Category: Bikes and Tech

First Ride: Specialized S-Works Venge

The “ooh ahh” moment came during the end of a two-hour discussion about aerodynamics and weight.

Engineers from Specialized gathered with media to discuss the company’s new S-Works Venge, the third iteration of the company’s flagship aero racing bike. Douglas Russell, a design engineer, unveiled a frameset (with fork, stem, and handlebars) of the new Venge alongside one from the company’s previous model, the Venge Vias. Russell proceeded to unwrap Velcro straps on the Venge Vias that secured the bike’s tubes together. He removed a sizable portion of handlebar, then a section of top tube, and nearly the entire rear triangle.

Russell pointed to the dismembered Venge Vias, and said that the new Venge weighed the same as the skeletonized version of its predecessor.

“We have shaved over one pound of weight from the Vias,” he said.

Ooh, ahh. 

Righting the perceived wrongs of the Venge Vias is the focal point of the new third-generation Venge, which made its racing debut at the 2018 Tour de France. After just five stages the new aero bike already counts four victories; two apiece from Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).

When Specialized debuted the new bike at a quiet launch in May, engineers repeatedly referenced the Venge Vias when touting the new model. The new Venge looks drastically different from its predecessor. Gone are those wing-shaped riser handlebars that gave the Venge Vias its radical appearance. And the tubes for the new Venge look much smaller than the airfoil tubes for the old bike—yet Specialized’s engineers claim the new bike is more aerodynamic than its predecessor.

Specialized’s engineers claim the new Venge is lighter and more aerodynamic than its predecessor. Photo: Brad Kaminski |

With its ultralight “Satin Black/Holographic Foil” paint scheme, a 56cm frame of the new Venge weighs just 960 grams, a 244-gram savings over the Venge Vias. The bike’s bar/stem also got lighter, dropping 107 grams. The new Venge handles better and buffs out more road chatter than its predecessor, which was built like a time trial bicycle. Unlike the Venge Vias, which featured wing-shaped rim brakes, the new Venge is only compatible with hydraulic disc brakes. It’s also built specifically for electronic shifting groups and works with Shimano Di2, SRAM eTap, and Campagnolo EPS systems (with an internal battery).

And, perhaps more importantly, the new Venge is comparatively simple to service. In an effort to reduce drag, today’s aero bicycles have integrated everything, which poses major hurdles to the everyman mechanic. The new Venge, by contrast, features an aero stem and the Aerofly II handlebar, both of which are easy to swap out, and function similar to a traditional bar and stem. There are 6-degree stems available in seven lengths (80mm-140mm), 12-degree stems in four lengths, and handlebars in four widths. New innovative headset spacers that include a locking hinge allow for easy adjustments to stack height. One doesn’t need an advanced degree in mechanical engineering simply to adjust one’s position on the bike.

“We wanted to create a new bike that was not only faster than the Vias, but could be used in more places than the Vias too,” said Chris Yu, the company’s director of integrated technologies.

Cables and hoses are routed under the bars. The stem includes a built-in computer mount. Photo: Brad Kaminski |

First ride

We took the Venge 3.0 on a 35-mile loop that included flats, rolling terrain, and a few punchy climbs through the foothills just east of Specialized’s headquarters in Morgan Hill, California. Unsurprisingly, the Venge felt extremely fast on the flat opening miles of the ride; stomping on the pedals brought quick bursts of acceleration.

I was most impressed with the bike’s performance in the hills. We approached a series of punchy stair-step climbs and the pace quickly accelerated, and much to my surprise, the Venge zipped up the first punchy hill when I stomped on the pedals. The next ascent was longer and more steady, so I climbed in the saddle, with an even pace. Again, the Venge felt perfectly at home on the steady, grinding ascent. Credit this fact to the bike’s geometry, which is built around straightforward race-bike angles.

On the ensuing descent, the Venge also defied the stigma attached to aero bikes. As you have likely read, those wing-shaped tubes and slack angles are great for straight-line speed; they also transform an aero bike into a tractor-trailer on the descents. That’s not the case with the new Venge. It descended like a WorldTour-level road bike should. A quick flick of the handlebars sent the bike through a corner and around potholes. The bike held speed through corners so well, in fact, that I had to squeeze the brakes a few times to slow myself down.

Gone are the wing-shaped bars from the Venge Vias. The new Aerofly II bars function like traditional handlebars. Photo: Brad Kaminski |

The verdict

The new S-Works Venge is a worthy racing machine that strikes a sweet spot between aerodynamics and weight. And Specialized has largely succeeded in its mission to overcome the problems associated with its predecessor, the Venge Vias. At the very least, those wing-shaped handlebars are long gone. Is the bike worth its $12,500 price tag ($5,500 frame/fork)? That’s for you to decide.

Of course, therein lies the conundrum that greets all cyclists in this age of lighter, stiffer, and faster bicycles. How long until Specialized unveils a new Venge model alongside this third-generation Venge? Will an engineer someday remove tubes from this bicycle to prove a point about the company’s newer, lighter bike?

Perhaps. If that day does come, Specialized’s engineers believe it will be due to some revolution in frame material or carbon construction, and not due to tube shaping.

Toward the midpoint of the Venge presentation, Ingmar Jungnickel, the company’s aerodynamics lead, unveiled the secret sauce that gives the new Venge its advantages. Jungnickel and his team wrote a computer program to determine the most aerodynamic tube shapes. Engineers then tested those shapes in the company’s wind tunnel (yes, it’s called the “Win Tunnel”) and compiled a library of these shapes, called the free-foil library. Each shape was then optimized for stiffness, structural efficiency, aerodynamics, and weight, to find the right balance between the two.

The Venge’s tube shapes are the product of this process.

“If the bike would have ended up more aero but heavy, we could adjust,” Jungnickel said. “The goal was to have it optimized.”





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Week in Tech: ‘Doping’ with 37.5 kits; Mavic TDF gear; new Bolle sunglasses

Here’s the Week in Tech — all the gear news, tips, and announcements you need and none of the marketing gibberish you don’t.

37.5 says fabric improves performance at threshold

Just in time for the Tour de France, fabric manufacturer 37.5 launched an attention-getting — and perhaps controversial — “Dope With This” campaign, promoting a new kit it says significantly increases performance … like doping (get it?). Whether or not the doping campaign offends, there is some science behind this fabric.

Working with the University of Colorado at Boulder, 37.5 conducted a test with 14 elite athletes wearing three different jerseys: A conventional polyester jersey, a cooling jacket circulating 4ºC water, and 37.5’s “doping” jersey. The subjects rode 60 minutes at lactate threshold and their body temperature was continuously monitored with a rectal thermometer (ew).

If a rider couldn’t maintain threshold, he or she was stopped. Among those non-finishers, 37.5 says subjects wearing its fabric lasted 26 percent longer than those with conventional jerseys.

For all subjects, 37.5 says its fabric kept riders cooler for longer — a 28 percent increase in average time to maximum body temperature compared to the control jersey. The cooling jacket performed best in this measurement, as it did in all the tests.

Finally, 37.5 says subjects had a lower build-up in core temperature in its fabric: 1.52ºC versus 1.66ºC with a conventional jersey.

More about 37.5’s “doping kit” >>

Mavic’s stylish Tour gear for Bardet

Mavic’s has a limited edition Comete Ulitmate shoe for Romain Bardet at the Tour.

To celebrate its country’s big race, Mavic has rolled out some limited edition Tour de France gear for Ag2r La Mondiale leader Romain Bardet to sport in the Grande Boucle. He’ll have a pair of the Comete Ultimate shoes with special graphics. Yep, those are the $1,000 shoes that have a carbon shell and removable liner, sort of like a ski boot.

Mavic’s limited edition Tour de France graphics add some interest to the carbon fiber rims.

Bardet will also have Cosmic Ultimate Tubular wheels with the same special graphics. Although the rims are 40mm deep, the wheels are impressively light at 1,250g, which should satisfy the spindly French climber. If you don’t want tubulars, or if the $3,749 price is too steep for you, Mavic also is offering the Cosmic Pro Carbon UST in limited edition Tour de France livery. These tubeless wheels weigh in at 1,650g and will cost $1,800.

Ag2r La Mondiale wearing new Bolle Shifter at Tour

Ag2r is wearing Bolle’s new Shifter sunglasses at the Tour.

Speaking of Bardet’s team, the French outfit is wearing new Bolle sunglasses at this Tour the France. The Shifter will be released in September. It features frontal vents to reduce fogging, hydrophobic lens treatment, and the option to have corrective lenses in the futuristic-looking frames. The sunglasses will be priced at $89-149, depending on lenses.


Eurobike’s weird, wonderful and wut?

There is a lot going on here. It’s best not to ask why. Photo: Dan Cavallari |

While we’ve all been glued to our questionably-legal livestreams of the Tour de France, Eurobike held its annual celebration of tech in Friedrichshafen, Germany. VeloNews was there to get a peek at all the weird and wonderful goodies. Check out the galleries here and here.

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Dan Martin’s Tour jersey is missing one small detail

If you were watching Tour de France stage 6, you saw Dan Martin’s early attack. You saw the UAE Team Emirates leader flying up the Mur de Bretagne in his distinctive out-of-the-saddle style. You saw the Irishman punch the air to celebrate his first Tour stage win in five years.

But there was one little thing you wouldn’t have seen: A zipper on his jersey.

Martin is wearing a new jersey from team sponsor Champion System that hasn’t hit the market yet. The clothing supplier says the jersey was designed to be aerodynamic, breathable, and comfortable — everything you’d expect from an ordinary jersey with a zipper.

Champion System took feedback from team riders who, by and large, did not want to have a zipper on the front of their kits.

The likely benefits of a zipperless jersey are that it is more aerodynamic and lighter weight. Also, the riders were happy to have one less thing to fuss with either at the bottom or top of big climbs — no need to unzip or zip up. And one added bonus for the sponsor UAE is that its large logo on the chest won’t be disrupted by a zip.

Would it be uncomfortable or too hot? Champion System says the fabric, called AGILE, is breathable enough, almost like a baselayer to make it fine for the Tour’s hottest days.

Champion System fine-tuned the jersey fit with team riders Diego Ulissi and Fabio Aru. Dan Martin also provided feedback to the designers.

“The feedback from the riders has been excellent,” said Chris Reynolds, director of operations at Champion Systems. “Dan Martin is very particular with what products he’ll use in races, as he fully understands the demands and the benefits of certain products. As a brand we understand that this jersey will not be for everyone as it is a very specialized item, however, we strongly believe that what we make for the professional riders should also be offered to our clubs globally.”

Will we see zipperless jerseys on our group rides or at training crits in the near future? Perhaps racers in hot climates would like to have a top that is so ventilated that un-zipping is unnecessary, especially if it avoids that annoying flapping jersey at high speeds.

However, cycling is a sport for traditionalists and having the option to regulate your body heat with a zipper seems unlikely to go completely out of style, regardless of who wins a stage at the Tour.

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Eurobike gallery: More tech goodies from Friedrichshafen

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Technical FAQ: Tour de France tech

Lennard Zinn addresses questions pertaining to the Tour de France, which kicked off July 7.

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Eurobike gallery: New, cool, weird, wonderful

Dan Cavallari found a host of new products at Eurobike, ranging from high-tech gadgets to snazzy kits.

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Pro Bike Gallery: Romain Bardet’s limited edition Factor O2

This top-end rig features custom graphics throughout.

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CeramicSpeed shows off revolutionary DrivEn drivetrain at Eurobike

The new Ceramic-bearing drive shaft is twice as efficient as Dura-Ace, company claims

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Tour Tech 2018: Trends, topics, and cool stuff to watch out for

Here’s a quick guide to the trends, products, and practices that are worth keeping an eye out for during this year’s Tour de France.

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In the Pits, Stage 1: All the tech worth talking about

Velonews caught all the tech worth talking about prior to the first stage of the 2018 Tour de France.

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