15 April, 2014

Grand Cru Hub Goes Touring in Siberia

Last year, Luke did an amazing solo tour through Siberia along the Baikal-Amur-Mainline (BAM) Railway line. Rough terrains, friendly and helpful locals, downpours, river crossings, and let's say "unique" situations are all things Luke recalls on his journey.

Here's Luke's review of the Grand Cru Touring Hub after his 4000km Siberian tour

"I'd like to say that the VO Grand Cru rear hub is exceptional. I've given it a very good test using it for pretty loaded offroad touring in some very harsh conditions including very rough and rocky roads, regular submersion in rivers and muddy puddles up to waist deep at times. The way the freehub can be removed from the hub without tools means it is very quick and easy to clean and relube the pawls after abuse. I was also amazed at how well the pawls were sealed from the exterior. Despite the dirty water the rear hub was often dragged through only water ever seemed to get inside, which is inevitable when you have cold water cooling the hub, contracting the air and sucking in water. The hub preformed exceptionally." 

08 April, 2014

Fenders on VO Frames

By Igor

Fender line not Federline
“Good fender line” is defined by keeping the fender concentric to the tire (when viewed from the side). This characteristic goes deeper than keeping your clothes clean and your bike aesthetically pleasing; it shows a designer’s intent.

Designing a frame is easy. Designing a good frame is hard. Geometry, predictable handling, comfortable ride, consistent clearances, properly placed braze-ons, and beautiful appearance are all traits we require during the design and testing of our frames. In addition, these features must be on the entire run of sizing, which many manufacturers overlook.

We take great care to ensure that all of our frames accommodate fenders with a perfect fender line. The Campeur, Pass Hunter, Polyvalent, and soon-to-arrive Camargue all feature braze-ons for easy and clean fender installation.

Let's grab a beer (60 min Dog Fish Head for me) and dive right into a fender install on a 57cm MK3 Polyvalent.
The subject lacks fenders
Seatstay braze-on
Chainstay braze-on
Fork crown plate braze-on
Mount for fenders and rack
Mount for fenders and rack
Choose the type of fender for your bike. You need, at the very least, 8mm of difference between tire size and fender width; 15mm is better. Also, keep in mind the constraints of the frame. For Polyvalent, 52mm is the biggest you can go before you need to crimp around stays and fork crown. I went with the Zeppelins (650b, 52mm) because they look phenomenal. 

For Polyvalent (which has horizontal dropouts), a Spring Thing is useful. This little guy allows for easy wheel removal while keeping fender line consistent around the rear wheel.

Clever little guy.
The leather washers included in the kit have a convex and concave side. Concave side on the fender. I always recommend grabbing a few extras for rack mounting or fender line adjustment.

Concave side
Easy alignment. Flat side of cupped washer faces fender.
Ready for installation
I put the spring thing in the middle of the slot so I have an adjustment point.

Align and mark with marker
When drilling the hole, it is best to use a punch or Phillips screwdriver and a hammer to make a point; this will prevent the drill bit from wandering. Keep stepping up the size of the bit until the screw fits through.

2 leather washers on the bridge and fork crown for this build.
1 on the underside to keep it snug; a button head screw can be substituted.
Ready to mark, then cut. Upside-down in this case.
If it's just you doing the install, flip the R-clip vertically (temporarily) so that you can measure and mark while the wheel is clamped in the dropout. Mark a few millimeters past the end of the clip. Doing this will ensure that when the R-clip is flipped back into the normal position, the length of the stay will be correct. Any doubts? Cut longer than shorter.

If you have a friend to assist you, flip the R-clip so it faces down and have one person pull the wheel back in the dropouts (without the skewer). The other person will mark where the stay needs to be cut to achieve good fender line. Any doubts? Cut longer than shorter.

The front is very straight forward. The holes are pre-drilled (even the fork crown).

This build has a Pass Hunter Rack, so the rack is also mounted to the front fender.

A detailed instruction guide (included in every fender set) for installation in available on our tech info page: http://support.velo-orange.com/#fenders.html

04 April, 2014

Odds and Ends

In case you missed it, the Adventurer Cycling Association blog has a nice review of Casey's Crazy Bars. These bars have been selling out almost as soon as we get then in, but we should have many more late next month.

We are still working on the MTB version of Crazy bars, it looks like they will be chromoly, maybe butted; we're waiting for the last round of prototypes and fatigue tests.
We have these handsome new organic cotton Campeur shirts. I'm a big fan of organic cotton. Did you know that more pesticides are used on (non-organic) cotton than on any other crop.
Igor has been experimenting with shellac, trying to find the right color for a build. The photo above shows various colors of cotton bar tape with (at bottom) and without shellac. Additional coats will darken them further.

Finally, last week was VO's 8th anniversary!

01 April, 2014

New VO Gran Fondue Bike

Testing. The ride must be exceptionally smooth.
Some special fittings were required.
Note the titanium Vargo burner, lightweight performance.
Stirring is critical; one must develop a smooth cadence.
Perfect consistency.
At VO everyone helps with product testing.

26 March, 2014

Pass Hunter Review in Bicycle Times

Bicycle Times just published a great review of the VO Pass Hunter. The review is not on line yet, but here are a few quotes:

"OK, we've established this thing is a looker.. Fortunately those good looks are backed up with a great ride."

"..the Pass Hunter felt sporty, goading me into leaving in the big ring and powering over the next rise rather that drop down to the small ring and spinning up slowly."

"And descend this bike does. ...the Pass Hunter brought out the daredevil in me, encouraging me to let it all hang out going down hill. 

"The frame has the steel "feel" that most other materials still try to emulate: resilient over rough surfaces, the lively spring when powering out of corners, but enough stiffness to descend with confidence, even with a light load."

"And I'm not sure what makes it work this way, but this is one of the few bikes I've ridden that is stable enough with a handlebar bag to ride no handed."

"Don't let the cantilever brakes and big tires fool you, this isn't a touring bike, it's a sporty road bike that is versatile enough to be built up for spirited group rides, all weather back road bashing, or credit card touring."

"I'm thoroughly impressed, impressed enough that I'm debating purchasing a frame and fork for myself."
I'm really pleased that we keep getting reviews like this. Please pick up the May issue of Bicycle Times and read the whole thing (there are other good articles, too). I've long worried that cyclists compare frames only by looking at angles and geometry and price. But what really makes a frame great, and what I hope distinguishes VO frames from others, is how they ride and how well they are made. These are things that are hard to judge looking at specs and charts and photos. Reviews like this are a big help.

On another review related note, the Adventure Cycling review of the Campeur is now on line.

21 March, 2014

Igor's big Taiwan Adventure

by Igor

Chris and I got back from Taiwan just in time for NAHBS,  It was a great time meeting with manufacturers, going to the Cycle Show (one of the biggest bike shows in the world, only rivaled by Eurobike), eating amazing street food, and lounging at the skin melting hot springs. A photo tells a thousand words, so..... onward to the photos! A full gallery is available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eccentricvelo/sets/72157642695296584/

To Japan, over Canada

Longshan Temple
Delicious treat. Strawberries and tomatoes in a hard gelatin.

Anyone know the model?
Frames are tested to the literal breaking point here

All of our frames are handmade
Grand Cru Stems being boxed up to us!
Obligatory cat photo

 Arthur from Voyager Touring Co is a great guy and does some amazing touring and rando style builds featuring our products as well as many products sourced from USA, UK, Japan, and right at home.

Koi pond in front of the shop. Great place to relax at home.
I also had a chance to stop by Sense30 bikes. Not only do Yeh and Lee have a great sartorial style, they also know their old bike stuff. Fantastic selection of NOS French, Italian, and Japanese components and accessories. In addition, they have their own custom frames brazed locally for customer builds.

NOS Colnago outfitted with NOS 40th Anniversary Campagnolo

Shop dog
Old and new at 2/28 Peace Park

That's one way to do it.

Mini Velo Fat bike

The road in front of the Presidential Palace was closed down for a scheduled protest.

Gondola going into the mountains
Low visibility
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall is overwhelmingly huge.

The steed. A bit small.

Mid ride snack

Bo'Ai road, also known as Camera Street. Eye candy and fancy glass abound!

Seriously, 7-11: Bring these Sushi Triangles into the States. I will buy them.
On the way home, to go straight to NAHBS.