Carbon fibre dominates the professional peloton but the Madison-Genesis team will buck the trend in 2013 when they ride the all-new steel Genesis Volare.
The Volare is crafted from Reynolds 953 stainless steel and we spotted a prototype on the Genesis stand at the London Bike Show. The team bike will be officially unveiled on Saturday but, while the spec will be different, it will be based around the same frame.
Reynolds 953 was introduced back in 2005 and, while difficult for frame builders to manipulate, offers a superior strength-to-weight ratio which means the oversized tube profiles can be combined with thin-walled tubes to give an overall frame weight comparable to titanium. As a result, a size 54cm frame weighs in the region of 1600-1700g – but that’s still giving up a lot over the raft of sub-kilo carbon fibre frames available.
The challenge for Genesis’ chief designer, Dom Thomas, was to craft a machine which was true to steel – comfortable and durable – but stiff enough to be ridden in some of the UK’s top races, and particularly in the city centre criteriums that dominate the domestic calendar.
As a result, the tube profiles are deliberately oversized, particularly when compared to the spindly profile of traditional steel frames, and none more so that the headtube, which is big enough to accommodate a tapered steerer.
The top tube is round at its junction with the seattube but flattens at the headtube in order to offer the maximum weld space, thereby improving front-end stiffness. Thomas says that process results in a front-end with is 180 per cent stiffer.
The downtube is also oversized and the seattube increases in diameter from 31.8mm at the top to 34mm at the bottom bracket. The Volare uses a PressFit BB86 bottom bracket shell and, out back, the chunky 24mm chainstays have also been designed to ensure maximum power transfer, while up top the Volare uses a 27.2mm seatpost to build in some comfort. Speaking of which, Thomas says that while not as comfortable as a traditional steel frame, the Volare is on a par with the titanium Equilibrium launched last year.
The Volare’s geometry has also been tweaked for racing, with input from Genesis-Madison riders and team director Roger Hammond, with the top tube an extra centimetre longer and the headtube half-a-degree steeper compared to the Equilibrium.
The Volare is still a work in progress and Thomas call this frame ‘round one’, with round two likely to have a semi-compact geometry to knock 200g or so offer the frame weight, and to leave more seatpost on show to help dampen road vibrations.
The prototype on show in London, caked in grime having undergone countless miles of road testing, was equipped with a Shimano Ultegra groupset, DT Swiss Tricon wheels shod with 24mm Continental Grand Prix tyres, PRO finishing kit and a San Marco Regale saddle, while the team bike will be kitted out with full Shimano Dura-Ace, among other upgrades.
If you want one for yourself, the Volare will cost £2200 for the frame and Easton EC90 SL fork when it hits production later this year. That’s a lot of cash, so Genesis also have a Volare made from Reynolds 931 in the pipeline, which should knock about £1,000 off the asking price.