31 January, 2014

New Container Day

by Igor

We are hard at work organizing and restocking products from the container we just unloaded. We are super excited about this particular container for two reasons. First, we like having our shelves ready for the upcoming riding season, which we anticipate to be awesome. Second, this container has some new products which we've talked about and alluded to in the past.

First off is our Noir Edition Grand Cru Seatpost and Grand Cru Long Reach Brakeset. Superb performance now with the color to match any build. Don't forget about our Noir Edition 1 1/8" Headset!

Second, we got these really nice classic styled Microfiber Touring Saddles. They are available in black and brown, measure 150mm x 275mm, and weigh 280 grams. The textured top is super popular with the performance crowd so you won't slip around during a serious hammer fest. The saddles feature a plastic body, cromoly rails, and dense closed-cell foam. It's a great alternative if you'd rather not have any leather on your bike.

Finally, we got in some 50cm wide Rando Drop Handlebars. So if you eat VW Beetles for breakfast and your shoulders have their own zip code, this bar is for you. 
Everything from the container will be put in stock shortly. Polyvalents and Campeurs will be arriving on the next container slated for arrival in late February. 

29 January, 2014

Wheel Manifesto

By: Casey Fittz

There's been a lot of anticipation for our new off road touring bike, the Camargue. The frame prototypes have been very well received at shows, but there has been one comment that keeps coming up: why 26" wheels? The smaller sizes of the Camargue (47cm, 50cm, and 53cm) are all designed around 26" wheels. This is a big deal for some people because there is a common notion that 26" wheels are 'slow'. I think that in many ways this notion is misinformed. While it is true that wider tires cause more rolling resistance, the Camargue is designed for the same tire width across all frame sizes. In an ideal scenario, where tire and rim availability are not a factor, there should be two main factors in choosing wheel size: frame size, and intended riding type, with frame size being the most constraining factor.

Before we delve into this any more, some quick background. There are currently three wheel sizes prevalent on the market: 26" (559 BSD); 650b/27 1/2"(584 BSD); and 700c/29" (622 BSD). The 650b sizing has most recently had a resurgence in the mountain bike industry. The world of 650b wheels is no stranger to us at Velo Orange. We've been selling a 650b frame, the Polyvalent, for many years, along with rims and fenders. So why are there so many different wheel sizes? For a while most mountain bikers were riding 26" wheels, then everyone threw those away for 29" wheels, and now we're on to 27 1/2" wheels. The bicycle propaganda machine would have you believe that there are a bunch of scientists deliberating over the ideal wheel size. They're probably hard at work, running experiments in their labs, calculating inertia and rolling resistance and all of those things. In a few years we'll be one step closer to the true ideal wheel size (27"??), but for now we have 700c for road bikes and 27 1/2" for mountain bikes.

Here's why I think everyone keeps switching wheel sizes: planned obsolescence. Design for obsolescence (DFO) is a normal enough principle in the engineering world; it often goes hand in hand with design for failure (DFF). You can see plenty of examples of this in the phone and auto industries. However, the phone and auto industries have it a lot easier. They are selling more complicated products that the layman doesn't have the time to understand. They can make shoddy cars that will need to be replaced sooner than later. New technologies are often cited as reasons to convince the consumer to buy a new car. Fortunately, DFO isn't so easy in the bike industry. It's not hard to look at a bike and determine its overall quality. Likewise, it's not hard to make a bike that will last. This is a problem for the industry: the market has the potential to become saturated with frames, and frame sales will drop off to some degree. The solution to this problem is to convince everyone that their old frames are obsolete. Changing the predominant wheel size is a great way to do this.

Here is the good news: with the predominant wheel size constantly changing, there are more and more wheel and tire size options being made available.  In my ideal world there would be tons of different wheel sizes, all with different rim width options and different tire type/size options. Like I said earlier, there should be two main design factors in choosing wheel size for a frame: type of riding and frame size. The frame size should be the dominant constraint. Ideally, wheel size should scale with frame size. When you design a frame around a wheel that is too large or too small for it you are forced to make sacrifices in the geometry which will affect handling. Proper handling should trump the supposed benefits of a certain wheel size. Thinking of a bicycle in terms of a tool, an extension of our bodies, it makes sense that it should be particularly sized to suit us. We buy a frame that fits us in the same way that we buy a pair of pants that fits us. Likewise, when you go to buy shoes you get a pair that fits you and is appropriate for how you intend to use them. A conniving salesmen might try to tell you that a larger size shoe would give you more traction because it has more surface area, and he'd be right, but you'd know that the blisters caused by too large of a shoe wouldn't be worth it.

For example, I'm 6'3" and Scott is 5'7". I ride a 59cm Camargue which has 29" wheels, and Scott rides the 53cm Camargue with 26" wheels.

Every now and then Scott hops on the 59cm Camargue prototype and rides it around the office. It looks quite silly -- no more so, however, than when he steals my boots and wears them around the office. (Scott is certainly an odd duck, but he's Canadian so we generally give him a pass.)

We're very excited about the new Camargue frames. We've put them through a lot of testing and are quite pleased with how they have performed. Early on, during the initial design stages of the Camargue, we had to decide between two competing metrics. On one hand we knew that people wanted 29" wheels, but we also wanted to design a frame that handled and fit the rider well. In the end, handling won out and this means that the smaller Camargue frames are designed around 26" wheels.

28 January, 2014

Pass Hunting in Thailand

by Igor

Our friends from Thailand tagged us in some great photos on Facebook. The climb up Doi Inthanon gives some spectacular views that I hope to see in person someday soon. If you find yourself in Thailand, stop by Bike Cafe; it's a cool shop with a very passionate owner. Enjoy!

Photos courtesy of Weeris Bualumyai.

23 January, 2014

Recall: Early VO Seatpost Upper Clamp

We are recalling the upper clamp used on the first few production runs of the VO long-setback seatpost. It has been reported to us that these early clamps may develop cracks or break, causing a hazard to the rider. We advise customers to not use the seatposts until the clamp is replaced with the newer version.

The newer and stronger style of clamp has two reinforcing ridges along the top. The old style has a smooth top as shown below.

This is the old style that should be replaced. (top view)

This is the new stronger style that is fine. Note the two ridges on top.
Please e-mail (info@velo-orange.com) or call us (443-949-8115) and we'll send you a replacement clamp at no charge. Or you can send back the entire seatpost and we'll replace the clamp for you.

Note: that this only affects seatposts produced from August 2008 to late 2010 and sold through mid 2011. The bulk of the older upper clamps were sold as part of  item code VOGCSP (2008 - 2010); fewer were sold as part of item code SE-0001 (2011).

21 January, 2014

Al's Pass Hunter Build

By Igor

Al and his girlfriend were visiting family over the holidays all the way from Dublin. He was super excited to pick up his new Pass Hunter Build kit and accompanying bits here in Annapolis. He's a photographer and came through with some fantastic photos once the bike was home and all build up.

All photos courtesy of Al Higgins Photography: http://www.alhigginsphotography.com/


17 January, 2014

On Rims

by Igor

I've spoken about my wheel obsession before, so I'll talk about it some more! This time I'll be a bit more focused on rims, because they are your friends. Rims, like our other offerings, following the basic law of design, form follows function. So let's have a look-see at our current offerings from narrowest to widest.

The PBP rim is our narrowest offering. The outside width measures 19mm and inside width measures 13.2mm. This design allows for tire sizes between 20mm (does anyone use this anymore?) and 32mm. Construction is double walled for strength and rigidity. Weight is a very respectable 450g. Lace these rims to our hi-lo hubset, and you've got yourself a very nice race day or training wheelset without taking out a home equity loan.

Next is my personal favorite: RAID. It's hard to find a good double eyeleted, double walled rim anymore. Cut the rim in half and you can see hows it's built. The tube that spans the walls is the double eyelet. This design allows for the ultimate balance between strength and weight. The rim measures 22mm (outside) and 16.1mm (inside). This means that you can mount tires from the meat and potatoes of the tire world: 25mm to 38mm. Throw on some slicks for your group ride, then slap on your knobbies for a weekend off road tour.

Lastly (for now), is Diagonale. Available in 650b and 700c, its primary use is for wide tires and loaded touring. It is designed to be our workhorse and has seen a lot of action over a lot of miles. The triple box section design is super strong and sturdy without the huge weight penalty for a touring rim (550g for 650b, 570g for 700c). Widths measure 25mm outside and 18.3mm inside. Appropriate tires measure 29mm-47mm. With the success of the Diagonale, we have put a 26" version into production featuring alternating offset eyelets for a super strong wheel. Note that the 650b Diagonale rims have had none of the size issues that seem to plague newly introduced 650b rims; if the tire is made to specs it'll fit as it should.

In anticipation for the Camargue's springtime release, we will have a whole new line to be released: the Escapade rims. More details on that to come.

Remember that we do offer complete wheels in various configurations laced to our hubs. Are there any other combinations you'd like to see?

14 January, 2014

Camargue Prototypes Available, and a Polyvalent

Can't wait until May to get a Camargue? You might be in luck. We have two prototype frames that were never built up. Both are 59cm and matte-black powder coated, not green like the production version. One was for an employee who had planned a bike packing trip in South America, but decided to go mountaineering instead. The second was used only to test tire fit. Both come with Grand Cru headsets installed. One has two tiny paint chips on the top tube that we touched up. They are identical to the production frames, except for the color and lack of a top tube decal. Both framesets can be found in our Prototype and Special page

UPDATE:  both are sold.
The Camargue geometry chart can be found here. These frames take tire up to about 2.25". Though you could run fenders with 2.1" tires, we suggest 1.9" tires with fenders for extra clearance. You should actually measure the tire you plan to use if it's very close to the max size we recommend.  "Knobby" tires can vary from the listed size. Does the listed width include the knobs?

We also strongly recommend not using fenders with "knobby" tires on any bike. There's too much chance of road debris being thrown into the fender and jamming the wheel; ouch.

Speaking of tires, as with any bike, big tires will require a MTB (47.5mm) chainline. Tires up to about 1.9" (total width) will work with a road chainline, but wider tires may rub the front derailleur. If you want to run road components with wider tires you can usually get away with a longer BB and MTB front derailleur.

We also have a demo 57cm Polyvalent. This was used as a show bike and has a few small scratches. This is one of the last two green Polyvalents. The next batch will be blue.

UPDATE: PolyV sold.

07 January, 2014

VO Rear Rack Installation with Pictures!

By Igor

We've had a few questions about installing our racks, so we put this post together to help. A front rack post is in the near future. Both posts will be in our tech section as well, for easy future reference.

First off, let's talk about the Campeur Rear Rack. This rack is my favorite. Its pannier mounts keep weight low, tubular stainless steel construction makes it durable and stiff, and the frame mounts are strong. Finally, I like the classic good looks. The rack's hardware kit includes everything you need to install it to your bike.

The bottom end takes a 5mm bolt and washer for attachment, just like almost every rack. The tangs have 4 holes so that you can adjust the height of the rack; you may need to cut off the unused part of the tang if you're using a higher mounting hole. This allows the top platform to be mounted directly to the fender in the classic French style. (Since our racks are stainless steel, you'll need a new hack saw blade or cutting wheel to get through material if you decide to trim the tang.)

Orientation of the hardware is super important when installing the stays. Note the position and orientation of the daruma bolt, channeled washer, nylock nut, and the stay that connects to the cantilever post. Depending on your frame size, style, and application, the position of the daruma and stay will vary.

The rack also comes with long stays to mount to the seat stay eyelets. Use these instead of the canti-mounts if your bike doesn't have cantilever brakes. These stays can also be used with p-clamps (not included) if your frame also lacks seat stay eyelets.

The Constructeur rear rack is awesome for small panniers or a small bundle strapped to its top. I prefer to mount it to the fender in the traditional constructeur style. This makes an elegant, lightweight addition to your bike's rear end. 

This pictured rack has the tang has been cut to be mounted to the fender on a VO Polyvalent. A 5mm bolt and washer (included) secures the rack to the dropouts, just like the Campeur rack.

Here's the top end of the rack. A single leather washer (not included) under each of the brazed-on eyelets of the rack looks great and gives the rack optimum stability. 

If you prefer not to mount the rack to the fender, we offer 2 stainless rack tangs (sold separately). These allow the rack to be attached to the seat stay bridge or behind the brake caliper. The tangs are available in two lengths, regular and XL. The tangs can be bent and cut to adjust to your particular setup.

Lastly, the Dajia Expedition Rear Rack is a strong no-frills brushed stainless rack that's suitable for big or small loads. 

The top end is where you will adjust the angle of the rack and the position of the stays. The 2 screws and 2 washers secure the stays to the seat stay eyelets. The screw on the side adjusts the length of the stay to make the rack horizontal. The panhead screws on top are used to adjust the inboard/outboard position of the stays to your application. If your bike is very small, or large, you might need to cut the ends of the stays to prevent their interfering with a rack-top bag or touching the tire. 

03 January, 2014

More Camargue testing

by Scott

With some extra time available this past week, I managed to get some more miles in on our 26" wheeled test Camargue.

These shots were all taken at Clopper Lake, part of Seneca State Park, here in Maryland.

No, the pedal didn't do that. The lake is home to beavers and their presence is very noticeable.

We set up the bike with Casey's Crazy bars with bar end shifters on the extensions. Worked pretty well on the single track trail network.

Non VO issue seat bag- an old Carousel design bag

No problems with pedal strike with the Sabot pedals