Specialized Venge long term review

The Venge Elite is a carbon aero bike from Specialized. The FACT 10r carbon frame utilises less high-modulus carbon fibre than the range-topping S-Works, making it less stiff and slightly heavier although tube profiles and wind-cheating shapes stay the same. It sports aero-optimized tubing, a compact race design, and a tapered head tube and was designed to provide the ideal blend of light overall weight, stiffness, and responsiveness.

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The frame and fork spent time in a wind-tunnel to optimize their aerodynamic shapes. Frame details include neat internal cable routing, a two-bolt seatpost clamp design, an aero seatpost (that can be flipped around for either 0mm or 20mm offset), and a BB30 CeramicSpeed bottom bracket.

 

The build


Since our three month update, I have swapped out the saddle to my go-to favourite, the Specialized Power saddle. This one has a bit of twist though as it's the newly launched Arc Pro. The biggest difference between this one and the "standard" Power saddle is the arced sides that drop away for a more rounded profile. Although the Astute was comfortable and a good fit for my saddle area, the Power Arc Comp is in another league. I'm running this, the standard and their other new iteration, the Power Pro Elaston on a couple of bikes and we will be publishing a review in the new year to share some thoughts on the differences between the three models.

 

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The original tyre of choice was Specialized's 700x23/25c Roubaix Tubeless tyres that allowed me to run them at the maximum allowed pressure without sacrificing comfort, thanks to the wider profile. The Roubaix later made way for a set of Bontrager R3 TLR 700x24 tubeless ready tyres, for no reason other than wanting to try out another tubeless set of tyres. Although I have not suffered a single puncture since April. It has been noticeable how longer the Bontrager tyres stay inflated, needing fewer air top-ups to keep them at an optimum running pressure.

 

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American Classic's Argent tubeless has been exemplary. I have already done a review on them so won't go into too much detail again. The same goes for the SRAM RED eTap groupset and Quarq DZero drivetrain which we reviewed earlier the year. Since that review, the drivetrain has not skipped a beat and I'm happy to report that I've not been stranded at the side of the road unable to shift due to a flat battery or electronic glitch.

 

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I have become a big fan of ITM's X-One Bar thanks to its anatomic flat top that allows the palm of your hand to lie naturally on the grip, which helps relieve strain from your arms and hands when riding. The overall shape suits me to a T and was comfortable whether riding in the drops, hoods, or top.

 

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Specification list:


  • FrameSpecialized Venge Elite
  • ForkSpecialized FACT carbon, full monocoque
  • WheelsetAmerican Classic Argent Tubeless
  • TyresSpecialized Roubaix Tubeless, 700x23/25c
  • HandlebarsITM X-One Bar 44cm C2C, 68mm reach, 138mm drop, 215g
  • StemITM X-One Alu Stem, 80mm, 0 / 10° rise, 144g
  • Headset1-1/8" upper, 1-3/8” lower, steel bearings, 20mm alloy cone spacer, w/ 20mm spacers
  • BrakesSRAM RED Mechanical
  • ShiftersSRAM RED eTAP
  • DerailleursSRAM RED eTAP
  • CassetteSRAM Force 11-28
  • CranksetQuarq Dzero Power Meter, 172.5mm
  • Chainrings50/34T
  • ChainSRAM RED
  • Bottom BracketCeramicSpeed
  • PedalsShimano 105
  • SeatpostS-Works Venge, FACT carbon, flippable 20/0mm offset
  • SaddleAstute Italia Skycarb VT
  • ComputerGarmin 820
  • Bottle cagesSpecialized Zee Cage II
  • MountsK-Edge Garmin/GoPro combo mount
  • Handlebar TapeSpecialized S-Wrap Classic
  • Weight7,25 kg all in

 

On the Bike


To say that I have enjoyed my time on the bike so far will be a mild understatement. Every part works seamlessly with the frame yielding a satisfying and rewarding ride. The bike's geometry has been crafted for maximum confidence, speed, and comfort - a seemingly impossible task but one Specialized managed to get just right with the Venge Elite. There is no need to ride at maximum effort all the time for the bike to make sense: it is comfortable enough to just cruise along or head for a relaxing ride with friends but turns into a full-blown racer when pushed hard, whether that is through the twisties at speed or stomping on the pedals.It doesn't quite have the point and shoot feel of the Tarmac, but it's not meant to as its focused is biased towards aero rather than all-out weight savings.

 

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Around sharper corners, the Venge does not feel like the front wheel wants to tuck in under the bike. This boosts confidence when descending a pass and even more so when the road is wet. There are no cold-sweat reminders that this is a race bike that can chuck you over the bars if you don't concentrate 100% of the time, which adds to the bike's balanced feel.

 

Verdict


The Specialized Venge is proof that you can have a comfortable and fast aero bike, and that the days of aero bikes being guaranteed to be a heavy, harsh ride are over. The complete bike weight also shows that it can be built light without having to refinance your house or skimp on durability, with the borders between light "made for climbing" race bikes and aero road bikes becoming more blurred.

 

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5 Comments

Comments

Steven Knoetze (sk27), Dec 07 2017 07:59

Nice review. You mention no refinancing of the house but then don't mention the price tag.......

Stiggy, Dec 07 2017 08:37

Hahaha I was thinking the exact thing? What's the price?

Duane_Bosch, Dec 08 2017 09:32

Hahaha.

 

Yes. And he hasn't told all of us where he lives. I'm thinking it's most likely llandudno.

 

Iwan I'd also like to do a long term review please. I'd like to do a multi year review of a 2018 S-Works Venge Vias Disk Di2. The color goes with my Bakkie so it's only right.

 

I'm happy to make that sacrifice for you guys.

Iwan Kemp, Dec 08 2017 09:48

Nice review. You mention no refinancing of the house but then don't mention the price tag.......

 

Checked now and building it up at current prices will cost you around R115k. To give some meat to that comment: You will have to add another R25k for an S-Works frame and another R20k - R30k for a carbon wheelset that could rival the Argents. That's R45k - R55k right there! 

Iwan Kemp, Dec 08 2017 10:00

Hahaha.

 

Yes. And he hasn't told all of us where he lives. I'm thinking it's most likely llandudno.

 

Iwan I'd also like to do a long term review please. I'd like to do a multi year review of a 2018 S-Works Venge Vias Disk Di2. The color goes with my Bakkie so it's only right.

 

I'm happy to make that sacrifice for you guys.

 

How nice of you! 

 

The paint job on the Di2 version is next level crazy! But I prefer this version for two reasons..

 

1. eTap

2. It is downstairs

 

spesh-sworks-venge-vias-etap-01-14878522

 

This spec in the Di2 colors would be a match made in bike heaven! ( Btw, I move every week to keep you guys guessing!)