The new Specialized Venge ViAS Disc is here and, as it turns out, was what Specialized intended the bike to be all along.
It was over a year ago that the Venge ViAS was launched in a rim brake version and it was likely not the launch Specialized had hoped for. Part of a much publicized 5:00min time saving over a 40km ride, the new Venge accounted for 2min of that time savings. Helmet, wheels, shoes and skin suit carved off the rest versus a standard road set up.
The bike had a host of aero features, but it was the integrated rim brakes that stole the show at the launch, especially the seat tube mounted rear brake. But that hype was quickly replaced by stories of braking concerns. We have never had the opportunity to ride a rim brake Venge ViAS so cannot speak to the validity of those concerns or the effectiveness of the next generation, which is reported to be much improved. However, we may have learned why the rim brake bike was not a stand out – it was never supposed to exist.
That’s right, the Venge ViAS was only ever supposed to be disc, but with the UCI dragging its feet on disc brake legality, a rim version was added to the plans. Perhaps a year later than hoped, but Specialized has now officially launched the disc brake Venge ViAS. Maybe now the bike can finally live up to its absurdly high expectations.
Check out the new Venge ViAS disc from all the angles with peloton360
Truncated airfoils, dropped seat stays, completely hidden cables and the new Aerofly bar give the Venge ViAS its aero credentials while a bottom bracket stiffer than the new Tarmac shows the bike has both Kittel and Sagan in mind. The new disc version is supposed to only very slightly effect these aerodynamics. According to numbers from its wind tunnel, Specialized says at low (+/-5degrees) cross wind angles it is less than a watt difference which is only 2-4seconds over 40km. With higher crosswinds on the non-drive side the loss is greater, about 10seconds over 40km at 50kph, but Specialized is confident improved braking can more than make up for this on any remotely technical course.
This new disc version Venge ViAS features low profile flat mount calipers and is actually lighter than the rim version, which did not impress at north of 16lbs in S-Works spec for a 56cm. A comparable Venge ViAS disc with Shimano hydro is reported to be a pound lighter than that.
Specialized Venge ViAS Expert Disc
It’s not often we get really excited about riding a mechanical Ultegra bike, but the Venge ViAS Expert Disc we have on loan for test has been the most drooled over bike at the Peloton Service Course in quite a while. The Expert has a few differences that go beyond just spec. A standard stem is used meaning the cables must be routed externally. You sacrifice 18seconds on the virtual 40km time thanks to those external cables. Luckily the Expert still gets the Aerofly bar or else another 18seconds would be sacrificed with a round bar. If anything, this shows us just how important that leading edge is. There will be no rim version of this bike, the Expert will only be a disc brake bike.
The rest of the spec may be down market, but Specialized uses the same FACT 11r frame they use on the S-Works bikes. Dual through axles and Ultegra hydraulic brakes work with Ultegra 11-speed mechanical mechanisms and ST-RS685 levers. FSA Carbon cranks and a BG Power Expert saddle help put the power down. The bike comes with a decidedly uninspiring set of shallow alloy clinchers from DT. They may be a solid set of training wheels, but we immediately swapped them out with deep carbon – Roval Rapide CL 64s. With the alloy clinchers the bike sells for $4500. To get the deep carbon stock you’ll need to go for the Pro at $7250 – but you’ll get Di2 Ultegra and the fully integrated Aerofly cockpit to boot. While the S-Works disc version may be lighter than the rim version, our test Expert in 58cm with the deep carbon hit 17.5lbs on the scale – two pounds from what could be considered light.
This bike is quick – noticeably quick – from the first moment you get up to speed. With our certifiably subjective testing it’s the kind of feeling we’ve gotten only a handful of times with bikes like the new Trek Madone and Canyon Aeroad. The Aerofly bars are surprisingly comfortable, the best of all the integrated cockpits we have ridden. The shape of the tops nestles comfortably in palm of the hand.
Go uphill and the extra weight is mitigated by how stiff the bike is, but on a steep pitch or chasing a quick acceleration. You will feel the extra pounds, no way around that – 17.5lbs is 17.5lbs. But point downhill and the bike is a revelation. Like the Madone and Aeroad it forces you to recalibrate known descents, it simply carries more speed – way more speed. But unlike the Madone and Aeroad, the disc brakes give you the confidence to let it run a bit longer, max the speedometer out a bit more, and still comfortably hit the right speed at the apex. The fork is also a beautiful thing, stiff enough to handle as much brake as you could possibly want without and chatter or shudder. It’s also torsionally incredibly stiff, keeping the wheels online during high speed cornering. But at the same time, it’s vertically very stiff. It’s no endurance bike, and not designed to be, but we are interested to see how well the bike performs in rough and chattery corners when some compliance is needed to keep the bike tracking. We’ll aim to answer that question as our long term test gets under way. Look for that in the next issue of peloton.
Availability: August 2016
$11,500: S-Works VENGE DISC VIAS ETAP
$4,200: S-Works VENGE DISC VIAS FRMSET
$7,250: VENGE PRO DISC VIAS UDI2
$4,500: VENGE EXPERT DISC VIAS