30 October, 2013

Frame Comparison

With all of these new frames coming out (Pass Hunter and Camargue), we decided it would be helpful to put together a frame comparison matrix. The frame comparison tool can be found on our tech page (and below). While you're over there you may notice that we also put up the geometry for the Pass Hunter. Astute readers will also notice that frame comparison matrix contains some yet unreleased geometry for the Camargue.

The Pass Hunters should be in within a week or two. Our distributor in Thailand already received Pass Hunters and he sent us this picture of the frame he intends to build up for himself.

It looks like the Crazy Bars should be here around mid-November.

Frame Capabilities

Frame Passhunter Polyvalent Campeur Camargue
Max tire size with fenders (Intended Tire Size) [mm] 32 38 38 54(2.1")
Wheel Size 700c 650b 700c Size 56, 59, 62 - 700c (29")
Size 47, 50, 53 - 26"
Brake Mounts Cantilever Cantilever Cantilever Cantilever
Rear Dropouts Vertical Horizontal Vertical Horizontal
Kickstand Plate No Yes Yes No

Geometry Highlights

Frame Passhunter Polyvalent Campeur Camargue
Trail (With Intended Tire Size) [mm] 56 37 56 56
Chainstay Length [mm] 435 445 460 Size 56, 59, 62 - 460
Size 47, 50, 53 - Pending Testing
BB Drop [mm] 75 67 82 Size 56, 59, 62 - 70
Size 47, 50, 53 - 40

Mounting Capabilities

Frame Passhunter Polyvalent Campeur Camargue
Rear Dropout Eyelets 1 2 2 2
Seatstay Eyelets Internal External (spool) External (spool) External (spool)
Fork Dropout Eyelets 1 - lower 2 2 2
Mid-fork Eyelets No Yes Yes Yes
Water Bottle Cage Mounts 2 2 3 3

24 October, 2013

Testing the Camargue, Part Deux

by Igor

Chris tasked me with giving the 29er Camargue a good thrashing at Rosaryville State Park. I’ve ridden those trails many times with my single speed hardtail and full squish. This bike can be characterized in one word: addicting.

Its full rigid nature means that you have a much stronger connection to the ride and terrain. No pedal bob means that you can negotiate obstacles with more confidence and choose your lines deliberately, as opposed to just rolling over and losing speed. Choosing your lines makes you a better and faster rider, especially when negotiating obstacles and climbing varied terrain. The 56mm mid-trail design makes for an ultra stable and confident ride when going around curves: no diving or understeer.

The Alfine 8 was a very cool experience. Shifting without pedaling was great even though I had to click several times to increase tension, as opposed to how other Shimano trigger shifters perform. There are a few downsides. The 8-speed, 20T sprocket mated to a 34T front ring gave enough range for a lightweight ride, but not enough, as Casey mentioned, for a loaded rig. An 11-speed or a Rohloff would be a better fit for bikepacking with an IGH.

Enough geek speak, onto the pictures!

14 October, 2013

Random Bits

The next run of Polyvalent frames is entering production. We decided to make them blue this time around. It's the same shade as this Pass Hunter prototype. We'll also add a third water battle mount and a rear brake adjuster. We hope to have them here in January.

Speaking of the Polyvalent, have a look at this terrific build by Fresh Tripe. But even more interesting is the commentary (almost a review) by it's new owner. There are also additional photos and a build list. If you don't have time to read the whole thing, here is the summery:
All in all, best money I have spent on a bike. Period.
Blue Lug, one of our Japanese dealers, has a nice post about VO parts. You have to love how Google translates Japanese to English. Check out Blu Lug's other posts for lots a nice photos of riding, and eating, in Japan.

We have wheels again. The last batch sold out very quickly, so we had more built up this time.
Igor needed a Porteur rack. Nothing unusual about that, except that he mounted it on the rear of his Campeur. The rack fits and works quite well. I wonder if we should offer the hardware he used as an optional mounting kit? You could have one at each end.

Latest news on the Pass Hunter frames is that they will be here in two to three weeks.

09 October, 2013

Back From Bikepacking

A Guest Post by Casey

I was fortunate to spend the last weekend in the wonderful and wild that is West Virginia. I was out there to test the Camargue, and I decided to test it full bikepacking style. I've been backpacking, cyclo-touring, and mountain biking for years, but this was my first foray into combining all three of those things. The following are a few notes and pictures from my trip.

First Impressions of Bikepacking:

I've spent a considerable amount of time backpacking in the Monongahela and Dolly Sods, so it was very interesting to see these forests from the different perspective provided by bikepacking. It was amazing to be able to see so much within a day. I wasn't prepared for how much work pushing the bike up steep trails was - it was downright brutal at some points - but the payout at the end made it worth it.


The bike handled amazingly; I honestly could not be happier with the how the Camargue handled.  I was able to very confidently navigate rough singletrack. I realize that my setup from the previous post was pretty contentious (the gods of cycling gave us panniers and racks for a reason, right?). I honestly was somewhat skeptical about having the weight up so high on the frame, but it didn't end up affecting the ride negatively at all. The bikepacking setup also allowed me to easily navigate through narrow singletrack without worrying about my gear snagging on anything. The setup also felt very solid; panniers tend to swing around if you throw the bike around too much, and I'm sure they would have bounced around a lot on the rougher terrain.

Notes on Gear:
  • Alfine 8: Using a IGH has ruined me. It was great to be able to shift without pedaling. If I got off the bike to walk over some rough terrain and then found myself on an uphill, I could just shift down and then hop on the bike and go. No mashing heavy gears, and no need to pick up the rear wheel to shift. All that being said, I geared the Alfine lower than suggested and still didn't find it to be quite as low as I would have liked it. So a different IGH would probably be more advisable for this type of riding.
  • Tarptent Squall 2: As a keen eyed reader noticed, I did indeed bring a tarptent with me. This was my first trip with it and I was really impressed; it's exceptionally spacious and light for a two man tent. 
  • Like I said, the Revelate bags were great; I just wish I had a full frame bag. Maybe next time.

03 October, 2013

Testing the Camargue

Bike packing style.
We're doing a bit more testing with the large size Camargue. Casey is leaving on a 5-day solo bike packing trip in West Virginia today. It involves dirt roads, fire roads, single track and even a little pavement. He'll be riding about 50 miles a day. Casey promises to write a blog post when he gets back. Here are a few shots of his rig and gear taken at VO world headquarters as he was packing this afternoon.
All the gear Casey is taking.
Those crazy bars again.
Sabot pedals with Hold Fast straps.
When Casey returns, Igor is off to do some hard singletrack and then I'm off on a tenkara fly fishing trip via a couple of abandoned dirt roads in Western Maryland. Scott is tasked with gravel grinding on the 26"-wheeled version. One benefit of working at VO is bike testing trips on company time.
That's a big saddle bag.

01 October, 2013

Stylish Builds

Fashion designer Marc Jacobs is also into cool city bikes. These limited edition bikes are built by Panda Bicycles using their lugged bamboo frames. The frames are made in Fort Collins, Colorado. Components and accessories are mostly by Velo Orange. There are only 10 available and the cost is $5000.
Available in several colors.
VO fenders, brakes, rack, stem, etc.
Another cool designer, my friend Eric in SLO,  has built a number of bikes I've featured on the blog. This new build includes some strange components as well as liberal use of powder coating. Yes, that's a Nagasawa frame. And check out the crank.
VO  racks, fenders, and brakes.
That is a VO chainguard, but definitely not our crank.