Thursday, November 22, 2012

VO Campeur

A couple of months ago I started getting tired of smashing my brain against my skull during my Brookline to downtown Boston commute on my aluminum  road bike. They have been doing a lot of road 'fixing' on Beacon St. and there is honestly a section where it felt like I was saddling a machine gun. I had this Redline 925 that had been rusting in my basement after its Brooks B17 had been stolen  and I thought maybe I could recondition it on the cheap side and see if I would feel any improvements. Got a Brooks B67 and replaced the handlebar with a north roads one, and life got much better. Even though I could only fit 28 tires similar to the aluminum bike, I certainly felt the difference with the steel frame. Still it wasn't there, with the north roads handlebar the steering felt twitchy and I wanted the ability to fit fatter tires and thus started my search.
This not a bike in a show room. This is a bike that's been ridden in rain and
mud trails for 3 weeks
I pretty much love every thing on Velo Orange's site, so I naturally gravitated towards their frames. Initially I considered the different offerings from Surly and others in the $500 range, but VO's frames provided an appeal beyond the materials and geometry.

I needed a bike to commute on that was still fast and nimble to a great extent but has all the braze-ons and the fat tires clearance. I tormented my self for a while choosing between the 3 frames VO offered. Initially I wanted their Rando frame, but unfortunately they were out of my size, so it was between the Campuer and Polyvalent.
Work on progress, still with the Schwinn grips and no racks.
Also the toe clips where still there.
They looked awesome but the toe overlap was too annoying to me.
I like the idea of 650b wheels but was trying to keep the project on budget and I had a couple 700c wheels laying around. I settled on the campeur and built it as a single speed commuter with Brooks B67 and Grand Boise 32 wide tires. Different VO components can be seen in the picture to the left. Their beautiful seat post, fenders, campagne handlebar bags, pedals, headset, kickstand, and the ooh so oozing with french class chain guard.
Still work on progress.
You can see the experimental cork tape on the left.

The ride quality is quite compliante and even though it's designed as a touring bike with probably a drop bar in mind, it didn't have the twitchiness that the 925 suffered from with the same handle bars. Handling was superb and riding with no hands or at very low speed is extremely easy. The bike just wants to stay up. Turning at low speed is a bit slower than the 925 but nothing to worry about. Loading it front or rear doesn't seem to effect handling negatively. My wife and I went thanksgiving grocery shopping the other day and I came back with 42 lbs on my rear rack with still a pleasant ride. The tires certainly add a lot of cushioning and the bike as a whole completely absorbs the little cracks and bumps on the road. Of course you still feel the significant pot holes but it doesn't punish you.
I let the bike pick some speed going down a steep hill and past 30 mph it felt amazingly stable and confidence inspiring. It's difficult for me to judge cornering at speed because of the handlebars but so far it has yet to disappoint.
Some black friday shoe shopping!
The bike is a real head turner. I've gotten multiple praises from fellow cyclists on the road and it gathered crowds any time I've stepped into my LBS. In retrospect, maybe I'll also get the Polyvalent!

6 comments:

  1. Nice build. What's the story with the bent rack stays?

    nicholas

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    1. Nothing interesting really. The bike keeps evolving. When I started this build I wanted to go the cheapest way I can go, and as I fall more and more in love with it I keep spending :)The rack is an old one that came with the blackburn child carrier that I used to use with my daughter. I had to bend the stays when I outfitted it with a mountain bike to make it level. When I moved it off the bike it seemed to fit the way it is on the campeur so I left it alone, since my thoughts that it's a temporary solution until I replace it with a tubus rack I have on another bike at some point.

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  2. I've been looking at that frame, and this is nudging me closer...I too must know what is going on with that rear rack, though, the bent connectors, and the last photo with it tilted back to fit the basket(?).

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    1. I didn't alter it for the basket, it seemed level enough when I put it on initially, but now looking at the picture, you're right. I guess the black Friday shopping did it! It looks more titled than it really is because the whole bike is leaning back on the kick stand.

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  3. what a very elegant looking bike, where did u get it built

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  4. Nice Bike, what's the frame size?

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