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Old 05-03-16, 12:15 PM   #1
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Velo Orange Campeur build in progress - commuter, kid hauler, grocery getter

After owning a 2004 Trek 520 (21") with a ridiculously long TT for me for many years (55.5 cm), I decided it was time for something new. Primary purpose of the bike is as a loaded commuter, kid hauler and grocery getter, but hope to also do some weekend tours. Primarily I was looking for a bike that would fit the same niche but fit me better, and also one that I could swap many existing parts over (especially wheelset) to try and save some money.

After much research, I had to rule out many other touring models from Surly and Soma because they came with smaller wheels on my frame size (50-53cm). I like the Surly Cross Check but I often have a child seat attached and the low center of gravity (low BB) and load handling capability of a touring bike fit the bill better--I'm often carrying 60+ pounds between child, seat and panniers for work and daycare (the Trek has always handled this load admirably). I'd purchased VO parts in the past and had my eye on their frames for a few years. I decided the Campeur fit most of my criteria and I purchased a 51cm frame (I'm 5'6-1/2" with long legs ~81cm PBH / ~71 saddle height). After initial panic in the last few days that the bike would be too low for me and I wouldn't be able to get the handlebars in a more upright position that I'm looking for on this bike, I think I've decided it might work out (feedback welcome). The 53cm size is out of stock until August anyway, so I'm just going to build the frame and see how I like it. Fingers crossed.

First some pics :



Building with these parts:
Crankset* & BB*: Sugino XD600 165mm / Shimano UN55 110mm spindle
Cassette*: SRAM 12-32
Front DR: Shimano 105 9-speed
Rear DR*: NOS Shimano XT M751 9-speed
Brakes: Avid Single Digit 5 Linear Pull
Seatpost: Velo Orange Grand Cru
Saddle: Brooks Team Professional Titanium -Black (likely switching to Gilles Berthoud Aravis if someone wants to buy a Team Pro)
Stem*: VO +/-6 on VO threadless adapter.
Headset*: VO Grand Cru
Handlebars: Soma Portola (dirt drop style) wrapped in VO black leather bar tape
Racks: Rear: Black Tubus Logo; Front Black Tubus Tara Lowrider*
Fenders*: SKS P50 Chromoplastic Silver
Wheels: Bontrager 36 spoke, Deore LX hubs (stock on my Trek 520) [eventually want to get a dynamo hub)
Tires: Schwalbe Marathon Mondial Folding 700x40 (42-622)

*New parts

How I roll at least 3 days per week currently:


I'll post more pics as I build it this week. Any tips welcome. Also, I'll have some stuff for sale soon if anyone is looking for a solid American-made Trek touring frame (these things are tanks), 105 cranks and some other parts. I'll start a for sale thread when the time comes.

Last edited by emailsfh; 05-05-16 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 05-03-16, 02:37 PM   #2
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Your build looks plenty good. Love the bars.
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Old 05-03-16, 02:47 PM   #3
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Your build looks plenty good. Love the bars.
Thanks. I got rid of the Nitto Moustache bars in the above pic on the Trek. They looked awesome, but riding them just wasn't that practical (a total of 1 comfortable hand position). I went with the Soma portala bars instead:


I think once I have them set up well, I'll like them a lot. They're ok right now but i don't have the angle quite right and brakes not optimally placed. When I build up the campeur I'll do all that over.
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Old 05-03-16, 03:24 PM   #4
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Thanks. I got rid of the Nitto Moustache bars in the above pic on the Trek. They looked awesome, but riding them just wasn't that practical (a total of 1 comfortable hand position). I went with the Soma portala bars instead:


I think once I have them set up well, I'll like them a lot. They're ok right now but i don't have the angle quite right and brakes not optimally placed. When I build up the campeur I'll do all that over.
Be real careful not to cut too much off the steerer tube. You can always cut again once you've dialed in the fit.

I just went through it building a Velo Orange Piolet. I bought a bag of ten 10mm spacers at the same time I ordered the frameset. I currently have only two 10mm spacers under the stem. I cut the steerer tube twice.

I'm using an upside down north road bar. It flares out about 20 degrees.

The angle of the bar is critical, mine are a little sloped down from level. That was arrived at through much trial and error.







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Old 05-03-16, 03:28 PM   #5
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Steerer can't be cut as it's a threaded headset on the Campeur.

And holy batman that's a ton of drop from seat to handlebars! That wouldn't work for me, my legs are too long and I'd be kicking myself in the chest with every pedal stroke.

Looks like a fun bike though. Yeah, on my titanium Roark which I purchased used, the stem was cut way to short by previous owner and I had to get a pretty steep stem to compensate (new carbon fork is too much $$).
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Old 05-03-16, 03:42 PM   #6
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Steerer can't be cut as it's a threaded headset on the Campeur.

And holy batman that's a ton of drop from seat to handlebars! That wouldn't work for me, my legs are too long and I'd be kicking myself in the chest with every pedal stroke.

Looks like a fun bike though. Yeah, on my titanium Roark which I purchased used, the stem was cut way to short by previous owner and I had to get a pretty steep stem to compensate (new carbon fork is too much $$).
The steerer is threadless on the Piolet. I used a pipe cutter and then filed the edges of the cut.

I think you can cut a threaded steerer, with a guide and a hacksaw. Your LBS will have a guide.

I guess I'm just the opposite, average length legs, super long arms. My handlebar height is the result of much tedious trial an error, it's now perfect. It was frustrating because every pic I'd seen of the Piolet had a ton of spacers under the stem. Funny how hard it was to get that notion out of my head.
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Old 05-03-16, 03:47 PM   #7
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I think you can cut a threaded steerer, with a guide and a hacksaw. Your LBS will have a guide.
True I guess, but I don't need to cut it. I'll want as much height as I can get so I don't have to have so much of the stem extension sticking out. My longer legs and short torso make it so that I need to get the front cockpit nice and high. Although I have long arms too, which helps as long as my TT and reach are reasonable.
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Old 05-03-16, 04:24 PM   #8
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True I guess, but I don't need to cut it. I'll want as much height as I can get so I don't have to have so much of the stem extension sticking out. My longer legs and short torso make it so that I need to get the front cockpit nice and high. Although I have long arms too, which helps as long as my TT and reach are reasonable.
I looked closer at the pic. My impression was that the steerer was long but now I see that it is a threadless stem adapter. Yes, you don't need to cut.
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Old 05-03-16, 04:36 PM   #9
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I looked closer at the pic. My impression was that the steerer was long but now I see that it is a threadless stem adapter. Yes, you don't need to cut.
Exactly, nothing to cut. I see your local up in the SF Valley (unless there's another Westlake Village that I don't know about).
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Old 05-03-16, 06:26 PM   #10
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Exactly, nothing to cut. I see your local up in the SF Valley (unless there's another Westlake Village that I don't know about).
Ahem....the Conejo Valley, cycling paradise, drove my car less than 500 miles last year, not one of those miles out of choice.
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Old 05-04-16, 07:15 AM   #11
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Nice looking bike and very practical. I don't understand why Velo-Orange designs their frames with such short head tubes. They are all that way. I don't even bother considering any of their frames for that reason because I run my handlebars about the same height as the saddle.
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Old 05-04-16, 07:57 AM   #12
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Nice looking bike and very practical. I don't understand why Velo-Orange designs their frames with such short head tubes. They are all that way. I don't even bother considering any of their frames for that reason because I run my handlebars about the same height as the saddle.
Well, since VO only sells framesets and not complete bikes you have the opportunity to leave the steerer tube as long as you please. If the head tube were longer on my Piolet I would have had to buy a no-rise or negative rise stem. I had to do that on my gravel bike because it does have a long head tube.
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Old 05-04-16, 11:20 AM   #13
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Ahem....the Conejo Valley, cycling paradise, drove my car less than 500 miles last year, not one of those miles out of choice.
Sorry! Conejo Valley.
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Old 05-04-16, 11:24 AM   #14
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Nice looking bike and very practical. I don't understand why Velo-Orange designs their frames with such short head tubes. They are all that way. I don't even bother considering any of their frames for that reason because I run my handlebars about the same height as the saddle.
What gives you the impression that the head tubes are any shorter than other brands? (I haven't compared). With classic geometry, wouldn't a longer head tube effectively change the geometry so that the top tube slopes? I couldn't imagine any longer head tube on this size frame, for example, without changing the size of the bike. In fact, they have quite a head tube extension above the TT if you look at the Campeur. Just trying to understand what you mean. Maybe post some comparable frames in similar size and geometry with their headtube dimensions.
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Old 05-04-16, 11:58 AM   #15
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I realize that different cyclists have different fitting requirements and preferences. However, all of the Velo-Orange frames that I have considered had very short headtubes in my size. I typically ride bikes with 56-57 cm top tubes, depending on the seat tube angle. Here are head tube lengths for their various models in frame size 56-57: Pass Hunter, 134 mm; Campeur, 136 mm; Carmague, 130 mm; Piolet, 135 mm; Randonneur, 124 mm.

For comparison, here are some headtube lengths for comparable Soma frames with 56-57 top tubes: Saga, 165 mm; Grand Randonneur, 167 mm. Salsa Vaya has a 185 mm headtube. I could go on and on with examples.

I am not saying that no other bike companies make frame with short head tubes, but it seems odd to me that VO frames are designed that way since they are clearly appealing to cyclists who tour, randonneur, commute, etc. So why design frames with such aggressive geometries? By aggressive, I mean a geometry that requires a large drop from the saddle to the handlebar -- unless one doesn't mind using large amounts of spacers. VO doesn't seem to offer a single frame with a taller headtube.
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Old 05-04-16, 12:31 PM   #16
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Those are good points of reference. I can see how bikes with sloping top tubes or compact geometry can make bikes with longer head tubes, such as the Saga, Vaya and others do. Also, need to look at the spec'd wheel size and fork length for a more accurate picture. I think there are limitations to head tube length with classic geometry, but I don't see why VO would have shorter head tubes on their bikes that have sloping top tubes already. I agree that seems odd for some of the models you listed. For the Campeur, though, I'm curious to compare why a 700c model with a horizontal top tube such as the Surly LHT would still have a longer HT. Maybe they have different fork lengths which would effectively make up that difference?
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Old 05-04-16, 01:14 PM   #17
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In the case of the Piolet, it has a super long fork to accomodate up to a 29x3" 29+ tire, which stands 31" tall, two inches taller than a regular 29er tire. Adding a long head tube might make it difficult to get the bar low enough for some people.
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Old 05-11-16, 10:28 AM   #18
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I made a little more progress on my build yesterday. It took forever to strip components from my Trek and clean them up. Was hoping to get done with it yesterday but still have a little ways to go. The Schwalbe Mondial 700x40 make it look almost like a mountain bike! It will be a tight fit with fenders but should work out.

Strangely, also, the standover height is almost 1.5cm lower than what is spec'd by VO. Not sure why that is.


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Old 05-11-16, 11:04 AM   #19
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I realize that different cyclists have different fitting requirements and preferences. However, all of the Velo-Orange frames that I have considered had very short headtubes in my size. I typically ride bikes with 56-57 cm top tubes, depending on the seat tube angle. Here are head tube lengths for their various models in frame size 56-57: Pass Hunter, 134 mm; Campeur, 136 mm; Carmague, 130 mm; Piolet, 135 mm; Randonneur, 124 mm.

For comparison, here are some headtube lengths for comparable Soma frames with 56-57 top tubes: Saga, 165 mm; Grand Randonneur, 167 mm. Salsa Vaya has a 185 mm headtube. I could go on and on with examples.

I am not saying that no other bike companies make frame with short head tubes, but it seems odd to me that VO frames are designed that way since they are clearly appealing to cyclists who tour, randonneur, commute, etc. So why design frames with such aggressive geometries? By aggressive, I mean a geometry that requires a large drop from the saddle to the handlebar -- unless one doesn't mind using large amounts of spacers. VO doesn't seem to offer a single frame with a taller headtube.
My Karate Monkey has a 90mm head tube!! My head tube is so short that Surly actually increased the length when they redesigned the Karate Monkey a few years ago!

That's what happens when you make a frameset suspension corrected. I would love it if the fork was about 60mm shorter, the head tube about 60mm longer and the top-tube less sloped. Same riding geometry but a more classic (ie, better looking) form.
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Old 05-16-16, 10:28 AM   #20
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My Karate Monkey has a 90mm head tube!! My head tube is so short that Surly actually increased the length when they redesigned the Karate Monkey a few years ago!

That's what happens when you make a frameset suspension corrected. I would love it if the fork was about 60mm shorter, the head tube about 60mm longer and the top-tube less sloped. Same riding geometry but a more classic (ie, better looking) form.
The look of the head tube is one of the biggest factors in whether I find a bike frame attractive or not and as you effectively stated, too short a head tube detracts from a frame's attractiveness.
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Old 05-16-16, 11:23 AM   #21
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Getting very close to completion! A little leather bar tape and she'll be done. I've done a few test rides and I'm still trying to gauge whether I should have gone a size up or not. It is more upright than my other bikes so hard to immediately compare the fit. It definitely fits much better than my Trek 520 touring bike, but I need to ride it more to decide whether I feel cramped or not. It was tricky to get everything aligned right with the 42-622 tires but certainly doable even though the bike is spec'd for 38mm tires (spent half the day on those damn SKS fenders which are a pain to align). The only potential trouble spot was actually the Tubus rack, not the frame itself; there almost wasn't enough clearance under the rear rack for the fenders, but it was just enough at ~13mm to get the same distance all around the tire (the fender is jammed up against the mounts for the seatstay mounting stays).

I do like the frame. The only potential flaw that I found is that one of the lugged front dropout and eyelets seems to have been welded at a very slight angle causing my front rack to be slightly off center when mounted.

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Old 06-22-16, 11:40 AM   #22
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I think I can say I'm officially done with this bike, after finally finding time to wrap the handlebars and mount my bike computer. I might still have been happier with a size larger frame, but it's debatable (I was never happy with how much of the stem adapter is showing and a few cm of height would have been a benefit). As it is set up now it is very comfortable, though. I might still lower the handlebars a bit more. Excuse the various child hauling accessories on the seat post and seat tube:







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Old 06-25-16, 07:54 AM   #23
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The look of the head tube is one of the biggest factors in whether I find a bike frame attractive or not and as you effectively stated, too short a head tube detracts from a frame's attractiveness.
I enjoy playing around with BikeCad and this is something I worked up awhile back. It's the same geometry as my Karate Monkey but with the changes I mentioned in the post above. Much, much better looking bike!!

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Old 06-26-16, 01:40 AM   #24
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In my totally unscientific and uneducated opinion you might want to size up. I have a 54cm Soma frame, and I am 5'4" with short torso long legs. I am running my seat and bars just about even and an upright position and it has just the right reach for me. My seat is fairly low, I could have probably sized down. 52cm would have likely been the magic number but 54 is great for me. Unless I get shorter. I also have 650bs.

50cm seems small since you have a few inches on me. My inseam is 31.5 and I can't remember my PBH.

It may feel great if your bars are a smidge lower than the seat but I found I had more toe overlap in a smaller frame (I tested a few other brands)
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Old 07-10-16, 03:35 PM   #25
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So, I ended up buying this on an ebay impulse purchase:
Actually, it was kind of a mistake as I didn't think I'd win the auction. My VO rides very nicely as it is set up, but the short head tube on the VO and the 700c wheels just felt a little out of proportion to me. I also wanted disc brakes. So I'll be transferring many of the parts over and selling the VO frame soon.

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