31 August, 2007

Lugs and the Look

The photo shows the lugs we are planning to use on the production Velo Orange randonneur. They are made by Long Shen and the quality is first rate. The top lug will be 73 degrees, not 74 as shown. The tubing will be traditional size, and that limits the choices since most lugs made today are for oversize tubes.

Now back to the new blog look, seeing as a few of you prefer the old style, I'll make some changes to add more orange, etc. The new template will remain because it offers the following advantages: There is a button to easily go to the posts past the first page. There is an Atom feed button. This template expands to full width on most screens. It is much faster for me to make edits and add links.

If I had more skill, or any skill, with HTML I could add all this to the old template, but I don't and can't. Nonetheless, it is gratifying (and perhaps a bit weird ;-), that there are 32 comments on the previous post.

Finally, we will be closed on Labor day.

30 August, 2007

A New Look

I was bored last night and decided to redesign the blog. I think it looks a little cleaner. What do you think?

The photo is from Velorution, a fun blog from a bike shop in London.

29 August, 2007

You Asked...

We now have, or are soon getting, a number of items our faithful customers have asked for:

We just received Honjo 43mm smooth and hammered fenders. These work well for tires up to 32mm wide, though some use them with 35mm tires.

The special extra long fenders in smooth and hammered are finally on a ship and steaming East. We also have extra long fenders in new sizes, 650B hammered, 35mm smooth and hammered, and 45mm hammered. This shipment also includes lots of extra stays and hardware that will be available separately.

I'll soon be adding some prototype racks and decaleurs to the specials page.

We've ordered rubber slap guards in muted red and in blue since many frame builders have asked for them.

Several of you have asked us to stock the new Tektro CR720 cantilever brakes. they'll be here Monday and will sell for $27 per pair. They feature forged aluminum arms, linear spring design, and dual micro tension adjusters. These are a cool retro design and the geometry should make for a very powerful brake. Kudos to Tektro; they are launching one great product after another.

Velo Orange silver inverse brake levers are soon to be in production. They are not as elegant as we had hoped. The cost and logistics of having the molds made proved to be too much. But these new levers will be nicer and less expensive than any available now.

We'll soon have some nice ViVa bag supports. The cost should be around $40. A nice seatpost mounted bag support is something I've always wanted. It should be easy to remove and be perfect for any larger saddle bag. And it won't mar the bike's paint. It's just the thing for those of us who like inn-to-inn tours, but don't usually need a rear rack. Getting these support has been like pulling teeth; George (our agent for Japan) is surely sick of my constant e-mails and calls about them. So I'm very curious to know what you think of this support. Will it be worth the effort? And let me know if you want to reserve one.

27 August, 2007

A Shipment From Nitto

We just received several boxes from Nitto. Inside I discovered a long awaited shipment of water bottle cages. I'm delighted every time I see them, Japanese aesthetics expressed in a humble water bottle cage. They are at once graceful, elegant, practical, and strong. Nitto cages are nothing less than works of art beautifully crafted in 18-8 stainless steel and polished to a mirror finish.

There are two models. The curvaceous model R (racing) weighs only 53gm. Then there is the rugged model T (touring) that weighs but 2 grams more and hints at a '50s French style. You might also be interested in knowing that we've lowered the price of the cages from $55 to $39.

They are almost too pretty to put on your bike.

We also have more M12 racks and the exquisite Nitto SP72 "Jaguar" seatpost.

22 August, 2007


A few short notes:

Grand Bois tires are in stock again. We have both the 700C x 30 and the new folding version of the 650B x 32. Bicycle Quarterly says: "One of the best tires we have ridden: light, fast, and comfortable." The already legendary Grand Bois tires are a reproduction of classic French randonneuring tires. They are made in Japan to a very high standard and are now my standard tire; I love them. They are as close to a classic handmade touring tire as can be found today. I expect we'll sell out soon.

We bought a small quantity of 43mm hammered and smooth standard length Honjo fenders from another importer. We hope these will give us enough stock to last until our big shipment from the factory arrives, but they might sell out fast. They should be here next Wednesday.

All the TA cranks have arrived except for the box of 170mm crank arms. Those seem to have been held up at customs.

We'll be closed this Friday.

Interbike is only a month away and I hope to get several new product samples there. What new stuff should I look for?

Finally, would anyone be interested in a stainless steel version of VO fenders?

16 August, 2007

Paris-Brest-Paris, and Paris

Paris-Brest-Paris is being run August 20-24, 2007 and many of our customers and friends are riding. I case you don't know what PBP is, here is a description from the Randonneurs USA site:

First run in 1891, the 1200-kilometer Paris-Brest-Paris, or "PBP" as it is commonly called, is a grueling test of human endurance and cycling ability. Organized every four years by the host Audax Club Parisien, the Paris-Brest-Paris Randonneurs is the oldest bicycling event still run on a regular basis on the open road. Beginning on the southern side of the French capital, it travels west 600 kilometers to the port city of Brest on the Atlantic Ocean and returns along the same route. Today's randonneur cyclists, while no longer riding the primitive machines used a hundred years ago over dirt roads or cobblestones, still have to face up to rough weather, endless hills, and pedaling around the clock. A 90-hour time limit ensures that only the hardiest randonneurs earn the prestigious PBP finisher's medal and have their name entered into the event's "Great Book" along with every other finisher going back to the very first PBP. To become a PBP ancien (or ancienne for the ladies) is to join a very elite group of cyclists who have successfully endured this mighty challenge. No longer a contest for professional racing cyclists (whose entry is now forbidden), PBP evolved into a timed randonnée or brevet for hard-riding amateurs during the middle part of the 20th century. The event is held in August every four years.

You can track riders through the official PBP site. Yes, we'll be watching you.

Many folks have e-mailed me asking what bike related things to do while in Paris. My advice is not to do anything bike related! You'll be riding 1200 bloody kilometers; forget about bikes for a few days and enjoy the city of light. Eat, drink, walk, go to museums, sit in cafes. That's what Paris is about.

First, to get into the mood, go see Ratatouille (the film) and count the 2CVs. Even the French love this film. I took my 7-year old to see it and it was great.

One of my favorite restaurants in Paris is Aux Charpentiers, 10 Rue Mabillon, 6e, where, if you look confused enough, the chef/owner, clad in jeans and a tweed jacket, will graciously help you with your meal.

Eat the bread from Poilâne bakery or one of the other great Parisian bakeries. You will be astounded. If you ask nicely they'll let you go down into the basement bakery.

Not all great food in Paris is French. Try Bouillon Racine for superb Belgian cuisine and the best Creme brulee in the world (according to Annette).

If you enjoy art, take the short trip to Giverny and visit Monet's house and gardens, a truly magic place, as well as the The American Art Museum and the Vernon Museum. Giverny is one of my favorite towns in the entire world.

If you must do something bike related, ride around on one of the new rental bikes that are everywhere. Check out this article from today's Guardian. By the way, the Alex Singer shop is closed for vacation during August and I've never bothered to visit any other bike shops in Paris. But you can get quite an education in city bikes by just noticing what's parked on the street. I've seen plenty of neat constructuer frames by just wandering around, but expect them to look well used; they are.

Finally, good luck to Ralph (and/or Joel), Jan, Ed, Chris, Mike, David, and everyone else who's riding PBP.

Does anyone else have favorite spots in or around Paris?

15 August, 2007

TA 60th Anniversary Cranks and VO 650B Fenders

The very last of our TA Pro 5 Vis 60th Anniversary cranks have arrived in the US and will be in our shop in a few days. They will be available in sizes from 162.5mm to 175mm. We will sell them at the old price, $225. This is your last chance to get them new. TA assures us that they are permanently out of production now. The only reason we got these is that they didn't get polished with the rest of the production run; yes, they've now polished them for us.

You can e-mail me to reserve a pair. Here is what I wrote about them in an earlier post:

One reason why so many people like the TA crank is that it has about the lowest Q-factor (width) of any crank ever made. This is because the crank arm is straight and very close to the outer chainring. So front derailleurs that have thick outer plates sometimes hit the crankarm, But all Campy models and many others work. These cranks will work with modern drivetrains, even 10-speed. Another reason to use TA Pro Vis 5 cranks is that they can replace a triple crank when set up as a double. You can run 28t and 46t rings with a 12-27 cassette (for example) and have almost the same range as a triple, but with a lot less overlap. Rings 26 to 68 teeth are available. By the way, TA sells the cranks and rings separately; there are no stock combinations. So why did these wonderful cranks go out of production? The big chainrings, above 50t or so, are too flexible for racing. And they are very expensive.

We will also have more, lots more, TA crank decals.

I've also heard that the aluminum 49mm fluted 650b Velo Orange fenders have been made and are waiting to be shipped. we should have them in a couple of weeks. The price will be $35, just like the 700c fenders. I've heard nothing but very positive reports from folks who have already bought the new VO fenders. The more experience I have with them the more I like them. We will also have extra fender hardware available for all models of VO fenders.

That last photo is from Neil B. Thanks.

14 August, 2007


It's been very busy here at VO, but I wanted to post a few notes:

  • Brooks has substantially raised saddle prices. Titanium rail saddles, in particular, have jumped 30-40%. The weak dollar in relation to the Euro is responsible for much of this. The other factor is that a worldwide increase in demand for titanium and resultant price increase are affecting many industries.
  • Speaking of the weak dollar, we should expect rising prices on all European components. So I'd suggest buying Stronglight headsets and cranks, TA products, etc sooner rather than later. The Yen exchange rate looks better so we'll be getting more attractively priced Japanese products.
  • Regarding Honjo fenders, I just received this from our agent: "Sorry, but Mr. Shimamura at Honjo said that they are swamped and they said that the orders are now scheduled to be done in mid to late August. I will keep you posted."
  • We have all models of decaleurs in stock again!

09 August, 2007

Little Projects

The thermometer read 104-degrees when I left Velo Orange yesterday. So I retired to the little workshop in our garage to bend little strips of metal into various shapes.

I was pleased with my first effort, a handlebar-mounted water bottle cage bracket. It'll be handy for carrying coffee on my city bike, though I'd prefer a beer in this weather. I think we'll try to get some of these made. Would you buy one?

My second project was a solid blinkey mount for the rear fender. I'm not as pleased with this design. It just looks a little clunky. I'll try again in a few days. It may be that I just selected a light that's too tall?. Thoughts?

05 August, 2007

Ostrich Panniers

A lot of folks have been waiting for Ostrich panniers; they finally arrived this morning by Airmail straight from Japan.

These are very traditional canvas panniers that would look right at home on a 1950's Rene Herse camping bike. They measure 130mm deep, 350mm long and 300mm tall with a 13 liter capacity (each). The attachment is via traditional leather straps. The quality, as with all Ostrich products, is simply superb. I find they are a good size for either front or rear mounting. I've been using one to carry my briefcase and laptop and occasionally for shopping.

Like several other companies that make cool and desirable bike products, Ostrich is very busy and their products often take many months to get. We only have a small quantity of the panniers at the moment so get them while you can. The same is true of the handlebar bags, our last shipment is almost sold out and we probably won't see more until September.

02 August, 2007

Installing VO or Honjo Fenders

I should write some instructions for installing metal fenders for those of you who have never done this, or who think it's difficult. But first some observations on the new VO fenders:

  • I'm pleased to report that all the hardware fits and works perfectly.
  • There are even little marks on the stays to help you center them.
  • Installing VO fenders is almost exactly like installing Honjo fenders.
Tools required:
  • 8mm and 10mm open end wrenches
  • Alan wrench set
  • Drill with a 5mm bit (and sometimes a 3mm).
  • Hacksaw or big wire cutter for cutting stays
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Tape measure
  • A file and sharp punch or nail are also nice to have.
Attaching the Fender Stays:

Attach the stays to the fenders using draw bolts. I like the bolts about 15cm from the aft end of the fenders, but the exact distance is not critical. Some model fenders come with one draw bolt per fender, others with two. Our Honjo extra long models are pre-drilled for the bolts. On other models, mark the location of the bolts and make an indent with a punch or sharp nail. Drill a 5mm hole for each bolt.

Thread the stay into the draw bolt and secure the bolts to the fender with a washer and locknut. If using two bolts per fender you'll need to flex the fender and stay to insert both bolts at once.

Installing the front fender:

If your bike has a fender boss under the fork crown, as VO frames have, simply drill a matching hole in the fender and secure it to the crown with a 5mm bolt and washer. But be sure to use a leather washer between the crown and fender. The leather washer absorbs vibrations and cushions the fender, helping to prevent cracking at the bolt hole.

If using a VO or Honjo L-bracket, drill two 3mm holes and mount the bracket as shown in the photo. Secure it to the brake bolt.

If using a fork crown daruma, hang the daruma from the brake bolt and drill a matching 5mm hole in the fender. Again, the extra long Honjos are pre-drilled. Secure the fender with a flat washer and nut, but only after adding a leather washer between the crown and fender.

Place the R-clips on the stays and screw them to the eyelets on your front dropout with 5mm screws. Hint: removing the quick release skewer makes it easier. Adjust the stays for a perfect fender line. You'll notice that the stays are too long; mark and cut them to length with a hacksaw or wire cutter. File or sand down the ends so they aren't sharp.

Installing the rear fender:

Ideally the front edge of the rear fender should extend a few centimeters below the chainstay bridge. On a VO or other well-designed frame there will be bosses at the brake bridge and the chainstay bridge and plenty of room for the fender. All you'll need to do in that case is drill matching holes and screw the fender into place. Again, don't forget the leather washers.

On many production frames things are a bit more difficult. You may even have to bend or trim (with tin snips) the front of the rear fender to make it fit between the chainstays then bolt it into place through the hole in the chainstay bridge. But don't do this yet; first install the sliding bridge bracket. The VO version is made of mallable metal that you fold over the fender; the Honjo sliding bridge bracket slides on over the fender from the end.

Bolt the bridge to the brake bridge and slide the fender forward to the desired location. Now drill the hole to bolt it to the chainstay bridge. Remember the leather washer. Pinch each side of the sliding bridge bracket with pliers to lock the fender in place and so it doesn't rattle

Finally attach and trim the stays to the dropout eyelets as you did on the front fender. Check that all the screws, nuts, and bolts are tight, (don't forget to reinstall those quick release skewers) and go for a ride.

01 August, 2007

The VO Baguette

Another new product just arrived. Our VO Baguette is a saddle bag and a mini handlebar bag. This is one bag that serves both purposes; the straps are spaced to allow it to hang on either end of your bike. It's big enough for a Quicker pump, rain shell, tools, tubes, a banana, a wallet, and even a camera. Or just take a baguette (broken in half).

The color of both current VO bags is now lighter and the leather is a tan color now instead of brown. The material is a heavy waxed canvas.

Progress is once again being made on the TA-style handlebar bag too. That has been a long and painful development process, but we may have them before the end of the year.