Specialized have finally unveiled the latest version of the Venge – the Venge ViAs – that was being ridden by Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish at last week’s Tour de Suisse and will certainly be rolled out by both again at the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in July.
Specialized are making some pretty hefty claims about the aerodynamics of the new bike. First off, they claim that the Venge ViAs is two minutes faster than a standard road bike over a flat 40km course, and even a full minute faster than the current edition of the Venge. Of course, that depends what you take as your ‘standard road bike’ but they’re pretty bold claims nonetheless.
And that two minutes is upped to five minutes with the full S-Works package which includes their new shoes, skinsuit, an Evade helmet, Roval wheels and S-Works turbo tyres. The bike was modelled by McLaren on their in-house software dubbed Midas (McLaren Integrated Data Analysis and Integration), that the car manufacturer uses for running mathematical simulations of integration and aerodynamics between a track and car/equipment – or in this case, of course, bike and equipment.
Whatever the claims, the look of the bike shows you immediately that it’s been made with aerodynamics in mind, and even the frame weight – a claimed 1,150g – proves that Spesh are more than aware that when it comes to flat speed aerodynamics are far, far more important than weight. The fork also has a claimed 30 per cent increase in lateral rigidity in order to improve handling, especially so on technical circuits and descents.
The new brakes are one of the most interesting parts of the design. They look like part integrated brake and part fairing, and that was the goal. Most integrated aero brakes on bike to this point have been, at best, average and at worst just pain terrible but Specialized are boldly claiming that tests on the new brakes have been on a level with Shimano’s excellent Dura-Ace 9000 calipers which, if true, will prove to be a huge step forward. They are dual-pivot, just like the Shimano brakes, which is definitely a cause for optimism.
They’ve also, like Trek on the new Madone, ditched the idea that mounting the rear brake under the bottom bracket is necessary which will please plenty of riders, as anyone who’s ridden an aero bike with BB mounted brake will be able to tell you just how much hassle they are. Interestingly, the positioning of the brake was determined by Specialized testing and figuring out the most wheel flex happens at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions in the revolution, so by mounting the brake at roughly half past two (from the driveside, that is), it should minimise the chance of brake rub.
The other instantly noticeable feature on the Venge ViAs is the integrated ‘Aerofly’ stem/handlebar system with the noticeable U-shaped bend (for the version with the 25mm rise handlebars) in the middle of the bars, a real departure from what we’re used to seeing on a road bike. You’ll also notice that there are no visible cables at all – everything is routed through the bars, through the stem and down through the extra wide headset bearings Spesh employed specifically for this reason. The down side of all this integration is you can’t simply get yourself a Venge ViAs and mess about with the fit until you get it right, you have to be fitted to the bike based on your current ride and bike fit. Specialized determine this through using a piece of Retül software (Specialized bought Retül in 2012) and stem length, height and seatpost setback are three of the things you need to get right. The integrated stem has a negative 17 degree orientation, meaning no matter what setup you go with, the Venge ViAs is going to be a very aggressive beast indeed, even if you go with the 25 degree rise option for the handlebars.
Roval provide the CLX64 wheels, which have been matched to optimise aerodynamics with Spesh’s own S-Works turbo tyres and, interestingly, come in at two different widths: 24mm for the front, 26mm for the rear (with claimed weights of 695g/850g respectively for anyone who’s interested). Specialized reckon these will save you 120 seconds compared to a Tarmac SL4 with alloy clinchers, which is impressive but also a pretty low benchmark to set as your comparison, in all honesty.
The finishing touches on the bike include a Ceramic Speed bottom bracket, S-Works cranks with a Quarq power meter and an S-Works Power Saddle. UK RRP for the full Di2-equipped Venge ViAs is a jaw-dropping £10,999.90, while the frameset will set you back £4,999.90.