lengths down to 40mm!

Noir Happy Stems

Keep your back happy! They're now available in Noir to match the rest of your cockpit.

Other news

We got a bit more Klunkers. So act fast.

Also, we had a shipping delay with the Pass Hunters. They're now slated to arrive within the next 3 weeks. Our apologies.



30 November, 2020

From Russia with love

By Konstantin Simakin

Today we have a guest post from one of our Russian dealers, Konstantin Simakin of Planetarki in St. Petersburg. Konstantin has been a great supporter of our products in Russia for many years. This is his story of how he came into creating his own version of a mini-velo based on our Neutrino frameset.

The way to mini-velo is different for everyone. Some might get a mini-velo for the aesthetics of its design, or maybe their home has little room to store a full-size bike. I came to mini-velo via a folding bike.

It all started in the summer of 2018 when I first bought a Brompton bike. Brompton is a pretty expensive, but awesome English folding bike. It has wheels with a diameter of only 16 inches, folds down to an incredibly compact size, and has a very wide functionality - especially in the city.

In addition to the ultra compact folding, it has fast acceleration, sharp steering, and compactness when maneuvering in the city - these are qualities of the mini-velo I fell in love with and could no longer imagined city riding without it. Also, I could not have imagined riding in the city without this stunning front bag that holds all the things I need during the day. As for the folding function, no matter how practical it is, it greatly affects the rigidity of the frame and I did not like it, so I immediately began to think about the non-folding mini-velo.

At the end of the summer of 2019, I became the owner of an elite English mini-velo called the Moulton TSR 22 - this is a rather serious bike located in the middle of their lineup. Everything would be fine, but there is always a but!

For the company that sells Moultons, I had to make a comparative video review of two Moulton TSR 22 models and the top Moulton NS Speed, which cost more than $ 20,000. During the filming of the video review, I rode a lot on the Moulton NS Speed, and it turned out to be just an amazing ride. The suspension performance there was fantastic. After growing accustomed to the NS Speed, I simply could not ride my Moulton TSR 22 as the suspension and other characteristics in it were not the same quality. In addition, it was not possible to install a quick-detachable front bag like that on the Brompton. This was another reason why I decided to get rid of Moulton. There were thoughts of a complete redesign of the TSR 22, but it was a complete bike, rather than a bare frame, and there would be considerable amout of work that would be required because of the suspension. In the end, I decided to sell the bike as it did not really fit my needs.

All this time, when I was having fun with my Brompton and Moulton, I looked at Velo Orange  Neutrino mini-velo, but for some reason, I did not take it seriously. In the photographs, the bike seemed somehow awkward and heavy to me. Then I had not yet held his frame in my hands and could not imagine how cool it really would be.

By the fall of 2019, when such unexpected disappointments in the elite British bicycle technology overtook me, I clearly understood that I could no longer live a normal life without a mini-velo. Which mini-velo do you think I chose next? Of course it was Velo Orange Neutrino Mini-Velo! Since it was a bare frame, I immediately told myself that this time the game would be by my rules!


At the end of autumn 2019, I was holding a brand new Velo Orange Neutrino Mini-Velo frame in my hands and was amazed at how light and cool it was. The first thing that attracted me to it was the sliding dropouts. I have long wanted to try the German Rohloff internal hub and of course, this project was the best fit for this precisely because of the sliding dropout design.


The Rohloff was not supposed to be the only highlight of this project. I wanted to transfer to this frame my favorite Brompton front bag with its convenient quick release lock. To do this, I had to joint the bag's base to the head tube to install their quick lock, which means the frame would need to be repainted.


I was able to successfully join the base for the front bag lock. The place for the bracket was chosen so that the headlight (powered by the front dynamo hub of the SON28) could fit between the front wheel and the bag. Then, I layed down the VO orange paint to the frame. I asked my friend, the artist pinstriper Graffix, to hand-paint the inscription VELO-ORANGE on the down tube and the inscription NEUTRINO on the top tube with a brush, as well as draw a micro-metropolis after the word Neutrino. He did an excellent job. 


Naturally, I chose a bright orange color, which was painted in the most successful bike in my opinion, the Velo-Orange - Pass Hunter Disc. The only bike Velo Orange made that combined elements of the first classic Velo Orange frames and modern trends, but has since been discontinued! Now we need to narrow down some component choices.

I am also very grateful to Scott from Velo Orange for helping me get the strong, 20" Velocity Cliffhanger Rims.


We have a company in Russia that makes high-quality crank sets, this company is called Neutrino Components. I really love their products. So it was easy to select a crankset from them! So, plunging into this amazingly balanced concept, I started working on this bike.


It turned out to be a very tough and aggressive bike, so I chose the black Fairweather B903 Bullmoose Bar. I have long legs, so I had to find an extra long seatpost from a Cannondale Hooligan. After much work, my new Velo Orange Neutrino mini-velo was ready.


The Velo Orange Neutrino mini-velo is the most amazing mini-velo I have ever had. It has a very rigid frame, excellent acceleration dynamics, sharp steering, and good maneuverability. I can say with confidence that it works better than the elite English Mini-Velo. It combines the aggression and power of a BMX, the dynamics and performance of a modern road bike, and the practicality and utility of a city bike. Moving around the city on this bike, I get the thrill of jumping off high obstacles, its wide tires pass through soft grass and mud. Now I don't have to look for roads in the city, but choose directions and go wherever I want. At the same time, thanks to the rigidity of the frame, each of my trips on it is a serious training that improves my condition as a cyclist. When a few years ago, Neutrino mini-velo just appeared, I could not imagine that the time would come and that it would surpass and replace English 
brands for me, but it was so. 


A small spoiler for the next part - I didn't like Rohloff as much as I though. I am an aggressive cyclist, and this thing is for those who are not in a hurry. Now, as I write these lines, there is no Rohloff on my Neutrino mini-velo. Rather, the next incarnation of my Neutrino mini-velo is a drop bar, SRAM 1x11 gravel transmission, and a lot of carbon. But that's a completely different story for next time...