An Interview and Bike Ride with Igor – xbikingSuperNice

by Igor

When Jared, the moderator of the /r/xbiking subreddit, asked me about doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything), I was excited. While we here at VO try to be as transparent and approachable as possible, it isn’t often that we get to take questions about anything in real time from people all over the world. It was a blast and gave my fingers one heck of a workout: typing furiously answering questions.

Later on, Jared told me he was planning on launching a blog which would house links to all of the wonderful upcoming and past AMAs, display his touring and riding photos, and introduce general musings.

We had a nice break in the weather – after snow, pre-polar vortex – when we were able to schedule a ride and VO tour to chat about anything and everything including VO’s identity, goals, and how to get more people on bikes. Here are a few excerpts and photos from our ride and chat. Be sure to jump over to the xbikingSuperNice website for the full interview!

The friendly and accommodating nature I remembered about Igor from those earlier interactions was again on display during my shop visit to Velo Orange and bike ride with Igor this past Friday. His favorite Bambi mug in hand, Igor was happy to shepherd me around Velo Orange’s office and shipping center in Annapolis, MD, and to introduce me to the members of their six-person operation.”

“‘We’ll always have that vintage aspect of Velo Orange’s identity – just by virtue of what we appreciate in bike aesthetics. But more recently I think we’ve been offering new, more modern components, accessories, and frames that do still evoke that vintage aesthetic,’ Igor explains. ‘Everything we design and put in production arises from a practical concern from one of us at VO. Everybody at VO has cycling experience, and subsequent opinions about wants and needs in bike components and accessories. Even if an idea initially seems off-the-wall, we assess what the real utility of that product is, what sort of market we think exists for it, and if we’re satisfied in our assessment, we just go for it.'”

The simplicity of this scenario, though, betrays the reality of Igor’s family’s initial journey to the United States. Igor was himself born in Moldova during the Soviet era, and as a young child immigrated as a refugee to the United States along with his parents and grandparents. As Russian Jews in the Soviet Union, Igor’s family was part of a marginalized group and faced hardships unique to their marginalized status. The Shteynbuks’ synagogue helped to facilitate their journey, and upon arriving in America, they made a home in Maryland. Igor has resided there ever since.”

[About offering complete bikes] “‘There’s definitely a lot in the works,’ he says, ‘it’s just a matter of getting the gears to match up and the wheels turning.’ Note the choice of analogy – spoken like a true cyclist.”

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