29 March, 2016

VO Warehouse Sale, April 16th

by Chris

We'll hold one of our very occasional VO warehouse sales from 9am to 12pm on April 16th.

What's for Sale:

We're selling sample parts that were sent for review or displayed in our showroom or at bike shows. There are some returns, some display frames, a few bikes, some discontinued parts, parts that have been used on test bikes, scratch-and-dent stuff, etc. All-in-all there are hundreds of items. We want to blow them all out in one day! So most will be priced at about half the regular web site price, many even lower. 

In case you can't find any garage sale stuff you like, we'll offer 20% off on any VO and Grand Cru parts, accessories, or frames (but not build kits) in stock. This reflects our savings in not having to process, pack and ship, so you must be here to get the discount.


The VO Garage Sale will take place between 9am and 12pm on Saturday April 16th., rain or shine.


At Velo Orange of course, 1981 Moreland Parkway, Building 4, Annapolis, MD 21401

The Fine Print:
  • Nothing can be pre-ordered.
  • Cash or credit card only.
  • the 20% discount is available only to those who buy in person, not on-line..
  • As always, we'll serve donuts, coffee, and espresso.

17 March, 2016

Visiting Japan

By Clint

Serious business.
Far from NJS approved. 
After our visit to Taipei, I decided to take the Travel's Check to Tokyo to ride around, eat ramen, and visit shops.

Tori Paitan ramen at Kagari in Ginza.
The ramen master at Fu-unji in Shinjuku.
Many of these noodle shops were tucked away in alleys around the city, marked only with Kanji characters.  Knowing little to no Japanese, it was reasonably difficult to locate some of them.  The general strategy was to figure out what block the shop was on, walk around a few times, and look for the lines, often with a few white people who read the same food blogs I do.

Mountain (山) is one of the few characters I know.
The powerlines are kinda cool.
Preserve by the fishing town. 
This food is so pretty.
Mr Kentaro of M's Collection, one of our distributors in Japan, was nice enough to show me around the Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo.  We rode around one of his favorite routes, along the water, past a fishing town, then to a harbor where they'll be sailing in the 2020 Olympics.   We stopped at a cute little restaurant on the water for a great lunch.  The views were great along the water.  Fishing boats coming in and out, surfers on the beach.
Even the drive there and back was rather scenic.  It still amazes me how far the city extends, turning into warehouse districts, then back into high rises and sky scrapers.  On the way back, we drove past the Fuji TV building.  Didn't get a good photo, but I've wanted to see it (it was in a bunch of those cartoons I watched as a kid).

Original location in Hatagaya.

They let me help out in the shop. 
Rew10 and Cook Paint Works.
Okonomiyaki master.
Next, I had the opportunity to visit some of Blue Lug's shops.  Coolest shops I've ever been to.  If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping in.  They now have three locations and a coffee shop/bar.  They do some incredible custom builds.
One of their staff members, Naoto, was nice enough to show me around town. I had the opportunity to see some sides of town, I wouldn't have found as a tourist.   We met up at the Tsukiji fish market in the morning, grabbed some food, explored some hole-in-the-wall coffee shops, and rode around town.  We had a great lunch at Lug, Blue Lug's cafe & bar.  After that, we stopped by to see Rew10 workshop and Cook Paint Works next door.  They both do amazing work.  After a busy day riding around town, we went out for okonomiyaki, seafood pancakes and takoyaki, octopus balls.

Night ride, remember to ride on the left.  
Back in the states now.  I already miss the people, the food, and the heated toilet seats.  Can't wait to go back.  Special thanks to Mr. Kentaro and Blue Lug for hosting me!  I had such a good time!

Piolets Back in Stock

by Igor

Piolets are back in stock in all sizes! Ride over things, sleep outside, repeat.

11 March, 2016

Notes From Taiwan

By Chris

Frame testing
I just wanted to share a few notes from my recent trip to the Taipei Cycle Show and to a few of the factories that make parts for us.

We've arranged for lots of samples of new products. It's been years since we've had this much new stuff coming. We'll be testing new rims, a new line of bike-packing luggage, new crank, new wider fender model, grips, saddles, and lots more.

The final version of our 11-speed hubs will soon be ready for testing. We've been riding the first version, but decided to make some minor changes to make disassembly and cleaning easier. These are much like our current hubs, though we had to move the flanges in a bit to fit that 11th cog, which necessitated a whole new body. I'm personally not sure it's worth all the bother: 10-speed is more than enough for me, but customers keep asking for them.

At the frame factory we spoke about the next version of the Polyvalent. This is still in the design stage, but we hope to order prototypes in a few weeks.

We're also looking at a version of the Piolet made with rather special tubing, but it may be too expensive to produce; we'll see. This would be a limited production model, not a replacement, but we may make some very minor changes such as  moving or adding a couple of braze-ons.

We had a long meeting at our rack factory to work on details of a new line of VO racks. These require lots of special tooling and some fairly complicated manufacturing, so it may be some time before you see them. But we think they'll be nothing short of amazing.

We saw prototypes of a crazy new VO threadless stem that we'll soon introduce. And we ordered prototypes of a new quill stem that I've been thinking about for years. I'm really excited about both these stems, and I think you'll find them very useful.
Taiwan is really a great place to visit. It's fairly popular as a vacation destination. There are beaches, hot springs, mountains, great cycling and hiking, decent surfing, remote villages, and amazing museums. One of the highlights of any trip there is the food. The Taiwanese are a nation of foodies, and whether you want cuisine from Taiwan, Japan, China, France, or almost anywhere else you can think of, there are superb restaurants that serve it. But for me the best is the street food at the night markets. Stalls cook up fresh crabs, squid, oyster omelets, strawberries covered in sweet glaze; the list is endless. (A few more photos can be found on my new Instagram page.)

08 March, 2016

Dirt Wizards on smaller Piolets

by Scott

Having had emails about the largest tire size that will fit in the 29'r models of the Piolet, time came that we did the research into large tires on the extra small and small sizes. Since I have a small, I brought it in to be the test mule for this investigation.

For my off road riding, I have been using the Maxxis Ardent 26 x 2.4 tires. For the riding I do, mostly single track with a decent amount of roots and rocks but no huge drops or such, they work great. I keep the pressure low, so a ton of traction is the result. Mounted on a 26" Escapade rim (28 mm outside width) they measure out at 2.3" (58 mm) when inflated to 25 PSI at 82 ft above sea level.

Finding a tire that falls between 2.4" and 3" isn't easy, but we managed to snag a Surly Dirt Wizard for the experiment. We knew the 3" would not fit, but the 2.75 held out hope. It is labeled as a 26 x 2.75 " tire; when mounted to the Escapade rim, it came out to 2.63" (67 mm) when inflated to 25 PSI at 82 ft above sea level. So it's not a lot bigger than the Maxxis tire but enough so to be significant.
Looking at the frame, we figured it would fit. Installing it on the front of the bike, I found there was lots of room at the sides of the fork and around the fork crown. Success!!  I took it out for a quick spin around the parking lot and it felt fine. Now on to the rear.
Looking at the rear, Igor and I figured that the frame would fit it, but my triple would not. And we were proved right. The wheel and tire fit fine, but I could not shift down into my inner ring, as the inside of the front derailleur touches the tire. So it won't work with my current set up; but if I went to a different set up, a 1x or a wide double, I could make it work.

I'm not ready yet to ditch the triple, so in the meantime, I'll go back to the Maxxis tires for my off road usage, but this remains an interesting tire to try should the need for a really wide tire come up.

03 March, 2016

Cool and Weird Bikes from NAHBS

by Igor

First, big thank you to Joshua of Frances Cycles. He was kind enough to let us borrow a beautiful sportif-style frameset for the weekend. Here it is, all outfitted in VO components and accessories. In addition, his cargo bikes are extremely well thought out and can handle anything you throw at them.

A photo posted by Joshua Muir (@francescycles) on

We had a great time at the show. We spoke to lots and lots of friendly people from all over the world who came to enjoy the craft and scene. This show is different from some other industry shows in that builders bring out their big guns and construct frames and bikes that exemplify not only their style but also their capabilities. 

Rob English puts out some stellar bikes that would not look out of place in an art gallery, but they are machines designed to get the snot ridden out of them. This stainless steel road bike with super lightweight components has every inch considered for weight savings and performance. This bike weighs something like 9.5 lbs (4.3kg) complete, which, if you haven't held a bike this light before, is an odd sensation. It almost feels like it could float away if you're not keeping an eye on it.
Chris Dekerf put together a fully titanium time trial bike with a custom titanium fork. Every tube is formed for aerodynamics and stiffness. The fork is custom to the bike and has formed tubes as well.

Calfee put together an alternative build for their Dragonfly model. 650b wheels, nicely mounted fenders, integrated front rack, and integrated seatpost-mounted bottle cages make it a lightweight randonneur. The contrast between the green lugs and matte tubes is very striking up close.
Wheel Fanatyk not only had super cool splined alloy nipples, but they were also showing off a clever sorter for quick nipple access while you're building wheels.

Bohemian Bicyles is a steel and carbon frame building school that puts out some really nice work. They had a few very nicely filed S&S couplers on display which will get brazed into a tube for a travel bike.
The Horton Collection has fantastic racing photographs from old magazines and newspapers. Every original is unique with markings on the back for placement in the page layout from editors and photographers. I have a few lovely mounted ones at my house, which I picked up at Cirque a number of years ago.
Abbey has amazing tools for the serious mechanic and enthusiast. Titanium, carbon, and wood are all used in the construction.

Sims Works from Japan were showing off a new touring frameset based around the 650b platform. The fork had a clever way to mount super wide fenders. They also released some cool mixed terrain tires inspired by those no longer produced.
Razik makes ridiculously cool frames that look fragile but can, in fact, take a serious beating. I have no idea how such a unique carbon weave rides, but they are definitely a head turner.
Steve Rex, a long time Sacramento frame builder, does beautiful work. Here is a road bike with a very unique striped pink and red paint job.

If you had a chance to go to NAHBS, what stood out to you?