24 March, 2017

Spring Rustines Delivery

By Scott

While this past winter has not been as snowy or cold as last year, the coming weekend shows that Spring is arriving. We'll have high tempertures in the 60's to low 70's in some places around the Mid Atlantic. Another sign of Spring arriving is that our latest Rustines order arrived. The Campy gum hoods and the gum constructeur grips are here, as are the constructeur grips in black. The small Rustines patch kits in the metal tin are back as well, so time to restock your saddle bag with a new patch kit for spring time riding.

We also brought in the Mafac half hoods in white to brighten things up for Spring.

Igor and Clint are still over in Taiwan. The Taiwan Bike Show is now done, so next week they meet with our suppliers and collaborators there about existing projects as well as new ones. Keep any new product ideas coming to ideas@velo-orange.com 
You can follow their continued adventures through VO's instragram.

What are people's plans for this coming weekend?

22 March, 2017

Vintage Bikes and Vintage Watches

By Scott

It's interesting how worlds that seem very apart can actually run in parallel. This week, the Taiwan Bike Show is on. Igor and Clint have headed over there to see the show, talk to our suppliers and see what is new with the industry and how it might help us offer better, more interesting products to you. On the other side of the world, Baselworld is happening in, yep, Basel Switzerland. This is one of the big watch shows of the world. Everyone from Rolex down to folks who make the straps and buckles for watches go to this show. Similar to how Shimano and SRAM are at TBS as well as the small companies that make nuts and bolts for cranks and brakes.

I've been getting into watches in the last year. I partially blame a good friend of mine who collects older mechanical watches for starting me down this road, combined with a podcast or two that has enlightened me to this world. One similarity that I find between the two worlds is that there are watches that are super complex, made of carbon fiber and thousands of little parts that cost a fortune, that coexist in the same world as the vintage inspired watches that cost, shall we say, a more reasonable sum of money.

Now one can say, watches? Who needs one? Smart phones can act as a time piece that also can keep all your appointments organized and your schedule running along. I grew up prior to smart phones, and I always have a watch on me. Igor and Clint, younger then me, are also watch wearers. Both have automatic watches - one that relies on the action of your wrist to keep a spring moving inside the watch that keeps the second hand moving. The result is no battery required. To me, this is the watch equivalent to the mid 80's Trek and Miyata touring bikes. A solid mechanism, that, given a little bit of love and care every few years, will see you through just about anything.

Quartz watches (the ones with a little battery) were supposed to kill off automatic watches. Yet, shows like Baselworld show that the desire for automatic watches/mechanical watches still exists. The rise of carbon bikes and 11 speed index shifting should have meant that steel bikes and non aero levers should have disappeared and yet year after year at NABHS, Bespoke in the UK, the Philly Bike Expo, and the New England Builders Ball, more small steel frame builders rise up to take up the torch of a steel frame builder.

So who still wears a watch and do you wear it while cycling your steel bike?

17 March, 2017

Taiwan Trip and New Fairweather XC Tires

by Igor

Next week, Clint and I are traveling to Taiwan to attend the Taipei International Cycle Show. We'll meet with our suppliers to discuss frame designs, new cockpit offerings, fenders, rims, and a multitude of other parts and accessories.
In between meetings, we'll ride bikes and eat lots and lots of street food.

I'm taking my trusty Campeur: 20 speed'd, fender'd, front rack'd, and dynamo lighting'd. Clint is taking a much more minimal approach to his travel bike: a single speed Surly Traveller's Check with front rack for lots of 7-11 sushi triangles. Expect lots of photos on Instagram, and don't forget to check out our Stories, too!

We'll have a full report with status updates and even some teasers when we return. If you have any ideas or products you'd like to see, email us: ideas@velo-orange.com
We just got in these fast-rolling and extra supple XC tires by our friends over at Fairweather and Panaracer in Japan. These tires are a great fit for your no-road touring or MTB. Though they are designed for mounting with a tube, Clint is going to try out running them tubeless on his hardtail. They're available in 26x2.1" and 29x2.25".
Lastly, we just got in a shipment of Mojave Cages and Fairweather Shred Bars.

15 March, 2017

The VO Archives

By Scott

As a history major and someone who volunteered at the Air and Space Museum's archives department while waiting for a green card, I'm a sucker for old information. I'm also the person here at VO that answers most of the questions via email and phones, so I have a handle on the kind of questions that we get on a regular basis.  Now that VO is at a point where we have been around for over 10 years (last year was our 10 year anniversary, we'll still take congratulations cards), we have products that were made for a few years and then for a variety of reasons, dropped from our line up. So we have created a new resource for the discontinued frames - an archived frame section. We're basically putting up the same descriptions that we had when we sold the frames. So if you have a Rando frame and you don't recall how big a tire fits it, you can look it up there.

We also have the older frame specs in the tech pages. So if you want to compare head tube angles and such for a bike you saw on ebay, this is the place to go.
We're proud of our line up of bikes. Certainly times have changed. Back when the Rando was in production in 2010, 32 mm tires were considered wide by most folks. Now on builds of the Campeur and Disc Pass Hunter, 32 mm seems to be where most customers start. Yet looking at the frames we have made, you can see a consistent lineage of designs made to take fenders, racks and look timeless.

07 March, 2017

Little Bit of This and That

by Igor

I'll keep it short and sweet.

We're putting Microfiber Touring Saddles in regular and wide widths with dinged or crooked badges on sale. We've moved to doing a screenprinted VeloORANGE logo because we think they look better and are safer during transport.
We're working on a new design for our VO skewers to make them more disc brake friendly (they currently flip open more than 180 degrees), so our current ones are on sale. They're perfectly fine for disc and rim brake applications granted you have brushed up on Quick Release 101.
Thanks so much for your patience with the Cigne Stems being out of stock. They take a long time to make and the last production run sold through way faster than we expected - sometimes that happens when you test the waters with a new product. We're getting lots more in early-April.
More Mojave Cages are arriving next week. When you sign up for a product alert, you get an automated email telling you a product is in stock.
Using bikepacking equipment means you probably have braze-ons that go unused. These nifty plastic screws plug your frame and fork's holes to deter moisture and debris from entering your tubes.

That is all. Have a great day!

03 March, 2017

Tie-dye Fri-dye!

by Clint

Ready for warm weather
We have an office tradition of wearing tie-dye on Fridays.  Tie-dye Fri-dye.  I may or may not be the only participant.  Anyways, I was looking at our white bar tape the other day and thought a little tie-dye would be a great way to spice it up.
Gettin' in the nooks & crannies
It's easy enough to do.  You just need a tie-dye kit and white cotton bar tape.  I like our tape for this application.  It's nice and thick so it'll soak up plenty of dye.

I experimented with a few different folds for the tape.  I don't think these ended up making much of a difference.  It's easy enough to wrap a few rubber bands around it right out of the box and get to the dying.  When you've got it all wrapped up, I'd recommend soaking it in water before you dye.  This will help the dyes absorb into the fabric.
Dye patterns: Stripes & top and bottom dip
Time to dye!  I tried a couple different dye application methods.  Stripes along the rubber bands and soaking the top and bottom of the coil.  Both worked pretty well.  You really need to get in the cracks of the tape to make sure it all gets color.  Unless you want some white.  That's a pretty cool effect too.

Here's the tape on a couple bikes!  I think it turned out pretty darn well.  Just in time for the unseasonably warm weather we're having!

Tie-dye klunker

Shout out to Alison for the corks!

Dreamy bar wrap
We had some leftover dye from the bar tape so we tied an dyed a few shirts, shoes, and caps!  Great participation in tie-dye Friday today!
Tie-Dye crew.

24 February, 2017

Differences Between Brake and Shifter Housing & Tie-Dye Sneak Peek!

by Igor

We've had quite a few calls recently about the difference between shift and brake housing. It's probably because it's the time of year when people are swapping their winter bikes for their Spring/Summer/Fall steeds or overhauling their year-round'ers. Amongst all of the tasks to do during an overhaul, one of the key parts is changing out your cables and housing so your shifting and braking is crisp and friction free for optimal performance and safety. From the outside, brake and shift housing looks similar, but the differences are important.

Brake housing consists of an inner liner, spirally wound stainless steel wire, and an outer plastic sheath. This design makes for good, consistent braking performance. Shift housing, similar to brake housing, uses steel surrounding an inner liner, and then coated in plastic to impede moisture infiltration.
Brake on the left. Shift on the right.
But notice the difference! Shift housing uses strands that run the entire length of housing rather than spiraling. This is known as "compressionless" shift housing. This design was mainly brought about for indexed shifting, where precision was important, otherwise you would get stuck between gears.

You don't want to use shift housing for brake housing as it simply isn't designed to take the amount of force that a brake levers requires. Your housing will split and you'll have a bad time. You can use brake housing with friction shifting, but why would you when there is a better option?
We do offer this retro stainless steel shift and brake housing. Mind you, the shift housing is only compatible with friction shifting for the aforementioned reasons. On vintage, steel racing bikes this housing looks so good.

A few tips if you're installing cables and housing for the first time:
  • Your housing should have gradual, natural bends. If it's too long, you'll introduce more friction than necessary. And if it's too short, you'll have poor performance and potentially limit the range of handlebar movement.
  • Use a file on the housing end to get rid of burrs prior to using ferrules to ensure proper, flush interface.
  • Modern cables don't stretch like older cables did. Today, they come pre-stretched from the factory. Any slop you experience soon after installation is most likely the ferrules settling onto the end of the housing by getting pressed against your cable stops. Release the cable from the pinch bolt, pull a bit more cable, and re-adjust.
  • When you cut housing, the inner liner might close up. Use a dental pick, wooden tooth pick, or your trusty "Pokey-Spoke®" (a spoke that has been sharpened to a point) to open it back up.

Totally unrelated, yesterday was a balmy 70°F, so we tied-dyed. We'll post photos next week once everything dries.

17 February, 2017

Trekking Bars - The Original Alt Bar

By Scott

It's hard to believe that it has been 3 years since we launched Casey's Crazy Bar. In a world of drop bars and flat bars, the Crazy Bar was polarizing. But, we'd be remiss if we didn't dig back further into the realm of alternative bars to an original one - the Daija Trekking Bar.

I remember seeing these bars on bikes ridden by an older Austrian couple in New Zealand back in 2001. The bars fitted well with the front and rear panniers, rack top bags and trailer they were each pulling around the south island of New Zealand.

Compared to flat bars, trekking bars offer more hand positions. You can use the sides to rock up a hill, you can stretch out forwards in a headwind, or keep your hands close to the brakes and shifters.

In terms of set up, there seem to be two camps. You either have the open end of the bars face towards you or away from you. A search of photos on the net shows more people run them with the opening towards the rider, thus keeping the brake levers and shifters close to you. Go ahead, do the Google search, we can wait.

OK, so now that you have seen the myriad of cockpits out there, you can see how this bar is the ultimate in individualizing a handle bar. I've never seen flat bars or drop bars get built up with such a personalized feeling about them. In the photo above, we put tape along the sides, but you could easily use another set of grips there as well for more cushioning.

For those of you who are now intrigued by these, some basic spec's - the clamp area is a 25.4 mm, standard for flat bars. The straight section where your main grips, shifters and brake levers would fit is a 22.2 mm clamp area and is 15 cm long. They work best with a 25.4 mm threadless stem, as trying to get a quill stem around all those curves could prove to be a nightmare. If you had a quill stem with a removeable faceplate, that would work as well (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
( Photo taken by Endlessvelolove )

So how many folks out there are fans of alt bars and how many just want a flat bar with a bit of curve/bend to it?

15 February, 2017

A Big Hello From Igor and Adrian

by Igor and Adrian

Being part of the Velo Orange team for a combined 10 years has always been an amazing and rewarding experience. We get to work with fantastic people and design and produce bicycle products that we sincerely enjoy. As we step into our new roles as owners, we’d like to share a bit of what we hope to accomplish.

But first, we wanted to give all of our readers and customers a huge thank you. You guys and gals drive our passion to create, develop, and launch products that have a foot in both worlds of yester-year and today. Thank you.

Aside from losing Chris and Annette, who will be sorely missed, all staff will remain. So expect to get the same exemplary customer service out of Velo Orange, with timely shipping and familiar ordering.

From a product standpoint, development within our niche is exciting. Sometimes it’s a classic concept that has been lost to obscura, and other times we come up with an idea that is totally unique. Either way, we will strive to keep you updated through our various social media avenues. Be warned, we do enjoy teasing drawings and prototype photos. And as always, safety and function is paramount to us, so we will ensure that every single product VO offers will be tested to the appropriate standards for its intended use both in the lab and on the bike.

Content generation is the lifeblood of any successful business, so expect more tour reports, show and expo participation, and general cycling musings. Cycling is our passion. Adrian and I, and the VO gang, have long resumes of cycling: traditional touring, randonneuring, bikepacking, cyclo-crossing, road racing, fixed gear-ing, and mountain biking - we’d like to share more of these stories with you.

We are excited to continue VO’s direction of quality, affordable, reliable products with vintage flair for cyclo-tourists, commuters, and city riders. It is what VO was built on. If you have a good chunk of time free, please explore the blog from 2006 onward. There is a lot of valuable insight, interesting bike parts, and great discussions from VO’s early years.

Feel free to reach out to us anytime: igor(at)velo-orange.com and adrian(at)velo-orange.com

Thanks and happy riding!

11 February, 2017

Velo Orange has Been Sold

By Chris

Note: This post is cross-posted on Chris's Blog

I wanted to announce that I've just sold Velo Orange.

The new owners, Adrian and Igor, are longtime employees. Rest assured that the company is in good hands. In fact, except for myself and Annette, the staff remains intact.

I also wanted to share some of my reasons for selling VO:

One of the main reasons I'm selling is that I had this little epiphany when I was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago. I underwent surgery, chemo, and radiation.  (There is no sign of the cancer returning and the odds are that it won't. But there's still a fair chance that it could.) That experience brought home something I already knew. I no longer want be a businessman; it's time for new adventures.

Velo Orange has always been and remains a very successful and profitable enterprise. It's a company that I'm proud of. It's also a company that I enjoyed building and growing, very much so. I also enjoyed hanging with the VO staff, who are the best group of folks I've ever worked with. But running a company, I didn't enjoy that so much.

I'm also selling because I like being retired. I know this because I first retired when I was 41 years old, after starting and selling Chesapeake Light Craft. I launched VO six years later. The plan was for a little part time gig based on importing a few odd bike bits from Europe and Japan. It was my retirement hobby, one that I hoped might turn a small profit. Such are the best laid plans... Anyway I've just turned 59 and now I really am retired. Really. Though I do have this one idea...

Our plans include lots of travel (I'm building out a camper van), fly fishing, catching up on a lot of reading, visiting friends all over the country, and maybe getting involved in local politics. I'll write more about this, and about business and the bike industry later on my personal blog, should anyone care. You can also follow me on Instagram and on Twitter.

Enough rambling; thanks for your support over the years and for making VO what it is. And best of luck to Adrian and Igor.

10 February, 2017

Website is Back Up and Restocked!

by Adrian

Thank you for your patience; velo-orange.com is back up! And we've restocked a ton to boot - Porteur and Campeur Racks, Fenders of all shapes and sizes, Seatposts, Bottom brackets, Bottle cages, Cables - Bam!

We've also got our new Happy Stems. If you need to get some more rise, this'll do the trick. It has a 45 degree angle, 31.8 clamp, and is available in 90 and 110mm extensions.

07 February, 2017

The VO Site Will Be Down for 48 hours

The VO web store will be undergoing maintenance for about 48 hours. We'll grease everything, replace some the bearings, run new cables, and more.

It'll be shut down tonight at around 5pm ET and be back up again late on the 9th, so if you need anything shipped right away please order in the next few hours. We won't even be able to sell stuff in the showroom since the whole sales system will be down.

That is all; carry on.

02 February, 2017

Them Stems

by Clint

I can't wait to get these stems in!  They look fantastic and I think they're going to be useful for a lot of builds.  We received final prototypes earlier in the week and they're ready to be put into production.  This should keep them on schedule for the Spring!

Other than a few minor aesthetic differences, these are the new stems.  The logos will be centered and removed from the quill portion.  They will be supplied with the alloy wedge shown on the far right stem.
Here's a quick rundown of the specs:
  • 31.8mm stem clamp with removable faceplate
  • 120mm of extension above the minimum insert
  • 90 deg bend for a little extra height
  • ISO mountain tested
  • available in 80mm, 90mm, 100mm, and maybe even a 110mm
  • ED Black, Chrome, or Brushed Nickel finish
You should be able to run just about any bar with these stems.  We have some shims on the way for folks wanting to run smaller diameters too.
In addition to the new quill stems, we're also finished prototyping the quill adapters for the Cigne stem.  We should have them around the same time.  They'll look good on old school mountain bikes, touring bikes, or really anything with a 1" threaded fork that needs bars up high.

Look forward to two great options to dial your bar fit!

11 January, 2017

Re-Radiusing Fenders

by Igor

Chances are, you don't need to re-radius your fender if you choose the proper width relative to your tire size. Alas, we do not offer a 45mm 26" fenderset. Yet. So for those of you with 26" wheels with 1.5" tires, our 650bx45mm hammered fenders can be re-radiused to match the curve of a 26" wheel.

As a reference, here is what how a 650bx45mm hammmered fender sits over a 26" wheel with 1.5" tires. The subject is Adrian's 26" Campeur, in case you were wondering.
And here it is after some massaging. Notice that the fender is only attached at the seatstay and chainstay bridges, and has a smooth line that follows the curvature of the tire. Once this "fender-zen" is achieved, your fenders will live long and fruitful lives free of stress risers.
First, here is what not to do:

Do not bend the fender by grasping on the ends and squeezing. You will kink your fender, and it will be extremely difficult to fix. Rather, you need to work the fender bit by bit until the fender matches the curvature of the tire.

To decrease the radius of the fender, you will need to increase the width. Since I am using an aluminum alloy fender set, I just use my hands to depress the middle and pull the outer edges. I have heard of others using a tennis ball, but since 1) I don't play tennis and 2) the yellow fuzz is bad for a dog's digestion tract, I simply do not own a tennis ball. 
Decreasing radius
You don't need to do a lot at a time. Little bits over the length of the fender can decrease the radius enough to work. With the wheel in the dropouts, simply mock it up and adjust as necessary. Conversely, if you need to increase the radius, squeeze the edges together.
Increasing radius by squeezing
With the proliferation of off-road touring and gravel/all-road/any-road/road-plus/adventure/quiver-killer bikes, we have started including a pair reinforcement plates in all of our alloy fender sets. Just peel and stick it under the screw during installation - one under the seatstay bridge and one under the fork crown.

Here's the final result:

We'll probably bring in some fenders for the narrower 26" crowd. What other sizes would you like to see?

22 December, 2016

Blem Stems and Frames, and Warm Holiday Wishes

by Igor

Every now and again, we find some finishes which aren't up to snuff, so they get sent to our "scratch n' sniff" bin until we feel the time is right to post them on the specials page. Today, the time has come for these Nickel-finished Cigne Stems and a few Campeur frames.

These Cigne Stems have some not-so-stellar plating with some minor inclusions under the finish and clear coat, but are in perfect functioning condition. If you're handy with a wire wheel and torch, you could even strip the finish and braze on a downtube shifter mount and cable stop:

We also just posted two paint blem'd Campeur frames and one with a dented seat collar in the Discounted Frames page. None of which affects the frame's function, but cannot be sold in our regular batch.
Lastly, we're going to be closed from December 24th until January 1st, 2017. If you want to get your order shipped before the New Year, submit your order before 11am EST of the 23rd.

Thank you so much for a fantastic and fun 2016!

Have a terrific and safe holiday season and see you all in the new year!

15 December, 2016

Opinel Essentials 4-Pack and Holiday Gift Ideas

by Igor

Opinel knives are just a treat to behold. Beautifully simple, incredibly light, and well balanced. My No.8 Carbon is a mainstay of my Everyday Carry - always ready to divvy up some meat and cheese on tour or open mail at home.

In addition to their folding knives, Opinel makes terrific kitchen knives.

Just in time for the holidays, we brought in their Essentials 4-Pack which includes (from top to bottom) a Paring Knife, Serrated Knife, Vegetable Knife, and a Peeler.

Both the Paring and Serrated knives have 9.5cm blade lengths, while the Vegetable knife has a 7cm blade.
Though they are all dishwasher safe, I still tend to wash them by hand. The set comes in a nice package for gifting and would make a great addition to any chef's kitchen.

A good set of flat pedals with loads of real estate make any city and touring bike significantly more comfortable. The Sabot Pedals have 3 sets of sealed cartridge bearings, rounded traction pins, and are toe-clip and half-clip compatible.

A cycling cap is an essential piece of every cyclist's kit. The cap must be high quality, lightweight, and have the proper amount of luft. Instructions for proper cap wear can be found here.

The VO Baguette Bag is a simple canvas and leather bag that can mount to your saddle's loops or the front of your handlebars. Great for road bikes without rack mounting points for a bit more carrying capacity during an all day ride. Since it straps on, you can take with you into the cafe or shop.
Add a bit of distinction and safety to your rear fender with our Grand Cru Fender Mounted Reflector. Installation only requires a few minutes to drill one hole and is compatible with any fender type.
I shouldn't get so excited about bungee cords, but the Constructeur Bungee Cords from Rustines really are fantastic. Since they don't have a braided outer lining, they hold down a dry bag or tent super securely without worry of shifting or sliding. They're available in several colors to match your bike or your country's flag.
Lastly, our Gift Certificates are compatible with short and linear pull brakes, Campagnolo and Shimano, and 1" quill and threadless.