22 October, 2014

Bike Tips and Tricks

by Igor

Here's a small collection of tips and tricks I use in the shop, and one I use while out riding. If you have more, put them in the comments!

Penny + Quill Stem
We've all been there. Unwrap your new drop handlebar and immediately scratch the bend trying to get it through the quill stem's clamp. Then you sigh and say to yourself, 'it's okay, tape will cover it up'. If your stem clamp has a threaded portion, put the bolt through the backside and tighten a penny. It will keep the clamp expanded and you'll be able to open it up a bit to more easily slide the bar's curves through the clamp without damage. If you have a threadless design like a Nitto, find a thin nut to place in the clamp for the screw to thread through.

Nut on bolt
If you're cutting a bolt for a better fit, thread a nut further down than the cut. When you unthread the nut, the threads are automatically cleaned up!


Wrapping Non-Aero Brake Levers
The clamp and body of non-aero brake levers are much smaller than their aero counterparts. Being able to see the clamp through your new bar tape is unsightly and detracts from the appearance. When you've set up the position of the levers, put some scotch tape on the clamp to hold it in place. Unscrew the body from the clamp. The clamp should stay in place by the tape. Wrap around the clamp and screw the body back on. Voila! No embarrassing clamp is visible through your wrap.

Fender Eyelet Bolt for Dynamo Cable Guides
This one I picked up from Mark. Our fender eyelet bolts are absolutely perfect for guiding dynamo wires. Zipties should be kept to an absolute minimum on a bike. Yes, I did use a few zipties. I am ashamed. The back is in need of severe de-ziptieing. De-ziptying? De-zipting? Anyway, use a couple washers to achieve optimal guiding of wires.



P-Clamps are acceptable
Cloth Under Cork Grips
Put a piece of cloth tape lengthwise on a handlebar to prevent the grip from turning. Careful not to tear the grip when slowly pushing it on.
Fingers Cold?
Stick them inside your handlebar bag's flap to get them out of the wind.
Keep Your Valve Rings!
Don't be tempted to throw away your valve rings. They are the absolute most important asset in a shop. They are the perfect spacers for racks and fenders.

Have more? Let us know in the comments!

10 October, 2014

Installing the Zero Setback Seatpost

by Igor

The Grand Cru 0 Setback Seatpost in Silver and Noir has been a very popular and we've gotten a few questions about assembly, as they're a bit different from a traditional 2-bolt or 1-bolt clamp. So here are some quick instructions on how to attach your saddle to your seatpost.

  1. Admire your new seatpost and saddle
  2. Disassemble the seatpost. There are 2 short hollow rods that can be discarded or used for spitballs, your choice.
  3. I assemble with the saddle on a table, upside-down; it keeps things together nicely. Place lower clamp on rails.
  4. Insert the upper hooks under the lower clamp. You should have the recessed non-threaded hook on the driveside and the threaded hook on the non-driveside.
  5. Insert seatpost head and pinch together the hooks. Insert the screw and tighten.

  6. Voila! There you have it. To adjust, loosen the screw a couple turns, adjust angle, and tighten snug.

08 October, 2014

On Choosing Frame Colors

We're working on a couple of new frames for next year and now is the time to choose colors. This is really hard, at least for me. The problem is that I like almost any color. And almost every color has been suggested at our design meetings. We have eliminated a few options. We don't want white or black. We find white boring, and black paint hides the workmanship and little frame details we're so proud of. We also don't want a color used on a previous VO production frame (the colors used on our early custom frames are fair game). We also want to eliminate colors that a lot of folks seem to hate, colors like bright green, brown, lavender. I wouldn't mind having a frame in any one of those shades, but it seems that many people would.

To help visualize shades we're considering we order sections of frame tubes painted in various colors by our paint shop. We also get prototype frames in several likely colors. We view them in bright sunlight, in shade, in late afternoon. It's amazing how colors can change in different light.

One of the new frames will be sporty, so a bright color seems appropriate, maybe the orange of the prototype in the background of the photo above. The other might be used for camping, maybe stealth camping, so a more subdued shade is logical. The blue? We'll also be doing a special edition frame that'll be sold in Asia, but we have that color chosen.

Anyway, the point of this post is to ask you, Dear Readers, what color VO frames you'd like to see?

03 October, 2014

Pumpkin Contest, Win VO stuff

by Clint

It's pumpkin season. We thought it would be fun to have a pumpkin carving contest.  The staff here carved a couple of pumpkins this week; I carved Pierre, our "enjoy life" mascot.  Unfortunately, he got in a little spill overnight before the photo was taken and taco-ed his rear wheel.

Here are the rules:
  • Come up with an original bike themed design.
  • Email your submission to us at info@velo-orange.com with "pumpkin contest" in the subject
  • Your deadline for submission is October 30, end of business day, 5pm EST.
  • No plagiarizing! We have Google and we know how to use it
  • We'll post our favorite submissions to our blog and announce the winner on Halloween
  • The winner will get a $100 gift certificate to our site
  • For bonus points, use an Opinel knife




The one on the left is by Clint, the right one by Adrian.

Pumpkin-neuring, Scott says it has potential
Ok, crack a pumpkin beer and get carving!

01 October, 2014

New Fairweather Tire Colors and Size

by Igor

My personal favorite: Algae
We're importing a couple new colors of Fairweather's 700x28 Traveller Tire. Here's Asphalt and classic Black and Tan.



We also picked up their 26x1.75 Cruise Touring Tire in Brown.


I've been riding the Algae color on my road bike since we brought them in and my ride is much more comfortable, even at high pressures. The casing is supple and light. The herringbone tread turns pavement into rails. And the color makes bystanders swoon.

29 September, 2014

French Stems and Installing Grand Cru Reflectors

French Stems
by Clint

Occasionally we get an email requesting we do a run of off sized parts for French bicycles.  Usually there's a pretty good way to work around those obsolete dimensions. I finally decided to swap out the stem on my Peugeot today.  The previous stem was pitting and had a couple gashes in it that would be perfect for crack propagation.  While I was at it, I decided to try out some new bars too.  Of course that would require a new brake lever.

Anyways, the old Atax stem I had in there was a 22.0mm while most conventional threaded stems are 22.2mm.  It's easy enough to take a piece of sandpaper and remove .1mm from the surface.
Signs of wear and tear. 
Purple sandpaper works best. 
The sanding took all of about 15 minutes.  I wish I had thought of this earlier in the process, but if you're trying to be neat about it, tape off the areas you don't want to be sanded.  Nevertheless, the extra abrasions match my frame nicely.  If you're doing this with a steel stem like I did, just be warned that it will be more vulnerable to rust and corrosion without the chrome coating.  Sheldon Brown has some additional words of advice on this and other information on French dimensions.  Overall, I'm pretty happy with the new setup.

Grand Cru Reflectors
by Igor
Adding reflective bits to your bike is one of the simplest and easiest ways to get noticed by traffic. Here's how to mount your new Grand Cru Fender Mounted Reflector.
Presentation is important
The attachment of the reflector to the fender is simple and secure. The included screw threads into the reflector body.
With the bike on the ground, position the reflector where you'd like it to sit. I like it to sit ever so slightly tilted upward to follow the sight line of someone in a car. Too low and or too high and light will not be reflected back. Once you have a good spot, use a punch to prevent the initial drill hole from wandering. Step up the drill bit until the screw fits through.
Put a dab of thread locker or waterproof grease on the threads, tighten, and enjoy!
Do you use reflective materials on your bike? What's your favorite garment to get noticed?

25 September, 2014

Frame Pricing, Shipping, and So On

You may have noticed that our frame prices went up a little recently, by about $20. Yet the delivered cost of the frames is lower because we got rid of the $25 extra shipping charge on frames. Shipping is still not free, but the max you'll pay to have a frame delivered in the continental USA is $19, (unless you live way way out in the sticks and it has to come by bush plane or something.)

We did this to simplify our shipping cost structure and make it easier to understand and transparent. Basically, if you live in the continental USA you get free shipping on orders over $100, except on oversize items (Those are frames and wheels.) which incur a maximum shipping charge of $19.

If you live outside of the lower 48 we charge the actual shipping cost. We ask that you place your order so our incredible shipping staff can weigh it and determine the smallest box it will fit in (because box size is often more important than weight in determining cost). We'll calculate shipping using one or more carriers and send you an e-mail with the charges, usually with different options for speed and cost. You can pick one or cancel the order.
Unlike some companies we don't try to profit from shipping. We don't add some random percentage to the actual shipping charges (though we may round up to the nearest dollar). We don't charge a handling fee. We don't have a restocking fee for returns. And we ship most orders within 24 hours. Our shipping fees on smaller items are based on what the average shipping cost for a package of that value is. In the end it all averages out.

Speaking of frame prices, they'll probably go up next year due to manufacturing cost increases. Our frames are made in the same factory and out of the same tubing and by the same craftsmen as some frames costing more than twice times as much, though, to be fair, you do get more curlicues with some of those. VO frames also cost about the same as some frames that come nowhere near the quality of ours (and it really annoys me when people compare our frames to those). Anyway, it's always been my philosophy to charge what I consider to be a fair profit, not what the market will bear.

Finally, we offer a three year warranty on our frames. Even great steel frames do, very rarely, crack or break, and it's often really hard to tell why it happens. For example, a customer cracked a dropout on a VO frame; we sent him a new frame. He cracked the dropout on the replacement! Those are the only two dropout problems we've seen in the thousands of frames we've sold--and we still have no idea why it happened.

I just wanted to say one more thing about VO frames. I think what makes them special is the way they ride and handle. For me, at least, everything else, except decent build quality, come very far behind ride and handling when it comes to choosing a bike frame. And that's why we're a bit obsessed with ordering multiple prototypes and testing them for many months.

23 September, 2014

Chris's New Bike

My new Camargue set up for road/city use.
My new city/all around bike is a Camargue; it's also my off-pavement touring bike. One of the coolest things about owning Velo Orange is that I can get a new bike whenever I want, yet I rarely want a new one of my own. I prefer to just to borrow a demo bike for a few days. The Camargue fits perfectly with my minimalist tendencies. I can do most anything I want on this one bike: trips around our town with its brick and cobble streets, commuting, paved road exploring in the surrounding countryside, riding down old fire roads and dirt CCC roads to go fly fishing. In fact, if I were forced to only ride a single bike, this would be it.
My new Camargue set up for off-pavement touring.
I'll probably add a rear rack and half clips eventually, but I'm pretty happy with this setup. The panniers are prototypes that still need development work (don't expect them anytime soon). Once fenders are mounted and the stays are cut, it's pretty simple to take them on and off. The bars are 50cm Chris's Rando Bars. (What else would I use?)
Great tires!
Likewise, tires don't take much to change, but I may just get a second set of wheels: minimalism vs laziness. Those Onza Canis tires are amazing and they are an honest 2.25" wide on VO Escapade rims. Road tires are 47mm Continental Comfort Contacts that I'm not sure about yet.
The crank is a VO triple, but a MTB crank might be better if you want to run really wide MTB tires. The rear derailleur and 10-speed bar-end shifters are from Microshift and both seem to work very well indeed. In fact, all the Microshift derailleurs we've tried so far have preformed flawlessly; nice to see a newer company give the big guys some competition.
 I almost used an 8-speed internal gear hub, but this setup is more versatile. How would you set up your own do-it-all Camargue?


19 September, 2014

Measurements for a 1x

by Clint

We've had some questions recently about setting up fixed, single, and other 1x's so I figured I'd shed a little light on the topic in this blog post.

Example setup: 130mm hub bumped up to 135mm with hub spacers.  Spacers and a cassette cog carrier on the freehub.

There are many factors to consider when setting up a 1x anything, but the one that can be particularly tricky is chainline, or getting a straight line from your chainring to whatever kind of gear you are using in the back. It's going to be less important if you're using multiple gears in the back.  In that case, you'll want to shoot vaguely for the middle of the cassette to get the smoothest range of speeds.

Frame Dimensions
If you don't have your hands on a frame already, here are a couple things to keep in mind when finding one to run as a 1x.
  • Rear spacing is going to vary for different frames. 130mm is common for road bikes, 135mm for mountain. 126mm is used on old 6- or 7-speed frames, 120mm on 5-speed.  You may encounter something else depending on the era and purpose of the frame.  
    • Fitting your frame to your hub - If you're using a hub that doesn't match up with the rear of your frame, you can often stretch or squish the frame to make it fit your needs. I can't guarantee this will work, but if you try it, just make sure both sides of the frame are repositioned evenly. Otherwise you'll have to get fancy with your wheel dishing. I'd also discourage you from doing this if you have anything other than a steel frame. The mismatched hub and frame can still work even if you don't permanently set the frame; however, it may take a little longer to get your wheel back in.   
    • Fitting your hub to your frame - Alternatively, if you're bumping up to a larger size from your hub to your frame and don't want to stretch your frame, you can sometimes put spacers in your hub (depending on your hub). I used a couple of spacers in my hub to bump it up from a 130mm to a 135mm. This isn't possible on all hubs.  For instance, our cassette hubs are set up for easy freehub body removal, so spacers would mess things up.  
  • Dropouts - As far as this blog post is concerned, dropouts fall into two categories: 
    • Horizontal dropouts allow for variation in the horizontal distance. I'm including semi-horizontal, forward facing, and rear facing in this category.  These dropouts are going to make adequate chain tension easy since you can adjust it by simply moving your wheel forwards or backwards.
    • Vertical dropouts  - With these, you don't have horizontal variation.  These are good for disc brakes or an aesthetically pleasing fenderline.  If you have vertical dropouts, you have two options:
      • Use a chain tensioner or a rear derailleur if using multiple speeds in the back. These aren't going to work for fixies.  
      • Do the math. Figure out the distance between your gears and use their diameters to calculate the length of the required chain. Make sure this length of chain is either a multiple of 1in if you're using a regular chain or .5in if you're using a half link chain. Next, pray that your chain doesn't stretch too much after a few days of use. Keep in mind that different gear combos can yield the same, if not close, ratio.  Park Tool has an approximation of the formula here.  Helpful hint: CAD programs can do the math for you.  
Calculate the required chain length (red) with these measurements.  

Hub Types
  • For a 1x multiple, just aim to have your chainline somewhere close to the middle of your cassette. Check the top and lowest gears to make sure your chainline isn't too extreme.  
  • For single speeds with a cassette hub, I'd recommend something like the Problem Solvers cassette cog carrier. You'll need some spacers and the threaded end piece of a cassette to line up and keep your cog in place. You can use bottom bracket spacers, spacers from an old cassette, or something else of a similar size.  
  • For fixed or free hubs, you won't be able to adjust cog/freewheel in relation to the hub (see #2 below).  
  • Note: With a spacer, you can use either side of our fixed/free hubs for a cog or freewheel.  Additionally these hubs come with spacers for different frames sizes.  
The Big Picture/Diagram



  1. Adjusted with dish.
  2. In a cassette setup, adjusted with spacers. In a fixed/free setup, this can't be adjusted.
  3. Adjusted using spacers or if the hub uses a cup and cone.
  4. Adjusted a little bit in the bottom bracket shell with the use of bottom bracket spacers.
  5. If using a crank intended for multiple chainrings, you can decide which position is best for chainline. Line up 3 with 5. 
  6. With traditional bottom brackets you can change out the spindle or rotate to get a different length. In modern cartridge style bottom brackets, you can experiment with different length spindles.  
In just about any situation with this many variables and unknowns, there's bound to be more that one solution. See what you can come up with.

RIDE FIXED OR whatever.

Clint