Visitors to the Specialized concept store in Kingston last Thursday (1) were given the opportunity to meet the man from McLaren who led the team that designed the Specialized Venge.
Duncan Bradley, the design director at McLaren Applied Technologies, talked RoadCyclingUK through the process that shaved 20 per cent from the weight of the S-Works Venge.
Bradley said McLaren’s involvement in the design of a high-performance bicycle was a natural extension of its involvement in other elite sports, including Premiership football.
“That was a goal going back to the first conversations with Specialized – we want this to be credible. We’re always looking to push the boundaries of technology and to design iconic products, whether that be a bike or a Formula One car. At the end of the day it’s racing, and we want to win things,” he said.
Specialized had already reached an advanced stage with the design of the Venge, said Bradley, and had fixed the geometry.
“It was quite a challenge. We set performance targets and both agreed it would be 20 per cent lighter with a bit more stiffness than the S-Works. We met that pretty easily,” said Bradley.
A team of engineers, including two experts in ‘finite element analysis’ from McLaren’s Formula One team worked for six months from September 2010 to March 2011 on the Venge, achieving the targeted 20 per cent weight reduction with the same grade of carbon as in other Specialized models.
“The carbon lay-up is completely different to any other S-Works bikes. In Formula One, we have a lot of technology to optimize carbon. It’s a great material, but it’s all about how you arrange it for the best stress to weight ratio,” he said.
Three Specialized-supplied WorldTour teams were issued with three McLaren Venge bikes each for Milan-San Remo. “Then Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad) won, which was a dream start for us,” he said.
Following Goss’ victory the Venge now has a place on the ‘boulevard’ at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, a space shared with some of the company’s race-winning Formula One cars. “That’s a nice accolade to have internally,” Bradley smiled.
And he revealed that the Venge will not be the last collaboration between McLaren and Specialized.
“It’s an on-going relationship. We wanted to test if the market was ready for this type of bike,” he said.