Disclaimer: Velocite sponsor me, but this is a bike the earlier version of which I reviewed in 2010 and I gave that one a very similar review. As ever on CP.com, I don't back - or ride - anything I don't believe in.
What makes a great bike?
It’s not the color scheme, contrary to what David Millar might tell you.
It’s not an abundance of pseudo-tech gibberish splattered all over the frame.
And often it has very little, despite all the sales and marketing crap they use to justify it, to do with the price tag.
A great bike for me comes from the amount of power I get back from it, but it's not just that: way less scientifically, it’s also a combination of how good it makes me feel and the degree to which it allows me to feel free.
Ultimately, isn’t that what good gear does? I’ve always said that the best bike shoes are the one that you can forget about. The best shorts are the ones you never notice. Conversely, the worst are the absolute opposite, shoes that pinch and burn, shorts that snag and bunch up.
My style of training, riding and (though it may be to my ultimate detriment) living too, is very much informed by feel, by the flow. To reach the highest goals, to go through walls and barriers real and imagined, I believe we must also embrace the theory of the path of least resistance.
These two concepts – smashing through obstacles and going with the flow – are not mutually exclusive. In the search for some kind of perfection on the bike you must make everything else around you be accommodating to that aim.
That some kind of perfection could be you losing 20kg in 4 months. It could be setting a PB on the local monster climb. Or it could be winning a state championships. It really does not matter. However, if you do not get set up with the right tools for you, you’ll have to work several degrees harder to attain your goals.
When I received the first version of the Velocite Magnus back in 2010 for review (I was editor of an Asian cycling website at that time), I liked the look of it but I was inclined to snobbery with regards to ride expectations.
How can a bike from a company in Taiwan be anything but mediocre to middling, at best?
Velocite is based in Kaoshiung, a city in the south-west of Taiwan. It’s fair to say the brand is not well-known outside of its loyal circles. It’s also fair to say that there are entrenched attitudes towards small bike brands that are from Asia.
I know because I had one of those attitudes.
And then I rode the Magnus for a week and all preconceptions I had fell away - in seven days. I loved it, and I wrote about it at the time saying it was the stiffest bike I had ever ridden, a claim I still back, despite having ridden dozens of top-end bikes in my job as a reviewer and tester over the years, and having raced some top bikes too.
When my previous bike sponsor from France lost interest in the Asian market, I sent an email to Victor Major from Velocite. We’d talked about working together in the past but, as these things often go, it had never come about. When I asked if he might be interested in sponsoring me he said yes.
Three weeks later I had the new Velocite Magnus in a box on my doorstep.
I could talk about the improved paint-job or the new lines, the lay-up or all the rest, but I won’t because I don’t really care about that. I’m not a teccy, I don’t need to understand why a bike is crap or why it’s great – just give it to me and let me ride it.
I’ve put in almost 1,500km now on the Magnus Generation 3 and it is delivering. The return on a push on the pedals is phenomenal. I cannot measure it but I can feel it and it’s up there with the best I’ve ridden from the big brands.
The geometry suits me perfectly, and I’m riding an M size when I could probably (according to the charts and to my height, 185cm) do with an L. However, I’ve grown so used to the bite of the M and the more than acceptable friskiness of the machine that I'm disinclined to change it.
The descending is superb. There’s a tautness to the front end that allows you to enter corners at speed and with confidence. When kicking out of the curves and sprinting you can almost hear the revs hitting the high notes as you get up to speed. Whilst not a true climbing bike the Magnus just wants to go forward all the time, making it a joy when powering upwards.
This isn’t a Cervelo R3 however - you’re not getting a Rolls Royce here. Instead, you’re presented with an all-carbon Porsche 911 with just enough padding on the seat to let the road live through your backside, a machine that demands as much of you as you do from it. This is a bike that doesn’t belong in the hands of a beginner, elitist as that sounds, but with a rider who can appreciate the nuances of a high quality machine.
It’s one of those bikes that begs to be ridden and makes you feel guilty if you’re out of shape.
And it looks pretty damn good too.
The industry’s best kept secret is waiting…