29 November, 2016

Bottle Cages, Caliper Brakes, and Soap

by Igor

We're back into the swing of autumn and have restocked a few items:
In addition to the restock, we brought in a 300g, hard-milled soap made by Savon de Marseille in France. The presentation and aroma is terrific and they would make a lovely gift.
Yes, that's a unicorn on the box, and yes it is imprinted onto the soap.

23 November, 2016

Thanksgiving Break

By Scott

Time sure flies. One minute it was late August and the weather was hot and steamy and now all of the sudden, winter has arrived in one way or another around the US (apologies to readers in the Southern Hemisphere where spring should now be in full bloom).

I just wanted to let folks know that we will be closed on Thursday November 24th and Friday November 25th for our annual Thanksgiving break. A bit of rain is expected here in the mid Atlantic on Thursday, but otherwise the weekend looks great for getting out and about.
We'll be back in the office on Monday the 28th at 9 am to answer questions via phone and email.
If you are stuck inside over the weekend, check out this great Piolet test ride video from the folks at Adventure Cycling that shows the bike off very well we think. Guitar Ted posted a great review of our Cigne stem here.

We'd like to our thank all our customers for your business this year and hope that all of you have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving.

17 November, 2016

It's Beaujolais Nouveau Day

By Chris

As I've done in the past few years, I wanted to remind everyone that  Beaujolais Nouveau is released today. And as is tradition at Velo Orange, we are enjoying a glass or two at work (it enhances creativity). It's not that we're wine snobs, quite the opposite. Most of us drink craft beers and an occasional whisky. This wine is only a few weeks old and it is not a "fine wine." It is an inexpensive and quaffable wine, a fun drink that can be enjoyed by anyone to celebrate the harvest. It's meant to be consumed in copious quantities in the first year of its life. Its a light-bodied and fruity wine made from Gamay grapes, Cost is around $10 a bottle. Why today? French regulations prohibit Beaujolais Nouveau from being sold until the third Thursday in November. 

16 November, 2016

Choosing Colors and Other Polyvalent Stuff

By Chris

The Polyvalent is one of our oldest projects and one I'm especially proud of. The idea was to build a bike that would do, if not everything, then most things well. It's a bike that's good as a commuter, tourer, or dirt road explorer. But making a frame that's so versatile requires some tough choices.
One of the more difficult tasks at Velo Orange is choosing frame colors. We agonize over this. It usually require endless mini-meetings and, in the end, we almost never agree. I eventually have to choose and in this case the light blue won out. The photo shows the others colors we considered.

Another choice was disc brakes. It took me a long time to come around, but after riding with them on two bikes and recently riding a bike with canti-brakes again, I simply think discs are better, especially in wet conditions. Though I'll stick to cable actuation on future builds for the sake of simplicity. While it's true that we have retro-grouch tendencies here at VO, that's only because so much of the modern bike industry is based on change for the sake of change. We are absolutely willing to adopt technology that is actually an improvement, like disc brakes. Remember that the great French constructeurs often worked to improve braking. I am absolutely convinced that they would have embraced modern disc brakes as a worthwhile innovation. I would still choose rim brakes if going somewhere remote where obtaining spares would be difficult, and I wouldn't sell a good frame just to get one with discs, but if given the choice on a new bike I'll choose discs.

Another good innovation is large bottle cages like the VO Mojave and Anything Cages. So we included three bottle cage bosses on the down tube and fork.

We also decided to keep the 1" threaded fork, which everyone at VO agreed on. Let's remember that 1-1/8" threadless forks were developed to be a stronger system for mountain bikes, strength that is overkill on road, touring, city, or gravel bikes. 1-1/8 forks are a bit stiffer, but do we actually need that stiffness? We are, after all, running wide 650b tires to make the ride softer. One the other hand threaded forks make adjusting handlebar height easier and, in my estimation, look better. I look forward to building my Polyvalent up with one of our upcoming removable faceplate quill stems. Most bike manufacturers embraced threadless forks not because they are better, but because they are cheaper to produce and one size fits most. Both threaded and threadless forks are well proven on and off road. In the end choosing a frame based solely on the fork type seems, to me, a bit silly.

We also added just a tiny bit of up-slope to the top tube to get the bars a little higher, probably not enough that you'd notice at first glance. So this frame has the classic good looks of a level top tube frame, not the modern look of a sloping top tube. I know that this decision will cause those without our taste for retro frames to scratch their heads, but that's the choice we made.

We are also working on a new fork crown, but it might not be ready in time for the first production run. In that case we'll use the same fork crown that we used on the Camargue, not a bad compromise.

08 November, 2016

Polyvalent 4 Frame Preview

by Igor

The Polyvalent has been our longest running frameset, going back almost eight years. It started from humble beginnings as a cantilever-braked, low-trail city bike sporting nondescript matte-black paint with orange decals. The Mark 2 and Mark 3 versions got new paint jobs, updated tubing, better accessory mountings, and other evolutionary changes. Now it's time for version 4.

The prototype frames made it just in time for Philly Bike Expo. We had lots of great feedback from folks who saw it.

We've kept all the good stuff: double butted chromoly frame and fork construction, 1" threaded steerer, elegant fork bend, low-trail front end, 650b wheels, kickstand plate, and plenty of fender and rack mounts.

The big change is Disc brakes. The frame and fork will have IS mounts and are designed around 160mm rotors.

There will be a few other changes as well:
  • Increased tire clearances: 47mm tires with fenders. And new (57mm or so) fenders will be available.
  • Normal fit: the original Polyvalents were designed with long top tubes for upright bars, but if you wanted to use drop bars, it meant less-than-optimal fit for most riders. The new version will have a shorter top tube and the same fit as our Campeur and Pass Hunter.
  • Internal rear brake cable routing: Same setup as Pass Hunter Disc, internal tube for easy and clean routing.
  • Triple water bottle bosses on top of the down tube. Tall bottles, easier to reach bottles, big bottles.
  • Wrap-around seat stays: because they look so good and provide wider seat stay clearances.
  • Vertical dropouts with stainless hanger: Sliding, swinging, and alternating dropouts are solutions that add significant complications to construction and still only work for some applications. Use a chain tensioner if you need. 
  • Head tube re-inforcements.

You may have noticed that there's no fork. It wasn't ready in time, and we are considering using a new custom VO fork crown on this and some other future frame models.

Tubing is double butted 4130 chromoly. Downtube is 31.8. Top tube is also 31.8 for better control with loads, though we may go with an ovalized top tube depending on how testing goes and if planing is adequate.

We're really excited to have the Polyvalent back in action, and look forward to R&D rides with the VO gang!

07 November, 2016

Philly Bike Expo Roundup

by Igor

From L-R: Clint, Adrian, Igor, Scott. Photo courtesy of Rod Bruckdorfer
We wanted to give a huge thank you to everyone who came out to this past weekend's Philly Bike Expo! In addition to talking about our new products, we had a wonderful time seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

Gorgeous Randonnneur from Royal H
Front Constructeur Rack

Track bike from Stanridge Speed
Ely of RuthWorks SF makes excellent classic and modern cycling luggage
Love seeing Chris Bishop's fine lugwork and amazing builds

Wonderful wooden bikes with VO bits from Sojouner Cyclery

Great to meet Jamie Swan this year and see his work up close

Hanford Cycles of Firth and Wilson is putting out some stunning classic tourers and commuters made in Philadelphia

Ludicrous welding and painting from Ground Up Speed Shop

Concept bike by Cherubim, imported by Bronin Jitensha

This lightweight, S&S coupled tourer by Winter Bicycles was stunning

Peter Weigle came by with a terrific Rinko tourer with Zeppelin fenders and Rustines Grips mounted on the drops

Outrageous Seven with Grand Cru brakes

03 November, 2016

Come to Philly!

Please come see us, and a lot of other cool companies, at the Philly Bike Expo this weekend. The VO staff all say that this is the most fun of any bike show we've attended. Here the link for info. We'll have a prototype of the new Polyvalent frame to show you.