Saturday, February 4, 2017

Velo Orange Polyvalent Intro

I certainly don't need another bike, but when this VO Polyvalent frameset drifted across one of my bikes lists for a reasonable price, I didn't hesitate to pick it up. My hope is this will be the bike for my now-longer solo rides into Dublin when I want to run some errands. At least, that's my excuse to myself.

My first build was a quick hodgepodge:

After converting my Raleigh back to 27" wheels, my free pair of 650b wheels allowed this build. My only major problem was that I was out of derailers, so I had to make do:

The smart way to make do would have been a single speed build, utilizing the Polyvalent's short horizontal dropouts. But, I wanted a geared bike for now. My only free derailer was a Sram 9 speed, and I didn't have a 9 speed chain long enough to make this work. So, a Sram derailer shifted by a cheapie (thumb) stem shifter:

This only sort of worked. The Sram derailer pulls more cable than the shifter is made for, so I could only reach about six of my eight gears. And, I didn't like the stem shifting position. I kept reaching for a thumb shifter. Last weekend, a trip to Baer's Wheels solved the problem:

Despite Rivendell's affection for them, I always thought these big wheeled Altus derailers looked pretty dorky. But, when you walk into an LBS and ask for a cheap derailer, it's this or a Tourney. I have my standards. In the event, the Big Wheel has quickly grown on me, and now I find it kind of charming. It shifts a lot better than the Sram setup. I also bought another 9 speed chain while I was at Baer's.

My build now is a bit more refined. VO Snakeskin fenders, VO front rack, VO frame:

The fenders took a meditative 45 minutes or so to install, per wheel, but they look great and are very solid:

I had to rig a spring thing for the rear fender to compensate for the horizontal dropouts:

Q factor, minimized:

There's also good tire clearance all around. I will probably switch out to 42mm tires when these 38mm Pari Motos wear out.

This handlebar setup works very well for me. The main position is comfortable, with good visibility and brake access, while I can get down pretty easily onto the bar ends for headwinds.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with the bike. I've only done a few short rides so far, but I'm enjoying the low trail handling again. Low trail works better with the fatter tires on the VO than it did on my New Albion Privateer. The NAP was also hobbled by an occasional trailer or trail-a-bike, something I plan to keep the Rockhopper around for.

The frame tubes on the VO are pretty stout, but the supple Pari Moto tires still give it some decent get up and go when I give it an effort. I do wonder why VO spec'd this with OS tubing: standard tubing would have been just as tough and given a better ride. With the low trail front end, this clearly isn't meant for big rear loads. But it's still a nice riding bike, and I'm looking forward to more miles as the weather gets better.


  1. Nice build! What handlebars are those?

    1. Thanks! It's an On One Mary. It's a great choice for a city bike build. I added the bar ends to give me a forward position for headwinds.


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