A series of interesting reads in this season's Bicycle Quarterly.
First Jan Heine absolutely pans Volagi bikes. It's not clear what he has against them; he stresses even subjective measures that he must realize are woefully imprecise. One example: the bikes are problematic because when not paying attention his speed dropped off. They would not be good for long distance riding because not paying attention is par for the course. An odd observation, to say the least.
The primary thrust is an important point: Volagi's entire business is built on the idea that comfort in the seat is the most important part of cycling. As Heine points out, the front end is where bikes really get uncomfortable after many hours pedaling -- and he does not like Volagi's front end one bit.
Second Jan Heine pans mechanical road disc brakes. This short feature seems to have been driven by his disappointment with the performance of disc brakes on the Volagis -- and his decidedly non-scientific test involved taking the Volagi to a braking hill and comparing the stopping results against stopping results from an earlier test of Sram rim brakes. A few obvious problems: the bikes weren't the same (should that matter?); the tests were done on different days with presumably different atmospheric conditions; a full stop test may not be the best demonstration of brake quality (how often is that how you use your brakes?); and by the time Heine got to testing the brakes he was already hating the Volagi. That said, the difference -- ~2 meters, or 15% -- was substantial. Heine gave some thoughtful intuition underlying that difference, including that rim brakes are literally disc brakes with much bigger (i.e. better) discs than the modern disc brakes.
Third is a long and fascinating discussion of bicycle shifting systems. Sorry to say that it killed my desire to build a bike with an internally-geared hub anytime soon.