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Don’t act so surprised. Yes, Specialized invested a great deal of R&D time and money into its integrated rim brakes that graced the first run of Venge ViASes, but the bike was crying out for discs. It got what it wanted, thank goodness.
We were befuddled by the original Venge ViAS brakes, which were hard to adjust and offered inconsistent modulation. That said, our reporters overheard racers at this year’s Tour de France praising updated calipers on their bikes. Better calipers or no, flat-mount Shimano disc brakes are a huge improvement to a bike that performed impressively in the wind tunnel and on the stiffness jig.
On the road, the Venge is vicious — demanding full power on the flats, holding hard lines through the corners, and also feeling a bit abusive on rougher roads. The 410mm chain stays and thru axles likely help it drive like an F1 car. This bike would be sensational in a technical crit.
According to Specialized, there is minimal weight or aerodynamics penalty, comparing the disc model to the rim-brake ride. Specialized reps even went so far as to claim that the Venge ViAS disc can be built up to weigh 7kg (15.4 pounds). Similar to the results of our own wind tunnel test, Specialized did note that the disc Venge is slightly slower in left crosswinds.
So why then did Specialized lead with its rim-brake ViAS? According to the company, it was originally planning the bike for discs, then scrambled plans and delivered a Venge with rim brakes first, due to uncertainty about the UCI’s plans to allow discs in pro races. At this point, with the pro peloton’s disc brake trial on hold, it’s hard to know whether we’ll see Marcel Kittel astride this bike anytime soon.
Whether or not you believe Specialized’s story, or even care what Kittel rides (you shouldn’t), the bottom line is that the Venge ViAS with discs is a blast. Racers who demand powerful brakes, scalpel-precise handling, and unrelenting stiffness will not be disappointed.
S-Works Venge Disc ViAS, SRAM eTAP: $11,500
S-Works Venge Disc ViAS frameset: $4,200
Venge Pro Disc ViAS, Shimano Ultegra Di2: $7,250
Venge Expert Disc ViAS: $4,500