The all-new carbon Votec VRC heads back onto the road with a unique perspective on how modern road bikes should really look and feel. After plenty of affordable alloy all-surface success with their VRX gravel bike, and VR road bike before that, the consumer-direct German brand has doubled down on dropbars.
Votec VRC modern carbon endurance, all-road bike
Ready to take on all-roads, the carbon Votec VRC aims to redefine the modern endurance road bike as a nice blend of quick handling & comfort, with enough room for tires to take on any type of road.
From prefect tarmac to a bit of fast gravel, you get speed when you want it, comfort & control when you need it.
Votec has had road in their line-up for years, even with their original mountain bike roots. But road riding had changed a lot in recent years – for the better enjoyment by pretty much everyone – and so they figured it was time to redefine their solution for the road too.
Votec’s brand manager Alex Bethge, who I first rode gravel with almost a decade ago, told me they didn’t want a road bike confined to good roads. The beauty of modern moves to large-volume, tubeless road tires, disc brakes, and compliant carbon frame construction means a performance road bike can now be an all-road bike too. “A dynamic bike that gives a real road bike feeling from asphalt to cobblestone, but can also tackle unpaved roads.”
Votec endurance all-road geometry
To make that work, Votec started with combining quick handling but stable endurance road geometry with clearance for up to 35mm tires. That mostly boils down to a steep-ish average 72.5° head angle & 74° seat angle, with frame reach that leans towards the longer end of the spectrum for generally longer, stable wheelbases, even with relatively short 414mm chainstays.
From there, they partnered with German custom carbon bike builder Rafael Hoffleit to shape a unique production carbon frameset, that while keeping a mostly conventional appearance in silhouette, incorporates several original & functional details when you look closely.
VRC unique functional details
The VR-Knot seat cluster is the first of these unique details to stand out. It’s not an entirely new idea to decouple the seatstays from the seattube to allow for a bit more vibration-eating flex and to divert rear wheel bumps before they get to the seatpost – we’ve seen that a few times before. But the VRC also combines this with a slightly lower seat clamp on the round 27.2mm seatpost for a bit of extra seatpost length to flex, as well – again not unique in itself.
But then in a third element is tucked into this one solution – Votec also combines the best of both traditional & wedge-style seat clamps. The post itself is clamped around by a fairly conventional collar, but that collar doesn’t actually clamp the carbon frame. Votec wanted to prevent possible damage to the carbon frame and ensure security clamping of the post.
So, after you clamp the seatclamp collar directly to the post, that clamp then rests on top of the carbon top of the seattube of the frame, and a second pair of bolts cinches it into place from under the toptube. The result is that if those bolts come loose, the post doesn’t slip. There are also no threads in the frame or carbon that you can really over tighten in the frame (only the post itself.) And if you want to take the seatpost out to fit the bike in a car or a travel bag, you don’t even need to adjust the saddle height or alignment.
More creative little details trickle in here and there as well. Votec really wanted to minimize the amount of threaded inserts bonded into the carbon frame, so… braze-on front derailleurs mount to an alloy hanger that is inserted into a carbon pocket at the base of the seattube, held in place by a few external screws. And if you opt for a 1x drivetrain, a simple cover creates a smooth substitution.
The aluminum rear derailleur hanger also slots into a pocket on the carbon frame to act as the receiving threads for the rear thru-axle, as well. And Votec does it in a way so the hanger doesn’t just immediately fall out when you remove the rear wheel.
That’s also helpful as it also serves as the connection point for the easy-to-remove Mavic’s Speed Release quick release 12mm thru-axle system of the VRC. Both frame & fork feature Speed Release to quick wheel removal without taking the axles out of the hubs. And even though all of the complete VRC bikes get Mavic wheels, a simple thru-axle adapter makes any other modern 12mm wheels compatible, too.
VRC all-road – Tech details
Beyond its unique detailing, the UD carbon VRC is also meant to be versatile across all-seasons. So the bike features low-key, hidden mounts for full coverage fenders, and every complete bike actually includes a matching set of of Curana 35 fenders when you get it.
The VRC gets modular internal cable routing through a single port in the downtube and a sculpted flare at the fork crown for direct routing of the front brake, compatibility with electronic or mechanical drivetrains, a tapered internal headset, pressfit BB386 bottom bracket, and two standard sets of bottle cage bosses. The bike features flat mount disc brakes, using a high flat mount front brake mount on the fork to work with either 160 or 180mm rotors with a standard flat mounting plate.
Votec VRC all-road – Pricing, spec & availability
The VRC is available in five stock sizes (S-XXL) and three colors depending on spec – Vader black, Norwegian blue & Spanish copper. The all-road bike is available on its own in black-only as a 1500€ frameset or in one of four complete builds with compact road double groupsets & tubeless ready 19mm-internal UST wheels & tires (not setup tubeless).
The range starts with the 2500€ Votec VRC Comp, featuring a complete Shimano 105 group, Zipp Service Course alloy cockpit, and Mavic Aksium Elite wheels with Conti GP500 TL 32mm tires.
The 3000€ 8.4kg Votec VRC Pro upgrades to Ultegra, Service Course SL cockpit & a carbon post, plus Mavic Ksyrium wheels with 30mm Vittoria Corsa Control tanwall tires.
The 4000€ 8.3kg Votec VRC Elite then shifts up to a Dura-Ace mechanical groupset with the same Service Course SL + carbon post cockpit, but now Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels with the 30mm tanwall Vittoria Corsa Control tires.
Or for the same price, you can get a SRAM wireless eTap 2×12 setup with the 4000€ 8.5kg Votec VRC Evo, featuring a SARM Force AXS double group with its wider 10-33T cassette & 48/35 chainrings, with the same finishing kit as the Elite.
The new VRC model line is available consumer direct through Votec’s parent company Internetstores online retailers. Many of the complete bikes are available now in limited quantities in size M & L – with all Comp bikes, the remaining sizes & framesets expected later in the summer, staring in August.
Sneak Peek at our First Impressions of the all-road VRX
Votec is clear about not calling this a gravel bike, even though it has almost as much tire clearance as their VRX gravel bike did. Instead, this is a bike designed for “up to gravel” – kind of for any road up to gravel roads. Interpret that as you wish. The bike has plenty of room around the official max 35mm tire clearance for a bit of extra mud & dirt (you can most likely squeeze a 38mm tire in there, too), and a pleasant amount of rear end comfort.
I’ve been riding it fast on a broad mix of asphalt, cobblestones & gravel roads over the past couple of weeks (check back next week for a full detailed review), and while I’ve stuck to hard surfaces & dry sections of off-road riding, it does reinforce the idea of an all-road bike being capable to take on a wide mix of terrain.