Genesis has updated its Volare steel race-ready bike with an updated Reynolds tubeset, featuring a new externally tapered head tube, and the Madison-Genesis professional race team are currently putting the 6th generation frame through its paces in the Tour de Normandie at the moment.
Genesis has exploited its close partnership with Reynolds to develop the Volare, which first appeared in 2013, and refine over the years. Feedback from the race team has helped hone the frame, early versions were too stiff, and the weight has been reduced as well, but the basic DNA - oversized steel tubes - carries through in this latest version.
One of those signature features of the first prototype was a 44mm head tube, used at a time when few other frame manufacturers were adopting the same oversize head tube. The latest frame switches to an all-new head tube. It’s externally tapered, with a 44mm lower diameter and 34mm upper. It’s still compatible with tapered steerer tubes, but the new head tube uses the minimum diameter required to provide clearance around the steerer tube. The result is that it’s lighter. It’s also better looking too.
That’s not all. The top tube is brand new, and is the result of working with Reynolds to develop a brand new top tube just for this new frame.
“The lovely part of working with Reynolds is that if they don’t have the tube you’re after they almost certainly have the know-how and tooling to produce it,” says Genesis designer Albert Steward.
He adds: “Our new toptube in question started off life as a stock Ø31.8mm (0.6/0.4/0.6mm), whereby it was ‘sunk-down’ to a smaller Ø28.6mm diameter – a process involved drawing the tube through a new, smaller die and corresponding mandrel. The 28.6mm was then flat ovalised in its entire length (31.8/25.4mm) with the premise of boosting in-saddle comfort and dropping weight.”
The new top tube with its flat oval profile provides the bike with a more slender side-on appearance compared to the previous frame. The down tube carries over, with an oval-round 36.4mm profile. There’s the same 24mm round-oval-round chainstays and a PressFit 86.5mm bottom bracket shell.
“Working with the Genesis designers has always been interesting as they challenge us to refine the initial concepts, using feedback from the Madison-Genesis Team,” adds Keith Noronha at Reynolds. “This is a very useful way to correlate theoretical properties from an engineering viewpoint, and turn them into a race-winning application. The Reynolds production people will fascinated to see how the 2015 frame developments transpire and prove steel still has a competitive place in the pro peleton.”
We don’t have a weight for the new frame yet, but as soon as the team get back from the Tour de Normandie, Albert has said he’ll weigh a frame and let us know. The previous version was about 1,500-1,600g for a size 56cm, so the head tube and top tube changes should contribute to a reasonable weight saving.
As well as the changes to the tubing, the Volare gets a fresh new paint job for 2015, the work of new graphic designer, Gary Rough.
“With the application of a modern graphic layout to what is often seen as a classic material, I believe we have created something that is not only visually striking, but also able to stand out from the competition in the peloton,” says Gary. “By using the pop of the MGT colour palette and a matt black paint to cover the forequarter we can allow the steel to do what it does best and look beautiful without compromising on weight and most importantly, style.”
The team are racing a Reynolds 953 frameset, but the tubing changes will be replicated in both Reynolds 931 and 853 for the upcoming 2016 production frames. The Reynolds 853 tubes are made by Reynolds in Birmingham specifically for Genesis, the 853 down tube is based on a 38.1mm ProTeam 853 down tube, while the 931 tubes are manufactured in Taiwan.
The release of the updated Volare shows that Genesis are still committed to steel as a viable material for professional racing. The reemergence of steel as a credible race bike material choice was a big part of the Madison-Genesis team launch several years ago, and despite the launch last year of the company's first carbon race bike, the Zero, the company, and the team, are still fully embracing steel as a viable race bike option.The team have the freedom to choose whichever frame they want, so they can pick the bike to suit the demands of any race they’re competing in.
“I think the Volare suits the heavier, more powerful riders like Tom Skully and Tom Stewart especially on short, punchy crit courses where stiffness and handling trump lightweight,” adds Albert Steward. “The lighter riders naturally favour the lighter Zero (they always seem to [be] weight weenies) and obviously the lighter Zero comes into its’ own on longer stage races.
I tested the Volare 953 Team race bike last year and was really impressed, finding it very fast and inspiring to ride with great handling. I can’t wait to swing a leg over the latest version to see how it performs.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.