26 February, 2021

Melissa's Sport Touring Low Kicker Has Some Very Special Hoops

by Igor

Hill got the conversation started about a new bike for his wife, Melissa. They were looking for something to replace her aging, skinny-tire'd road bike so that she could more comfortably participate in gravel and mixed terrain rides both by herself and with her riding club. She also wanted to make sure it could handle a bit of luggage for overnight, sport touring trips where minimal gear is needed while going between BnBs or hotels. The Low Kicker Polyvalent was a natural selection for the frameset. Needless to say, this sounded like it was going to be a very fun bike for Melissa and a very fun project for us.

One of the criteria for the build was a timeless appearance overall. So lots of silver, natural hues in the tape and saddle, and dynamo lighting. The hang up was the rims. Our Voyager Rims are polished, but a bit too heavy for Melissa's application. Carbon would be the most convenient choice, but you can't get polished carbon! After a conversation with Tommy over at Cutlass Velo (we use him for all of our custom wheel builds) we settled on the Astral Wanderlust Rims. But another hang up. They are only available in black. "I'll talk to them", said Tommy.

Quick background: Astral is Rolf Prima's aftermarket rim division and offers premium, Made in USA rims. Yes, that Rolf Prima that has been designing and manufacturing racing wheels since 1997. Astral is a great option for a MUSA rim that can be laced to traditional hubs (as opposed to Rolf's paired spoke tech).

While Astral doesn't currently offer silver rims, Tommy sweet-talked them into rolling a custom set of their lightweight and durable Wanderlust Rims in a very nice polished finish. Pairing the rims with a hi-engagment White Industries rear hub and a Son28 Deluxe dynamo front hub, this custom wheelset is 100% one-of-a-kind!

Furthermore, wrapping up this spectacular wheelset with a pair of ultra supple Ultradynamico Cava Race tires, the road and gravel chatter simply melts away.

The front wheel's dynamo powers a Schmidt Edelux mounted to the front Randonneur Rack. The Edelux is probably the best headlight out there, it has a good beam pattern and has excellent reliability. Plus it is very nice looking.

The rear light is a Busch & Muller ยต (Micro) affixed to the non-driveside seatstay. It also includes hardware for the ability to mount it to a rear fender, which is a nice touch. This light is hilariously tiny and ridiculously bright. Seriously, the package was magnitudes bigger than the actual light.

Full bike dynamo routing can be a bit tricky, so care should be taken to make sure the wires don't bind when the handlebars are turned, connections are waterproof, and everything is secure over varied terrain.

While we used strategically placed zipties, we used an r-clip on the non-driveside downtube adjustor as a splash of pizzazz. The coiled routing around the fork crown is important for turning the handlebars without significant excess dangling around. Here's a blog post documenting how to make the coil (about halfway down): https://velo-orange.blogspot.com/2019/10/petes-dynamo-polyvalent-with-shimano.html 

Shifting and braking is done by SRAM's Rival 22 Hydro group, our 50.4 46/30 crankset, and 11-32t cassette. The cockpit is silver with the handlebar being from Whisky and the tape is natural leather from Berthoud.

Continuing the natural leather look is the Berthoud saddle with Titanium Rails on a 0 Setback Seatpost.

Have a great ride, Melissa!

16 February, 2021

Two New Handlebar Tape Styles

by Igor

A quality handlebar tape can make or break a bike's comfort. Even if your fit is spot on, if your handlebar tape is too thin or hits your hand in the wrong way, your ride isn't going to be fun, at least not for long. This is even more true on an all-road bike where terrain can vary with every mile, and even little impacts or road chatter can exacerbate existing comfort or fit issues. 

Foamy Handlebar Tape

Would I consider it a "Gravel" tape? Sure, why not? But it is so much more than just a hyped tape du jour. We designed this tape for riders that go over varied surfaces during tours and mixed terrain brevets: fire roads, double track, washboard roads, crushed limestone, and yes....gravel. 

It's plush. It's 3.5mm thick. It has a very nice hand feel, wraps easily, and is long (200 cm!) - which is nice for today's wide bars.

The edges feature a taper so when you wrap your bars it can line-up mostly flat, or have a bit more overlap for a chunkier grip. 

Additionally, the included bar plugs are actually really nice quality. You won't be chucking them into the bin like the cheap-o push in ones.

Survey around the office has an overwhelming favorite being Splash. Don't call it a comeback / It's been here for years.

Diamond Handlebar Tape

Just as thick as the Foamy, this 3.5mm tape features a Diamond texture and adds a bit more grip. And like the Foamy, the edges are tapered so you can wrap to your desired handlebar feel.

This option is a bit more on the modern side, so I don't think it would look out of place on a square-tubed carbon bike or even a hardtail tourer with alt-bars, while still being neutral enough for any build.

These are currently available in Black and White.

10 February, 2021

In Stock Now: Flat Pack Rack in Noir and More Parts and Accessories

How do you make the versatile Flat Pack Rack even better? Give it a black finish to match the rest of your glossy Noir VO bits. Prefer silver? Those are back up on the online store, as well. The rack headlines a fresh shipment of parts and accessories to replenish the VO shelves. 

Bottle Cage Restock

Add a little vintage flair to your bike with one of our Retro Bottle Cages, back in stock with and without tab to accommodate your favorite water bottle. For more carrying capacity, we have also received more of the oversized Mojave Cages. The handy Bottle Cage Clamps are also back. 


The Grand Cru 50.4 and Drillium Fluted 110 double cranksets are back in a variety of arm lengths. 


We have received more Granola Bars as well as Nouveau Randonneur bars in 42 cm width. 

...and more

This latest parts and accessories restock also includes:

Coming Soon

We're expecting even more goodies to arrive next month and beyond, including Neutrino framesetsKlunker Bars, and 650b Voyager Rims in March. We'll see Moderniste Bottle Cages, bolt-on fixed hubs, and Enterprise Rims later in the spring. As we get into summer we should see more Pass Hunter, Polyvalent, and Piolet framesets and, of course, our newly revealed next-gen Crazy Bars

04 February, 2021

The Next Generation Crazy Bars - First Look.

by Igor

Eight years ago, we released the first glimpses of the Crazy Bars. Immediately, they made huge waves in the touring and bikepacking communities with their 3-piece design, generous sweep, functionality with touring bags, and unique appearance. Since then, they have been a mainstay of our lineup, receiving tweaks with materials, tubing, stem clamps, and finishes. We even had a spin-off called the Seine Bar that was the Crazy Bar, minus the forward horns. We've used our experience with on-bike testing, manufacturing, community (thank you!) suggestions, and testing protocols and have designed a new iteration of the bars - and we're finally ready to release details about The Next Generation Crazy Bars!

Starting off, the bars have been widened to 780mm and the sweep has been reduced to a comfortable 35 degrees. This combo creates the perfect balance of leverage for out of the saddle climbs and natural wrist positioning for regular riding. Additionally, there is more room on the grip area for varied grip lengths and brake/shifter compatibility.

Accordingly, the horns have also been shortened to 110mm, but still retain the ability to mount bar end shifters. This allows significantly easier access to all of the positions without having to reach to the extremes of the bars.

We also introduced a bit of rise to the bars, 40mm. They're touring bars, so you deserve some rise.

They're MTB tested and will be available in bead-blasted silver and Noir finishes.

We'll also have the horn-less Seine Bar version, too!

We're expecting to have them in stock in June. We were hoping to have them earlier, but it seems that every step of the process was delayed due to raw material procurement and, you know, pandemic. We appreciate your patience. Keep your eyes peeled for more info when the time gets closer!