30 September, 2011

The Specials Page

Going through our inventory in preparation for our next big order we're finding some items that we're overstocked on and a few that are not selling as well as we had hoped. So we added them to our specials page. Have a look for some super deals.

Ordering the right quantities is a skill that still sometimes eludes us. Usually we run out, but occasionally we order too many. Some of these deals will last only until the stock levels return to where they should be, in other cases we'll simply discontinue the item.

27 September, 2011

Carbon Fiber and Boat Happenings

The cable hanger above may be the first VO carbon fiber component. The idea is that the carbon fiber absorbs vibration that contributes to brake squealing and shuddering. Does it really work? We'll let you know in a few weeks, but it was developed by the same bike racer/engineer who designs our brakes and he has a pretty good track record. This guy is also designing and making components for at least one major European professional bike team. So when he says we should try something, we do.

On another subject, the boat above is not made from carbon fiber (it's wood-epoxy-fiberglass composite), but the mast is CF. It was just built at Chesapeake Light Craft, the company I started 15 years ago and later sold, just a few doors down from Velo Orange. It's a modern Pacific proa named "Madness" designed by John Harris, my old shop manager and now owner of CLC. There's a section about Madness on their site. Watch the video if you're into sailing. There's more on their Facebook page. Madness is a radical and potentially super-fast sailing craft, yet it's based on an ancient Polynesian concept. John will have lots of fun with Madness.

I've been fascinated by proas since boyhood. In fact I recently joined a local club and started paddling in a six-man outrigger racing canoe, an OC-6, which is a little like a proa. OC-6 paddling is a great complement to cycling and it's fun to do a team sport again.

Update: The hanger had only minimal effect, so we won't be stocking it.

22 September, 2011

Polyvalent MK2s are Available

The Polyvalent frames and mini build kits are now in the store. We are waiting for more 650b wheels so we can again offer the maxi build kits; we hope to have them in a couple of weeks.

Speaking of Polyvalents here is a lovely build by Hoopdriver.

Now for something really bizarre: VO will be testing a new carbon fiber component this fall. If all goes well we'll have it available in spring.

21 September, 2011

A Couple of New Items

We have two cool new products. The first is our 25.4mm-to-26.0mm handlebar shim. Maybe you don't think handlebar shims are sexy, but wait till you see these. First off, they were a bear to have made. The tooling was very expensive and took forever to create. But it was worth it; the advantage of our shims is that they come in two widths, 35mm and 45mm, so they fit most quill stems and most threadless stems. They are beautifully made from stainless steel and then bead-blasted to give them a no-slip textured finish. They even come in our neat glassine envelopes.
The other new item is the Postino bar, which is currently my favorite city bar. I've owned a much-loved ancient Italian city bike handlebar for many years. It's a little like our Milan bar, but with zero rise. We've long wanted a similar bar, but with slightly longer grips. The Postino bar is ideal for those who like a slightly forward position and those who like to ride fast. Like the Milan bar it's ideal for converting old racing bikes for urban use. 22.2mm diameter accepts standard mountain bike and city bike controls. 57cm wide, zero rise. 25.4mm stem clamp area.
Also, all seatposts, in all sizes (from 25.0mm to 27.2mm) are back in stock. And almost all stems. So are Porteur, and other, handlebars. Not to mention Model 8 saddles, cargo nets, VO city leversmetallic brake and derailleur cable kits, mirror-finish bells, many fenders...

20 September, 2011


Another ocean shipment arrived today. It's a big job unloading one of these containers. It's surprising how much stuff fits in a 40 x 8 x 8-foot space. Eight of us needed almost an hour to get everything into the warehouse. It'll take two days or so to get everything sorted, checked, counted, put away, and entered into inventory. But you'll soon see those items that have been out-of-stock reappearing.

Among the boxes are the new green Polyvalent MK2 frames. They, and the build kits, will be available on the site tomorrow. So many folks at Interbike asked us when the Polyvalents would be available again that I'm worried we didn't order nearly enough. Get them while you can.

We also have thousands of seatposts, both Grand Cru and Uno. More hubs are here too; the first batch of those sure sold fast. There are also racks, fenders, handlebars, and a lot more stuff out there in the warehouse.

13 September, 2011

Off to Interbike

With a third of our staff at Interbike for the rest of the week, there will be delays in answering technical questions and publishing blog comments. Orders, however, will go out as fast as ever.

The next big ocean shipment should arrive next week so most items that have been out of stock will soon reappear. That includes the new 650b Polyvalent frames.

12 September, 2011

Polyvalent 700c

Here are a few more photos of the Polyvalent 700c frame that we'll be showing at Interbike. The show bike is built up as shown in the previous post.

This is not simply the same frame as the 650b Polyvalent, but with larger wheels. It is still very much an all-purpose frame, but the 700c version is geared more toward touring. That's not to say you couldn't build it up as a great city bike or use it for brevets or club rides. It's just that we wanted to make it strong enough and comfortable enough for those very long rides.

So what are the differences between the 700c and 650b versions? The 700c frame has longer chainstays and a slightly shorter top tube. There is the low bottom bracket height. There are also some aesthetic niceties such as the head tube collars and a rear cable stop with adjuster. 35mm tires fit with fenders and 50mm without. And there is that cool grey, with just a touch of blue, paint color.

We've really taken pains to nail the geometry and so far this frame has preformed beyond expectation. Robert has been riding the bike recently and testing it with various loads, very heavy front loads, very heavy rear loads, front and rear loads, no loads, etc. Alec will put a few thousand miles on it next. With luck no significant changes will be necessary and we'll have the first shipment in spring.

09 September, 2011


We've seen a lot of interest in the VO camping racks so I thought I'd post a couple of more photos. These are prototypes and the attachment points will be shifted a bit on the production versions. The rear rack will also be a little taller. Note that the front rack has an integrated decaleur.

I'd also like to answer a few oft asked questions about our racks.

Why don't you make aluminum racks?

That's easy. They break suddenly due to metal fatigue if you use them long enough. Aluminum might be okay on a city bike where the rack is used only occasionally, but a broken rack is the last thing you want on your loaded touring bike when 300 miles from home. By the time you make an aluminum rack that's beefy enough it weighs about as much as a tubular steel rack and looks like construction scaffolding.

Why doesn't VO offer painted or powder-coated racks (or fenders)?

Painted racks may look nice when new, but it only takes a couple of months for the paint to get scraped and worn and look awful. After all, you're hanging panniers on your racks and strapping all kinds of stuff on top. Powder coating is tougher than paint, but it still scratches and wears off. Our stainless steel racks are hard to scratch and any scratches are easy to polish out.

Is stainless steel better than chrome plated steel?

Chrome plated 4130 steel is a little lighter for the same strength, but every well used chrome plated rack I've seen has some chrome worn off and ugly rust spots. Look at those classic touring bikes from Europe. Most have chrome plated racks that need to be re-chromed. And re-chroming is now ultra expensive. So we prefer stainless.

Why does the rear constructeur rack bolt to the rear fender?

Because that's the way the Constructeurs did it. Also, it makes for a really clean attachment and prevents any rattling between the fender and rack while getting the rack as low as possible. Our new rack also attaches to the seat stay bosses or canti-studs.

06 September, 2011

Interbike and Price Increases

Next week we'll be at Interbike, one of the big three bike industry trade shows (the other two are Eurobike and Taipei). We'll be meeting with dealers and distributors, and introducing a few new products. Please drop by our booth if you're there.

We'll also have new price lists. This is the time of year when most bike companies adjust their prices. In our case there are few really big increases, but there are many smaller adjustments due to increased production and material costs. Of course that means that you can save a few dollars by ordering before the show. This applies to shops as well.

Another important part of the show is meeting with folks from the factories that make our products. They don't all attend, but several of the larger factories have booths or at least send a small team. So we'll be discussing all sorts of new projects.