Vuelo Velo are a tiny bicycle company based in Sydney, Australia who specialize in custom titanium. Their frames are built by Black Sheep Cycles in Fort Collins, Colorado, and 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 groupset complete with an internal battery setup designed by long-time carbon builder Craig Calfee. Its seat tube is less curved than Vuelo Velo's more radical fixed-gear design but still allows for very short chainstays – at 388mm they're about 20mm shorter than standard.
"A conventional, longer chainstay 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 room for widely set chainstays along with a large-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 conventional.
The Vuelo 8's seat tube and seat stays are gently curved
Gently arcing seatstays and titanium's natural ability to smooth out the road 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 fiber. 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 specify 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 would benefit from an integrated or tapered head tube, or an even bigger main triangle. We were also disappointed to see low-rent cut vinyl decals on a bike like this.
The ultra high-end build kit of the bike seen here is rife with carbon fiber and includes a custom Dura-Ace Di2 internal wiring kit. Total weight is a fantastic 6.37kg (14.04lb) as pictured. 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 on the drops for faster shifting and no need to move your hands when going full-out.
There are also 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 fiber seat collar and bottle cages, Nokon aluminum cable housing and Cane Creek's AER headset.
Tufo S3 Lite tubulars are mounted on Mad Fiber carbon rims
Vuelo Velo estimated the price for the build as pictured here at over $17,000 USD. It'll be offered as a frame-only for $4400.00 USD, prepare to settle in for a long wait. Quoted lead time is five to six months after drawings are confirmed.
|Frame||Vuelo Velo 8 (custom sizes)|
|Fork||ENVE Composites 1.0|
|Headset||Cane Creek AER|
|Tape||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-7970|
|Front derailleur||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 FD-7970|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 RD-7970|
|Shift levers||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 STI Dual Control ST-7970 with SW-7972 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 tire||Tufo S3 Lite tubular, 21mm|
|Rear tire||Tufo S3 Lite tubular, 21mm|
|Saddle||Selle Italia SLR Teknologika Flow|