Velo Orange

We’re pleased to welcome the most recent sponsor to join the EV family, Velo Orange. We’ve been big VO fans for a while now, so we’re super excited to have them on-board! Look for their banner in the sidebar at right.

Velo Orange is a great little company that specializes in sourcing and producing hard to find items for the cyclo-tourist, randonneur, and commuter/utility bicyclist. Along with their broad selection of unique components and accessories, they also offer a series of attractive, traditionally proportioned chromoly steel frames. We really like their stuff!

From Velo Orange:

Most cyclists don’t race, yet they ride uncomfortable racing bikes and try to go too fast and so miss much of the world around them. Our emphasis is on a more relaxed and comfortable style of riding, and on refined bikes that are comfortable on a century ride, an inn-to-inn tour, or even on a ramble down your favorite dirt road.

For many years some of the wonderful parts and accessories once produced by small firms in Europe for the cyclo-tourist and randonneur have been unavailable, or outrageously expensive. So I started Velo Orange to find and sell these remaining items, and to produce those that were no longer available.

Please understand that Velo Orange is an unusual business as I started it not for mercenary reasons, but to fill a special need. So I’ll always welcome, and even ask for, any suggestions for new products and ideas for improving our existing offerings

As we evolve, we’ll continue to add new products each week; please keep checking back.I n the meantime, why not put your camera, jacket, and wallet in the handlebar bag and go out for a whole day or weekend in the country? Stop at a nice inn and have lunch, chat with the local farmers, drop by an art studio, winery, or bakery. Or ride out to our showroom in historic Annapolis, Maryland.

Velo Orange

22 Responses to “Velo Orange”

  • Lovely Bicycle! says:

    I am ashamed to admit how much of my disposable income has gone to Velo Orange over the past 2 years : )) Love their products.

  • Fergie348 says:

    One of the cardinal rules in the bicycle industry is to promote yourself without unnecessarily dissing anyone else who’s also working in the same space. I’ve never understood why cyclists are so prone to cliques (do you race? Are you a fixie rider? Tourist? Mountain Biker? Commuter?). We’re already a pretty minor subgroup of humanity – why do you want to slice it up even further?

    So my racing bike is uncomfortable? I ride too fast? How do you know that? Why are you putting me down like that, to sell your brand? It’s only mildly offensive, but it points to something that ought to be obvious but might not be. I’m a cyclist. That’s all. When people first learn that I ride bikes, if they are interested they’ll usually ask ‘Do you ride road or mountain?’ I always say ‘Yes.’

  • Andy E says:

    Ditto @ Lovely Bicycle

    all i have to say is.. about time!

  • Sharper says:

    I will say that I really like their $12 deep half-clips paired with a grippy touring pedal. Your foot is glued to the pedal when you want it and free to move about when you need it.

    And as a bonus, there’s a lot of fun to be had just in pedaling forward when a light turns green and casually slipping into the clip, leaving the “hardcore” cyclists to struggle into their cleats behind you.

  • Alan says:

    @Fergie

    In my opinion, you may be missing a crucial point in your comment. For many years here in the U.S., racing bikes have been heavily promoted by the mainstream bike industry as if a person wasn’t a “real” bicyclist unless they wore lycra and rode crouched over on a carbon racing bike. Even today you see a lot of that imagery in mainstream magazines. I believe the vision of bicyclist as athlete has been mostly counter-productive in the effort to get new people on bikes. It’s only natural that small companies like Velo Orange, Rivendell, and others that are offering alternative viewpoints have to state their cases clearly and unapologetically to be heard over that much louder voice.

    Regards,
    Alan

    PS – For the record, I have nothing against lycra and racing bikes…

  • Fergie348 says:

    Alan, I agree that bicycles in this country have been sold as sporting equipment at least since the ’70s road boom. Like most business minded folks, bike companies found a formula that worked to sell bicycles and they haven’t changed it much. The message is one that sells, and for most bike companies (I know, I’ve worked at a few) that’s all that matters.

    As far as offering alternative viewpoints clearly and unapologetically, telling me I’m riding too fast and that my bike is uncomfortable won’t do anything other than make me defensive and probably turn me off of your products, even if I might be an ideal customer for you. If you think you have a better mousetrap, figure out a way to clearly demonstrate the advantages of that trap rather than telling me my current mousetrap sucks. It’s marketing 101, really.

    I would argue that getting current non-cyclists on bikes is far less dependent on equipment and far more dependent on improvements in ‘perceived safety’, which is another thing you’ve covered in detail in past posts.

  • Adam says:

    I haven’t spent a paycheck at VO yet, but I am continually tempted to do so! Great to see them supporting this excellent blog.

  • Alan says:

    @Fergie

    “As far as offering alternative viewpoints clearly and unapologetically, telling me I’m riding too fast and that my bike is uncomfortable won’t do anything other than make me defensive and probably turn me off of your products, even if I might be an ideal customer for you.”

    Perhaps the language is too direct for some, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be having that effect on many people; as far as I can tell, VO is on quite a roll.

    Alan

  • Janice in GA says:

    @Fergie The closest LBS’s to me are full of carbon racing bikes, fully suspended mountain bikes, or low-end hybrids. However, I’m a 58 year old woman who’s strictly a utility rider. I’m too slow for most group rides (I’m a good, solid 10-11 mph avs rider).

    I adore seeing places like Velo Orange and Rivendell. They make bikes that I’d like to ride.

    I’m delighted that there’s also a market for fancy, fast carbon bikes or titanium bikes, or whatever. But those of us who aren’t in the market for those bikes appreciate having alternatives.

    @Sharper, I was looking at those half-clips just last night. My new steel touring bike (a Novara Randonee) came with toe clips. Since most of my riding is city/utility riding, I bet those clips might work a little better for me.

  • Fergie348 says:

    @Janice, glad to see you found a bike that works for you. The next time you ride by your LBS, pop your head in and tell the manager that they lost a sale because they didn’t carry anything suitable for you. They can’t hear that enough. It’s the only way to get shops to change what they buy.

  • David Spranger says:

    Love this company (too much). Most recent purchase being the mixte build kit and assorted components for a friend’s bicycle. This frame is beautiful and well built. All the VO branded products I have bought have been the highest quality. Not to mention the small touches, like always including more than enough bolts, screws, etc.

  • Ryan says:

    It’s kind of nice to have speciality bike shops like VO and Rivendell ect that aren’t pushing “biking as training” but rather “biking as biking.” There is a market for this type of cycling subgroup and I am happy to see that market being filled by several companies here in the states. The language of the marketing doesn’t phase me a bit, it is a welcome relief to the marketing of most other bike specific companies around, which is basically “buy this stuff because it will make you faster.”

  • Pete says:

    @ Fergie and Alan:
    Seems if we change the first word of Chris’ statement from “Most..” to “Many…” we’d be OK?

    As for VO, I love their stuff and what they are doing (and I have credit card receipts to prove it!) but I wonder sometimes if, just a bit, they aren’t just as guilty of promoting “one” way of cycling. Rivendell comes close to this, too, in the orthodoxy that seems to be “Grant’s way” or nothing. Now, I understand and appreciate that both of these companies consider themselves Davids against the Gian-trek-ondale industry Goliaths, and you sure do need to be strident to be heard above the din of all that carbon fiber flying off the shelves. But they still seem to be preaching a religion, albeit a wool-steel-friction shifting one. I don’t quite see either of them as being about normal people riding normal bikes to the grocery store. I need a special bike for inn-to-inn winery tours about as much as I need a bike for the Tour de France!

  • Ben says:

    A couple of great things about VO:

    1) Good balance between performance, durability and price. Much of their stuff is at a similar level of quality as other manufacturers (their saddles vs. Brooks, for instance), but much more affordable.

    2) It looks great. So many bike parts manufacturers make cheapish-looking stuff. Or only make their parts in black, or another single color. VO has classic-looking parts. And lots of silver parts (I have something of a vendetta against black bike parts).

    3) Lots of specialty, niche products. Italian and French components, if you need them. Specialty racks (rando, porteur, touring). Cloth bar tape. Shellac flakes. Japanese bells. Etc.

    4) Speedy shipping that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

    About the only thing that I don’t like about VO is their insistence of using threaded headsets on their framesets.

  • Fergie348 says:

    @Pete:

    We all have ideas about how bikes can work best for us. It’s like clothes – there’s a lot of style talk when the substance is essentially the same. Clothes used to be about making sure you were warm and protected from the elements, but that’s been covered for generations. Now it’s about expressing your personal style. That’s when the clique thinking gets started.

    Same thing with bikes – apart from whether the thing is comfortable for you to ride and suitable for the terrain you’re riding on, who gives a cr@p what it’s made of or who made it? There will always be lots of style based discussion on what the best kind of stem is or what bar tape to use. In the end, that’s like ecclesiastic discussions in church – uninteresting to the 98% of people who aren’t immersed in the details of your church.

  • Joseph E says:

    @ Pete: “I don’t quite see either of them [Velo Orange, Rivendel] as being about normal people riding normal bikes to the grocery store.”

    I agree, but I think they have a good business model. Just like the road racing bike seller appeal to speed and competitiveness, and fixed-gear bike sellers appeal to a certain urban fashion sense, the “new-vintage” bikes and accessories sold by Rivendell and Velo Orange are meant to appeal to a particular demographic. Specialty shops really need to appeal to style, and I’m okay with that. And part of that style involves feeling a little smug and superior to those who spend their money on modern mountainbikes or racing road bikes.

    As long as each “subculture’ is encouraging more people to get on bikes and ride them every day, I support that. Though I won’t be spending my money on leather handlebar tape, or purple deep-v rims and matching chain, or anything carbon…

    But I hope someone will step into the gap and start selling practical city bikes at a lower price level. Once Target and Wal-Mart have a 3 speed internal gear hub bike with chainguard, fenders, dynamo-powered lights, and a rack or basket, for under $300, many more people will have access to bike more appropriate to transportation than the current crappy $100 “mountain bikes” sold at department stores. Maybe Torker can add a bottle dynamo to its T-300, and sell it for $400? http://www.torkerusa.com/bikes/recreational/2011-t300

  • Ari Hornick says:

    I never knew Velo-Orange was so controversial. Maybe Chris should be a helmet for halloween. :-)

  • Daniel says:

    @Ben I find threaded forks the way to go with city bikes. It’s so easy to raise the handlebars to suit the rider whereas with threadless you are more or less restricted to at most 40mm stack height as per most manufactuer’s recommendation.

  • CedarWood says:

    What about all those older lugged steel road/touring/etc. frames from previous decades? While rebuilding these for modern daily use generally involves some level of hair-pulling, it’s usually still cheaper than a new bike, and that’s where people like VO and Rivendell come in handy.

    As for the LBS, telling them that they’ve lost a sale because they have nothing useful for the everyday not-carbon, not-mountain, grocery-getter/cargo bike just ticks them off, even when presented courteously and logically. So I don’t go there anymore, and instead rebuild older frames with VO/Rivendell/eBay parts. Style’s not the point as much as inexpensive reliability and usefulness. If it happens to also look good, so be it.

    Now if your racing bike happens to comfortable enough for everyday use, that’s truly wonderful. I recall a very uncomfortable racing bike I rode during my teen years. I still can’t bring myself to put “ram’s horn” bars on a bike. But the average non-cycling person doesn’t usually view those types of bikes as comfortable, so they don’t even try cycling if racing bikes are the only obvious sort.

    In contrast, ordinary, useful , everyday bikes like mine remind the non-cycler of bikes their grandparents rode regularly and comfortably, so I often get smiles and comments like, ” I could ride one like that.” If a local shop opened that rebuilt and retrofit older bikes, they’d likely be mobbed. I don’t have time to open one myself, though.

  • Ben says:

    @Daniel: Not sure I buy that argument for threaded. How often do you have to change the handlebar height? With an uncut steer tube, you’ve got plenty of space to get the handlebars at or above saddle height, as long as you’re not starting with a racing bike geometry to begin with, and the bike fits properly. Some people prefer threaded headsets for whatever reason, and that’s fine, but I’m not one of them. (I think there was a discussion of both sides of this topic on EcoVelo a few months back, actually…)

    So my next bike frame won’t be bought from VO, but probably 75% of the parts will be, including the threadless headset (they make really great threaded AND threadless headsets, incidentally!).

  • Janice in GA says:

    @CedarWood: I was at one of the bike shops that carries lots of carbon fiber bikes today. They carry the brand I’d been riding (Trek), and I kinda felt guilty that I didn’t even test-ride one of their bikes. But while I was there, I looked around again to see if there was anything that I would have preferred to the bike I ended up with, and there just wasn’t.

    I didn’t tell them they’d lost a sale because they didn’t have what I wanted, because I’m obviously not the target demographic for that store. And that’s fine.

  • Scott says:

    I never realized that the Velo-Orange statement was found to be so insulting. As someone who’s ridden all kinds of bikes, including those “uncomfortable” carbon racing bikes, the common thread between both VO and Rivendell actually struck a critical nerve in me … one that truly changed my riding.

    Coming back to cycling somewhat later in life, and having a triathlete brother-in-law, I was guided by the media, magazines, and shop staff to believe that in order to be a “real” cyclist, I had to have a “real” road bike … which meant buying a carbon race bike and working toward some kind of “training” goal. Anything less, it seemed, would limit me to being only a casual person cruising on a bicycle … not a “cyclist”. I worked very hard at it and did well … but was never quite comfortable.

    When I stumbled upon the Rivendell and VO sites, it was a breath of fresh air to find that there are lots of people like me … not interested in racing, but loving bikes and loving riding. I didn’t see it at all as an insult to my race bike or riding … but it did help me to evolve and eventually put together the bikes that suit my riding best.

    Now I understand that one can be very passionate about cycling and bicycles and yet not ride a bike designed for racing. I think that’s the point and design of the statement Chris makes. Many people who are riding race bikes ARE uncomfortable … but don’t realize there are alternatives for first-class, wonderful machines. They feel, due to the media, industry push, and LBS mentality, that they HAVE to ride that race bike to be seen as a serious cyclist … thank goodness it’s not true.

    Please don’t take offense to the VO statement … it’s not an insult, but rather information for many who would otherwise never know there are options.

 
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