With a fairly new wave of road bikes with a nexus of aero design, light weight and stiffness objectives, we at Bikerumor wanted to dig deeper and see what it’s all about. Tyler has been riding a Cervelo S5 and Specialized sent in a 2012 Venge Pro for Rob and I to form some conclusions of our own. Do these bikes really offer performance advantages for the average rider?
Well, a little more time will tell, but first impressions on both bikes have been pretty surprising. For now, let’s run through the Venge…
While opinions are mixed on the S5’s appearance, everyone –EVERYONE– that comes in our offices or sees us on a ride remarks at how sexy the Specialized Venge is. Appearances suggest looks were not sacrificed at the altar of aerodynamics.
This bike has a knife-like presence and you can’t help but look at it and think, “this thing has got to rip.”
WEIGHTS & DETAILS
A size 52 Pro comes in at 15lb 15oz (7.23kg) without pedals.
Front and rear profiles don’t show much.
Starting with the build, I noticed some neat design features and specs including internal cable routing that was easy to install and tune. A small allen wrench secures the covers and internal guides mostly send the cables where they need to be. The shift cable housing has stops built into the frame plugs, meaning you (or, more likely, your local bike shop) needs to install them in the correct order. Ours didn’t come with instructions, but it’s pretty easy to figure out.
The shift cables run loose through the down tube, but the guide on the bottom bracket shell has a large enough opening to fish them out easily.
The bottom bracket shell itself is quite bulbous, but in a well rounded, shapely sort of way. The curve and shape of the S-Works carbon cranks match it well.
The rear brake’s also uses cable stops in the frame plugs.
The seat clamp uses a dual bolt design wrapping around a semi-aero seatpost. A slightly extended seatmast and continuous looking top tube-to-seatstays gives it an overall solid look. Note the peep hole on the back of the seat tube to indicate minimum seatpost insertion. One thing that we noticed (and continue to notice) is the abundance of random stickers. Manufacturing origin, several bar codes or numbers, serial number, etc., add up to five or six decals across the frame.
The Venge has a straight and stiff fork with an airfoil design capped at the head tube by an aerodynamic wing mounted on the steerer tube below the stem to guide air fluidly over the top tube. Click to enlarge and you’ll notice the stem doesn’t look quite square with the steerer tube. That’s thanks to Specialized’s angled shim system that allows you to fine tune the angle of the stem.
The seat tube has a arched recess for the wheel, but maintains a fairly large gap compared to other aero or TT bikes we’ve seen. The seatstays are fairly thin and slightly angled outward. Unlike the S5, the Venge makes no concessions for moving air away from the brakes or slimming the head tube…it gets a tapered steerer like their Tarmac and Roubaix.
SPEC & FIRST IMPRESSIONS:
The 2012 Specialized Venge Pro has an MSRP of $6,600 and comes equipped with:
- Specialized stem, handlebar and bar tape
- Specialized Romin Evo Pro saddle
- Specialized FACT carbon crankset
- Shimano Dura-Ace shifters and derailleurs
- Shimano Ultegra brakes
- Roval Rapide 45 carbon alloy hand built wheels
- Specialized Turbo Pro Tires 700×23
EVAN: My first few rides on this bike took place in the mountains of Western North Carolina, not where I had initially planned on putting miles in on an aero oriented frame. Nonetheless, I was there and I was of course going to take advantage of the opportunity to ride. For a frame designed to be aero, it climbed as well or better than my old Tarmac.
Back in Greensboro, I’ve put in a few 20 to 30 mile rides and first impressions are that it is indeed a very fast bike. It’s also pretty comfortable, but I need to qualify that by saying pretty comfortable for a stiff race bike. So far, so good, but the miles will tell…
ROB: When I first learned that I would be testing the new Specialized Venge, needless to say I was just a little excited. The bike looks sexy and it definetly grabs lots of attention at the local group rides. My first ride was a local 50 mile Saturday morning winter training ride that as usual turned into a hammer session. I did not know what to expect since this was the first time I had ridden the bike.
Looking at the bike I knew it would be fast, but I was shocked as to exactly how fast. During the first sprint of the day I almost ran into the back of the guys I was chasing because the bike closed the gap so quickly. In addition to speed, the bike has very quick handling and responds to even the slightest body movement. I was able to change lines during the sprint with very little effort. With a massive bottom bracket area that showed no signs of flex when putting down the power and the super stiff aero shaped tubes all add up to one very efficient machine. I can see why Mark Cavendish wanted to continue riding Specialized bikes after riding this bike last season, it’s definitely an advantage. I am looking forward to a long term test of this incredible machine, stay tuned for a full review….