30 September, 2020

Building a Parts Bin Roadie

by Igor

Trek 760 with Velo Orange Components

I picked up this 1984 Trek 760 frameset more than a year back with no particular build idea in sight. It's a very cool frame and fork spec, and in my size! The frame is made from Reynolds 531c (c is for 'competition') tubing and has a 531 fork. It's very lightweight and great for a noodle-bike project.

Original listing picture

I first thought to build it up with all vintage components like Mavic hubs, Simplex shifters, and matching derailleurs. Then I thought to do a 650b conversion. But in order to get the rear tire to fit, I'd have to crimp the rear chainstays. This tubing is pretty thin, so crimping might actually crack the stays. So, that plan went out the window.

The frame sat on my shelf some more until we got final pre-production samples of the new hubs. Tommy from Cutlass Velo built up a wheelset using a 130mm Rear Cassette Hub and a Front Hub, both laced to Enterprise Rims. Now I have a rolling 700c chassis.

Now, the keenest observers might realize that this frame is spaced for 126mm, freewheel hubs. I've done a whole bunch of these 126mm -> 130mm conversions for both myself and customers back in the day. There are two options to make this conversion work: 1) you can cold set the frame to 130mm by expanding the dropouts using some 2x4s and bolts and nuts or 2) simply pull the dropouts open 4mm and shove the hub in. I chose the latter. I've done it this way for years without consequence.

Now what to do about components....

We have some pretty deep parts bins here at VO HQ. Hoarding, QC test mounting, component compatibility, frame handling with drop and flat bars, component testing, etc... stuff that we use mostly to test our frames in the stand and in the real world. And general hoarding. You know the drill.

The handlebars, shifters, and rear derailleur are all from my previous Piolet build. The crankset and bottom bracket is from our test fitting stock. Seatpost is from the hoard. The cassette and chain is used from some other build. The tires are from test fitting. The tubes are patched and put back into commission. The Mini-Rando Bag and Day Tripper bags are prototypes. The headset was included with the frameset purchase. The stem and adaptor is from the hoard. The saddle is a prototype from ages ago. The Moderniste Bottle Cage is a silver one I painted to see what it would look like in Noir. The Sabot Pedals are from our test ride stash. The front brake is a lone Grand Cru brake I found in the brake bin. The rear brake is from my hoard.

So the rear derailleur housing stop is supposed to use a step-down housing cap. At the time we didn't have any in stock. So I found this Problem Solvers Clamp-on cable stop that we used for the very first prototypes of the Piolet way back in in 2015 or so. The bike now has full housing along the chainstay thanks to some perfectly placed zip-ties. Seems fine

I knew I was going to run a bell on the bike and I wanted to make sure it looked as aged as the frame. So sometime in January I found a Brass Temple Bell in the hoard and disassembled it. I scuffed it, lightly hit it with the drill, scratched it, smacked it, dropped it, and then left it outside. I completely forgot about it until I went to build up the bike! It had developed just the right amount of patina while.....aging...... I cleaned it and finished it with a few coats of glossy clear before remounting it on the unused downtube shifter boss. I love the look. 

This build was a bit of a catharsis personally. I can sometimes be really picky about the way my bike looks and how things are oriented. So to just throw all those things that would have bugged me out the window and have two different color tires, brakes with pads all the way up the slots, and a brown saddle with black tape - it felt good. At least the bags match.

I've been riding it for a while now and really like it. It fits me well and is great for the riding I enjoy: not too fast not too slow.

If you want to check out a very complete build list, click here!

28 September, 2020

Keeping the Wheels Spinning - New Hubs and Fall Project Update

by Igor

New Hubs

We received a mountain of new disc and rim brake hubs on Friday. They feature designs we've been working on for a long time and they're finally here! In Polished Silver and Smooth Noir finishes, no less!

The new Rear Disc Hubs are now convertible between 12mm, 142mm Thru-Axle and 135mm QR. This is accomplished using endcaps that don't require any tools to swap. Additionally, these new hubs retain our tool-free cassette removal for maintenance and drive-side spoke repairs.

For the rim brake Rear Hub variant, you can also swap endcaps for 130mm and 135mm. You do need to take a bit more care building this rear hub because the non-drive-side endcap is the one that adds or subtracts 5mm of spacing. So you'll likely need to re-dish the wheel if you move it between 130mm and 135mm spaced frames.

Up front, we have more swap-ability with our Front Disc Hub. It includes endcaps for QR, 12mm (thruaxle), and 15mm (thruaxle) - all 100mm spacing. 

We keep it easy for the rim brake Front Hub. Just QR. 

They all features high-quality sealed cartridge bearings and tool-free dissassembly. Additionally, we are now offering three freehub body options: Shimano 11sp (HG), Campagnolo 11sp, and SRAM XDR. The last one is the Sram spline that allows you to use a 10-tooth cassette - very popular with MTB and touring bikes and allows you to have just that little extra top-end gear range with a 1x drivetrain.

When you buy the rear hub, let us know which Freehub Body Spline you want and we'll make it so. It default ships with Shimano HG, so if you don't put it in the comments or email us otherwise, that'll be what you get.

Medium-ish Bag Re-stock

We also got a bunch of VOxRRB luggage back in stock including:
We also got some extra Shoulder Straps. They are nice, simple, and lightweight and can be mounted on nearly anything that has a loop. So you can use it on non VOxRRB bags, cameras, water bottles, etc...

Projects Worth Noting and Happenings

Polyvalent Low Kickers are aboard the boat and are still planned to reach us by mid/late October. The first run of Small sizes sold out pretty quickly, but we have another small round arriving about a month after.

We're getting Diamond Polyvalents around January. They'll be the exact color and geo as the Low Kicker, but with a horizontal top tube (albeit with a couple degrees of slope). 

More Neutrinos are also planned for January/February. They'll be in the Pistachio Green color and will be dropper post compatible. Everything else is the same. 

More Piolets are slated for delivery around November/December. They'll be the same geo and specifications, and will be wearing a spiffy dark metallic blue paint with reflective VeloORANGE downtube decal.

We're also getting Cargo Bike Fenders for bikes with 26" or 650b rear wheels and 20inch front wheels. Both widths will be 58mm and they'll be made out of stainless steel. We went back and forth about stainless vs aluminum alloy, but settled on stainless. Stainless steel is tougher and more dent resistant than aluminum alloy. It's heavier, but let's be real here. If you're riding a cargo bike, the weight of your fenders shouldn't be a main concern in overall bike weight.

More Crazy Bars will be here in October as well. We sold out of the last production run in under 3 hours. It was not a small amount either. Probably the most we've ever gotten in one go. So the moral of the story is that if you're interested in getting them, sign up for the product alert. You'll get an automated email when they are put back into stock.

We're getting a shipment of parts and accessories in mid/late October. And then another in December or maybe late November depending on the dock timeline. And then another in January, and another in February. Needless to say, this season has been absolutely nuts!

21 September, 2020

Fall Rituals

By Scott

Now that Labor Day has passed, meteorological fall has begun. The pumpkin beers and spiced lattes are in store now or awaiting pick up at your local coffee shop, and even in a year where nothing seems to be familiar, I'm hopeful that fall will be more normal than the past 6 months have been.

I've lived in the mid Atlantic for over 10 years now and one of the wonderful things is that there are truly four seasons here. Fall here is one of the great times of year, with the temps (and humidity) taking a bit of a dive, the colors of the leaves coming out and the chance to wear a sweater outside again!

I find myself having rituals related to the change of the season, especially when it comes to outdoor activities like cycling.  I've always loved the fall Coffeeneuring challenge - you can see previous posts here and here. Over the years, Mary has adapted the rules with help from the large number of riders who have taken part in the challenge. I like the rule that allows riders to use an outdoor spot for the challenge. This year, with social/physical distancing rules in place in most areas, I think a lot more folks will be doing this. We sell a lot of the Soto coffee filter holders, which work great if you're the kind of rider that wants to do coffee outside from scratch.

I also pull out my bikepacking bike this time of year. This year, I've been riding the Pass Hunter Prototype, both on road and on gravel paths of Montgomery County, but with fall's arrival, I might actually get out and camp overnight a bit. I'm not the greatest for camping in the summer here - the heat and humidity are not my friends - so the cooler weather is better for camping out along the C & O or some of the state parks in MD. I don't go to the extreme's that Igor's assessment post has folks go to, but it is a good time to double check the gear and brake cables, the tubes (yep, luddite there) and the chain are all good and ready to go. I don't really worry about tires, as mine are super chunky MTB tires, so a quick check of the side wall to make sure there are no cuts there is about all I do.

For other folks here, it means digging into the closet for that long sleeve jersey or sweater to wear on cold mornings. Igor swaps out footwear for fall riding. He goes from using sneakers or sandals with his Sabot pedals to using boots to keep his feet warm. The result of this is that he has to raise the saddles on his bikes to accommodate the thicker soles, every fall.

The final thing I think of for fall is folks putting fenders back on their bikes. I know it sounds crazy, but in some parts of the world, you can go all summer without rain! I've had a few folks mention in emails  of needing some bits to put their fenders back on their bikes. If you are in this situation, just a reminder that our small fender bits section is here for all your hardware needs.

Anyone else keen for fall's arrival and what sort of rituals surround the changing seasons and cycling in your world?