12 April, 2018

Save the Date! VO x RRB Ride & Party



We're having a Party to celebrate our bag release with Road Runner Bags! Come hang out and check out the new line. Meet Igor of VO, Brad of RRB, and the rest of the crew!

The Highlights:

Where: Road Runner World Headquarters! 818 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA
When: Saturday April 28th.
Ride - 10AM (route TBD)
Party - 1-5PM
RSVP here, or just show up!

Bikes // Bags // Coffee // Beer // Snacks

We'll meet up at the shop 10AM for a casual mixed surface ride around town (route TBD). Regroup around 1PM for the P-A-R-T-Y! Coffee, beer, and snacks provided.

All of our new bags will be on display as well as our current and upcoming frames. For more details on the bags, check out this blogpost.

Hope to see you there!




06 April, 2018

Brass Accent Spacers

By Scott

Our friends at Blue Lug in Japan have started making headset parts using a unique material - brass. While brass has been used for lots of other applications - plumbing parts, camera bits and most famously, musical instruments, you don't see a lot of it on bike components or accessories.

Image result for dizzy gillespie trumpet
(Jon Faddis - photo from artscenter.org)

In the lot, we brought in brass stem caps and a tapered spacer. For those of you using threadless headsets, this tapers from the width of the stem down to the outside width of the bearing cover for a very clean look.


We also got a range of spacer heights: 2, 5, 10, 20 and 35mm in 1 1/8 size, 2 and 5 mm in 1 inch sizing.

Brass is lovely as an accent color, especially if you have dark colors on your steerer tube or frame or have one of our brass bell's that's been "adjusted" by Tomii cycles.


And before you ask, yes, these spacers do weigh more then the same size in carbon fibre. But does carbon fibre have a lovely patina created by sweat, rain, and memories? I think not.


04 April, 2018

Psst, Hey Kid, Need Some Toe Clips?

by Igor

As we near the April 14th and 15th Eroica California event, we wanted to remind you all that if you're looking to outfit your vintage or vintage-inspired bike for the ride, we have the goods.


There are a few requirements for bikes that want to participate in the vintage ride. Namely, toe clips, straps, non-aero brake levers, low profile box section rims, and shift levers. What happens if you violate these rules? Expect old school punishment.

Road pedals, toe clips, and straps are one of the most iconic and ubiquitous components on any vintage racing and touring bike. They're effective at comfortably retaining your foot without the need for special shoes. In my experience, low profile soccer shoes like the Adidas Samba are the best, affordable fit for this classic pedal and clip combo. Side note, the Samba has actually been around since the 1950s, affording soccer players grip and support on icy turf.


Don't forget those toe strap buttons! They make it a simple grab to cinch up your strap when starting off.

Non-aero brake levers are still popular for tourists and randonneurs for their ease of maintenance and quick, on-the-fly adjustment. My personal preference is the Gran Compe Drilled Levers. Not only do they look classy, but the drilling actually provides additional grip when slowing down through long descents. They also include nifty barrel adjustors.


Our PBP Rims have been crowd favorites for those looking to refit their vintage road bikes with new clincher rims. They're lightweight, sturdy, beautiful, and available in both 32 and 36 holes drilling. An added bonus is that we also offer a 27" version in 36 hole.


Unless you're looking for a specific NOS Campagnolo, Simplex, or Suntour shifter set, Dia-Compe's offerings are exceptionally good. Both the downtube and bar-end variants feature micro-ratchets for easy shifting and smooth operation whether you're going up the gear cluster for an impending climb, or dumping multiple gears while descending.


Lastly, you'll need something to carry your repair gear, extra layer, and film, if you're so inclined. The Day Tripper Saddle Bag is the perfect size for an all day ride, is compatible with any road bike, and would look splendid on a vintage racer.

Ready to roll up some Ilford Pan F 50
See you at Eroica California!

03 April, 2018

Prototype and Paint Blem Frames For Sale and Gen1 Piolet Forks

by Igor

Can't wait until May to get a Polyvalent? Well, you might be in luck. We just put a few Polyvalent prototypes up on our Discounted Frame section as well as a couple of demos, new old stock, and paint blems.


All three of the Polyvalent prototypes have been used through tours, commuting, and various degrees of gravel munching and grinding. Basically, we got those first few scratches out of the way so you can enjoy riding without worrying about keeping the frameset pristine.


There are a few changes between these and the production version: 1) The top tube is ovalized vertically as opposed to horizontally 2) the fork uses a bi-plane crown and is overall a bit taller 3) there are slightly narrower clearances for 26" wheels (2.1 max with fenders), but 650b x 48s with fenders fit fine.

Here are the links to their respective product pages:
  • 51cm in blue
  • 57cm in gream (green/cream) - sold
  • 60cm in green - sold
We also have a couple demo framesets:
A couple brand new frames:
And a few paint blem Pass Hunters:
Lastly, we just put up some of our triple-butted, replacement Piolet forks so you can dial in your tourer or rigid shredder. Available in 700c/27.5 and 26", they feature triple bosses on the blades, fender and rack mounts, and big tire clearances. They're Piolet blue, so you can either get it painted, rattle-canned, or roll on it as-is. 

Happy riding!

01 April, 2018

Velo Orange Launches First Bike into Outer Space

Inspired by Starman and Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster, Velo Orange has decided to launch its own payload into outer space. We're pleased to announce that we have successfully launched one Polyvalent into heliocentric orbit.

The first bicycle sent on an interplanetary mission, our Polyvalent has been launched towards Alpha Centauri, often touted as one of the most likely places for mankind to make alien contact. Our next-door neighbors in space, the three-star Alpha Centauri system seems like a great potential advertising market, and we want to beat NASA and SpaceX to it. Velo Orange co-owner, Adrian Nelson, says "It's good to be a first-mover in a situation like this. If there's an alien race 4.367 light years from us, we want to make sure we're the first ones to sell full coverage bicycle fenders to it."

Indeed, upon closer examination, you'll see the frame is decked out with Velo Orange's soon-to-be-released Wavy fenders. We have decided to dress this bike up, unlike the humans depicted in the Pioneer plaques on board the 1972 Pioneer 10 and 1973 Pioneer 11 spacecrafts. If other worldly beings come across the Polyvalent, we want to them to know we come in peace...and with style.
Co-owner Igor Shteynbuk says, "What's a better first introduction to the human race than a classically styled touring frame? 650b has been a persistent presence in the cycling world, so it should be a good representation of cycling for generations (or the potentially 78,000 years it may take the PolyV to get to Alpha Centauri). The bicycle has always been an egalitarian force, allowing for a more even social playing field for transport and recreation. We want the human race to be represented by such positive connotations."

The runner-up to being launched into space was Fairweather's B903 Bullmoose Bars. Noting their similarity to Worf's bat'leth though, this option was abandoned due to the fear of unintentionally sparking intergalactic warfare.
What will happen to the Polyvalent as it careens towards towards its destination? Find out by following the bicycle via this advanced image tracking system.

Bon Voyage!

28 March, 2018

New VO Luggage Has Landed!

by Igor

We are very pleased to announce that after over a year of designing, testing, physical submerging, re-designing, more testing, and finally production, our USA made luggage line has arrived.

The collaboration efforts between VO and Road Runner Bags of LA has been an absolute blast and we couldn't be happier with the quality and workmanship of these new offerings. We're also thrilled that each item is 100% vegan-friendly and available in four colors: Black, Burgundy, Navy Blue, and Teal.


So without further ado, let's jump right in.

Randonneur Handlebar Bag
This is our take on a traditional handlebar bag, but with lots of modern materials, modularity, and easy fitment. Jump over to the product page for the long copy, but here are the finer details:
  • Super abrasion resistant Cordura
  • Waterproof, truck-tarp liner in safety orange (so that you aren't rummaging through a black hole).
  • Clear map pocket with a waterproof zipper, perfect for your map, queue sheet, control card, energy bars, keys, wallet, etc...
  • Pleated front pocket with reflective strip
  • Velcro molle straps for accessories such as the Snapper Sack and Cell Phone Pocket
  • Pre-installed grommets to fit and work perfectly with our Randonneur Racks with Integrated Decaleurs and Campeur Front Rack. No need to drill holes or heat up a soldering iron.
  • Height: 22cm, Width: 27cm, Depth: 19.5cm, Weight: 736g
Snapper Sack and Cell Phone Pocket Accessories

Whether you take a compact camera or an SLR plus two lenses out on rides, it's nice to have your photo equipment quickly accessible for that "decisive moment". The Snapper Sack features a padded Cordura enclosure to keep your camera safe from jarring, while the combination snow collar and dust shield keeps debris out. 
The Cell Phone Pocket is sized to fit modern smart phones. It gobbles up the plus-sized cell phones with ease. It's also useful for snacks, a power brick, or anything else you may need to access quickly that's generally in the shape of a rectangle.
Both pouches connect to the Randonneur Handlebar Bag's molle straps via heavy-duty velcro straps, but can also be connected to the mesh of a basket or your backpack's straps. The Snapper Sack weighs 79g and the Cell Phone Pocket weighs 84g.


Sometimes the best bags are the simplest. Here is a ~29L, non-structured, durable, waterproof, roll top bag for your Porteur Rack. In addition to being great for commuting, it's also the perfect companion for touring. The bag also features a pleated front pocket with a reflective safety strip.
While it's designed for our Porteur Rack, it fits well within a Wald 1372 Basket, and will probably work with other large-platform'd racks. Weight is roughly 513g.


The Day Tripper Saddle Bag is the perfect mate for cyclo-tourists, randonneurs, roadies, and mountain bikers alike looking for a bit more capacity during an all-day ride. It's a great size for packing an extra layer, tools, wallet, keys, camera, film, and even a mini-pump.

The bag uses a combination of Cordura and rip-stop nylon for durability, simplicity, and expandability. Mega-Grip is featured on the touch points to keep the bag in place, while the rear has a molle strap for a blinkie and a reflective panel to keep you seen when sunlight is fading. Weight is 223g.

We're excited to offer this new line and are already working on some new designs. Happy riding!

27 March, 2018

Project Updates and a Few Housekeeping Items

by Igor

I thought it would be a good time to give you all a few updates on projects we've been working on as well as a few neat happenings coming up.

Our online and garage sale was a tremendous hit - this year blew our previous sales records out of the water by a very decent margin. Please know that we are working as fast as we can to pack up and process all of your orders.

We are planning to ship Polyvalents and Piolets in late-May to those who have pre-ordered. It's a slight bit later than we were aiming for, but after well over two years of development, testing, and prototyping iterations, we're happy that they're almost here! We've extended the pre-sale window to April 1st. After that, you'll have to wait until the production run arrives to our warehouse to order them.



The new VO ✕ RRB bags have arrived in our warehouse. They'll be on the site this week once they're photographed and the dust settles from our Spring Thing. Here's the last teaser before they go live, I promise.



650b x 58mm Wavy Fenders: we had to do a bit of modification to the tooling before the full production run, but they should be completed around mid-April. We'll probably air freight a whole bunch off the bat. This fenderset will cost a slight bit more than our other offerings, mostly because the tooling has been the most labor and cost intensive. Our other fender toolings use a single roller, but this one uses two - a male and female pair of rollers with a very specific amount of pressure to make sure the fender receives the pattern properly without deforming the metal or damaging its mate. By popular request, we're getting them in Noir as well as our MO, polished silver.


Adrian, Theodore, and I will be going to Eroica California! My Campeur is getting rebuilt with non-aero levers, Suntour Sprint dangler, polished 8 speed Duracé pusher, racks and LED lighting will be removed, cockpit will have Rando Bars and a Grand Cru Quill Stem, and of course, toe clips and straps. A lot of people assume the Campeur rides like a tank since it is designed for touring, but it is actually a great stripped down, lightweight roadie, too.


In addition to the ride, we will be enjoying everything the festival and Central California has to offer, as well as visiting friends up and down the coast. Of course we have an appropriate Molteni onesie for Theodore, courtesy of Clint.

Lastly, we do have an email list. We send out emails sparingly - a couple times a month and it's most often a collection of new products, blog posts you may have missed, and other VO happenings. We never buy emails and will never sell your email. You can find a signup link here: http://eepurl.com/cRu4cD

That's it for now, Happy Riding!

24 March, 2018

If You Can't Make it to the Garage Sale, Here's a 20% off Coupon Code

By Igor

3/26/18: Thanks to everyone that participated in the garage and online sales. It was a blast and we now have a ton of work ahead of us!

This Saturday (3/24/18) is our annual garage sale. A chance to grab a deal on some sample parts, prototypes, dinged frames as well as get 20% off any new items in store. We'll open the doors at 9 am sharp on Saturday. We'll have donuts, coffee from Ceremony Coffee, non-baked snacks, and tea from Adrian and Scott's collections for folks to munch and sip on while browsing.


Now we can't go and offer all our sample bits online, but we would like to extend the 20% sale on new items to folks who can't get here. The online sale will run from 3/24 9am EST to 3/25 11:59pm EST.

Here is the fine print:
  • This deal is available only to retail customers
  • 20% applies to all in-stock items
  • Pre-sales, gift certificates, and items already on sale are not eligible
  • No backorders
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 SPRINGTHING and click Apply
  • Confirm the code has been applied, finish checking out, and enjoy your savings!



19 March, 2018

650b Disc Wheels Roll In

By Scott

We've been doing built wheels for a number of years now. They've been very popular, especially for folks with older bikes who can't necessarily walk into a shop and get a high quality rear wheel, spaced 126 mm with a freewheel for their Peugeot PX-10 right away. The newest additions to the VO stable of built wheels is the combination of our new 11 speed Disc Cassette Hub, Disc Front Hub, and 650b Diagonale Rim.
We had these wheels (available as front or rear) built up by our US wheel builder for a couple reasons. The big one was these will be perfect for folks getting our new Polyvalent frames. As well, the rise of disc brake bikes has meant that we are receiving emails from riders asking about 650b disc wheel options for other bikes. Seems like just the other year that folks were looking at the original Polyvalent frame and asking "I don't know if this 650b phase will last". Now we're doing 11 speed disc hubs laced to tried and true Diagonale Rims, able to take tires from 38 to 45 mm wide, wow.


One update we've done with this wheel is we've gone from using DT Swiss straight gauge spokes to DT Swiss Double-Butted (2.0/1.8) Competition Spokes. Compared to straight gauge spokes, double butted spokes are lighter and a bit more compliant over temporary forces (potholes, rail crossings, etc). While the cost is a bit more than the straight gauge variant, we think the value is there. Each wheel is 32 hole, and weigh 1128g and 915g for the rear and front wheel, respectively.


We're doing a bit of a re-vamp of our wheel offerings, so we put some wheels we're going to discontinue on the Specials page, so give them a look-see.

Are there any wheel combinations you'd like to see?

14 March, 2018

Renewing Your Cockpit in an Afternoon

By Scott

I'll admit that I'm perhaps not the best at aesthetics.  My wife's tried in the last couple years to update my wardrobe past jeans and a t-shirt. Bike wise, I try to look at how Clint and Igor have outfitted frames, creating a cohesive and tidy look, and try to emulate that. Problem is that I tend to do my builds out of my STASH collection. Thus it's a hodgepodge of stuff.  One thing that I've tried to work on is bar tape though. Bar tape is the last of the cheap and easy ways to update/spruce up/freshen up a bike. In the past, I was strictly a black tape kinda guy - goes with everything, no stress about matching shades, etc. But in the last few years, I've seen the upside of a variety of colors being used as bar tape. Now, I'll never be good enough, like Clint, to do a harlequin style or tie-dye a set of wraps, but I'm certainly seeing an advantage to changing the tape color often to change the mood of a build or just to acknowledge the change in a season.

Clint's Harlequin chain stay wrap

I read years back that the pro racers would use black tape over the winter (didn't show dirt, etc.) but that as soon as spring arrived, they would have the mechanics swap over to white for the spring races. A few pros were known for putting new white tape on before every big race as a way of showing that they were 100% prepared for that race.

When I built up my Piolet originally, I went with grey tape. I wanted something with a more subtle color compared to orange tape, which would have matched the color of the cables on the bike.  I thought grey would be great. And it was. I liked it, but this winter when I was switching the brake levers out, I needed to change it up. So what to use? Hmm....

I did some consulting with my co workers and it was decided to go with the blue of the Comfy Cotton Tape. Not a total match to the muted blue of my original model Piolet, but a nice contrast, and it still maintains a somewhat muted appearance.


life behind Scott's bars

So for a few bucks and about 15 minutes of work, I've totally updated the look of my bike, especially considering the cockpit is really what my eyes see when I ride the bike. There are certainly other ways to change the look and feel of your bike, but for $12, I'd say this is a pretty cost effective way to go about it. What ways do you spruce up the look/feel of your bike?

06 March, 2018

Save The Date - Annual VO Garage Sale

By Scott

There are two sure-fire signs that spring is arriving here in the Mid-Atlantic: Cherry Blossoms and VO's Annual Garage Sale. According to the National Parks Service, we are expecting peak bloom between March 17th and 20th. This is great news for us, not just because it is one of the prettiest times of the year here, but it is just before our annual Garage Sale. This year, the sale will be March 24th.

(Photo courtesy of Mary G at Chasing Mailboxes)

We'll run it from 9 am to noon, the usual story of various bits and pieces for sale - prototypes, frames, parts, accessories, all for cheap. We'll also offer a 20% discount for all in-stock (pre-sales not included), non-garage sale items to folks coming to the shop.

We'll have our usual supply of coffee and donuts for you to sip and munch on while perusing our vast wares.

Address for your GPS Unit:

1981 Moreland Parkway,
Bldg 3
Annapolis, MD
21401

(Turn into the industrial park and go to the right, almost all the way to the end. We're three doors from the end on your left side. Big VO sign out front.)

If you're on Facebook, let us know if you're going to make it so that we can get lots of snacks, coffee, donuts, holes of said donuts, and teas: https://www.facebook.com/events/1683675921718942/


Hope to see you all there!


01 March, 2018

Building a Bike From the Frame Up - Brake Lever Selection

by Igor

In this installment of the "Building a Bike From the Frame Up" series, we'll introduce and discuss the differences and subtleties between brake levers designed for drop, flat, bullhorn, and alt handlebars. First, let's get some terminology and specifications out of the way:

  • Drop Handlebar - The most common type of handlebar for road riding, touring, and randonneuring, typically allowing a more aerodynamic riding position than upright city-style bars. Lots of hand positions.
  • Bullhorn Handlebar - A very common handlebar style for time trial bikes. They put you in a very aerodynamic position and usually have clip-on aero bars. These got very popular during the fixie boom of the '00s. 
  • Flat/Riser/City/Mountain Handlebar - A common style of handlebar on city and mountain bikes. 
  • Alt-Bar - This style does not really fit into a particular category. They may have non-traditional shapes or dimensions.
  • Brake Lever Clamp Diameter (also known as Grip Area) - The outside diameter where your brake levers clamp.
    • 23.8mm - Drop, bullhorn, and some city handlebars
    • 22.2mm - City and mountain handlebars
Drop Bar Levers

The most traditional style of brake lever for drop handlebars is called Non-Aero. The cable exits the brake lever body out of the top and makes a wide arc around the stem and handlebar before the first cable guide or brake stop. While this style has fallen out of mainstream favor for the "aero" alternative, purists, collectors, and tourers often prefer the non-aero variant for simplicity, ease of maintenance, and aesthetics.

Up through the mid-1980's there were several companies making non-aero offerings, each with their own styling, following, and price point: Mafac, Campagnolo, Shimano, Universal, Modolo, Dia-Compe, Weinmann, just to name a few.

Personally, I think the differences between the non-aero manufacturers (with the exception of Mafac) aren't significant. They pretty much all look and function very similarly. Mafac's shape was different - much more square and chunky body - often preferred for randonneur-style bikes.

Traditionally-speaking, Campanolo and similar brake levers are often paired with deep drops and sloping ramps.

https://velo-orange.blogspot.com/2014/11/dads-custom-altieri-sicilys-best.html

Mafac levers are best paired with traditional randonneur style bars where the ramps are long and parallel with the ground. 


In the mid 80s, levers with the housing routed underneath the handlebar tape, dubbed "aero", were becoming more mainstream. While Dia-Compe was likely the first company to release a consumer aero brake lever, Shimano did have the Dura-Ace AX brake lever with aero routing in the early 80s.

I actually find the evolution of the aero brake lever fascinating. At first, they were basically re-drilled non-aero bodies (same bottom cable entry and all), but over time cable entry changed to the more modern forward entry and body lever shapes were under experimentation. My favorite is Modolo's aptly named Kronos series. Check out the beautifully smooth line from the ramps to the brake hood and continuing to the lever.

https://saarf.london/page/11/
If you're one for bar-end or downtube shifters or no shifters, your selection for aero levers is plentiful. The Tektro RL340s are popular for their shape and quick release cable tension button. If you want fancy, the Campy Record levers are sublime. 

With the introduction of integrated shifters, sometimes called "brifters" (the less this word is used the better), aero levers and subsequently handlebars have become more ergonomic for long times in the saddle. Handlebar ramps and brake hoods are typically parallel with the ground and feature gradual transitions. Pictured below is our Course Handlebar with Shimano integrated shifters.


For cross racers and city riders, Interruptor Brake Levers are very popular. These brakes are installed inline with aero levers and allows for braking to occur from the tops of the handlebars. They push housing rather than pull cable, so they function a bit differently than the main lever.


These should not be confused with "suicide levers" that were used on non-aero brake levers. These extensions were notorious for poor brake performance and flexible materials. 

https://theeverydaycyclist.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/photo0714.jpg
Guidonnet Levers were often seen on French cyclotouring bikes. Mounted on either side of the stem, they allowed for plenty of room for a large handlebar bag in addition to easy lever access from the ramps and tops. The downside is that you can't reach the levers from the drops. We used to sell Dia-Compe's version of these way back when, but everyone who wanted a set got one.
https://vintagebicycle.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/l-pitard-campeur-bicycle-c-1948/
Bullhorn handlebars are still used on triathlon and time trials bikes for their aerodynamics and simple shape. The most typical brake lever setup are inverse levers. They are inserted into the end of the handlebar and expand, similar to how bar-ends are installed.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/maxtbicycle/14338124693
Riders would often put aero levers on the ends of their bars, too.

https://www.steel-vintage.com/battaglin-pursuit-vintage-time-trial-bicycle-detail

City and Mountain Bars

Typical city and mountain bars use a 22.2mm outer diameter grip area, which means pretty much any city or mountain brake lever will work. The Tektro FL750 brake levers are extremely popular for their similarities to vintage CLB city levers.

We offer several of our city handlebars and subsequently brake levers in a 23.8mm grip area so that road-style components such as bar-end shifters and inverse levers can be used.

https://velo-orange.com/collections/brake-levers/products/city-bike-brakes-levers?variant=50641617351
The important part of city and mountain brake levers is to select a lever that is compatible with your brake's cable pull requirements: Regular or Linear. Regular pull is what you would use for caliper, cantilever, centerpull, and any "road" style brake. Linear is what you would need for Shimano's V-brake or any other linear pull brake, most commonly seen on mountain bikes.

These pull ratios are not interchangeable. If you use regular pull levers on a linear brake, the lever will not be able to pull enough cable before the lever bottoms out. Vice-versa, you will need to pull the lever significantly harder to stop. Both of these scenarios should be avoided.

Our Grand Cru Brake Levers are my favorites. Not only are they compatible with 23.8mm and 22.2mm handlebars with included shims, they're also available in both regular and linear pull.


Guidonnet levers were also very popular on Belleville Bars for the same reasons as above. As an added bonus, they match the curve of the bars.

If you're using a 23.8mm handlebar, you can also use inverse levers like these by Dia-Compe or Tektro. By moving the brake lever to the end of the bar, you're afforded more room on the handlebars for grips and shifters and frankly, I like how they look.


Alt-Bars

Ok, things are about to get weird. Alt-bars are alternative bars. They don't really fall into drop bars or flat bar categories, and often have non-traditional shapes.

Our Crazy Bars are a perfect example. The grip area that sweeps back is 22.2mm, but the forward extensions use a 23.8mm grip area. This allows riders to mount bar-ends or even road shifters up front. Part of the fun of alt-bars is the wacky setups people make with their controls.


Trekking/Butterfly Bars are the original alt-bar. While they have a 22.2mm grip area, brake levers can be placed almost anywhere to suit the rider's preference. There's no wrong way to set them up!

http://endlessvelolove.blogspot.com/
Previous installments of the "Building a Bike from the Frame Up" series: