20 May, 2022

Using Onions to Patina Your Opinel?

by Igor

Folks typically associate patina with years of use, visible wear, and long-term care. There is an aura of warmth and satisfaction when you see a beautifully patina'd Leica, lock-up bike, vintage car, tool chest, or leather bag. Adrian found a fun article describing different ways to patina Opinel carbon steel and so we had to try it out. Some techniques involved chemicals and such, but we decided on a more natural method - stabbin' onions. 

VO has been carrying Opinel knives for several years now. They're popular for their affordability, simplicity, and storied history as the go-to for French farmers, backpackers, and foragers. The carbon blade option does require more care and sharpening than their stainless steel offering, but carbon can take an edge easier. And because carbon is uncoated, they develop a nice patina over time. From Opinel: "Patina is completely normal and will help aid rust resistance of your carbon blade."

Here's what you need to create a beautiful patina on your carbon blade Opinel without years of use:

  • Opinel knife
  • Onion - white or red will do (we found no discernible difference in our test). Keep in mind you will be disposing of the onion once this process is done, so don't expect to use it in your next French Onion Soup or sandwich.
  • Water
  • Towel
  • 48 hours

Literally, stab the onion in the middle - all the way down the lock. We tried orienting the blade horizontally and vertically with respect to the layers of the onion and found inserting parallel to the root produced a circular pattern, while perpendicular was more wavy. Each of them is very cool. 

Now, the hard part. Put it down somewhere safe and where someone won't ask, "Why is there a knife in this onion?" Now leave it alone. The original recipe called for 24 hours, but we forgot and did 48 hours.

When the prescribed time has elapsed, pull the knife out. I will warn you, the knife will smell like onion. If you lived in an onion for 48 hours, you'd smell like an onion, too. But trust me, rinse it off with plain water and wipe it down. The smell will dissipate over the next day or so.

Behold your newly patina'd Opinel! 

After doing this experiment, Adrian found some more articles about creating patina on Opinels. My favorite was simply drizzling McDonalds spicy mustard sauce over the blade and letting it sit for a bit. 

I'm thinking about how to patina the Blue Lug Brass Spacers. Any ideas?

16 May, 2022

Now Back in Stock!

Velo Orange 50.4 bcd Crankset on Polyvalent

Back in Stock!

Today's email is a quick one. We just got a fresh shipment of parts and accessories! Here's a list of what's back in stock:

We also updated our About VO page, so be sure to give it a quick read! As always, thank you for the support. 

Happy Riding!
Velo Orange Klunker Bar on Piolet with foam grips
Jump over to the VO Webstore!

09 May, 2022

One Very Classy Pass Hunter

by Igor

When the new Growtac Brakes came in, we knew we needed to do a special Pass Hunter build - something classic, sophisticated, and useful. And this has it has it all: Campagnolo, loads of silver, and hints of brown.

Don't let the fenders and racks fool you - this is a rocket ship!

Speaking of, Connor did a bang-up job mounting the fenders and front and rear racks together in a very Constructeur style. It makes the connection rock solid over rougher terrain.

Peep those cut down aluminum alloy tubes for the screws.

These new tire offerings from Conti have a very nice ride and feel. They also have a classic tread design that would look at home on any classic rando or roadie. They would even class up any modern, big tube carbon roadie. Should we bring some in? We have some of the other Conti gravel offerings on personal rides and they are really nice.

Nothing is lighter than a hole, right? It's pretty fun seeing the frame's paint through the Drillium chainrings holes.

Oh those hubs! Obviously I'm a bit biased, but I think our hubs match their superb looks with excellent function. 

Lastly, pedals! I'll admit it's been several years since I rode with Road Pedals, Toe Clips, and Straps. While they're fun and look really nice, they don't really work with the style of sneaker I usually wear. I'll stick with my Sabots (more are coming in 1.5 months).

Scott managed to find a single VO Toe Clip Button in his bin of little bits. They're great for pulling your strap tight once you get going on the road, but they're not so great for making any money. Hence why you won't find them on the site any longer.

This was a really fun build. If you're interested in building a bike up similar to this one, check out the comprehensive build list on the website!

04 May, 2022

Growtac Brakes are Now Available!

by Igor

We are pleased to announce that VO is the official importer of Growtac Equal Mechanical Disc Brakes into the USA! We currently have them available in Flat and Post Mount brake styles.

If this is your first time hearing about the company, Growtac is a small engineering and manufacturing firm out of Tokyo, Japan that specializes in cycling products for indoor training - think trainers, rollers, and accessories. More recently, they developed a flat mount disc brake that struck my attention when I stumbled across them on an obscure Japanese Instagram story. 

Function and Feel

As soon as I saw these, I emailed Growtac and ordered up some brakes for evaluation. A few weeks later, they arrived. We unboxed them, mounted them up on my Pass Hunter and got to work testing them out. Immediately, I found a huge difference in stopping quality compared to the previous calipers. When I say quality, I mean the combination of several things including modulation, stiffness, and lever feel.

Brake modulation is the ability to precisely and accurately control the amount of clamping force on a disc rotor with a given amount of lever input. So, the more lever you pull, a similar amount of deceleration should occur. The rider should be able to feather the brakes to scrub speed, stop firmly before corners, and live comfortably on the edge of peak braking before lockup. Over the years, I've used many different cable actuated brakes from nearly every vendor out there, over a wide range of prices. The Equal brakes have an excellent level of brake modulation compared to other cable-actuated brakes and even some hydraulic set ups.

When you actually squeeze the lever, how does it feel through the pull of the lever? Is it rigidly stiff, is it noodly? I think the easiest way to describe the lever feel is stiff, but forgiving. The lever movement is natural, forgiving to hand muscles, and you never feel like you're going to run out of lever throw. At the same time, properly adjusted, these brakes offer a consistent and reliable bite point that acts as a natural end of the cable pull, without room for additional cable flexion at the caliper.

Please note that the stiffer/stronger the levers you use are, the better these brakes are going to feel. Our Grand Cru short-pull brake levers are a great match for these brakes on flatbar builds. Likewise, the  lever feel is going to depend on what dropbar levers you use.

In the past, I've used some brake setups that feel super stiff and good in the stand but lack modulation under moderate braking. I've also tried others where you worry you're going to run out of lever before they get to peak braking. These brakes really seem to be the best we've tried in terms of modulation, lever feel, and adjusting bite point.

What's in the Box?!

When you open the nice, "Build Your Own Bicycle" box, you are greeted with two calipers. We currently have them available in Flat and Post Mount and a variety of colors. Quick side note: at the time I am writing this, the Silver and Black Post Mounts and Black Flat Mounts are in production, but have not arrived yet.

  • 2x Growtac Equal Flat Mount Brake Calipers - peep those beautiful calipers!
  • 2x road brake cables
  • 2x mtb brake cables
  • Flat Mount version: 1x front flat mount adaptor for 140mm or 160mm rotor
  • 2x compressionless housing (stiff)
  • 2x non-compressionless housing (flexy)
  • Bunch of housing endcaps
  • Mounting hardware specific for flat mount or post mount
The housing uses a combination of compressionless (stiff) and non-compressionless (flexy) lengths. The idea is that you use the flexy length for the aero-routing of the housing under the bar tape. It makes installation for drop and alt-bars super easy compared to full compressionless - all without any perceptible performance difference. It's a nice touch.

We will be carrying our own VO branded flat mount and IS/Post mount adaptors, but it may be a few weeks before they actually arrive. In the meantime, pretty much any vendor's mounts/adaptors should work to mount these brakes up if you have a specific setup or brake mount standard.