De către Dan Mazilu – Mar 22, 2019
Drag is a Bulgarian bicycle manufacturer that generally offers products with a good price / quality / equipment ratio. Because the brand itself is not “prestigious”, the manufacturer can afford to have better prices while offering better equipment. This is also the case of this bike, which price we compared with 5 other brands of similar level and with a similar price, namely Merida, Cube, Kross, Focus and Romet.
First of all, Drag offered the best equipment at a lower price than the competing brands mentioned. For example, while at Drag Volta TE we have a Shimano 105 drivetrain, at the others we have either Sora or Tiagra. Also, even if the brakes on the Volta are Shimano Non-Series, and the cockpit is Cox, Drag’s own brand, we still have 11 sprockets, something we don’t find on any of the bikes we’ve compared it to. These have either 9 or a maximum of 10 sprockets. On the other hand, all the brands mentioned here have, at this price level, an aluminum frame, a carbon fork and almost the same weight. Drag Volta TE measures at 8.97 kg without pedals, frame size 53 cm (M).
The bike is sporty and I admit that I really liked how I felt on it. I was even surprised that I didn’t have to change anything to have a successful camp in Turkey, the place where I tested this bike for 10 days. The size of the frame matched “spot on” on my height, the pipe didn’t have to be longer or shorter, the tires were good enough, and the saddle was one of the revelations of the test. I had taken my own saddle with me for Turkey, from my city bike, because we know how “delicate” this problem can be. However, I didn’t have to change it.
I was surprised but I shouldn’t because the brand still has a good history. Since 2005, different teams competing on Drag bikes, have obtained podiums, including at the World Cups. Also, Team Novak, led by Eduard Novak – the president of the Romanian Cycling Federation, competes on the Drag Firebird Di2 model on the road and on Drag Bluebird on the track.
Frame / On the route
At first glance, the frame seems a bit “from the ax” I have to admit. Although in front of the headtube, the welds are polished, the rest of the welds are about the limit of aesthetics. But this is strictly aesthetic because I did not feel the frame to bend under me on steep climbs, more than you would expect from a bicycle at this price level. Also, the internal access ports of the cables are unsightly in my “critical” opinion, but it is more sought after knot in the rush. After all, the frame has internal routing of the brake cables and derailleurs, so it’s a bonus.
As I said at the beginning of the review, I felt very good on this bike on the route. Once I adjusted the height of the handlebars, the saddle and the position of the levers, I realized that they are extremely good for climbing and downhill or flat. On a racetrack, this thing is more delicate with the size of the frame than on the mtb, because you sit more “on” the bike than on the mtb where you stand for a long time, both on the hill and in the valley. When cycling, you spend a lot of time on the saddle, in the same position, whether you are in the platoon or not, and if the size does not fit you or you did not do the correct bikefitting, pain or numbness can occur in many places: at the hips, back, head, knees, ankles, wrists. With Drag Volta TE I did not have such inconveniences.
The fork for the Volta TE is made of carbon and has a slightly curved shape, designed to absorb more of the vibrations coming from the road, thus offering more comfort. Considering that the asphalt in Turkey is not the best and that after the laps that were over 100 km, I was returning with my hands in very good condition, I am inclined to believe that the fork, together with the rest of the frame, did its job very well.
The equipment is good to very good at this price level. We have 2 × 11 speeds, but be careful that the gear is Standard and not Compact or Semi. That means you need a little more muscle on the climbs. So we have the Shimano 105 gear with 53-39t blades paired with Shimano 105 11-28t sprockets. The chain is also Shimano.
The Shimano 105 front-to-rear shifters have worked flawlessly, as long as their adjustment is done correctly. The bike’s cockpit – handlebars, stem, seatpost and rims are unpretentious being Cox. But even so, they behaved very well. What’s more, the handlebars have a slightly flattened shape to give your hands more ergonomics when you hold your hand up. Also, even though the saddle is Cox, a Storm model, it is actually made by DKK, a well-known company that builds saddles for many bicycle brands.
Another revelation was the brakes that held up excellently. Although they are “non-series”, they are still “dual pivot”. So at the same pressure on the levers, the brakes hold up better. On the road I never had any hesitation that these BR-R561 will not stop me in time.
Schwalbe Lugano 700X25C tires have not the best performance, in the sense that they feel heavier when accelerating. But because they are slick, once you reach the desired speed you will be able to maintain it quite easily. However, care must be taken on wet surfaces because the profile of these Lugano is very discreet. But they are very good training tires, which I also liked. Having a very low price, 59-69 lei for tires or 99 lei foldable, it is obvious that they are “roller” tires. The good part is that they are also robust.
Drag Volta TE was a revelation and thanks to this course I also had a successful camp in Turkey. The comfort was complete, and I found the equipment to be the best at this price level. The bike was tested in almost all possible conditions. From flat with wind in front or back, to difficult climbs, serpentines, very steep descents and torrential rain. There was never a time when I felt insecure on this bike.