Our Reader’s Rig of the week comes from Chip Martens, creator of WhatBars.com, who shares his do-it-all Velo Orange Polyvalent. Read on to learn more about Chip, the role bikes play in his life, and his Polyvalent build…

Words and photos by Chip Martens (@whatbars)

Oh hey, it’s me, Chip from WhatBars.com. Born and raised near Winnipeg, Manitoba, I have the pleasure of riding through four distinct seasons every year. Each brings its own unique joys and challenges and I have a blast riding through it all! Whether that’s a humid 35°C summer day or a blisteringly cold winter ride at -40°C.

  • WhatBars, Chip Martens, Velo Orange Polyvalent
  • WhatBars, Chip Martens, Velo Orange Polyvalent
Photo by Tylor Reimer (@tylorreimer)

Cycling has played an integral part of my life from a young age. Like many of us, bikes started as a form of freedom, a means to escape the one- or two-block radius around our childhood homes, opening us up to the world around us. Some of my most memorable childhood moments were with my dad, riding around on bikes.

Early in my teenage years, I discovered BMX bikes, which took me on adventures all over North America. I remember countless experiences where my friends and I would cram as many bikes and people as we could into the back of my Volkswagen GTI in search of new spots to ride, whether they were near home or if they required us to drive a few provinces over.

  • WhatBars, Chip Martens, Velo Orange Polyvalent
  • WhatBars, Chip Martens, Velo Orange Polyvalent

Bikes have always been something I found solace in, a way for me to clear my mind. Whether it was issues at home as a child, problems in a relationship or school as a teenager, or the host of challenges we take on as adults. After a few major life changes that recently took place, bicycles have played a more imporant role in my mental health than ever before.

WhatBars has opened so many doors for me and allowed me to connect with incredible people all over the globe, Igor at Velo Orange being one of the first. He showed a great deal of excitement over my website after seeing it in its infancy on the iBOB Google Group and quickly a friendship was born. After a bit of brainstorming, Igor helped me dream up my ideal “do-it-all daily dad bike” and my build started.

WhatBars, Chip Martens, Velo Orange Polyvalent
  • WhatBars, Chip Martens, Velo Orange Polyvalent
  • WhatBars, Chip Martens, Velo Orange Polyvalent
  • WhatBars, Chip Martens, Velo Orange Polyvalent

This is actually my second Velo Orange Polyvalent. My first build was a green size 54 with a full shiny Velo Orange build kit. I had been slowly hoarding parts acquired from Paul Component, White Industries, and Velocity with the intent of painting my Polyvalent over the winter and doing a complete MUSA rebuild when Igor surprised me with some news.

  • Frame/Fork Velo Orange Polyvalent (57cm)
  • Rims Velocity Blunt 35
  • Hubs Hope Pro 4
  • Tires Panaracer Gravel King SK (26 x 2.1”)
  • Fenders Velo Orange, 26” x 60mm
  • Handlebars Nitto Albatross (55cm)
  • Grips ESI X-Chunky
  • Headset Velo Orange Grand Cru
  • Crankset White Industries Square Taper
  • Pedals Velo Orange Sabot
  • Cassette Microshift 9-speed, 11-42
  • Derailleur Microshift Advent 1×9 Clutch Rear Derailleur
  • Brakes Paul Klampers (Short Pull) / Paul Cantilevers
  • Shifter(s) Microshift Advent 1×9 Thumbie Shifter
  • Saddle Brooks Cambium C19 All Weather
  • Seatpost Grand Cru, Zero Setback
  • Stem Nitto Technomic
  • Front bags Realm Dark Label 137 Bag
  • Frame bags Road Runner Half Wedge (not pictured)
  • Rear bags Road Runner Middle Earth Jammer
  • Accessory bags Road Runner Auto Pilot(s) (not pictured)
  • Other accessories Velo Orange Moderniste Cages, Crane Ene Bell, Quadlock phone mount
WhatBars, Chip Martens, Velo Orange Polyvalent

Though I’m not sure how much influence I actually had, I like to take credit for the run of black Polyvalent’s Velo Orange produced last year, one of which found its way into my stable to replace my green bike. I decided to size up to the 57 at the same time, as the 54 felt a hair small.

After a countless number of COVID-related delays, my new Polyvalent was finally ready in the middle of summer and I’ve been putting it to good use almost daily. From commutes to work, touring around the Prairies loaded up with my #coffeeoutside gear, pulling my kids’ bike trailer around and hanging out with friends, the Velo Orange Polyvalent really has been the most amazing “do-it-all daily.”

Find Chip and his super useful handlebar database and comparison tool on Instagram @whatbars or at WhatsBars.com.

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