14 August, 2017

Overnight on the NCR with a Fuzzy Friend

by Igor

Last weekend, Adrian and I did an overnight on the Northern Central Railroad Trail, officially known as the Torrey C. Brown Trail, and Heritage Rail Trail. It's a terrific, off-road MUP that starts in Cockeysville, MD and ends in York, PA - the combination of two trails make up the length of the ride. With a distance of 40 miles each way, about 20 miles on each trail, and little elevation change, it's the perfect leisurely overnight tour for us and our fuzzy 5-year old, Stella.

Packing for an overnight with your dog is pretty much the same as packing without. Just add a few scoops of dog food for the time you will be out and make sure you have extra water if it's not abundantly available on the trail. Stella is a well seasoned outdoors dog, so she's happy with a stick and any patch of ground or spot on your sleeping pad - no need for any toys or bed.
The Maryland side of the trail, the NCR, is more like the C&O - bit rocky and uneven, turning into double track about 10 miles in. Stella was a trooper, standing in the trailer for the first 20 miles to make up for the uneven terrain.

The Heritage Trail on the PA side is super well taken care of. The terrain is mainly crushed, dusty stone with frequent train track crossings - very reminiscent of the Great Alleghany Passage. Small trail towns dot the route and are nice stops to pick up provisions and see some of the local landscape. These stops also lend themselves well for dogs to stretch their legs and get lots of pets from anyone walking by.
Chances are, your pup will be tired from all of the activities of the day and will rest easy. It's important to get your fuzzy companion acclimated to sleeping in a tent early-on, so they aren't startled by the random woodsy noises that go on during the night.
A bit of advice for first time fuzz-butt haulers, which I guess could apply to non-fuzz-butt hauling as well (kids):
  • Initial training is easier with two people on a secluded road. One is in front towing, the other is behind giving positive encouragement and treats.
  • Get low gearing. Dogs and trailers are heavy and hills are not forgiving.
  • Bring extra food and water for you and your pup.
  • Slowly increase the distance of your ride until your pup, (and you!), are comfortable with longer distances.
  • Scan for obstructions in the road earlier than normal.
  • Keep your speed in check going downhill.
Do you take your dog/cat/lizard/snake out with you during your rides?

07 August, 2017

A Discussion of Shims

By Scott

Sometimes we get attached to things for no rational reason, but more an emotional one. If you suffer from Sable (see the post here), you might have an old WTB (that's Wilderness Trail Bikes) dirt drop bar and want to use it on a build. Or perhaps you have an awesome stem, but the clamp size does not match any bar you have. This is where shims come into play.


Let's start out with the basics first - stem clamp size - which is the diameter of the handlebar where the stem attaches. Up until the 2000's there were four sizes: 25.0 mm for French bars, 25.4 mm for the flat bar/mtb bars, 26.0 mm for road bike bars, and 26.4 mm for the Italian bars, mostly Cinelli.

In the last 15 years, we've gained a new "standard" of 31.8 mm diameter. So now, there are five standards, of which two (25.4 mm and 26.0 mm) remain very popular, one size dropped off (25.0 mm), one size remained the bastion of one country only (26.4 mm), and one size (31.8 mm) rose in popularity as carbon bars became more popular and people wanted "stiffer" handlebars for those county limit sign sprints.

Side bar: In our design work, we look at all these "standards" and work with and around them to make our products. For instance, we did the Crazy bar in a 25.4 mm size, so that you could use a shim if you opted for a 26.0 mm or 31.8 mm stem. The tricky part is when you have a 31.8 mm bar. You can only use a 31.8 mm stem. If you can find a way to use 31.8 mm bar with a 26.0 mm stem, don't call us, call Stockholm and talk to the Nobel Prize committee.

Choosing a shim is a two part operation. Step one is figuring out the parts you have. What is the stem clamp area for the bars and what size bars does the stem take? If you want a Tall Stack Stem (31.8 mm) but are devoted to Chris's Rando Bar (26.0 mm), you'll need a shim that works to bridge the difference between 26.0 to 31.8. So you'd go to our stems page and look at the variety of shims there. You'd see two types that match our mathematical specification - a four piece and a two piece set. Which to choose? If your stem has a two bolt faceplate, like the Cigne stem, go with the two-piece shim set. If your stem has a four bolt faceplate, you can use either the four or two bolt shim set.


What if we swap out the scenario? Let's say you have a quill stem, like a VO quill stem (26.0 mm) and you want to use a Postino bar (25.4 mm) for a more upright position. So you'll look on the quill stem page and see one option for shims, but in two widths. What width do I want? 35 mm wide shims would fit most one bolt stems. You need the thickness only in the middle area of the stem where the clamp bolt is. It's only on a threadless stem with a wider clamp area that you want to use the 45 mm wide model.

So don't be afraid to pull out that bar or stem and use it. Do some math/measurements or search The Google for information on it and go from there. There must be some bars or stems waiting to be put to use with a new build.

01 August, 2017

20% off Frames!

by Igor

Update: The sale has concluded. Thank you for everyone who participated. Happy riding!

Welcome to August! The Polyvalents are going through one more round of revisions and testing before they are approved to go into production. Our tentative schedule is to have them at VO World Headquarters by early Spring 2018, just in time for the season. Until then, we need to clear out a bit of shelf space to prepare for their arrival. So....


For the next week, we will be offering 20% off all in-stock framesets. This includes CampeurPass Hunter, and XL Piolets.

No coupon code needed! Our VO Dealers get the deal, too. Don't forget about the 10% component and accessory discount when you order a frame.


In addition, we have just put up several paint blem'd frames. In case you didn't know, every single frameset gets pulled out of the box and inspected before leaving. Every now and again, we do find one with an imperfection. You can check them out on the discounted frame page.

The fine print:
  • The sale will run from this moment to Tuesday, August 8th, 11:59pm ET.
  • No backorders
  • Only applicable to in-stock framesets
Happy riding!

27 July, 2017

Igor's Country Rambler - 650b Pass Hunter

by Igor

Let me preface this article with a few words of caution. Obviously, using a narrower rim will yield narrower tires, and vice-versa. The front has lots of room, the rear chainstays are pretty tight. Tight enough that I can't recommend anyone do this specific conversion. I could have dimpled the chainstays for extra clearance, but I felt it wasn't necessary for now. Additionally, I wanted to use as many regular hand tools as possible. Narrower tires like the Pari-Motos or other ~42mm tires would make fender installation easier. That said, enjoy!


Ever since the Polyvalent prototypes came in, a 650b itch has developed. I tried calamine lotion, anti-histamines, wearing gloves, and even bathing in tomato juice - nothing worked. So instead, I embraced it. Fueled by inspiration and Clint's OutoftheBasement Brew® coffee, I decided to 650b my Pass Hunter Disc.


Right away, I noticed that the chainstays were potentially going to be an issue. I mounted WTB Horizon 47mm tires on 28mm wide rims and let them age for a few days. They seemed to have hit a stasis of 46.8mm after a few days. The chainstay clearance is tight, but manageable. The overall diameter of this setup is roughly the same as the Fairweather 700x28s I had previously mounted, but with extra confidence to roll over the grates on the bridges we have around here going into and out of town.

I could have called it a day, posted some photos on IG, and been showered in virtual hearts. Instead, the bike screamed for fenders - it is a VO frame, after all. I managed to massage, crimp, and adjust our 700x63mm Fluted Fenders to fit the curvature of the wheel. In the following photos, you can see how things line up and where they needed "encouragement".



Specifically on these fenders, the section that mounts to the chainstay bridge has a sort of "tongue" to allow it to fit into more bikes. Additionally, you'll notice the fender is crimped behind the front derailleur. It isn't a dent. That's how it comes stock to allow a derailleur to travel into the smaller ring without interference.


Finishing touches were put on - a prototype Randonneur Front Rack with the fender mounted. This combination was a cinch to install and makes a really simple and strong connection.



Here I come, #basketlyfe! 

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Don't forget to sign up for our Bulletin. You'll get info about upcoming products, sale coupons, future events, tips n' tricks, and general goings-on. We'll only send them out once a month or so, and they'll be short and sweet.

Everyone can sign up here and dealers have one, too.

19 July, 2017

The Great Brake Debate

By Scott

Brakes are something that we all have on our bikes. The kind of brake you have is something that has dramatically changed in the last decade or so. The controversy between disc and canti brakes was at it's cusp about 5 years back, but we've had a flow of emails recently asking about disc brakes due to the continued testing of the Polyvalent (with disc brakes for 2018).


A curious side note to these emails is the the preference of brakes varying by location. We've found that folks in the Pacific Northwest are asking for disc brakes and paradoxically, our Thai market reports that the majority of their customers prefer rim/cantilever brakes on their frames. I thought we might look into the world of brakes and see what the pros and con's are for the two major brake types that we at VO use on our frames - disc brakes and cantilever brakes.

To frame this comparison, I'd like to say that I have used both styles of brakes. I've used BB7s on the Polyvalent prototype and liked them. My standard ride for many years is a touring bike with the Tektro CR710 brakes installed.

One of the first things that people talk about with disc brakes is the stopping power. As disc brakes started with MTB's, it makes sense. You want to stop on a dime before you go over that cliff face. It is probably the most obvious advantage to a disc brake bike, the increase in braking performance vs a cantilever brake. It certainly inspires confidence when you are coming down a steep col/pass/gap and need to scrub off speed when sheep start to cross the road in front of you.

When I installed the CR710's on my bike, they were dead easy to set up. They are similar to the Zeste brakes in that each side has a set screw to adjust the spring tension. Tighten or loosen as needed and then tighten the set screws on the straddle hanger when the pads are even and you are good to go. Now I'm not the greatest mechanic at times (ask my wife, she'll tell you. On second thought, don't ask. It brings up old issues that I don't need to be reminded of), but setting up disc brakes was a bit of a pain in the butt. Maybe this is a case of not doing it enough, but they seemed fiddly in comparison to the cantilever brakes, which were so simple to adjust.

One edge for cantilever brakes is that they are lighter than disc brakes. If you look at the weight of two canti brakes (one wheel's worth) you are looking at about 146 gr. If we compare that to the weight of a BB7 brake set up- rotors (160 mm for reference), caliper and mounting hardware- that weighs 351 gr.  So about half the weight, even if you take into account some extra bits like cable stops and straddle hangers.


Another aspect that bears considering with disc brakes is the replacement of the braking surface. When I lived in Vancouver and commuted daily on a bike with cantilevers through out the year, I would wear out a front wheel once a year or so. The constant moisture in the air combined with the grit that the pads pick up and impart on the rim would wear down the rim faster then I have seen anywhere else. The first time I saw a disc brake randonneur set up, I asked my friend how he liked it and he said it was great. You only have to replace the rotor every year, not the whole rim. Wow, mind blown.


Is the style of brake on a bike something that is important to you? Does one or the other make you come to a screeching halt when looking at a new frame? Weigh in below with your comments.

07 July, 2017

Porteur Packing

By Scott


(All you need for a weekend away)

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I've been on more multi use trails the last while. This past long weekend, my wife and I took advantage of what looked like good weather and the extended weekend to head up to north central PA to ride the Pine Creek rail trail. It's a very scenic rail trail that runs for the majority of it's 62 mile length alongside the Pine Creek in a lovely valley. We wanted to do it in 3 days round trip - a short day on Saturday, as we had travel up from MD to the start in Jersey Shore PA, a mid length day on Sunday to Wellsboro, and then a long downhill day on Monday back to Jersey Shore. We were using motels along the route, so we cut our cycle clothing down to two shirts and two shorts each, plus one outfit - shorts and a collared shirt for me, a nice dress for my wife - for off the bike. We kept the toiletry kit down to a minimum and carried sandals for walking around.  We put our gear into an old Ortlieb rack bag (designed for motor cycles) that we bought about 20 years back for sea kayaking and I strapped it to the front porteur rack of the Polyvalent prototype I was riding. The side straps went around the side rails of the rack, like our Porteur bag does. I even stuffed a 2 litre bottle of water between the bag and the back rack rail, just so we would have extra water on hand during the ride.  A bungee over the top of it, ensured that it stayed in place on even the roughest part of the trail.

(Yep, bell attached around the quill part of the stem adapter)

One of the pluses of porteur packing is that when you are carrying so little, checking the room before you leave, to ensure you have not left anything, is easy. We put our clothes into a stuff sack each, so it was easy to keep track of whose was what (black shorts have a tendency to look very similar). But otherwise, it was dead easy to throw the chargers for the phone, sandals and the toiletry kit just loose into the bag and bring it all into the motel room.

                    
Is porteur packing overkill? My wife asked me this last night over supper. I said no. The wide platform of the rack is great for using what ever bag you have. Due to the lack of rain over the three days, I could have gotten away with just a cheap nylon bag. But the rack works with something like the Porteur bag if you want to have a bag that fits it exactly. The handling was fine. I figure we had about 15 pounds or so in the bag plus 4 pounds of water  and the Polyvalent had neutral handling throughout the trip. 


So for trips like ours, where motels are involved (substitute hostels if you want, it's all up to individual preference and geography), I really liked using a single bag. It made moving gear from the bike to the room easier, the larger opening was great to put stuff into and the handling never felt uneasy. 

30 June, 2017

Enjoy Summer! - 15% off Sale

by Igor


Update: Thanks for everyone that participated! Enjoy the summer!

Velo Orange will be closed from July 1st through July 4th so that our staff can enjoy a well-deserved long weekend full of shredding, climbing, relaxing, grilling, tubing, and whatevering.

That means if you place an order between those days, your order will go out following the holiday. In order to compensate for the inconvenience, we are offering 15% off

Simply use the coupon code: SUMMER17 between now and 11:59 pm EDT on July 4th to receive your discount. Shops get the deal, too!

Here's how to use the code:
  • Add all of the products you want to your cart, just as you normally would.
  • Click on "My Cart" to review your products.
  • Enter the coupon code - SUMMER17 - in the little "discount codes" box in the shopping cart page.
  • Click on "Apply Coupon".
  • Check out as normal and enjoy the savings!
Terms and Conditions:
  • Applies only to items in stock
  • Does not apply to items already on sale
Have a great weekend!

28 June, 2017

Five Ways to Mount a Bell

By Scott

I've not been a big advocate of bells until recently. Most of my riding for years was on roads - ideally small lane ways or back roads where traffic of any kind - vehicular or pedestrian - was light to non existent. Didn't feel the need for a bell if I was rolling along those sort of places, but lately I've been on more bike paths and such, where interactions with pedestrians is more common and I find myself using a bell more often.  The rise of folks wearing ear buds while out walking means that the old trick of back pedaling and clicking the brake levers doesn't seem to work when folks are walking along a path listening to the latest Taylor Swift album. My experience so far as been that our bells seem to have a tone that people respond to well.  It's not harsh like a horn, but more of a gentle reminder to folks that others are out there and would like to pass alongside them.

So I hear you saying, "Gee Scott, that sounds a lot like how my riding has been going. How do I get a bell mounted to my bike?"  Well, glad you asked, 'cause we've got a blog post to help you figure out what will work for you.

Now all these options are based on using our Temple bell, brass or silver - you choose to match or contrast the build you have on your bike. The brass striker bell will work with option #1 and 2 only.

(Tomii Cycles Hammered bell mounted on bars)

Set up #1 - Handlebars - If you have standard  road bars or flat bars, you can clamp the bar right to the handlebars. Use a flat head or Philips screwdriver to loosen the clamp from the packaging, put it on the left or right side of the bar (I'd go with the dominant hand side) and then tighten it up. Done.



(Silver bell mounted on VO quill stem)

Set up #2 - Quill stem - A 1" quill stem is the right diameter to attach a bell to. So if you have no room on the bars, you can clamp the bell around the quill portion of the stem. Same rule as #1 - set up bell on dominant hand side. Done.

(Silver bell mounted to retro spacer)

Set up #3 - Spacer replacement - We have a couple options for this. You can replace one of the spacers in your headset (1 inch or 1 1/8") with our bell spacer mount. Or you can use the retro spacer if you have a 1 inch headset without a lot of extra room.


Set up #4 - GC stem - On our top of the line Grand Cru quill stem, we have a threaded attachment point about an inch below the top of the quill portion. You can screw the temple bell right into this, in the same way that the constructeur builders of the 50's and 60's did it. Igor did a nice write up here with some great photos.

(Brass bell mounted to shifter boss)

Set up #5 - Shifter boss attachment - All our frames have braze on's on the down tube for running down tube shifters or cool cable stops. But let's say you are running a 1 X set up and the left shifter boss is not being used. Well, here's a great opportunity to put a bell there. Fasten a down tube cover to keep it looking clean. Install a set screw and nut into the bell and screw the bell straight into the boss and voila, you're ready to rock.

Anyone have another place that they've put one of our bells?

21 June, 2017

History from the saddle

by Scott

When I was in school, I loved history classes. I loved the stories of the past, the tales you got if you went beyond dry text books and delved into the stories of people who lived in that time and experienced the events.

I've been lucky to have seen many historic places from the saddle of my bike- Stonehenge in England, the Gettysburg battlefield just north of us in Pennsylvania, Gold Rush settlements in the interior of British Columbia, and Icelandic settlements that date back to 1000 AD. One of the things that I think is great about travelling by bike through these areas is seeing them at what's termed a "human pace".  All these locations were places created or had events happen there, before the invention of the car. So the landscape and the settlements were altered/used by people who walked for the most part. So when you pass through them at 10-14 miles per hour, you can take in all sorts of smaller details that you would miss if you drove past them.



The DC randonneurs have numerous brevets that take them through the battlefields of the Civil War that abound in the Maryland/Northern Virginia area. I've gotten to ride through the battlefields on quiet, misty mornings and it is quite moving to cycle through and see the monuments and try to understand what happened there.

Our good friend Mike Ross was on a tour in Maryland and came upon this sign.


Mike always sends me these photos to remind me of the local history that is so prevalent here in the east coast.

Where have you traveled by bike that had some history or story to it?

13 June, 2017

Campeur Rear Rack Overstock, Swift Campout, and RAAM

by Igor


We hope you are enjoying your summer or winter (for our friends living in the Southern hemisphere)!


Long story short, we ordered a bit too much of some products, and are putting them on sale:
No coupon code required. Sale will only be around for a limited time.


Swift Campout is a global call to go bike-camping on June 24th, 2017. For the third year in a row, thousands of adventurous spirits will load camping gear on their bikes for a weekend adventure.

Adrian and I are camping out at Assateague Island where wild ponies roam, Clint is shredding some gnar on his mountain bike, and Scott is doing a C&O Canal ramble. Other adventures are still in the works. What are your plans?


RAAM (Race Across America) is an ultra-marathon cycling race which enters its 36th year. Riders from over 35 countries start in Oceanside, CA and race to our fair city of Annapolis, MD.

Riders take on 3,000 miles and 175,000 feet of climbing in this test of physical and mental endurance. Keep an eye on racers and teams here: http://www.raceacrossamerica.org/live-tracking.html

We'll post photos on our Instagram and Facebook as they arrive to an emotional finish.

07 June, 2017

Container Day with New and Redesigned Products!

by Igor

The container has just been unloaded and checked in. Within there are new products and a few restocks of popular offerings. We also have a VO Bulletin signup towards the end of the post for those interested in getting VO news before it is released on the blog.

Klunker Bars


Get your Klunk on. They're wide (680mm), have lots of sweep (45°), and are mountain rated. They're also available in Noir and Nickel finish.

Piolet Forks



Triple bosses on the blades, fender and rack mounts, and big tire clearances. You asked for it, and now we're offering our triple-butted Piolet Forks for sale separate from the frameset. There's a limited quantity available and they're all painted in Deep Gloss Black. They're available in 26" and 29er/27.5+.

Redesigned Front Racks

Our front racks for handlebar bags are now stronger and more easily installed on a bigger variety of bikes. What's not to like?



The decaleur (the upright portion which receives the bag mount) gets even more integrated into the platform of the rack. Stresses from stuffed handlebar bags and rough terrain are dispersed through the entire length of the tube and aft of the rack. The included adjustable tang makes fine tuning easier as well.

With these new redesigns, we decided to simplify their names to better reflect their intended use. Here are the details:
  • Randonneur Rack with Integrated Decaleur, Cantilever - This rack mounts to your fork's cantilever brakes and fork crown. Also available in a version with just a tombstone if you plan on just strapping down a dry bag, you live that #basketpacking life, or have a custom decaleur in the works.
  • Randonneur Rack with Integrated Decaleur - This rack mounts to your fork's 3/4 braze-on eyelets and fork crown. If you don't have eyelets, you can use the included p-clamps to create some pseudo-eyelets. We're getting the non-integrated version later on since we still have good stock of the MK1 version.
  • Constructeur Front Rack - This rack mounts to your fork's dropout eyelets and fork crown. 

Handlebar Shims

These 2-piece shims are super simple and work with both 4-bolt and 2-bolt (like the Cigne and upcoming 31.8 Quill Stems). They're available in Silver and Noir in both 31.8-26.0 and 31.8-25.4 to dial in your build.

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In addition to new products, here are the products that are back in stock:
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Lastly, we're trying something new for VO. We're working on sending out e-mail Bulletins for upcoming products, sale coupons, future events, tips n' tricks, and general goings-on. We'll only send them out once a month or so, and they'll be short and sweet.

Everyone can sign up here and dealers have one, too.

26 May, 2017

Closed for Memorial Day

by Igor

VO is going to be closed on Monday, May 29th for Memorial Day observance and to give our fantastic staff some time off.

Orders placed after 3pm EDT today (5/26) will ship out promptly on Tuesday, May 30th. So if you need anything to go out today, submit your order soon.

Have a great weekend, and please enjoy this 60cm Polyvalent Disc build which a local, very tall rider will be trying out for a while.


24 May, 2017

Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy

By Scott

Like a lot of you, I have a box or two (perhaps three) of bike stuff in my garage. It's stuff that has been collected over the years, mostly taking it off bikes and putting it aside for "that" project that I hoped to do one day.


I was thinking about this the other day when Igor was working on a shop build- a Disc Pass Hunter for the show room. He had a vintage Sun Tour Sprint rear derailleur. Looked great, but it didn't have quite the range to work with the cogs we were going to use on the bike.  So he said fine, I'm sure I have a slightly more modern derailleur I can use from my bike box.  This got me thinking about a term called S.A.B.L.E - Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy.  You can use this term for a lot of things. I have probably more pens at home than I'll ever use. I justify them by the fact that each is slightly different then the other- thinner lines, thicker lines, pressurized ink for writing upside down in the rain (if I need to do that, I think I'll be writing a good bye letter). But surely, I have enough pens and yet, a couple of times a year, I buy another 5 or 6 pens at an art supply store or online. I figure it's a cheap hobby.

When it comes to bike stuff, it's interesting what I have a SABLE of at home. I have lots of chains. At one point I was leaving a job that gave me access to bike bits at wholesale and I didn't know what the future held. So I bought a bunch of chains. I figured those are an easily consumed item, that having on hand would not hurt me financially. I was heavy into randonneuring at the time and that side of cycling eats through chains.

But looking deeper into the boxes in the garage, I found stems, tubes, bars, and map cases that I had collected over the time since the last move/purge and I wondered - will I use all of this?


Is there one particular part/accessory that you have more then a life time supply of at home? Is there a reason for it or is it just dumb luck to end up with all of those 26 x 1.5" Schrader valve tubes?

18 May, 2017

20% Off Hydration Sale

Update 5/22/17: The sale has concluded.


It's a million degrees outside and keeping your hydration up is of great importance. You probably don't need to know why you should drink water, so here are some interesting facts about our good friend H2O:
  • 75% of the human brain is water and 50% of a living tree is water.
  • Hot water freezes faster than cool water.
  • Each day, we exhale about 400 ml of water.
  • The first water pipes in the U.S. were made from hollowed logs.
  • It takes about 2,641 gallons of water to make a pair of jeans.
To celebrate the arrival of the warm season, we're offering a 20% off sale on all water bottle cages, bottles, and mounts. This sale applies to both retail and wholesale customers.

From Thursday, May 18th to Sunday, May 21st (11:59pm EST) use the coupon code: THIRST2017.

Here's how to use the code:
  • Add all of the products you want to your cart, just as you normally would.
  • Click on "My Cart" to review your products.
  • Enter the coupon code - THIRST2017 - in the little "discount codes" box in the shopping cart page.
  • Click on "Apply Coupon".
  • Go ahead and check out as normal.
Stay hydrated!

17 May, 2017

All You Need For An Overnight

By Scott

As bicycle camping season kicks into full gear here in the Mid Atlantic, we thought it might be good to look at what's involved in going out for an overnight. Now, this list is just about an overnight trip. Certainly if you are going to ride from PA to OR, you'll need more stuff, but as a starting point, I think the following things are a great beginning. I've organized this list similar to a list I read years ago in Richard's Mountain Bike Book. Nicholas Crane, a British author and cyclist whose travels have taken him to the Himalayas, Africa, and all over Europe and the UK, developed a basic list of items for any bicycle trip. I'm using it as the inspiration for our list:

Basic level 1 - A bicycle - Yep, that's the absolute minimum you need to do an overnight. You can ride to a friend's house a few hours away and enjoy a shower and a bed. Nothing extra, just you and your bike. OK, fine, toss a spare tube and tire levers in a pocket and you're covered for a flat.

Basic level 1.2- A credit card or cash - You can choose your own end point for the day and pay for it with cash or card, as well as handle paying for food along the way.

(First overseas tour, Tasmania 1990)

Intermediate level 1 - Change of clothes - An extra top and shorts make life a little more comfy. A spare shirt or pants for off the bike in the evening add a bit of civility. You can put these in a bag and strap it to a rack or throw into a handlebar bag.

Intermediate level 1.2 - Tent and sleeping bag - Now you have control of where you can stop. You have shelter and something to keep you warm at night.

Advanced level 1 - Stove and food - You now have the ability to heat up food and have it wherever you want. Cold food and hot food has the same level of calories, but there is certainly something to be said for having a hot cup of tea or coffee first thing in the morning with a hot breakfast to get you moving.

Advanced level 1.2 - Map/phone/electronic device that tells me where to go - In lots of places, if you are trying to get from A to B (or even to C) via roads that are not the main thoroughfares, there are small signs to help direct traveler's. I'd usually write down a couple of the major towns between me and my desired destination for the next day. Knowing the smaller destinations, allowed me to not have to think of the whole distance, and also allowed for interaction at junction towns, where I'd ask folks the most interesting way to get to B, rather then the fastest.

(Sweden 3 years later, still too much stuff)

So yes, I've simplified a packing list down to a very basic level, but that is one of the great things about touring by bike - so long as you have a destination, you can figure out a way to get there. Sometimes it's not even the destination, but rather getting there that makes the memories. I think we often take too much stuff, witness my old photos. The old adage, lay out all the things you need and then toss 1/2 is a good starting point.

Have you pared down your cycle touring gear list over the years or added to it?

15 May, 2017

Job Opening at VO

Update: the position has been filled.

Velo Orange has a Job Opening!

Spring has sprung and we're looking for some additional help in the warehouse and office. The position would be full-time and permanent, with the morning spent performing warehouse duties, and the afternoons spent in the office. 9-5 Monday through Friday with opportunities to attend trade shows for qualified persons.

A passion for cycling, knowledge of bicycle mechanics and our parts, and being a generally cool guy or gal are at the top of the list in terms of skillset. We're a relaxed, open office environment, but work hard and focus on innovation and progress. We try to involve everyone here in designing and testing products. So if you're interested, you'll have a chance to influence and evaluate our new frames, components, and accessories.

Experience in warehousing is a plus, but more important is experience in the cycling industry. As this position does involve warehousing duties, you must be able to lift 50lb+ overhead onto shelving. Benefits include paid leave and 401k.

Interested applicants please send your resume to info@velo-orange.com

We look forward to welcoming you to the Velo Orange team!

12 May, 2017

New Wide Rims, Not Tubeless Compatible (And I Like It That Way...)

by Igor


These prototype triple-box section rims have an outer width of 28mm, inner width of 21mm, and are suitable for tire sizes ranging from 40mm to the mid 50s. Basically, they are made for the meat n' potatoes of touring, commuting, and gravel riding. Not only can they take floaty tires, they are also the widest rim you can use while still being able to implement a normal rim brake setup.


We'll be testing them on our Polyvalent Disc prototypes in the months to come. Wheel building and tire installation was a breeze with the bead seating perfectly the first time. I picked double-butted DT Swiss spokes with brass nipples and Velox 22mm Rim Tape. Right now they are wearing the new WTB Byways for double-duty road and trail use. When inflated to 55 40psi (I should have had my afternoon coffee, max for these tires is 50psi), the tires measure true at 46.8mm while 56ft above sea level.


Ok, so are they tubeless compatible? No, and I prefer it. It's not because of any retrogrouch tendencies. I'm more than happy to accept new technologies when they provide a genuine better level of cycling enjoyment. Electronic shifting is nifty, pinion gearboxes are snazzy, and disc brakes are the bees knees.

But tubeless doesn't really do it for me. You still need to carry a tube, pump, and extra fluid if you're out for longer adventures. Carrying these things negates the argument that tubeless is lighter. Heck, I just carry a basic Rustines patch kit on daily rides and an extra tube for longer treks. Yes, you can run lower pressures with tubeless, but you have to watch out for burping in tough corners.

In addition, a rim standard hasn't been widely adopted yet, so not every tubeless tire and rim combination is compatible. I feel like I'm seeing "standard hasn't been widely adopted yet" more and more nowadays in the cycling industry.


If you want to run a heartier setup but you don't want the hassle of tubeless, you can remove your valve core, dump some sealant into the tube via an injector, swish around, and inflate.

Do you use tubeless? What sort of conditions do you think tubeless is 100% necessary?