A Velo-Orange Shipment

I order components from a variety of sources, but one of my favorite suppliers is Velo-Orange.  Even though its founder, Chris Kulcaycki, sold the company earlier this year to two of his long time employees, I haven’t noted any negative impacts on the quality and variety of products offered.  I think the company is well positioned amongst its competitors, namely Compass Bicycles – Boulder Bicycle – Rene Herse (all owned by Compass Bicycles/Jan Heine), Rivendell (Grant Peterson), and Harris Cyclery (Sheldon Brown’s shop), as a purveyor and innovator of bicycle frames and components for cycling enthusiasts, and especially for those who appreciate the quality and reliability of steel frames, comfortable, wide tires, and retro-inspired components.

My haul today included some of the parts needed to complete the 650b/city bike conversion for the early 1980’s Meral Randonneur bike I recently purchased.  In my box of goodies was a full length chain guard, Velox rim strips (more on that later), V-O thumb shifter mounts (competing with Pauls’ Thumbies), Tektro brake levers, and a new KMC 8 speed chain.

I also ordered an extra 8 speed chain (you can never have enough chains), as well as my favorite brake pads:  V-O’s non-squeal smooth post pads, which work really well with Mafac long reach brakes.

I also use these bake pads on any bike with cantilevers – they really are almost 100% squeal proof and provide excellent stopping power.

But what prompted this order was the extraordinarily bizarre experience I had attempting to mount a set of Grand Bois 32 mm 650b tires to the Velocity A23 650b wheelset I had purchased from Harris Cyclery for $289.  Yes, that was the price for both wheels, which feature Shimano Tiagra hubs.  Well, you get what you pay for.  I purchased these wheels as a placeholder to see if a 650b conversion would really work for this bike, so that is why I went with the cheapest offering out there.  The downside was discovering the the holes drilled in this narrow rim end up partially on the upper edge inside the rim where the tire’s beads need to mount.  Installing the necessary narrow rim strip meant not covering these very sharp edged holes completely, which I knew would lead to flats and blow-outs later on.  I tried installing a wider strip, but that interfered with the Grand Bois tires’ beads.  Many swear words ensued at this point.  Finally I took to the internet to see who else had experienced this problem.  Turns out – everyone.  The best advice I read was to use three narrow rims strips on each rim, carefully positioned to cover the holes without interfering with tire mounting.  We will see how that goes (subsequent blog post forthcoming!).

Meanwhile, I am looking forward to setting up the other components, such as these very elegant Tektro brake levers.  Using 32 mm tires means that I will be able to re-install the lovely custom stainless steel Meral fenders.  It will also be interesting to try out the full length chain guard for this build which I envision with a single chain ring up front, as well as to experiment with V-O’s version of Paul’s thumbies.  Stay tuned.

6 thoughts on “A Velo-Orange Shipment

  1. +1 on VO as a favorite shop for ordering parts, seeing that box arrive always puts a smile on my face. You swore while working on your bike? what’s that like? (he says with wide eyed innocence) LOL

  2. It is swear inducing, especially when dealing with vintage bicycles and trying to upgrade parts or do some funky things with old parts! Trouble with the 650b A23’s…is that why they were on sale recently? Unfortunately the shipping to Canada was still too high to make it worthwhile, but maybe that’s okay, I do not need my blood pressure shooting up over that!
    I have the VO thumbies and they are fabulous because you can mount all kinds of downtime shifters on them! I have campagnolo victory shifters mounted onto them. They do take up a fair bit of space, I have them mounted on top of the handlebars, but have seen that many people mount them upside down, if you look on rivendell’s site you will see that.

    • Right you are about the VO thumbies. Their design allows mounting just about any kind of downtube shifter. That makes them definitely superior to Paul’s version. The A23 650b rims are very odd to me. I’ve used other Velocity 650b rims with box style profile, but these rims have an aero profile. I am not sure why they would be offered in 650b size, as they are pretty narrow. Some of Velocitys rims can accept eyelet plugs to take the place of a rim strip (or three in this case) but not these particular rims. So, the eyelets basically foul the area where the tire’s bead should seat.

  3. Jan Heine does not own Boulder Bicycles. That’s MIke Kone. Apropos of the A23 issue – did both rims have this problem, or was it confined to a rear off-center rim?

    • Compass owns the Rene Herse brand. The relationship with Boulder Bicycles deserves exploring. The Velocity A23 rims were drilled badly front and rear as described in my post. But I’ve ridden and built up many Velocity rims with no issues.

      • From Jan’s blog, 25 Jan 2012:
        “To make a long story short, Compass Bicycles recently purchased the René Herse name and assets from Mike Kone’s company, Boulder Bicycles. Boulder Bicycles now licenses the name René Herse Bicycles from us, so they will continue to offer René Herse constructeur bicycles as before. And we are free to make updated versions of René Herse’s wonderful components. We also plan to offer replicas of the original René Herse components for restorations of classic René Herse bicycles.”

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