Velo Orange: An interview with Igor

Want a juicy read? We catch up with Igor from one of our brand partners, Velo Orange? to get the scoop on what they do and how they’re doing.

 Hello Igor! Tell us a little about yourself. 

Hey Ken and the ABC crew! I’m the co-owner of Velo Orange along with my wife, Adrian Nelson. I was originally born in Moldova in the former USSR. We immigrated to Maryland, USA in 1991 and have been in the area ever since. I went to school in the Baltimore area and then graduated from University of Maryland: College Park with a degree in Economics – Go Terps! Growing up I was always interested in tinkering on bikes, cars, computers, you name it. We have a son, Theodore (Theo), who will be 4 in October who also loves riding bikes! We all enjoy camping, traveling, and new experiences. Some random trivia: 1) we have two classic VWs (a 1969 Beetle and 1977 Westfalia with VO branding). 2) Adrian and I have been extras in the House of Cards TV series. 3) We got married on a self-supported bike tour through Denmark, Germany, and Sweden. 4) Teller from Penn and Teller once said he liked my tie.

What got you into biking, and how did Velo Orange come to be?

I got into biking like most people: a need to get from point A to point B without a car. Through college I worked at a local bike shop that, aside from selling off-the-peg commuter bikes, specialized in custom spec frames and builds. So, naturally I gravitated to dialing in my own bikes to fit my needs with racks, fenders, comfortable handlebars, even some fun (sometimes questionable) color schemes. Velo Orange was founded in 2006 as an importer and distributor of hard to find and new-old-stock touring and randonneuring accessories from France, Japan, and England. When sources started drying up, we started working with various vendors to have products remade with modern construction methods, tolerances, and testing standards. We now carry over 700 SKUs of products ranging from fenders to bikepacking frames to alternative handlebars and everything in between. Today, VO products are all over the world on nearly every continent (we are looking for a dealer in Antarctica if you know of anyone).

The latest Pass Hunter complete build by Igor of Velo Orange

How did you come up with the name Velo Orange (what does it mean) ?

“Velo Orange” came from an orange bike (get it?) that the company drew a lot of early inspiration and design cues from. It was a Japanese-made, French-inspired Pass Hunter with cantilever brakes, lightweight tubing, fully lugged, and had a custom-made front rack.

What bike are you currently riding? Can you share with us your bike set-up.

My go-to is my Polyvalent Low Kicker. It does all of my duties including kid hauling, quick grocery getting, late night dynamo rides, and mixed terrain riding. The wheels are 650b featuring a dynamo front hub for lighting, a generously low 42×11-46 drivetrain, Nouveau Randonneur Drop Bars, Rubbery Bar Tape, Smooth Fenders, Two-Legged Kickstand, and a hitch for our trailers. More recently I swapped my Pass Hunter’s fenders and smooth tires for fairly aggressive knobbies and it is a blast offroad!

The Polyvalent is Igor’s go to for everyday do-it-all rides

Any particular product you’re very proud about, or one thing that VO offers that has made a surprising difference for many.

I think the Neutrino Mini-Velo is the product that was the most surprising! Between development, tooling, prototyping, and production, it was a very expensive endeavor to get into a market that really hadn’t been tapped on such a scale. It was definitely a labor of love and something I was personally interested and invested in creating. And to be honest, it has been wildly successful. It has allowed a lot of riders to have a fun, durable, versatile bike without a large footprint. From Rolhoffs, roadie, fixed gear, porteur, and even knobby bikepacking, we’ve seen Neutrinos in so many different configurations all across the globe. It’s pretty amazing.

Neutrino Mini-Velo is sold as a frameset. Build by Commuter Cycles Melbourne

A lot of what Velo Orange offers are vintage / older style bike componentry manufactured with modern techniques / materials. Can you share with our readers who might be on the fence about riding or updating their vintage / retro style bikes, especially with all the modern bike standards out there (e.g. disc brakes, 1 1/8 – <  tapered steerers, thru axle)

I’m a big proponent of keeping older bikes in operation. They are often made very well using simple techniques. If you love the bike but don’t love the fit, changing out touch points (handlebar, saddle, and pedals) can absolutely transform a bike’s feel. Older bikes can accomplish a lot of what a rider needs. If you outgrow its limits, then it may be time to consider something newer, with well-known (non-proprietary) standards.

There’s been a surge of interest regarding bikes, in no small part due to the pandemic, can you share some insight on how Velo Orange has been adapting to challenges.

The biggest challenge honestly is getting inventory to sell. We’ve been working with our vendors to make sure inventory is available in a timely fashion. We’re getting multiple shipments coming the rest of the year, so we should be well stocked going into our Fall / your Spring. In addition, we have plans towards publishing more videos, articles, and social media posts to help new and returning riders understand how their bikes work and how to modify them for their needs. The industry has grown for sure, and we want to help make it easy for those riders to stay riding.

What’s / where’s your next dream adventure by bike?

I’d love to travel to NZ! It would be an absolute dream. Our next big adventure was supposed to be following our original wedding bike tour (this time with a kiddo in tow), but we had to cancel those travel plans due to the pandemic. We hope to be able to get out there soon to visit!

Can you share some hints or information on what Velo Orange is working on (next).

We’re always cooking up something! Product-wise we have some very cool, upright Bullmoose style handlebars, a lightweight rim brake rando frameset, Boost hubs, cranks, and more. Business-wise, we’re expanding into a brand new space and will have details soon! It’s all very exciting and a huge leap for VO.

Any thoughts or words you’d like to share with our readers here in New Zealand.

As always, thank you for the support. Because of our loyal customers and dealers, we are able to provide and develop the finest bicycle products. Above all, we hope you all stay safe and healthy. Thanks for the interview opportunity and Happy Riding!

Thanks Igor!

Be sure to check out our extensive range of Velo Orange products under the Velo Orange category on our website.

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