24 April, 2013

Mounting a Handlebar Bag, in Pictures

Since we've been talking about bar bags recently a few folks have asked questions about attaching them to the bike.
Traditionally handlebar bags were, in fact, attached to handlebars. Hardly anyone does this today. The bag is supported by a small rack. On some old rando bikes I've seen the bag sitting directly on the front fender, but the fender needs an extra stay in front if its to support the bag.
The elastic on the top flap was often drawn over the stem, making it easier to open the bag. It's still the way I often close my bag.
Rather than attaching the bag to the bars, it's far more convenient to attach it via a quick release mechanism called a decaleur. This way the bag is easy to lift off and take with you when you've parked the bike. Notice how the leather patch on the back of the bag slips over the rack's backstop; that's what really holds the bag in place. A set-up like this is fine for most road riding, but bumpy roads may require a strap underneath to further stabilize the bag.
Note that the decaleur bar may be mounted high on smaller bags or lower as on the Grand Cru bag above.

You add a separate decaleur that mounts to the fork. We make these in sizes to fit 1' and 1-1/8" forks. The tangs can be bent for precise fit, but they may not work on very large and very small frames.
I prefer to use a rack with an integrated decaleur. This allows the bag to work on any size frame. We make a version of both the Pass Hunter and Rando rack with a decaleur, and the front Campeur rack includes an integrated decaleur.

By the way, we have extra decaleur bars so you can use more that one bag on your bike. I have a big bag, a small bag, and a basket that work with the decaleurs on all my bikes.
If using a rack with a backstop, but no decaleur, slip the back patch over the back stop and...
...secure the bag to the rack with a strap.
If you want to use your bag on a rack without a narrow backstop, use two straps underneath. You might also try Igor's trick of securing it to the handlebar drops to keep the bag extra-stable on extra rough roads.

That's it. Do you have any bag mounting tips to share in the comments?

18 April, 2013

Bespoked Bristol Bike Show

Our friends at FreshTripe sent some pictures and a very good summary of the Bespoked Show over the weekend. Here's the write-up from Jamie and for the full album, check out our page here:

Another great Bespoked Bristol Show, filled with exciting bikes and passionate people, it was even more popular than last year with the show reaching capacity by 12pm on the Saturday! Our stand was busy with customer's getting up close to a large range of Velo Orange items including racks, mudguards, bars, leather goods, pedals, bottle cages and more. It was great putting faces to names and hearing the enthusiasm customer's have for their bikes. We had a couple of special builds planned for the stand and were pleased to see them go down well - Alex Hatfield's Lee Cooper built Chrome Porteur (Bespoked Bristol 2011 Best Utility Bike Award Winner) was flanked by our recently designed Hobo Bushwacker 650b MTB, created in collaboration with Hobo Bicycles; worlds apart but both frames were hand-made by talented frame builder Lee Cooper.

Photograph by Gold Seal Photographywww.GoldSealPhotography.co.uk

Both featured Velo Orange items; the Chrome Porteur sporting Constructeur Rear Rack, Porteur Front Rack and Chain guard whereas the Hobo Bushwacker featured VO Diagonale 650b Rims, Quick Release Skewers, Compact Double Crank set (with inner placed on outer spider), Grand Cru BB, Grand Cru Seatpost, Grand Cru Mirror Polished Aheadet, Ahead Stem & Sew-On Elk-hide Covers. As far as we were aware (and could see), this was the only 650b MTB at the show, though there were plenty of Touring/Rando in that wheel size and we were pleased to hear that some show goers had come specifically with an interest in that size of bike.
Other noteworthy builds at the show were other Hobo Bicycles builds including the Weirdy Beardy (which you've featured before) and their Cous'n Jack Track Bike. This featured Velo Orange Singlespeed Cranks, Grand Cru BB and Grand Cru Mirror Polished Threaded Headset.

Photograph by Gold Seal Photographywww.GoldSealPhotography.co.uk
Photograph by Gold Seal Photographywww.GoldSealPhotography.co.uk 
Paulus Quiros had some stunning builds on show with extraordinary attention to detail. Their 'X' bike created for an enthusiast of the Veteran Cycling Club had a beautiful dragonfly head badge which flowed into the dual top tube and also had a Belleville Handlebar mounted up high. Their 650b 'Jeffrey's Rando' was brimming with details such as a delightful twisted seat stay and was kitted out with neat leather wrapped Moderniste cages to match the Elk-hide wrapped VO Rando Bar out front. It also featured VO 650b Zeppelin Mudguards, Grand Cru Seatpost, braided Cables, Dia Compe ENE Down tube Shifters and 650b Diagonale Rimes laced to a Touring Rear hub and High Flange Front hub.

Photograph by Gold Seal Photographywww.GoldSealPhotography.co.uk
Brian Rourke had an excellent stainless steel Tourer on display with had masked decals that revealed the polished tubes underneath and a pair of PBP rims laced up.

Photograph by Gold Seal Photographywww.GoldSealPhotography.co.uk
Tom Donhou had a great selection of builds including this turquoise delight which had fine painted details on the VO 36mm Polished Mudguards (not vinyl) and sported carbon slats on the rear rack. 

Photograph by Gold Seal Photographywww.GoldSealPhotography.co.uk
Ricky Feather had a similarly coloured build that look splendid with it's hand made copper mudguards. There are many more highlights from the likes of Saffron Frameworks (stunning green build which won Best Utility), Ted James Design (Awesome stainless 29er MTB), Swallow, Winter Bicycles, Field Cycles, Shand, Faggin, Demon Frameworks and more so I suggest you check out some of the reports and images from the show if you haven't already:

16 April, 2013

Minimalist Cyclo-touring (re-posted)

With the new Grand Cru handlebar bags in stock, I thought it might be fun to repeat this post from 2009:

The short summer "credit card tour" is the basis of cyclo-touring. You can take this sort of trip most any nice weekend. Stay at a nice B&B or small country hotel and take your breakfast and dinner at the local cafes or casual restaurants. Lunch is best a picnic of locally-bought treats.

The key is traveling light. I find that the more I travel the less stuff I need to take, and not just on bike trips. Even on a six-week trip to Europe, I require only a single bag that stows easily in the plane's overhead bin. The trick is to cut out anything that's not essential and to take light clothes that you can wash yourself. So here is what I take on a one or two-night summer bike trip

In the saddle bag:

A small saddle bag, like the VO Croissant, is perfect for everyday riding as well as overnight trips. It almost always stays on the bike and usually contains the following:

  • multi-tool
  • mini-pump
  • two tubes
  • tube patch kit
  • rain jacket or windproof vest
  • optional: tire irons, keys, power bar
Remember that you only need one pump and one set of tools for a small group.

In the handlebar bag:

The following stuff fits in a VO Campagne bar bag with room left over.

In the rear pockets:
  • cell phone (that only gets turned on once or twice a day)
  • small camera
Tip: it's usually lighter to take an extra battery rather than a battery charger.

In the main compartment:
  • light travel pants (Patagonia Gi 2 are my favorite)
  • Cool Max t-shirt 
  • shirt with collar (quick dry)
  • under shorts (Ex Officio quick dry)
  • cycling socks
  • book
  • knife with corkscrew (for cutting fruit, cheese, hard sausage, and opening wine)
  • snacks (nuts, fruit, hard cheese)
  • optional: film camera, down vest or ultralight sweater, collapsible walking shoes (if you ride with cleats), small cable lock
I try to take some reasonably nice looking clothes. Looking grubby gives all cyclo-tourists a bad image. There is no need for fancy duds, but I do take a short sleeve shirt with a collar as my evening wear and try to keep it and my pants clean. All these clothes can be washed in a hotel sink with regular bar soap in just a few minutes. And they will dry overnight if hung someplace where there's a bit of air circulation.

In the front pocket :
  • toilet kit with toothbrush and travel size deodorant and toothpaste (not shown)
  • a few aspirin tablets
  • bandanna
Side pockets:
  • wallet
  • more snacks
Of course your packing list won't be exactly the same as mine, but the point I'm trying to make is that you don't need to take much.

BTW, below is a size comparison of the Campagne and Grand Cru bags. The GC bag is also deeper.

15 April, 2013

The New Grand Cru Handlebar Bag

The new Grand Cru Handlebar bag's design is based on traditional French handlebar bags. These days almost no one attaches bags like this to the handlebar. Instead they sit on a small front rack and are attached with a decaleur.

This bag is made in an artisanal sewing shop right here in Maryland. The fabric is heavy dark green treated cotton canvas. Wickett and Craig of Pennsylvania provide the oiled bridle leather for trim.
The large main compartment holds about 9.5 liters. There is also a front pocket, two flat side pockets, and two small rear pockets which I use for a cell phone and a small camera. The top has a map pocket. One of the neat features is the stiffener which goes in a long sleeve so no plastic is exposed.
Outside dimensions are: Width = 28cm, depth = 21cm, and height = 25cm. This bag is considerably larger than the VO Campagne bag. (And a bit larger than the Ostritch bag that we used to stock.)

The Grand Cru handlebar bag is designed to be used with, or without, a decaleur. There are two webbing patches running front to back under the bag. these are spaced at the same width as the rails on most small front racks. You can pass a strap through them to attach the bag to the rack if you're not using a decaleur.  An old toe clip strap works well for this. We chose this method rather than Velcro because the latter seems to wear out after a few years of heavy use.

The bag comes with a shoulder strap, very useful when walking around. No handlebar straps are included, since hardly anyone uses them anymore, but there are slots for them in case you're a true traditionalist.

11 April, 2013

Winnifred's Unconventional Foot Retention

A guest post by Casey:

In my last blog post, Winnifred's Funky Cockpit, I talked about my attempts to find the most comfortable and utilitarian setup for my touring bike's cockpit. For the past few years I've been on a similar journey in terms of pedal setup.

When I first started cycle touring in high school I had already been mountain-biking for a few years. At the time it seemed natural to use the SPD system with which I mountain biked. Unfortunately, this didn't go so well for me: I eventually developed some nasty knee pain. It ended up taking about a year for me to figure the exact source of my knee pain and eliminate it. The problem came in part from the longer rides I was doing while touring. The SPD setup had been putting strain on my knees while mountain biking, but I hadn't noticed it because I wasn't riding long enough. The problem I was having came from the fact that when my knees are pointing straight my feet are pointing out. Most clipless pedal systems naturally point the riders feet straight, for me this meant that my knees were turned in at an odd angle. Of course, it took me a good while to figure this out, and a lot of trial and error with different clipless pedal systems.

By the way, if any of you are suffering from knee problems I've found this website to be exceptionally helpful.

I tried TIME, Speedplay, and Crank Brothers Candy pedals. I found the Candys to be the only clipless system that I could adjust in a way that didn't give me knee problems. After pushing the pedal body through the spindle on two different sets of the Candys, I decided they weren't going to work for me either. In a strangely backwards way this brought me to platform pedals. With platforms pedals, I don't have to worry about what direction my feet are pointing, they just move to what is comfortable and my knees are fine. The only problem is that if I am going to be wearing regular shoes while riding, I want to wear my regular shoes -  which, in my case, are boat shoes or espadrilles. But thin soled shoes are horribly uncomfortable on classic road pedals. For this reason we designed the Grand Cru Sabot Pedal, which is what I currently ride with on my touring/city build. I've loved the sabots; they are easily the most comfortable pedal I have ever ridden.

Despite how uncomfortable clipless pedals were for me, I still loved the solid connection that you have with them when you are clipped in. This is something that the Sabots are lacking on their own. Traditional toe clips don't go well with the Sabots because the pedal is so long. I also personally don't think that traditional toe clips would look very good on the Sabots. Thankfully the guys over at Hold Fast came to my rescue. They make a unique foot retention system designed to be used with large flat platform pedals like the Sabot. They were even nice enough to a make us a version in brown
Ignore the questionable fashion choice of wearing black ankle socks with boat shoes
So far I've been really impressed with Hold Fast foot straps. They're secure enough that I feel comfortable pulling up on them like I would clipless pedals. They're also amazingly easy to get into, and I never feel I need to look down to make sure my foot is in the right place. They also don't have any pressure points since they secure your foot with such wide strap. All in all, they feel very solid, and are exceptionally comfortable. They are also made right up the road from us in Baltimore, Maryland. The combination of Hold Fast foot straps and the Sabots alongside my current cockpit setup has made for an ideal touring setup. With nice weather suddenly upon us and my bike all set up and ready to go, I can't wait to get out on tour this summer.

10 April, 2013

Winnifred's Funky Cockpit

A guest post by Casey:

I have always had three primary obsessions with my bike's setup: saddle, cockpit, and pedals. These are all quite similar since they are the points of interface between the rider and the bike. In the pursuit of comfort and utility, Winnifred, my touring/city/all-rounder build, has had a very tumultuous life in terms of cockpit setup. I think I have finally found a cockpit that is nearly perfect in terms of comfort and utility.

Winnifred behind VO World Headquarters
I've spent a lot of time touring with different drop bar setups. In which case I ride almost exclusively on the hoods or the flats. For riding in the hoods, I prefer something like Chris's Rando Bar but then I'm not quite as comfortable on the flats. More recently I've been trying a bunch of funky bars. I've ridden with the On-One Mary Bar, the Surly Open Bar, and the VO Postino Bar. I found them to be great for riding out of the saddle or comfortably cruising around; however, their lack of hand positions doesn't suit long rides. Enter the Jeff Jones H-Bar. It has the wide swept back hand position like most other funky bars, but it also provides a narrow hand position similar to the flats on drops bars. I've ridden around with these bars for a while and I love how comfortable they are. For me there are really only two downsides. They are exceptionally wide,which has led to some close calls in tight city traffic. I also miss the position afforded by hoods on drop handlebars. There isn't much to be done about the width without sacrificing comfort. However, I can imagine a similar bar that would provide the wide swept back hand position of a funky bar and a position similar to riding on the hoods of a drop bar. Fortunately, I can do more than imagine, I should have a prototype of said bar within a few weeks.

The other thing that I'm really excited about with my current cockpit setup is the shifter placement. I can shift entirely with my thumb or pointer finger without having to move my hand from the grips.  I was able to do this using the VO thumb shifter mounts and the Dia-Compe ENE down tube shifters. The trick is to reverse the shifter mounts and shifters (e.g., left shifter/mount on the right side of the handlebar). As you can see the clearance is pretty tight between the shifter and the Tektro FL750 brake lever, but with a little bit of fiddling I was able to get it to work very smoothly. I can't rave enough about this setup, it feels a lot sturdier than any grip or trigger shifter setup but is just as accessible. Plus it's just so svelte. What's you're favorite cockpit setup?

08 April, 2013

Shiny Bits

Whatever happened to nice fender mounted reflectors, or any nice reflectors for that matter? The reflector above was a present from a Japanese distributor. It is really lovely, a little jewel on the rear fender.
I like how it's radiused at the back.
And the profile is perfect. It just makes me smile. We need to come up with more little bits like this, even if they're not strictly practical.

05 April, 2013

Plume Alaire Chainguard Contest Winner

We  had a hard time deciding the winner of the chainguard contest. There were several great submissions, but after tallying the staff votes this neat design by Chase wins. Chase gets his choice of a blank or regular chainguard and a $100 VO gift certificate.

Other submissions can be found here. Which is your favorite?

If you'd like your own chainguard to customize, they can be ordered here.

04 April, 2013

Pleasures of the Fleche

By Scott

The DC randonneur fleche 24 hour event is this coming weekend. I'll be taking part as one of the four members of Team The way we W &OD'd (we use part of the Washington and Old Dominion trail for the last part of the ride). This will be my 6th fleche- I've completed 4 and failed to finish one. 

The Fleche is a unique randonneuring event. Here in the US, they are organzied by Randonneurs USA. The basic premise is that it is a team event- at least 3 bikes per team, but no more then 5 bikes per team. You must ride at least 360 km (223 miles) in 24 hours and you cannot stop in one location for longer then 2 hours. For full rules, you can go to the RUSA site and read through them-

Due to the nature of the ride- you must use up all 24 hours and you can design your own route- rides tend to be flatter then a regular brevet. So one can end up eating/hanging out in restaurants/cafe's to kill time. In some places, this is easy. In Northern Washington state, there are small town cafe's where one can have a long dinner or breakfast. Wide, cushy booths are great to sit on after 20 hours of riding as is the waitresses with endless cups of coffee or tea. On the other hand, in small town Australia, where no 24 hour facilities exist, we had the son of the team leader cook up spaghetti in the village green late at night to help stave off hunger, as nothing was open.

(photo by Bill Beck)
One of the common themes is the breakfast after the event. In British Columbia, we would all finish at the Harrison Hot Springs resort for a banquet. Some teams would finish on the Saturday night and relax in the hot springs after finishing their ride. In Australia, our ride ended in Rochester,Victoria, the birthplace of Sir Hubert Opperman, one of the greatest endurance riders of Australia and winner of PBP back when it was a professional race. There the cycling club used the local Football (Australian Rules) club house for the breakfast and for us to clean up. My club mates in San Francisco have rented out a crepire as a meeting point for the riders and here in DC, we use the Marriott hotel by the Key Bridge, just across the Potomac from Georgetown as the end point for all the teams

 (the Oppy statue in Rochester Vic, Australia)

What is your favorite food stop during a ride?

02 April, 2013

Information Overload, Part 2

We posted recently about cyclists forgoing computers, preferring to ride without too much information. But the majority of serious cyclist still use a computer, and a fair number have a headlight and, increasingly, a cell phone mounted on their handlebars. I guess that explains why the first shipment of Dajia accessory mounts sold out so quickly. (We recently received more and now have plenty in stock.)
You can clear off your handle bar with neat accessory mount, yet still enjoy your electronics and tchotchki. It attaches by replacing two of the bolts of your VO, or other, stem faceplate. The spacing between the 5mm bolts is adjustable, so it should fit a wide variety of threadless stems. The clamp area is 31.8mm and width is 115mm, long enough for computer, phone, and light or for a phone and a hula girl.

01 April, 2013

VO LUX Frames

In addition to the black components, that I mentioned in the previous post, VO will soon introduce the "LUX" range of frames. We'll use the same well proven geometry as on regular Velo Orange frames, but with very special lugs, custom paint work (or precious metal plating), hand shaped fork crowns, and special packaging (burled walnut travel cases). As you may know, luxury goods are the fastest growing category of products in the world. This is fueled largely by the economic boom in China and other Asian countries. While the LUX frames will be available here, we will concentrate marketing in other countries.