29 September, 2010

The New Site is Live!

 Among the improvements:
  • More product photos and views; we'll be adding them for weeks
  • You can set up an account and your info is saved for future orders
  • There is a wish list that you can share
  • There is a compare products function
  • One click "back in stock" e-mail notification (coming soon; still buggy)
  • Easily searchable
  • Sorting filter
  • Recently viewed items
  • Breadcrumbs
 Please let us know what you think.

BTW, if you find a bug please tell us which operating system and browser (including version) you're using.  We know that early versions of IE are not compatible.

UPDATE from Kyle:

We know there have been a few issues so far. For some people, the "Under Construction" warning comes up instead of the home page. If you're getting this page, it means your computer has cached the old page and just needs an update. You can try to clear the cache on your browser, but if that doesn't work just point your browser to store.velo-orange.com and you should be able to see the new store no problem.

We had problems accepting international orders, but we're working on it now. If you're still getting an authorization failure when you try to check out, send us an email and we'll figure it out with you.

For those of you using Internet Explorer: if you're not already, please upgrade to the latest version IE 8! If you're running version 6 or 7 the site will not display properly; it still works, but the layout gets destroyed. The new site was designed to work best with Firefox/Chrome/Safari (standards compliance is important), so unless you have specific reasons or limitations that require the use of Internet Explorer I'd really urge you to use one of these browsers instead.

We'll be finding many little bugs over the next few weeks, but we'll take all the help we can get with spotting them. Thanks for being patient while we work out these (and other) problems!

28 September, 2010

Grand Cru 110bcd Cranks Are Here

As we wait for the new site to filter through the inter web tubes, I thought we'd post a few shots of the GC 110bcd double crank. We just received a small advanced shipment of these by air. The rest will arrive by ship in a few weeks.

They come with 48/34t 7075 alloy rings; that means they'll last a long time. The 7075 rings really are a big deal; that's why TA rings are so expensive. The price is $190 and the q-factor is around 140mm. The 170mm and 175mm lengths are here. 165mm and 172.5mm lengths will arrive later. And, yes, the arms are cold forged. Weight is around 670g. The dust caps/bolts are self-extracting. Uses a 110mm BB.

The two new Grand Cru drop bars have also arrived. We'll take photos soon.

Then there is the new model VO saddle. It's shape and dimensions are close to that of the Team Pro. Photos and details coming soon.

27 September, 2010

VO Site Will Be Down on Tuesday

Here's the plan: If our overnight work session goes well, we'll disable the Velo Orange web site tomorrow morning. The new and improved VO and VOI sites should come on line later in the day. At least we hope they do!

This blog will also be redesigned to match the new site. Wish us luck.

Nice Post About VO

The Path Less Pedaled blog has a nice post about visiting Velo Orange.  As you may remember, Russ and Laura dropped by our shop a couple of weeks ago.

They also have a new e-book, Panniers and Peanut Butter. It's a gear guide based on 14 months of touring:
Panniers & Peanut Butter is 75 pages long and goes way beyond a simple list of our stuff, or even a technical look at the pros and cons of different items. It’s chock-full of photos, tips, stories, lessons - and probably everything you could want to know about all of our gear.

20 September, 2010


Tom, Robert, Perry, and I will be at Interbike this week. Interbike is the biggest bike show in America. Thousands of bike shop owners and distributor's representatives attend. So do most of the bike and component manufacturers. It is trade only, so not open to the public.

We have a 20 x 20 booth; number 1531. Please drop by if you attend, or ask the guys from your local bike shop to visit us. We'll have some cool pre-production samples of new rims, cranks, hubs, and other prototypes. We'll also have most of our existing components on display.

16 September, 2010

A Few Photos and Links


Box Dog Bikes in San Francisco stocks a lot of VO parts. They also do very nice builds on our frames, like the Rando and Mixte above. Drop by if you're in the Bay Area.

Russ and Laura are on an open ended and long term bike tour. They dropped by VO world headquarters today. You may know Russ as the author of the excellent Epicurean Cyclist blog. Their trip is documented on The Path Less Pedaled blog, which is also well worth reading. Laura creates handcrafted jewelry & bike accessories. Check out her work at the Tangerine Treehouse.

Fyxomatosis is a strange and wonderful shop in Australia. They make chain rings and build cool bikes with some VO components. They also have some classic Italian parts.

14 September, 2010

Frame Fit

I'm sure that most readers have their frame size dialed-in. Our customers are generally experienced cyclist who've owned enough bikes to know what fits. But we do get an e-mail every week or so asking advice on frame size selection. So here it is.

Now, I don't claim to be an expert on fit and find that even those who do are often not. I've been sized for a frame at least four times using various methods by self-proclaimed experts and been assured that I require a 57cm, a 59cm, a 60cm and a 61cm frame. My perfect top tube length is definitely, 58cm, 59cm, or 60cm, depending on the expert. So here is my non-expert advice on picking a VO frame size:

I generally recommend getting a traditionally-sized frame, one that's larger than many race bike oriented shops would recommend. The traditionally sized frame will allow you to get the handlebars to proper height without a super-tall stem. And it will allow a reasonable stem extension that does not put too much of your weight over the front wheel. The frame will handle better, be more comfortable, and you'll look better riding it.

Start by checking not at the frame's nominal size but the frame's stand-over height. This is the height of the top of the top tube of the bike with the size tires you'll use. Looking at our frame geometry table you'll see that the stand over height for a 51mm VO Polyvalent is 748mm with 38mm tires. Adjust for tire size, if you plan to fit 32mm tires, subtract 6mm. Most folks will want about 20-40mm clearance between your, ummm, nether-regions and the top tube. A bit more, or less, may be preferred by some. So the next step is to measure your personal stand-over height, or pubic bone height (PBH).

To measure PBH put on your cycling shoes and stand upright with you back to a wall. Spread your feet to about the same width as bike pedals. Now hold a large book square against the wall and raise it firmly against the aforementioned nether region. Have someone measure from the floor to the top of the book. Do this carefully to the closest millimeter. That is you very own PBH. With PBH in hand we can select the frame size based on stand-over height.

You'll also want to check that the top tube length will work for you. Many years ago I learned a method that's simple and gives you a good starting point if using drop bars. When on your bike, with hands on the brake hoods, look toward your front hub, the front axle should be hidden by the handlebars. If the stem extension is reasonable, between 80mm and 110mm, and the saddle rails are clamped to the seat post at, roughly, their midpoint, you have a top tube length that's about right. Now some will take me to task as this method has fallen out of favor for being old fashioned and imprecise,  but it's close enough that you can adjust the saddle and stem length to fine tune fit later. So try this on a few bikes and measure the top tube length of the one that fits best. Measure from the center of the seat tube to the center of the head tube along the top tube and compare to the frame geometry chart. I think it's more important to get the top tube length right than the stand-over height.

Of course this method is not going to work if you plan on using upright bars. In that case go for the longer top tube since upright bars generally sweep back.

Remember that this post is about buying the right sized VO frame and this method will do exactly that. You'll need more information and experience to find your best position on the frame (or to order a custom frame). A good place to start fine tuning would be by reading Bill Boston's site.

10 September, 2010

Rando Mini-Build Kit

Here is the new Rando mini-build kit.

It includes:
  • Rando frameset
  • Grand Cru Sealed Bearing Headset, mirror finish
  • Grand Cru Seat Post
  • VO Rando Rack
  • Tektro R558 brakes
The price is $795. And any other components ordered at the same time are 10% off.

This is a limited time offer, when our existing stock of frames starts to run low it will be discontinued.

08 September, 2010

Mixte Mini-Build Kit

The VO Mixte Build Kit is finally available. The cost is $595.

The kit include:
  • VO Mixte Frame
  • Tange Levin alloy headset
  • Grand Cru Rando rack
  • Grand Cru Seatpost
  • Tektro R556 Brakes
  • Temple bell
The mixte frames will not be re-ordered for 2011, so get them while they last.

BTW, the reason for not re-ordering mixtes is that we're having a bit of a warehouse space crisis and we need to cut down on bulky items like frames.  We are looking for more warehouse space in our neighborhood or, perhaps, a bigger building to house VO World headquarters when our lease expires. I think we'll also skip the fillet brazed frame project for now.

07 September, 2010

Fillet Brazed Rando Frame

This is a prototype fillet brazed rando frame. Our frame factory has two craftsmen who are skilled at fillet brazing, one is the president. We're exploring the possibility of offering a very limited production run of these frames, maybe 25 frames. It has geometry like the current Rando frame, but it will have an upgraded fork with a nicer bend. The cost would be about $1200.

If you want a the un-ridden 61cm prototype in the photos it's available. The price, as shown (with chrome headset, crank, rack, BB, and brakes) is $1200. I had intended to build it up for myself, but I have too many bikes already.

Update: The prototype frame is sold. It went right after we posted it on the site.


03 September, 2010

Picture Day

Photos of some really neat bikes found their way into our in-box this week.

Andrew's wood porteur is really beautiful. More images on Flicker. It's really a sweet build, and I want to know more about the frame.

Justin sent photos of his "Faux Constructeur" based on a Schwinn Voyager. This is a super example of what you can do with a little imagination and the right part. Here's Justin's description:
I'd like to share photos of my 1981 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8 with you as your site and products were inspirational in outfitting the bike to my liking over the past year or so. Additional thanks to my local VO dealer, Vic's Classic Bikes.

The Grand Cru crank is arguably the pièce de résistance. I installed it yesterday. On the lowest two or three sprockets, however, the chain just nicks the inside of the crank arm. I'll have to install a spacer. Note that I did order the 118mm Grand Cru BB as recommended, but it's not wide enough to accommodate the 8 speed SRAM cassette.

Other VO parts inlclude:
SS housing (I had to use brake housing for under-bar wrap shifter routing as this is a tall frame).
La Paon fenders
Gran Compe levers and calipers
Grand Cru crank
Spanninga tail light (this does not function as advertised BTW)
Moderniste bottle cage
Constructeur rack
105/Diagonale rear wheel
Shimano 3N-80 32h hub laced to Diagonale front rim (built by local wheel builder)
Ostrich handlebar bag

Other things:
Long cage Ultegra RD
Schmidt E6 and VO light bracket
Crane bell
Brooks honey Flyer Special and bar wrap (I also love your sew-on wrap but wanted to try the wrap - VO's version was out of stock)
Ruffy Tuffy tires
Technomic stem (turned to 21.1mm by a local machine shop)
Nitto Noodle bar (44cm)

The only part original to the bike is the headset. If the size/configuration looks a bit odd it's because I have long legs and limited movement in my lower back from multiple vertebrae fusions.

Also note that the Ultegra triple FD is too wide for this crank on my bike. It is shown for mock-up purposes. It will be replaced by the double version. 
Beth Holladay gets credit for the photos. BTW, I think a BB 2mm spacer will solve the chain issue.

Justine sent photos of her lovely Mercian step-through. She writes:
It's a custom "Miss Mercian." On it are the following VO item

  • Porteur bar
  • Stem
  • Guidonnet levers
  • Bell mounted on steerer tube
  • Hammered aluminum fenders (The undersides of the fork crown and brake bridge were drilled and tapped for the fenders. Yay!)
  • Retro cage
  • Toe straps
  • Toe clip leathers

 Aaron did a very nice job building a Polyvalent for his wife and is looking forward to building one for himself. There are more photos on flicker.

 Thought you'd like this photo of part of our warehouse after receiving the last shipment.

We'll be exhibiting at Interbike, in Las Vegas, in a few weeks. It's one of the three big industry bike shows, along with Eurobike and the Taipei show. Amazingly, almost everything for our 20' x 20' booth fits into an 8' x 4' x 4' crate.

01 September, 2010

Dia Compe Inverse Levers, for 22.2mm Bars

Dia Compe has introduced a version of their inverse levers that fit most 22.2mm, MTB size, bars. This is a big deal because you can now use inverse levers on many standard-size city bars.

I'd asked the president of Dia Compe about making these last year, and he told me that other had also requested this new model. That's not surprising; I expect they will be very popular..

Installation of these levers is a little tricky because they are a tight fit in the bars. You'll actually deform the little metal tabs as you insert them, so some effort is required on bars made with thicker wall tubing.

Also, we have wheel stabilizers again. And we just got a shipment of wheels, so some of the models we've been out of will be available again.