27 February, 2014

Blue Polyvalent MK3 is Here

The new batch of Polyvalent frames is painted a lovely metallic blue color. We've also added a third set of water bottle bosses and a rear brake cable hanger with adjuster. Here's part of the description from our site:

The Polyvalent is an urban bike that's also capable of being used for cyclo-touring, brevets, and club rides. Polyvalent is French for "general purpose."

The frame is a low-trail French inspired design, much like our old VO Gentleman frame. It's designed for front loads. 

Wheel size is 650b, which we feel is really the best choice for a comfortable ride on bumpy city streets or rough country roads. Maximum tire size with fenders is around 44mm and around 55mm without, but the frame handles best with a tire around 38mm wide. 

The rear dropouts are short horizontal dropouts to allow internal hubs and single speed wheels to be used without the need for a chain tensioner. Longer dropouts would make wheel removal difficult on a fendered bike. Rear spacing is 132.5mm, so both 130mm and 135mm rear hubs fit.

There's more here.

25 February, 2014

Wrapping Handlebars Alex Singer Style, Re-Post

Things are busy at VO. I just got back from Frostbike and am off to Taiwan on Friday, then we're on our way to  NAHBS. So I thought I'd rerun this short blog post from March 2006, rather then writing a new one. This is still my favorite way to wrap bars:
The wrapped bar after Shellacking.
I decided to wrap the handlebars of my new bike in the style I've seen on some Alex Singer bikes. I think his method differs from that used by other constructeurs, for those of you who follow such trivia. Both methods involve starting the wrap at the stem-end of the bar, thus eliminating the electrical tape or twine required to finish a wrap started outboard and leaving a cleaner looking bike. But Singer's method involves wrapping the top half of the bar from the center out, and the bottom half from the end in. "But why is this better and who cares?" you ask. Well, Singer's method not only looks better, but it prevents the rider's hands from 'curling' the tape as he pushes forward on the drops.

If using brifters or aero levers, I like to secure the cables with duct tape (the good metal foil type) rather than with black electrical tape which can show through light-colored cotton tape. The metal duct tape is also used to secure the ends of the cotton tape under the brake lever hoods.

Wrapping bar tape is not easy and it often takes me several tries to get it looking nice and even. It usually takes 3 rolls of tape for any, but very narrow, bars.

Wrapping from the bar's center toward the brake lever. Note the lack of twine
Wrapping from the bar's end toward the brake lever.

20 February, 2014

Frame Saving and Rust

We occasionally get questions about internal rustproofing on steel frames. Should you worry about internal rust on your new, or used, frame? The fact is that the vast majority of steel frames never get any internal rust proofing treatment, yet last for many many decades. On the other hand, you'll occasionally see a rusted out frame, particularly in regions where road salt is used. So to be on the safe side, I rust-proof all my new frames. You'll certainly want to rust-proof any frame as nice as a VO frame.

Back in the day I simply sprayed WD40 into the frame, but today I prefer Frame Saver. Frame Saver is designed to get into the smallest spaces in your bike frame and leave a protective coating when it dries.

A single can will do several frames, and application takes only a few minutes. The included direction are pretty good, but here are a few photos of Scott rust-proofing a Camargue prototype:
First, spray Frame Saver into the main tubes through the BB shell, head tube, and seat tube. Rotate the frame and shoot some more in to better coat the tubes. Next, plug the tubes with rags or paper towels. 
Now shoot Frame saver into all the little vent holes. There should be a vent hole in every small tube; it's there to let out gases while welding the frame. Some cyclists plug these vents with little bits of wax, but I'm not sure if that's a good idea.
Now spin, shake, and gyrate the frame to distribute the Frame Saver and coat the tubes. You need not be quite as aggressive in this as Scott. After a few hours, remove the rags or paper towels and let the excess drain out. Wipe up any that's leaked onto the paint. Repeat with the fork. That's all there is to it.

13 February, 2014

VO Alloy Chainguard Installation Made Easy

by Igor

Our Alloy Chainguard is an easy, affordable way to keep your pants and calf clean from bike grease when using an internal gear hub or single speed/fixed gear.

What you get in the package: one guard with the bottom bracket drive side mount pre-assembled and hardware to mount to the drive side chainstay.

First, untension chain.

Remove crank arms. If you have a VO Crankset, you can pull the arms without using a special puller; you only need an 8mm wrench. Start removing the drive side bottom bracket. The non drive side can stay in. Clean shell and threads. 

Put bottom bracket body through chainguard and re-install into bottom bracket shell.

Assemble chainstay clamp and re-install wheel.

The crankarm may touch the guard. Don't be afraid to push the guard to clear the arm. Different cranksets have different tolerances/q-factors. Note, the bottom bracket will be shifted out to the drive side a couple millimeters, but not enough to really notice any difference.

Confirm everything is tight, ride around to make sure frame flex doesn't change tolerances.

Enjoy! Btw, this thing is shiny.

06 February, 2014

Odds and Ends

I recently attended the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City looking for ideas and products for our new Camp and Cabin Section. Actually didn't find too much, but it was still a fun show and I got together for dinner with some old friends from my climbing days. We'll order samples of the two-or three items VO might stock and see how it goes.
While at Outdoor Retailer I came across the Bikeboards booth. They make bike skis. Put one on the front for travelling or on both wheels for "skiing".The videos make it look like a blast. Check out their website. We won't be stocking the skis until we design the VO constructeur fat bike. But then we'll want a laminated wood version.
I also looked for innovative winter cycling garb and found an interesting way to keep one's face warm.
Bouldering near Shelter Cove.
After the show my old climbing partner and I drove out to the Lost Coast area of California for a week of hiking and beach-side bouldering. Later we hiked around the newly opened Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands, which are a few hours south.
Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands
In Arcata we enjoyed factory tours at Kokotat and Wing Inflatables thanks to my buddy's connections. Both these factories were fascinating and make really high quality stuff. I was especially interested in the quality control and testing they do.
Arcata has many interesting Victorian homes (wiki photo). Just adding curly-cues for the sake of being fancy doesn't do much for me, but you have to admire the extraordinary carpentry. Arcata also has a great sushi place called Tomo that I've enjoyed on previous visits; recommended. This is one of my favorite left coast towns.
One more Lost Coast photo.  The "trail" runs 24 miles along the shoreline.
The drive back to Salt Lake was via Rt. 50 through Nevada, (the loneliest road in America), not a road I'd want to cycle!

Moving on: Here's a nice review of our Moderniste water bottle cage by T&R Cycling and Canoeing. They also reviewed our Model 3 saddle. Check out the rest of the site as well for lots of interesting reviews.

In case you missed it, Bicycle Times has it's "First Impression: Velo Orange Pass Hunter". A full review should appear in the next issue. The Pass Hunters have been really well received with very positive feedback from "early adopters."

We'll have more Campeurs in a few weeks; some sizes are now out of stock. The blue Polyvalents will arrive at the same time.

By the way, if you need a small replacement part or screw for any VO or Grand Cru product send us an e-mail. We don't have absolutely everything, but we keep some small spares around.

We'll be exhibiting at Frostbike and at NAHBS. Please stop by our booth if you're there.

I added a little explanation of why a plastic saddle need not be as wide as a leather saddle in the post about our new non-leather saddles (below). Basically it's because you don't need room for rivets in a plastic saddle and the plastic body does not flare out at the bottom like leather does.

05 February, 2014

More On the New VO Non-Leather Touring Saddles.

So why would Velo Orange offer a plastic saddle? There are lots of cyclists, myself included, who want a light weight, inexpensive, water-resistant saddle. It might not be for their primary bike, but such a saddle would be great on a commuter that's occasionally left outside, on a fixie or  MTB, or on a lightweight build such as a Pass Hunter. Four VO staffers have already put the prototypes on their bikes, three on their primary bikes. I put one on my Camargue.
The problem with quality non-leather saddles is that most are narrow and designed for bikes with the handle bars well below saddle height. Then there are those made for hybrid and commuter bikes that are often too wide and too squishy. I won't even go onto the hideous graphics on some modern designs, since those are, thankfully, usually covered by a butt.
The profile is reminiscent of a 1980's racing saddle.
So here's our attempt at a lightweight, moderately wide saddle designed for folks who keep their handlebars at around saddle height. The idea was to make an inexpensive but light saddle that feels something like a VO Model 3 leather saddle (or a Brooks B-17). At 154mm wide it's actually a little narrower, but this is deceptive because there is no need for rivets or a flaring leather "skirt", So the sitting area is roughly comparable to the wider leather models. At 280gm the weight is less than half that of a modern leather saddle; it's even 140gm lighter than our titanium rail leather saddle.

This new saddle is also less than half the price of our Model 3 saddle. And less than a quarter of the price of our Grand Cru Titanium model. I'll let you in on an industry secret regarding saddle pricing. While leather saddles are difficult and costly to design and manufacture, plastic saddles, even if they have Ti rails, are very simple and inexpensive to produce. Many of those $200 plastic saddles you see on race bikes don't cost much more to make than this one. One thing we didn't spring for is the tooling required to add saddle loops; we may do that if these sell really well. In the meantime you can add our VO saddle loops.
We added a retro-style metal nameplate.
As for construction, our new touring saddles feature a microfiber top which resembles the suede leather used on classic racing saddles. The microfiber's texture keeps you from sliding around and it's weather resistant. The body is thermo-plastic with a layer of high density foam. The rails are chromoly. All-in-all a very simple saddle that's designed to be a comfortable shape for touring and everyday riding.

04 February, 2014

Porteur Rack Versatility

by Igor

We often get questions about set up, use, and versatility of our Porteur Rack.

The rack is made from full tubular stainless steel. Dropout tangs have three holes, should you want to mount the platform directly to the fender or need to bring it down a bit.

Next, the underside of the rack has three eyelets. The two eyelets that are closest together are for mounting the rack tang. Two screws secure the tang to the rack (this prevents the tang from pivoting under load). The third eyelet is for mounting to the fender (optional).

Ideally for dropout installation, your fork should have a top mounted eyelet (below). Should you have only rear facing eyelets, use some valve stem washers to clear the fork blades.

The rack tang (included with the rack) has several holes on the long side and a short side with one hole. The long side matches up to the two eyelets on the rack's underside to ensure a horizontal rack; adjust configuration as necessary. Once you mount the tang to the rack, you can cut the excess, or leave it, it's up to you.

The short side of the tang requires a bolt for mounting. If you have a caliper brake, you're in luck. Just mount the tang behind the caliper. Note that on some calipers, bending the tang may be required to clear the brake. If you don't have caliper brakes, you will need to get a bolt that is longer than the width of your fork crown. Because there are so many applications, fork crown widths, and hole diameters, we don't include a through-bolt for mounting the tang to the crown. It's easy to find the right bolt and nut at your local hardware store or bike shop.

The rail (included) is super useful for bungeeing stuff down and generally ensuring things don't slide off the side of the rack.

If you need to carry even more, simply add panniers.

Speaking of carrying stuff, touring!

Levi put together an great video of his ride from DC to Pittsburgh, then on to Toronto, with a Porteur Rack mounted up to his LHT. See it here: http://vimeo.com/75444916

Levi's LHT with a Porteur. Photo courtesy of Levi.
Our friends at Pelago Bikes in Helsinki put together an awesome video of their ride to Berlin for Berliner Fahrrad Schau. Check out the video here: http://vimeo.com/61398261

Janic's bike featuring the Porteur Rack. Photo courtesy of Pelago Bikes.
If you wanted to make your front end even nicer, there are few companies that make accessories for the rack.
Photo Courtesy of Swift Industries: http://builtbyswift.com/products/19 
Swift Industries in Seattle makes a great waterproof bag designed around our rack. You can even customize the colors.

Photo Courtesy of: http://www.detailweb.co.uk/wooden-slat-kits/
Wooden slats are a tasteful and useful touch.

Lastly, with a bit of finesse, the Porteur rack also fits on a Surly Moonlander. http://forums.mtbr.com/fat-bikes/orange-velo-porteur-rack-moonlander-851739.html