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Volagi News


Sunday, November 14, 2010 - 4:00pm

"Laterally stiff and vertically compliant," marketing buzzwords of many a bike at Interbike, are actually measurable on the Volagi, a bike designed for long-distance riders. The long seatstays, following a natural curve and attaching forward of the seat tube, provide 6mm of vertical travel at the rear wheel to roll smoothly over payment cracks. Short chainstay with a big down tube and tapered head tube provide stiffness and responsiveness. Disc brakes prevent concerns about heat with carbon clinchers, and fender mounts make it perfect for wet rides and brevets that require full fenders - amazing features for a 16-pound bike. "most companies build their bikes for people who don't buy bikes - proracers,' said Robert Choi. "ours are built for people who actually but bikes."

As shown at VeloNews magazine in their December 2010 issue

First Look: Volagi Carbon Endurance Road Bikes with Disc Brakes posted by Tyler

Monday, October 11, 2010 - 5:00pm

Volagi cycles is new, but we’re betting their first bike, the Venga, will quickly put them on the map.

The first thing you’re likely to notice is the disc brakes, but that’s not even the raison d’etre for the brand or the bike. Created by Robert Choi and Barley Forsman, who both come from a varied design background within the cycling industry, the Venga is designed to offer endurance cyclists the form, function and fit they need to ride long, but the geometry is designed to handle quickly like a race bike.

On paper, this seems like a great idea, and we’re looking forward to testing one out when they come available next April.

For now, we can tell you about the technology and design, like those “longbow” seatstays that start well ahead of the seat tube and the geometry that tailors this bike to the type of riding most of us actually do.

Photos, video and story behind the jump…

First, the story. We asked Barley a few questions about the bike and why they started a new brand.

BIKERUMOR: Can you give me a little more detail about yours and Choi’s backgrounds and the catalyst that sparked your new company?

BARLEY: Robert Choi founded Vistalite in 1989, and pretty much pioneered bicycle safety lighting. Eventually, he sold the company to Bell Sports and became a product manager there. In 1997, he hired me as a product designer at Bell Sports (I have a BFA in Industrial Design). In 1998, Robert became the director of R&D at CamelBak, where I joined him (as the only designer) in June of that same year. We were at CamelBak for about 10 years, and were responsible for all of the design/development during that time. In 2007, I become the design manager at Specialized – Robert started a day after me as the director of equipment.

Then in April 2010, we formed Volagi. Robert and I are both passionate endurance cyclists, between us we have ridden over 60 double centuries in California alone. Robert has been on the podium of the Triple Crown Stage race (the 3 hardest doubles in California) every time he has raced it (he’s never done worse than 3rd, and I believe he has won it at least 3 times). I placed 2nd in the race last year. I’ve also raced the 508 (the same race my wife – Susan Forsman – won this year), and won the fixed gear division in 2004. My wife and I also rode and finished Paris Brest Paris (PBP) in 2003 – that year she was the 3rd American to finish.

Bottom line, we all love to ride our bikes – a lot! Robert and I are always talking product when we ride, and we began to notice a void in the market: If a cyclist wants to buy a performance bicycle, their only real choice is to buy a bike designed for a pro racer – as an analogy, it would be similar to wanting a sports car, but the only thing available was an F1. Most companies dedicate 90+% of their resource designing product for riders who never buy product – most of the time they’re actually paid to ride it (so they don’t even choose what they ride!) Last time I checked, the average cyclist was not in their 20′s, not 120 pounds, not capable of generating 400 watts for an hour, and generally not hell bent on winning at any cost (no consideration for health or comfort).

So the average cyclist has no choice but to buy Lance Armstrong’s bike and then start the long process of “tweaking” it to work better for them: add spacers, change stems, change handlebars, change saddles, change gearing, etc… we decided to dedicate 100% of our resources to the “real” cyclist, by creating performance equipment just for them (as well as us!) We wanted a bike that could go the distance and provide a catalyst for a new PR at their next event.

BIKERUMOR: What prompted the use of disc brakes versus standard rim brakes?

BARLEY: For us the question wasn’t “why are we doing disc brakes?”, but rather, “why would we not use disc brakes?” We wanted to be sure that everything about our bike had a purpose and made real-world sense. We went through every detail and specification and asked ourselves, “is this the best option out there?” Even though, both Robert and I have used road calipers for years and just excepted it as the only option, when we actually stopped to think about it, it just didn’t make sense. The very first car (and first motorcycle, and first bicycle) used a block of wood that was jammed into the wheel as a method of stopping (slowing!) the vehicle down – seems that a block of rubber is one small step better. Consider that the modern performance (road) bicycle is the only form of transportation to still use “rubber” as the braking system.

Disc brakes offer consistent braking under all conditions, better safety and control, better stopping power, less hand fatigue, no black gunk all over the frame, less maintenance, they’re more economical, easy to adjust, won’t damage your expensive carbon rims, will brake even with broken wheels, you can run wider tires and/or fenders without worrying about caliper clearance and it makes changing a flat easier.

BIKERUMOR: What were the challenges (spec selection, frame design, etc.) with using disc brakes?

BARLEY: So far we have had little to no real issues with the discs. We are using existing technology in a new way – full carbon, post mounted disc brakes are not new. 29er mountain bikes have been using this technology for several years now – the forces applied for the frame from a 29er wheel are much greater than what can be expected for road, cross, or even standard 26″ mtb wheels. In terms of component selection, we are very confident in the mechanical Avid BB7 performance – in fact we believe the performance is very close to some hydraulic systems. Mechanicals are also very easy to adjust and maintain (especially when you’re out on some back road, in the middle of nowhere with no tools!) Our company is founded on the very simple idea that function will drive design and component selection, so we will always be working toward better solutions. Now that the UCI has lifted the restriction on disc brakes in cross racing, we expect great advances in technology – in fact we have already started talking to some key component manufacturers about the future of this technology and how we can help shape the future of disc brakes

BIKERUMOR: Speaking of ‘cross, the next obvious question is are you considering doing a cyclocross model? The compliance and disc brake use make it seem like a logical next product.

BARLEY: Currently our objective is to perfect this bike and to be the first company to offer a performance distance bike to “real” cyclist – I think it’s important to note that when we think distance, we are thinking more in terms of time than actual distance. This will be the ideal bike for the cyclist interested in optimum performance over 4+ hours of riding – again the objective is to perform as well during the last hour of the ride as you do the first hour of the ride.

Having said that (as our current goal), we are definitely thinking big – we believe our Longbow Flex technology has many great applications (potentially cross, mountain, tri, city/urban, etc.) I can’t go into detail now as to what our plans are, but feel confident knowing that we don’t plan on being a “one trick pony”.

After the disc brakes, the first thing you’re likely to notice are the seatstays, which at first glance look a lot like the Triple Triangle design of GT.

“About the only thing a Volagi bike and a GT have in common is the first-glance visual – functionally, they are very different,” Barley said. “Our seat-stays are not connected at the seat-tube, which is the biggest obvious difference. This allows our bikes to have slightly shorter chain-stays compared to the traditional endurance bike, for tighter geometry. It handles like a performance bike in the twisties.”

“It also gives it a longer seatstay, which provides a high level of compliance, translating not only to reduced rider fatigue, but also better traction – keeping the rear wheel on the ground where it belongs. We chose to focus on how the rider feels the last hour of a ride, not just the first. To give you an idea on how much compliance, with a static load of 250lbs (on the saddle), we are getting just less than 6mm of deflection at the rear wheel – we believe this is the best real world ‘compliance’ in the industry. Currently, we are patent pending.”

Two frames will be offered using the same mold, and EL and lighter SL. Both are full one-piece monocoque carbon frames, with the SL getting a mix of 30T and 24T fibers and the EL getting just 24T. They use nano particles in the resin to add strength without adding weight. Frame shaping is said to be very aerodynamic since up to 80% of your energy is used just to push air out of your way once you get up to speed.

The headtube is tapered 1-1/8″ to 1-3/8″ and is a bit taller than normal bikes to put the rider in a more comfortable position for long rides, something that’s becoming increasingly common on other brands’ mid-level road bikes, too.

The disc brakes are 160mm front and 140mm rear and use Ashima’s AirRotors with Avid’s mechanical calipers. Pulling the brakes and shifting comes from standard Dura-Ace (SL) or Ultegra (EL) shifter levers. Both bikes get FSA compact cranks.

The great thing about these bikes, beyond the claimed better braking and comfort, is that none of the parts are proprietary to make it work. When hydraulic disc brakes for road bikes come out, which is inevitable, you’ll be able to upgrade (though depending on how the internal cabling is run, you may have to run the house along the frame). That, and you can slap fenders on the frame using the built-in mounts and ride all winter long. Wide 25mm rims let you throw some ‘cross or winter commuter tires on and pedal away instead of sitting inside on the trainer.

Original article at

Former VistaLite Founder Launches Endurance Brand Volagi

Monday, September 27, 2010 - 5:00pm

Morgan Hill, CA - Not far into his typical 200-mile weekend ride Robert Choi starts steaming about bike design. Why do bike companies design hign-end road bikes around 140-pound pro tour riders?

"pro tour bikes are design to put every watt of a riders' output into going forward, so they are built very light and stiff to meet the needs of a professional racer," said Choi, who created VistaLite and along with feloow designer Barley Forsman started a company Volagi. "Not only are normal Americans a different size than pro riders, but they have different needs. As a long distance rider I want a slightly more upright, a comfortable compliant ride and a bit of room to move around on my saddle and bars. I also like fast downhills so I need brakes that work in all weather," he added.

His newly formed company, Volagi, is showing two road models at Interbike that share a carbon frame with disc brakes. the sub-17 pound Venga EL retails for $3,595; the up-spec'd Venga SL, weight 16 pounds and sells for $5,595.00.

The seatsays on the Venga frames arc from the rear dropout to a point on a toptube a few inches in front of the seat tube. Called the LongBow Stay System, the stays are ovalized and engineered to flex vertically while maintaining stiffness laterally for good transfer of pedal power. "The stays are designed to flex anywhere from 6 to 10 millimeters for eacdh kilonewton meter." Choi said.

The company also is showing its E7 saddle, handlebars and disc brakes wheelets – all designed for endurance riders. Now that UCI allows disc brake use in cyclocross, the company expects its light disc wheelsets to appeal to riders looking for a pair of fast road wheels or light clinchers for their disc-compatible cyclocross frames.

“we are targeting other lond-distance riders loke us who are not served by pro tour bikes. And if you look at the number of centuries and double centuries being offered, and the number of long distance cycling clubs, it’s a sizable market,” Choi said.
Venga frames take tires up to 30 millimeters wide and have fender mounts because Choi said he prefers training on the same bike year round. The BB30 system was chosen because it’s lighter and the BB30 cranks have lower Q, which is more comfortable over long distances.
The mechanical disc calipers are Avid BB7’s and Choi spec’d Ashima Air Rotors – 160 millimerts in the front and 140 millimeters in the rear. Not only are the heavily windowed rotors ;light, around 70 grams, but they heat up fast so a rider always has a good brake feel.
Choi and Forsman have been awarded over 30 patents. The design team first worked at Bell Sports, later camelback and, until recently, Specialized.

And both company founders have either won or been on the podium for California double century stage races in seven of the past eight years. Forsman finished the 1,200-kilometer Paris-Brest-Paris ride and is a previous record holder for the fixed-gear category of the Furnace Creek 508 mile race.

Choi emphized that Volagi is not anti-racing, and pro tour victories sell bikes. However, his well=seasoned target customer is uncomfortably familiar with with the shortcomings of race bikes ridden for six to eight hours.
“you go out on these long rides and you see how riders have raised the stem, swapped out the saddles and are rider wider tires. They are trying to make race bikes more comfortable. We offer the bike they are looking for,” Choi said. BRAIN

Launching at 2010 Interbike - Las Vegas, Nevada

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - 5:00pm

Launching at Interbike 2010, a new line of performance bikes by Volagi™ specifically designed for the long distance rider.

We've incorporated our revolutionary LongBow Flex™ stay into an all-carbon frame providing an engineered light-weight, bike providing a balance of compliance and stiffness.. We know that endurance cyclists ride in all kinds of conditions; thus, all Volagi™ bikes include disk brakes for better control and traction while reducing rider fatigue. Passion for performance while providing a great experience for the Endurance cyclist is what Volagi™ is all about.
Check out Volagi™ at Interbike, Booth 7001, New Exhibitor Pavilion.

Robert Choi and Barley Forsman, 2 of our team, know what it is like to spend hours in the saddle. They are both double century veterans and ultra distance riders. They also know what it is like to research and develop must-have, innovative new products for they have worked for Bell Sports, CamelBak and Specialized. Choi had his own company back in the 80s called VistaLite, the first company to use LED-technology to provide a safety light for the bicycle. Volagi is the first company to incorporate disk brakes onto a performance bike - once again, Choi and Forsman are innovating and improving the ride for the long distance rider in all of us!

Radical Departure

Friday, September 17, 2010 - 5:00pm

Volagi™ Cycles are the first production bikes in their class to be engineered, designed and custom tooled from the ground up specifically and exclusively for you, the committed century plus to ultra distance cyclist. Volagi is dedicated to ensuring you have the most technologically advanced and innovatively progressive equipment tailored to you to obtain a personal best-ever on your next event while experiencing the safest, most enjoyable ride possible. We’re equally dedicated to ensuring you have great finishing times on all your upcoming events the next ten years, and the next twenty years, and for as long as you have “the will to go”.

This is a radical departure from the design engineering goals that dominate our market segment in which bicycles are originally designed exclusively to be first across the finish line of a particular race when ridden by one of the most relentlessly trained of the top ten or fifteen racers in the world with little to no regard for the punishment that the athlete’s body will sustain during the course of the race. These bicycles are then tweaked a bit, mass produced, and sold to distance riders like yourself as a best choice for you too. And, we agree to the extent that you can do a lot worse, but we also believe that you can do a lot better. Now you can choose to ride a Volagi

Our design engineers, long-term ultra distance riders themselves, created Volagi by scrupulously and painstakingly designing every tube and connection millimeter by millimeter with fresh eyes for exacting details that together would create the unique ride characteristics best suited for our riders. This resulted in a ground-breaking frame design we call VENGA with a patent pending detail LongBow Flex™. .