30 November, 2020

From Russia with love

By Konstantin Simakin

Note: since posting this article, Konstantin has rebuild the wheels with carbon Nextie Rims and cassette hub, changed the gearing to a 1x11 drivetrain, and added drop bars. While the build is different that what's ahead, the modification to the frame for the special bag and the care in painting and building it all up warrants its own post.

Today we have a guest post from one of our Russian dealers, Konstantin Simakin of Planetarki in St. Petersburg. Konstantin has been a great supporter of our products in Russia for many years. This is his story of how he came into creating his own version of a mini-velo based on our Neutrino frameset.

The way to mini-velo is different for everyone. Some might get a mini-velo for the aesthetics of its design, or maybe their home has little room to store a full-size bike. I came to mini-velo via a folding bike.

It all started in the summer of 2018 when I first bought a Brompton bike. Brompton is a pretty expensive, but awesome English folding bike. It has wheels with a diameter of only 16 inches, folds down to an incredibly compact size, and has a very wide functionality - especially in the city.

In addition to the ultra compact folding, it has fast acceleration, sharp steering, and compactness when maneuvering in the city - these are qualities of the mini-velo I fell in love with and could no longer imagined city riding without it. Also, I could not have imagined riding in the city without this stunning front bag that holds all the things I need during the day. As for the folding function, no matter how practical it is, it greatly affects the rigidity of the frame and I did not like it, so I immediately began to think about the non-folding mini-velo.

At the end of the summer of 2019, I became the owner of an elite English mini-velo called the Moulton TSR 22 - this is a rather serious bike located in the middle of their lineup. Everything would be fine, but there is always a but!

For the company that sells Moultons, I had to make a comparative video review of two Moulton TSR 22 models and the top Moulton NS Speed, which cost more than $ 20,000. During the filming of the video review, I rode a lot on the Moulton NS Speed, and it turned out to be just an amazing ride. The suspension performance there was fantastic. After growing accustomed to the NS Speed, I simply could not ride my Moulton TSR 22 as the suspension and other characteristics in it were not the same quality. In addition, it was not possible to install a quick-detachable front bag like that on the Brompton. This was another reason why I decided to get rid of Moulton. There were thoughts of a complete redesign of the TSR 22, but it was a complete bike, rather than a bare frame, and there would be considerable amout of work that would be required because of the suspension. In the end, I decided to sell the bike as it did not really fit my needs.

All this time, when I was having fun with my Brompton and Moulton, I looked at Velo Orange  Neutrino mini-velo, but for some reason, I did not take it seriously. In the photographs, the bike seemed somehow awkward and heavy to me. Then I had not yet held his frame in my hands and could not imagine how cool it really would be.

By the fall of 2019, when such unexpected disappointments in the elite British bicycle technology overtook me, I clearly understood that I could no longer live a normal life without a mini-velo. Which mini-velo do you think I chose next? Of course it was Velo Orange Neutrino Mini-Velo! Since it was a bare frame, I immediately told myself that this time the game would be by my rules!

At the end of autumn 2019, I was holding a brand new Velo Orange Neutrino Mini-Velo frame in my hands and was amazed at how light and cool it was. The first thing that attracted me to it was the sliding dropouts. I have long wanted to try the German Rohloff internal hub and of course, this project was the best fit for this precisely because of the sliding dropout design.

The Rohloff was not supposed to be the only highlight of this project. I wanted to transfer to this frame my favorite Brompton front bag with its convenient quick release lock. To do this, I had to joint the bag's base to the head tube to install their quick lock, which means the frame would need to be repainted.

I was able to successfully join the base for the front bag lock. The place for the bracket was chosen so that the headlight (powered by the front dynamo hub of the SON28) could fit between the front wheel and the bag. Then, I layed down the VO orange paint to the frame. I asked my friend, the artist pinstriper Graffix, to hand-paint the inscription VELO-ORANGE on the down tube and the inscription NEUTRINO on the top tube with a brush, as well as draw a micro-metropolis after the word Neutrino. He did an excellent job. 

Naturally, I chose a bright orange color, which was painted in the most successful bike in my opinion, the Velo-Orange - Pass Hunter Disc. The only bike Velo Orange made that combined elements of the first classic Velo Orange frames and modern trends, but has since been discontinued! Now we need to narrow down some component choices.

I am also very grateful to Scott from Velo Orange for helping me get the strong, 20" Velocity Cliffhanger Rims.

We have a company in Russia that makes high-quality crank sets, this company is called Neutrino Components. I really love their products. So it was easy to select a crankset from them! So, plunging into this amazingly balanced concept, I started working on this bike.

It turned out to be a very tough and aggressive bike, so I chose the black Fairweather B903 Bullmoose Bar. I have long legs, so I had to find an extra long seatpost from a Cannondale Hooligan. After much work, my new Velo Orange Neutrino mini-velo was ready.

The Velo Orange Neutrino mini-velo is the most amazing mini-velo I have ever had. It has a very rigid frame, excellent acceleration dynamics, sharp steering, and good maneuverability. I can say with confidence that it works better than the elite English Mini-Velo. It combines the aggression and power of a BMX, the dynamics and performance of a modern road bike, and the practicality and utility of a city bike. Moving around the city on this bike, I get the thrill of jumping off high obstacles, its wide tires pass through soft grass and mud. Now I don't have to look for roads in the city, but choose directions and go wherever I want. At the same time, thanks to the rigidity of the frame, each of my trips on it is a serious training that improves my condition as a cyclist. When a few years ago, Neutrino mini-velo just appeared, I could not imagine that the time would come and that it would surpass and replace English 
brands for me, but it was so. 

A small spoiler for the next part - I didn't like Rohloff as much as I though. I am an aggressive cyclist, and this thing is for those who are not in a hurry. Now, as I write these lines, there is no Rohloff on my Neutrino mini-velo. Rather, the next incarnation of my Neutrino mini-velo is a drop bar, SRAM 1x11 gravel transmission, and a lot of carbon. But that's a completely different story for next time...

25 November, 2020

Thanksgiving Holiday Closure

The Velo Orange showroom, office, and warehouse will be closed Thursday, November 26, and Friday, November 27, for the Thanksgiving holiday. Orders placed during that period will begin being fulfilled and shipped starting next Monday,  November 30. Regular customer support hours will resume on Monday, as well. We wish everyone a happy and safe holiday!

13 November, 2020

Runwell Tools are Made in Japan

by Igor

We are pleased to be an official importer of Runwell Tools! Since 2011, Runwell has making absolutely top-notch bicycle tools and lifestyle gear, all in Japan.

I stumbled across Runwell during a doomscrolling session on Instagram when my finger was stopped in its tracks thanks to this post by Parallel Handbuilt in the Netherlands. And since then, we've been working on getting their product into the USA.

Hammered Top Cap

These threadless headset top caps are part of a collaboration between Runwell Tools and master copperware craftsman, Mr. Kazuya Watanabe. They are exquisite and quite literally works of functional art.

15mm Wrench

Look, we've all used cheap tools. That's what they are. They're cheap, disposable, not terribly well made, but they usually get the job done. Hopefully you don't round a nut off.

There is something completely different about a nice tool. The weight is perfect. The finish is flawless. The ergonomics are perfect. And the tool's end fits without slop. This is a tool that you know the maker has made with care throughout the entire manufacturing process. This is a tool that you will enjoy using and sometimes, even look forward to using!

This 15mm Wrench is that nice tool. It features a 15° bend at the head, so you don't hit your knuckles on the fork blade or spokes. It also has a 3-dimensional tapered handle that retains torque strength at the head, while having a flatter, more comfortable, and natural position in the hand.

Portable Allen Wrench Sets

Following along Runwell's unique and top-notch tooling, they have constructed a few allen wrench sets that are great for the shop and on the go: 4-Way, 4/5mm with Belt Clip, and 4/5mm with Paracord.

15mm Pedal Wrench

An absolutely beautiful and perfectly balanced pedal wrench. The paracord wrap gives a proper cushion and grip for installing and removing pedals that have 15mm flats.

Track Tools

Runwell's bicycle history has deep roots in track and fixed gear criterium racing. And as such their tools reflect mechanic and maintenance needs for trackside repairs.

This Cog Tool makes adjusting gearing a breeze. Runwell found that many European track riders don't use lockrings, so they developed a tool that can remove and re-install 12-15t and 16-18t cogs quickly to adjust for track and rider conditions.

NJS-certified chains use a different end connection process than regular quick-links. They use a bolt and nut. So Runwell developed this nifty and compact tool for NJS chains.

Around the House

Imagine you own a tool company, right? Why would you NOT make gear and accessories that have the same high quality form and finish that your tools have, but for use around the house err...bar.

Bottle Opener + 10mm Wrench

A beautiful and hearty 10mm allen wrench with a notch cut out for opening bottles.

Set of Four Stick Stirrers

You don't actually need to use your greasy screwdriver to make a Screwdriver. These Stirrers are made from stainless steel and feature a glass bead-blasted finish. They also make super fun drink identifiers.

Charcuterie Picks, Set of Three

Also made from stainless steel, these pokers feature knurled ends and an impressive finish. Step up your finger-foods game!

Something you've never seen before

Punk's not dead! Stick it to the man with these studded bolts by turning those unused rack and water bottle cage bosses into tools of anarchy. You'll need to make sure your threads are very clean before installing. They simply thread in, but there aren't any flats for installation/removal. Super clean design.

And lastly, this could be the most unique Bicycle x Automotive crossover we've ever come across. Change out that shift knob and attach your favorite 22.2mm grip with this Shifter Knob Grip Kit! You'll want to consult your car's manufacturer or the online forums to see if it will work on your vehicle.

10 November, 2020

Wheels, wheels, wheels and Tapered Headsets

We just posted some new complete wheel builds using our new hub designs!

The disc variants include quick release and thru-axle endcaps, so the are flexible in their applications. They're all built in the USA using double-butted spokes.

We also got new, tapered headsets! They're designed for bikes that use 1 1/8" upper to 1 1/2" lower  external cup (EC) like the Pass Hunter. They're available in Mirror, Silver, and Noir.

02 November, 2020

Taking Time to Vote and an Update on Recent Orders

Here at Velo Orange we believe every vote should be heard and that one of the easiest ways to increase voter engagement is to remove the barriers that might otherwise prevent people from casting a ballot. With this in mind, we will be closed November 3rd for Election Day to allow our employees time to head to the polls. 

This is also a friendly reminder that if you have not already mailed in a ballot or participated in early voting, tomorrow is the day to cast a vote for the causes you believe in and the representatives that support them. While you no doubt are well aware of the national issues this election will decide, as cyclists it is important to take a good look at the leaders and policies represented in your state and local elections, as these could have an impact on the future of cycling in your community. Infrastructure changes, traffic laws, and the emphasis on inclusive transportation could all be at stake. We hope you take this opportunity to make your voice heard.

Shipment Delays for Recent Orders

Last week we received a huge restock of many popular products. The influx of newly back-in-stock items was met with eager demand, so we have been dealing with a larger order volume than is typical. This has led to longer lead times than usual as we catch up in the warehouse. We are working through orders as quickly as possible. Those with orders placed last week should begin to see shipment notifications within the next few days. As always, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out. We are quite literally overwhelmed by your support and appreciate your patience!

Pass Hunters, Piolets and More

October's restock was long awaited, but this month will be bringing even more. In late November the next generation of Pass Hunters will arrive. We'll have pre-orders covered plus more frames available for those that missed out on reserving one early. Along with the Pass Hunter framesets, we'll be receiving another restock of parts and accessories to fill the shelves just in time for the holidays. 

In mid-to-late November we will also receive a second shipment with another run of small and medium Polyvalent Low Kickers. Both sizes sold out quickly, so be sure to sign up for a product alert to be notified as soon as they become available again. 

Along with the Low Kickers will come a new batch of Piolet framesets. These Piolets will be the same as the current generation with a new dark metallic blue finish. We've also got a few new and updated products coming in this shipment, including 26" fenders in Noir, Happy Stems in Noir, stainless steel cargo bike fender sets, and "shorty" threadless stems in lengths down to 40 mm. Keep an eye out for more details throughout the month.