Interbike 2011: Volagi Cycles

By Karen Brooks

We heard about this up-and-coming brand before the show and immediately booked an appointment. Volagi offers a carbon-fiber road bike that looks racy, but is meant to be comfortable for long distances. All of their bikes are spec’d with disc brakes—a huge step forward in control and safety for fast road bikes.

Both the company’s founders, Barley Forsman and Robert Choi, are industry vets who like to do long rides, and essentially they designed their first and only model, the Liscio, for themselves. Forsman told us that he believes that 90% of the design and development effort for road bikes goes into making bikes for pros, who obviously ride differently than the rest of us, and thus want and need different things.

Aside from the disc brake upgrade (to which I say: it’s about time!), the Liscio has other ride-able features. It looks racy partly because its carbon tubes are shaped aerodynamically. No, it’s not a time-trial bike, but you will be facing a headwind at some point in a long ride, so aero-ness can help. The ovalized seatstays curve past the seat tube to give a full 5mm of vertical flex. Forsman says it also helps keep the rear wheel on the ground, like good mountain bike suspension does. The head tubes are taller than a typical road racing bike, so that you can actually use the drop portion of the drop bars. Oh yes, and these bikes have hidden fender mounts (!), and can fit tires up to 25mm with fenders. In fact the bikes come spec’d with 25mm tires, not silly 19mm rubber bands.

To go with their unique frames, Forsman and Choi are also designing their own carbon-rimmed wheels. They’ve got what they believe to be the lightest straight-pull disc brake hub on the market, and make their rims a little wider than racing wheels to accommodate wider tires. Carbon rims make a lot more sense when you don’t need to worry about a smooth braking surface; Forsman mentioned that he heard that legendary directeur sportif Johan Brunyeel attributed many of the crashes at this year’s Tour de France to problems with inconsistent braking surfaces on carbon rims. There’s no doubt that France’s TdF hero, Thomas Voeckler, would have had less trouble staying on the course with better brakes.

The Liscio will be offered with three different parts specs, from $2,900 to $4,500, and also as a frame module with frame, fork, seatpost, headset, and seat clamp.

We also saw this prototype below with a TRP Paradox hydraulic brake converter, a sure sign of things to come.

Keep reading

It doesn’t end here, we’ve got a lot more coverage of Interbike 2011.

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