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The Velo ORANGE Blog

A blog about bicycles, cyclo-touring, and a little company

Updated: 2018-03-22T08:01:31.329-04:00


650b Disc Wheels Roll In


By ScottWe've been doing built wheels for a number of years now. They've been very popular, especially for folks with older bikes who can't necessarily walk into a shop and get a high quality rear wheel, spaced 126 mm with a freewheel for their Peugeot PX-10 right away. The newest additions to the VO stable of built wheels is the combination of our new 11 speed Disc Cassette Hub, Disc Front Hub, and 650b Diagonale Rim.We had these wheels (available as front or rear) built up by our US wheel builder for a couple reasons. The big one was these will be perfect for folks getting our new Polyvalent frames. As well, the rise of disc brake bikes has meant that we are receiving emails from riders asking about 650b disc wheel options for other bikes. Seems like just the other year that folks were looking at the original Polyvalent frame and asking "I don't know if this 650b phase will last". Now we're doing 11 speed disc hubs laced to tried and true Diagonale Rims, able to take tires from 38 to 45 mm wide, wow.One update we've done with this wheel is we've gone from using DT Swiss straight gauge spokes to DT Swiss Double-Butted (2.0/1.8) Competition Spokes. Compared to straight gauge spokes, double butted spokes are lighter and a bit more compliant over temporary forces (potholes, rail crossings, etc). While the cost is a bit more than the straight gauge variant, we think the value is there. Each wheel is 32 hole, and weigh 1128g and 915g for the rear and front wheel, respectively.We're doing a bit of a re-vamp of our wheel offerings, so we put some wheels we're going to discontinue on the Specials page, so give them a look-see.Are there any wheel combinations you'd like to see?[...]

Renewing Your Cockpit in an Afternoon


By Scott

I'll admit that I'm perhaps not the best at aesthetics.  My wife's tried in the last couple years to update my wardrobe past jeans and a t-shirt. Bike wise, I try to look at how Clint and Igor have outfitted frames, creating a cohesive and tidy look, and try to emulate that. Problem is that I tend to do my builds out of my STASH collection. Thus it's a hodgepodge of stuff.  One thing that I've tried to work on is bar tape though. Bar tape is the last of the cheap and easy ways to update/spruce up/freshen up a bike. In the past, I was strictly a black tape kinda guy - goes with everything, no stress about matching shades, etc. But in the last few years, I've seen the upside of a variety of colors being used as bar tape. Now, I'll never be good enough, like Clint, to do a harlequin style or tie-dye a set of wraps, but I'm certainly seeing an advantage to changing the tape color often to change the mood of a build or just to acknowledge the change in a season.

Clint's Harlequin chain stay wrap

I read years back that the pro racers would use black tape over the winter (didn't show dirt, etc.) but that as soon as spring arrived, they would have the mechanics swap over to white for the spring races. A few pros were known for putting new white tape on before every big race as a way of showing that they were 100% prepared for that race.

When I built up my Piolet originally, I went with grey tape. I wanted something with a more subtle color compared to orange tape, which would have matched the color of the cables on the bike.  I thought grey would be great. And it was. I liked it, but this winter when I was switching the brake levers out, I needed to change it up. So what to use? Hmm....

I did some consulting with my co workers and it was decided to go with the blue of the Comfy Cotton Tape. Not a total match to the muted blue of my original model Piolet, but a nice contrast, and it still maintains a somewhat muted appearance.

life behind Scott's bars

So for a few bucks and about 15 minutes of work, I've totally updated the look of my bike, especially considering the cockpit is really what my eyes see when I ride the bike. There are certainly other ways to change the look and feel of your bike, but for $12, I'd say this is a pretty cost effective way to go about it. What ways do you spruce up the look/feel of your bike?

Save The Date - Annual VO Garage Sale


By Scott

There are two sure-fire signs that spring is arriving here in the Mid-Atlantic: Cherry Blossoms and VO's Annual Garage Sale. According to the National Parks Service, we are expecting peak bloom between March 17th and 20th. This is great news for us, not just because it is one of the prettiest times of the year here, but it is just before our annual Garage Sale. This year, the sale will be March 24th.

(Photo courtesy of Mary G at Chasing Mailboxes)

We'll run it from 9 am to noon, the usual story of various bits and pieces for sale - prototypes, frames, parts, accessories, all for cheap. We'll also offer a 20% discount for all in-stock (pre-sales not included), non-garage sale items to folks coming to the shop.

We'll have our usual supply of coffee and donuts for you to sip and munch on while perusing our vast wares.

Address for your GPS Unit:

1981 Moreland Parkway,
Bldg 3
Annapolis, MD

(Turn into the industrial park and go to the right, almost all the way to the end. We're three doors from the end on your left side. Big VO sign out front.)

If you're on Facebook, let us know if you're going to make it so that we can get lots of snacks, coffee, donuts, holes of said donuts, and teas:

Hope to see you all there!

Building a Bike From the Frame Up - Brake Lever Selection


by IgorIn this installment of the "Building a Bike From the Frame Up" series, we'll introduce and discuss the differences and subtleties between brake levers designed for drop, flat, bullhorn, and alt handlebars. First, let's get some terminology and specifications out of the way:Drop Handlebar - The most common type of handlebar for road riding, touring, and randonneuring, typically allowing a more aerodynamic riding position than upright city-style bars. Lots of hand positions.Bullhorn Handlebar - A very common handlebar style for time trial bikes. They put you in a very aerodynamic position and usually have clip-on aero bars. These got very popular during the fixie boom of the '00s. Flat/Riser/City/Mountain Handlebar - A common style of handlebar on city and mountain bikes. Alt-Bar - This style does not really fit into a particular category. They may have non-traditional shapes or dimensions.Brake Lever Clamp Diameter (also known as Grip Area) - The outside diameter where your brake levers clamp.23.8mm - Drop, bullhorn, and some city handlebars22.2mm - City and mountain handlebarsDrop Bar LeversThe most traditional style of brake lever for drop handlebars is called Non-Aero. The cable exits the brake lever body out of the top and makes a wide arc around the stem and handlebar before the first cable guide or brake stop. While this style has fallen out of mainstream favor for the "aero" alternative, purists, collectors, and tourers often prefer the non-aero variant for simplicity, ease of maintenance, and aesthetics.Up through the mid-1980's there were several companies making non-aero offerings, each with their own styling, following, and price point: Mafac, Campagnolo, Shimano, Universal, Modolo, Dia-Compe, Weinmann, just to name a few.Personally, I think the differences between the non-aero manufacturers (with the exception of Mafac) aren't significant. They pretty much all look and function very similarly. Mafac's shape was different - much more square and chunky body - often preferred for randonneur-style bikes.Traditionally-speaking, Campanolo and similar brake levers are often paired with deep drops and sloping ramps. levers are best paired with traditional randonneur style bars where the ramps are long and parallel with the ground. In the mid 80s, levers with the housing routed underneath the handlebar tape, dubbed "aero", were becoming more mainstream. While Dia-Compe was likely the first company to release a consumer aero brake lever, Shimano did have the Dura-Ace AX brake lever with aero routing in the early 80s.I actually find the evolution of the aero brake lever fascinating. At first, they were basically re-drilled non-aero bodies (same bottom cable entry and all), but over time cable entry changed to the more modern forward entry and body lever shapes were under experimentation. My favorite is Modolo's aptly named Kronos series. Check out the beautifully smooth line from the ramps to the brake hood and continuing to the lever. you're one for bar-end or downtube shifters or no shifters, your selection for aero levers is plentiful. The Tektro RL340s are popular for their shape and quick release cable tension button. If you want fancy, the Campy Record levers are sublime. With the introduction of integrated shifters, sometimes called "brifters" (the less this word is used the better), aero levers and subsequently handlebars have become more ergonomic for long times in the saddle. Handlebar ramps and brake hoods are typically parallel with the ground and feature gradual transitions. Pictured below is our Course Handlebar with Shimano integrated shifters.For cross racers and city riders, Interruptor Brake Levers are very popular. These brakes are installed inline with aero levers and allows for braking to occur from the tops of the handlebars. They push housing rather than pull cable, so they funct[...]

Just the Details at NAHBS 2018


by IgorImpeccable lug sculpting, tidy dynamo wiring, infinitely deep finishes, and minute detail work are all of utmost importance when evaluating and admiring the work of a custom bicycle builder. I think appreciation and articulation of detailing and design is an important skill to have when going around to different builders at shows like these. Rather than show a busy, poorly lit photo of a complete bike on the showroom floor, I'd like to focus on the detailwork of several of my favorite bikes at NAHBS 2018.The brass on this track bike's rear end seems to simply wash over the seat stay bridge and wishbone, gently holding everything together in a fervor for speed only a Bishop can pull off. seat cluster on this Randonneur bike is sublime. There is so much going on in a little space: polished stainless wrap around stay caps, bi-laminate sleeve with a super narrow point, and a pair of seat binders. From Brian's Instagram about the double binder, "It’s not necessary but the single M6 would’ve looked lonely on there"., ebony wood, leather, shellac, and lacquer all come together to accomplish this artisanal cockpit on this bike steeped in old-world design and ornamentation. seat cluster on this track bike has an air of 1930's art-deco. Squares and long curves accentuate the clean, custom lug and fillet brazed, lowered binder. Lovely. the alternate digital camo graphics on the outside of the fork blade are attention grabbing, the inside of the blade features this Russian builders logo - the font color matching the contrasting blue-grey within the pattern. I don't know much about this air-foil's application on bike frames, I do like the swoops and lack of hard lines on this three-play laminated wood and carbon composite bike. wild track bike features a fluted and paint-filled seat mast which terminates into the monostay. Radical. marriage of carbon and titanium in a traditional lugged form is incredibly clean. I'd love to know the ride characteristics this combination provides. inward bending on the fender stay makes the rear end more racy, an important feature for this get-up-n-go fender'd road bike. Additionally, notice the impeccable lining on the Hammered fender's edge. Nice contrast! watercolor panels on the seat tube and pump were an elegant choice on this road bike. be damned! Sometimes the the best way to secure something is by a simple wire. + Ultra Romance[...]

Fenders on Disc Brake Bikes


by IgorWith the trickle down of disc brakes into bikes of any and all sorts, our inbox has been deluged with questions about fender mounting and compatibility.The requirements of being an easily fender-able disc brake bike is the same as any bike with rim brakes:1) Clearances - Your frame should have reasonable clearances around the chain stays and seat stays, and your fork should have sufficient vertical and lateral clearance.Road racing and track frames, more often than not, have very narrow clearances around chain and seat stays and fork crowns. These bikes are designed for aerodynamics and drastically reduced weight. This often means that if a detail isn't designed for structure and performance, chances are you won't see them. Forget about dedicated rack and fender mounts or even triple bottle cage mounts. Grams add up to lost time over a stage.Vintage frames that use centerpulls or longer reach brakes typically have more clearance, especially if you do a 27 -> 700c wheel conversion. These often make great randonneurs and sportif bikes as they feature a multitude of desirable attributes that are incorporated into many of today's modern offerings including lightweight tubing, low bottom brackets, and bigger tire clearance. Some even make for good 650b conversions for even floaty-er tires and clearance. tip: Before a long climb, move your water bottle from your cage to your jersey pocket. You'll climb faster due to less weight on the bike. Discuss in comments.2) Bridges - In order to have an easy time of mounting, both your seat stay and chain stay bridges need to exist - bonus points if they have threaded braze-ons that point towards the wheel.If your bike does have a bridge but it isn't drilled, use a p-clamp!We've noticed a lot of contemporary cyclo-cross bikes are bridge-less for mud clearance and comfort over rough terrain. While it is possible to mount a fender using a kludge of hardware, it isn't ideal and it certainly isn't elegant. Dropout Eyelets - Threaded or unthreaded, these are incredibly useful. If your bike has the above requisite features but doesn't have eyelets on the dropouts, p-clamps or our Fender Stay Mounts for Eyeletless Frames are needed to mount the stays to the frame or fork.Alas, many manufacturers have forgone eyelets on their performance offerings, though some lucky few offer removable ones. I never understood this. If you're going to drill and tap the frame for a stud for a removable eyelet, why not include it in the casting/mold? It would look intentional and simple.'s it for the requirements! The next step is negotiating the caliper.For the frame, there is typically minimal finagling. This is especially true if the caliper is located within the rear triangle like our frames feature. For caliper located on top of the seatstay, you'll have to play it by ear since the size, shape, and location of the caliper may necessitate bending the stay.The front is a bit trickier. The caliper, for the most part, sits in the same place for almost all forks. Simply bending the stay vertically around the caliper should provide enough clearance for the brake to operate normally. Some forks, like our Pass Hunter, simply offer a higher mounting point to get around the issue. It isn't the most traditional looking, but it functions perfectly fine. The Polyvalent has a braze-on underneath the dropout for regular fender mounting.If this isn't possible, you'll need a fat stack of spacers to clear the caliper. Plastic fenders that use two stays typically require this.Do you have any additional tips or tricks for mounting fenders on disc brake bikes?[...]

A Note on Fender Mud Flaps


By Igor

The combination of full coverage fenders and mud flaps serve two very important purposes: 1) keeping your feet and bottom bracket clean and 2) ensuring your riding friends will ride with you again by preventing road grime from spraying up into their faces.

Ideally, the front mud flap should be very low to cover the most spray area, almost dragging. I like curling the front flap so that curbs don't catch the fender when hopping off.

The rear flap should be sufficiently long as well. VO now offers matching Rear Mud Flaps in the same colors as the front: Black, Espresso, and Honey.

They're 24.5cm long and have a very similar silhouette as the front, just longer. They weigh 105g and include all the hardware needed to mount to your fender. All you need to do is drill two holes.

A side note: We work really hard to minimize waste from the hides we use, and that means we get a few "imperfect" flaps. These cuts are just as good and functional as the "perfect" ones but have more character - I prefer these. They usually have cuts, thinner sections, etc - these are cow hides, remember. If you want a flap has has imperfections and is wabi-sabi, let us know in the comment section of your order.

Gerard Rides Again


by IgorGerard (Gerry as we've been calling him at HQ) has turned out to be one spry 61 year old.He has scrapes, bumps, and "that wasn't there yesterday"'s that not only show his age, but describe a life of use and care. Whoever used this bike before me, really enjoyed it.While working on this bike, I was frequently reminded of the old Japanese pottery repair technique, Kintsugi.Kintsugi is a philosophy that lets imperfections and breakages literally shine rather than attempt to disguise them. Gold or platinum dust is included in the lacquer used for repair work, creating beautiful, gleaming veins that allow the piece's history to be at the forefront of one's attention. Interestingly, this technique got so popular, collectors started smashing brand new pottery in order to replicate the style.Gerard was rebuilt with simplicity in mind. The wheels are sturdy and built to last. The rear is a 32 hole Fixed Hub laced to a 650b Diagonale Rim while the front is a Grand Cru High Flange Front Hub laced to the same. The rear is spaced 120mm so the rear wheel's hub fits without any issues, while the front is 96mm (typical of old French bikes). No biggie, the front hub gets crammed in.Gearing is midrange: 44 tooth 50.4 chaining paired to an 18 tooth rear cog. This setup makes around town jaunts with a load easy while minimizing spinning out on slightly longer rides. Tires are cushy Panaracer Pari-Motos in the 42mm sizeway.The bottom bracket shell is French threaded (drive side and non-drive side both tighten clockwise) so I used our French Threaded Bottom Bracket with a 118mm spindle.A proper French bike cannot be left without fenders. 52mm Zeppelins wrap perfectly and provide optimal coverage. A clever, little Spring Thing keeps a nice fenderline with the frame's long, horizontal dropouts.The Porteur Rack is fitted close to the fender by trimming the lower tangs. The rack is further mounted to the fender in Constructeur fashion.The Sabot Pedals are my go-to. They're chunky, spinny, grippy, elegant, and look right on this traditional build.Handlebars are the 23.8mm Left Banks with NOS CLB city levers (what the Tektro FL750 levers are modeled after). Grips are the ever comfy and classic Rustines Constructeur in black. Brake cabling is our Stainless Steel Wound kit along with some Step-Down Housing Caps for the brake levers and frame cable stops.The Grand Cru Quill Stem needed a tad bit of sanding to fit into the steerer. Clint did a nice write-up about fitting 22.2mm stems into 22.0mm French steerers. A few minutes worth of sanding allowed the quill to fit in and stay secure. A silver Brass Temple Bell adorns the stem in traditional constructeur fashion.Atop the 25.4mm Dajia 1b Seatpost is an old Brooks perch. I got the saddle when we picked up our Santana Arriva Tandem. I believe it's from the mid-80s. I think it might be too far gone to be remolded, but it sure looks cool!The brakes were disassembled, cleaned and new Kool Stop 4-dot Pads were fitted. How do they stop? They stop, more or less. Mostly less. They modulate speed, that's where I'll leave it.The showstopper here is this vintage, gorgeous chainguard. We've had in it in our showroom's display case for years, waiting for just the right build. The original paint and patina is perfect for Gerard. The frame has a single mount on the downtube. For the seat tube, I used our Chainguard Mounting Hardware and a bit of cloth tape to protect the tube.A Porteur Double Leg Kickstand keeps the bike upright and ready for loading.Experiencing the history, care, and continued service of something so connected as a bicycle and its rider is a wonderful thing to behold: scuffed crankarms from miles and miles of tours, lived in bar tape, saddle with corner tears from taking a gravel laden corner too fast, scratched top tube from that darn sharp sign post I always for[...]

The Case For Kickstands


By ScottKickstands are something near and dear to the hearts of many city riders. The dirty looks you get from shop keepers when you lean your bike against a window or wall can be tough to take in a world where proper bike parking can be taxing to find.A swath of properly kickstanded bikes in Zug, SwitzerlandA solution to the dirty looks is a kickstand. Two VO frames, the Campeur and the upcoming Polyvalent, have kickstand plates welded in place to make installation a snap.Just use the small allen head bolt that comes with our kickstands, instead of the long bolt. Remove the top part (put it in a safe place in case you want to use the kickstand later on a bike without a plate). Line up the kickstand with the underside of the kickstand plate, put the allen head bolt into the hole in the plate, and tighten up (it takes an 8 mm allen wrench FYI).If your favorite urban roving bike does not have a kickstand plate, don't anguish. You can still install a kickstand on it. Both of our kickstand models come with a top plate and a longer bolt (a 14 mm wrench fits this nut) so you can put it on any steel bike. Note: Do not install a clamp-on kickstand on an aluminium or carbon fibre frame. You'll break the frame.You want to install it between the bottom bracket and the chain stay bridge area. Put some tape or a cut up inner tube on the frame to protect the paint. Position the bottom part of the kickstand (the part with the legs attached) on the underside of the chain stays. Put the top clamp on the top of the chain stays. Insert the bolt through the top clamp and thread it into the bottom piece. Tighten the bolt until good and snug. There is no magic torque spec for this. It's a bit of a Goldilocks amount of pressure - not too loose and not too tight. You want it just right. Remember to check the tightness over time to ensure it does not loosen up at an inappropriate time/space/place.The Copenhagen kickstand is the best if you have a rear cassette/freewheel. This kickstand has the legs both flip to the left (non drive) side, so the legs won't touch the chain.  The Porteur kickstand's legs flip up to be on either side of the tire and can clip the chain of a derailleur equipped bike. So it is better suited to IG/singlespeed hubs. Not much difference weight wise between the two - the Copenhagen weighs 1 lb 6 oz, the Porteur, 1 lb, 8 oz. For comparison, a fully filled VO water bottle weighs 1 lb 8 oz.Are you a kickstand lover or hater? Let us know your deliberations on the issue of using a kickstand in the comments below.[...]

Fresh Container with New Saddles, Hubs, and Fender Hardware


by IgorWe've just taken a fresh container with a bunch of new products and restocked on a bunch that you all have been patiently waiting on...Enjoy!These Hubs Go To ElevenAs much as we've tried to resist it, it seems like this whole 11 speed thing may stick around for a while. These new hubs are compatible with 11 speed Shimano, Campagnolo, and SRAM (non-XD) cassettes.In addition, these hubs retain the tool-free field-serviceability for which our hubs have become known. Though the hub displayed in these instructions is the 10 speed variant, the process is exactly the same.For those running 8-10 speed cassettes, you have two options: 1) pick up a spacer and mount the cassette to the 11 speed freehub or 2) get the 10 speed hub versions which are on sale now.For those running 7 speed cassettes, the same applies, you'll just need a thicker spacer on the 11 speed freehub body.These Saddles are Silky SmoothWhile our Microfiber Touring Saddles have quickly become our most popular offering, many have expressed a preference for a smoother top to find more fluid positions during long days in the saddle. So here it is:The Smooth Touring Saddle has become a personal favorite of mine. While it has nearly the same dimensions as the Model 3 Leather Saddle, it is far lighter (410g) and retains the integrated bag loops.The saddle is great for touring and city bikes as it is weather proof and since it isn't flashy, they'll hopefully be overlooked at the bike rack.Hardware Kits for FendersWe now offer a full hardware kit for metal fenders. This hardware is compatible with VO, Honjo, Lefol, and pretty much any other metal fender that uses drawbolts. The kits are available in both Silver and Noir.This kit is perfect for those mounting the fenders to proper fender braze-ons, so if you need a specific hardware solution, find what you seek in our fender hardware section.Call in the Fender Re-InforcementsWith the proliferation of off-road touring and gravel/all-road/any-road/road-plus/adventure/quiver-killer bikes, we have started including a pair of reinforcement plates in all of our alloy fender sets. Since you asked for it, we are now including them separately from the fender kits in 30mm and 40mm widths.Just peel and stick it under the screw during installation - one under the seat stay bridge and one under the fork crown.Get Your Klunk OnThe Klunks are back in stock! While these super fun handlebars were designed with MTBs in mind, we've seen them on city bikes, too!Crazy Bars are CrazyThey're back in stock and ready to get weird.Make Your Back Happy with the Happy StemWhile they look a bit odd, these Happy Stems have proven to be incredibly popular![...]

Stem Measurements


by Clint

Finding the right size stem is important to dial in the fit of your bike. This article is going to focus on defining dimensions of a stem, and not the fit.

Most of the important dimensions can be identified on a threadless stem, so let's start with those! Here's a neat infographic:

Length and angle are dimensions that affect fit, while steerer diameter, clamp diameter, and stack height are going to affect compatibility. Different combinations of length, angle, and position on the fork steerer can yield the same bar position, so do some trigonometry or trial and error to find the best fit for you!

Dimensions are mostly going to be the same for a quill stem. Height above minimum insertion is an important one specific to quill stems. That looks like this:

Our Cigne Stem is really what sparked this article. Due to its unusual look and function, dimensions are a little funky.  Here's a drawing that should clear things up:

Hopefully this answers a few questions about what to look for when deciding which stem will work for your needs.

Prepping an Old French Frame to Ride Once Again


by IgorThis is Gerard. He's 61(ish) years old and hails from St. Etienne, France.From the late 1800s to the early 1960s, St. Etienne in the Southeast of France was a hive for frame, component, and accessory production. Some the biggest marques that we know today were once headquartered there: Mercier, Stronglight, Automoto, Simplex, Vitus, and Lyotard just to name few.Many bikes and frames out of St. Etienne were mass produced and sold domestically as well as overseas. Once the frames were in the hands of the shops, they would apply their own transfer decals and any other ornamentation. This is why you'll see so many nearly identical looking frames with different marques on the down tube.Not much is known about the Gerard Cycles shop from Rue la Fayette in Paris. Searching The Web for various permutations of Gerard along with Porteur, Randonneur, and all the rest of the '-eurs brings up a lot of Peugeot "Captain Gerard" folding bikes from WW1 - which are cool in their own right.This frame and fork was built in a classic touring style. It features an integrated hanger for a wide-range Simplex Rigidex rear derailleur, braze-on for a rear bottle-dynamo lighting, downtube wire guides to the front, and double dropout eyelets for racks and fenders. Given the condition of the paint and wear-points, I'd say someone enjoyed the heck out of the bike. The construction is straight forward and very typical of French bikes at the time. 26.1mm top tube, 28.4mm down tube, and 28.4mm seat tube. The selected tubing is straight gauge which makes a sturdy and comfortable ride over long distances, especially over cobbles and unpaved roads. The fork has a lovely, traditional French bend. Pairing a 73.5° head tube angle with a 74mm raked fork, the trail is about 21mm on 38mm 650b wheels.This is an old French bike, so everything just has to be different - which all becomes clear during the prep process:the fork is ~94.4mm spaced - I suspect it should be 96mm, but who knows what happened over its 60 year life120mm rear spacing - pretty standard for the timeFrench threaded bottom bracket shell - good thing we have French Threaded Bottom Brackets!25.6mm seat post - because of course...Narrow cantilever spacing - the frame came with period Mafac brakes, so that is handledLuckily both dropouts accept normal 10mm and 9mm hubs for rear and front, respectivelySteerer is ~22.18 - so a normal quill will work with a tad of sanding. French is 22.0mm.To get the frame and fork ready for Frame Saver, the headset has to come out. The upper cup was stuck in place, so we put it into a vice to give it a bit of persuasion. The reason the headset was so hard to turn became clear very quickly: the bottom cup was missing one bearing and the top was missing three, the grease has calcified, and the races pitted. No matter, I'll pop a new French Threaded Headset in.So here is how he sits as spokes are coming in and the frame is being Saved. Ultimately, Gerard will get the Porteur treatment and ride once again![...]

What's Your Cut Off For Vintage?


By ScottAs another year begins, we're back in the office and working on projects, both new ones and ones that have followed us into the new year. One of the new projects for 2018 is building up a vintage bike and showing the process through the blog. Igor's been scouring ebay and has found a worthy candidate in a French frameset from the late 50s. But in starting down this road/path/trail, one thing that came to our mind: what is vintage and how is that defined vs an antique?Webster's defines vintage as "of old, recognized and enduring interest, importance or quality. Of the best and most characteristic."  We've had folks call us about their vintage bike - a 1935 Schwinn. Other calls have been from folks asking about part for a "vintage" bike they own, a 2001 LeMond. So perhaps the date is in the eye of the beholder.The L'Eroica folks currently use bikes from 1987 and before as the cut off for their events. They feel bikes of that era and earlier have a "vintage look and feel". They do allow aero brake levers, admitting that they started to appear in the mid 80's, but feel that they changed the look of traditional racing bikes.Events like L'Eroica and French Fender Day provide a focal point for people who ride vintage bikes to meet up with other folks who also view these bikes as something to ride and enjoy.In terms of vintage vs antique, Igor mentions that the difference was that he would have no problem using something everyday that was vintage, but felt that an antique should only be used sparingly to allow people in the future to experience it tangibly rather than seeing it in print or photos.I think vintage is something 25 years and older. So in bike terms, that puts us around 1993 or so.  For me, that's a perfect time in my life. I was still working in bike shop then, so I have a tactile connection to that time frame and an appreciation for the style of the time.Is vintage a perception? Is it related to one's own time frame of life? Where does your distinction between vintage and antique come into play?[...]

We're Back From Break, Plus an Update on Lilac Polyvalents


by Igor

And we're back. Happy 2018! What are some bike goals you hope to accomplish this year? I've always been more of a tourist and day-tripper, but I'm looking forward to doing a few brevets this year.

In other news, fresh off the presses: Due to popular demand, Lilac Polyvalents are now available for pre-sale as a limited edition offering.

We wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous year for you and your families!

Happy Holiday Wishes, 2017 Recap, and 2018 Plans


by IgorWe wanted to wish all of our customers, suppliers, and readers a Merry Holiday season and a Wonderful New Year.We've had another prosperous, fun, and very busy year here at VO. In 2017, we released several products that have quickly become favorites!Removable Faceplate Quill Stem - The removable 31.8mm faceplate allows for a seemingly endless combination of cockpit setups in a simple and elegant package.Klunker Bars - These take a long time to make and both runs sold out really quickly, but fear not! We're getting lots in our January container.Redesigned Randonneur Front Racks - For today's rough and tumble touring lifestyles, we updated our front racks to be more stout while including more flexible mounting options.New Website - What an undertaking! Thanks to everyone who provided us feedback when we went live. We're continuously working on dialing in the site.On a personal note, Adrian and I welcomed our first son, Theodore, into the world in October. He's one super rad little dude and a heck of a looker. I can't wait to start outfitting my Polyvalent as a #dadbike for family adventures once he gets a bit older. I'll welcome any and all suggestions for build ideas!We've worked on a bunch of projects and are looking forward to seeing them through in 2018! Here's a quick snapshot of what's to come:Polyvalent and Piolet frames - These have been the works for two years and we're ready to get them in April. They're available for pre-sale now!Nouveau Randonneur Handlebars - These have quickly become a favorite bar of mine. Ovalized tops, 31.8 clamp, a bit of backsweep, and nice flare.Made in USA luggage - A cohesive design for randonneuring and touring. Can't wait to work on a few more accessories for the line!650b x 58mm Wavy Fenders - The perfect fit for 650b tires ranging from 42 to 48mm. Ultimately, they will be polished, but I kind of like the raw look (they'll patina nicely).Curvy One and Curvy Too Bars - Handlebars that walk the line between classic and modern. 31.8 clamp, generous width, and long grip area for modern components. They'll be available in flat and riser (with more sweep), and in silver and Noir finishes.11 Speed Compatible Hubs - With 11 speed configurations becoming more and more popular and affordable, we've had customers asking for them. These will be available early in the year in rim brake and disc brake varieties. Don't worry, for those still running 7 and 8 speed cassettes, you'll still be able to use them with spacers, just like our current 10 speed freehubs.Additionally, I wanted to thank our team here at VO for being continuously amazing. I'm lucky enough to work with a small but hard-working and devoted group that likes to design and ride fun bikes.Finally, as we do each year, VO will be closed starting December 25th and re-open on January 2nd to give our staff time off to visit family and enjoy the outdoors. If you needed to get anything sent out before then, place your order before 3pm EST on December 22nd.Happy Holidays and see you in 2018![...]

"650b For Your Hands"


by IgorWay back, when we first brought in the Constructeur Grips, we sent over a care package to famed constructeur, Peter Weigle. At the next Philly Bike Expo, he told us about how comfortable they were on the drops of his road bike. Jokingly, he said it was like "650b for his hands".Having ridden his Raleigh 650b conversion at this past French Fender Day I can attest to how cushy it really is. It smooths out a lot of the road noise that you otherwise might feel when you're in the drops - especially if you have little in the way of padding besides a thin layer of cloth tape.Now, this setup isn't new. I've seen it on French Randonneurs and British Path Racers of the 40s and 50s, but the style has all but disappeared from mainstream favor. Sometimes dirt drop riders use these style grips for the same reasons, with the additional benefit of a chunkier grip for leverage during punchy climbs.This installation is easier to do on handlebars with long drops such as our Rando or Course Bars. With modern ergo models, the grip may bunch up on the acute curves of the bars.So off we go!First, you'll need to unwrap your bars since you won't be able to slide the grip over your existing wrap. Next, use rubbing alcohol and slide the grip all the way up the drop. Where the grip ends is where you'll start your wrap.I cut a diagonal in the bar tape to make the first wrap since it was close to the hook and I wanted it to be as flat as possible.This step is optional, but Peter said that knocking down the ridges made for a more comfortable shape. I ultimately decided not to do it since I found it comfortable as is, but will probably take some time over the winter break to reduce the end ridges a bit. You could use sandpaper, but a bench-grinder would be a better tool to use.Finish up your wrap, and that's it![...]

Bike Build Ideas: Winter Road Bike


by IgorNow that we've had our first snowfall of the year, I'm seeing an influx of social media posts showing riders dragging their winter bike out of the shed/garage/stack of other bikes.Thermos', great for keeping coffee hot as well as bikes uprightWhile winter bikes are frequently under-appreciated, each part and accessory is chosen and built with under-appreciation in mind. That is, if your chain gets rusty from the salt and sand mixture on the road, it isn't a big deal - just get another cheap one and ride the bike. Tire shredded from debris after a big melt? There's another hanging in the shed, aging. So what if the color doesn't match?The biggest difference between a winter bike and a not-winter bike is the meticulous curation of components and accessories to give you maximum enjoyment without breaking the bank with upkeep.First, make sure your steel frame (do they make other kinds?) is frame-saver'd. Our frames are prepped out of the factory, but if you have an older frame and fork, or don't know if it has been done, it's worth the afternoon and do it before building it up.Sometimes you just need a reminderMost obviously: fenders. Full coverage fenders are a must-have for winter and the rain. They'll keep you, your drivetrain, and, more importantly, your riding buddies clean and happy. If you've ever ridden behind someone without fenders during a rainstorm, you know what I mean. No one likes road grime to the face. I've selected the 700c Facetted Fenders for this build - they're a favorite of mine. I've also added a low-hanging mudflap on the front to protect my feet against stray washouts.I've selected a few components that are cheap, plentiful, and have been serving me well for years. They come with the added benefit of cheap chains and cassettes, so I don't feel bad dropping a few dozens of dollars on a basic Shimano 10 speed cassette and KMC chain.To stop in the slop, disc brakes are a must. You'll never worry about frozen pads and rims like on rim brakes and disc pads only get more bite when they've got road junk in them. These cable actuated Spyres are really good. Hydros are better, but I'm not really into messing with hydraulic brakes.As the sun gets lazier and the days get shorter, lighting is even more important. Winter bikes need to have integrated lighting, at least in the front. I have a cheap and surprisingly not bad light up front matched to a Shutter Precision disc hub. For the rear, I have a bunch of reflective gear and a very bright blinking light with extra batteries in the saddle bag.Truthfully, I'd be happy to ride this on a warm Spring day or on a blustery December morning like today, so I don't really know if it is a true "winter bike". I think it's simply a great road-ridin' bike to just hop on and explore backroad twistys and climb some hills regardless of the weather.Do you really need to have a winter specific bike? What makes it special for you?---------------------------------------P.S. There are only a few days left in our 20% off Winter Sale![...]

Dirt Drops - a Setup Guide


By ScottI've long been a fan of dirt drop style handlebars. My buddy Kevin and I were typical mountain bike riders of the early 90's in BC. Our bikes had super narrow flat bars to enable us to ride between trees on the narrow single track trails of the area. A bike shop owner in Whistler, who had all the cool parts from the US that we'd only seen in magazines, convinced us to try drop bars. The bars were a hoot to use. On flowy single track, they felt more precise than traditional flat bars. The dirt drops also gave my bike an unconventional look, that helped it stand out in a sea of bikes in BC.  I don't think we saw anyone else with them in years of riding in BC and the western US. I used them on my Brodie  for off road riding, commuting, and touring for over a dozen years.An original set of WTB off road drop bars circa 1987(?)Fast forward to now and you'll see a proliferation of drop bars with flare being used for all sorts of bike builds. So you've seen them on builds on sites like The Radavist or Cycle Exif and you've gone and bought a set of bars. Now, how do you set these up? Well, let's work on that shall we.A brifter shifting set upThe basic tenant of using dirt drops is that unlike traditional drop bars, you want the brake hoods to be at least the same height as the saddle, preferably higher. The idea is that you can ride with your hands on the hoods for comfort and you can get into the drops for "rough stuff" and still maintain control. You'll see that many dirt drop bars have a fair amount of flare, compared to road drop bars, and this extra leverage gives you more control in those situations where finesse is needed- threading the needle on single track trails or trying to get through a mud pit on a remote gravel road in western PA.Getting your bars up high is key to taking advantage of dirt drop barsSo you should look at your current cockpit set up. If you are running a threadless set up, you might need to get a new stem. Something like the Cigne stem would help to move your new drop bars up into a higher position. If you are running a threaded headset, using a Cigne adaptor lets you use the Cigne stem or you could use a removeable face plate quill stem to move the bars up higher.What else to think of when switching to dirt drops? Shifters would be the other thing. You can set up shifting in three different ways. You can use traditional bar end shifters. The Dia Compe ones we sell work great for up to a 9 speed set up. You can do with "brifters" like Igor did on his Piolet build. Or you could be more unique and go with the thumb shifter mounts and put them up by the handlebar clamp area and shift with your thumbs on the flat section of the drop bars.What's your set up with dirt drop bars? Let us know in the comments.[...]

New Tires and Grips Replenished


By Scott

In spite of it being close to the end of the year, new stuff keeps arriving here at VO HQ.  This time it's a new size of the popular Fairweather Cruise tires - now in a 650b x 42 mm size. These tires use the same tread design as the other Cruise tires (the traditional Pasela PT tread) and Fairweather's more supple casing. We brought in the Brown tread and the Cream tread, both with a traditional tan side wall.

Measuring them on a Diagonale Rim, with 40 psi and at 150 feet of elevation, they measure a pretty spot on 42mm. Fairweather has hit a home run with their Cruise line. They provide a comfortable ride, nice grip on the rough stuff, and long life - what more could you want? Weight wise, they weigh 474 gr.

Also arriving yesterday was a restock of our very popular Rustines Constructeur Grips in Gum. These grips have proven to be the most popular color of the variations we offer. It might be the subtlety of them that allows them to work well with almost any color scheme you might have going on.

See they even work with this wild color scheme

Polyvalent and Piolet Pre-Sales are Live


The pre-sales for the Polyvalent and Piolet are up! While the retail price of both framesets is $725, the pre-sale price is $675.

Here is the fine print for the offer:
  • Frame and fork in Deep Emerald Green for Polyvalent and Poppin' Purple for Piolet
  • Pre-sale cannot be combined with any additional promotions or discounts
  • Early April 2018 arrival
  • Pre-sale concludes January 15th, 2018
  • Shipping fees for orders outside the contiguous 48 states will be quoted and billed separately at time of shipping.

In order to keep pre-sales nice and tidy, one thing we'd request is if you're placing an order for other items now, please place one order for the frameset, and another for everything else. All other products will be shipped immediately.

Can't wait to see how you all build them up!

A Bike Nicknamed Lilac and Upcoming Pre-Sale Details


by IgorWhen we get in prototypes of frames, each size is a different color. We often get tube samples of paint we like, but seeing a whole frame and fork really lets us envision how the rest of the bike will flow.Sometimes a color we thought to be perfect, isn't, and sometimes a color we select as an off-the-wall trial is perfect (Poppin' Purple Piolet).This bike we've nicknamed Lilac is a Polyvalent prototype that turned out to be just lovely with polished silver components.The paint isn't something you'd commonly see on a stock bike, but it's fun to see what happens when you don't have limitations on your color palettes. We'll put this one in our collective back pocket for later.The components are all taken off the last Polyvalent we took on tour to Eurobike, with the addition of the Rando Handlebar Bag and Day-Tripper Saddle Bag - which have been marvelous.On a side note, since we have had such an overwhelmingly positive response to, and demand for, the Polyvalent and Piolets, we will be doing a pre-order for all frame sizes starting Monday, December 4th. Retail price for both the Polyvalent and Piolet will be $725, but those participating in the pre-sale will be able to get a frameset for $675. Deep Emerald Green and Poppin' Purple are the production colors, respectively. We're looking at early-April delivery.Pre-sale closing is still TBD, but it will be generous, and we'll give notice of its conclusion. [...]

20% Off Winter Sale


We're having a sale!

Starting today and going through December 15th, get 20% off the entire VO store. That includes in-stock frames, wheels, components, accessories - everything except gift certificates.

All you have to do is use the not-so-secret coupon code: Orange17. Here's how to get the deal:
  • When your cart is ready, click "Checkout".

  • Enter the discount code Orange17 and click apply.

  • Confirm the code has been applied, and finish checking out!

Happy Riding!

Closed Over Thanksgiving


by Igor

We'll be closed on November 23rd and re-open on November 27th to give our hardworking staff some time off to spend with their families and get in some long bike rides over the Thanksgiving holiday.

If you need an order shipped today, please place it before 3pm EST and we'll get it out the door.

Please have a safe and happy Thanskgiving break, and we'll see you bright and early on Monday!

Ps. We just got in these nifty Opinel No.8 Cyclist Knives! Stainless steel blade and classic Opinel design.

Update on Luggage


by IgorFor those who were able to make it to Philly Bike Expo, you were able to have a hands-on look at the upcoming luggage we've been working on in collaboration with our good friends over at Road Runner Bags in Los Angeles. It's a line that is intended to be durable, reliable, and straddles the line between traditional and contemporary. All of the following bag options should be here in the time for Spring riding, so stay tuned for any updates!Randonneur Handlebar BagThe Randonneur Handlebar Bag has a familiar shape and function, but has a bunch of modern design cues and construction techniques to launch it into this century.In addition to the beautiful Cordura outside, the inside has an exceptionally durable and waterproof hi-vis truck-tarp liner - no more losing your wallet in a black hole.The pockets are modular and use high-quality velcro straps so they can be mounted to the sides of the bag or facing the rider. Mix and match the pocket positions to dial in your riding preference!The Cell Phone Pockets are sized to fit larger, modern smart phones. It gobbles up the iPhone 7s Plus (5.5" screen) with ease.The Snapper Sack fits small point and shoot cameras, lenses, or anything else that might fit such as a waterbottle, soda, or 750ml wine bottle.Both of these pockets can be mounted to your backpack's straps as well!The bag is grommeted so that it easily works with our Integrated Decaleur system. No need to use a drill or soldering iron to install the bag mount.Pricing will be $185 for the main bag, $30 for the Cell Pockets, and $45 for the Snapper Sack.Day-Tripper Saddle BagOur Day-Tripper Saddle Bag is the perfect mate for an all-day ride. So pack up an extra layer, tools, mini-pump, camera, and film.It uses a rip-stop nylon roll-top with a buckle for expandability and security. A simple flap holds everything snug as a bug in a rug.There is Mega-Grip under the saddle rails and around the seatpost strap to keep everything in place for out-of-the-saddle efforts. The side pocket is sized for a minipump and also has Mega-Grip to keep it secure.Pricing will be $95.Transporteur BagIt's so simple. The main cavity uses seam-sealed rip-stop nylon and is waterproof. While the bottom is flat and sturdy, the overall construction is not rigid so it can be compressed down or expanded easily depending on the load you're carrying.There is also a small, forward facing boxed-out organizer pocket for your smaller stuff.It fits on our Porteur Rack as well as the Wald 1372 Basket.Pricing will be $125.All of the bags will be available in Burgundy, Navy, Black, and Teal. We're really excited to bring in this cohesive line of bags that we designed to meet the functional needs of riders, while still looking great. A blend of form,  function, and some pretty sweet colors. [...]

Beaujolais Nouveau 2017 Review


By ScottNovember is an interesting time of year. Here in the northern hemisphere, it is the real start to winter in a lot of locations. In the Southern Hemisphere, it is the beginning of spring in many latitudes.  Here at VO HQ, or at least my corner of it, November is a bit of a let down. October has warm days, cool nights, the celebrations of anniversaries, birthdays and Thanksgiving in Canada. November's increasing darkness and colder weather brings a reminder that the year is close to an end and that the rush of the holidays is almost upon us. But in the midst of that, there are certainly many things to celebrate.Thanksgiving (The US one) is coming up in about a week and I love getting together with friends to converse, eat, and enjoy their company.  The week prior to it is the release of Beaujolais Nouveau - the youngest of the French wines, that are released at on the third Thursday of November. These are wines that have only been bottled for 6-8 weeks, so the Gamay grapes that are typically used, have little tanin and a very fruity flavor to them. Perfect for those of us who aren't the biggest wine drinkers.Here at VO, the arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau has always been treated as a great excuse for the staff to relax and taste test that year's vintage. None of us are great wine drinkers, so this is always a great contest to see who could sound the most, ahem, "wine critic-y" of all. Talk of fruitiness, of the taste of plums and such waft around the office here as we taste these wines that, at most, come out to $10 a bottle.We tried Pierre-Marie Chermette vineyard this year.  This vineyard has a different take on it's grapes, using older ones for the Beaujolais then most vineyards do. The result is a wine that was more robust then other varieties that we had previously tried.  It has a dry finish, but good legs. Igor could taste some plums with an air of strawberries. Will thought that it was "very aromatic." Derek's comment at the end of the tasting was that he was "a fan", of this vintage.Wine might not be to every one's fancy, but certainly it is a reason to stop, smell the cork as it were and relax with friends.P.S. Just a reminder to shops: with our updated site, you need to create an account on the new site using the same email address used to log into the web site previously. This will tie the new account to the old one. After you have created a new account on the site, you'll get an email confirming the account. Just follow the instructions and you'll be good to go.Any questions, please contact us by email:[...]