Building a Bike for Eroica - Final Part Posted on 19 Feb 18:50 , 0 comments

Well the repainted forks arrived and also the Kool Stop Salmon brake pads finally came from the USA for the MAFAC original shoes. A perfect fit and should give much better power than the hard black originals.

Kool Stop MAFAC Brake Pads

They are easy enough to slide in  by squeezing the shoes/pads in a vice. They look just the ticket - a bit of a colour clash with the frame though.

MAFAC Racer Brakes with Kool Stop Pads

There are just a couple of component choices to make: the pedals. I am going to try and find some vintage Campagnolo road pedals. If not MKS Sylvan are a very close match and the bar tape. Tempted to fit Velo Orange honey leather to match the saddle, but I don't recall seeing leather tape back in the '60's. Anyway just popped on some Cinelli Cork Ribbon whilst I test the bike.

So here is the (nearly) finished bike. So guess what it weighs (without pedals)?

 Viking Severn Valley 1955 (Restored)

The parts used are as follows:

Hubs: Campagonolo Record High Flange 

Rims: Velo Orange Paris-Brest- Paris 700C 

Spokes: Sapim Race Double Butted

Tyres: Grand Bois Cerf Blue

Freewheel: N.O.S. Regina 6 speed

Derailleurs: Campagnolo Nuovo Record

Shifters: Campagnolo Nuovo Record Bar-End Shifters

Gear Cable Housing: Nissen Cable Corp. Spiral Wound

Cranks: Velo Orange 50.4mm BCD 165mm crank length

Chain Rings: Spécialités T.A. Cyclotouriste Rings

Bottom Bracket: Velo Orange Grand Cru Bottom Bracket

Brakes: MAFAC Racer

Brake Levers: Dia Compe 202

Brake Cable Outer: Nissen Cable Corp

Saddle: Brooks B17

Seat Post: Velo Orange Grand Cru Long Set Back

Handlebars: Vintage Maes Bend

Handlebar Tape: Cinelli Cork Ribbon

Handlebar Stem: Nitto Technomic

Headset: Campagnolo Reccord

Bell: Velo Orange Temple Bell Brass

 To enter our competition for an Eroica related prize, enter your estimate of the weight of the bike as photographed and enter it in the comments below. We will not be publishing entries until the prize is won.


The Wonderful Polyvalent Posted on 4 Feb 09:16 , 0 comments

The new (Mk4) Polyvalent for Disc Brakes, is now available. This first batch is now selling fast, with some sizes/colours already sold out. Available in Lilac or Green, the Lilac has been the most popular. Order now to be sure of getting one this year, as the next batch will not be here until 2019!

Polyvalent seems a curious name for a bike, especially to those with a scientific education, but in French it means "Multipurpose". As you may know, Velo Orange was originally inspired by classic French bicycles and the Polyvalent is the most French of their frames.

In the UK since before the 2nd World War, bicycle development has followed 2 main tracks. The classic rod-braked heavyweight roadster, as typified by the Raleigh Superbe and the lightweight "racer". Since the war, until the introduction of the mountain bike in the late eighties, the only other mainstream bike was the "Tourist Model": the typical medium weight, hub geared, cable-braked machine used for decades for riding to school, work or shopping with the occasional day ride into the countryside.

These tourist models, despite the name, were suitable for pretty much any use, except for cycle touring! Serious UK cycle tourists typically used "racers" with sturdier tyres and a large saddlebag.

In France however, cycle development followed a different path. "Constructeurs" were building specially designed machines aimed at cycle tourists and randonneurs. These were somewhat different to those available in the UK and USA and now have a great following in those countries. These French "hikers" had 650B wheels and 42mm tyres and importantly were designed to carry weight at the front. I remember back in the 70's when I first got interested in cycle touring and started reading up on the subject, it was mentioned in the literature that "the continentals" preferred to have front mounted panniers. This seemed crazy to me as my experience of bikes with heavy weights at the front was that they were most ungainly. The only exception was "trade bikes" and their large carriers were mounted firmly to the frame, rather than the forks. A the time I just thought "crazy Frenchmen" and fitted a rear rack and panniers. However I should have thought "clever Frenchmen".

The difference of course was the geometry of the frames and design of the forks was different and these "low trail" frames were optimised for carrying weight at the front. So, back to the Polyvalent: Velo Orange spent much development time on this frame ensuring that it is suitable for carrying weight at the front as well as the rear. It has "low trail" geometry and is for 650B wheels and cantilever brakes.

I built my Polyvalent in 2014 and it is truly the most versatile bike I have ridden. I built it specially for touring and have since used it on 3 tours, however it gets used for everything: club runs, day rides, shopping trips and my stable of half a dozen other bikes don't get much use now.

 If you If you only have room for one bike in your life, the Polyvalent is it. View more builds here