This article first appeared on BikeRadar.
The previous two generations of the Venge – the original and the Venge Vias – were outlandish-looking, radical bikes, and when Specialized launched this new Venge, our first thought was that it actually resembled the Tarmac.
The new bike may be understated in its shaping, but it’s faster than previous versions – something you can work on if you own a wind tunnel, as Specialized does.
The new Venge shares plenty with the awesome Tarmac, which was one of our favourite bikes of last year, with the same dropped rear stays, bottom-bracket design and carbon engineering derived from the Tarmac project.
- Tour de France bikes: Peter Sagan's Specialized S-Works Venge - Gallery
- Specialized S-Works Venge: lighter, faster and all-in on Shimano discs
As a result, the Venge is light for an aero bike – lighter than the Orbea Orca Aero, Cervélo S5 Dura-Ace Di2 and Trek Madone Disc SLR9 – despite being cheaper. On the road, it’s a difference you can really feel.
I don’t think I’ve experienced an aero road bike that climbs as well; the stiffness and lightness come together to create a bike that you want to get out of the saddle and attack on, rather than feel that you need to leave the saddle just to keep up with lightweight ‘all-round’ race bikes.
The Venge range is just two models, so far – the premium S-Works at close to £10,000 and this Pro version with the same chassis, lower-grade wheels and Shimano’s Ultegra Di2.
The matt-black carbon and holographic decals, bar tape and saddle of the Pro version look as exclusive as the S-Works and certainly turn heads.
The Venge is designed to be long and low, putting you into a seriously aero position from the off. The S-Works bar, with its swept-forward, flat-bladed top shape and ergo-shaped drop feels at its best when you’re down in the drops. In fact, it feels so good that’s where I found myself spending more and more time.
The bar works at its best here, too, feeling more supple in the drops than on the hoods, where it feels a little firmer.
I could easily get used to the ride character of the Venge. It feels every inch a sharp-handling race bike; when nestled down in the drops on the flat, it’s time trial-bike fast.
Comfort-wise, this Venge is the best from Specialized yet, but does feel firmer than the Cervélo and Trek mentioned above, even with its suspension advantage. What is remarkable is how close it feels to the Tarmac in both ride and handling. If you want the extra aero advantage with a small weight penalty, now is the time to buy into Specialized’s aero programme.
All of the equipment performs superbly. Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 is the equal of Dura-Ace Di2 save for a few grams, and the CL50 Roval wheelset shares the same brilliant rim of the S-Works Venge’s CLX50s, with a more modest DT Swiss hub. Elsewhere you’re given the S-Works bar, stem, post and a titanium-railed Power saddle.
Throw in the fact that the chassis is the same as the S-Works model and the Pro is impressive. However, when you consider the retail price of £6,500 / $8,020 / $9,400, that’s still expensive for an Ultegra Di2-equipped bike.
No matter how brilliant the bike is, you’ll inevitably be riding with people who spent a similar amount and got the higher-spec groupset. Still, you can console yourself, safe in the knowledge that they most certainly won’t be riding a bike this effortlessly fast and fun.
Specialized Venge Pro specifications
- Sizes: 49cm, 52, 54, 56, 58*, 61 (*tested)
- Weight: 7.77kg
- Frame: FACT 9r carbon
- Fork: FACT 9r carbon
- Chainset: Shimano Ultegra Di2, 52/36
- Bottom bracket: Praxis BB30
- Cassette: Shimano Ultegra, 11-32
- Chain: Shimano Ultegra
- Mechs: Shimano Ultegra Di2
- Shifters: Shimano Ultegra Di2
- Wheelset: Roval CL50 Carbon Disc
- Tyres: S-Works Turbo Gripton, 26mm
- Wheel weight: 1.15kg (f), 1.56kg (r)
- Stem: Specialized S-Works Venge
- Bar: Specialized S-Works Aerofly
- Headset: Specialized
- Saddle: Specialized Power Expert
- Seatpost: Specialized S-Works Venge
- Brakes: Shimano Ultegra R8070 hydraulic disc
Specialized Venge Pro geometry
- Seat angle: 73.5 degrees
- Head angle: 73.5 degrees
- Fork offset: 4.5cm
- Trail: 5.4cm
- Chainstay: 42cm
- Seat tube: 54cm
- Top tube: 60.5cm
- Wheelbase: 1,005mm
BikeRadar Score: 4 stars
BikeRadar Verdict: "Enjoy the performance of Specialized’s S-Works for less outlay"
- Highs: Stunning chassis; light, lithe and gloriously fast
- Lows: It’s a lot to pay for an Ultegra Di2-equipped bike
- Buy if: You want a stunning-looking bike that’s equally as fast and don’t mind the groupset compromise
Price: £6,500 / $8,020 / AU$9,400