Author: Lee Rodgers
Published: 02/08/12 09:20
The revenge? The vengeful? The up-to-here-with-venge? Who knows why they called it the Venge, but it works, connoting power, speed, wrath, darkness and all the rest. But how do you end up stuffing all that into a bike?
You better call the Specialized design team - ‘cos they’ve done it...
When I spoke to the head of Specialized’s Future Research & Development and asked him about this bike at the last EuroBike, he remembered 5 years into the past - he was already working on the 2016 models as we chatted - and he told me that the idea for this bike came when he decided to take off the TT bars of Specialized’s top TT bike and fitted it with road bars.
And lo and behold the ever-vengeful Venge was born...
It’s over $10,000 US worth of bike, the bastard child of the Tarmac and the Shiv, and kitted out for destruction. I couldn’t wait to see how much I could beat this thing up... but actually, it was almost the other way round.
Out of the Box
Like day-glo red? Or is it orange? Whatever, I definitely don’t. It’s a smorgasbord of decals, with the huge Specialized and S-Works and the Roval wheels. It’s not my cup of tea for sure, but I do like the other color schemes much more.
The other instant thing you notice is the weight. It’s 2.18kg for the frame, fork, seatpost and crank, heavier than my climbing bike but very decent for an aero-bike, and a world lighter than my team aero-bike (sorry Boss!). The finish is garish but expertly done, very smooth all round, and the shape is something else, still reminiscent of the Tarmac but even beastlier, hunched up like a Tasmanian Devil ready to take rip your legs off.
The tapered headtube is said to improve stiffness and is certainly aesthetically pleasing, the downtube thin yet chunky yet lithe all at once, and the forks are razor-sharp. Put this in matt black and I’d be in love at first sight.
On the Road
Hands down one of the most fun bikes I’ve ever ridden. A word of warning - be careful, very careful, on descents. This thing flies. Like, jet plane-flies. I cranked it up at the top of one of my favorite descents, a nice 4km hill with sweeping curves that starts with an 800m straight decline of about 5%, and when I came to bobble into the little dip I know so well the Venge decided to fly over it. Literally. Both wheels came off the ground and left my stomach in my upper rib-cage and my heart in my mouth.
I’ve ridden aero before, and good aero, but this is the real deal.
On the way up the climbs the bike is definitely not sluggish and you get back what you put in. It has a friskiness about it that feeds the rider a sense of confidence that may be misplaced, but that is the fun part about the great bikes - they often make you feel faster than you actually are.
On the flats I was powering along quite happily, slicing through headwinds like Bruce Lee through a bunch of extras, learning that sometimes - just sometimes - marketing hype isn’t actually just hype.
That descent though - that was a thrill I’ll never forget. Thanks, Vengey.
Ready? This is a wonder bike. It’s really that good. It combines everything you want from a very, very good bike. Speed, tension, lightness, superb handling, great responsiveness, stiffness and, well, it’s kind of a little mean.
It looks mean. It rides mean. It IS mean.
Just don’t give me the day-glo paint-job....
Frame: S-Works FACT 11r carbon, Aero Race design, FACT IS construction, internal cable routing, 1-3/8" lower HS bearing, Carbon OSBB shell.
Fork: Specialized FACT carbon monocoque, OS race for 1-3/8" bearing.
Groupset: Dura-Ace STI FlightDeck compatible shifters, Dura-Ace front and rear brake calipers, Dura-Ace front and rear derailleurs, S-Works FACT carbon 53-39 crankset with removeable spider, Dura-Ace 10-speed 11-25 cassette, Dura-Ace 10 speed chain
Wheels: Roval Rapide SL 45 wheels. S-Works Turbo 700x23 tyres with BlackBelt protection and Super Light Turbo innertubes (80mm valve stems).
Finishing kit: S-Works SL Carbon shallow drop handlebars, S-Works ProSet 3D forged 7050 carbon-wrapped alloy stem, S-Works FACT flippable (20mm/0mm offset) carbon seatpost, BG Romin Evo saddle with hollow Ti rails.
Author: Lee RodgersPublished: 02/08/12 09:20