I finally got a chance to really ride the Volagi Liscio. What might not be immediately apparent from the photo is that this is a disc brake equipped road bike. But there is a whole lot more going on than that! I like this bike a lot. This is the type of road bike many road riders should be riding.
OK, yes this road bike has disc brakes and that is certainly the big talking point. As I found out, focusing on that one aspect really doesn't do the bike justice. Volagi is after an idea and I think they have achieved it quite nicely. In addition to the Liscio's unique (for road bikes... for now) brakes there is also an incredibly engineered frame which is built for comfort and speed combined with the well thought out wheel spec.
The Longbow seat stays completely pass the seat tube to connect to the top tube. There are several millimeters of vertical damping movement built into the design. But somehow they have retained an excellent degree of drivetrain pedaling stiffness. The frame (along with the wheels which I'll hit on later) displays a level of smooth damping I have not felt before in any road bike. And it is damping, not unwanted flex, because the bike accelerates crisply with no noticeable wind up. For reference, my personal road bike is a very expensive, european, full-on race bike equipped with Sram Red and an expensive set of sub-1,500 gram wheels. I am used to good performance. The acceleration of the Volagi is on-par with my bike which truly surprised me. And the comfort is on a whole different planet.
Part of the Volagi's comfort comes from it's wheel spec. The Ultegra level bike I rode has their E7 Ignite EL wheels. The weight is very respectable and much better than what most Ultegra bikes come equipped with - according to a scale, not the marketing fluff you might hear. I suspect that the wheels are quite stiff which augments the crisp handling and acceleration of the Liscio. The rims are also pretty wide compared to standard road rim (more like a Firecrest or newer HED rim). Combined with a 25mm tire the profile and volume of the tire is different than what we are used to. And I mean different in a good way. I know several people who have switched to wider road rims and they are all happy. Now I know why.
And last I suppose we should hit on the disc brakes. I am used to very good rim brakes on my bike and nice disc brakes on my mountain bikes. I would say the stopping power is a bit higher than rim breaks and modulation might be a notch above as well. The only way the brakes stood out as different, other than looks, is that when lightly braking in a turn there is a different feel at the lever and in the bike. I'm not sure how to explain it but it is very smooth. Luckily it was dry and sunny when I rode the Liscio but the other benefit to disc brakes is that they will definitely have more control in damp condition. Disc brakes also eliminate the issue of a rim heating up under hard or prolonged braking which has it's benefits.
Before I rode the bike I thought the brakes were the main selling point for the Volagi. After riding the bike I will say that I liked the brakes but the biggest reason to consider owning a Volagi is the tremendously smooth ride. And best of all, it comes without the truck-like handling or flexy performance I have felt in other "comfort" oriented road bikes. While the Volagi doesn't have the razor sharp handling of a full-on race bike, it does handle really well and is more stable and predictable. For the majority of riders I think that is better.
I would also like to mention three other road bikes I have ridden and really liked that fall into a similar category. The Eddy Merckx EMX-1 and EMX-3 as well as the Wilier Gran Turismo. These are very comfortable bikes while still retaining a lively and responsive nature.