Volagi: The Lawsuit Bike

After discussing Specialized v. Volagi on Twitter, Facebook, and G+ for most of the week, guess what shows up next to me on a team ride? A Volagi!

The will to go

Deliscio

This one was equipped with Di2 and A-Class disc wheels. The bike looks way better in person than photos and much less like a comfort bike with a drop bar. It also does resemble a Cirrus and I think the gimmicky bowflex rear tries too hard. Snap a tube with your finger and the sound is like whacking a hard plastic bucket with a stick, instead of a dull thud of a tightly-wound drum. Other manufactures get flex in the layup around the BB without the bow or with elastomers in the stays.

I listened intently as the Volagi ride was described to me and asked questions like, “what with the odd sizing?” Also jokingly asked if he received a summons to appear, as he possessed one of the 175 bikes reportedly sold.

The rode next to a Bro that owns one review is mostly positive. He’s very happy with it. Notes

  • Got to get used to the flexy rear end, feels like you’ve got a rear flat. The rear triangle isn’t connected to the front, that’s the “bow.”
  • More road than comfort, cause of the massive BB30.
  • They oddly skipped a size in their geometry.

Carbon bikes that flex are marketed as Fondo, Sportiff bikes and are in a category popularized by Specialized’s Roubaix. They’re for buyers that want the look and performance of a racing bike, but don’t want to limp into work on Monday with back pain or numb nuts. They get the cyclist more upright, but without a massive stem stack; instead, there’s a massive head tube.

For those of us into Ti, it’s like “really?” You want a bike that’s fast, responsive, light and also absorbs road shock without beating you up? Wonder what wonder material would do that? A material that could early get built with disc brakes, you mean?

Also, at least in the Pacific Northwest, the desire for disc brakes is so strong, a straight-up, Cat 1 roadie racer will ride a Fondo bike to have them.

Another Opinion

We had more riding to do and I rotated off the front of the paceline to take a turn with Wes. We didn’t get to the lawsuit discussion. If you followed my opinions on it, they’re counter to the prevailing Internet wisdom of the crowd that hates on Specialized. I’ll put it this way…

Sinyard don’t play no game he can’t win and while I know the Internet thinks business is fair, it’s not. You can’t develop work product for one company and then go start your own competing company after stealing the customer database. Whatever the bad blood is here and I think it’s about more than the design, it should come out when the case goes to trial.

I’ve met Sinyard a few times, ridden with him, and offer a larger perspective. This case is like Bratz v. Mattel. That’s a lawsuit that killed a Bratz founder, destroyed a family, and caused a stroke. Volagi’s press release bravado is likely hiding the chaos that’s going on in their lives.

I don’t know the people at Volagi, but will ask them “what the fuck were you thinking?” Marketing that bike is like calling Mike Tyson a pussy in a Vegas bar or launching an iPad copy or an Oracle DB knock off.

This much fight for a container of bikes? To what end?

The entire industry would grind to a halt if designs and patents related to them we’re enforced; especially with the Willy Wonka carbon factories in Taiwan pumping out most mass produced frames. Case in point are Chinarellos and Pinarello trying to market against itself and its own knockoffs.

Specialized v. Volagi is not about the design, it’s how that design was conceived and where. It’s really about a business man not allowing himself to get ripped off because he believes that’s his bike.

But the owner of the Volagi, doesn’t care about any of that. He’s just really happy with his disc brake road bike.