Aaron here back on planet blogotron. Kindred Cycles has now been operating for the last 4 months and as we grow and find our niche we have been keeping an eye out for interesting and unique products that we think would add variety to our selection. We are really excited to announce that we have become and authorized Velo Orange dealer. Velo Orange imports and produces incredibly cool retro french styled bicycle frames and components. Think Soma/Surly with more retro style.
Since we opened the shop in April I have not had nearly as much time to ride bikes. This shouldn't be any surprise to me as every bike shop owner I interviewed during the planning process lamented the lack of actual bike riding involved in the day to day running of a bike shop. Add a newborn to the mix and my time on the bike has mostly become limited to my rides to and from the shop. As a result I had been searching and searching for the perfect commuter bike. A bike that would allow me to ride to work in style and comfort befitting a bike shop owner.
This new bike would have to meet some requirements to be my new daily ride
- Rack mounts
- I can't say enough how the heat of the summer makes me hate back packs and messenger bags. The cyclocross and road bikes I have been riding all have lacked the ability to mount a basic rack. No more!
- Fender mounts
- no more getting wet during a morning rainstorm. Fenders are a must!
- Comfortable position and smooth ride quality
- I didn't want anything too racy but I also didn't want a super long wheel base touring bike that handled like a boat. This is a goldilocks conundrum. The bike needed to be comfortable and durable enough to handle Pittsburgh's crappy streets and maybe some occasional double track but fast enough to keep things interesting just in case I felt like mixing it up a little. All said steel seemed like the obvious choice for the frame material.
- Good Looks
- This thing needs to be classy. I mean I just turned thirty so I thought I should act the part and have a bike that suits the new decade of responsibility and such.
With those parameters in mind I casually set out to find my next new bike. One that would be ridden pretty much every day. I had my eye on a Soma Stanyan frame set. I really liked the polished lugs and relaxed road geometry but when I can down to it I just couldn't pull the trigger. I placed a call into Velo Orange to discuss front derailleur compatibility with their 46/30 toothed rando cranks and the conversation eventually turned towards my search for the perfect commuter. Igor from Velo Orange worked hard to sell me on the merits of the Pass Hunter. He waxed poetically about the neutral handling characteristics, versatility or Canti brakes vs long reach calipers, and ability to fit wider tires should the mood strike me. The enthusiasm of his sales pitch coupled with my reading of the Bicycle Times review sealed the decision and a couple of days later I was in possession of a brand new Velo Orange Pass Hunter frame along with a gaggle of other VO goodies.
With the Frame decided on I chose to outfit the bike with durable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing componentry. To handle the shifting duties I chose and lightly used ultegra 6700 group. I decided that the Velo Orange Drillium crankset. I feel they compliment the build perfectly and they shift incredibly well. I love the melding of old school retro looks with the modern shifting performance of ramped and pinned chainrings. For the wheels I went with H+Son tb14 polished aluminum rims laced to Shimano 105 hubs. I wrapped the hoops with Rivendell's panaracer made rubber in the form of their ruffy tufty 700x28 tires.
I chose a few other parts out of the VO catalogue to round out the build including the rear rack, front rack designed specifically this frame, VO seat post and stem also made their way onto the build. I even chose a VO brass bell and a stem adapter. I had a Brooks B17 special that was a perfect compliment to this bike. Already broken in and comfy if was a great opportunity to put this saddle to use. I then wrapped the bars in matching brooks leather tape which looks great and feels pretty nice too.
I am very happy with the way this build came together. I feel like I got the perfect commuting bike that was missing from my stable. The retro aesthetic paired with modern performance really makes this bike a comfortable and reliable daily commuter and not just a showroom concept piece. Feel free to stop by and take if for a spin.