20 February, 2015

New Tail Light Brackets

by Scott

I'm a bit of a light nerd. There I said it and I feel better. I'm always looking at new lights, ways to attach lights and such and this brought me to our newest product - the E3 tail light bracket.
These are made in Portland, OR, laser cut from 5052 aluminum and then anodized black. Don't panic, silver is in the works. We have two models, a large one that mounts behind a caliper brake, and a smaller one that mounts on our rear racks as well as anywhere that has a threaded braze-on (think seatstays and dropouts).

Both models are designed to work with the super popular E3 taillight using a clever notch. This allows the light to be adjusted and repositioned after installation without having to re-wire your whole dynamo system.
The large bracket works off a seat stay bridge behind the caliper (6mm hole) if you have no rear rack. This would be a good choice if you are running a saddle bag, but want to have a secure mounting point up high for your tail light.

We should call this the Roberto.

In addition to accepting the E3 tail light, they're also compatible with light mounts that use a 50mm center to center spacing for those who wish to forego dynamo setups.

Priced at $15.50 for the large and $12.50 for the smaller one. Weights are 28g and 12g. Large measures 15cm long x 6cm wide, small measures 4cm long x 6cm wide. Both mounts use 4mm holes for light attachment.

11 February, 2015

26" Campeurs Arrive, also more Pass Hunters, Porteur Racks, Short & Shallow Bars

by Igor

This morning we received a shipment of frames, racks, handlebars, and miscellanea. If you signed up for the "let me know when this item is back in stock" notification, you should check your email. Thanks for your patience.

Here's a quick rundown of frames and other products we'll be putting in stock:
  • Campeur
    • 47cm and 49cm - These are the new 26"-wheeled version of the Campeur frameset. Adrian has been riding the prototype for a while now and loves it. Check out her GAP/C&O trip for photos and details.
    • 57cm
    • 59cm
    • 61cm
    • 63cm
In addition to frames, Porteur Racks and Dajia Shallow Drop Handlebars are back in stock.

We also got some new Panaracer 650b 42mm folding bead tires. They have the classic Pasela tread. Keep an eye out for those on the New Products page.

Edit: Updated Campeur geometry chart to reflect new 26" frames: http://support.velo-orange.com/#campeur.html

09 February, 2015

Igor's Favorite Things

by Igor

Our staff has very diverse riding styles which lead to an interesting assortment of favorite things.

Scott , who wrote the first "favorite things" post has a long history of touring, randonneuring, and sleeping short hours at 7-11s while on brevets. By the way, he brought in a few stellar photos of him back in the day touring on a Rocky Mountain Cirrus and sporting a handlebar moustache. I might post them later, if you're interested.
Clint does mostly city riding and shreds cyclocross on the same trails I use my 2.4" tire'd upcoming frame.

As our series of favorite things continues, the rest of our staff will submit their lists.

It's tough to put my favorite things into a small list when we have several hundred products, but here goes!

First one is my Campeur frameset. This is my favorite bike I have owned. Touring, commuting, day-long rides, grocery shopping, and light trail duty. Its current setup is simple, effective, modern with obvious classic influences, and utilitarian. As I've heard it called before, "VO'd out".
RAID Rims are my next favorite. They're strong, double eyeleted, lightweight, and probably the most versatile rim I've every used. 28mm - 38mm tires fit great. Check out a previous post on rims with more pictures and specifications.
Course Handlebars. Recently, I did a post discussing our drop handlebar selection and the Course really is my favorite. Flat ramps for all day comfort, simple bends, and classic style.
Sabot pedals. These have totally changed my riding, especially touring. They have large real estate for moving around, sealed cartridge bearings, simple, and elegant.

I'm going to cheat a little bit on this one; it'll be a line of products instead of one item: Grand Cru Headsets. This line features sealed cartridge bearings, classic styling, simplicity, and affordability. A crazy good value for something that will last years and years of hard riding.
Grand Cru Handlebar Bag. Big enough that I can fit everything I want to bring for touring and commuting, but not so big that I also need a smaller bag for regular rides. Also, my camera bag fits inside of it perfectly (Lowepro Rezo 170 AW).

03 February, 2015

New Grand Cru Brake Levers, and a Few Notes

By Chris
These are simply really nice CNC machined brake levers. They are very light, smooth, comfortable, well made, and just plain pretty. I don't know if anyone actually needs brake levers this nice. All I can say is that as soon as I saw them I wanted them on my bike.
They come in silver and in black. There are shims included so you can mount them on road or MTB/city-sized handlebars. You can get them in a linear pull version for V-brakes and MTB disc brakes, or in regular pull for canti brakes, caliper brakes, or road discs. So there are four versions: silver linear pull, black linear pull, silver regular pull, and black regular pull.
Weight is about 76gm per pair; careful not to let them blow away.
Also, I wanted to answer a few questions about the new frames. They will be blue. They will not have bottle cage bosses on the seat stays; we found that no one here liked them because of potential heel strike. We're hoping to have them in stock sometime in May, but don't hold us to that because there are always delays.

Speaking of questions: please send us an e-mail if you have one and we'll be happy to answer promptly. No one here regularly checks Twitter or Facebook for questions.

Our delayed second January delivery should arrive in one to two weeks and most of the remaining out of stock items will be here then.

30 January, 2015

The New Grand Cru Disc Hubs Are Here

By Chris

Our well proven touring hubs are now available in front and rear disc version. The high flange hub shell is our own design. The high flanges allow room for four identical and rather large cartridge bearings. These big bearings wouldn't have fit in a regular low flange design. We continue to use very high quality Japanese cartridge bearings. These guys cost us 5 to 10 times as much as the bearings used in many hubs. We picked a common size so you can find replacements in far-off places. And they are relatively easy to replace should they ever wear out. The axle is hollow and over-sized. The free-hub body can be replaced in seconds.
There are three pawls with sturdy springs. The hub fits up to a 10-speed cassette; you can fit a 7-speed cassette by adding a 4.5mm spacer. VO enclosed-cam quick release skewer is included. We offer a choice of steel, alloy, and Campy-compatible free hub bodies.
This is the matching front hub.
By the way, I suspect that there are some retro grouches out there who are surprised, if not annoyed, that VO is making hubs, and soon frames, utilizing disc brakes. There are so many silly "innovations" in the bike world that it's hard to know when something really provides an advantage. Every time I go to a big industry show I'm blown away by the amount of change for change's sake. So much of the bike industry is geared toward getting you to buy some newer and "better" component every year. But, now that I've used them, I think that disc brakes really are an improvement. Not every bike needs them, but if you're barreling down a steep alpine descent or single track they are absolutely wonderful. I'm sure that the great French constructeurs of old would have embraced them, at least for some types of bikes.

28 January, 2015

Introducing the VO Mojave Cage

By Chris

Carrying enough water on longer rides can be a problem, especially for touring cyclists in the southwest, but also in other parts of the country where potable water sources are far apart. We designed the Mojave cage to fit 32oz Nalgene bottles or 40oz Kleen Kanteen stainless steel bottles. Regular tall bike bottles usually hold between 20oz and 25oz. The design is based on our standard size retro cages which we find are better than most cages in keeping bottles secure even on rough terrain.
You may notice that the mounting tab has 5 holes. This allows you to mount the Mojave cage in three positions, higher or lower as best fits your frame. You can also mount it on newer frames with three water bottle screw bosses. We think the three attachment point system is a great idea and you'll see it on some of our future frames.
One caveat, the Kleen Kanteen bottle is pretty tall, about 29cm with the sport top. It may not fit inside the main triangle of smaller frames. The Nalgene is shorter, but doesn't offer a sport top. There are probably other bottles that fit; we plan to check large beer bottles first.
Mojave Cage compared to the standard-size Retro Cage.

27 January, 2015

Clint's Favorite Things

by Clint

We've decided we're going to have a few more of these favorite things posts.  I do a lot of city riding, so many of these items are influenced by that.

Postino bars were the first thing to come to mind for me.  They're sporty with a 0 rise, and elegant with their subtle curves; a perfect city bar in my opinion.  The angles are comfortable and the width is nice for wheelies.  I've got mine on an old Peugeot, but they also pair well with the Pass Hunter.

What matches up better with Postino bars than cork grips?  They're comfortable and look great.  You can shellac them if you're worried about them getting dirty, but personally I prefer them bare.  Of course, I also think white bar wrap looks good when it gets dirty.  It's like an old t-shirt you've worn so many times that it's broken in and soft.

Third on my list is set to arrive at headquarters within the next few days.  They've made appearances on a few other posts and at the Philly bike expo.  I'm very excited about the release of our Grand Cru disc hubs.  They're reliable, no-nonsense disc hubs that don't cost as much as a new bike.  Good Japanese bearings, tool-less servicing, and they look fantastic.

The zero setback seatpost is a more recent favorite of mine.  It's a simple and well designed seatpost.  The single bolt clamp is easy to work with and the ovalized tubing gives it extra strength.  Besides, the black gloss finish is so choice.  I probably bring up colors more than I should.  Just ask my coworkers.

This brings me to Fairweather tires.  These aren't your cheap-o colored rubber tires that you throw on your Walmart fixie.  They're real road and touring tires made by Panaracer.  The algae traveler tires are probably my favorite out of the bunch.  They're kind of blue and kind of green.  Depends on what light you have them in.  When paired with the right frame, they make the color really pop.

23 January, 2015

Snakeskin Fenders, Yellow Campeurs, and Other News

By Chris
We have some new hammered fenders. They are 50mm wide, so you can run up to 42mm tires, and they're available in 700c and 650b sizes. The 650b size also fits 26" wheels pretty well. They have a new hammered pattern that we designed: upon seeing the prototypes we were reminded of a snake, though one staffer says they're more like fish scales.
What do you think? Do they look like snakeskin?
In any case, they are a nice option for lots of bikes, including Polyvalents, Campeurs, and, with a little squeezing at the chainstay, Pass Hunters.
We made a special production run on Campeurs in yellow for our distributor in Thailand. They also have a lovely seat tube decal.
I really like this color; we may use it on a regular production frame in the future.

In other news:

Almost all of us at VO use Rema tube patch kits. Everyone should carry a patch kit, even if you carry a spare tube. There will be that rare ride when you flat twice. And patch kits weigh almost nothing. Many shops carry them, as does VO now.

Our second January container has been delayed, but it should arrive in a few weeks. We'll be getting more Campeur frames, including the new 26" model, and more Pass Hunters. We'll also have more Porteur racks, Short and Shallow bars, and a bunch of other stuff.

You may notice that this post has a byline. That's because more VO staffers are writing posts. In the past you could assume that anything without a byline was written by me, Chris, but now I get a byline, too.

21 January, 2015

Building a Bike From the Frame Up - Drop Handlebar Selection

by Igor

In the last installment, we talked about how to install a bottom bracket into your new VO frame. This time, we'll discuss selecting a drop handlebar for your new ride.

First, we need to get some terminology straight.

  • 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.

  • Stem Clamp diameter - The measurement outside to outside of the area that clamps to the stem. 
    • 26.0mm - standard road handlebars
    • 25.4mm - standard city, upright, and MTB bars (although many have gone to 31.8mm).
  • Width - Measured center to center of the end of the handlebar.

  • Reach - The measurement from the center of the stem clamp to the center to the farthest portion of the forward extension.
  • Drop - Measurement from the center of the stem clamp to center of the lowest portion of the handlebar.
  • Tops - Portion of the handlebar to the left and right of the stem clamp. 
  • Ramps - Forward extension of a drop bar from the stem clamp.
  • Hoods - Position on the hoods.
  • Hooks - Portion of the handlebar that transitions into the drops.
  • Drops - Portion of the drop handlebar that gets you lower and more aerodynamic.
  • Flare - Difference between width of drops and center to center width of ramps. Taking half the difference gives you the flare for each side of a drop handlebar.
I'll start off with my favorite. The Grand Cru Course Handlebar is our traditional road drop handlebar. The biggest thing that has me using this bar on so many builds is the long ramps leading up to the hoods. You spend the vast majority of your time here, so why not make it as comfortable as possible? If you're coming from a short reach drop handlebar, you'll want to get at least a 10mm shorter stem to have a similar position on the hoods.

Having a long ramp section means your hands can roam freely forwards and backwards, which is invaluable during a long ride or tour. This handlebar has a medium length drop for improved aerodynamics and handling through corners. Flare is a modest 30mm (15mm on each side).

Our Rando handlebar has similar features to the Course, but it has a slight upward sweep by the stem clamp. This is a very traditional randonneur-style bar that can be seen on loads of French bikes of yesteryear. The sweep means a slightly more upright position in the hoods as well as the drops! Ramps are the same measurement as the Course handlebar. Flare measures 60mm. Remember, drop bars are measured from center to center of the drop. If you want 42cm (center-to-center) hood-to-hood, get the 48cm model (480mm - 60mm flare = 420mm).

The last offering in our drop bar selection is the Dajia Shallow Drop (Adrian's favorite, which she used on her C&O trip). The ramp section is shorter for a lower reach to the hoods and the drops are shallower so you don't need to lean over quite as much to find an aerodynamic position. The bar has 0 flare, which allows you snake through the peloton or around parked cars without worry of snagging. This bar is very popular for modern style builds as well as for people wanting a shorter reach bar.

What should the next installment of the series be?