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QUOTE from: Inside the Tour with John Wilcockson: What caused the crashes?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 (All day)

In offering one possible solution to the problem, Bruyneel said, "I think it’s time to start to consider some different equipment. If you look at the bikes, they’ve become lighter and lighter, so why not consider disc brakes? They’re heavier, but I think it would be perfectly possible. And discs definitely brake a lot better. I think with the light equipment and carbon rims (regular brakes) are sometimes a problem in the rain." Hopefully, the UCI’s proposed analysis of this Tour’s most serious crashes will receive plenty of input from the riders, their team directors, the mechanics and the race organizers.

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QUOTE from: Inside the Tour with John Wilcockson: What caused the crashes?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 (All day)

In offering one possible solution to the problem, Bruyneel said, "I think it’s time to start to consider some different equipment. If you look at the bikes, they’ve become lighter and lighter, so why not consider disc brakes? They’re heavier, but I think it would be perfectly possible. And discs definitely brake a lot better. I think with the light equipment and carbon rims (regular brakes) are sometimes a problem in the rain." Hopefully, the UCI’s proposed analysis of this Tour’s most serious crashes will receive plenty of input from the riders, their team directors, the mechanics and the race organizers.

View complete article at

Volagi test ride, helping a friend get to the top, and onetoughride fund-raising!

Monday, July 11, 2011 (All day)

Please read this blogg and join Volagi in support of

While I would have liked to have gotten a bit more training in over the past week it just didn't seem to happen. However, I do have a few updates including some comments on my Volagi test ride that I did last weekend which I'll save for last.
First, the one tough ride fund-raising campaign is off to a roaring start and if I have your email address you probably received a letter from me looking for your support. I am excited to report that we have received a check from our first corporate sponsor and four of our friends totaling almost $2,200! This is just awesome and on behalf of the Jeffrey Modell Foundation and the onetoughride team, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! I will be sending out 1-2 more emails prior to the Furnace Creek 508 to share information on the race and let you know how you can track us live on the web as Team Wild Hares races non-stop across 509 miles with more than 35,000 feet of climbing.
This past Sunday I had the opportunity to get a couple of rides in starting with a ride with my friend and neighbor. He mentioned that he had a goal to get to the top of Mt Diablo by the end of the summer and I offered to help him train to get there. We'd done a few rides around town over the past year and then a little local climbing on a ride Friday after work. On Sunday we headed to the Athenian School in Danville to start the ride and I set a goal of getting to the pay station at the top of the S. Gate. Well we got there and he pretty much climbed that without a problem so we headed for the midway point between the pay station and the Junction and again, not a problem. This being his first real climb I was impressed and suggested that we shoot for the Junction if he was up for it and we nailed it. I am pretty sure that we'll beat his goal of summiting Diablo before the end of July so we may have to shoot for both sides of Diablo with a summit from each side as the goal for the summer.
After I got back from riding Diablo (even before I had a chance to change) Nicholas and I took off on the tandem to set yet another record for the day which was our longest ride together with the most climbing in a single day. Nicholas and I headed from our house through Pleasanton and down Happy Valley Road. Next it was off to Sunol to climb Kilkare Road. Kilkare is classified as a CAT 3 climb and is 3.6 miles long climbing 665 ft. Nick and I rode non-stop from the time we left the house and then through Sunol up the climb and through the descent where we stopped at the Sunol train station for a quick snack. Nick is now getting so confident on the tandem that we don't even have to stop for him to grab his water bottle, drink, and then return it to the bottle cage. This was my best ride of the week and we are really enjoying the tandem and have already ridden more than 140 miles together since we picked it up in early May from Crank2 in Pleasanton.
Volagi Liscio Rival
Last, I had the good fortune of being able to get a real test ride in on the VOLAGI LISCIO RIVAL and have to say that I was very impressed. I picked the bike up on Saturday late afternoon from Crank2 and got it home and set it up to replicate the fit of my SL3. While I had originally planned to take it out to Portola Valley to climb La Honda and Tunnitas some unexpected car issues led to it being a local test ride which ended up being shorter than I would have liked due to 100 degree temps. One of the first things you notice is the Longbow Flex Stay Suspension which really does a great job at absorbing a lot of the road vibration and I gave the bike to proper test up the road to the S. Gate of Diablo which as you know if you have ridden it, this road is bad! The bike sports a BB30 bottom bracket and the frame is stiff when you stand on it. I cut the climb a bit short due to the fact that the cranks ended up being 175 mm and I set the saddle height assuming they were 170mm.
The disk brakes on the bike instilled an added level of confidence and the saddle was very comfortable. This is really a nice bike and considering it was a pre-production bike I was even more impressed. The bike I rode was a 53 and included the upgraded carbon wheel set. The weight was a bit more than my Madone 5.5 or my S-Works SL3 at roughly 17 lbs, 15 oz. This is a great all round bike and I especially liked the idea of the disk brakes for steep descents on a lot of the tougher centuries and double centuries as well as when the weather gets a bit wet. In wet weather disk brakes provide both the benefit of better stopping but also you are not tearing up the sidewalls of your wheels (especially bad with traditional full carbon wheel sets). I am sure that the production bikes will be lighter especially DA and Ultegra versions.
Thanks again for your support and if you haven't made a donation it is as easy as hitting the Donate Now button at the top of this page.
Enjoy the ride...

Initial Review: Volagi Liscio Disc Brake Road Bike

Thursday, July 7, 2011 (All day)

posted by Tyler (Editor) - July 7, 2011 - 6pm EDT

Since seeing the production versions ready Sea Otter, we’ve been awaiting our test bike from Volagi (Voe-LAH-Jee). Since hitting our office, two different riders have put a bit over 150 miles on the Ultegra-equipped Liscio, most recently on Highway 16a near Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

The Volagi Liscio is probably best known for being one of the first disc-brake specific road bikes, but there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s a really great bike! Designed for long ride comfort, its frame uses long seatstays that split around the seat tube and connect further up in the top tube, providing a good bit of vertical compliance. Climbing through the Black Hills and descending the winding, corkscrewing, s-curving downhill treat toward the monument, the Liscio proved all that cush doesn’t come at the expense of performance.

The Volagi Liscio’s got a lot going for it. Make the jump for frame details and more first impressions…

The Liscio is available in several trims and a frameset (frame, fork, wheels, post) but all use the same basic frame. It’s a monocoque carbon frame with nano-carbon particles in the resin and smooth wall construction. The Dura-Ace frame gets a mix of 24T and 30T carbon, the others are straight 24T.

Our test bike is the 57cm Ultegra build with alloy FSA stem and handlebar, Carbon FSA SL-K compact crankset and Volagi’s own VE7 Ignite EL carbon-rimmed wheels. Actual weight w/o pedals: 17lbs 5oz. MSRP for this model is $3,595.00.

There’s no denying the curvy good looks.

Maybe it’s me, but the Liscio (which means ‘smooth’ in Italian) has a the visual flair of the boot-shaped country. The lines are nice accentuated by the paint scheme. On a group ride, it received plenty of compliments.

The fork is their own design. It’s tapered 1-1/8″ to 1-3/8″ with aero shaped legs. Both it and the seatstay bridge have holes for mounting traditional brakes. The top tube has mounting holes for cable stops should you regress to calipers. The headtube is tall, putting the rider in a more upright position. The handlebars have a very shallow drop, too, keeping the rider more comfortable.

The brakes both use internal cable runs with mechanical Avid calipers. Front rotor is 160mm, rear is 140mm. Hub spacing is 130mm on the rear. Internally mounted rear brakes keep a very clean aesthetic. Near both are mounts for pannier racks, which is a nice touch that adds versatility to match the frame’s long distance design. In fact, cofounders Robert Choi and Barley Forsman are avid distance cyclists and made the bike to fit their riding style.

Braking performance was solid, on par with quality calipers, but somehow felt better on long descents.

The top tube’s gentle arc continues through the ovalized “Longbow Flex” seatstays, but part of it shoots straight back to reinforce the top of the seat tube. The stays don’t touch the seat tube at all, providing “5.5mm/kN” of flex. Translation: It’s damn comfortable over the rough stuff.

The seat tube maintains the seatpost’s aero shape most of the way down, rounding off around the front derailleur mount.

The downtube is aero shaped, too. Brake line runs internally, shift cables externally with a criss cross halfway down.

The BB30 bottom bracket area is fairly stout. The downtube makes full use of the width and the chainstays are thick and tall as they exit. The result is a pedaling platform that’s stiff enough for most riders, particularly those that like to ride long distance. Sprinters might want a bit more, but this bike’s not really targeted at them.

Ignore the decal, these are the “SL” version of their E7 Ignite wheels. The UD Hi-Mod carbon fiber rims were designed specifically for disc brake use, meaning there’s no braking surface required. Volagi made the most of it with the rim profile, and they made it wide: 25mm outer width and 30mm depth. This let them mate it with a 25C Continental Ultra Race tire.


With all the talk about long distance, endurance riding you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a bike that’ll struggle on those fast paced group rides. You’d be wrong…I managed to hang onto one for as long as my legs would allow. It’ll put the power where you want it, and some initial creaking when standing to hammer was fixed by tightening the crankset. Under loads of standing and stomping there’s a bit of chain rub on the front derailleur cage, but not obscenely more than with racier bikes. I took it through some tight downhill corners and parking lot “emergency” turns to test it out, and the Liscio went where it was pointed with nary a complaint.

That stuff’s just for kicks and grins, though.

Under real world conditions – just riding for fun or with a few friends – the Volagi has really shone. It gobbles up rough roads, pavement cracks and bridge transitions like they’ve been milled smooth. While the fork doesn’t claim to have any specific damping characteristics, between it and the wide rim and tire, I’m actually OK with the alloy FSA bar. Normally alloy bars vibrate my hands to pieces, but I haven’t had any issues thus far.

On a group ride I hit 48+ mph on a downhill and ran out of gearing. The Liscio was ultra stable. As in, I probably could have taken my hands off the bar and eaten a gel.

My best ride on it so far has been the roads around Mt. Rushmore. The climbs could kill you, but the descents took me to heaven. Seriously – Best. Road descents. Ever. I’ll post video when I get back to civilization. The roads were mostly smooth, but a couple of dips, bumps or bridge transitions could have shooken a twitchier bike off course. Not the Liscio. And on rougher pavement, it’s perfectly content to soak up the crud while you remain comfortably seated and pedaling along. It’s not that you feel disconnected – far from it – just free from harsh bumps or road vibes. The bike shone while descending high speed corners. It tracked confidently, smoothly and predictably. Any mishaps would have been user error.

So far, I’m pretty enthralled with it. I am on the fence as to whether I could use the larger (60) size – I’m 6’2″ – but the bike does have a long-ish top tube, and a jump from 57 to 60 is pretty big. Look for a longer term review in a few months.


Aside from the fixed BB creaking, the stock Volagi saddle didn’t meet with my approval. I’ve swapped it for the new Bontrager Team Issue road saddle and am much happier. I also had to tighten the seatpost clamp slightly more than recommended to keep it from creaking or slipping, but only at Choi’s suggestion. He said they’ve changed the mold slightly to improve the interface and that it shouldn’t be an issue anymore. (we got a really, really early production bike in for testing)


Editor’s note: We had another local rider spend a week on the Volagi. Separately, he’d contacted Volagi about demoing a bike and they put us in touch. Here’s his unedited review:

The Volagi Liscio was designed with one thing in mind: riding long distances comfortably. To ride long distances means the rider must be able to ride safely under changing road conditions and to be able to stay in the saddle for hours without undue discomfort. To this end, a couple of major innovations were incorporated into the design: disk brakes for all-weather stopping power, and a light, aerodynamic fatigue-reducing full-carbon frame. I recently rode the Volagi on several short and long group and solo rides, and came away with a very favorable impression.

Disk brakes on a road bike are long overdue. They stay free of road gunk, maintain power in wet conditions, and eliminate the risk of overheated rims producing blowouts. The lack of rim heating from heavy brake usage allows Volagi to achieve the current holy grail of cycling: carbon clincher rims. Carbon heats up and can delaminate when regular caliper brakes are used, but there is no risk of that with disk brakes, so you can enjoy the weight and performance characteristics of carbon wheels without fear of ruining them on long descents. I found the Avid BB-7 mechanical brakes to be very well modulated, with stopping power roughly equal to that of calipers. The weight difference is negligible when compared to the advantages of carbon rims and all-weather braking confidence.

The frame design is among the first things you notice when you first see the bicycle. Volagi has split the seat stays and brought them past the seat tube to join the top tube in front of the seat cluster, effectively taking bumps and vibration from the rear wheel and dissipating it into the frame, rather than into the rider’s seat. The test bike I rode was 57cm, smaller than the 59 or 60 I usually ride, so I had to extend the seat post out to near its maximum in order to get my legs properly angled. The seat tube angle combined with the extended length gave the bike a very springy, almost boingy feel when going over rolling bumps. The seat stays are also bowed convexly, meaning that the top tube is angled down to meet it, further lowering the seat cluster (and lengthening the seat post above it). This also yields a step-over that makes the bike easy to mount. The bike eats up rough roads, encouraging the rider to hold his line and roll over the bumps. The bike retains good road feel while minimizing deleterious vibration effects, and feels quite stiff when you need to rise up out of the saddle and stomp. I felt no wobbles or shimmies on descents.

One of the most important features is that the bike looks fabulous. Everybody I rode with commented favorably on its appearance, which features shiny cherry-red paint offset by exposed black carbon fibers, with neat white blazes inside the fork and chain stays. The pleasing curves and artful color combinations look sharp without being overly flashy. Surprisingly, any discomfort I felt from the bike being too small faded with each ride, to the point where I could ride 60 miles and still want more. I heartily commend this well-thought-out bicycle!

Flying a Volagi (part 2)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 (All day)

by Peter Gerrard at

I stumbled across a Volagi brochure at a bike shop about the same time a friend wrote a puppy-love Facebook status update about Calfee’s disk-resplendent Adventure bike (mentioned in the first part of this story). He’s always reassessing his training and equipment. He and his wife are trying to qualify for Paris-Brest-Paris, the Holy Grail for distance riders. I saw that the Volagi bikes sported disk brakes, so I dropped him a note. And I decided to find out more about the bike and the company.

After several conversations and emails with Volagi’s Susan Forsman, a test was arranged. In May I was able to wrangle a couple of bikes. One featured a SRAM Rival group; the other was a Shimano Ultegra-equipped model (but in a size larger than I ride). I threw my pedals on the Rival bike, aired up the tires, and headed toward the hills in Turtle Rock

First impression: On the flats, the disk brakes are not dramatically different from calipers in feel, but they do have their own sound.

I climbed Ridgeline, and began distilling the idea that the Volagi bike is more than a collection of carbon and components.

Second impression: the bike’s massive bottom bracket and tight rear end (can you get slapped for saying that out of context?) are very effective when you’re climbing.

But these observations evaporated once I crested Ridgeline, accelerating toward a descent of Starcrest in Turtle Rock…and wondering, belatedly, if I’d taken too great a leap of faith with the disk brakes.

(An observation aimed at me by a mechanic friend pops into mind: “When a new gadget comes out, why are you always first in line to drink the Kool-Aid?”)

If you don’t know the area, you can get a pretty good head of steam just coasting on Starcrest, and it doesn’t take much pedaling to get into the 40+ mph zone. The Volagi tracked very well, but I didn’t like the feel from the front wheel (The stock Rival wheels have 32 spokes, a shallower rim and weigh approx. 1,850 grams/pr). It was not as rock-steady and confidence inspiring as the rest of the bike, but I’d be willing to attribute that to it being a test model that may have seen its share of abuse.

There’s a point where I know that I need to start braking or I’ll run past the stop and into Turtle Rock Drive’s cross traffic. I hit that reference point, subconsciously established from riding bikes with very good caliper brakes, and pulled the levers. The disk brakes were easy to modulate, not grabby, and I found myself stopped a good hundred feet sooner than usual. So score one for the disk brakes. I took a swig from my bottle, and the Kool-Aid was good.

I rode home and borrowed the up-spec Ultegra bike’s front wheel. Both the Ultegra and DuraAce Liscio bikes have Volagi’s E7™ Ignite CL wheel, which has fewer spokes (24), a slightly deeper aero shape and weighs about 200 grams/pr. less than those on the Rival bike. Both wheelsets came with 25c Continental Ultra Race tires.


What a difference. Retracing the climb, this time the Volagi came more alive. The EL front wheel felt stiffer and more energetic. On the descent, whatever hesitation I had to let the bike rip was gone. The Volagi Web site and brochure mention that there will be a carbon-rimmed wheel available as an upgrade. Imagine that: a lighter, stiffer and damper wheel without a carbon braking surface.

One more thing: I almost forgot that Volagi has also designed a saddle for long-distance riding comfort. It has different rails and covers, depending on the bike. I can’t say that it was particularly good or bad. On the plus side, I really didn’t notice it, which is a complement coming from a persnickety saddle snob.

I ended up riding around 30 miles. On one long section of slightly worse-for-wear trail I realized that the Volagi was smoother and damper than I was used to. I had the impression that I was getting slightly less shock through the handlebars, but quite a bit less through the saddle. I was flying. Having a good ride, smiling. I think I’m becoming a fan of LongBow Flex™ stays. I’d like to ride this bike on a century.


That leads to the other interesting thing about Volagi. Yes, the bike is different, and it’s taking advantage of all the material knowledge and computer aided data crunching available to create what might be one of the best expressions of a do-everything road bike. Even if that wasn’t expressly the original goal.

But the Volagi company–and try to read this analytically instead of sentimentally– is also something different. It’s a throwback to a smaller and more focused type of entrepreneurship, one involving ideas, risk and actually manufacturing a product.

Robert Choi, and Barley and Susan Forsman, could have contracted with one of the myriad carbon frame producers and gotten close to what they wanted a Volagi bike to be. But they stuck to their ideals. They invested in the molds needed to produce the five frame sizes needed to build bikes with the performance attributes they expected…and then committed to a robust production run. It’s not the thousands of bikes a Trek, Specialized, Giant or Cannondale will produce, but it’s a lot more than a boutique custom builder will make in a year.

In ways, maybe Volagi also has some symbolic meaning aside from what’s in the name. With all the caution that businesses seem to be exercising in investment and hiring, it’s inspiring when someone is willing to take a risk on an idea. It will be an adventure. And, like the bike, I hope it’s a sweet ride.

Continue reading on Flying a Volagi, part 2 - Santa Ana Cycling |