The Venge may look like an awkward bird attempting its first flight, but there is a beauty in its details — the scooped handlebars that keep the rider in a comfortable position while cutting down on drag from headwinds, for example. At zero-degrees yaw, the Venge ViAS yields 787 grams of drag, one of the lowest numbers we’ve ever seen. Straight on, or on a windless day, this bike is about as fast as a roadie could hope for.
Front-end geometry is tight: We experienced significant toe overlap, which can be a problem at low speeds. But this bike isn’t made for going slow. And despite its relatively narrow 66mm bottom bracket shell, the Venge feels rock solid in the sprints — a sensation that our lab testing bore out.
“When you have a frame with surfaces as complex as the Venge,” says Chris Meertens, a composite engineer at Specialized, “it becomes imperative to run finite element simulations and optimize material distribution. This understanding allows us to place small strips of material in high-gain areas.”
As is the case with most aero bikes, that stiffness translates into a fairly harsh ride. Things aren’t so bad at the back end, where the low angle of the seat stays likely allows for some flex. But up front, where the integrated bar and stem flow into a fairly tall 160mm head tube (size 56), the Venge can be a harsh ride. Despite the tall head tube, our lab tests showed minimal deflection. That all means that handling is about as precise as one could hope for.
The Venge comes in at almost 18 pounds, thanks in part to the relatively heavy handlebar-stem combo and the added frame materials that serve as the mounting points for the front and rear brakes. It’s a complicated build, too. Home mechanics may want to trust this one to pro wrenches, especially when it comes to fishing new brake and shift cables through the handlebars and stem, then through the serpentine interior of the frame.
There’s been a lot of discussion about the proprietary integrated brakes Specialized developed to reduce as much drag as possible on the Venge ViAS. That’s why they sweep backward like a set of wings off the rear of the fork in such a visually striking way: to eliminate nearly all drag associated with front brake positioning. The rear brake, too, mounts in a unique position about halfway down the seat tube to help cut down on drag. In theory, that’s ideal; in practice, modulation is inconsistent in the rain and can even swing from squishy to grabby in dry conditions. And the angle at which the rear brake cable exits the down tube puts it so close to the rear tire that the housing rubbed the tires a few times on our test rides.
Component highlights: Shimano Dura-Ace drivetrain with 52/36 Specialized Pro crankset and 11-28 cassette; Venge ViAS brakes; Roval CL 64 wheelset