31 October, 2017

Philly Bike Expo 2017

By Scott

The Philly Bike Expo is coming up quickly. It's the weekend of Nov 4/5th and you can find all the details about entry costs and hours of operation on their website.

We'll be there again this year. Our booth # is 1049 and 1050. We'll have prototypes of the 2018 Piolets and Polyvalents as well as samples of some new handlebars, bags, and examples of our Cigne and Removable Faceplate Quill Stems that folks can look at up close.

We always have a great time at the Philly show. The show itself has a great variety of exhibitors and thus gets a wide variety of attendees. There's usually a number of small frame builders at the show and it's always interesting to see the bikes that they put together for the show.

See you in Philly this weekend!

27 October, 2017

Piolet Prototype Updates

by Clint

We just received our final round of prototypes for the Piolet mkII and they look great! We made them 69% shreddier without taking away any of their original touring capability.  As of now, they're set to be released in the Spring along with the new Polyvalents.

Geometry updates! We've slackened and stretched a few tubes to tweak handling and dial in fit. Flat bar builds have been pretty popular for this frame so we've adjusted accordingly. Top tubes are slightly longer and slightly steeper. This lets you size up if you want to run flat bars, without running into standover issues. Other than that, chainstays are a little longer on the smaller models, and headtubes are half a degree slacker on the larger models (putting it more in the realm of XC headtube angles vs touring headtube angles). All of these updates have felt great on our test rides!

Aesthetic updates! Right off the bat, you'll notice we're switching colors. More discussion on that to follow. If you look closely, we've swapped out the rear dropouts for the hooded model we use on several of our other frames. It's a nice consistent look across our lineup and all use the same durable, replaceable stainless steel derailleur hanger.

Hooded rears.
Other than that, there are a few small changes to the fork. The most noticeable is the new larger segment plug.  It lines up nicely with the headtube and makes it easier to mount a rack.
Stout, Angular.
Now for the controversial color options. We're split between Desert Stan and Poppin' Purple.  Desert Stan is nice. Somewhere between sand and tan. Seems to be trendy now. Pairs well with black or silver. It's a pretty neutral color so makes your anodized bits really pop. I dig it!

Desert Stan

Basket compatible
Poppin' Purple is fairly tame as far as purples go. It's quite nice. If you want to spice it up, it's dark enough that bright colors look nice against it without being too crazy, and if you want a more tame touring build, the usual black and silver also look fantastic!  I think this frame color looks amazing with gumwall tires.
Not too bright Purple

But it pops when light hits it!

We also just got in these VeloORANGE water bottles. They're a nice alternative to metal bottles for offroad ventures and they hold water really well. Find them here!

Hydration Station!

26 October, 2017

Does Weight Matter?

By Scott

With the arrival of the second round of Polyvalent prototypes, one thing we did was weigh each frame as well as the matching fork with it. It's one of those times where you have the frame without anything on it other then the bottle cage bolts that it comes with. It got me thinking about weight and a cyclist's relationship with weight. We are, as the MTB crowd would say, a gravity sport. The effect of gravity is directly related to riding. Ride up a hill and you'd swear that you were in a high gravity zone. Go down a hill and you'd wish that you'd filled up your water bottle to help speed you down the hill.

So does weight matter? And further to that, is it frame weight/wheel weight or the total package (the bike and the rider) that makes the difference?

A sharper fork, that's for sure

Now, I'm not going to insult all of you left reading this with a technical discussion of me going up hills attached to various meters/monitors and displays. I've given up on the cycle computer, and the last statistics course I took was in the 80's, so I'm not going to stifle the situation with numbers that can prove anything they want and often (shockingly) do. What I'm speaking of is more of a feeling/perception.

no more Paris-Brest's for Scott :(

I bring this up as over the past 6 months, I've lost 21 lbs. A change of diet and more exercise has led to this loss. In rides over the past month with my wife, who has also lost a significant amount of weight, we both found that going up the rolling hills of MD has gotten easier. Now losing this sort of weight means that my overall weight going up the hill is much less. The bikes we ride have not changed at all in terms of weight - same tires/wheels etc on them - but they feel easier to go up the hill.

So this all leads to my feeling that the frame and fork alone is only a small part of the overall perception of weight/speed/feel. If I weigh 181 lbs and my bike weighs 31 lbs, my frame is only 14% of the total weight of 212 lbs (I promise this is the only math in this blog post). If I drop 6 lbs off the bike, quite a big feat I'd say, the frame percentage only moves to being 12% of the total weight of 206 lbs. Dropping 21 lbs off my body results in a much larger % change in total weight and thus the greater difference I feel on the bike. Perhaps once my weight is between 165-170 lbs, frame weight will make the bigger difference.

Would you ask how much the frame weighs when talking to a custom builder?

How much emphasis does frame weight make to you? Is it a starting point when looking at a frame or is it just something you note along with the chain stay length and the BB drop when looking at a frame or bike on line?

23 October, 2017

Polyvalent Updates and Builds for Philly Bike Expo

by Igor

Since we last posted about the Polyvalent, there have been a few tweaks to the frame and fork toolings - all of which allows for better geometry, handling, and clearances. Going forward, the hardest part is choosing the frame color.

The rear chainstays now have elegant S-bends to engulf big rubber and fenders. The dimpling allows the use of low-Q cranks like our 50.4 (149mm of tread) without the need for bottom bracket spacers. Though the frame is designed around a 650b tire, it clears a 26 x 2.3" tire with ease. 26 x 2.25 knobbies are no problem for those wanting to go the route untraveled.

Previous models had a 31.8mm top tube to provide extra support and stiffness for loads which made the ride a wee bit harsh. For this iteration, we've ovalized the top tube for stiffness and compliance in all the right places. Additionally, shouldering the bike up stairs or over obstacles is not uncomfortable. I don't bring a clipboard and stopwatch with me on rides but the ol' butt-dyno says it climbs nicely with a load in the front or rear, and equally well unburdened.

The fork is a completely custom, segmented design that allows us to create the ride characteristics we want without sacrificing the strength or durability the inclusion of disc brakes requires. The result is a comfortable ride, utility in droves, and an exceptional presentation from all angles.

The blades have a circular profile and are double-butted. There are triple braze-ons with diamond reinforcements with the lowest one doubling as a low-rider rack mount. There is also a forward facing hourglass eyelet to which the Randonneur or Campeur Racks mount. The dropouts have a single brazed-on eyelet underneath for fender mounting and an hourglass eyelet on top for a rack.

I can't think of a better way to blend traditional and contemporary design and styling than this 51cm Randonneur.

The paintjob has a light, red metallic flake clearcoat over a white pearlescent paint. From afar, the bike looks white, but upon close inspection the mingling of pearl and red flakes makes a lustrous depth to the paint.

I really like the design of these new decals. They have an outline of VeloORANGE, rather than our regular filled-in variant, so the paint shows through. What do you think?

We have also been teasing a drop handlebar with moderate flair, an ovalized top section, slight backsweep, and 31.8mm clamp diameter we're calling the Nouveau Rando Handlebar. It has instantly become a favorite of mine and will go into production soon.

This 54cm Polyvalent in Porteur mode has a Deep Metallic Emerald Green paintjob. It does a fantastic job of making all of the braze-ons and details pop while still keeping composure.

I really like the component combination on this one - Suntour Sprint rear derailleur, FSA circa 2007 front derailleur, Drillium Crankset, and Falcon Thumbies to make it all work.

This bike is also sporting a proto handlebar: the Curvy One Bar. It's a handlebar which looks right on just about any build. It's​ great for city and touring bikes, and it's mountain rated for offroad roughing.

We'll also have a Curvy Too bar that has a bit of rise and backsweep for a more upright position.

Both of these bikes will be on display at the upcoming Philly Bike Expo, so be sure to mark your calendars.


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13 October, 2017

Wheels, Rustines, and Bullmoose Restock

By Scott

We just got in some grippy bits, some rolly hoozits, and some fancy bars - Rustines, complete wheels, and Fairweather Bullmoose bars. The last couple of days has seen a variety of product land here at VO HQ, and we love it.

We got a resupply of wheels on Wednesday - more fixed wheel sets, 126 mm rear wheels, and Diagonale 700C wheels are back in stock.

Supplementary inventory of Rustines product arrived Thursday. The perennially popular Campy Gum Hoods are back in stock. We've been told by many customers that the Campy Hoods also work well for Modolo levers.

Derek checking Rustines 
An addition to their line up this month is constructeur bar plugs in yellow.                                              
Finally, the long awaited return of Fairweather Bullmoose bars, both Silver and Black, rounded out a busy week for our receiving department.

We also got a sample of a Rustines "FUBAR" Cap. We think the black is pretty sharp, what do you think?

11 October, 2017

French Fender Day

by Igor

This past weekend, Adrian and I traveled up to Connecticut to check out one of our favorite events of the year: French Fender Day. It's an intimate event full of passionate cyclists, collectors, great potluck food, New England Autumn rides, and lots of beautiful bikes.

Each bike on display had to be in the traditional French style - randonneuse, porteur, city bike, etc... Some of these bikes were collection pieces to be preserved, but most were daily riders and tourers, just as these bikes were intended to be from their construction.

Rob traveled all the way from The Netherlands with his Alcyon tourer.

Peter's work is always a joy to behold in person. Exceptional lines and perfect integration. 


Even though it isn't French, this Raleigh was a favorite of mine. It's a bike that doesn't ask anything of you other than to be ridden. Peter commented that the Rustines grips on the drops are "like 650b for your hands!" It was spritely!

This Dujardine was just a lovely randonneuse.

Only his second frame, this Shu-Sin touring bike shows tremendous patience and clean craftmanship. It features lots of rinko accessories including custom racks.

RenĂ© Herse Demountable Porteur with a proper leather chaincase.

Just before lunch, rides were had through New England's back roads. The changing of leaves and good company made for a wonderful time.

Adrian and the Nutmeg gang
A wild sorcerer appears!
VO fenders were fitted on a multitude of bikes. Many of them sported customizations including shaping of the fender ends, custom hardware, and dynamo lighting integration.

What kind of Francophile gathering would it be without cheese?

When one fender mount isn't enough.

Large format - What better way to capture such a classy day?

This was a pretty clever use of a fender stay as a bag support. I think I may try something like this on my Polyvalent to support a dry bag.

Always in the big ring
Wayne's hot pink Weigle was clearly the fastest of the bunch.

Loved this randonneur by Mitch Pryor. Super clean bi-lam construction and lovely box-lining.

As the day wound down, we were greeted with a magical golden hour. This Rene Herse tandem was beautifully bathed in the natural colors of New England.

You can see the rest of the album at full resolution here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/eccentricvelo/albums/72157686050295982