Volagi Bikes

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by alienator, Nov 2, 2011.

  1. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Messages:
    12,596
    Likes Received:
    160
    I had a test ride today, for a couple of hours of climbing, of a Volagi bike (The disk brake equipped road bikes). Two hours isn't enough for real evaluation of a bike or for a review in the review section, so I thought I'd post some thoughts on it.

    The only thing transferred to the Volagi from mine was my saddlebag and my pedals, so that makes conclusive differences between my Look 595 and the Volagi difficult and even questionable. Given that, I'd consider the following just impressions.

    The bike was kitted with their own wheels (32 spokes front and rear I think, Novatech hubs, rims with eyelets), their own saddle, FSA Gossamer cranks, SRAM Rival, Avid disk brakes (cable, not hydraulic), their own seat post, and their own saddle. The frame was a 57 (57cm VTT) and had a BB30, uhm, BB shell. Compared to my Look, the Volagi has 7mm long chain stays (412mm vs. 405mm), a 72.75° HTA compared to the Looks' 73°, and a 1008mm wheelbase vs. Looks' 998. The Volagi has 48mm of fork offset and 55mm of trail. The Look has 43mm of offset and 58mm of trail. The Volagi has a 72.5° STA, and the Look has 73°. The big difference is the Look is about 860mm to the top, front edge of the head tube, whereas the Volagi is about 864mm. That's calculated from the geometry charts and from my tire radius, so there's some fudge in there from assumptions made between geometry charts from Look and Volagi. Their bike weighed in at around 17lbs, so about a pound or a bit more than mine (mine does have a tank for a saddle). Like a lot of bikes now, it's sporting a tapered steerer (1.125" to 1.375").

    Given it's geometry you'd expect that it wouldn't have twitchy tendencies, and it certainly doesn't. The best way to describe its handling is to say it's very neutral. On descents, it was no trouble picking a line and holding it, nor was it any trouble changing lines quickly. It was just a bit more deliberate process than, say, a crit bike. I'm okay with that. When I raced motorcycles, I liked neutral handling. Climbing with the Volagi was comfy whether I was standing or sitting. On the Look, I'm more comfy sitting than standing. Maybe it's just a quirk of mine.

    As can be expected with a relatively long wheelbase, the Volagi has a pretty comfy ride. Big bumps had less impulse transmitted to my ass than on my Look, and it also damped better high frequency vibrations. The vibrations I'm talking about come on some roads where the tar or whatever gets washed off of/worn out of the road surface so that stones in the aggregate get left protruding Such things didn't disappear, but they were more muted than on the Look. Again, I refer you to the caveats already made: tire's were different, seat was different; wheels were different. Still, the difference between doing the same ride with the two different bikes seemed significant. The bike certainly didn't feel dead. There was still more than enough road feel.

    I didn't make any adjustments on the road, and as it came, the brakes had more travel than I cared for before they engaged. On the front, I like a firm lever quickly. I like the opposite on the rear. I didn't care at all for the way Rival shifted and for the double tap thing. It's just not my cuppa. There was a periodic rub in the lowest gear, but I think that was likely the result of the small FSA chainring being warped and the need for a tiny change in the low limit screw for the front derailleur. The bars were 42cm versions, and I didn't much care for that narrowness, but that's easy enough for any owner to change. I'd change it since I'm a 44cm guy.

    One big surprise was their seat. It's their own design (at least one of the owners has designed a number of saddles for others), and it was damned comfy. Again, that's an opinion formed after only one ride so take that for what it's worth. I normally ride a Selle San Marco Regal.

    It seems likely it's a pretty aero bike. The down tube, seat tube, and seat post all had pretty well defined aero profiles. It certainly did like to roll downhill. It felt fast, but I'll have to check past rides on this route to compare with old speeds. One thing that killed speed was the braking. It was very powerful, and my usual braking points were way off. I ended up slowed down way to soon for a lot of the corners. Granted, I didn't want to push too hard since I didn't want to wad their bike and me, but there's no denying there be power a plenty. There was some brake squeal, but if it were my bike, I could use some of the tricks I've learned for diminishing or getting rid of squeal. I don't know how new the pads were, so I don't know if they were bedded in yet or not. The braking was such that for someone with either decreased hand strength, impaired hand function, or someone one a long descent, braking would likely be pretty damned easy and effective without being tiring.

    Aesthetically, I think it were a pretty sexy looking bike. The company have definitely gone the conservative route with labeling, decals, whatever, and two of the owners told me that was a goal. The frame was nude unidirectional CF with clear coat, but the inside faces of the fork and the chain stays were painted red. I like that, the subtle addition of color. The CF finish looked very good and had no evidence of "we're new at this" or "we'll eventually figure out how to do this" to it. I didn't ask where their frames are made because, well, I don't care. They are not open mold frames. The design is all Volagi's. Given the subtle labeling and conservativish paint selection coupled with design elements of the bike, it certainly looks unique compared to other bikes out there. I has happy to see not a single decal that had the prefix "nano" in it, and there was no sign at all of things like SCLS, VCFM, or XYKZ or whatever worn out marketing crap is on any other given bike.

    So, I dug riding the bike. I'd like to be able to give it a proper long test, maybe a month at least, to see what niggles or larger issues might come to the front.

    Here's a pic:

    [​IMG]
     
    Tags:


  2. 64Paramount

    64Paramount Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,640
    Likes Received:
    34
    That's a sharp looking bike, love the color/trim scheme. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/icon14.gif

    Do you know what the MSRP is?
     
  3. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Messages:
    12,596
    Likes Received:
    160
    The Dura Ace version is $4495.
    The Ultegra version is $3595.
    The Rival version (the one I rode) is $2895.
    The frame module (frame, fork, and seat post) is $1795.

    Each version is a different color.
     
  4. cloudhead

    cloudhead New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2010
    Messages:
    127
    Likes Received:
    1
    What's your opinion on the discs vs. calipers? There's been a lot of debate about it.
     
  5. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Messages:
    12,596
    Likes Received:
    160
    Well I found on two familiar descents that with the disc brakes I tended to slow down way too much before corners, given approximately the same force applied to the levers (I say approximately because I'm going by feel and memory not by measurement). I found the disc brakes did have more ultimate power, but I didn't have sufficient time on the bike to determine how I felt about the difference in brake modulation. All I can say is that the modulation was different.

    I will say I've never felt at loss for braking with my Mavic SSC cantilever brakes and SwissStop green pads on alloy rims. That combination provided more than enough power to lift the rear wheel, and once the rear wheel loses contact with the pavement, more brake power will just make the bike rotate more quickly. After the ride, I'm certainly not opposed to using disc brakes in the future. They will certainly benefit loaded tourers, people with decreased hand strength, people who get tired hands on long descents, and etc. Disc brakes will also help those that tend to drag brakes on descent rather than saving braking until just before the corner. From my 2 hour test, I assume that I could easily adapt to the modulation required by the disc brakes. They weren't so sensitive to make that impossible or even terribly difficult. Given that, I can see now that racers could improve average descent speeds by being able to brake significantly later for corners. The caveat to that is that the margin for error as maximum braking is approached might be less, as might the margin for error on roads with kack on the surface.

    Certainly disc brakes will behave much more consistently, especially when there's lots of heavy braking. The discs will dissipate heat much better. Likewise, traction/tire performance will be much more consistent since tire pressure will not be driven by heat generated from rim braking. Disk brakes will certainly make the use of clinchers in mountains much more sensible since the possibility of heat related bead failures and rim failures will go down significantly.

    I do look forward to using disc brakes on the road again. I certainly want to see how far back braking limits can be pushed with disc brakes.

    Added note: the difference between the Mavics I use and the discs on the Volagi are kind of like the difference I felt when I switched brakes on a motorcycle I used to race. I went from twin 276mm stainless steel discs on the front and a 2 pot cast caliper on each side, all powered by the OEM Honda master cylinder and lever to a single 320mm cast iron Brembo disc gripped by a billet 4 pot ISR brake caliper, all powered by a Brembo GP master cylinder with adjustable ratio. That change saw me going from two or three fingered stops to single finger stoppies on the race track. In other words, the difference was like the difference between two entirely different worlds. The worlds of disc brakes and cantilever brakes are different, too. How much different and whether or not the differences are surmountable is going to be up to each rider. As stated, I'd like to explore the differences a lot more, and my inclination is that I could come to really dig disc brakes. Remember thought that inclinations are much like correlations in that they are not necessarily proof of anything.
     
    cloudhead likes this.
  6. Born2bWild

    Born2bWild Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2010
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    5
    Awesome coverage on the Volagi! I met with them at iBike and was impressed with the overall feel of the bike. Thanks for giving your feedback and am looking forward to riding one soon.
     
  7. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2008
    Messages:
    10,057
    Likes Received:
    185
    Nice write up.

    The brakes, for me are the most interesting thing on the bike. While I can't see that there'd be much advantage if any, given my recent experience on Dura Ace 7800 and 7900 (with fully adjustable reach on the levers) brakes, I'm also not that closed minded that checking out a set of disk brakes and doing some meaningful testing wouldn't be out of the question.

    Where the disk brakes hydraulic or cable pull?
     
  8. finnrambo

    finnrambo New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2010
    Messages:
    136
    Likes Received:
    1
    the brakes are avid bb7's so mechanical, i'm hoping they go hydraulic because of hydrauilics having better modulation, maybe with elixirs or juicys from avid
     
  9. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Messages:
    12,596
    Likes Received:
    160
    Yup. They're cable actuated brakes, but apparently they will be implementing, on some bikes or by request, use of the Parabox cable-to-hydraulic converter.
     
  10. vspa

    vspa Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    Messages:
    2,203
    Likes Received:
    39
  11. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Messages:
    12,596
    Likes Received:
    160
    That's what I said.
     
  12. vspa

    vspa Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    Messages:
    2,203
    Likes Received:
    39
    hi, my question was already answered, about more thoughts on the disc brakes,
    great review, thank you.
     
  13. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Messages:
    12,596
    Likes Received:
    160
    Cool.
     
  14. rdtompki

    rdtompki New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    I picked up a Volagi last weekend. I'm not a serious roadie doing most of my riding on our tandem, but I will do occasional 100K and Centuries on a single and my Giant OCR1 is really a rough ride especially compared to a modern steel tandem. I'm very pleased with the Volagi. The ride is almost at the level of our daVinci, the bike's light and seems to accelerate quickly, the brakes are powerful and my contrary nature led me to the Volagi. The weather in the San Franciso bay area is up and down and I've got some business travel over the next three weeks, but I'm looking forward to taking at least one longer ride very soon. I bought what would have been the Ultegra-equipped Volagi, but changed out the shifters for Campy Chorus and the RD for Rival. Also went with CF handlebars to further mute road vibration.
     
Loading...
Loading...