14 July, 2021

New Seine Bars and Rubbery Bar Tape!

by Igor

Seine Bars Float In

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

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

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

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

Rolling out Rubbery Bar Tape

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

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

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

13 July, 2021

GRUSK - Gravel Race Up Spruce Knob

by Connor

        About two months ago, my fiancée and I took a road trip down from DC to Seneca Rocks to camp for a weekend. West Virginia, for those of you who haven't been, is absolutely gorgeous, and is undoubtedly one of the most (if not the most) beautiful states on the east coast. I think it all comes down to how undeveloped and untouched most of the state is - no sprawling cityscapes, no mile wide highways, and no McDonald's every 2 miles. Quite honestly, the state is so covered in rolling hills and mountain ranges, it may never be able to be developed nearly as much as it's more suburbanized East-coast neighbors like Virginia and Maryland. 

        On this trip, we ended up taking a detour from Seneca Rocks to hike off the summit of Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia, and the tallest mountain for hundreds of miles around. Upon our return to the lot, I noticed a son and his father absolutely suffering on their road bikes up the last stretch of the climb to the peak, and I thought to myself "that looks like no fun, I'm not sure I'd ever come down here to do that."

...cut to this weekend.

        I signed up for the GRUSK (Gravel Race Up Spruce Knob) on a whim about a month ago, right before registration closed. I wasn't sure about the course profile, but I knew I wanted to do the standard 82-mile event and I knew I wanted to race in the single-speed class. I arrived in Circleville very late in the night on Friday, and crawled my way up the rocky mountain road up to the Spruce Knob Mountain Center, a privately-owned outdoor learning and camping area. 

        One thing to note if you plan on racing this event - bring a truck. Or an SUV. Or anything but a Volkswagen Golf. The roads up the mountain were by no means paved and I scraped the underside of my car multiple times on the way up. The camping/parking areas were mowed fields, and as I slowly rolled along the rows of cars already parked for the night. I bottomed out my car on a rut and got it stuck on a hump in the field. I then spent the next 10 minutes or so waking the entire campground late at night trying to get un-stuck, burning up my clutch, and ultimately breaking free after a little help from an annoyed neighbor. I got my tent set up, and hoped the next morning would be less bleak. What i woke to far exceeded my expectations;


        The rolling foothills of West Virginia greeted me with a cool breeze and fair skies, telling me that I would, in fact, have a great day after all. I managed to move my car to a less treacherous part of the field closer to the start area, and brewed up some coffee sent our way from our friends at Ruby Roasters out in Wisconsin. The new trend of instant-coffee steeping sachets seems a little gimmicky, but it beats the hell out of dealing with the mess of a French press or the like. Not to mention it makes a damn fine cup of coffee.


        One thing that really stands out about this event is how well-supported it was, and how involved the race organizers and volunteers were in the proceedings from start to finish. The venue was a nice little tucked away hangout on a nearby section of the property, and acted as a good gathering place for race starts. It was a great spot for folks to convene with fellow riders as they crossed the finish line and made a beeline for the beer line. People were hanging out, chatting, recalling race stories from days of yore, and coming back to cheer on finishers crossing that line.



        Finally, 10am rolled around, and after a moderated rolling start out of the campground, the race was on. A relatively double file line took a hard turn right and exploded into an all-out sprint down the first descent. Bottles getting jostled loose flew to the side of the road, the sounds of punctured tubeless tires whirring in the distance and shouts all around. The course profile really seems rather tame on paper: 


And that 2000ft climb to the summit looks fairly lengthy and intimidating, but the hardest parts were actually the short, steep, punchy climbs. My 42-18 gear ratio was way too tall, and I spun out on the downhill sections anyways, so I likely could've run a 40-20, or a 36-17. That flat section in the middle was great and I was hauling for most of it, but as soon as I hit those shorter punches up, I got to the point where I almost couldn't physically turn the gear over. Hindsight's 20/20, I guess.


   

        Jammed in between these few challenging areas, however, were dozens of miles of rolling hills, fast and loose gravel descents, farm roads and shady forest service roads. There honestly wasn't a mile in this race that wasn't surrounded by a sprawling nature-scape. If you didn't look up from time to time, you'd miss the beauty of it all. This was only compounded by the great attitude shared by everyone out in the field. Comments of disbelief and support for one of the 5 single speeders out on the course were abundant, and my VO-spec'd-out Nature Boy was the center of attention at every rest stop and the miles in between. I can honestly say this race had the "happiest" overall attitude among its participants of any cycling event I've ever been to. There was still a competitive air about it, but everyone wanted everyone else to do their very best and finish. I get the sense that this may have been due to the number of separate fields available at registration. Rather than just a "men's open" and a "women's open," there were probably half a dozen categories each, and a few other odds and ends like single-speed classes. More opportunities for podiums, more fun to share, more love to go around. 


        One drawback of not having the summit be the finale of the race is once you get yourself to the top, you really don't have time to appreciate the views. I mean, you do, but you're in a race and you just watched the person one position ahead of you fly back down the mountain in the other direction as you finished your climb, and you can't waste time for a photo-op. Logistically, I understand it's obviously not a good place to finish a race, but you can't help but feel a little robbed of the opportunity to appreciate the incredible views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. 

        After absolutely dogging myself to get to the peak, perhaps the biggest challenge of the day laid before me; staying awake for the 8-mile descent off the summit to the final climb into the finish. The final punch in the gut is the last 2 miles up to the campground, followed by a bumpy, rocky, rutted out taped off course to the finish line. The food was still warm and the beer was cold, what more can I say? I finished 5th in the single speed class out of 5, which means I simultaneously podiumed and finished DFL. Nonetheless, the congratulations and support from strangers were abundant, and it just seemed like everyone was there to celebrate finishers no matter where they placed- an atmosphere any bike event organizer could strive to achieve, and one Travis did a hell of a job setting up. 

Gear Round Up:

        After having Sunday to recover and review notes about the race as a whole and my bike, I had a few things to note that I found mentionable.

        Daija Cycleworks Far Bar (and Splash Tape!)


This handlebar was absolutely the star of the show for me. Riding single-speed often requires more leverage during climbs and accelerations when you're standing up, to offer a wider grip and helping to counter balance up steeper sections. Additionally, the flat region on the underside of the shallow drop offered a spectacular amount of control at high speeds on loose terrain. Not to mention the numerous other hand positions the bar offers, something I came to appreciate on a 6+ hour ride.

The Splash tape offered a supple, cushioned grip that didn't sop up moisture from my hands and gloves, and stayed grippy all day. It comes in other colors but...why wouldn't you get Splash?


Velo Orange Zeste Cantilever Brakes


Offering more than enough stopping power and about as much modulation as you could expect out of a set of cantilever brakes, the Zeste brakes paired with the Dia Compe straddle hanger performed flawlessly throughout the day, almost being too stop-y at times. I could recommend them for any cantilever bike, and I'll absolutely be running these in the coming 'cross season.

        Velo Orange Touring Saddle (and pictured long setback seatpost)


As I mentioned in my last post about commuting on this bike, I've been riding our VO Touring saddle to and from work, a couple days a week for the last month. I hadn't yet had a chance to ride it for much longer than an hour at a time, so I was unsure about how my rear end would feel after half a day of getting jostled around on this thing. It offered plenty of cushion and was very forgiving in the bumpier sections, while not being too wide or feeling like a "traditional" touring saddle. I'd put this on any one of my bikes. Not to mention just how pretty that long setback post is- if you're considering one, I promise you won't regret it.


Velo Orange Retro Bottle Cage


I'll say that the retro cage was the only thing to cause me any trouble during this ride. At the very start, I did hit one or two minor-moderate bumps in the road by accident and the bottle in my seat tube cage promptly shot out of there like a rocket. This didn't happen for the rest of the race, but I did have to run back and grab my bottle, costing me precious seconds. I liked how simple and elegant the tab-less versions looked, which is why I chose them, but I perhaps could have benefited from running the versions with retainer tabs- just something to consider if you're looking at cages and may hit roads less than perfect. The moderniste cages would also have been a good choice.


The Sum-Up

        This year's GRUSK was probably my favorite organized cycling event I've been to in a few years, second only maybe to a handful of 'cross races. The venue was clean, spread out, quiet and spacious. There were facilities in each quadrant of the camping areas, and dorm/yurt options were available if you wanted to spring for that. As there was no cellular coverage on the mountain, the lodge on the property offered wifi, and folks were more than willing to answer questions and get you in the right direction. The race organizers, officials, and volunteers did a great job hosting and supporting the event (these were some of the best run aid stations I've ever seen), and the course was spectacular. My only complaint was that in the 4 days prior to the race, Travis sent out 6 emails with about as much information as you could possibly need about the logistics of the event, but he failed to mention how rough the road up and down was, and how poorly marked the camping areas were. I'm sure it's normal down there to encounter gravel roads on a daily basis, but I met people who traveled in from all over, and I was not alone in my surprise at how rough the entry was to the venue. So! All I'll say is, take an SUV, do not take your Golf. Mine is currently in the shop after busting an oil leak from one of those rocks I ran over on the way out. 

        I'll likely be going back next year (with either a different ratio or a geared bike), and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a moderately difficult challenge. Gravel racing is starting to pick up more popularity every year, and it's encouraging to see this kind of friendly and good-natured environment be the foundation for another branch of cycling.

30 June, 2021

Bike Commuting - One Month In

by Connor     

    When Igor asked me to start writing posts for the blog, I began to wonder what kinds of things I could write about that readers might enjoy beyond basic technical knowledge. As a bike mechanic of just over 9 years coming over to the manufacturer's side of the industry, my brain still looks at a bike from the technical side of things:

"Is this the right stem length for that bike? How will this drivetrain pairing work? Is this tire going to work well with the internal width of that rim? Those wheels aren't tubeless compatible? Ugh..."

All day.

    And I'm sure that perspective is unlikely to change, but technical jargon doesn't make for good writing, and in turn, doesn't make for good reading. I can attest that riding bikes is certainly more fun than wrenching on them, so I'm going to talk a little bit about this new, crazy, never-before-seen sect of cycling: commuting.

    That's right, someone call the Radavist, make sure they get the early scoop on this one. With the glamour and excitement associated with the Gravel boom keeping the big companies occupied with providing mass-produced 'cross bikes with longer wheelbases and room for a fender, the little guys are simultaneously in a race to make the coolest, wildest looking wide-tire drop-bar bike you've ever seen. Not to mention everyone and their mother is squeezing a gravel event into wherever the state forgot to repave.

With gravel events slowly leeching their way into the D.C. area, I had to try it out

    It sometimes feels like everything else has been left to the wayside. Sure, full-sus bikes now come with travel ranging in increments of 5mm per model, and practically every bike on the Tour this year has disc brakes and tubeless tires- there's a lot to be excited about. But not everyone (and by that, I mean most people) is buying these bikes. 

    As Scott said to me today, "If the bike industry were like the car industry, we'd all be driving F1 cars to work." Ferraris Monday-Friday and mudding through swampy doubletrack in our Rover Defenders over the weekend. But we're not. This is not Car and Driver, I drive a pre-owned Golf. 

    And don't get me wrong, there's much to be enjoyed from the fad waves as they ebb and flow through online forums and bike magazines. Innovation sparks improvement, which is an ethos that we at VO have humbly applied to our bikes in recent years, evidenced by thru-axles, tapered head tubes and disc brakes on currently available models. But I'd be willing to bet that the majority of bike riders (and by bike riders I mean the aggregate of all people who hop on the saddle and pedal) are just out to get somewhere and have fun doing it. Enter cycling's unspoken majority: The Commuters.

    Whether you're a college kid just trying to get across campus, a paralegal trying to get to your city office a few minutes faster in the morning, or you're the kind of person who, like Igor, would feel rather silly getting in their car to drive less than a mile to the grocery store for half a backpack's amount of food, you're a commuter. And it's not all about Ortlieb panniers and waterproof suit bags, either (though it honestly should be... So dope). It can be much simpler than that- Sneakers and a backpack, sandals and a handlebar bag. 

    Having spent my first month here at VO commuting 22 miles roundtrip most days on my 2nd-gen All City Nature Boy, I've had ample time to reflect on my setup, how I got into a morning routine to accommodate the time it takes to ride in, and the benefits I've seen thus far after a month. I started out with some takeoff flat bars (which were too wide), an original Blackburn MTN Rack (which rattled a ton), and some vintage 80's panniers (which billowed). A valiant first effort.

So much rack, so few things

    It was after my first week that a riding buddy of mine was towing me to work one morning, and he goes "Man... that left pannier is like a parachute. Why didn't you take it off? And that right one isn't even full. Why'd you put the rack on there? And you're so upright, it's great coasting behind you." And while I was trying not to over-analyze my commuter bike, I could see he was right. To carry a small lunch container and a change of clothes, I'd bolted on what was likely more than enough equipment to facilitate a 2-day camping trip. And I could definitely tell that the wide flat bars had me in an oddly upright position. So after some scrounging in the parts bin, walks to the warehouse, and a couple days later...

"The Glow-up", as the kids say.

    I have to admit, the build turned out spectacularly. We stripped it down to the frame and put as much VO gear on it as possible; stem, seatpost, headset, saddle, brakes, cranks (a proto with a narrow-wide chainring), and bottom bracket. Splash tape on the Dajia Far Bar and a Safety Pizza for... well, safety. Retro bottle cages add a little flare, and the Rando canti rack, in my opinion, is one of the most innovative and well-engineered things we sell at VO; I frequently admire it across the room at the office. It integrates flawlessly with the Rando bag, which, coincidentally, is the perfect size for a change of clothes, a meal, and your phone. 
        
    Additionally, I reduced the overall weight of the bike (for all you weight weenies out there), and the swept-out Far Bars feel very secure at high speeds on all surfaces (for those of you who take more adventurous routes). I won't get into the components here, as I'll be racing this bike in the coming months in gravel and CX events, and will have more to say about their durability and performance after more rigorous testing.

Cantilever-post mounted Rando Rack, nestling the Rando Bag up between the Far Bars

Safety Pizza topping the Roadrunner saddle roll

Tall Stack Stem is pretty but subtle enough, you just might miss it

    There's something to be said about looking down and the aesthetic of your bike contributing to the experience of your ride. Not only is your bike doing what you built it to do, but it looks damn good doing it. It's not everything, but I can't deny that it's a contributing factor. 

    I've owned this bike for many years- it's been a campus crusher, a DC city commute brawler, a cyclocross race rocket, and a flat bar, singletrack, do-it-all, beer blaster. This is without a doubt my favorite setup of the bike yet. It's still very light, looks sharp, and holds just the things I need- perhaps the ethos of a good commuter bike. Beyond that, the changes have made the bike much more enjoyable to ride, so much so that I get mildly disappointed if something comes up and I have to drive in, which is a new thing for me.  

    So. Buy that cool rack or that utility bag! It may change everything about your trip to work or the store. One thing's for sure; if you use your commuter bike to get to work every day like I do, even the little improvements go a much longer way than a $300 Kogel pulley on your weekend machine. You're still on your bike, the most important thing is that you enjoy it.

If you're interested in a comprehensive build list, click here: https://velo-orange.com/pages/all-city-nature-boy-gen-1-build-list-lightweight-commuter

22 June, 2021

1x11 Shifting Components are in!

by Igor

Sensah Components has been in the drivetrain game for a number of years producing shifters, derailleurs, cranksets, and cassettes for just about every type of drivetrain and bike. More recently, they've gotten into 1x (1by) drivetrains for mixed-terrain and off-road touring bikes (read: gravel). And so, we are pleased to now be offering SRX and CRX components for 1x drivetrains!

1x drivetrains are here to stay. They're easy to maintain, quick to set up, and are simple enough for anyone to hop onto. And as such, they are great for commuting, touring, and all-around adventuring. I've personally converted several of my bikes from double drivetrains and I really like the simplicity, minimal aesthetic, and clutch'd derailleur offerings for off-road use.

In testing out their components, I outfitted my Polyvalent Low Kicker with a suite of SRX drop bar shift/brake levers, rear derailleur, and 11-46 cassette. I've taken the bike on all sorts of rides and terrain from gravel to single track to pavé and I'm happy to report performance has been absolutely flawless. Let's go through each component and discuss their features!

SRX 11 speed Rear Derailleur

The SRX Rear Derailleur features aluminum alloy and steel construction for durability and has a max cassette range of up to 52t. 

The derailleur features a spring clutch so it keeps the chain from bouncing around too much on rougher terrain. I put mine on max and find the shifting action still easy.

There is also barrel adjustor (without detents) for quick adjustments.

SRX 1x11 Integrated Shift/Brake Levers

The SRX brake/shifter levers are 1x11 only and have excellent ergonomics. For anyone who has used integrated shifters, the shifting action will be right at home. To shift into a harder gear, a light tap of the blade will release cable tension and provide you with a satisfying clunk of the rear derailleur. Pushing the whole lever will increase cable tension and move you up (easier) the cassette. You can do 3 gears at a time with a full sweep.

The left lever is purely just a brake lever. Nothing much to see.

Each lever has a simple reach adjustment. A turn of a 2.5mm allen wrench can move the lever closer or further away from the handlebar. A major convenience for those with smaller hands. 

There is also a nice bit of flare in the blade for easier shifting and ergonomics.

CRX 11 speed Flat Bar Shifter

The Flatbar CRX shifter has the same pull ratio as SRX, so you can use the SRX Rear Derailleur. The shifter is simple and effective. There are two levers. The lower one can shift up the cassette changing a maximum of 5 gears with a full sweep.

The upper lever has dual-action meaning that you can shift into a higher gear with either a press of your thumb or a pull of your index finger.

11 speed 11-46 Cassette

While you mostly see 1x drivetrains on modern-looking bikes, a 1x conversion is perfect for older bikes, too! This 11 speed cassette uses Shimano HG splines, so if you have a 8-10 speed freehub body designed for Shimano HG cassettes, then you can upgrade to an 11 speed drivetrain.


While the derailleur technically goes up to 52t, we have found that 46t is about the max that provides consistently good shifts without significant jumps in gearing. 11-46 is a very generous range and when paired with a 42 or 44t chainring, you still have that magic sub 1:1 gear for steeper climbs.


I pull around our son in his trailer or our dog in her trailer up hills with a 42t x 11-46 drivetrain and don't find the need for anything lower. For us, anything lower would be slower and less efficient than walking.

11 speed Chains


What can I say?? They're 11 speed, solid pins, and have a simple quick link. There isn't much to them and they work well. And they're silver!

Other Chains

It's been pretty obvious that for the past 15 months consumables like chains have been hard to come by. So, we imported a bunch of 5-8, 9, and 10 speed chains. They're quality chains. And like the 11 speed version, they have solid pins and a simple quick link for installation. And they're silver!


15 June, 2021

Small Shiny Stuff from Forager and Runwell

by Igor

Forager Cycles makes these super fun little ends for your cables dubbed Cable Cherries - and we have them back in stock! They're made in the USA, easy to install, and come in a variety of fun colors. I put some gold ones on my Low Kicker to match the warm tones of my brown handlebar tape and saddle.

Hubs Nuts are too often overlooked I say! So we were very excited to hear that Runwell was working on some premium Hub Nuts for bolt-on track hubs and after many weeks of waiting, they're here! These have magnificent construction and are a pleasure to install and use. They're currently available in M9 (front) and M10 (rear) in black finish. Silver is coming next week with the next Runwell restock.

We also just received a nice re-stock of Runwell Tools including these 4-Way Wrenches with a simple and elegant VO logo on the head. They're a really convenient addition to your tool kit. Instead of fumbling with a super compact multi-tool or multiple wrenches, the most-used hex wrench sizes (3, 4, 5, and 6mm) are quickly and easily accessible on this 4-way wrench for adjustments on the go.

Also straight in from Japan - more Runwell Punk Bolts! These have been a mosh pit favorite since they were first introduced. Dress up your unoccupied braze-ons with these fancy and slightly intimidating spikes. 


04 June, 2021

Diamond Frame Polyvalents Are In!

by Igor


The Polyvalent has always been the workhorse of the VO lineup. It's happy to be loaded up with a week's worth of groceries, sloshed through mud on a bikepacking trip, or boxy-bag-front-loaded in a traditional randonneur style. The platform of the Polyvalent is dependable, simple, capable, and flexible. And today we're releasing the Diamond frame variant of the gen 5 Polyvalent.

In VO style, this frame is dripping in details. The rear end features strong yet elegant thru-axle dropouts, vertical derailleur hanger, IS disc brake tab, and double-decker spool braze-ons for fenders and racks.

The fork is a perfect blend of timeless design and modern functionality. The thru-axle dropouts have mounts under and over for fenders and racks, and the gracefully bent fork blades also have 3-pack mounts for cargo cages or regular water bottle cages. There are also spool braze-ons for a Randonneur or Flat Pack Front Rack.



The seatstay cluster is simple and elegant. The seatstay ends wrap gently around the integrated seat collar into points that *almost* touch. 

The rear brake routing features a brazed internal tube so that there isn't any need to fish for cables and housing. Simply push the housing in and by magic, it comes out the other side. We've found that TRP Hylex hydraulic hose doesn't fit well in the internal routing since it is closer to 5.5mm in diameter rather than the regular 5mm. Every other hose fits fine.


Here's the summary of details of the frameset for you and/or the mechanic building it up: 
  • Frameset material: 4130 double butted chromoly steel
  • Fork: 1 1/8" threadless, 4130 chromoly steel with elegant bend
  • Wheel Size: 650B or 26" 
  • Tire Clearance: 650B x 48mm, 26 x 2.3" (either with fenders) / 650b x 2.1 or 26 x 2.3 knobby (without fenders)
  • Rear Spacing: 12 x 142mm, thru-axle with replaceable hanger (included)
  • Fork Spacing: 12 x 100mm, thru-axle (included)
  • BB: English threaded 68mm
  • Brakes: IS mount disc, 160mm or 180mm rotors suggested
  • Seatpost: 27.2mm
  • Front Derailleur Size: 28.6mm
  • Water bottle mounts: Triple on top of downtube, one set on the seattube, one set on underside of downtube
  • Fender bosses: seat stay bridge, chainstay bridge, under fork crown
  • Frame Eyelets: Double eyelets on rear dropouts for racks and fenders. Internal eyelets on seat stays
  • Fork Eyelets: Double eyelets on fork dropouts for racks and fenders. Triple thru-bosses on the blades for lowrider racks. Hourglass braze-on for Randonner and Flat Pack Front Racks
  • Rear Brake Routing: Easy internal routing for rear brake cable housing/hydraulic tubing
  • Paint: Sage Metallic
P.S. We also got a run of Randonneur Handlebar Bags in! There was a bit of an issue with the grommet placement in that they are slightly too close to each other. The bag mount fits, but you do have to wrestle it a little. If you order a Rando Front Bag and a rack that includes a bag mount (anything with an integrated decaleur or headset mounted decaleur), we'll go ahead and install the bag mount on the bag for you.

02 June, 2021

Klunkers and More Back In Stock

by Adrian

The day is here. Container Day. Get ready for a fresh restock of a plethora of items - get them while they're hot! Included are:

This list is not exhaustive, you'll see a scattering of replenished products across our webstore. Not everything is back in stock quite yet, so if you're holding out for an item you don't see in this restock, rest assured there's more coming. We're expecting another container at the end of this month, and a big one likely at the end of July. Then several more throughout the remainder of the year. The best way to keep track of items coming into stock is to sign up for email stock notifications on the product pages. 

Thanks for being so patient as we work our way back up to regular stock levels. Like most industries, pandemic-induced manufacturing delays and ridiculously long shipping timelines (this container was delayed two months for example) have consistently pushed back our ETAs. We're expecting to continue to catch up over the next few months, and should have normal stock levels from then on out. 

Happy riding!

 




28 May, 2021

We're Buzzing About Cicadas

by Adrian

If you haven't heard about the cicadas invading the East Coast, have you been living underground for the past 17 years?

Here's what all the hubbub this season has been about. The Brood X Cicada is an endemic insect to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, Ohio, and some other parts around these areas (though in fewer concentrations). If you're not familiar with the iconic image of the cicada - it's a hefty bug that has wide-set red eyes, large wings, and makes a loud song via "the rapid buckling and unbuckling of drumlike tymbals." Really this sounds like buzzing up-close on an individual level, but when you get billions (yes, with a "B") together the buzzing combines to make an eerie background noise reminiscent of 1950's flying saucers. They're also not the sharpest bug in the shed, and can often be found flying directly into your face, doing donuts on the sidewalks, and casually walking into predators mouths. 

This is a small sample in our neighborhood

Cicadas lie dormant underground for 2 to 17 years depending on the species, emerging in the late spring only when the ground gets to around 64℉. They shed their nymph shells, fill up their wings with fluid, find a mate, lay eggs, and then die or get eaten by pretty much everything. This includes a good deal of people who have been in a frenzy to make the best cicada recipes. Some say they taste like shrimp, some say asparagus, and others just dunk them in chocolate, because why not?  


So what's all the buzz about cicadas? Well, Brood X (10) is one of 15 rotating broods of annual cicadas that emerges along the Mid-Atlantic region but is THE MOST dense and prolific of all the broods by a large measure. In their most dense, University of Maryland estimates a cicada density of 1 MILLION per acre. 

And so to commemorate this once in a 17 year cycle (yes, we're a bike brand, we went there) we had some super fun t-shirts and stickers designed by Baltimore-based artist Kate Haberer.

We have both stickers and t-shirts up and the website. And just like the cicadas, once they're gone, they're gone. Well, until 2038 at least.

We also had a couple samples made for staff kids, and they were too cute. Should we do a run for nymphs?