It’s been a couple of years since the last Velovie product review but that’s not due to the Arizona brand’s lagging on product. It’s more the result of my getting so used to seeing the bikes and knowing the company that I simply took it for granted that at Velovie’s quality and price point, everyone knew what’s been happening with the brand.
The company was just getting rolling back in 2006 when I had my first ride. While the product was new and inexpensive, I had known the founders for a few years (long enough to trust my skin in their hands) and thought “why not”? It was no real surprise that their first offering was a no nonsense race bike as the company was founded with the goal of putting a legitimate carbon race weapon on the market at a price that REAL racers could actually afford (think base level Aluminum for the big brands).
Seven years and multiple model additions and upgrades later and VeloVie are rolling right along with two TT-Tri models and four road models including their latest line topping Vitesse 500.
During the first several years, the design direction at VeloVie remained firmly focused on going fast.
I know that sounds like just another cliché barfed out of the mouth of a C-grade marketing 101 student working at one of the big brands but in Velovie’s case, I mean it.
VeloVie’s first several bikes were only about power transfer. “Ride Quality” wasn’t measured in terms of making you comfortable but rather how uncomfortable you could make the ride for everyone else around you.
The geometry was a little low in front, a little stretched in the top tube and a little less stable versus a lot of larger company’s top end bikes being sold as “race product” but were actually designed to suit the (larger chubbier richer) guys that could really afford them. VV’s handling was about feel and corner speed. Stiffness was the top call out and “compliance” wasn’t measured vertically at the frame but as an emotional state of your breakaway companions.
I loved the aggressive attitude at Velovie that produced one screaming race bike after another and kept the doors open (and busy) for the past 7 years. They made a bit of a break toward a smoother ride with their Vitesse 400, but that was still a firm ride relative to a lot of top line bikes.
With the 500, they’ve really gone one (hundred) better and rather than making a very stiff bike with a bit more compliance, they’ve built a bike that is now genuinely in the mix with a few larger (and largely more expensive) brands efforts at making a well-rounded performance frame.
The frame is made up of 3 sections molded as monocoque structures. There are nearly 400 individual pieces of shape cut carbon fiber for this frame. All are laid up by hand on to a silica gel form (this makes getting the direction of the fibers much easier as they can be laid in the exact orientation and position required). That form is then placed in the mold where it’s highly pressurized from the inside while being heated.
The front Triangle (head, top, down, seat tubes) is a single shot.
The Head Tube is housing a full carbon (top to bottom) fork that flares 1-1/8” to 1-1/2” with an FSA Orbit headset.
The seat stays are a separate wishbone piece…
And the chain stay section is a one piece section.
The chain stays and seat stays are inserted into openings on the front triangle section and there is a bit of overlap (for both strength and bonding surface). This process leaves very little need for fillers and generally requires relatively little hand finishing afterward.
The rear drop outs are a short-fiber composite that are compression molded as solid pieces. The drive side is meant to be replaceable.
Along with the layup schedule, the forms and molds themselves are exclusive to VeloVie on this model. These are not cheap generic open mold bikes that differ from others in paint alone.
They call the carbon mix, layup and shape their “carbon Axis” formula.
The raw materials for the 500 are quality Japanese product. The carbon is Toray T700 and Toho-Tenax IM600. The schedule and % are proprietary but the IM600 makes for a bit better stiffness. It’s concentrated more in the top tube and down tubes and oriented to resist twisting force.
The down tube gets a bit of shape for the Vitesse 500…
It’s a v-shaped leading edge that flares wide at the bottom bracket to better resist twist at the power delivery point…
The top tube has a bit of an arch to it.
While this isn’t designed as an “Aero” road frame, the seat tube is straight with a fairly pronounced cut section to snug the wheel up enough for some genuine aerodynamic benefit.
Over the years, Velovie’s largest improvement might be relative to the detail and finishing work.
They’ve always been good quality product, but in several areas they’ve graduated to a much better detailed finish that used to be reserved for nothing but high dollar / top line frames from large, established brands.
You can learn a bit more from how the inside of a bike looks than you can from the outside these days. The internal molding work is very good. Clean material overlaps and very little residue…
The red line is where the cable is internally routed and that’s a clean round form with a bump where the section is a bit larger to accept a cable stop.
The seat tube is another area where you can look inside and get a bit of info on what you’re buying…
Bikes at the Vitesse 500’s price level don’t generally take the time to use a carbon finishing weave at the seat post entry (the checkerboard weave is a bit more effective at preventing splinters from traveling at cut points versus unidirectional weave).
The three relief slots are also a plus to better allow the shaped seat tube to spread clamp force. That seat tube is an aero shaped unit with a pretty handy clamping section that is fairly easy to adjust (one bolt) and access (the thumb turnable nut)…
Further detail is easy to see all round the outside of the frame, from the minimal paint to small details like further routing (and liner) of the front derailleur cable…
Along with the finish details being atypical of the price point, group sets are another area where Velovie don’t cut corners. When VeloVie sells you a “SRAM Red bike”, you get all of the components at that level.
Velovie don’t do half-assed product swaps that give you the top-line logo on the levers but swap down a level or two at less notable parts like the front derailleur or brakes or cranks. Order a SRAM Red bike and you get all Red level parts.
Velovie also offer a few build levels for cockpit (Alloy or Carbon), Wheels (7 sets), crank size, chainring options, cassette choice… None of this is typical with larger brands charging larger dollars.
Overall, there is nothing here to point at and turn up your nose. There’s no cheap knock off parts or down-graded “house” branded kit that stands out as something you would immediately want to get rid of. Velovie is using all first quality, brand named equipment for their builds.
The first model Vitesse 300 was a straight up war weapon (it’s since been upgraded). Like a Flail, that first Velovie was a tool meant to harm others and the folks that liked it for leisure and enjoyment were, frankly, a little mentally bent.
The 400 was still a weapon but it was more civilized. Velovie was successful at taking a bit of the edge off of the 300 while dropping weight and remaining just as stiff. Imagine teaching the Hulk to smile and speak in mostly full sentences…
The 500 is a further progression. Imagine the Hulk now speaking the Queen’s English and knowing which fork to use at a dinner party. Mind you he could use the fork to kill everyone in the room, but for now, he’s just eating the salad and chatting up the ladies.
The Hulk is also watching his figure. Velovie have been competitive weight wise as well with other all-rounders and the 500 in my size (the 51, which is close to what most folks call a 54) sat at 14.8 pounds.
What the 500 brings is further refinement in ride quality and at no real cost in drive train stiffness. This is a ride quality (compliance and road feel) that you would expect from Trek’s better Madone and something I actually prefer to Specialized Tarmac SL4.
There was a geometry change from the 300-400 and this bike is more neutral along the lines of the 400. It and the 400 are both more stable turning in and holding a corner than the “faster feeling” 300. I really loved the response of the 300 when you were really on the ragged edge and committed to cutting a corner but I prefer this. You may be going just as fast around the same corner as the 300, but you feel a bit less like you’re on a ragged edge doing it.
Think of the 500 as something like the Nissan GTR… A car with phenomenal traction and stability control that makes going extremely fast feel almost easy (as well as costing a fraction of some of the more exotic things that it stands absolutely toe to toe with).
You can race this all day long but I also used it as a daily commuter, happily rolling it an hour plus each way to and from work with a loaded backpack and chubby 28 section tires (that BARELY fit mind you). This is definitely a bike that you can live with for more than just hammering.
One note about Geometry is that the sizes from Velovie are a bit misleading (you really need to look at the Top tube measures rather than picking a size by number) but the geometry (and the less harsh ride) here still leans toward stability at speed rather than twitchy. The handling is another tweak to the total package.
The 500 is simply a result of a bike company and its manufacturing partner learning over the course of the last few years about what’s possible with carbon. It has been happening industry wide for the most part and now Velovie are no longer making a one dimensional race rig for an exceptional price point.
The Vitesse 500 comes built with full SRAM RED starting at $3,699.
VeloVie have no business charging this little for this level of bike. None…
This is a $6k – $9k bike from most other US based companies that have been in business and maintained a good reputation for several years. And that price includes shipping. In fact, that price includes international shipping to lots of places.
And-And- the bike lands relatively fully built. It wouldn’t take me 10 minutes to have one on the street after the post man dropped it.
And-and-AND this is a big one… That price includes a 14 day buyback… ( yeah… including shipping)
This price is MUCH closer to what you might pay for some of the P.O.S. second rate, open mold / knock off garbage bought direct from the far east over EBay (OR WORSE YET, China Direct, leaving you without even the limited recourse you get when using EBay). But the 500 is a solid, well-built frame and fork with all brand name parts, a buyback that includes shipping and a 2 year limited warranty for the frame module from an established company in Arizona.
This is a very competitive product that now adds ride quality to what has always been crisp power transfer and comes at an absolute cut-throat price point…
They’re available now at Velovie.com
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