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DrunkWerx Review: VeloVie 300SE

Thu, 01/22/2009 - 10:16am by Andy Shen

Some disclosure first: VeloVie is a team sponsor, and I got this frame at a discount. That team discount price, however, is dangerously close to list now that the frame has been discounted from $2500 to $1500. I rode the first one for a year, then the top tube cracked in two places when I was surprised by a pothole and didn't unweight for it. VeloVie said they'd never seen one crack like that, and promptly replaced it.

Subjective impressions

VeloVie is a new company that sells direct from the web. Many people, looking at the frame, remark that it looks like they used main tubes from the Scott factory and bought up the leftover Madone seat tubes. The main tubes are big - the downtube measures 51mm across.

This frame replaced my Viner, the DrunkWerx benchmark frame. While it's always nice to get on a new bike, I really didn't perceive much of a difference between the two. It felt stiff enough and it didn't beat me up on long rides. It was nice and solid but didn't give me goosebumps. The most extraordinary thing about the frame was the paint job, which garners a lot of comments. Frame weight is 1040 grams for a 56, claimed weight is 950.

Drunkwerx Numbers

This is just the third bike I've tested - the first two both flexed 7.2mm - so I was very surprised to find that the 300SE flexed just 2mm. The wattage (1020) was about the same as the other tests, and it was the usual un-smooth head bobbing handlebar yanking form.

The vertical flex test was also surprising. The front end damped but 7% of the vibration, and the rear 26%. It should've been harsher than the Litespeed Archon, but it wasn't. Four or five hour rides are no problem on the VeloVie, while two hours are trying on the Litespeed.


Frankly, I'm a bit flummoxed. I'm suspicious of subjective 'feel', so I'm not surprised that I wasn't able to detect the 300SE's superior lateral stiffness. The butt, however, doesn't lie. The 300SE should've been less comfortable than the Archon, and yet it wasn't. Perhaps carbon dampens high frequency/low amplitude buzz not measured by my setup with its 4mm bump. In any case, $1500 is a smokin' deal on a head turner of a frame that'll more than do the job. And if nothing else, we know that VeloVie's warranty and customer service is solid.


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Does the group-o come with
By: Mathieu Internal Routing
Sun, 01/22/2012 - 11:21pm

Does the group-o come with Ugg boots?

Still waiting.......
Sat, 10/09/2010 - 8:00am

As of this day, I'm still waiting on the reimbursement for the headset.

thanks for sharing
By: lorenzo rivnut
Fri, 09/03/2010 - 5:55pm

seems like their customer service needs some work. What sucks is that $1500 is not really a deal for a not so well known brand of carbon fiber. You can get no name carbon fiber for $800. So it's pretty obvious VV is making a decent profit and not spending it on service.

By: Luca Lorica
Fri, 09/03/2010 - 5:08pm

that just ruined a great coffee buzz i had going

My experience.
Fri, 09/03/2010 - 4:22pm

There's nothing worse than someone who rags about a company just for the sake of trying to "sink" a company (or perhaps a hotel: i.e.: Orbitz ranters) that they've had a bad experience with. However, I think it's quite fair for me to paint my experience for those interested in entering into a significant purchase with Velo Vie.

My team captain was approached by Velo Vie for a potential team sponsorship. With this offer came a special team offer to purchase the 300SE with SRAM Red Components. I couldn't pass up the price. Though reading reviews, like this one, about frame crackage, However, the co-owner of the company, Daniel Barnes, was going above and beyond to help answer any and all questions I had regarding the bike. I decided to take the plunge and order one online. I was put back a bit by not being able to process the order on their webpage due to technical difficulty. But Daniel quickly came through to take my card number and get the order rolling via phone. WOW, what customer service.

But then it begins: The shipping time was twice that estimated by the company at the time of purchase. The bike came in a box in as many pieces as possible. No partial assembly whatsoever. So I dumped $150 into having my team shop assemble the ride at a discount. The bike came without cables and sheathes (later to be vaguely blamed on my shop for being lost) When the bike finally came together, I hit the road. To their credit, it was an awesome ride. STIFF frame and FAST.

I enjoyed this for about a month or so. At the end of a century ride in late June, I started hearing a clicking noise that sounded like it was echoing through the frame. I simply thought it was a crank issue or a quick fix. Mind you, as God is my witness, this bike was never dumped or wrecked. Though discounted, it was still too pricey to lay the thing down! I brought it to my team shop and they went through all the little things. When I received the frame back I noticed that the frame still had the sound. Only this time after riding it started building into a full on creaking. It honestly sounded like a rocking chair after awhile. I called Daniel back on his direct number as he had been so helpful prior to the purchase. He quickly brushed me of to customer service. All of the love and charm I had been given prior to my laying down the dough was gone.

I brought the bike into the shop again and had a more thorough look put on it. The shop troubleshot all the potential tweaks that could be causing the noises and noticed some small blemishes on the frame. They suspected some cracks in the frame. Upon contacting Velo Vie to work through the issue, I spoke with a customer service rep. From the get-go, I told them that they should consult with my shop to communicate all that had been worked through on the bike to try to right the noise. After several suggestions, I realized the shop had not been contacted and Velo Vie deemed that the best plan of attack was to have the shop strip down the bike to the frame and have it shipped back to their warehouse. I remember one afternoon waiting in a FedEx-Kinko's for over an hour waiting for their customer service to send me a shipping label for the bike via email.

At this point, I'm getting kind of irritated by the customer service overall. The rep that is helping me on the phone the whole time is calm and as helpful as could be. But I realize he had his hands tied as to how far and what procedures could be taken to right the situation. Not to mention, this whole thing came on the EVE of Superweek which is a span of approximately 17 days of consecutive race days in various locations between Wisconsin and Illinois! It was the heart of the race season and it was GONE. I was gutted. Months of training all for nothing. After several days of review, Velo Vie got back to me that they did not believe the frame was cracked. At this point Daniel Barnes FINALLY calls my team shop and asks a few questions about what had been done with the bike to attempt to eradicate the noise. He called me for the number even though I had emailed it twice to the customer service rep AND TAPED IT TO THE RETURNED FRAME. During this time, there are even pot shots thrown via email toward my team shop for suspicion of fault of assembly! Shame on you Mr. Barnes.

They then finally decide to grant me a replacement frame in "good faith". After nearly a month of not having a road bike (thank God for the track) my bike finally gets shipped direct to the team shop. (Side note: while I'm talking about this issue with my team leader at a track event, an Aussie rider who overhears the convo pipes up and tells me a story. His buddy on a Velo Vie EuroPro team has had frame crack issues with a couple bikes! As to the validity of the statement and story, who knows? But it definitely didn't ease my mind about the company and situation)

So the new frame arrives. But wait, the frame is without a front fork and headset!!! I was about to vomit. I called them frantically as I was a couple days away from the Tour of Elk Grove (another HUGE midwest cycling event). My customer rep was calmly laughing as if the situation was no big deal and told me it was shipped separately (that would have been nice to have been told or be noted on the shipping ticket). As to my inquiry to where the headset was Rep: "Oh, we forgot to send a headset. Just have you shop put one on and we'll reimburse you when you send the payment receipt." Me: "(jaw drop) What!!!!?" What kind of world class company is this? I wound up having to throw a compatible headset from a Giant BMX bike that the shop had to pull of one of their floor models in order to get the bike ready for the next day's race.

Now that my ordered FSA headset has come in, I've submitted the receipt and have followed up with them five times. NO RESPONSE! To their credit, reluctantly, they did reimburse me for the strip down costs to ship the frame, the shipment of the frame, and the repair attempts on my shop's end. All in all, my Velo Vie purchase experience has turned out to be a disaster. But the silver lining of this whole experience is that by simply adding the new frame, the creaking/cracking noise is gone. Hmmmm, coincidence ??? Now, I cross railroad tracks at 12mph as I'm a bit gun shy with these guys and their product. So the end to my "little novel" ....... GREAT BIKE, when it stays in one piece. And if anything goes wrong outside the realm of your at your own risk? I'm sure there have been plenty of experiences contrary to mine. I wish I was one of you folks. Wait until next year, eh? Uggg.

Looks just like the...
By: Wheelsucker
Wed, 06/03/2009 - 5:36pm

Raleigh carbon fiber frames. Same factory maybe?

nice bike. does trigon make
By: Wheelsucker
Fri, 04/03/2009 - 7:34am

nice bike. does trigon make it?

this is amazing. I bought
By: Wheelsucker
Thu, 04/02/2009 - 10:51am

this is amazing. I bought the prototype of this frame from my lbs, but I had no idea it was actually being produced. Mine has a radically different paint scheme that says its a "zero nine" but I found out thats a labeling company. but that is my frame, with a different fork. I have been looking for information on it for half a year. sram red is going on it in a few days, then I can actually ride it!

Certainly seems like you got
By: Wheelsucker
Wed, 04/01/2009 - 3:12pm

Certainly seems like you got yourself a good deal there - saved a thousand bucks, on a frame, and it lasted for a whole year. Bargain. My Reynolds 531 on the other hand, despite being described dismissively by a bike shop owner (job is selling crabon fibre) as gas pipe must be 20 odd years old. And if you can ride better than the next bloke, the bike doesn't matter.

bamboo is the wave of the
By: Wheelsucker
Wed, 02/04/2009 - 9:41pm

bamboo is the wave of the bike frame future. you heard it here first.

--king fu panda

carbon malaise
By: Wheelsucker
Wed, 02/04/2009 - 9:08pm

Carbon fiber failure? Its real. Any fiber frame, no matter who makes it or what the lay-up can blow up on you without notice. If happen to crash on one, good luck. I hate the carbon fad. I own a Canyon F10 but will replace it with their aluminum frame this season.

My Cannondale fork snapped
By: Wheelsucker
Tue, 02/03/2009 - 5:05pm

when my chain broke in a sprint. From the injuries I sustained on my knee and just by reconstructing the incident as well as I could in my mind, I think I might have snapped the fork with my knee when the resistance in the drivetrain instantly disappeared. With all the weight on that leg and no resistance I think I went down on the top tube and my knee went all the way down and met the fork with the bike leaned over like one does when you sprint. That snapped the fork and pushed it into the spokes. Many spokes were broken. As I was walking back home, bike over the one shoulder and front wheel in the other hand, lots of people asked if the could give me an inner tube. The frame did not brake though but yes, to answer the question, forks do break and when they do generally you go down.

I didn't respond to this
By: Andy Shen
Tue, 02/03/2009 - 3:13pm

I didn't respond to this originally, partly because I thought it was a legit point and should be allowed to stand as is. But it just occurred to me that stuff gets recalled all the time. Companies send out the press releases to VeloNews and CyclingNews and take a huge PR hit. Maybe not out of the goodness of their hearts, but certainly because it's cheaper than enduring lawsuits later. So I would hope that when they say it's not systemic they're not lying.

By: Wheelsucker
Thu, 01/29/2009 - 11:15am

You think a bicycle manufacturer will get a cracked frame back and say, "Oh, yeah, it cracks like that all the time, let me replace it." Clearly they've "never" seen anything like that before. Who wants to tell customers they make a shitty yet overpriced product? Ive ridden carbon bike all over the place, crashed them, beat them to hell, never cracked one. you crack a frame cause of a pothole, thats a big problem.

By: Wheelsucker
Thu, 01/29/2009 - 11:11am

The ultimate cat 4 bike!

Just for the record, I
By: Andy Shen
Mon, 01/26/2009 - 10:11pm

Just for the record, I didn't identify myself as someone who ran a site in my dealings with them. And yes, the first shipment of 300SE's did take forever to come in.

my 300SE experience
By: bgabele
Mon, 01/26/2009 - 9:08pm

I raced on the Velo Vie 300SE for the second part my racing season last year after racing the first half on a nice 1980’s steel frame. The difference was remarkable; I shaved off about 15 seconds from my record climbing sheriff’s but the most noticeable difference was the cornering. I am still riding the 300SE strong since I first acquired it and have had no problems with it thus far – although, after speaking with Andy, I am particularly averse to potholes of all sizes now. In short, I like the bike, however, I have mixed feelings about Velo Vie’s customer service, I’ve heard many complaints about them and it took me forever to get my bike; it was 4 months late (maybe I would have gotten it more quickly if I ran a cycling website). Worse yet, it was shipped to me with the hanger on, which broke from the shoddy packing job, rendering it worthless until they could mail another one to me. I want to say Dan Barnes, and others there, are improving the customer service, though, and treating the average Joe, who wants the experience of an affordable carbon bike, a little better. About 3 months ago I dealt with them and they seemed much more responsive - they had some new kid working there that got me the items I needed quickly.

carbon forks
By: Wheelsucker
Fri, 01/23/2009 - 11:51am

i also know plenty of people who have cracked brand new carbon frames and had them replaced under warranty. But what about forks - do they fail less often than frames? obviously if your fork fails, you're going down. But every bike has carbon forks, even entry level steel or aluminum bikes. I don't think non-carbon forks even exist any more.

Carbon V. Metal
By: Wheelsucker
Fri, 01/23/2009 - 9:26am

Just an observation: I've owned a shop for almost 20 years. While I've seen cracked Ti at a weld, I have never, ever seen a catastrophic Ti show-stopping near death (or death) experience. I've seen more carbon frame and/or fork failures in 2008 than I have seen in all metal frames over the last 20 years.


Off topic
By: Wheelsucker
Fri, 01/23/2009 - 7:40am

but we really need a TT Vegan interview. The guy went from shitting the bed in 4/5 races to outsprinting the Pros in Philipines with no effort. Dude is a cyclng god! If not an interview, PE needs to put an end to his posts.

Carbon Crazed
By: Wheelsucker
Fri, 01/23/2009 - 12:39am

I am sure I have never seen a aluminum or titanium bike with there headtubes sheared off. LOL

How about a suggestion for the next argument!
By: Wheelsucker
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 10:33pm

Is the carbon craze almost over? I have cracked a frame, you have cracked a frame. I have cracked bars and seat posts. While I will agree that it is light and strong, it does seem to have a short fatigue life. I have heard of people that have suffered serious injuries and worse due to catastophic frame faluire. I see a resurgence of Ti in our future.


By: Wheelsucker
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 10:15pm

That dounle chin line was really funny, Andy.

No, it's not ok that the top
By: Andy Shen
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 10:00pm

No, it's not ok that the top tube cracked, it shouldn't have. Bike was rideable afterwards, I didn't even know it was cracked 'til I got home and wiped down the bike. That's when I realized that the sound I heard when hit the pothole was the top tube cracking. There are a lot of these frames locally, and they're all fine, so I'm hoping that it really was a fluke. Besides, it's as compliant as a double chin at an all you can eat buffet.

Uh...the top tube cracked in two places.
By: Wheelsucker
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 9:48pm

...doesn't that scare the shit out of you? Do you think that the fact you hit a pot hole justifies a top tube cracking...what if you hit it descending at 40 mph? Can spell f-u-c-k-e-d u-p?

OCLV = Obsessive Compulsive
By: Wheelsucker
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 7:41pm

OCLV = Obsessive Compulsive Lance Votary

By: Wheelsucker
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 3:29pm

are you confusing Madonna with Madone?

By: Wheelsucker
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 1:23pm

Isn't this the same bike that Madonna adopted?

Stiff as Joe Biden as a
By: Wheelsucker
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 1:09pm

Stiff as Joe Biden as a guest judge at Miss Delaware contest, and compliant as SEC enforecement when it comes to investigating ponzi schemes.

Nice! You do get the death
By: Andy Shen
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 12:57pm

Nice! You do get the death penalty after, though, so maybe it's as stiff as Chinese food prosecutors.

As compliant as...
By: Wheelsucker
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 12:54pm

...Chinese food safety inspectors?

So sorry
By: Andy Shen
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 12:52pm

As stiff as McCain delivering a ghost written one liner, as compliant as...

Can someone help me here?

no viagra or redbull references ??
By: Wheelsucker
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 12:41pm

why no references like stiff as a redbull hopped up on viagra ... pez is really beating you in the useless reference, no real world data!

another review of the same
By: Wheelsucker
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 11:56am

another review of the same bike on same day--coincidence!

yeah, uh..
By: jkornbluh
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 11:33am

I meant to write turbulence but it came out of my fingers incorrectly.

Wow, turbidity is really a
By: Andy Shen
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 11:30am

Wow, turbidity is really a word. Could've sworn it was a bushism.

By: jkornbluh
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 11:27am

Unless you are able to get the rear wheel within 1-2mm of the seat-tube, it's not even worth shaping the carbon to mimic a bladed fairing. The gap creates turbidity and therefore has an opposite effect. It still looks cool though.

Nice review, I'm convinced.

On the old Madone, Trek
By: Andy Shen
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 11:21am

On the old Madone, Trek claimed it was a fairing for the rear wheel, which I think is a joke.

Great writeup & really nice
By: Wheelsucker
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 11:05am

Great writeup & really nice lookin' frame. What's the story with the shark fin thing on the seat tube? Looks? Function? Convenient built-in place to slice some baguette and brie while on a break at the halfway point on a ride?

No fork issues. Solid.
By: Andy Shen
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 10:59am

No fork issues. Solid.

Tell us about the fork...
By: Wheelsucker
Thu, 01/22/2009 - 10:55am

Tell us about the fork... Any front-end chatter? Steering issues?

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