Our test ride shows the Vuelo Velo 8 to be light and lively with an unusually rigid rear end - so much so that we wished for a stiffer front end to match.
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Novel design and a trick build kit
Vuelo Velo is a tiny bicycle company based in Sydney, Australia that specialises in custom titanium. Though the frames themselves are currently built by Black Sheep Cycles in Fort Collins, Colorado, the designs are definitely unique with a strong emphasis on curved tubes and ultra-short rear ends.
The latest model, the Vuelo 8, continues that trend but adds on a slickly integrated Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic group complete with an internal battery setup designed by long-time carbon builder Craig Calfee.
The Vuelo 8's seat tube is less curved than Vuelo Velo's more radical fixed-gear design but still allows for very short chain stays measuring just 388mm in length – about 20mm shorter than modern standards.
"A conventional longer chain stay will be a more sedate ride if all other things are equal," said Vuelo Velo's Marty Renwick. "But this particular bike is built specifically around the notion of lively response. A short rear end feels fantastic climbing, sprinting or carving a tight line in a sharp corner. It's all about heightening your sense of awareness, the connectedness to each moment – infinitesimal control, like an F1 car."
Additional rear-end stiffness comes from the 86mm-wide, press-fit bottom bracket shell, which provides more room for more widely set chain stays along with a larger-diameter down tube. The curved seat tube has an actual exit angle of 69 degrees but an effective one closer to 73 degrees – so while the look is unusual, the fit is utterly conventional.
Gently arcing seat stays and titanium's natural ability to smooth out the road still lend a characteristically lively and comfortable ride – metal bikes still have their place in this world, though those requiring the highest level of performance should still look to carbon. Just as intended, the rear end of the Vuelo 8 is surprisingly stiff and there are no issues with wobble or instability even at 72km/h (45mph).
The front end unfortunately struggles to keep up and is noticeably softer than most carbon bikes and even some aluminum ones. Vuelo Velo specifies a fairly generous 44mm-diameter down tube and 35mm top tube but even so, the Vuelo 8 wags a bit when you really stand on it and could probably benefit from an integrated or tapered head tube, or an even bigger main triangle.
On a more nitpicky note, we were also disappointed to see low-rent cut vinyl decals on something like this.
The ultrahigh-end build kit rife with carbon fibre also comes with a custom Dura-Ace Di2 internal wiring kit. Total weight is a fantastic 6.37kg (14.04lb) as pictured here.
Among the highlights are a custom Di2 battery housed inside the seatpost and a set of Shimano's latest sprint shifters – an extra set of buttons mounted directly to the drops for faster shifting and no need to move your hands when going full-out – trick Mad Fiber carbon tubular wheels, a full complement of cockpit components from Enve Composites, Selle Italia's SLR Teknologika Flow saddle and a SRM power meter.
Additional lightweight bits include a Tune carbon fibre seat collar and bottle cages, Nokon aluminum cable housing, and Cane Creek's AER headset.
Vuelo Velo estimated the price for the build as pictured here at over US$17,000. It'll be offered as a frame-only for US$4400.00, prepare to settle in for a long wait. Quoted lead time is five to six months after drawings are confirmed.
More information: www.vuelovelo.com
Frame: Vuelo Velo 8
Available sizes: custom
Fork: Enve Composites 1.0
Headset: Cane Creek AER
Stem: Enve Composites
Handlebars: Enve Composites
Tape/grips: Lizards Skins DSP
Front brake: Shimano Dura-Ace BR-7900 with Mad Fiber carbon-specific cork pads
Rear brake: Shimano Dura-Ace BR-7900 with Mad Fiber carbon-specific cork pads
Brake levers: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 STI Dual Control ST-7950
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 FD-7950
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 RD-7950
Shift levers: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 STI Dual Control ST-7950 with supplemental sprint shifters
Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace CS-7900
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7900
Crankset: SRM Wireless PowerMeter DuraAce 7900 compatible
Bottom bracket: Shimano BB86
Wheelset: Mad Fiber carbon tubular
Front tyre: Tufo S3 Lite tubular, 21mm
Rear tyre: Tufo S3 Lite tubular, 21mm
Saddle: Selle Italia SLR Teknologika Flow
Seat post: Enve Composites
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