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Specialized launch an all-new Venge aero bike

Words by David Hicks

on 03/07/2018 09:53:52

S-Works Venge

Aero is everything.

No doubt something you will have heard on your club run or hashtagged in an Instagram post over the last few years as riders - pro and amateurs alike - have looked for maximum performance from their equipment as aerodynamic optimization is proven time and again to be the most important thing that can be done to make an athlete faster. Specialized were early adopters of this aero mantra, with the original Venge launching Mark Cavendish to green jersey glory and numerous Tour de France stage wins – the fastest man on two wheels, on the fastest two wheeled machine. But then they made it faster still, with the Venge ViAS becoming the most-winning aero bike in history, claiming the 2016 World Championship and nearly 20 race wins in 2018 to date already.

But it’s one thing to just make a bike fast. All-out aerodynamic efficiency usually comes hand-in-hand with some compromises, like weight, handling or complexity - and with the increasingly diverse nature of Grand Tour racing and it’s no longer good enough for a bike to be just aero – it needs to be everything.

Which brings us to the brand new, third-generation Venge, a bike which Specialized claim is faster everywhere, over every kind of terrain and condition, with improved aerodynamics, lower weight and dialed handling.

 

Even better aero performance

As it’s a Venge, aerodynamics seems the most sensible place to start delving into the detail of the new bike. In a different approach to previous models, rather than starting in their own Morgan Hill ‘Win Tunnel’ facility, Specialized instead headed to aerodynamicists Ingmar based in Silicon Valley and came up with an optimization software which generates millions of tube shapes and analyses them based on aerodynamics, surface area, and stiffness, with the goal of creating a tube shape which finds the perfect balance between aero performance, handling and light weight. All of these generated shapes – named the FreeFoil Shape Library by Specialized – are the building blocks of the new Venge.

Specialized Venge 1
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Those shapes have created a bike which is 8 seconds faster over 40km at a 0-degree yaw angle than the outgoing Venge ViAS. Out on the road where crosswinds come into play, the new Venge is even faster still. In fact, it’s faster at every yaw angle. To ensure those results are accurate, each bike was tested with same wheels, tyres, groupset, and saddle, with two water bottles to highlight just how much faster the new chassis is.

 

20% lighter

The Venge ViAS was undoubtedly a fast bike, but in its pursuit of absolute speed its waistline suffered. One of Specialized’s goals with the new bike was to bring its weight closer to that of a thoroughbred Grand Tour contender, as a response to the changing nature of professional racing where pan flat sprint stages are becoming more infrequent. By creating an even faster bike around a lighter chassis, the new Venge isn’t just faster in flat sprints – its faster on rouleur courses, requires less effort to get over climbs and gives the rider an extra edge at the finish line.

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Using the revised tube shapes generated by the FreeFoil Shape Library, the Venge has shed weight hand over fist while improving its aerodynamic performance. Compared to the Venge ViAS Disc, the new Venge module (including frame, fork, bar, stem, seatpost and small parts like clamps and bolts) is a whopping 460g lighter – the frame alone is a whole 20% lighter than the previous model weighing in at 960g in a 56cm, while the fork is 6% lighter. The new Aerofly II bar and stem also carries a 20% weight saving. For comparison, the new frame is even lighter than Specialized’s first disc brake race bike, the S-Works Tarmac SL5.

All in, the overall bike weight for a 56cm S-Works Venge Disc is a measly 7.1kg.

Improved handling

Aero? Tick. Weight? Tick. The final hurdle where most aero road bikes tend to fall down is handling. In trying to achieve ultimate speed aero bikes have a reputation for ponderous handling – something that Specialized wanted to correct. The new bike moves ride feel and handling much closer to that of the Tarmac, with over 40,000 sets of Retul fit data consulted as part of the Rider-First Engineered frame design. This process is used to ensure that every frame performs flawlessly regardless of size by optimizing carbon construction, so that the ride feel is consistent whether you ride a 49cm frame or a 61cm frame. This data also suggests no significant difference between male and female riders, and so the Venge is a truly shared platform, with only bars, cranks and saddles changed. Geometry is identical to the Tarmac too, with the fit between the two exactly the same.

Aerofly II

All that improved handling built into the frame is one thing, but for the most powerful sprinters stem stiffness is as important when it comes to transferring all those watts in the final few hundred metres. What the distinctive hover bar on the outgoing Venge ViAS made up in aerodynamics, it lost in stiffness, and so alongside the new bike comes a new, improved Aerofly II bar and stem combo.

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The new stem exceeds the stiffness of any that Specialized have tested including the Zipp SL Sprint stem which has been the benchmark for stiffness in the pro peloton for the last few years. As well as increased stiffness, the new bar and stem saves 20% in weight compared to the ViAS cockpit and gains a ton of compatibility – the new stem works with any standard 1-1/8” fork and any aftermarket 31.8mm bar. There’s also a neat management system under the stem which carefully directs the internally routed hoses from the bars and into the frame, while the tops get a textured pattern for extra grip and control, with a built-in bar tape stop for that super pro finish. Last of all, the new bar comes with an integrated, but removable, out front mount for your Garmin, Wahoo, or GoPro.

 

Real-world performance

Alongside all those enhancements, there was also a drive to make the new Venge more user-friendly with more capable real-world performance. So, for instance, the Di2 control box moves from the end of the bars to a dedicated space in the deep section seat post – Specialized’s professional riders found that the bar ends were prone to crash damage, and the new position makes it easier for mechanics leaning out of the team car mid-race. Tyre clearance is also much larger – although the bike comes specced with 26mm tyres to provide the best combination of aerodynamics, handling and rolling resistance, there is space to comfortably fit up to 32mm tyres with room to spare. And mechanics everywhere rejoice – the new bike is as quick to build as a Tarmac.

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The new Venge launches with an S-Works model and an enviable spec sheet. Built from Specialized’s FACT 11r carbon fibre, the new frame is made exclusively for hydraulic disc brakes and electronic shifting – the S-Works build comes with a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 hydraulic disc groupset paired with S-Works Power Cranks with their dual-sided power measurement. Contact with the road comes through Roval’s CLX 64 Disc carbon wheels shod with S-Works Turbo Cotton 320 TPI tyres, while contact with the rider is through an S-Works Power saddle.

specialized-venge-product

Specialized S-Works Venge Disc

  • Frame - Specialized S-Works FACT 11r Carbon Fibre
  • Fork - Specialized S-Works FACT 11r Carbon Fibre
  • Drivetrain - Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9150
  • Brakes - Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9170 hydraulic disc
  • Wheels - Roval CLX 64 Disc, carbon, tubeless ready
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