Did you see Valverde descending off the Tourmalet? Probably the scariest but most enjoyable part of road riding. Better than mountain biking maybe even better than skiing. The speed is so high and the risks even greater. When you see a car or motor bike you know that in a split second you’ll roast ‘em – whoosh by and then onto the next one? The locals often pull over when a cyclist is hammering down on them. If you haven’t done it, plan a trip and go. It can be done in the UK but when you are descending for twenty minutes plus the whole dynamic changes as you get used to the feel. There are costs. Neck ache, crouched low in the drops with your nose against your Garmin the temptation is to look down as your neck really starts to hurt. And, of course, there is the other cost not to be overlooked and a pleasure for other reasons, the one to two hour climb that you have to endure to get up there in the first place. Where is the best hill locally? Harting. It has sweeping bends in both directions and the road surface is smooth, it is also just long enough to let you get the feel for what you are missing.
What brought this to mind is the bike that I am riding, a Volagi Liscio. Take one look at it
and you will see that it is one of the new generation sportive bikes, build for comfort, long days in the saddle and dependable braking with the bonus of being able to specify a great wheel set knowing that the rims will never wear out. The geometry will suit many a rider with its long head tube. The 55 that I have has a 549mm top tube and a 167mm head tube. You get a nice high position which makes the reach feel even shorter. Whilst it was 20mm higher than my bike a 10mm longer stem sorted out the reach and I was very comfortable. The first thing that I noticed about the bike was the cornering, it was as if it was on rails and I longed for a run down the Tourmalet. The combination of stiff rims and super stiff fork was amazing. The designers promote the frame design as aero which, maybe, is why it feels so stable downhill.
The fork is solid, I presume for the extra power of the disc brakes (TRP cable activated hydraulic callipers). The advantage is sure fire high speed stability. The disadvantage is that it absorbs very little shock. Searching the internet it seems that all disc road forks are the same. Watch out for potholes! The rear shock absorption comes from the “Longbow stay” which works well at dulling road shock but it might be better with a thinner and round seat tube and post. The aero seat post that is, as you’d expect, fairly rigid.
The Liscio rides like and delivers the performance of a race bike but with a more comfort position. This will suit the newer rider or anyone wanting to be a little more upright. If you have your sights set on a Gold in your next sportive this bike will help. It is not as light as a pure race bike but none of the current range of disc road bikes are and at 18lbs 3oz/8.38kg it in the ball park. It never felt heavy or slow on even the steepest of climbs. I got a PB on Box Hill where it felt as at home on the silky smooth up as it did on the rough and bumpy down.
The version that I am riding has Shimano Ultegra 11s (faultless) matched beautifully with
TRP Hydro brakes. The braking feel is wonderful: delicate one finger action with loads of modulation and very, very powerful, begging for an Alpine descent. The wheels are Volagi’s own Ignite SL carbon rims on what I have been told are DT Swiss hubs. They are awesome! The 28mm deep and wide 18.5mm carbon rims with 25mm tyres deliver exceptional cornering and shock absorption.
All in all, the bike is fast and comfortable on a long run. The combination of super stiff fork and aero seat post mean that the ride is firm so not the bike you’d want to do the Roubaix on. I jumped off the Liscio and onto a Scott CR1 and rode the same pothole strewn road and did not feel a thing through the fork, however, I prefer a bike that feels more lively than the CR1 so yesterday I swapped bikes with my brother who has a Scott Foil with Fulcrum Red Wind N50 XLR (50mm) carbon wheels and 23mm tyres . This was a much more even test with the rear shock absorption being similar with the Liscio being softer but the Foil’s fork simply ate up the bumps and holes. The Foil is reasonably comfortable despite its reputation for being firm. If you believe Cycling Weekly’s review of the Foil you’d expect them to be banning aluminium bikes altogether because of the health hazards.
I really enjoyed the Volagi Liscio and as the most important part of any road bike are the wheels its appeal is that with discs you can run a carbon wheel set without the worry of rims wearing out over the winter or over cooking on long alpine descents. Are discs the future? Probably. As a mountain bike rider too I sometimes run out of brake when negotiating s very steep corner on a descent using standard road callipers. For more on Volagi look here.
If you want a stunning looking bike that encourages splashing out on wheels the Volagi Liscio is for you. I have had someone else ride it too and he thought that the Longbow stays gave him a ride as comfortable as his titanium bike with a Ti post. Now that is smoooooooth! He also set some Strava records for downhill that would have been impossible on a flexier machine. Thumbs up for the Volgi Liscio.
Personally I reckon that the steel Volagi would make the perfect winter, commuter, do anything bike and from what I have heard it is really light too.
Here’s the ride, great to be out with my brother again.