The sprinting weapon of both Marcel Kittel and Peter Sagan, the Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS Di2 is a bike that requires little introduction. Is this the fastest road bike in the world?
The Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS is a radical-looking machine. The levels of integration and aerodynamic design have raised the bar of what we expect from road bikes. We have also separately reviewed the Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS Disc, which you can read here.
Made from Specialized’s premium FACT 11r carbon the Venge ViAS frame is insanely stiff, with meticulously shaped tubes contorted into the most aerodynamic shapes imaginable. Brakes and cables are fully integrated, meaning playing ‘spot the cable’ is a difficult game. The geometry is unusual for an aero bike: the Venge has a tall head tube, negative stem and Specialized Aerofly handlebar. The Di2 junction box is easily accessible, but its placement is perhaps not quite as neat or aero as the down tube integration of the Trek Madone.
A key difference between this and the disc brake model is that you can actually race this one, as at present disc brakes are not allowed in BC events.
The S-Works Venge ViAS is top-spec machine that comes with full Di2 and a Quarq power meter. There really is no scrimping on the spec here – everything is top-end kit. The excellent Roval 64s come fitted with Specialized’s very fast-rolling 24mm S-Works Turbo. Also supplied is Specialized’s proprietary Aerofly bar. While undoubtedly aero, I couldn’t get on with it and would swap it out were I buying the bike.
So although the price is high, it does include a bike fit and a Quarq.
My overwhelming first impression and one that stuck? The Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS is fast! The moment you start riding this bike it feels like it is giving you something, even when pootling out of your residential road. The simple reason is that its aerodynamics work and our own aero testing backed this up.
In collaboration with WattShop, we took it to Derby Velodrome for aero testing along with four other leading aero bikes. The bikes were ridden at a target power of 380W (equating to roughly 48kph) and using the WattShop software the drag coefficient of each bike was calculated.
The results of our aero testing suggested the Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS was the second fastest aero bike on test, coming out marginally slower than the Trek Madone. When riding on the hoods the difference was just 1 watt at 45kph. This slight difference falls within the realm of experimental error. More details and stats from this testing will be posted in due course.
With regard to handling, this will alter to a certain extent depending on how the Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS is set up following the specific bike fit that comes included with its purchase. Our size 56cm test bike with a 100mm stem and Aerofly bar felt very responsive. While this is ideal for darting through sequential tight corners or engaging in the cut and thrust of criterium races, others (myself included) will prefer something more stable and less sensitive. This was noticeable when trying to ride the pursuiter’s line on the track during our aero testing. The Canyon Aeroad and Trek Madone were more stable in their equivalent geometry set-ups.
Riding a super-light bike offers a tangible benefit: as soon as you hit an incline, you feel the advantage. The aero advantage can be less obvious, but with the Venge you really can feel how slippery it is – and it feels great. Incidentally, its a sensation that is less pronounced on the Giant Propel or Lapierre Aircode.
Video – How much faster is an aero bike?
The Venge ViAS has often been criticised for not being the most compliant ride and also for being much less practical to work on. You certainly feel the road and should you need to change a brake cable you’re probably best taking it to a trained mechanic. While I would like to see improvements in these areas, it wouldn’t put me off buying one – you don’t buy a Lamborghini because its great at tackling speed bumps and handy for parallel parking. And the Venge ViAS in bike terms is in the same league. It is a superbike designed to be raced, ridden fast and gawped at by admiring onlookers.
Let’s be honest, value is not at the top of the list of priorities for the typical customer who is considering a Venge ViAS. That said, it is nice to see a bike that comes with everything you need or would want straight out the box. Inclusion of a power meter, pro-level deep-section carbon wheels, carbon bars and saddle, good tyres and a bike fit make this an attractive package.
It’s not the most comfortable bike, and certainly not the most practical. However few bikes are as drool inducing as the Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS. The ridiculous levels of integration result in a bike which, along with the Trek Madone, is the fastest currently available to humankind. This has been confirmed by our own independent aero testing.