[caption id="attachment_32758" align="alignright" width="288" caption="Volagi partners Barley Forsman and Robert Choi"][/caption]
COTATI -- Two avid cyclists with a combined 40 patents in cycling products have put all of their resources and design expertise into building a new carbon bike for lovers of long-distance riding.
Volagi is the dream-child of Robert Choi and Barley Forsman, who came to love cycling in Sonoma County when they both worked for CamelBak, the maker of some of the most popular sport and other hydration systems.
“We were both working in Morgan Hill when we decided to form our own business, but Sonoma County was our choice of place. It has the best cycling in the U.S.,” said Mr. Choi.
He and Mr. Forsman love distance riding, but high-end cycles are all designed for racing, not long-haul pedaling.
“We wanted the carbon frame, the handling and speed of a racer, but a more comfortable seat and disc brakes for those long grades,” said Mr. Forsman.
Liscio frames along with a patented LongBow Stay System allow vertical flex while maintaining lateral stiffness for good transfer of pedal power. The saddle, handlebars and brakes are all designed for endurance riders.
The cycles with the name Volagi – Italian for “the will to go” – are designed by the partners and manufactured by contract bike builders in Taiwan. They retail from $3,500 to $5,500. Trek Bicycles of Santa Rosa and Calistoga Bicycle are carrying the first ones.
“I handle mostly Trek products,” said Bret Gave, owner of the local Trek store. “But the Volagi is unique, and I expect it to be very popular with most of my customers.”
The design, especially the disc brakes, is something entirely new, he said.
“Robert and Barley are at least two years out ahead of other bike makers.”
He’ll demo the two road models April 27 through May 2 at his Mendocino Ave. store.
Mr. Choi, Mr. Forsman and his wife, Susan Forsman, and a handful of employees have leased about 6,100 square feet of office and warehouse space in Cotati and are hitting the bike expos. Members of the Santa Rosa Cycling Club, they expect regional clubs to offer exposure and marketing opportunities.
Levi Leipheimer’s next GranFondo is expected to attract 8,500 racers and amny more riders to the region.
“When riders of a certain age see these cycles, they’ll want one,” said Mr. Choi. “There are more and more baby boomers who want to ride, not race, the roads of Sonoma County.”
He and Mr. Forsman lament the physical state of some of their favorite roads, including West Dry Creek, Coleman Valley and King Ridge. But they still attract riders.
“King’s Ridge Road has the reputation among cyclists as the most beautiful place to ride outside the Alps,” said Mr. Forsman.
The lease for Volagi’s building in Cotati was arranged by Richard Henderson and Dennis Brisken of Cassidy Turley BT Commercial.
For more information visit www.volagi.com.