Sunday, December 23, 2012

Volagi Viaje, a daydreamer's bike

A guy rolls down his truck’s window. “Cool Bike,” he says, “love those curvy lines.” I thank him, the lights turns green, and we go. No one had complimented my ride since the times I was on a flame red Ducati 900. Instead I’m pedaling my blue Volagi Viaje XL.
So know first that wherever you’re going to ride, the flashy Viaje will attract attention. And why shouldn’t it? It’s a gorgeous bicycle! For me it was love at first sight: this is the bike I had been looking for. Drop bars and road attitude on a comfortable steel frame with cross attitude. I also loved the very idea of the Kickstarter initiative, that allowed me to put my eager hands on this bike early, while providing Volagi with the necessary cash to start production. Crowd-funded, innovative projects are the way of the future. 

The  final product exceeds my expectations. Components are top-notch. I love the compact FSA Wing handlebars, easy to dive into on quick downhills, safely mastered by the Avid disk brakes. I was new to non-regular brakes, and I had to learn a thing of two about them: first, don’g grab a handful, the rear wheel is easily blocked by the extra braking power, sending the newbie rider in a spectacular but unwanted derapage. Fine tuning of one’s grip might be necessary. The SRAM system was surprisingly quick to master, and so far it looks speedy  and reliable. The Victoria Randonneur the bike ships with are my favorite all-around tire, but you’ll need knobbier rubber for anything muddy or wet, although they made it quite fun to spin the wheels on the sandy terrain over the bluffs along the Santa Barbara coast. They will handle well any dry irregular surface, including gravel, and best most road tires on the paved roads. 

How does it ride? “Nimble,” “maneuverable,” and “quick” are the first words that come to mind. The bike feels lighter than any steel framed ride should be. Even the Fedex delivery man couldn’t believe a whole bike was inside the big box. And this is the lesser, XL model, the SL is probably quite close to my carbon racer. 

The bike was well put together, with one minor glitch, a brake cable routed on the wrong side of the fork was rubbing against the front wheel. That was easy to fix and probably due to the rush to get these babies out for Christmas. It’s difficult to find any issues with the bike. Sure, the seat had to go after the inaugural ride. I might be picky “down there,” my point of contact needs to be from Selle Italia, or I’ll deeply regret it halfway into the ride. If you are like me, you probably go for a saddle transplant on any new bike.

Do you remember how fun it was to ride your bike as a kid?  Forget for an instant about commuting, or heartbeat-monitoring, calorie-burning road racing. Think back about the days where you just went where your fancy took you, day dreaming all the way, lost in imaginary adventures. Do you remember all that? Well, I sure do. And guess what, now I’ll be able to keep doing it.

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