First things first:
- The company name is pronounced vol-a-jee
- The name roughly translates to the will to go in Latin
- The bike’s name means trip, or journey in Spanish
Volagi was founded on the premise that conventional bicycles designed for racing simply weren’t practical for, or well-suited for the type of riding done by endurance cyclists. Having completed events like the 1200-kilometer Paris-Brest-Paris randonnée, and setting fixed-gear records for the Furnace Creek 508 race, the company’s founders knew a thing or two about what was needed for the long haul.
Designed to be both comfortable and nimble, the gravel-capable Viaje utilizes many of the design features first introduced on the company’s full-carbon Liscio model. The Viaje’s TIG-welded 4130 CroMo double-butted frame features Volagi’s patented LongBow Flex™ stays, an extended headtube, and tapered carbon fork with alloy steerer. Fender and (rear) rack eyelets extend the bike’s versatility and functionality, while the press-fit BB386 bottom bracket shell and integrated headset offer compatibility with a wide range of components. To accommodate the wider tires often preferred by gravel riders, Volagi spec’d the Viaje with clearance for 700x40C rubber.
Riders can purchase the Viaje as a frameset or a complete bike. The frame, fork, sealed-bearing bottom bracket and headset retails for $1495, and complete bicycles start at $2535. Our 57cm test bike came equipped with Shimano 105 and XT components, a Full Speed Ahead cockpit, and Volagi’s Ignite EL 24-spoke wheelset. Braking was provided by Hayes’ CX Expert mechanical disc calipers. Customizing your Viaje is easy using Volagi’s online bike builder, with components available from Campagnolo, Shimano, SRAM, and TRP.
Climbing on the Viaje was a breeze thanks to the SRAM 11-36 cassette and 34/50 Shimano 105 crankset. The 10-speed Shimano integrated levers pulled plenty of cable for the CX Expert mechanical disc brakes, and the combination offered a good balance of power and modulation. The frame’s 135mm rear dropout spacing and the brake caliper’s outboard-routed cable housing did occasionally result in some heel rub, however. With full-length housing, the Viaje’s cables required virtually no maintenance during our test period.
Fitted with lightweight 25mm or 28mm tires, the Viaje exhibited the smooth ride that steel-framed bikes are known for. Chipseal pavement all but disappeared, and the bike handled predictably on hard-packed dirt roads. The well-mannered Volagi quickly became the preferred bike for my 12-mile, mixed-terrain commute. And on weekends, stripped of its commuting accouterments, the Viaje saw plenty of spirited, recreational riding (on- and off-road). Don’t let the Volagi’s comfortable ride fool you, though. When it’s time to hammer–in or out of the saddle–there’s no unwanted flex.
On dirt and gravel, the Viaje excelled when ridden hard on non-technical terrain. Off-road, the handling would best be described as quick, but not nervous. On rougher terrain and steeper descents, I noticed some reduced comfort and control–probably due to the bike’s relatively short wheelbase (101.4cm) and stiff carbon fork. This is not entirely unique to the Volagi, however. I’ve ridden the same trails on similarly-spec’d bikes, and the ones equipped with steel forks did offer improved comfort (albeit at a weight penalty over carbon fiber).
Volagi has succeeded in delivering one of the most versatile bikes on the market. It can be configured as a dedicated road bike, gravel grinder, commuter, or anything in between. The Viaje successfully blends utility and performance without exhibiting the shortcomings often found on competitors’ do-it-all models.
Founded in Italy by Riccardo Bigolin, Selle Royal has been producing saddles for more than 50 years. The company, which began in 1956, now exports saddles to more than 70 countries worldwide. To meet the needs of sport cyclists, Selle Royal created the Performa range of saddles. The new-for-2014 Performa series is comprised of three distinct saddle styles: flat, wave, and anatomic. The wave design, which includes the Saba and Selva models, features a contoured profile with greater padding toward the rear for extra grip and control.
Leading Selle Royal’s wave line is the Saba. The handmade saddle utilizes the company’s Shock Shell base, hollow Secto rails, and FleX Foam padding. While the Saba lacks the long center channel found on the company’s Selva model, the Saba’s profile features a more pronounced dip between the nose and tail sections. The result is a flexible-yet-supportive platform with a definite sweet spot. Even with that sweet spot, however, the 279mm length and padded nose makes it easy to slide forward when climbing steep pitches. The Saba has a suggested retail price of €69.90 (including VAT), and our sample came in at 248g (235g stated weight).
Designed for all-weather, all-terrain use, Selle Royal’s Selva also features the company’s FleX Foam padding, but utilizes slightly heavier manganese rails. Compared to the Saba, the Selva has a flatter (fore-aft) profile, which, combined with the aforementioned center channel, allows for more flexible positioning. Whereas the Saba has a more rounded profile when viewed from the front, the Selva’s profile is more angular, with a flatter peak that runs the length of the saddle. Suggested retail price for the Selva is €49.90 (including VAT), and our test saddle weighed 273g (255g claimed weight).
Riders who spend more time seated in one position would be well served by the Saba. If you’re the type of rider who spends equal time in, and out of the saddle (or tend to move around on the saddle), you may want to consider the Selva. Both models feature Selle Royal’s Integrated Clip System, making them compatible with the company’s saddle accessories. Construction on both samples was excellent, with no excess adhesive, or sloppy edges.
Disclosure: Selle Royal provided product samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.