01 April, 2020

VO Tips for Adding Flair to your Pain Cave

By Jacques



In these challenging times, we have to remember to look after ourselves in both a physical and emotional way. For a lot of riders, being restricted in our outdoor movements has lead to a rise in both baking bread and working out indoors - and we suggest combining the two. Cue the pain cave.


Here at VO, we understand that many are working to improve their half baked indoor situations - we've sold a bread truck's worth of posters recently as proof of this. May we (mais oui) offer some suggestions, à la carte, that you can use as a starter for your best indoor cycling life and help avoid a doughy body that can result from a lack of movement and excess butter.

First key is hydration. Even with using a fan, it will get warm, so you want to ensure that you have lots of liquids nearby to stave off dehydration.



Second is food. Cycling much past a half hour can leave you depleted, energy wise. So make sure to eat at regular intervals to ensure your blood sugar level does not drop too low.




Third is comfort. Make sure your position is dialed in, because you're in it for the long haul. Igor is riding a set of Left Bank Handlebars and Adrian has Nouveau Randonneur Bars.



Finally, style. Being stuck at home is no excuse not to look your best. Accessorize your outfit and your environment to your particular taste.


Remember that even in a pain cave, a fresh loaf of pain de campagne or pain boule will help to keep your spirits from getting crusty. Carbo-load with abandon. No knead to thank us for this, it's the yeast we could do in this time.

24 March, 2020

A Message from Velo Orange

Dear Velo Orange Community,

Igor and Adrian here. As the COVID-19 situation develops, we are taking additional safety measures and precautions to protect the wellbeing of our employees, customers, friends, and families. As such, we are temporarily closing the showroom effective today, March 24th. Please do not try to pick up your order here. Even if you're local, we will be shipping all orders. If you're picking up a bike, we can arrange for a social distanced delivery. For customer service questions, please email info@velo-orange.com if you're able to, rather than call - this would be our preferred method of communication. While we do not foresee any delays in shipping or customer service, please bear with us as events develop.


We encourage everyone to take proper precautions to safeguard the health of themselves and others. Please follow the guidelines put forth by the CDC as well as those by your local government and municipalities. Practice proper social distancing, wash your hands, avoid sick people, and self-isolate especially if you think you have been exposed to the virus.

As a community we can flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases and come out stronger on the other side.

Thank you as always for your continued support, positivity, and loyalty. We appreciate each and every order that has come through during our virtual garage sale and 20% off promo, and are grateful for the adaptability of our amazing customers during these changing times. We're a small business and rely on the support of people like you - thank you. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out.

Igor Shteynbuk and Adrian Nelson,
Owners of Velo Orange

19 March, 2020

Headset Spacers - Cycling's Equivalent to a Belt?

By Scott

In a post a while back about the little details, I outlined some things about our bikes/frames that can get glossed over by the first look, but most certainly deserve a second or even third glance/inspection to understand the level of work that goes into them. Belts are similar in the clothing world, that they are useful, can add an interesting accent to your outfit, but are often over looked. I think headset spacers fall into a similar category in the cycling world of being an overlooked, but essential way to achieve a cohesive aesthetic.


My interest in spacers can be a little awkward when I talk to other cyclists. When I ask, "what's your favorite headset spacer?" most people slowly back away while trying to maintain eye contact with me. (odd, huh?)


With some of our new frames, headset spacers have become a more interesting aspect to the bike. With the Neutrino frame as a prime example, the long steerer tube can result in a greater than normal spacer stack. Due to this, we now have 1 1/8" 20 mm thick alloy spacers (black and silver thank you). The 20 mm thickness/height helps out on builds like this. Having 4 x 5mm thick spacers does the same job, but the bumps between spacers can be a bit jarring from a cosmetic standpoint.


Now if you're looking for something for the classic bike in your life, the brass spacers from Blue Lug add some interesting mixes of color to the headset area and the patina that will develop from the road will bring back memories in years to come. They even have a brass top cap for your threadless headset.


Finally, coming back to VO product #1, the bell spacer - the first product offered under the Velo Orange brand back in 2006. With sizes available to fit on 1" and 1 1/8" headsets, it makes mounting a bell easy. But if we think a little out of the box, you can use the M5 threaded section on the mount to attach something like our Rack to Light Bracket to it as well, if you want to have a front dynamo light. (Shout out to Jim S for this suggestion and photo)

Where do headset spacers fit in your world? Something to obsess over or just part of the background of cycling?

13 March, 2020

Spring Garage Sale Postponed


We have decided to postpone the Velo Orange garage sale initially scheduled for March 21st. We do this with an abundance of caution in order to prevent further spread of COVID-19. Preventative measures are made more important with news of the first identified patient in Anne Arundel County, MD, where our Annapolis headquarters is located. The impact of the virus on our staff and surrounding community has been limited, but we believe postponing the sale is the best decision, especially for folks planning to travel from out of state. We have not set a new date for the garage sale, but keep an eye on your email, the Velo Orange blog, and social networks for updates.

09 March, 2020

How to Wrap Your Crazy Bars

by Igor

The Crazy Bar has really become such a quintessential "Alt-Bar" due to their construction, shape, adaptability, and function. Adrian recently built up her Piolet (details and photos in another upcoming post) and opted to use them in leu of her go-to drop bar, the Nouveau Randonneur. She wanted a different position that would be more nimble for off-road riding namely for single and double track. So while we were getting everything buttoned up and going back and forth about the pros and cons of different wraps/grips, I thought it would be a good idea to do a how-to as well as some of the ones we've done!

If this is your first time reading about the Crazy Bars, here is a primer:
These bars are intended for touring on paved and unpaved roads, single and double track, gravel and crushed limestone, and everything in between. The main, swept back section provides good control on rough and tumble surfaces, while the the bullhorn section offers a streamlined position for smoother roads and headwinds. The center portion replicates the top of a drop bar, and placing your hands at the junctions is not unlike riding on the hoods. The grip area is 22.2 for mtb and city components and the horns are 23.8 and accept bar-end shifters.
Here is how you can do my preferred arrangement: a seamless wrap that begins at the horns and ends at the stem, covering the extensions and tops. I then use our Black Cork Grips on the swept back portions. Just like there are different drop bar wrapping techniques, this is one.

Start wrapping from the horns just like you would on the drops. When you get to the junction, wrap under and around to the back of the bar.


 One more wrap back over.


And then continue wrapping the flat portion of the bars. Finish wrapping the bars as you would a drop bar by the stem.


Here's the final result!




In the over 6 years we've carried the Crazy Bars, we've seen all manner of builds with the Crazy Bars being a focal point. Here's a gallery of some other notable wrap jobs, each with their own flair.

Here's a set I saw in France while at a rest stop during the last year's Anjou Velo Vintage ride!


Here's a simple horn wrap if you don't plan on using the tops, or want to keep them clean for accessories.


When we first started testing the Camargue and Crazy Bars, Scott was using bar-end shifters. He had them arranged upside-down to what you would expect as a bar-end on drop bars, but you got used to it really quickly.


Love the super contrasty tape and natural wrap on the tops. Plus the picture is great.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5VXV3ihShs/
No picture of the wrap job, but Pierre's Space Horse with Crazy Bars is super!


You can also use long track grips on the horns! Note the Mini-Rando Bag strapped to the horns for off-road stability.


Bar wrap is cheap and easy, so try some different colors to find your Crazy Bar style.

05 March, 2020

Touring Tips from VO Brain Trust

by The VO Brain Trust

So, spring is here (or at least you have an idea that it going to show up someday) and you're itching to get out for a little tour. Nothing huge, maybe no Trans Am for you this year, but a nice tour of an area that you have eyed for a while. All of us at VO have done some touring over the years and we wanted to help with the prep for your trip by offering some tips/advice to make it more enjoyable.

Planning



Start your route planning with either a big paper map or looking at the biggest space on google maps. Figure out where you'd like to go - are there hot springs or some sort of natural sights you want to see? Mark them all on the map and then you can use Google maps to link them using the bicycling route mode. It's really handy as you can break it down by the distance you want to cover per day, and it gives you a rough elevation profile, so you can see how hilly it is. The other aspect to this is to have a Plan B. This can mean a different way to get from A to B, even using public transit to get around. Unless your time is unlimited, and, depending on tour length, you might want to build in a one to three day buffer. You might need some extra rest, have a major mechanical, sustain an injury, or simply come across a cool town or park you'd like more time to explore.


Weight
When measured at the Adventure Cycling offices in Missoula, Montana, my fully loaded bike for a cross-country tour, weighed in at about 85 pounds. I'm also the guy who brought a banjo.
I don't want to belittle any of the so-called "weight weenies" out there, but, in my opinion, touring is not the time to worry about every little added ounce. Trust me, two or three pounds is not going to matter much when you are chugging your way along the trail. I would much rather have a jug of water strapped on my rack than insignificant weight savings. Weight doesn't matter if you can't hydrate! Bring the essentials but remember: you will likely find towns inhabited by other humans who share the same basic needs for food, clothing, and hygiene. This all being said, pack appropriately for the length and type of tour.

One way to get a light touring bike is to go on a "credit card" tour, dining out and staying in cozy B&Bs along the way.

Basic Fix-it Knowledge

(Can you ever have too many tubes?)
Speaking of gearing up, the classic cliche applies: expect the unexpected. More importantly, be prepared. It's best to have some basic mechanical knowledge of the workings of your bicycle. It is a good idea to take a couple basic mechanic courses at your local shop to get more familiar with your bike. Be sure to carry tools and spare parts such as: tubes, tire levers, pump (do not rely on CO2 canisters), multi-tool, chain tool + quick links, small crescent wrench, and a couple spare screws for racks/fenders.

Try before you leave


One thing that a lot of folks forget to do is test everything before they leave. If possible, put all your bags and such on the bike, make sure everything fits and is balanced well, and then take it for a ride. An overnight is best, but it doesn't have to be a huge ride either if time is short. But is it very important to go out for a couple hours over similar terrain to where you'll be riding to assess your equipment and gear. Do the bags need to be tightened up? Is my heel clipping the bag? Does a strap need to be cut down? If you're using a tent, put it together and break it down so you know how it all fits together and packs. We have put many a tent together with fading or no light, so practice. Little things like that will save time and frustration and allow you to better understand how your bike feels with weight on it.

Clothing Options

Think about the clothes that you need and if anything can be multi purpose. I have a couple synthetic and mixed textile shirts from Eddie Bauer that are super comfortable on the bike and are great for hopping off the bike and into a restaurant or museum - i.e. blending in. They're also long sleeve, so I can roll them up and down depending on the temperature. Having multi-purpose clothes means you can pack fewer articles which reduces bulk and weight and generally keeps your clothing kit simpler which is always good.

Learn Some Words


There's a big difference between "trinkwasser" and "kein trinkwasser". One will hydrate you, the other may give you diarrhea. 
If you're going to a country where English isn't their first language, learn a few basic words such as hello, goodbye, please, thank you, bathroom, food. Knowing the absolute basics when entering a store or asking someone for help, at least attempting the local language, puts everyone significantly more at ease. It has happened to me many times where if I am having trouble communicating with one person, they will grab someone else and a team effort begins. People are generally very good. In an pinch, charades is pretty universal - you know, rubbing your tummy for food, holding your nether regions and jumping around for bathroom, and folded hands against your head for sleep.

Always Read the Plaque



The mantra “always read the plaque” comes from Roman Mars and the 99% Invisible podcast crew. Keep that in mind as you go from place to place. If you see a plaque, stop and learn something about the history of the landmarks and towns you pass. It’s a great opportunity to soak in the scenery (and take a break from pedaling).

Rely on the Kindness of Strangers

The nomadic nature of your fully loaded bike will undoubtedly draw the attention of others. Embrace the strangers with their questions and offers of hospitality. You never know when you might get a invitation to a meal, an amazing story, or a bag of fresh apples. Locals are a great resource.

Cheap Lodging



Do some research or ask around. Camping is typically the preferred option of bike tourists -- and can be as cheap as free -- but on well-traveled bicycle routes you will often find no shortage of churches, hostels, and even homes welcoming cyclists to stay the night. Shout out to WarmShowers too.

Enjoy the Ride!

Every day on the road will not always be your best day. Touring presents many challenges that cannot be anticipated or covered in one blog post. But there is a reason you decided to go on a bicycle tour, whether it's to challenge yourself, enjoy the scenery, or travel somewhere new. So hang on for the ride and enjoy it while you can.

I'll let Ernest Hemingway close things out:
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.

18 February, 2020

A Future-Proof Polyvalent Touring Bike with Downtube Shifters

by Igor

This Polyvalent build was a lot of fun. I think this is the quintessential touring bike that straddles old and new, practical and elegant, modern and timeless. There isn't anything particularly special about it, but that's the beauty of this composition. It just works and will be dependable for years and years to come.


Let's begin at the drivetrain and gears. Touring bikes should be geared properly because you're either going to be doing a lot of walking or a lot of coasting. Basically, your setup should be wide enough that you can climb most any hill, but also tall enough that you aren't really running out of gear. So while 1x drivetrains definitely have their place in the bikepacking and mountain biking world, I think in traditional touring and Sport Touring, the 2x compact/subcompact really is king.


Most recently, I've been working on builds that are fairly complicated. Well, not as complex as triathlon and full suspension bikes, but still they feature hydraulic brakes, integrated shifters, cables and hoses running every which way. Narrower 11 and 12 speed cassette spacing means your cable tension, derailleur hanger, and limit screws must be perfect, and your front derailleur needs to be perfectly aligned, so your shifting is perfect. The Microshift 9 speed Advent Rear Derailleur is a breath of fresh air. It's easy to set up and the clutch is really a bonus to navigate the rough stuff.


The front derailleur doesn't have the most elegant cable routing but it is very functional and it shifts well. Additionally, the curvature of the cage is the perfect match for our 50.4 46/30t Crankset, so it really looks buttoned up.


11sp Dia-Compe Downtube Shifters pull the derailleurs around. Shifting is clean and easy. I had almost forgotten how much I like good downtube shifter setups. While I could have gone for the regular (non 11sp) version, I may go to 11sp or 10sp Shimano in the future. Interestingly enough, if you want to talk future-proofing, these downtube shifters are gold. They work with every 10 and 11sp rear derailleur.


The cockpit is our Nouveau Randonneur Bars and the brake levers are an aero offering from Shimano. I have always been a fan of these. The profile is slender, medium amount of hood length, great lever throw, and they do not overwhelm the appearance of the front end of the bike.

The tape is a sample. It has a nice texture and thickness, but I'm a bit skeptical of its longevity. We have two other samples we're currently testing that we really, really like. Stay tuned.



A Removable Faceplate Quill Stem secures the handlebars to the threaded fork.


Braking is handled by my favorite mechanical brakes, the TRP Spyres. They are super easy to set up and braking power is great once the pads are bedded in.


Clean, internal routing for the rear brake.


The Polyvalent prefers a front-bias, so a Campeur Front Rack handles the load of both a Randonneur Handlebar Bag and panniers. Be sure to check out this blog post I wrote a while ago about Front Loading Basics if you're front-load curious.

The front fender is mounted directly to the underside of the front rack so that the fender is secure over washboard trails.


The wheelset is our 26" Voyager Rims laced to our Disc Touring Hubs. They're all wrapped up in Rene Herse Rat Trap Pass 26x2.3" Tires. While the tires are exceptionally smooth over gravel and are lightweight, we find they need to be set up tubeless for durability. 

When setting them up with Orange Seal (our preferred sealant) you'll likely need to use a lot more sealant than you think since the sidewalls will both weep and absorb a lot of sealant. I think I ended up using about 7 oz of sealant per tire to have a reserve of sealant inside. As a reference, a 26" mtb tire needs about 3oz. The cost of suppleness.


The Day Tripper Saddle Bag houses all of my tools, tube, and repair bits and bobs I may need out on the trail. By the way, the next round of Day Trippers will have new YKK buckles (not pictured) that will be easier to open and close when using bulky gloves.


And the Randonneur Handlebar Bag is convenient for quick access to my camera, snacks, extra layers, and the like.


Lastly, the fenders are our 650b Smooth in Polished Silver which also have a great radius for these tires.



Can't wait to take this thing out on some Sporty Tours this season! You can find the full and complete build list here, and if you're interested in having us build up something similar, check out our Bike Build Ideas and give us a shout!