27 January, 2020

Are E-Bikes the Apple Watch of Bikes?

by Scott

Wolfgang's Pol-e-valent with a Velogical e-bike kit

Loyal readers of this blog may recall my comparison a few years back between watches and bicycles. I was thinking back to this comparison this week when I was listening to a podcast discussing the most influential watches of the past decade - watches that came out in the past ten years and the impact on the market and in some cases on wider culture and such. One of the watches mentioned was the Apple watch. When one looks at the sales numbers for these watches, an estimated 23 million of them were shipped out in 2018, you can see why it is on a list of the decade's most influential watches.

For the first 15 years of this century, watch companies had bemoaned a drop in sales. Many felt this was due to younger generations forsaking watches for smartphones. Why have something on your wrist to tell time, if you have this telephone/computer/camera timepiece to tell you what time it is and if you are late for an important meeting? With the rise of smart watches in general (I type this with a Garmin fitness watch on my wrist), and the Apple watch in particular, the trend of wearing a watch has come back.

So what does this have to do with bikes you ask? Well, I see an analogy to bicycles. Currently, one of the only areas in the overall bike business that shows significant growth is e-bikes. When we go to industry trade shows, the vast number of booths show either e-bikes or parts for e-bikes. Most of these products do not have much to do with us, but sometimes parts can have a cross over aspect to them. Our Happy Stem is one product that was designed and tested for e-bikes, but you wouldn't know it by looking at it.

 Electric road bike, e-bike

The bigger question I see is will the e-bike bring people back to cycling? Will e-bikes open up opportunities for people to ride more/longer than a standard non e-bike? With companies like GM and Harley Davidson looking into e-bikes, will the situation in 10 years be where e-bikes become the standard bike being sold, and non e-bikes are for the enthusiast only? I don't have a crystal ball (believe me if I did, I'd be sitting on a nice warm island having picked out the 6/49 lotto numbers) so I have no idea how this will go, but it sure will be interesting to see what happens. Where do you see e-bikes in the market - on the rise or on the fringe? Let us know in the comments.

20 January, 2020

Neutrino Pre-Order is Live!

We're receiving our next production run of Neutrino mini-velos around mid-February. As they tend to get claimed fast, we thought now would be a good time to open up the pre-order for Neutrino framesets and completes! We're also happy to do custom builds if you want something different than the stock complete build.

All the specifications have remained the same, but we have introduced a new size, XX-Large. This frame size is good for tall folks up to 6'4". Note that due to the increased frame size, though, it does not technically fit within the 62 linear inches the airlines require for a standard checked bag. But! Some airlines have reduced or eliminated the bicycle oversize charges, so check with your airline regarding baggage fees prior to booking.

If this is the first time you're hearing about this wonderfully fun and versatile offering, here are the details:

Whether you're a frequent traveler, apartment dweller, multi-modal commuter, or just enjoy a fun N+1 bike, the Neutrino Mini-Velo will fit perfectly into your heart.

For city and apartment dwellers, you'll get great acceleration for stoplight racing as the wheels spin up quite fast. When you've reached your destination, getting the bike into the building, walking up stairs, and parking it in your apartment is so much easier because the physical length of the bike is greatly reduced. You can much more nimbly negotiate stairwells and since it's warm and cozy inside, you don't have to worry about it getting ripped off overnight.

For multi-modal traveling, it's easier to take the bike in a train car without taking up a ton of room and attracting disdainful looks from fellow commuters. Oh and Rinko. Forget cutting fenders, removing handlebars, and wheels. Just loosen the stem, turn the handlebars 90 degrees, and put the whole thing into a Rinko bag!

Traveling with the Neutrino is also a breeze. Since we often travel to our cycling starting point by airplane, train, car, or bus, overage fees for checked bags, storage, and transportation add up quickly and are a real drag. To take full advantage of the traveling abilities of the Neutrino, the bike can be disassembled and inserted into the cardboard box that it comes with - so tell your shop to hang on to it! We're working on a bag and video on how to pack the bike up.

Simply put, the Neutrino is a blast to ride around. It'll put a smile on your face every time you throw your leg over.

For additional details about fit, geometry, and travel, check out Clint's Neutrino Build and Travel Tips! We also have some bike build ideas for the Neutrino to get your creativity flowing.

Here are all the details about the frameset:
  • 4130 double butted chromoly frame and fork that accepts fenders and rack.
  • Unicrown fork with accommodations for FendersRandonneur Rack, and even a Mojave Cage or a bikepacking-style cage.
  • Seattube, downtube, and under-downtube bottle cage mounts.
  • 406 Bead Seat Diameter wheel size. That's BMX, so high-quality rims and tires are cheap, plentiful, and strong.
  • Clearance for 2.3" tires WITH fenders. Holy cow!
  • Sliding, 135mm QR dropouts for geared, single speed, or internally geared hubs.
  • Disc brake mounts (POST rear, IS front). We suggest 160mm rotors. 
  • Full length, external cable routing.
  • 1 1/8" threadless steerer.
  • 31.6mm seatpost, compatible with external droppers.
  • Paint is Cool Gray with Galactic Glitter.

10 January, 2020

Jay's All Terrain Piolet in Classic Blue

by Igor

Jay wanted to build his Piolet to handle both the rigors of riding the C&O Canal as well as taking care of daily errands around town. He wanted the bike to float over gravel, have fenders to keep him and his drivetrain clean, and have a Randonneur Bag fitted for quick access. Introducing Jay's All Terrain Piolet!

This frameset started life out as a Gen 2 Piolet prototype painted in the Desert Stan color. He loved the frame but didn't love the color, so he got it powder coated the 2020 Pantone color of the year: Classic Blue. The contrast with the Rust Randonneur Bag and the mix of silver and black components really makes this a stand-out ride.

The build is very similar to our standard complete (SLX 1x11 drivetrain, Deore Hydro Brakes) with a few notable exceptions. He selected our Granola Bars for a better view over traffic in the city, as well as a more upright position for rail-trail riding.

This neat seatpost is a Cane Creek Thudbuster. It features an elastomer which smooths out all the small bumps and gravel chatter that you'll experience on a somewhat maintained rail-trail. I built a few bikes back in the day with these, mostly for stokers on tandems. The elastomer can be replaced and dialed in to the rider's weight, position, and style which makes it a really flexible platform for all sorts of riding. I really wish they made it in silver, but c'est la vie.

The Schwalbe Thunder Burts in 29x2.1 are a favorite of mine for packed earth and general mixed terrain riding. The smaller knobs don't buzz on asphalt, but hook up really nicely on washed out gravel. They're also lightweight and tubeless, so they won't hold Jay back at all.

The 700c 63mm Fluted Fenders wrap around the wheels nicely. Plenty of room for mud clearance and plenty of coverage to keep everything clean and tidy.

The Randonneur Rack with Integrated Decaleur is mounted directly to the front fender and is rock solid.

Most of the Piolet builds we do are on the more off-road, singletrack end of the spectrum, so it was nice to build one up with more utility for everyday use but also capable enough for a weekend tour. Happy Riding, Jay!

Check out the complete build list here: https://velo-orange.com/pages/copy-of-piolet-build-list-jays-classic-blue-all-terrain-rider

07 January, 2020

Holy Bells!!

By Scott

I'm a bit young, not by much, but still a bit young, to remember the whole drillium craze of the 70's. Losing weight was the be all, end all of that time frame. People would drill out their chain rings, derailleurs, brake levers, etc. It's where we got the inspiration for the drillium cranks. It was 100% a racing thing. Touring cyclists never jumped on this trend, but lately I've seen a couple pictures of folks drilling out our bells! I wondered, hmmm, how tough is this and does it change anything as to the actual usage of the bell? I mean, it's all good and well to drill the bell out for the looks, but if the tone goes off, it isn't worth it as I do need the bell to be useful/effective in its job.

For reference, the weight of the bell prior to the holes being drilled (with the clamp) is 57 gr.

Some lessons I learned while drilling out a brass bell:

1- Mount the bell in a vise. Trying to drill the bell while holding it in your hand will not end well.

2- Marking where you want to put the holes is ideal. I eyeballed it in terms of hole pattern, so a couple are a bit off the others. I used a sharpie to mark where I wanted to drill the holes. If I wanted to be more precise, using a paper template of where to put the holes would be helpful.

3- Start small. Use a small (sharp) drill bit to start with. The domed/curved nature of the bell means the drill bit can skid about if it is not at a 90 deg angle to the surface. A good sharp bit can dig into the brass a lot easier then a dull one. Use the small hole as a pilot hole to go a size or two up, depending on what sort of look you are going for. As with anything involving drilling- make sure you have proper eye protection.

4- Fine sandpaper is your friend. You can use it to get into the inside of the holes to smooth them out. Small round files also help to clean out the inside of the bell and can help channel your inner Peter Weigle.

Ideally, I'd use a drill press for this, but I had a portable drill and it worked fine. I think a sharp bit is one of the keys to drilling the hole.

So in the end, I drilled it out and...how does it sound? The tone is a bit lower then the non drilled original. Our resident musicologist Kevin stated that, "because there is less metal, there is less to vibrate and therefore it has a lower tone." Weight saved (3 gr with the holes I drilled out), cool factor increased, and it still works as a bell. A win/win/win all around.