Flying a Volagi Bike (Part 1)
Original article from the Examiner at http://www.examiner.com/cycling-in-santa-ana/flying-a-volagi-part-1-review
by Peter Gerrard
From the first glance, you’re aware that there’s something different about a Volagi bike. It’s not just the sculpted, arcing lines of the frame: this is increasingly becoming a characteristic of carbon fiber’s visual DNA as bike designers scurry to maximize the material’s properties. It’s becoming a standard wrinkle in the dialectic of form and function. Then you realize that your eyes are drawn to the brakes.
The Volagi Liscio is not the first road-style bike to be offered with disk brakes (there have been some cyclo-cross/touring models from Redline, and custom jobs from builders like Calfee Design and Co-Motion). Why disk brakes? It’s part of the reason why there’s a Volagi bike at all.
The brains and at energy behind the Volagi bikes are two engineers and avid long-distance cyclists, Robert Choi and Barley Forsman. You can get more of the particulars, and the romance and symbolism behind the name here. To summarize, the Cotati, Calirfonia-based duo felt there wasn’t a really perfect bike for brevet and long distance riding.
Current race bikes can give you the performance, but beat you up on rides lasting two to three hundred miles or more. Aside from which you can’t easily put on fenders, and tire selection is usually limited to 25c max. And bikes designed to accommodate bigger tire and fenders tend to have long wheelbases for comfort and cantilever brakes for clearance: the result is the comfortable but wallowy road feel of a Mercury Grand Marquis and really dicey braking, especially if it’s raining.
So we have disk brakes in the picture, which aside from negating tire clearance issues give more powerful and modulated braking. There are additional benefits, too. If you break a spoke or whack your wheel out of true, miles from a mechanic, you can ride without having to open your calipers to the point where they’re ineffective...thereby avoiding the unease of approaching a steep and swooping downhill like a person with misplaced dentures looking at a juicy filet mignon.
And, to continue the meal metaphor, now you can have your cake and eat it, too...“cake” meaning carbon rims. As a rim material, carbon has advantages in weight, strength, and damping, but it can’t touch aluminum when it comes to braking. Take the braking out of the equation, and carbon rims become more attractive and practical.
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