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Volae Sport: first impressions

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I recently bought a Volae Sport from Hostel Shoppe, and since I haven't
seen this model mentioned much I thought I'd offer my initial impressions.
I've ridden it about 200 miles over the past week, including plenty of
climbing. I'm a new bent rider, but I've had comparable experience riding
a Bacchetta Giro recently.

The Volae Sport has dual 650c wheels, a fiberglass seat (similar to the
M5), a carbon fork, and mid-range components (e.g. SRAM X.7 shifters and
derailleur). It feels a lot lighter than the Giro, and it climbs
noticeably faster. (The specs claim 27.5 pounds for the Sport versus 29
pounds for the Giro.) Here's some more info:

http://www.volaerecumbents.com/volae_sport.php

Mine shipped with Velocity Aerohead wheels (32 spoke), rather than the Alex
DA-22 wheels shown in the spec. They're perfect for my needs (commuting
and centuries), but I'd consider getting lighter wheels if I did a lot of
club rides. (I believe the Hostel Shoppe offers 16-spoke Velocity
Spartacus wheels as an option, as shown on the Volae Club.)

The Hostel Shoppe did an amazing job getting the bike built and and shipped
quickly. I ordered it on Monday morning and received it on Friday
afternoon, halfway across the country! I got a black frame at no extra
charge (total price was $1700 plus $80 shipping). The bike was fully
assembled (it was a BIG box), which was very convenient. They have a
two-week money-back guarantee subject to a 5% restocking fee, with free
return shipping.

I'm very pleased with the overall quality. The frame is made in the USA
(by Waterford) and appears flawless. The aero shape of the Kinesis carbon
fork looks a little goofy and complicates sensor installation, but it's
light and comes from a reputable manufacturer. The SRAM X.7 shifters and
rear derailleur work smoothly. The brakes are generic road calipers (I've
never heard of Tektro brakes), and they offer noticeably less stopping
power than the Deore mountain brakes on the Giro. They don't cause me any
concern (and I ride some steep descents), since they feel just like the
brakes on my road bike. There's no GlideFlex stem, which can make sharp
turns a little tricky, but it saves some weight.

My only complaint is the amount of noise generated by the rear chain idler
pulley. It's located closer to the rear derailleur than the idler on the
Giro, which causes more sideways chain deflection (the chain rubs against
the pulley teeth and walls). The noise is most noticeable when using the
three largest rear cogs and the large or middle front chainrings. The
pulley placement also permits too much chain flap when coasting on bumpy
descents.

Overall, I'm very happy with it, and I think it's a very good value for the
money ($1700). This model is a good choice for riders who are looking for
the higher performance and weight savings that you get from dual 650c
wheels and a hardshell seat, without spending an arm and a leg on
super-premium wheels and components.

Mark Leone
post #2 of 2
Thread Starter 

Re: Volae Sport: first impressions

markleone@gmail.com (Mark Leone) wrote in message news:<76165991.0408051122.7715eb6f@posting.google.com>...

> My only complaint is the amount of noise generated by the rear chain idler
> pulley. It's located closer to the rear derailleur than the idler on the
> Giro, which causes more sideways chain deflection (the chain rubs against
> the pulley teeth and walls). The noise is most noticeable when using the
> three largest rear cogs and the large or middle front chainrings. The
> pulley placement also permits too much chain flap when coasting on bumpy
> descents.


Here's some helpful info from Erich Hartman of the Hostel Shoppe:

-------------

Mark,

Glad to hear you're enjoying your new Sport!

The fact that you seem to be experiencing some rubbing in certain
gears leads me to believe that your idler position needs to be
adjusted slightly. We designed the idler mount with several alignment
spacers between the idler and the frame. By taking out (or adding)
spacers, you can better accommodate different cassettes. If you're
hearing noise only when climbing, my guess is that you'll need to take
out one of the spacers to move the idler inboard just a hair. If
you're running a big-range (11-32+) cassette and doing a lot of
climbing, you'll probably get good results by tweaking your idler
spacing so that the chain just misses the outer plate when you're in
your smallest cog - that will give you the most room when you're up in
the big cogs.

If possible, try to have someone sit on the bike and apply pressure to
the chain when you're checking pulley clearance - as it's tough to
gauge how it will actually line up in the real world when spinning in
the repair stand.

The idler noise issue that some riders have is not a new one, and
we've found that most of the noise is actually the drivetrain (chain,
cassette and cogs) travelling up the aluminum seat stays into the
hardshell seat. However, I (and some others) have experienced some
"vibration" in the idler when really torquing a low gear up a hill -
but that's nothing I haven't experienced on most other bents.
Actually, I've got a few miles on a prototype idler from Pat Franz
(www.TerraCycle.com) that really seems nice so far - it has an
innovative metal tooth profile that doesn't seem to buzz under extreme
load like most other idlers do - you might want to check with him on
the possibility/timeframe/cost of making it a saleable aftermarket
part.

Of course, before you ditch the Greenspeed, make sure it's aligned
properly and give it a chance to break in! There really isn't a better
idler out there.

Hope this helps, please feel free to call if I can clarify anything.

Keep riding,
-Erich Hartman
www.hostelshoppe.com
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