The new Specialized Venge Vias Disc boasts huge aerodynamic advantages, though what it is actually like to live with?
It hadn’t been the best introduction to the cycling world, with many WorldTour pros damning the Specialized Venge Vias heaviness and poor braking performance even if none denied the wind-cheating prowess of the aero machine. However, with the addition of disc brakes, the Specialized Venge Vias Disc is said to have solved its braking problems without losing any of that aero.
Apparently Specialized had disc brakes in mind for the Venge when it was initially designed, although to use it in races, of course, it needed rim brakes, albeit with calipers that were more aero than standard designs.
Now though, without the brake housing, it actually produces better aerodynamic figures from the less bulbous fork rear and seatstay. Specialized says you’ll be getting a 116-second advantage compared to the Tarmac over 40km.
It’s also 30 per cent stiffer at the front too. As with other models you get Spesh’s Rider-First Engineered concept and its FACT 11r carbon that has been ‘tunnel engineered’ for the best aerodynamics as possible — not forgetting flush bolt-thru axles for better braking stability.
The Specialized Venge Vias Disc comes with a Quarq power meter attached to one of the better looking crank sets on the market, Specialized S-Works Fact Carbon cranks, with CeramicSpeed ceramic bearings to boot.
The package works very well, as does the power meter, especially compared to the Stages meter I’ve used recently. Of course, what gives the Venge the Vias name is the Aerofly Vias bars and stem.
I don’t like the wavy bars particularly, though the stem looks great and is stiff enough, though that is mainly down to the fact that I’m more of a traditionalist when it comes to handlebar shapes.
The tops are comfortable to use but I did occasionally hit my knee on them when out of the saddle, as they are very wide. SRAM eTap Hydro is a nice touch meaning you can’t see any cables and even the brake cables are hidden, running internally.
Gearshifts and braking are brilliant, though gear changes are noticeably slower than Shimano’s top-end offering — I also found the hoods a little on the large side.
To get the best out of the Specialized Venge Vias Disc you need to really push it. It wasn’t until I got it past 25mph that I started to feel the bike truly come alive.
Thankfully it doesn’t feel too sluggish at slower speeds but I can see why Peter Sagan would ride the Tarmac over the Venge on anything other than a completely flat stage due to its weight.
The real issue is the harshness of the ride — it really doesn’t work well with any roads in the UK, and I felt every crease and imperfection.
The deep Roval wheels don’t help this and although they do help the aerodynamics and top-end speed, they leave you beaten up and tired at the end of the ride. Rapide CLX 64 Discs were swapped out for the 32s and wider tyres (from 22mm to 26mm). This helped but not a great deal.
As value goes it is often hard to justify an eight-and-a-half-grand splurge, especially on something you can’t race the Specialized Venge Vias Disc. But you do get everything you need straight out of the box, including a bike-fit to set you on your way.
Power meter, deep-section carbon wheels and a super-fast aero frameset to attach them to puts many other high-end brands to shame — not forgetting the SRAM eTap Hydro groupset. It also has future-proofed itself.
Integration will be key in the coming years; it has bolt-thru with discs and looks incredibly cool.
I’m at a loss with the Venge Vias. It does everything it should and very well too, albeit with a harsh ride that is hard to live with day-to-day. I can only see it as the out-and-out performance bike for the day you are chasing a fast event time, or segment hunting; you’ll certainly fly as it is undoubtedly aero. But that is where the confusion lies. If you can’t race it and push the performance, what is the point in being uncomfortable and beaten up? Specialized can now breathe a sigh of relief, with the UCI resuming testing of discs in WorldTour races this month — though how long will it be before amateurs can race this thoroughbred in the UK? Not soon enough in my eyes!