NBD: VO Polyvalent

Last year, it came to my attention that Pondero wanted to free himself of a Mk1 Velo Orange Polyvalent frameset. I’d been looking for one for a while, so I snapped it up. I started putting it together over the winter, but didn’t get much further than bolting a few things on and mounting the wheels so that it would stand in the corner of the shop without falling over.

A few nights ago, I finished assembling it, almost entirely from parts I already had in the bins. Only the brakes, wheels, and bell are new–and the wheels I’d bought for another project that fell through. Here’s how it turned out.

2014-04-11 07.41.08

Initial Impressions

As this is the first low-trail 650b bicycle that I’ve owned, I was very curious to find out how it rides and whether I would like it. And while I don’t have everything completely dialed in yet, I can say with reasonable confidence–after two days of riding and hauling things–that I like both the geometry and the tire/wheel size a great deal.

Not surprisingly–especially for something that I cobbled together from my parts bins–there are a few things that I’ll likely change in the coming weeks, when I get around to it.

  • Fenders: It’s pretty clear that 26-inch plastic fenders will work, but it’s also clear that they don’t fit all that well. The front fender is severely pinched under the fork crown, and the line of the rear fender is less than optimal. I’ll order a set of Velo Orange 52mm 650b fenders (and a spring thing) the next time I put in an order. Though I do like the black…
  • Gearing: 40×12-32 is fine for running around town, but if I want to take this bike touring, I’ll probably want something a little lower on the low end. I’ll swap the 40t chainring for a 36t Surly stainless steel ring and a matching BBG bashguard.
  • Grips: I love the cork Ergon grips for winter use, but I can’t seem to get them in the right spot on this setup. If changing the bar and grip angles doesn’t fix that, I’ll switch to regular cork grips.
  • Pedals: Black VP-001s are pretty awesome, but silver would look better. Perhaps I’ll swap in the silver VP Vice pedals coming from Ocean Air, when they show up. Or not.
  • Rack: Now that I’ve got the rack situated, I need to grind down the bracket where it mounts at the fork dropouts so that it doesn’t interfere with the quick release. It can be made to not interfere now, but it’s very, very close. A little more clearance by rounding off the bottom of the bracket will make things work better.
  • Tires: The Col de la Vie tires are more than fine, but I’m already pretty sure that I want something even fatter for the sort of riding I’m likely to be doing on this bike. When they wear out, I’ll go with 42mm tires of one sort or another.

But those are just the usual bike-nerd quibbles, nothing more. In the two days that I’ve been riding this bike, I just keep liking it more and more. I can already tell that it’s going to be my go-to urban utility bike. And I kinda already want to buy a Mk3 frameset to build as a tourer/randonneur given how well-mannered and stable it is.

For more, check out the full specification.

One thought on “NBD: VO Polyvalent

  1. Nicely done. I think you have been able to get more out of that frame than I did. It was originally intended as a bike for Mrs. Pondero that evolved into a couple of other uses/niches before I happened on a used Quickbeam. If I had an a need for an “urban utility bike”, what you did seems just right to me.

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